She’s No Saint

Dear HonestReporting Member,

Wada Idris worked as a paramedic volunteer with the Red Crescent dedicated to saving Palestinian lives. But when she blew herself up in Jerusalem on January 27, she was trying to kill and maim as many lives as possible.

This week, almost every major media outlet profiled the woman suicide terrorist. Reporters interviewed her proud mother, pondered the anger and pain she bore, described her hero’s status, wrote of her Palestinian patriotism, and proffered their pop psychology. Some reported on her failed marriage, her barrenness, her poor academic record (her college degree was erroneously reported; she was a junior high dropout), and her providing emergency aid to wounded Palestinian rioters.

Something, however, is terribly amiss in the world of journalism.

Idris is portrayed as some sort of new, liberated woman: The First Palestinian Woman “Martyr.” Young Palestinian women are interviewed by American networks and vow that they support and may emulate Idris’ murderous act. Reporters speak of how Idris “adored children” (New York Times).

What is wrong? Intentionally or not, the press is reinforcing the positive image of a terrorist.

Eight years ago, when an Israeli-American doctor, a man who was in despair after treating so many Jewish terror victims, opened fire on praying Moslems in Hebron, there were no eulogies or psychoanalytical rationalizations. Indeed, Baruch Goldstein’s act was roundly condemned by Israeli leaders, press, and rabbis. He was a sick man in a healthy society that honored human life and condemned his horrific act.

Idris, on the other hand, was a sick woman in a malevolent society that hailed her act. She was poisoned by a mother who could take pride in death. Idris was made feverish by brothers who are Fatah members. She was infected by a society whose textbooks, media, preachers, and political leaders glorify death and martyrdom.

Posters went up in the PA-administered territories glorifying Idris as a Palestinian hero.

The coverage of Wada Idris’ terrorist act deserves discussion with editors and publishers. We encourage you to express your opinions and engage your local editors and news producers.

Here are some of the media that profiled Idris:

BBC – “Female bomber’s mother speaks out”
http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/middle_east/newsid_1791000/1791800.stm

The New York Times – “An Unusual New Palestinian ‘Martyr’: A Woman”
http://www.nytimes.com/2002/01/31/international/middleeast/31BOMB.html

Thank you for your ongoing involvement in the battle against media bias.

HonestReporting.com

========== NOTICE TO SUBSCRIBERS ============

In the interest of our own honest reporting, HonestReporting.com performs audits of its communiques to make sure that we subscribe to the same standards we demand of the media.

Last week, HonestReporting charged that CNN had “warped” facts when it headlined a Palestinian terrorist attack as: “ISRAEL SHOOTING WOUNDS DOZENS.” The headline implied that Israelis did the shooting, when in fact Israelis were the victims. Our audit showed that CNN changed the headline relatively quickly, in response to complaints.

In this case, the headline reflected bad writing and a bad headline writer, not necessarily biased reporting.

Also last week, HonestReporting complained about CNN’s coverage of Israel’s raid of a Hamas bomb factory and the immediate characterization of Hamas as an organization known among Palestinians on the West Bank and Gaza Strip as devoted to social welfare. It was a whitewash of Hamas. HonestReporting should have mentioned that CNN reported secondarily that Hamas’ “military wing, Izzedine al Quassam, has carried out suicide bombings and other attacks on Israeli civilians.”

It is a thin line between bad writing and bias. CNN’s descriptions of Hamas should have been switched, with the military wing given far greater prominence. Or better yet, the social welfare reference should have been deemed by editors as wholly inappropriate in the context of a Hamas-sponsored terror attack.

Just as HonestReporting welcomes critiques of our own reporting, we also wish to guide HR members to write better letters of complaint. Some activists respond without reading the offensive article. Others, unfortunately, respond with verbal abuse and allegations of anti-Semitism. We encourage HR members to respond wisely and responsibly.

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