When terror hits close to home

Misleading headlines distort the truth

For the past few weeks, I’ve been glued to my phone. I check it first thing when I wake up in the morning, while I’m eating, while I’m walking down the Infinite, in class, while I’m working on problem sets, and before I go to sleep. But I’m not checking fantasy football stats. I’m checking for reports of another terror attack and word that my little brother is safe.

My brother is currently studying abroad in Israel, and his school is located near the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City. Every single day without fail he texts me about another Palestinian terror attack – usually stabbings – directed against civilians. Last week, his teacher was one of the victims, stabbed in the neck for no reason other than being Jewish.

Since Oct. 1, there have been over 30 terror attacks carried out by Palestinian terrorists against Israelis, not including rocket attacks. Here is an abbreviated timeline:

—Oct. 1: Two parents were shot dead in front of their four young children. Fatah, the political party of Palestinian Authority’s president Mahmoud Abbas, claimed responsibility for the murders. (This same “moderate” group is responsible for negotiating peace with Israel.)

—Oct. 7: A terrorist stole a gun, broke into a woman’s home in Kiryat Gat, and tried to murder the family who lived there. (This happened right near my best friend’s school. I frantically messaged her to make sure she was OK, and the hours before she answered were terrifying.)

—Oct. 7: A 25-year-old man was stabbed and badly wounded by a Palestinian terrorist in Petach Tikva, where my cousins live. Thankfully, a bystander tackled the terrorist and held him down until the police could reach the scene.

—Oct. 9: In Jerusalem, two American teenagers were beaten and stabbed after taking a wrong turn into an Arab neighborhood.

—Oct. 11: A suicide bomber, with her child in her car, detonated a bomb that wounded her daughter and a police officer.

When someone gets stabbed, you would think that it is clear who the victim is and who the perpetrator is, right? Wrong. To my astonishment, the headlines reporting the recent terror attacks in Israel blur the victims with the attackers, the murdered with the murderers. On Oct. 3, an article published by the BBC was titled “Palestinian shot dead after Jerusalem attack kills two.” The headline obscured who was being attacked and who was the attacker, and it completely failed to mention that the Palestinian died while stabbing members of a family, murdering the father and another man.

Here is an even more outrageous example. The Independent published an article titled “Israeli security forces kill boy, 16.” When I first read that headline, I thought that a poor boy was killed without reasonable cause, and images of excessive force and police brutality came to mind. But in reality, that “boy” mentioned in the headline stabbed two elderly Jews on their way home, and the 16-year-old terrorist was killed to stop his stabbing rampage.

Can you imagine the mainstream media reporting on the Sandy Hook school shooting with headlines like “20-year-old shot dead in attack at elementary school”?

The problem isn’t restricted to the media. When UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon condemned Israel for the “killings [of four Palestinians]” and demanded that the government of Israel conduct an investigation, he failed to mention the fact that those Palestinians died in attacks that killed four Israelis. He condemned Israel but failed to condemn the attacks on Israeli citizens that made these defensive acts necessary.

One might expect that Israel’s supposed peace partner, Mahmoud Abbas, would demand that his people stop these vicious crimes against innocents. But this is not so. Not only did Abbas’s party proudly commit two of the murders, as mentioned above, but Abbas claimed that “we [Palestinians] are working to spread the culture of peace and coexistence between the people in our region.” Then he turned around and justified the murders of unarmed civilians by saying, “every drop of blood spilled in Jerusalem is pure, every shahid [martyr] will reach paradise, and every injured person will be rewarded by God.”

Surely, though, the terrorists are just fringe members of Palestinian society, and as a whole, such violence is rejected? Not necessarily. Many Palestinian civilians celebrated the attacks in various ways, by passing out candies in the street, by a mother naming her newborn after a killed terrorist, and by firing firecrackers in celebration of the murders.

It is time for all civilians to be able to walk in Jerusalem without the fear of being stabbed to death. And it is time for the Palestinian leadership, the international media, and the U.S. government to take a moral stand and unequivocally call terror what it is: terror.

