No Tears for Israeli Victims

The Nov. 28 edition of the Washington Post grabs readers with a four-column photograph at the top of the front page with a caption reading: "Aseel Tafesh, 4, gathers her dolls from her home in a destroyed apartment building in Gaza City, where an uneasy quiet has settled as a truce between Israel and Hamas holds. The recent eight-day conflict killed 174 Palestinians, according to health officials in Gaza."

The four-column headline below the photograph introduces a lengthy feature by Scott Wilson, who during a stint of several years as the Post's Jerusalem correspondent, was notable for his pro-Palestinian coverage. The headline reads: "In Gaza, caution can't save innocents -- Deaths in two families during recent conflict show limits of Israel's warning policy." Wilson's basic theme is that as long as there are collateral civilian casualties from Israeli operations, it doesn't matter that Israel may take all sorts of precautions not to harm civilians, Israel is still the heavy inviting international condemnation, which Wilson, of course, greatly encourages by his kind of pro-Palestinian reporting. The ultimate logic of this thesis is for Israel to dispense with its right of self-defense -- an outcome that evidently would not produce tears from Wilson.

To set the scene, Wilson starts by introducing Khalid Azzam, a member of Islamic Jihad, who is awakened by a cellphone call from the Israeli military warning him that he was a target and to get civilians out of harm's way. Wilson clearly feels this is insufficient. "The phone calls are no guarantee that innocents will be spared," he writes. "No single event galvanizes support for Gaza's armed groups (Wilson never calls them terrorists) like mass civilian killings by Israel's military, and despite what Israel describes as exceptional caution, the recent conflict featured several of them."

("Mass civilian killings"? If you dig all the way into Wilson's article, it turns out three or four civilian casualties qualify as "mass civilian killings." It's Wilson's pro-Palestinian math.)

Moving along: Azzam, responding to the Israeli warning, gathers his family and flees into the street -- without alerting his neighbors. The Israeli airstrike destroys Azzam's home, but also four others, including members of the Abu Zor family, who are not affiliated with Gaza's "armed groups." Two young mothers of the Zor family and a 3-year-old named Mohammed "perished in a blast meant to kill someone else," Wilson writes.

There is some lingering resentment by survivors of the Abu Zor family at their Azzam neighbors for not alerting them, but Wilson assures us that they "ultimately blame Israel."

And casting himself as a cheerleader for Hamas, Wilson opines that it "reaped benefits from such attacks and has emerged in perhaps its strongest political position since taking full control of the Mediterranean enclave five years ago."

But Wilson still is not done with his highly emotional depictions of the grisly fate of the Abu Zor family. "Mohammed, the 3-year-old, had received a fatal wound in the leg," he writes. "Within minutes, a far larger blast blew out the walls of the house. Many of those who were inside were blown across the street. They lay in the street in front of the Qutati home."

At that point, Ahad Qutati was "killed by shrapnel," Wilson writes. "Ambulances rush to the scene. Soon, the bodies of Nisma, Sahar and little Mohammed were carried in the hospital, filmed by journalists staking out the emergency room. Tahanni Abu Zor watched in confused grief, and the area around her eyes, pitted with glass shards, was distorted by swelling and cuts."

And more pitiful details along these dolorous lines, as Wilson goes all out to whip up tears and sympathy for Gaza "innocents". His article, with additional color photographs, takes up an entire inside page plus another half page. The photographs include close-ups of a 14-year-old girl and a 10-year-old boy injured in the airstrikes.

Sadly, it goes without saying that Wilson and the Washington Post show nowhere near the same solicitude and empathy for Israeli civilians killed in the recent fighting or for the hundreds of thousands of Israelis who for years have been under constant rocket bombardments from Gaza, including thousands of children left with deep, lingering emotional scars.

While copious tears are shed for Gaza, there are few if any left at the Post for Sderot, Netivot, Ashdod, Ashkelon and other towns and kibbutzim within range of Hamas and Islamic Jihad rockets, including most recently Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Palestinian plight trumps Israeli plight -- by a country mile.

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