WaPo Emphasizes Palestinian Suffering

The Washington Post carries a lengthy article in its Sunday, July 6, editions on the turbulent events on the Israeli-Palestinian front, with special emphasis on the family and neighborhood of Muhammad Abu Khieder whose charred body was found in Jerusalem Forest (“An unlikely place for a new intifada – Shuafat, home of slain Palestinian, has history of cross-cultural ties” by Ruth Eglash, Sufian Tara and Griff Witte; front page)

The article gives an empathetic, up close and personal view of a grieving Arab family that previously interacted comfortably with Israelis. It also attempts to give Post readers an overview of another round of violence during Saturday’s news cycle. Since the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli youths, readers are told, “Arabs have faced harassment and beatings.” Twenty Palestinians have been arrested.  A local hospital was treating more than 100 Arabs. And, yes, 13 Israeli policemen were “lightly wounded” during escalating clashes.

The overall impression is of growing powder keg fueled by Palestinian anger and high-handed Israeli responses.

But there’s something missing from this picture, especially if readers get only as far as the 17th paragraph in a 21-paragraph story. Most of them actually never get that far. Accordingly there’s virtually no coverage at all of persistent rocket attacks from Gaza against civilian populations in southern Israel. Just the opposite – we’re supposed to believe that Khieder’s murder “has sparked little popular unrest in Gaza.”

Well, not quite.

Deep inside the 17th paragraph, readers finally are informed that, according to the Israeli military, “20 rockets had been fired Saturday toward Israel and 135 had been launched since the three Israeli teens were abducted.” 

No mention that hundreds of thousands of Israelis have to rush into bomb shelters at the sound of incoming rockets. No mention of the psychological pain and suffering of a population wondering how close the next rocket will come.. No mention of the especially nightmarish impact on children under constant rocket barrages. 

Sderot, the most terrorized city in the Middle East, is totally ignored. Instead, a final wrapup by a Palestinian university lecturer who opines that all the violent clashes are due to “the Israeli occupation, expansion of Israeli settlements and violence against Palestinians by settlers.”

Amidst all the preoccupation about Palestinian pain, Israeli suffering gets short shrift.

Leo Rennert is a former White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief of McClatchy Newspapers