The Three Ds and the Killing of Shireen Abu Akleh

It is painfully clear to anyone paying attention how much of the mainstream media, social media, and those who wish to destroy Israel are using the death of Abu Akleh to attack Israel.
May 14, 2022

So much of what has happened with the death of Shireen Abu Akleh is emblematic of the entire Arab-Israeli conflict.

If you have been hiding under a rock for the past few days, here is a summary of what happened to long-time Al Jazeera reporter Abu Akleh this past Wednesday.

After 19 Israelis were murdered over the past 45 days, with many of the murderers coming from the terrorist (Islamic Jihad and Hamas) hotbed that is Jenin (a city under the ostensible day to day control of the Palestinian Authority, which under the Oslo Accords, is supposed to act against terrorist groups in place like Jenin … but doesn’t) the Israeli army had to go into Jenin, and go after wanted Islamist Supremacist terrorists who had already attacked Israelis and/or were planning more attacks. Something every democracy on earth would do to protect it citizens from terrorists who are no different in their extremist Islamist supremacist ideology than Al Qaeda, Boko Haram or Abu Sayyaf.

In the operation where Abu Akleh was killed, IDF forces went into Jenin to try and capture an Islamic Jihad terrorist who was operating in that part of Jenin. The Israeli soldiers found themselves facing a barrage of gunfire and Molotov cocktails from Islamic Jihad terrorists and returned fire. It was during this exchange of fire, that Abu Akleh was hit with the bullet that killed her, and another Al Jazeera journalist next to her was also shot (though thankfully far less seriously).

Immediately following news of her death, Al Jazeera and other agenda driven media outlets began claiming (without any evidence) that the Israeli soldiers deliberately targeted Abu Akleh (meaning they committed murder – like the 7 terrorists who killed 19 Israelis in the past month). At the same that they were making this claim, Al Jazeera and other media outlets, also published “witness” statements from people in Jenin claiming that the only ones firing their weapons at the time Abu Akleh was killed were the Israeli soldiers. Shortly after that, however, a video was released showing Islamic Jihad gunmen shooting M-16 rifles on automatic, plainly indiscriminately and without any discipline, in what is often described as “pray and spray” and firing hundreds of rounds. When that video was released suddenly all of the Al Jazeera stories claiming that the only ones firing their weapons were Israeli soldiers disappeared from the Al Jazeera website.

Sadly, that encounter with the facts, did not cause Al Jazeera or their chorus of Israel-haters in the media to take a beat and act more responsibly with their allegations. To the contrary, they pressed forward with even more ferocity with the conclusory assertion that Abu Akleh was “murdered” (meaning intentionally shot) by an Israeli soldier. Even though the Palestinian Authority’s own medical examiner said that based on his examination of the bullet that killed Abu Akleh it is impossible for him to tell whether it came from an IDF or Islamic Jihad rifle (let alone whether the person who shot that bullet hit Abu Akleh intentionally or accidentally).

In the face of the immediate onslaught of bogus claims that no Islamic Jihad terrorists in Jenin were shooting at IDF soldiers, and that it was somehow clear (to Al Jazeera and the entire anti-Israel chorus) that an Israeli soldier deliberately shot Abu Akleh, the Israeli government released the video of Islamic Jihad terrorists firing M-16s at the time of the tragic incident as if they were filming a gangster movie, and it was posited by numerous pro-Israel groups that in light of the fact that after the “pray and spray” Islamic Jihad shooting demonstration that some of the terrorists had shouted that an Israeli soldier was hit (and since no Israeli solider had been shot in this incident), it was certainly possible, though certainly not conclusive, that Abu Akleh was hit by the hundreds of indiscriminate M-16 rounds that were fired by the Islamic Jihad terrorists.

In response, the usual “blame Israel first” suspects, like B’tSelem, quickly released a video claiming it was impossible for Abu Akleh to have been killed by the indiscriminate hail of bullets coming from the Islamic Jihad terrorists, because those terrorists in the video were around 300 meters away from where Abu Akleh was standing and allegedly with no direct line of sight to her, when she was shot.

