While they were sleeping

ICEJ condemns media's dehumanization of Itamar terror victims

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16 Mar 2011
While they were sleeping

JERUSALEM - The world has been gripped in recent days by news of the earthquake and tsunami that have devastated the eastern seaboard of Japan. And while the thoughts and prayers of Christians around the world have been focused on the dire needs of the Japanese people - other headlines have passed us by.

On the evening of Friday March 11th, at a time when most of the world was first beginning to recognize the severity of the events unfolding in Japan, a group of Palestinian terrorists crept into the Jewish town of Itamar in northern Samaria and stabbed five members of the same family to death.

According to Israeli news reports, the killings occurred shortly after 10pm when the terrorists broke into the home of Ruth and Udi Fogel, aged 35 and 36, respectively. The attackers went from room to room, stabbing the parents, before slitting the throats of their 11 year-old son Yoav, his 4 year-old brother Eldad, and their 3 month-old baby sister Hadas. Miraculously two other young children were spared, as they lay sleeping on the couch, presumably unnoticed by the killers. The victim's blood-soaked bodies were found by their 12 year-old sister as she returned from a youth group meeting in the village later that night. 

"They say Eretz Yisrael is acquired through pain and suffering," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the grieving family of the victims on Sunday. "But we didn't think the pain and suffering would be so great."

And yet the pain and suffering of which the Israeli Prime Minister spoke has only been intensified in recent days as media networks across the world have sought to 'explain' the killings as part of a 'cycle of violence' caused by the decision of the Israeli government to temporarily allow the building of new homes within existing West Bank Jewish communities.[1]  

Once again the heart-breaking story of a family slain in their beds has been buried under the political agenda of news editors. Many headlines simply treated the victims as anonymous "Jewish settlers" dehumanizing the Fogel family with accompanying pictures of Israeli soldiers carrying machine guns - as if to suggest that the real villain in the tragedy was Israel itself.[2]

Some went even further. The Los Angeles Times blamed the settlements as the "provocation that led to [the murders] in the first place,"[3] whilst CNN and the BBC both cast doubt on the fact that Palestinian terrorists were to blame despite a clearly-issued claim of responsibility by the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade - the military wing of the Palestinian Authority's governing Fatah party. [4]

"Only you decided to use the term terrorist attack in quotation marks, as if this were not necessarily the case," Oren Helman of the Israeli Government Press Office wrote to CNN. "There is a limit to the extent of objectivity regarding such a horrific deed." [5]

The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem condemns in the strongest possible terms the persistent attitude of the international media that seeks to dehumanize the Israeli victims of Palestinian terrorism and blame their deaths on the policies of the Israeli government rather than the culture of jihad and incitement that fills the schools, mosques and state-run media throughout the Palestinian territories.

The ICEJ also calls on Christians to stand against the creeping demonization of the State of Israel that is gathering momentum throughout the nations of the world; a demonization that denies the Jewish people's historic and legal right to live in their historic homeland and seeks to equate Israeli actions of self-defense with murderous atrocities such as the killing of the Fogel family in Itamar on Friday.

Rev. Malcolm Hedding serves as the Executive Director of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem -an evangelical ministry headquartered in Jerusalem that stands at the forefront of a worldwide movement of Christians who support Israel.  For 30 years the ICEJ has funded social and humanitarian projects that have helped every community and people group in the land of Israel.


[1] For a more detailed treatment of media responses to the Itamar killings see Honest Reporting Media Critique: 'Baby Killers: BBC Butchers the Real Story' (March 13, 2011 - www.honestreporting.com)   

[2] New York Times: 'Suspecting Palestinians, Israeli Military Hunts for Killers of 5 West Bank Settlers' (March 12, 2011)

Washington Post: 'Israeli troops scour West Bank villages for killers of 5 Jewish settlers' (March 13, 2011)

[3] Los Angeles Times: A fatal Israeli-Palestinian flaw (Editorial, March 14, 2011)

[4] CNN: Israeli family of 5 killed in 'terror attack,' military says' (March 12, 2011);  BBC: 'Palestinian' kills 5 Israelis in West Bank (March 12, 2011)

[5] Ynet News: 'Israel demands CNN apology over attack coverage' (March 13, 2011)

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For more information: 
David Parsons, ICEJ +972-52-381-6214


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