Thursday, January 30, 2014

30-Jan-14: Winning against terror: Whether to focus on the victims or celebrate the psychopaths is the core issue

Triumph: Abbas, Abed Rabbo [Image Source]
Over at, they have a powerful front-page article at this hour, written by Lori Lowenthal Marcus. It's entitled "Murderer of Israeli Students Given Cash Prize, Employed, Promoted". Here's the opening:
On October 22, 1984, two Hebrew University students went hiking. Revital Seri, 22, and her friend Ron Levi, 23, were hiking in a wadi near the Cremisan Monastery south of Jerusalem. A 19 year old Palestinian Arab who had stolen a weapon from a soldier was waiting for Jews to kill. When he saw Revital and Ron, he tied up both of them, put bags over their heads, pronounced their “sentence,” and shot them, killing each with one bullet to the head. A monument was erected in 1988 in memory of the two murdered students. It is on the grounds of Hebrew University, between the archeology building and the Buber Ross building.That Arab, Issa abd Rabbo, was arrested, tried and convicted of the two murders. He was given two life sentences, and sent to live out the rest of his life in an Israeli prison. This past spring, while Rabbo was still in prison, an emissary of the acting leader of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, paid a visit to Rabbo’s mother. According to the Palestinian news agency Wafa, Abbas expressed “appreciation and admiration” for her “steadfastness and sacrifice,” waiting for her son.  She was also told that her son and all Palestinians in prison are heroes and they are “the best of the Palestinian people.” On Oct. 30, 2013, Rabbo and 26 other convicted murderers who had been sentenced to serve out their lives in prison because of brutally ending the lives of Israelis, were set free.
Revital Seri was 22 when Issa Abed
Rabbo murdered her
The larger dimensions of the tragic story of the murders, the murderer and the murdered, and the enraging 2013 aftermath, are important enough that people with justice on their minds ought to read the whole article.

Now here's another background issue.

When those security measures that Israel takes in the interests of keeping ordinary, unarmed citizens and visitors from being attacked and killed like the psychopath in the Jewish Press article are put in place, and condemned by the usual array of Israel-unfriendly voices, the victims are simply not there.

You can get a taste of how that works from a story that is going to get increasing media attention in the coming weeks. By way of background, here is a randomly-chosen 2013 Catholic News Service syndicated news article, "Barrier's extension could separate West Bank Salesians from communities". It describes tensions in the Cremisan Valley on Jerusalem's southern flank.

Truthfully, it's not an especially important piece or particularly well composed. We offer it - after a Google search of, oh, 1.3 seconds - as just one stereotypical illustration of how a hostile and ideologically-spun narrative is presented, with some of the customary elements on display:
  • The non-Israelis - for instance the cleric who "celebrates Mass with a desire for peace in his heart" - live an idyllic existence in a little corner of paradise until...
  • Along come the military forces who choose that particular spot "so they can get their hands on the land". No other reason...
  • Although if you ask the Israelis, they will maintain that "the wall is needed for security reasons" but then the Israeli side are always saying that (wink, wink)...
  • With the result that the proud and honest locals "will have no land on which to build homes of their own."
  • Ron Levy, the second victim of
    Issa Abed Rabo's greatest moment,
    was 23 and a university student
  • But they're plucky: "I am always telling my children they must stay here. This is our land, our people, our life."
A very large amount of relevant information here is excluded, ignored, distorted or perverted in this. At the same time, we doubt Catholic News Service are worse than or even as bad as many others.

As always, our fury is aroused by the absence of any mention at all of the Israeli victims. They are simply superfluous to the public conversation. Yet, with a moment's honest reflection, it's clear that what was done to them affects decisions by the authorities who have responsibility for preventing repetitions of senseless brutal tragedies, even if political activists and the news reporters who dance to their tune are impervious and uninterested.

It's one thing for the reporter to quote with obvious sympathy the lament about "our land, our people, our life." But is this solely about their land, their people, their life?

Those two university students who were the victims of the freshly released and obscenely celebrated terrorist mention above were killed - murdered in especially cold-blood as Lori Lowenthal Marcus writes - in the Cremisan Valley, the very location described in that Catholic News Service piece.

Convicted, released
unrepentant murderer, and Palestinian icon:
Abed Rabbo
For our part, we would be really interested in a follow-on CNS article - one that goes back to the same interviewees and asks them what they think about the killer, this Issa Abed Rabbo, now that he has been given so much public exposure following his premature release from an Israeli prison cell.

For instance, have they seen the online photo albums (like this one) documenting his triumphant return home to a hero's welcome in the nearby Little Town of Bethlehem, once overwhelmingly Christian, now two-thirds Moslem? Did they watch his celebrated appearance on the local television program with the ludicrous title Lover's Tales? Missed it? It's here. The dispassion, the coldness, the hatred: do they see it? Do they read Lori Lowenthal Marcus? They should.

And when they finally understand how their own government, the Mahmoud Abbas-controlled PA, is funneling scarce resources to the promotion and glorification of murdering thugs like Issa Abed Rabbo, will the kindly Christians of the Cremisan Valley understand just who is threatening, undermining, cheapening their land, their people, their lives?

If the Catholic News Service helps them get there, that would be a true journalistic achievement and perhaps even a small contribution to peace.

1 comment: said...

legislation needed to ensure that these types are compelled to serve out the entirety of their sentences…without exceptions…or legislation to enact the death penalty for such obscene criminality…the PLO reward system only encourages this behavior…many of them also apparently believe that if they are killed…they will end up in heaven with a good supply of virgins plus unlimited supplies of coca cola…Israel has to recognize at some point…the extent to which their neighbours have been brain washed…with recognition of the implications of such conditioning…this is an important starting point in dealing with such people…S H Cohen