Why Is a Life in Poway Worth More Than One in Ashkelon or Sderot?
More than 700 rockets, missiles, and mortars were fired at Israel from the Gaza Strip this past weekend. Four Israelis were murdered, many more were injured to varying degrees, widespread panic and property damage was caused, schools and other social institutions were shut down, and normal life ground to a halt.
More than one million Israelis living in southern Israel are being terrorized and forced to live in shelters as rockets are indiscriminately fired at them by Islamic terrorists who are determined to destroy Israel. Israelis in the south have long been subjected to an annihilationist campaign with no end in sight, and with flare-ups like this one largely ignored by the American mainstream media.
When viewed from the eyes of an Israeli, let alone one living in southern Israel, this lack of coverage only a week after an antisemitic terror attack in Poway, California — one that dominated the news cycle and prompted calls for a wider discussion of the rise in antisemitic attacks across the world — is simply appalling.
Are Israelis — the largest group of Jews in the world — to conclude that a Jewish life snuffed out by a white supremacist in Poway is more precious than a Jewish life snuffed out by an Islamist rocket to the American public and media? Is an Islamic antisemitic terror attack on Israelis any less appalling than one that takes place on American soil, regardless of the identity of the perpetrator(s)?
Are we to believe that the largest group of Jews in the world that resides in Israel does not belong in the American discussion about the rise in global antisemitism? Do Americans not care about the murder of Jews in Israel? The answer is yes, of course Americans care — and deeply. But in order to care, one first needs to know, and Americans are not being given the opportunity to properly evaluate affairs, let alone care about them.
Many factors contribute to the way that terrorist attacks in Israel are presented, or at times not presented at all, to the American public. A discussion of all of them can and does fill entire books. For the purpose of this discussion, we should highlight two important factors.
First, we must address the politicization factor. Faith-based attacks in America are typically spun by news outlets along the entire political spectrum, and usually for ideological or financial reasons. And there is no question that gory details of a domestic attack drive more traffic to news sites, and voters to the polls, than one taking place thousands of miles away.
This leads us to the next important factor: the racism of low expectations that has taken root in America and the West generally. This leads us to say things like, “but this has always taken place there and is nothing new” or “what can you expect from those terrorists?” It is a conversation that judges Muslim terrorists by lower standards than the ones we typically apply to ourselves, or others we consider “civilized” enough to apply them to.
It also says that we’re used to Israelis dying in antisemitic terror attacks and are willing to keep overlooking them. Simply put, in America, the murder of Israelis just isn’t news.
This twisted conversation has to be set straight. The most egregious actor in the disinformation campaign is the mainstream media, which — by action even if not true belief — thinks that a life in Poway, California is more precious than one in Ashkelon or Sderot.
Edward Manor is an Israeli-born American lawyer and political commentator. Twitter: @SHomer_Israel.