Apparently, B’tSelem and others don’t know (unlikely) or are counting on most others not knowing (more likely) that an M-16 round, if it doesn’t hit anything beforehand, travels at least 550 meters at a speed of 900 meters per second. They also want you to believe that the Islamic Jihad terrorists shooting in the video were the only terrorists shooting hundreds of rounds at the Israeli soldiers.

B’tSelem, Al Jazeera, and the others whose mission statements profit from the promotion of the claim that Israeli soldiers deliberately shot an unarmed journalist also don’t want anyone to focus on the reality that in densely populated areas with many people, buildings, cars, etc., that a hail of bullets fired from a high-powered rifle, like an M-16, can do very unexpected things, including ricochet off the ground, hundreds of meters from the bullet’s intended target and then do terrible things to any person that the bullet ends up hitting.

It is why the IDF pounds into its soldiers the idea of “fire discipline” and in making sure that its soldiers understand that every bullet must be fired for a lawful objective and carefully aimed. It is also why the IDF invests in hundreds of hours of training to make sure that this discipline and understanding is in every soldiers’ consciousness. And yet, even with all of that training, in the heat of the moment, in combat, when the bullets start flying, mistakes can happen. Something that anyone who has not been shot at, could never understand.

But the Israeli government understands that. This is why from the moment it learned that Abu Akleh was killed during a combat operation involving IDF soldiers and Islamic Jihad terrorists, the Israeli government expressed its sorrow over the tragic death of a journalist, and asked for a full and fair joint investigation to be conducted by it and the Palestinian Government. Notably, the Israeli government did not state any conclusions about whose bullet killed Abu Akleh or even on how she was killed – which is appropriate as no investigation had even been started; let alone completed.

The Palestinian Authority, on the other hand, immediately fanned the flames of hate and incitement by stating the baseless conclusion that Abu Akleh was intentionally shot by IDF soldiers. In addition, the Palestinian Authority refused to conduct any joint investigation, and it also refused to turn over the bullet that killed Abu Akleh to Israel for forensic examination (to determine for example if it was fired by an M-16 – used by Islamic Jihad – or fired from a Tavor rifle – used by Israeli special forces). It seems pretty clear that the Palestinian Authority has no interest in getting to the truth, as it went “all-in” on Al Jazeera’s original version of events, even before a forensic investigation had begun.

The Palestinian Authority immediately fanned the flames of hate and incitement by stating the baseless conclusion that Abu Akleh was intentionally shot by IDF soldiers.

Which brings us to how this entire incident is emblematic of the Arab-Israeli conflict itself, and how the media typically covers it (as well as how antisemitism, as explained by Natan Sharansky’s “Three-D’s” creeps into almost every controversy involving Israel).

To distinguish between ordinary criticism — to which every country and government should be subject — and the all-too-common criticism of Israel grounded in anti-Semitism, human rights activist, Soviet dissident and all-around hero, Natan Sharansky, developed his famous “3-D test” (Demonization, Delegitimization and Double Standards).

First, let’s look at demonization. Every time Israel responds to attacks on Israelis, it is always the response that gets the bulk of the reporting; and often to the exclusion of even reporting on why Israel was deploying its military in the first place.

That happens when Hamas rains hundreds of rockets on Israeli civilians before Israel’s military even begins to respond. It happened during the Second Intifada, when after months of Israelis being massacred in suicide bomb attacks in restaurants, supermarkets, buses, hotels, etc., the Israeli army launched Operation Defensive Shield to go after the terrorist infrastructure in Judea & Samaria. It even happens when most mainstream international media reports on Israeli checkpoints and fences. They act like all of these responses to brutal terrorism were just actions Israel undertook for fun. For kicks. And not because since 2000, nearly 1400 Israelis have been killed by terrorists (the equivalent of 53,000 Americans).

