JerusalemOnline news editor and political analyst Rachel Avraham, who recently published a book titled Women and Jihad: Debating Palestinian Female Suicide Bombings in the American, Israeli and Arab Media, explains how the international media continues to justify Palestinian female terrorism from the Second Intifada to our times.
Brian Jenkins proclaimed, “Terrorism is theater.” According to my recently published book titled “Women and Jihad: Debating Palestinian Female Suicide Bombings in the American, Israeli and Arab Media,” terrorists do not engage in meaningless violence. Each terrorist act is carefully choreographed in order so that they can obtain maximum publicity for their cause. For the terror organizations, the goal is not to harm the immediate victims although that is certainly a bi-product of their wanton destruction but rather to solicit the attention of the wider spectators via the international press.
Women and Jihad argues that during the Second Intifada in Israel (September 2000 – February, 2005), the Arab, American and even the Israeli media gave into the publicity objectives of the Palestinian terror groups. The media in the Arab world for the most part glorified Palestinian terrorism, thus rallying the Arab masses behind the Palestinian cause.
For example, the first Palestinian female suicide bomber Wafa Idris was compared to the Mona Lisa, Jesus Christ, Joan D’Arc and Khadija (the first wife of the Prophet Mohammed). Suicide bomber Ayat Al Akhras was described to be “as tender and beautiful as a rose” and her suicide bombing was deemed to be “the height of bravery.”
Meanwhile, media outlets in the United States and sometimes even in Israel justified Palestinian terrorism in the name of covering the news objectively. For instance, following the suicide bombing of Andaleeb Takafta, ABC’s Nightline interviewed a number of Palestinian officials, a Palestinian psychiatrist and an Israeli official. Despite the asymmetrical nature of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, Nightline related to them all as sources with equal credibility.
This worked to the benefit of the Palestinian terror groups. On the program, Palestinian psychiatrist Dr. Iyad Sarraj declared, “We are so desperate. We have nothing left except our bodies to turn into bombs.” And following the suicide bombing of Hanadi Jaradat, Israeli newspaper Yedioth Achronot described the terrorist as “a pretty girl dressed in Western clothes like young Israeli girls.” By describing the terrorist in this way, the terrorist was humanized.
My book argues that if the terrorist is a female, the media is eight times more likely to give the Palestinian terror group positive publicity. The atmosphere that existed in the American press following each Palestinian female terror attack during the Second Intifada also affects Israel during this present wave of terror as the American media relates to the female terrorists of our times in a similar manner.
This helps to create an atmosphere abroad where BDS motions, lawfare against Israeli officials, anti-Israel resolutions at the UN, anti-Israel reports by human rights organizations and other anti-Israel actions flourish.
Under this atmosphere of intense international pressure, the Palestinian terror groups hope that Israel will be forced into withdrawing to the 1967 Armistice Lines without the Palestinian Authority having to give Israel much in return and this will make it easier for the Palestinian terror groups to obtain their ultimate goal, which is the destruction of the State of Israel.
Rachel Avraham is a political analyst and a news editor for JerusalemOnline. She is the author of Women and Jihad: Debating Palestinian Female Suicide Bombings in the American, Israeli and Arab Media.