Israel has demanded an explanation from American media following slanted reporting of the deadly stabbing attack in Jerusalem on Wednesday.
The Government Press Office (GPO) sent an official letter of complaint to CNN and CBS after the two TV networks failed to make a distinction between the victims and attacks, simply reporting on four killed in the attack.
Instead of reporting on two victims and two terrorists who were killed, a newscaster at CNN simply reported: “In Jerusalem, four people are dead in the wake of a stabbing attack in a very popular tourist area. It happened at the Jaffa Gate to the Old City.”
In a letter sent to CNN, GPO director Nitzan Chen wrote: “As this is neither the first nor the second such incident, I have no choice but to contact you regarding this latest example.
“We believe that combining the two murderers with the two victims into ‘four dead’ – is not only dishonest and unethical journalism, but also borders on incitement since the viewer can easily misinterpret it.”
Chen determines that “Reporting ‘four dead’ only leads us to conclude that the person who wrote this headline had a clear political agenda. We strongly condemn such journalism.”
CNN has yet to comment on the matter.
CBS, meanwhile, went with the headline “2 Palestinians killed after stabbing attack in Jerusalem.”
In a separate letter to CBS, Chen wrote: “We cannot think of a worse example of anti-Israel bias than the unfortunate headline that appeared on your website yesterday, even if it was only for a short time.”
The headline was later changed to “2 Israelis dead after stabbing attack in Jerusalem; 2 Palestinian assailants killed.”
“The first headline is clearly turning the murderers into victims in the most inflammatory way possible,” Chen wrote. “There can be no justification for this. Beyond the immediate risk it poses to Israelis from possible Arab revenge attacks, it is simply dishonest and unethical journalism.”
The New York Times, meanwhile, reported on the attack with the headline “2 Palestinian Attackers Killed, 2 Israelis Die in Jerusalem.”
An organization called SSI (Students Supporting Israel) posted the headline on its Facebook page, adding “Terrorists are killed, but innocent Israelis DIE?”
“Time after time we are shocked and saddened by the choice of western media to cover terror acts against Israelis in a different way than acts against other people around the world,” SSI wrote on its Facebook page.
Eight hours after the story went online, the headline was changed to “Palestinian Stabbers Kill Israeli, Assailants Shot Dead.”
On Thursday morning, Shaare Zedek Medical Center reported that there has been an improvement in the situation of an Israeli wounded in the attack at the Jaffa Gate, saying he is in stable condition.
Tuesday marked 100 days since the murder of Alexander Levlovich in a stone-throwing attack on Rosh HaShana eve in Jerusalem. Levlovich’s death is considered the opening shot to the current wave of murderous terror attacks.
Since the beginning of this wave of violence, 24 Israelis had been murdered, and 259 wounded – 24 of them seriously, seven moderately-to-seriously, 36 moderately, 11 lightly-to-moderately and 18 lightly wounded.
Killed while trying to stop the terrorist
“I only have fond memories from him. He was a wonderful man, and never harmed anyone,” said Gaia Ben-Ari, the daughter of Ofer Ben-Ari, who was killed in the Jaffa Gate terror attack.
Ben-Ari was accidentally shot by Border Policewomen who were shooting at the terrorists. The Police Investigations Department said there is no plan of opening an investigation into the accidental shooting.
The Border Policewomen said that the terrorists were leaning over one of the wounded while he was on the ground, and that is why they did not open fire until they were at close range. Video of the attack also shows several civilians fighting the terrorists in close combat.
“He always knew how to do the right thing and support others. It’s difficult and we can’t comprehend that a person so incredible is dead,” the daughter told.
Her cousin added: “He wasn’t a threat to anyone. As soon as the policewomen came, he dropped a club he was holding.”
Ben-Ari, 46, was married and a father of two girls from Har Homa neighborhood in Jerusalem. He arrived at the hospital in critical continued and succumbed to his wounds. Ben-Ari’s family at first demanded an autopsy to determined how many bullets hit him and in what way, but later changed their minds.
“This is a remarkable man. I’m sure he was killed while trying to help neutralize the terrorist,” said one of Ben-Ari’s friends.
Witnesses said Ben-Ari, who noticed the ongoing attack, ran towards the terrorists and confronted them. According to witnesses, at some point he called out “I’ve been stabbed,” but it is unclear whether he did suffer a stab wound.
He then stumbled backwards, accidentally entering the line of fire, and was shot.
The new oleh from Argentina who taught Torah
The second man killed in the attack is Rabbi Reuven Biermacher, 45, married and a father of eight from Kiryat Ye’arim near Jerusalem. He was laid to rest on Wednesday night at Har HaMenuchot cemetery in Jerusalem.
Biermacher grew up in a secular family in Argentina. In his youth, he became more religious and became a rabbi after making aliyah to Israel. He spent his days teaching in the South American Department at Aish HaTorah yeshiva in Jerusalem, attended by students from abroad. He also taught Torah at a Kolel in Kiryat Ye’arim.
Rabbi Dovid Rosman, the head of the Aish HaTorah yeshiva, said Biermacher “was very loved by his students. Every time I walked by his room, all of the students were glued to him.”
One of Biermacher’s friends spoke of a man filled with happiness and with a sense of humor: “In Haredi society, he was referred to as ‘Outsider’ (coming from outside of Israel – ed.) and one who doesn’t even have a family in the country, and also a baal teshuva. Each of these is unusual in its own right, and yet he was able to raise a beautiful and stable family, with nothing unusual about it.
“I know a man deep in his Torah studies, who always dealt with issues of the Gemara, which he taught at the yeshiva. He would always say what a delight it was for him to study and teach. He really lived it,” the friend added.