Baby Amiad Yisrael and The New York Times
On the last night of Hanukkah seven Israelis were wounded in a drive-by shooting at a bus stop on the main road between Jerusalem and Nablus. Among them were Amichai and Shira Ish-Ran, residents of the nearby settlement of Ofra. Amichai, bleeding from his wounds, did what he could to save Shira, severely wounded in her seventh month of pregnancy, until an ambulance arrived to rush them to the Shaare Zedek Hospital in Jerusalem. Baby Amiad Yisrael was delivered by emergency Cesarean section, enabling Shira to hold him before he died three days later.
After the outpouring of national grief that accompanied their personal sorrow, Shira and Amichai, confined to wheelchairs and unable to attend their baby’s funeral, publicly thanked Israelis for “embracing us with great affection.” Shira asserted: “The blood flowing in my arteries is the blood of the people of Israel and that gives me a lot of strength. … I will bring many more babies into this world. Am Yisrael Chai.”
Sorrowfully and proudly, Amichai said: “Our son managed to unite all of us during the three days he was alive; most people can’t do that in a lifetime. I am proud to be part of such a nation.” He vowed that terrorists “can kill us and our children but they cannot break us; we won’t let them.” Their tiny baby, wrapped in a talit, was buried in the ancient Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives. Rabbi Rafael Ish-Ran, Amichai’s father, said: “We are not requesting much, simply to be able to live and not be murdered.” Hamas, true to its execrable core, claimed credit for the attack.
The New York Times, predictably indifferent to Jewish suffering, relied on Reuters for a four-sentence report that managed to locate the deadly attack “in the occupied West Bank.” Those who deny Israel’s “West Bank” legitimacy (the Times among them) will find Ofra, home of the parents of baby Amiad, mentioned in the Book of Joshua.
Contrast its abysmally shallow report of the tragic death of Amiad Yisrael with a three-column report by Jerusalem Bureau Chief David Halbfinger one week later (December 18) about the accidental deaths of two boys in Gaza five months ago. His focus was the report by two human rights groups criticizing the Israeli military tactic of “knocking on the roof” as a warning to civilians to vacate their premises before an imminent attack.
The Times, dismissive of Israeli tragedies — especially when the victims are settlers who, by invidious implication, have no right to live on “Palestinian land” — devoted nearly half the article space to a photograph of grieving mourners carrying the body of a 15-year-old boy who was accidentally killed by the intended warning. There was no photograph of the tiny body of Amiad Yisrael, wrapped in a tallit, before his burial.
Once again, the venerable daily promise of The New York Times — “All the News That’s Fit to Print” — has become “all the news expressing its enduring discomfort with a Jewish state in the biblical homeland of the Jewish people is fit to print.”
Jerold S. Auerbach is the author of Print to Fit: The New York Times, Zionism and Israel, to be published in January by Academic Studies Press.