30 August 2019 — FAIR
HBO has a series based on a real-life crime in Israel—a 2014 case involving (in the New York Times‘ words) “a Palestinian teenager snatched off a Jerusalem street by Orthodox Jews, choked, bludgeoned and burned to death in a forest at dawn.”
And how does the Times headline its report (8/27/19) on this series?
HBO Drama Revives a National Trauma for Israel
For Israel? Yes, and by “Israel,” Times Jerusalem correspondent Isabel Kershner means Jewish Israelis; in her eyes, they are the ones for whom the murder of 16-year-old Palestinian Muhammad Abu Khdeir was a “national trauma”:
It was the extraordinary coldbloodedness of the murder that made it true-crime movie material in the first place…. But Our Boys, a 10-part series that started this month on HBO, is under attack in Israel largely because of that singularity.
Some critics have accused the creators of skewing reality and ignoring what they say is the more common scourge of Palestinian terrorism against Israelis, creating a false equivalency between the two and tarnishing Israel’s image.
Let’s stop here for a reality check: There are, in fact, statistics on who’s killing whom in Israel/Palestine. The Israeli human rights group group B’Tselem reports that since January 2009, there have been 95 Israeli civilians killed by Palestinians—and at least 1,771 “Palestinians who did not take part in hostilities…killed by Israeli security forces.” (This latter number does not include Israeli assassinations—labeled as “targeted killings”—or Palestinians killed by Israeli civilians.) There have been 13 Israeli minors killed by Palestinians since 2009, and 785 Palestinian minors killed by Israeli security forces; in other words, a child killed in the conflict is 60 times more likely to be a Palestinian child than a Jewish child.
Kershner might have pointed out that the accusation that Palestinians murdering Jewish Israelis is a “more common scourge” is an absolute inversion of reality. Instead, to cite an example of “some critics” who think it’s “skewing reality” to focus on a single Palestinian death, she turns to Yair Netanyahu, the son of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who said on Twitter (8/21/19):
The series tells the whole world how the Israelis and Jews are cruel and bloodthirsty murderers, and how the Palestinians are badly done by and oppressed.
The tweeter’s father, as prime minister since March 2009, is responsible for nearly every one of those 785 Palestinian children killed by his security services.
After quoting the younger Netanyahu, Kershner acknowledges that Palestinians watching the series “also had painful memories.” As an example, she offers the parents of the murdered boy, who no doubt felt at least as bad watching a TV show about their dead child as the prime minister’s son did.
Did somebody say “false equivalency”?
Please tell the New York Times not to treat the murder of a Palestinian child as chiefly a “national trauma” for Jewish Israelis.
Please remember that respectful communication is the most effective. Feel free to leave a copy of your message in the comments thread of this post.
Featured image: A recreation of a crime scene on HBO‘s Our Boys.