Never mind, it's just another Jewish holy site being attacked
Jews at the Tomb of Joseph

When the editors at America's major news media outlets saw the first few words of one particular breaking story last week, their first instinct must have been to reach for the nearest phone, so they could immediately assign their top reporters and film crews to cover the important news: Innocent worshippers are under attack by nationalist extremists!

It sounded like New Zealand all over again — until they read further, and discovered that the attackers were Palestinian nationalist extremists and the targets were innocent Israeli Jewish worshippers. Then editors everywhere suddenly lost interest.

The constant violence perpetrated against Jews at the biblical Tomb of Joseph, in Nablus (Shechem) has been one of the most under-reported stories in the Middle East for many years. The reason is simple: it makes the Palestinian Arab cause look bad.

Nablus has been under the control of the Palestinian Authority since 1995. The Tomb of Joseph has been under the PA's control since 2000. That was the year the PA police watched calmly and approvingly as Palestinian mobs torched the tomb, tore apart prayer books, unfurled Torah scrolls so they could gleefully stomp on them, and murdered Rabbi Hillel Lieberman.

The PA is bound by the Oslo accords to permit Jews to freely access their holy sites. But like everything else in those accords, the PA couldn't care less what its obligations are. So the only way Jews can pray at the tomb of one of the biblical patriarchs is if they are escorted by a large contingent of Israeli soldiers, in the middle of the night.

The Arab residents of Nablus can't stand the idea of Jews quietly praying in a tiny building in an inconspicuous corner of the city. So they keep trying to murder the Jews.

On March 20, just four days after the mass slaughter in New Zealand, Palestinian terrorists attempted to murder Jews at the Tomb of Joseph by throwing bombs at them. Fortunately, the Israeli guards shot and killed two of the attackers.

It was just the latest in a series of similar attempted massacres at the site — but you wouldn't know it from reading your daily newspaper or watching the evening news.

On January 3, an Arab mob attacked Jews who were on their way to pray at the tomb. Two of the terrorists were injured by Israeli soldiers guarding the area. On January 21, another mob of Palestinian Arabs attempted to stone Jews to death at the tomb. This time, two of the Israeli guards were injured and had to be hospitalized. There was a similar assault at the Tomb of Joseph on February 20.

How was this news reported in the Palestinian Authority-controlled areas? The Ma'an news agency headlined its report: "Two Palestinians Killed as Israelis Settlers Raid Joseph's Tomb." Ma'an reported that the January 21 incident was the result of "Israeli settlers storming Joseph's Tomb."

Okay, I guess I shouldn't be surprised at such absurdly blatant bias from the Palestinian Arab news media. But the reporting by mainstream American news media wasn't much better. The headline in the Washington Post focused on the dead attackers, not the innocent worshippers whom they targeted: "Israeli Army: 2 Palestinians Killed in Clashes With Troops."

Meanwhile, the Associated Press suggested that Israeli troops were to blame for the March 20 incident, because the soldiers had been chasing a terrorist named Omar Abu Leila (who had just murdered two Israelis): "The two-day manhunt for Abu Leila had raised tensions in Israel and the West Bank following a period of calm," according to the AP. Incredible!

For those of us who have written frequently about the egregious double standard that the news media use when reporting on Israel, the attack on the Tomb of Joseph was just another day at the office. We expect this kind of unfairness. Anything different would be surprising.

But it's important to keep in mind the ultimate reason behind such bias. A significant portion of American newspaper editors and reporters are sympathetic to the Palestinian cause. They want to see the creation of a Palestinian state in Israel's back yard. They see Israel as the bad guy and the Palestinian Authority as the good guy. It's not a conspiracy; it's a mindset.

And therefore they will do everything they can to avoid drawing too much attention to the truth about the Palestinian Arab war against the Jews.

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About the Author

Stephen M. Flatow
Stephen M. Flatow, a New Jersey attorney, is vice president of the Religious Zionists of America and the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered by Palestinian terrorists in 1995 on a study trip to Israel when the bus she was on exploded on her way to the beach in Gush Katif. When Alisa succumbed to fatal head wounds at Soroka Medical Center, the family donated her organs to save the lives of others.