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January 12, 2023 12:19 pm
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New York Machete Attacker Had a Motive: Israel

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avatar by Sean Durns

Opinion

Confetti flies around the countdown clock during the first public New Year’s event since the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, at Times Square, in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., January 1, 2023. Photo: REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

A man who allegedly attacked several New York City police officers on New Year’s Eve was reportedly motivated by American support for Israel. Some in the press, however, have been mum about Trevor Bickford’s motives.

The 19 year-old has been charged with attempting to murder police officers, assault, and attempted assault. Bickford reportedly yelled “Allahu Akbar” before striking one police officer on the head and attempting to grab another officer’s gun, before he was shot. Assistant District Attorney Lucy Nicholas said that Bickford traveled from his home in Maine to New York City “in order to begin carrying out his crimes of murder of government officials.”

Nicholas also said that Bickford told investigators that “all government officials,” including police officers, were a target due to the US government’s support of Israel. The Washington Post reported that authorities “have been investigating whether Bickford was motivated by Islamic extremism.” Bickford is a convert to Islam.

Several major Western news outlets, however, failed to report on Bickford’s alleged motive.

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A January 6 CBS report, for example, didn’t disclose Bickford’s anti-Israel animus. The article did provide additional details about the suspect, noting that a notebook was found in his backpack “with writings about wanting to go to Afghanistan and train to become a holy warrior.” CBS also noted that Bickford was on an FBI terror watchlist at the time of the attack. But the report — which was filed after Nicholas revealed Bickford’s motivation — failed to mention the suspect’s hatred of the Jewish state and its role in the attack.

Nor was CBS alone. A Wall Street Journal report made the same mistake. And so did a local ABC affiliate. The latter provided extensive details about the charges brought against Bickford, only to omit the attacker’s anti-Israel motive. Other publications, such as The Hill, failed to update their initial reports and provide readers with additional information about the incident.

By contrast, several other newspapers noted the reason behind the New Year’s Eve assault. The Washington Post, The New York Times, the Associated Press — all outlets with a pronounced history of anti-Israel bias — were among them. As The New York Times report pointed out, “Bickford told authorities that all government officials constituted targets for him, as ‘they cannot be proper Muslims because the United States government supports Israel.’”

Highlighting motive is, of course, an essential part of any news story about a crime. Good reporting provides not only the “who, what, when, and where,” but also the “why.”

As the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis (CAMERA), among others, has documented, it’s not uncommon for terrorists of all stripes to be motivated by antisemitism. And it’s not a coincidence that those who seek to strike at a free society and its vestiges are often brimming with hate for the world’s sole Jewish state. We ignore such hate at our own peril. By offering honest, full, and accurate reporting, the media plays a key role in combating a virus whose lethality hasn’t abated.

The writer is a senior research analyst for CAMERA, the 65,000-member, Boston-based Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis 

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