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Editorial: A hasty response

March 13, 2011 5:08 P.M. (Updated: March 15, 2011 9:33 A.M.)
By: Nasser Lahham
The Israeli media response to the murder of five Israeli settlers in Itamar was hasty, reflecting confusion and a failure to adequately understand the situation in the West Bank.

Much of the coverage of the killings focused on Palestinians, in a dehumanizing editorial line which took no account of the recent attacks perpetrated by settlers against Palestinians.

Nowhere did the reports note that Palestinians have been decrying the danger of the settlement project for years.

For Palestinians and for Israelis, we say, settlements represent the antithesis of a peaceful solution.

Israel's most popular daily paper, Yedioth Ahronoth, ran a front page story calling the killers "Human beasts" in the sub-heading that ran beneath the victims' photographs.

It was a knee-jerk reaction, an attempt by the editor-in-chief to incite the public, and a dehumanizing decision.

In its coverage of the grisly events, the paper did not once mention the mobs of settlers that have attacked Palestinians in the streets, in their villages and on their farmland, killing two and injuring more than a dozen last month alone.

The news report grossly misjudged the situation in the West Bank, and ignored the rage of Palestinians to the continuation of the settlement project. Palestinians were simply vilified, with intimations that we are "beasts" who slaughter children.

Palestinians, the report says, should be treated as the baby-killers they are, and its up to the settlers and their soldiers to deal with them.

In Ma’ariv, another right-of-center daily newspaper, coverage of the killings shared the front page with the fallout of the earthquake in Japan, splashing the headlines with the word "massacre."

The leftist daily Haaretz lead with the earthquake, leaving a report on the killings to the sixth and seventh pages.

All placed blame for the deaths on Palestinian shoulders. None asked questions about why the settlers were in the West Bank to start with, or where the almost 200,000 Israeli police and soldiers charged with enforcing the occupation were when the attack happened.

Settlements by nature set up an unspeakably dangerous situation, and all sides have failed to assess it.
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