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April 19, 2023 9:05 am

How Media Outlets Failed Amid Heightened Tensions During Passover, Ramadan & Easter

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avatar by Rachel O'Donoghue


Rina Miryam (L) and Maya Ester, the two British-Israeli sisters murdered in the West Bank in a terror attack. Photo: Telegram

The religious festivals of Passover, Easter, and Ramadan coincided this year at a time of already heightened tensions in Israel, following a spike in terror attacks in recent months.

As clashes between Palestinian rioters and Israeli police erupted on the Temple Mount in early April, rocket attacks by terrorists in Gaza and Lebanon threatened to spark another war.

On April 7, Israelis reacted in horror following the news that Palestinian terrorists had murdered Israeli sisters Maia Dee, 20, and Rina Dee, 15, in a shooting attack that also claimed the life of their mother Lucy Dee, 48, when the family’s car was hit by a hail of bullets as they were driving through the northern Jordan Valley.

As flawed coverage spiked online and elsewhere, HonestReporting responded in real time, calling out the worst bias.

Al Jazeera demonstrated its deep-rooted anti-Israel bias in its reportage of the attack on the Dees, including initial stories that referred to the murdered sisters as “settlers” in what could only be viewed as offering tacit justification for their murders, and describing the Palestinian perpetrator as merely aiming at a vehicle:

CNN International rounded up its coverage of the rockets that were fired that week with a patchy report that failed to mention both the Israelis that had been injured in the cross-border attack and the West Bank shooting:

Several leading British media outlets opted to sanitize their coverage of the Dee murders, including The Sunday Times and The Guardian. The former invoked imagery more appropriate to inner-city gang warfare by describing the young women as dying in a “West Bank drive-by shooting,” while the left-leaning Guardian passively said the victims had been “killed” as opposed to “murdered.”

Just hours after the Dee family was ambushed, a Palestinian terrorist rammed a vehicle into a group of pedestrians near the Tel Aviv seafront. Italian national Alessandro Parini, 35, died and seven other tourists were injured when Yousef Abu Jaber hit them at high speed on Kaufmann Street.

HonestReporting highlighted the inconsistency in how media organizations viewed such incidents when the victims are tourists rather than Israelis.

For example, Sky News was among a handful of international outlets that correctly labeled the car ramming a “terror attack” but have previously failed to do so when reporting on similar incidents involving Israelis:

Meanwhile, The Guardian downplayed the nature of the attack, merely alluding to it as “violence in Tel Aviv” in a story that also linked the West Bank shooting to Israel’s downing of a drone that was directed from Lebanon.

HonestReporting also called out the director of the anti-Israel hate website Electronic Intifada, Ali Abunimah, who in the hours after the attack speculated on Twitter that it could have been a “car accident” as a result of the driver having a “medical event”:

Our forensic analysis of the biased and skewed reporting on the atrocities also led to an exposé of a CNN journalist who had attempted to downplay Palestinian terrorism in at least one story. We revealed that Tamara Qiblawi, a native of Lebanon and CNN’s Senior Digital Middle East Producer in London, had posted numerous troubling statements on her social media accounts, including referring to Israel as an “ethno-religious exclusive state” and questioning whether “Muslim terrorists” were responsible for the Charlie Hebdo terror attack in France.

We also detailed how numerous news outlets incorrectly reported that Israel was solely responsible for limiting the number of Christian worshipers who would be allowed into Jerusalem’s Old City to attend the Holy Fire ritual at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. A leaked letter revealed that it was actually the church’s engineer who limited crowd numbers to 1,800 inside the church with a further 200 in the courtyard, and not Israeli police.

The author is a contributor to HonestReporting, a Jerusalem-based media watchdog with a focus on antisemitism and anti-Israel bias — where a version of this article first appeared.

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