Jewish Lives Don’t Matter
On Saturday evening, a family of Jews on their way to prayer in Jerusalem were attacked by a Palestinian man. The young parents and their baby were stabbed. The father died, as did a passer by who kindly rushed to assist. The mother was badly injured and the child’s life forever altered. BBC World picked up on the story and reported as follows; “ Palestinian shot dead after Jerusalem attack kills two.” The headline was later changed, twice in fact, but the immediate message was clear. Jewish lives don’t matter.
A few weeks ago a photo went viral. It depicted a scene where an Israeli soldier, who was being attacked by stone throwing youths, pulled a Palestinian child. Pulled him. Didn’t stab him. Didn’t shoot him. Didn’t behead him, as seems to be a preferred discipline in the neighborhood. He pulled him. And the world gasped in horror. The “Brutality” of the soldier was splashed across the pages of global media, and only later when it transpired that the whole event was staged managed by a family who had repeatedly set themselves up to be in the public eye, did the story cool. Contrast that with the non-existent reaction to Saturday’s family murder.
Contrast that with the murder of two parents on Thursday night as they drove home with their four children in the car. Shot to death in front of their children because they were Jewish and had the audacity to live in Israel. Most South African news outlets ignored the story, because sadly, Jewish lives don’t seem to matter.
Benjamin Netanyahu in his address to the United Nations General Assembly raised the issue of global silence. He questioned how when 70 years after the holocaust Iran publicly and repeatedly threatens to wipe out the Jewish State the world could once again remain silent. He stared down the member states in a 45 seconds silent protest emphasizing his distaste. Iran has publicly and repeatedly threatened to annihilate the Jewish State and its people. It has funded terror in the region and fought a proxy war against the country. And the United Nation has remained silent. Even her so called allies failed her and have pressed on with an agreement that will allow millions of dollars to flow into the country and enable them to continue along their stated path.
Hamas and the Palestinian Authorities have welcomed the slaughter of the families. The have rejoiced in the streets and have publicly lauded the murderers as heroes. They have cowardly hidden behind the fabricated tension on the Temple Mount where it is only Muslims and not Jews who are allowed to pray. It is the second oldest trick in the book –accuse someone of the very act that you are guilty of. It confuses and it subverts and somehow in the topsy-turvy world of the Middle East, where the most bigoted and racists have managed to win the hearts of the liberal global press, this technique works magically.
The sad truth is that in many parts of the Middle East, Christian lives don’t seem to matter much either. Nor do gay people’s lives and nor do the lives of women, children and anyone who ventures a view outside that of the ruling authority. We have seen repeated abuse and slaughter of anyone who challenges, and the world has largely remained silent. It’s a shame and it’s a disgrace. And the press shares the responsibility by being complicit in the deception.
I hated the 45 seconds of silence in Netanyahu’s UN speech. Partly because silence makes me uncomfortable. And partly because he turned Jewish guilt on the world and I have always considered that to be our cross to bear. But it said more than any words could have.
Because, to date words have failed us.
Because words have been used against us.
And because words have distorted the truth.
And words have killed.
The tragic deaths of the families in Israel indeed leave us speechless. Bereft and heartbroken. We have no words of comfort for the children who will grow up without parents and who will always be aware that there were those who danced in the streets on hearing of their loss. And we have no words for the parents who had to find the vocabulary to eulogize their children. But we can keep a close eye on the custodians of our news and those who frame our perceptions. The power of the headline is immense. If the media choose not to monitor themselves, then that grave responsibility falls on us.