When is a terrorist not a terrorist?
Apparently, when it doesn’t fit the media’s narrative, like the coverage of Arafat Jaradat, who died in an Israeli prison this week.
Jaradat, a member of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, was arrested for throwing stones that wounded an Israeli civilian. Five days later, he died of a possible cardiac arrest.
The death became an international story when Palestinian officials claimed the autopsy report indicated he died as a result of torture. Israeli officials countered that the autopsy was inconclusive and what the Palestinians were calling signs of “torture” – bruises on his chest and broker ribs – may have been efforts to revive Jaradat after his heart failure.
Regardless of how he died, the media has an obligation to tell the truth about who he was, not to cherry-pick elements of his biography to give him a particular image. The Los Angeles Times, to its credit, was one of the few media outlets to include information about Jaradat’s terrorist affiliation, noting:
Musa Jaradat said his cousin had never been arrested before, but was a member of the Fatah Youth Movement and, according to Al Aqsa members who attended his funeral, part of the West Bank military brigade.
Beyond those notable exceptions, the media bent over backwards to whitewash Jaradat and even, in some cases, the fact that he committed a violent crime. Here is how the New York Times described Jaradat and what he did:
After weeks of intensifying protests in solidarity with the hunger strikers, attention turned Sunday to Mr. Jaradat, who relatives said worked at a gas station, was the father of a 4-year-old girl and a 2-year-old boy, and came from a family in which all the men had spent time in Israeli jails. He was arrested last Monday over throwing stones at Israeli cars near a West Bank settlement during November’s conflict between Israel and the Gaza Strip.
The Times takes pains to present Jaradat as a family man with two small children and a regular job, but ignores the fact that he was a member of a group designated as a terrorist organization by the US and the EU.