> Israel > Media Objectivity

Misrepresenting Terror

May 9, 2009 | by

The Washington Post sympathizes with a Hamas leader, and Time magazine 'blames' Israel for decreasing the violence.

This week, Israel made a pinpoint strike against another top Hamas terrorist, Nasser Jarrar. Jarrar had lost both his legs and an arm last year, when a bomb he was making exploded. Still he continued to organize and direct terror activities, recruiting suicide bombers and planning a major attack to destroy a multi-story building in Israel.

In reporting on Israel's strike against Jarrar, many media outlets portrayed him as "an invalid" (BBC), and confined to a wheelchair (ABC Radio) -- only mentioning at the very end of the report (if at all) the circumstances under which Jarrar lost his limbs.

The Washington Post was one of the worst offenders, publishing the following headline:


Writer Molly Moore glorifies Jarrar as some type of folk hero, referring to his "resilient career." Only in the final paragraph does the Post throw in the reason why Jarrar lost his limbs.

See the article at:

Readers will recall this is the same Washington Post which last year published a 1300-word defense of Aziz Salha, the Palestinian who proudly waved his bloody hands out the window of a Ramallah police station after lynching two Israeli soldiers. The Post wrote: "The young man was very ill when he was a baby, he stuttered, he was shy... maybe it really wasn't him photographed in the window... he was a calm, good-natured and athletic kid..."

And let's not forget the Washington Post's sympathetic profile of Palestinian homicide bomber Dia Tawil, a 19-year-old "star" student, "headed toward a career in electrical engineering" and an "unlikely candidate for a suicide mission."

Comments to:

Letters to the Editor
The Washington Post
1150 15th Street Northwest
Washington, DC 20071

Letters should always include full name, address, and phone number.

We encourage you to monitor your local media to see how they portrayed the Jarrar strike.


This week, Time magazine carries a 3300-word tome, "The Palestinians, Close Up," featuring the lives of 7 Palestinians and how they've been affected by the current violence. Reporter Matt Rees writes:

"Destroying the homes of Palestinian assailants is Israel's latest contribution to the escalating battle between the two sides over who can hurt whom more.",8599,335996,00.html#

Something is askew here. The Israeli policy of home demolitions does not "escalate the battle;" rather it reduces the violence by getting terrorists to think twice, knowing there may be consequences to their families -- as a counter-balance to the sheik's promise of heaven for 70 family members.

The Israeli policy is a further deterrent in that it creates pressure within Palestinian society to oppose terrorism. As The UK Guardian reports:

"The army claims its policy of putting pressure on family members is showing signs of success in the case of house demolitions. Palestinian sources said on Monday that a man living near Jenin recently shot his son in the leg to keep the youth from carrying out a planned suicide attack. The father was thought to fear the Israeli reaction.",4273,4481246,00.html

Ha'aretz reports that another father brought his son to an IDF checkpoint and turned him in, claiming that the young man was planning a suicide attack.

This month, the IDF reported that two would-be suicide terrorists were deterred by concern over family property. Jilal Khalil Jarar, a 17-year-old resident of the village of Yamoun near Jenin, admitted during questioning that he had refused to perpetrate a suicide attack for Islamic Jihad, out of concerned that his parents' house would be demolished if he carried out the attack.

Meanwhile, Oumiyeh Muhammed Damaj, a 24-year-old female resident of the Jenin refugee camp, surrendered herself to an Israeli unit on July 27. Prior to Operation Defensive Shield, Oumiyeh had prepared a personal letter to her family in which she announced her intention to carry out a suicide attack. A few days later she was videotaped reading out her will while holding a rifle and a Koran. When Oumiyeh subsequently surrendered herself to Israeli security forces, she said she had done so out of concern that her family home would be demolished if she carried out an attack.

If you believe that Matt Rees has misrepresented the Israeli policy, write to:

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