A few months ago, I took umbrage at a BBC news story that reported that Israel killed Palestinian children and only saw fit to mention, in the 5th and 6th paragraphs, that the children were fiddling around rocket launchers when Israel fired its missiles. I felt that the news was being reported to demonize Israel, and that’s why it led the story with the dead children. Just to refresh your recollection, here are the headline and first three paragraphs of that story:
Palestinian children die in blast
Three Palestinian children have been killed after an Israeli tank shell hit northern Gaza, Palestinian doctors say.
Israel’s military confirmed it launched an attack, saying it had targeted people setting up a rocket launcher.
Doctors said two boys aged 10 and 12 died of shrapnel wounds. A 12-year-old girl who was critically injured in the blast died also in hospital.
Two months later, I now have an interesting comparison study about how newspapers report child deaths in the Middle East. As you may recall, yesterday Hamas, a Palestinian organization, fired into a crowd of supports of Fatah, another Palestinian organization. Here are a few headlines and first paragraphs.
Deadly clash at Arafat Gaza rally
At least six people have died in gunfire at a rally in Gaza City organised by Fatah to mark three years since the death of Yasser Arafat.
The violence occurred when Fatah supporters began taunting Hamas police and throwing stones, witnesses said.
Bloody anniversary wrecks hopes for peace between Gaza factions
Seven people were killed and more than 100 wounded yesterday when Hamas paramilitary police clashed with Fatah supporters during a massive Gaza City rally marking the third anniversary of Yassir Arafat’s death.
In the worst inter-Palestinian clashes since the Islamist Hamas drove its secular Fatah rivals from the Gaza Strip in June, the self-appointed Hamas police force fired on a demonstration and beat protesters, claiming that Fatah snipers on rooftops had triggered the violence.
Gunmen Open Fire At Gaza City Rally
At least five people have reportedly been killed at a mass rally marking former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat’s death.
Hospital officials said 50 others were wounded when security forces opened fire in Gaza City.
7 killed as Hamas open fire on Fatah rally
GAZA CITY — Seven civilians were killed and dozens were wounded in a clash between Palestinian factions yesterday when Hamas police opened fire after protesters began hurling rocks.
On the anniversary of the 2003 death of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, a rally of more than 250,000 Fatah supporters posed the strongest challenge to Hamas rule in Gaza since the Islamic militants seized the territory.
6 Palestinians Killed in Gaza at Fatah Rally
GAZA, Nov. 12 — At least six Palestinians were killed and more than 100 wounded here on Monday when a rally by the relatively pro-Western Fatah movement to mark the third anniversary of the death of its founder, Yasir Arafat, ended in armed clashes with its rival, Hamas.
Doctors at two Gaza hospitals said all of the dead and most of the wounded were Fatah supporters who had taken part in the rally.
None of these stories, from major news outlets, make any mention of children amongst the dead after this Palestinian violence. Yet, surprisingly, at least one child was, in fact, a victim of this internecine bloodshed. I discovered that tidbit in paragraph 9 of a London Times story from today looking back on yesterday’s events. Yesterday, buried deep in its initial report of the event, the London Times did have witnesses report that children were in the line of fire, but it mentioned no juvenile deaths. The New York Times also didn’t mention juvenile deaths in its initial report, although I think it gets credit for reporting the Palestinians’ dawning realization that they opted for a sizzling Palestinian fire in lieu of the warmer, more humane, Israeli frying pan:
At Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, Afaf Abu Tayeh, 45, was waiting by the morgue. She was there to look for two sons, ages 16 and 17. “The Israelis were more merciful than them,” she said of Hamas. “They beat children in front of my eyes.”
Maybe it’s just coincidence, but I think there is something going on when the death of children is reported so differently, depending on who is doing the shooting. And I think that what is going on is that the media, either purposely or because of an inherent, uncontrollable bias, views Israel as a demonic child-killing country (sort of the modern blood libel), while it is loathe to give any openings for too many value judgments regarding the Palestinians, whom the media has championed for so long. And all the while, as we excuse the Palestinians for their bestial conduct towards others as well as to themselves, we give them carte blanche to continue with such behavior, so that more children will die.