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Coverage of hate crime against Jew highlights media biases

A group of Arab teenagers were indicted yesterday for the racially-motivated shooting death of a 51-year-old Jewish man. Comparing coverage of a similar incident in 2011 – in which a Palestinian man was stabbed to death by Jewish youth – reveals deep bias in Israel’s media.

Haaretz reports that eight teens were indicted yesterday in last month’s shooting death of a Ramle man, George Sa’ado. The murder appears to have been racially-motivated. The article is here. I warn you that it is graphic and heartrending.

Let’s compare this to a similar incident that occurred in February of 2011, when a Palestinian man was stabbed to death by a gang of Jewish youth who shouted “Death to Arabs.” The state initially placed a gag order the case. Once the gag was lifted, the Israeli media marched lockstep with Jerusalem police, calling the stabbing a “drunken brawl”—despite the fact that witnesses disputed this version of events.

While in both incidents, the Israeli media downplays the racial motives, the reaction of the government is interesting. While the racially-motivated violence of Jewish extremists gets a gag order – essentially sweeping the stabbing death of a man under the rug –  the gritty details of Sa’ado’s murder are out for all to see.

You can see the biased treatment of the two cases on a language level, as well, by comparing the Haaretz coverage of the 2011 racially-motivated stabbing, perpetrated by Jews against an Arab, versus that of Sa’ado’s murder. In today’s article about the indictment, Haaretz writes that the defendants “hurled racial abuse at him and shouted slogans in favor of rocket fire from Gaza.” It goes on to include the heartbreaking details about the youth kicking and throwing stones at Sa’ado’s dog.

The picture of Sa’ado’s murder is detailed, painful, and upsetting. The language (“hurled racial abuse”) is emotionally charged.

But the 2011 Haaretz article about Jewish youth murdering an Arab man uses broad brushstrokes. There are few details and a serious omission of the fact that the youth shouted “Death to the Arabs.” Not only is there no mention of the defendants hurling “racial abuse” at the deceased, the racial aspect is downplayed as “nationalistic.”

This has serious implications for the coverage of the conflict as a whole. As bureaus close or downsize their operations, the biased local media increasingly serves as a starting point for many foreign journalists. And then there are the overseas media outlets that “cover” stories simply by rehashing Israeli media reports, combining them, sometimes, with the reports of bureaus who base their reports on those from the Israeli media. The international media then becomes an echo chamber for the local media, perpetuating bias and one-sided coverage.

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    1. for those who have been following coverage of this case, let me go ahead and preemptively address confusion about saado’s name: in hebrew, it is spelled סעדו, which is best transliterated as saado or sa’ado. in the english language article linked to above, they went with sa’adi, for reasons i’m unsure of (as that would be spelled סעדי). i decided to go with a direct, straight transliteration.

      Reply to Comment
    2. phlegmatico

      What’s heartbreaking is that when MUSLIM cherkasi-speakers arrived in Palestine and grabbed land, no Arabic-speakers wail about it; when HEBREW-speakers return, it becomes a Nakba.

      Or maybe Ms Guarnieri thinks that Hebrew was born in the Occupied Seminole Homeland. She should be familiar with that place……

      Reply to Comment
    3. Philos

      Mya, I think you should follow up with an investigation of the echo chamber effect of the news here.
      Take for example the Toulouse murders. I wouldn’t be surprised if most Israelis have forgotten that the madman murdered three French soldiers. I had an argument with someone saying that the attack can’t be described as “anti-Semitic” because it was a crime in a series of crimes of which only one was against Jews. But, actually, I guess it’s futile. It’s pointless.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Lauren

      And here in NYC, the cops are out to protect the Jews during Passover. The reason given is the Toulouse shootings. I suppose that anything that happens in a FOREIGN country against Jews is reason enough. No mention of protecting Christians when we are attacked in our churches and statues beheaded and vandalized. Muslims get no protection here…. just suspicion and resentment.
      This is bias…. plain and simple to put one religion above others for safety and security. What are we “chopped liver?”

      Reply to Comment
    5. caden

      Lauren. you can’t go into a major Jewish institution in NY without passing concrete barriers and metal detectors. Why is that?

      Reply to Comment
    6. caden

      I can’t speak to the Israeli legal system but this sounds like 1st degree murder vs manslaughter. The Jewish kids were drunk. Which means impaired judgment that impacts on intent. The Arab kids stalked the guy and basically executed him. And no I’m not saying the Jewish kids should walk but these two cases really aren’t comparable.

      Reply to Comment
    7. Joel


      I just read Sa’ado murder link to Haaretz.

      No mention there that the assailants were Arab, nor did the article say whether the victim, Mr. Sa’ado, was Jew or Arab.

      Reply to Comment
    8. aristeides

      Why is that, Caden? Paranoia wouldn’t happen to play a part in it?

      Reply to Comment
    9. Yonatan

      The same double standard applied to the handling of the murder of the Oshrenko family versus the Fogel family.

      Reply to Comment
    10. caden

      I’m not saying anything except that a persons intent plays a big part in the US legal system. And the intent here doesn’t seem the same thing.

      Reply to Comment
    11. phlegmatico

      Jack, the Cherkassim are non-Arab Muslims. Just ask any Pakistani or Bangladeshi, how well non-Arab Muslims are treated by Arabs – I dare you. And by the way, the Nakba didn’t happen in 1948; it happened in 1881 when Hebrew kindergardens opened up. After that, the displacement of foreign-language (= Arabic) speakers was as inevitable as it was several hundred years earlier in Al Andalus. Oh by the way, there’s also Arabic-speakers running around in Morrocco with the same fake key-to-my-house-in-Al-Andalus schtick.

      About the double standard: Israelis can be very ugly. One wonders why Ms Guarnieri wants to stay. Maybe it’s the Big Book Deal which will rivet the world’s attention. Ya know, the one in which Filipinits admit that yeah, Israelis have no immigration rights in Philippines, but hey, let’s start a double standard and claim that over-staying a work visa transforms a person into a Saint.

      Reply to Comment
    12. Jack

      I am talking about the Nakba and cleansing that I refered to (the book by Ilan Pappe).

      Reply to Comment
    13. Emiliano Counts

      Fantastic article post.Really thank you! Keep writing.

      Reply to Comment