It is a perverse human quality, but we are drawn to news stories about human tragedies. Some characteristics of such stories intensify the level of our interest: descriptions or pictures of gore or disfigurement; pictures of grieving loved ones; and some form of personal connection - no matter how indirect - to those at the center of the tragedies. The adage, "if it bleeds it leads," condenses this notion to a pithy directive. Yet the American media has failed to cover a story containing every item on the sure-to-interest newsreaders' checklist. I invite you to ponder why that is.
An Arab Palestinian homicide bomber detonated himself at a falafel stand in Israel on April 17th, during Passover. The murderer killed eleven innocent people and wounded dozens.
A broad range of news sources including USA Today, the New York Times, the Washington Post, CBS, ABC, CNN, and the Philadelphia Inquirer included personal background information about the bomber. We learned that he was an al-Quds University drop-out, and, incredibly, that he had been a social worker. In his going-away video, the murderer claimed he sought martyrdom on behalf of imprisoned Arab Palestinians.
Satisfying its compulsion to draw parallels between Israeli and Arab Palestinian suffering, at least one newspaper - the Philadelphia Inquirer - placed on page 1 of its April 18th edition a photograph of an unnamed Israeli grieving over the body of an Israeli victim. Placed directly below that is a photograph of the murderer's mother wistfully holding two photographs - in one he is holding a rifle - of her now-dead son.
Juxtaposing these photographs suggests that there are victims on both sides of the conflict in the Middle East: Arab mothers grieve for their dead sons and young Israeli men grieve for dead Israelis.
I find this moral equivalence repulsive.
But let's take one more step.
If bleeders are leaders, and some kind of personal connection with the bleeders increase consumers' interest in a news story, then there is a follow up story from the April 17th bombing that should have been all over the American media.
Daniel Wultz is a 16 year old Florida teen who accompanied his father to Israel to visit relatives during Passover. On April 17th, Daniel and his father were eating in one of the few kosher Shawarma restaurants in Tel Aviv. Daniel was almost killed by the homicide bombing. In a coma for three weeks, Daniel's spleen and one of his kidneys had to be removed. Then, this basketball-loving teenager had to have one leg amputated at the knee. Finally, after almost a month of valiant fighting, Daniel succumbed; he died on Mothers' Day.
An American teenager, a healthy athletic boy from sunny Florida was transformed in a split second into a shattered vessel, a soul hovering between life and death. More and more parts of his body, instead of providing him with mobility and life support, turned against him, and were pared away in a futile effort to save his life.
Islamic Jihad claimed credit for the April 17th bombing. One of the terror group's leaders immediately expressed sorrow that Daniel had not been killed, according to WorldNetDaily, one of the few media sources to cover the story.
Another Arab terrorist group seeking to share credit for the bombing extolled the double treat of having murdered an American and a Zionist. Islamic Jihad threatened Americans and Jews everywhere, saying they are all legitimate targets.
What American could hear this story, and not become riveted, eager for updates, eager to cheer his progress, or despair any further impediments? But other than the Florida newspapers, such as the Sun Sentinel and the Miami Herald, and an AP story picked up by the Los Angeles Times (but by none of AP's other major subscribers), the rest of the mainstream American media ignored Daniel's struggle to live.
How can it be that an American Jewish teenager whose survival of a terrorist bombing had been called a miracle was something most American media sources considered inconsequential? Why was his story not newsworthy - because Daniel Wultz was a teenager, an American, an amputee, or because he was a Jewish Zionist? Or was it because the media thinks we are only interested in the personal lives of homicide bombers and their families? And whose fault is that?
Lori Lowenthal Marcus
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