The same thing happened with the reporting on the death of Abu Akleh. A Google search for news articles about “Abu Akleh” two days after her death had “about 14,100,000 results.” Almost none of those articles even implicitly reference the reason the IDF was in Jenin and in a shootout with Islamic Jihad terrorists on May 11th; namely, the 19 Israelis murdered in cold blood by Islamist supremacist terrorists in the past 45 days.

By the same token, a Google search for news articles about the “Dizengoff terrorist attack” (which sadly encompasses more attacks the recent March 8, 2022 machine gun attack by a Jenin resident who murdered 3 people and injured 12 at a bar in Tel Aviv) produced only “about 55,300 results” or less than a quarter of 1%. And sadly, there have been at least 4 different “Dizengoff terrorist attacks” since 1994 that are included in those results. So the latest mass murder terrorist attack by a Jenin resident in Tel Aviv, shooting over a dozen people in a bar, didn’t even generate a quarter of 1% of the news articles generated by the likely accidental shooting of Abu Akleh.

All this translates to the average news consumer only knowing about the response (the effect) and not the cause. This means that for the average news consumer, all they are reading about or seeing is the firemen taking an ax to a door – they have no idea that the firemen are responding to a fire.

This leads demonization leads to delegitimization. After all, if Israeli soldiers, without any context or apparent cause are going into places like Jenin “gun blazing,” then why not accuse them of “murder” without any evidence – as Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib and many international media outlets did within minutes of Abu Akleh’s death, and before there was even a hint of an investigation (let alone an impartial one using actual forensics). And if you believe Israel is just attacking people without reason, because you never read about bombs being blown up on Israeli buses, the thousands of rockets fired at Israel from Gaza, or the string of mass-murder attacks directed by terrorist groups in Jenin, then you may be quick to conclude those Jews and their Jewish state are just too evil to exist anymore.

Lastly, we have the infamous double standard, which as Sharansky has pointed out, gets all too often applied to Israel. Regarding the death of Abu Akleh that double standard is also made evident by some simple Google searches.

In the past 5 years about 400 journalists have been killed covering conflict zones.  None have generated a fraction of the media and social media attention that Abu Akleh’s death has generated in barely 2 days.

In the past 5 years about 400 journalists have been killed covering conflict zones.  None have generated a fraction of the media and social media attention that Abu Akleh’s death has generated in barely 2 days.

Recently many reporters have been tragically killed covering the war in Ukraine. When one types in a Google search of the names of the French, American or Ukrainian journalists killed covering the war in Ukraine, the average search yields 226,000 results. But, when one types in the name of “Shireen Abu Akleh,” that search yields 18,200,000 results.

Was the death of Abu Akleh really 80 times more important and newsworthy than that of the reporters killed in Ukraine?

Certainly, for those who wish to demonize Israel, by applying to it standards of conduct and scrutiny that are applied to no other country, it must be. After all, jumping on the anti-Israel bandwagon this week was Susan Sarandon, who within hours of Abu Akleh’s death, and with no evidence whatsoever, tweeted that “Israeli snipers” had “executed” her. Meanwhile, over the past year, as 70 journalists were killed, Ms. Sarandon apparently only tweeted about one, Abu Akleh. And over the past 3 years, as over 150 journalists were killed, Ms. Sarandon apparently only tweeted about one, Abu Akleh.

As many Jews, all too use to the Three D’s, and how they are regularly applied to our indigenous homeland, Israel, often say: “No Jews, No News.” While this may be cynical, it is also sadly painfully true.

It is also painfully clear to anyone paying attention, how much of the mainstream media, social media, and those who wish to destroy Israel, like the Qatari owners of Al Jazeera, are using the death of Abu Akleh – an unfortunate and very likely accidental tragedy to attack Israel. By using the new antisemitism, which is almost as old as the Arab-Israeli conflict itself, to demonize and delegitimize Israel and apply to it standards of conduct that are applied to no other country.

Micha Danzig served in the Israeli Army and is a former police officer with the NYPD. He is currently an attorney and is very active with numerous Jewish and pro-Israel organizations, including Stand With Us and the FIDF, and is a national board member of Herut North America.

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