BC about 8 years ago

I hope your brother stays safe!

It is so tragic to hear about all of these brutal, terrible attacks. What can Israel do to help stop these terror attacks, and the stabbing of innocent people on the street as they live their lives? The attacks just seem so random, how can Israelis protect themselves?

No matter what politics you believe in, there is no justifying these attacks - nothing in the world makes Palestinian stabbing of children or butchering old men with a meat cleavers ok, understandable, moral, justified. No. It is pure terror and pure hate.

I hope that an end comes to this violence, and no more innocent people are killed.

John Mikhail about 8 years ago


BC about 8 years ago

Watch what Arab Israeli reporter Lucy Aharish has to say about the current terror:


anonymous about 8 years ago

ok, people attacking each other is bad, i agree - but it's pretty dishonest/misleading of this article to talk about the current round of violence without recognizing how it relates to a) the ongoing occupation of the west bank and gaza and b) the codified 2nd class citizenship of palestinians living in israel - what i mean is that small and large acts of violence are committed against palestinians often and legitimized by an ethno-nationalist government that clearly does not see itself as responsible for protecting the palestinian population - thinking about mlk's letter from birmingham jail (First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action";") - do you prefer order to justice?

EC about 8 years ago

The main point of this article is not to convey the political reality in Israel. Obviously it's complicated, and the current tensions are caused by long-standing issues.

What everyone needs to realize is that innocent Israelis are under attack simply because they are Jewish, and the American news is antagonistic at worst and silent at best. My friends, like the author's brother, are fearing for their lives. Please don't disparage that. Jewish lives matter as much as Arab lives do.

MIT Student about 8 years ago

This article is absolutely perfect. No innocent civilian should die but the media needs to stop pointing fingers at Israel for hurting civilians. They are defending themselves from terrorists, which they have every right to do.

JF about 8 years ago

This article is obviously not meant to portray a picture of the entire middle eastern conflict, which is immensely complicated. No matter what the conflict however, the targeting of innocent civilians is never okay, and to compare these murders to the nonviolent civil rights movement of MLK is ridiculous. I'm not trying to say that there's nothing deeper in what's going on, but acts like these should never be the answer.

bj about 8 years ago

Let's face it, ordinary citizens on both sides are the real victims of this conflict.


The author focuses on an awful bias in the mainstream media. Quite surprisingly, the author also infers that all reported instances of crime are acts of terror perpetrated by terrorists. Ironic. Nevertheless, I hope this piece succeeds at initiating a discourse on misleading representations in the media.

a friend about 8 years ago

I appreciate the author bringing to light what is happening to people in Israel.

But I wanted to point out one inaccuracy in the article. The article uses Abbas's quote about the purity of spilled blood to suggest that Abbas "justified the murders of unarmed civilians." But if you listen to the Arabic, it's clear that he was referring to Palestinians killed. So he was not encouraging murder of Israelis, but rather expressing respect for the Palestinians killed.

On the other hand, you could have made a point about Abbas claiming that Ahmed Mansara was executed.

Chan about 8 years ago

I support human rights.

I support justice.

I support the right of indigenous people to live freely in their land.

Jews are indigenous to Israel.

Jews have a right to freedom of movement in Israel, and deserve access to their places of worship.

They deserve to walk in their land without fear.

Without fear of being stabbed from behind, butchered with a meat cleaver, shot to death.

Shot to death because they are Jews.

Coretta Scott King, A. Phillip Randolph, Bayard Rustin,Count Basie, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. were Zionists.

As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said in 1968:

"Peace for Israel means security, and we must stand with all our might to protect her right to exist, its territorial integrity and the right to use whatever sea lanes it needs. Israel is one of the great outposts of democracy in the world, and a marvelous example of what can be done, how desert land can be transformed into an oasis of brotherhood and democracy. Peace for Israel means security, and that security must be a reality."