The disturbing double standards over Israel
It looked every inch the traditional Friday night Sabbath (Shabbat) dinner table. A long, white tablecloth, bowls of snacks, a bottle of Coke, even a good whisky. Which makes it all the more jarring when you notice the upturned chair and the swathe of red across the floor. This was the image of the Salomon household last Friday night.
The Israeli family lived in the Israeli settlement Halamish. They were gathering to celebrate the birth of a grandchild, when the alleged attacker, a 19-year-old Palestinian, entered the house with a large knife and began stabbing people. Yosef Salomon, the 70-year-old grandfather of the family, was killed. So were two of his children, Chaya Salomon, 46, and Elad Salomon, 36. Yosef’s 68-year-old wife Tova was seriously injured and had to undergo surgery.
The blood smeared across the floor of this family home is a shocking sight. But it is also one most people in the UK will not have seen, owing to the way in which the press chose to cover the story. The only way you could know of the full horror of this terror attack is by reading the Israeli or Jewish press.
IDF picture of the Salomon home. Picture by: IDF
It has been a very unsettled 10 days in Jerusalem. On 14 July, two Israeli police officers were killed by three Arab-Israeli gunmen in the Old City of Jerusalem. The perpetrators were believed to have come from the al-Aqsa Mosque/Temple Mount compound. In response, Israeli security set up metal detectors around the Haram al-Sharif mosque inside the compound, which sparked riots in which Palestinian protesters clashed with Israel security forces. Three Palestinians were killed during the riots.
The alleged terrorist who killed the Salomon family members has been named by Israeli news sites as Omar al-Abed. Reports say his attack was a retaliation for the events surrounding the al-Aqsa compound.
But while Israeli newspapers like Haaretz and Times of Israel, and UK newspaper the Jewish Chronicle, published photos of the Salomon home after the attack, as well as in-depth reports, there was not much to be found in the mainstream UK press. Times of Israel’s headline said: ‘Terror at Halamish: When a family’s Shabbat celebration turned into a bloody massacre.’ The BBC went with, ‘Three Israelis stabbed to death in West Bank attack’. The details in the BBC report are perfunctory and there are no photos of the Salomons’ home.
Other news sites have simply lumped in the Salomon family attack with the deaths of those involved in the violent riots. The Guardian headline reads, ‘Six dead as Israeli-Palestinian tensions boil over’. Again there are no pictures, and the family murder is given a couple of paragraphs in a long report on the al-Aqsa Mosque protests. The Daily Mail, the Telegraph and ITV’s website have similar accounts, again with no photos of the Salomon home. I couldn’t find any coverage at all of the incident in The Times or on the Channel 4 News website.
There is something wrong, isn’t there, when a family is slaughtered at their dinner table and the press doesn’t deem it worthy even of a full story?
This is not the first time the British press has been accused of double standards when it comes to Israel. The BBC, in particular, frequently gets called out for it. Just last month the BBC was forced to backtrack after publishing an article with the headline, ‘Three Palestinians killed after deadly stabbing in Jerusalem’. It turned out the Palestinians were killed because they had already murdered an Israeli policewoman and were attempting further attacks when they were shot. The rewritten headline read, ‘Israeli policewoman stabbed to death in Jerusalem’.
No doubt the British press will defend their lacking reports, but ask yourself this: if the tables had been turned, and a Palestinian family was murdered in their home by an Israeli attacker, how do you think the press over here would have covered it? I think we know the answer.
Naomi Firsht is staff writer at spiked and co-author of The Parisians’ Guide to Cafés, Bars and Restaurants. Follow her on Twitter: @Naomi_theFirsht