Read Part I – Published Wednesday, May 18, 2022
JERUSALEM, ISRAEL— May 20, 2022 – Last week, Palestinian-American Al-Jazeera Journalist Shireen Abu-Akhel was killed in the midst of a gunfight between Israeli troops and Palestinian Arab terrorists in Jenin. That’s all that’s known for sure. The circumstances of her death have been blurred and almost don’t matter anymore as she’s become a “Palestinian martyr” in a media battle that is part of the broader war to delegitimize and attack Israel on every front.
Israel is accused of deliberately targeting Al-Jazeera Journalist Shireen Abu-Akhel which is particularly absurd in a country with greater press freedom than most of the world. She had free access as a member of the press representing a network that is rabidly anti-Israel. This level of freedom of access can only be prayed for in the Arab world, and discredits the notion of any motivation to target her specifically as a member of the press. However, the “court” of Al-Jazeera and the Palestinian Authority have already determined that Israel murdered Abu-Akhel, finding Israel guilty before any other facts are known. This is predictable, but no less dishonest.
This is nothing short of a modern blood libel, a false accusation against Jews and Israel for murdering non-Jews. Blood libels were invented to incite anger, hatred, fear, ultimately legitimizing violence against Jews. It’s not the first time that Palestinian Arabs have engaged in such hate-filled lies. In 2000, 12-year-old Mohammed al-Dura was reported to have been killed in a shootout between Israeli troops and Palestinian Arab terrorists in Gaza. Israel was blamed immediately. Edited footage filmed by a Palestinian Arab “journalist” appeared in a French TV report blaming Israel for al-Dura’s death.
Subsequently, French businessman/politician Philippe Karsenty demonstrated not only that based on where al-Dura was located compared to Israeli troops, it was physically impossible for al-Dura to have been killed by Israeli fire. Worse, the whole Pallywood* production may have even been staged.
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*Pallywood, a portmanteau of ” Palestinian” and ” Hollywood”, is a coinage that has been used by pro-israel commentators and jewish-americans to describe media manipulation, distortion or fraud by the Palestinians and other Arabs designed to win the public relations war against Israel. The incidents of the Muhammad al-Durrah tapes and the 2006 Lebanon War photographs controversies (dubbed “Hizbollywood” or “Hezbollywood”) are notable events which have been cited as examples.
The term has been coined and publicized in part by Richard Landes, as a result of an online documentary video he produced called Pallywood: According to Palestinian Sources, alleging specific instances of media manipulation.
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Facts didn’t matter then, as they don’t now. The French report and Palestinian narrative poured fuel on the fire that ignited to what became the Second Intifada. More than 1000 Israelis and many Palestinian Arabs were killed. Now, the deliberate deceit and baseless lies about Abu-Akhel’s death run the risk of her “martyrdom” inspiring more Palestinian Arab violence, fueled by misinformation and hatred. If the blood libel were not bad enough, that it has the potential to ignite more violence and death (for which Israel will also be blamed) is unforgivable. I pray it won’t.
Abu-Akhel’s death is a tragedy for sure, but there’s more than a little irony as well. That she was a Christian, and the Palestinian Arabs are now using her as a nationalist symbol is strange considering the proclivity of the Palestinian Authority (PA) to discriminate against and even threaten Christians. It’s why, for instance, the Christian population of Bethlehem has dropped from 80% to a reported 12% as Christians are fleeing the PA. Creating a Christian martyr of her is good for their narrative, but goes against the reality of Christians living as second class citizens within the PA. If they could canonize her as a saint, they would. Seeing her body draped in a Palestinian flag is disingenuous at best, especially if she was killed by a Palestinian terrorist’s bullet.
One has to ask how was it that she was precisely at the site of a gun battle exactly at the time it was taking place. Was at least partly staged by Palestinian Arab terrorists, maybe using her as a prop, to “report” on Israeli violence to the Arab world? Otherwise, how did she know to be in the right place at the wrong time unless she got “a tip” that there would be a battle at that location precisely then. The same question can be asked in the case of al-Dura where a “reporter” just happened to be there, filming at just the right angle. Certainly, Emmy Award winning material.
I admit my bias, but I still try to be objective. Facts do matter. Yes, Israel wants to do a proper full autopsy and investigation to establish its innocence. Should it be proven that Abu-Akhel was killed by Israeli bullet, Israel will investigate, use as a learning experience to prevent future civilian casualties, and even punish anyone who acted (or fired) illegally. Israel also likely would provide financial compensation to Abu-Akhel’s family as it has in the past.
If I were sitting on a jury seeing these facts, even if albeit circumstantial evidence, would I believe the Palestinian narrative? If they had a case and wanted to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt, they’d provide actual evidence, and not baseless rhetoric and lies with holes so large one could drive a truck through them. But all they seem to be demonstrating is that facts don’t matter.
The PA’s refusal of a joint investigation into her death, performing (literally) the quickest funeral imaginable, refusing to produce the bullet that killed her, even after “concluding” that who shot the bullet is inconclusive, can one truly believe any of their “facts?”
There’s a video of masked terrorists yelling that they shot an Israeli soldier, but there was no Israeli soldier shot. Israeli reports that the terrorists fired over 1000 bullets. Is it possible that one of these was the one that killed Abu-Ahkel? Sure.
Palestinian Authority is behaving like they are hiding the inconvenient truth that Abu-Akhel was killed by Palestinian Arab fire. With all their “evidence,” one would not be surprised if at some point they actually produced an Israeli bullet covered in Abu-Akhel’s DNA, after pushing it into the actual bullet wound.
First, they hijacked the truth for their anti-Israel political narrative, and then hijacked her body at her funeral. Is this a society whose word one can trust to establish who killed her?
Of course, civilians, including journalists, should not be targeted at all in any armed conflict. It’s abundantly documented that Israel goes out of the way to prevent civilian casualties, while the terrorists use civilians as cover. Many questions remain including who actually shot her, how and why was she there precisely at that time, was she in any sense an objective journalist, or just the puppet mouthpiece for a Palestinian terror group on a media network that’s hostile to Israel?