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Media Fails at Hebrew University

May 9, 2009 | by

The media tries to justify the bombing of an Israeli cafeteria as some kind of tit-for-tat.

The civilized world is shocked at the latest Palestinian bombing, this time defiling the sanctity of an academic campus -- one in which Jewish, Arab and foreign students mixed freely.

The media has distorted the events of Wednesday’s Hebrew University bombing in 4 significant ways. Monitor your local media and call their attention to the following points.

=== DISTORTION #1 ===

The media reported the attack as a response to Israel's killing of Hamas leader Salah Shehadeh in Gaza.

Knight-Ridder correspondent Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson leads off by writing: "Palestinians seeking revenge for a recent Israeli airstrike on the Gaza Strip detonated a bomb Wednesday in a crowded cafeteria at Hebrew University..."

It is spurious to categorize this attack as a response, when Hamas was already planning attacks anyway. According to Israeli Defense Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, Shehadeh was planning six simultaneous terror attacks in six different Israeli cities, including mega-attacks intended to kill hundreds of Israelis. The LA Times reports that Israel's top internal security official believed that at least 60 terror attacks were already being planned.

Some media even parroted the propagandist claim that Hamas was on the brink of a cease-fire. This argument is preposterous, considering that Hamas has waged a ceaseless campaign of terror against Israeli civilians, claiming credit for at least 28 major bombing attacks against Israeli civilians since the Oslo Accords were signed in 1993.

=== DISTORTION #2 ===

The media presents the Hebrew U attack as an appropriate retaliation, a tit-for-tat for the deaths of civilians in Shehadeh’s apartment building.

However, the media fails to note one crucial difference: Israel was targeting a terrorist mastermind, with the civilians’ deaths regrettable collateral damage. By contrast, in the Hebrew U attack, Palestinians were intentionally targeting civilians.

This key point is omitted in a Reuters report, which fails to mention of why Israel attacked "a crowded area of Gaza City," implying that Israel is no better than Palestinian bombers:

"Palestinian militants have vowed to avenge an Israeli missile strike on a crowded area of Gaza City last week that sparked strong international condemnation..."

We ask: Would the media consider it an appropriate retaliation for Israel to now go massacre Palestinian university students? Of course not. As the UK Independent put it:

"Sheikh Ahmad Yassin, Hamas' spiritual leader, said: 'When Israel bombs a civilian building full of women and children, and kills 15 people, this is the response they should expect.' It was a response that quickly eroded the international sympathy for the Palestinians prompted by the Gaza air strike. 'Why is somebody targeting students sitting down to their lunch?'...”

=== DISTORTION #3 ===

The media failed to report the mass celebrations in Gaza following the Hebrew U attack. An estimated 10,000 Palestinian men, women and children celebrated in the streets with clapping, singing and distributing sweets -- while carrying pictures of Hamas spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, and calling for more suicide bombings.

This is in sharp contrast to the Israeli soul-searching and regret following the deaths of civilians in the Shehadeh strike.

Amazingly, mention of the Gaza rally and celebrations was totally omitted by many major news agencies, including:

- The New York Times

- The Washington Post


Associated Press notes the rally, but doesn’t mention any celebrations.

This mysterious omission calls to mind September 11, when Palestinians in Beirut, Nablus and Jerusalem exploded in street celebrations -- rejoicing, dancing and handing out candies.

Then, to prevent the world from seeing these incriminating images, armed Palestinians (some in PA uniform) detained foreign journalists and confiscated videotape, film and other camera equipment -- while festivities continued in the streets. Journalists were threatened with their life if the footage was broadcast. The scene was repeated three days later, when 1,500 Palestinians demonstrated in Gaza by waving posters of Osama bin Laden.

Were this week's Gaza celebrations subject to similar forms of intimidation? Or perhaps journalists are practicing a form of self-censorship, knowing the consequence of portraying Palestinians in an unfavorable light.

=== DISTORTION #4 ===

The media subtly implies some justification for the attack by suggesting that Hebrew University is located on disputed land.

For example, the Washington Post map places the university clearly in the West Bank:

Reuters reports that "The bomb exploded in the cafeteria in the Frank Sinatra International Students Center, on the university's Mount Scopus campus near Arab East Jerusalem."

In truth, Hebrew University's Mt. Scopus campus was inaugurated in 1925, and was located on Jewish land long before the establishment of the State of Israel. It flourished until Israel's 1948 War of Independence, when Jordanians seized the surrounding land, even as Israel continued to hold the Mt. Scopus site as an enclave. After the surrounding neighborhoods were restored to Israeli control in 1967, Mt. Scopus again flourished as Hebrew University's main campus.


"Two Israelis, Two Palestinians Killed in Suicide Bombings and Ambushes"
Agence France-Presse -

In this case, two does not equal two. The two dead Israelis were brothers who had gone on Tuesday to a Palestinian village to sell fuel. The two dead Palestinians were a suicide bomber (Jerusalem falafel stand), and a man who broke into a Jewish home and stabbed two Israelis, before being shot by security guards.

Complaints to:


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