Latest posts by Varda Epstein (see all)
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If the New York Times is “The Gray Lady,” then its Jerusalem Bureau Chief, Jodi Rudoren, is “Queen of the Jew-hating Jews.”
That was my first reaction to a piece penned by Rudoren, yesterday, entitled, After West Bank Kidnapping, 2 Mothers Embody a Divide, in which the writer juxtaposes the experience of Rachel Frenkel, whose son Naftali, 16, was kidnapped by Hamas terrorists on his way home from school, with that of Aida Abdel Aziz Dudeen, whose 15 year-old son, Mohammed, was killed while throwing stones at IDF soldiers investigating the kidnapping.
It’s one of the oldest (and dirtiest) journalism tricks of the trade: juxtapose the story of victim and perpetrator, stressing the humanity of the perpetrator and stressing the (dig, Jodi, dig!) inhumanity of the victim. This is a formula that brings page views! And page views are everything to a writer.
I would know. I’m a writer.
It makes for great copy and it’s a no-fail strategy for a winning article. You just chip away at people until you find something beautiful to say about the terrorist thug and something ugly to say about the innocent. It works and if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Jodi didn’t deviate from the script a single iota.
Naftali hitchhiked. Oooooooooooooh!
This is beautiful copy because there is no need to embellish the fact and it is indeed a fact that Naftali hitchhiked. Because that is what we do in our neighborhood, in the Gush, where I too live and have lived for over a quarter of a century.
We hitchhike. We do it because cars are expensive in Israel and because public transportation is spotty in Judea and Samaria. We do it because most of those with cars relish a chance to do chessed, acts of loving kindness, and are thrilled to give three nice boys a ride since they’re going there anyway.
This is not New York. This is Gush Etzion. It’s a place of loving kindness, of neighbors that care.
Jodi tops off the assertion of hitchhiking as something irresponsible by adding that the Frenkels had no idea their son hadn’t come home until policemen knocked on their door. The unwritten stress here: these are parents that don’t wait up for their kids.
“Don’t wait up for their kids! What kind of parents don’t wait up for their kids?” (This is what Jodi wants us to say to ourselves).
Hence, two strikes: 1) the boy hitchhikes, 2) the parents don’t wait up for him—don’t even know his whereabouts until informed by the cops!
But Jodi, this is not New York. Naftali called home. He said he was on his way. The Frenkels know that they live in a community where people care.
What they didn’t know: Hamas terrorists were planning an abduction that night.
Two paragraphs of dry Frenkel copy. Check.
With that taken care of, Jodi moves on from Naftali Frenkel, teen captive and victim, to Mohammed Dudeen, terrorist thug.
Here the formula calls for switching from dry, spare language, to flowery effusive language: prose.
Mrs. Dudeen is “startled awake.” The family had locked up their terrorist thug son to keep him from killing Jews. But he somehow got out and threw rocks at the soldiers investigating the abduction of three Jewish teenagers by Arab terrorists. So he got himself dead.
But oh my! He is a “martyr.” Blood on his shirt. However did he get out? However did he get dead?
You have to wonder at the disparity here: Rachel Frenkel knows the good people in her community and feels certain one of them will safely deliver her son home from school. While Aida Abdel Aziz Dudeen, she of the many names, has to LOCK HER SON UP to keep him from trying to kill Jews.
But no. This is not Jodi’s conclusion. Because this would not fit with her journalism 101 formula. She has to make the victim criminal, the criminal righteous. She has to equate good with evil, and evil with good, to “challenge our thinking.”
If we come away from reading Jodi’s piece thinking, “Those terrible land-grabbing Arab-killing Jews,” and “Those money-poor land-poor innocent children whose only ‘hobby’ is throwing rocks at cars and soldiers,” then her job is done!
Here is Jodi’s conclusion:
“More than two weeks after the abduction of Naftali and two other Israeli teenagers, Israel’s security crackdown has raised questions about the asymmetry of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the value of lives on both sides. Mohammed, who witnesses said was among a crowd of youths who hurled stones at Israeli soldiers storming their neighborhood that morning, is one of five Palestinians fatally shot by soldiers in the West Bank; three more have been killed by airstrikes on the Gaza Strip.”
“Asymmetry.” Nice word to describe what Jodi has done here. Three innocent schoolchildren are abducted. One Arab youth is killed because he is attacking Jewish soldiers “storming” his neighborhood, er, investigating a kidnapping by Arab terrorists.
“The value of lives on both sides.”
Let’s talk about that a bit, shall we?
100,000 people came to Rabin Square in Tel Aviv last night for a show of solidarity with the families of our three boys. It was a hug of the nation of Israel comprised of left, right, religious, and secular for three Jewish matriarchs, models of behavior in a terrible crisis. There were settlers and Holocaust survivors, babies, and the elderly. There were terror victims and shopkeepers, men, and women. We prayed with all our hearts as one, that our boys, Eyal, Gil-Ad, and Naftali, will come back safe and sound so that we could meet again in celebration of life! Am Yisrael Hai. The Nation of Israel lives. We prayed for life.
In contrast, Mohammed’s relatives celebrate death, in particular Mohammed’s hooliganism and attempted murder of Jews as “martyrdom,” and his mother says he “died for his homeland.”
Imagine that! A boy whose mother LOCKED HIM UP in his room so he wouldn’t get in trouble, throws stones at soldiers attempting to find three innocent teenagers abducted by terrorists, and gets himself killed. That makes him a “martyr” for “his homeland??”
No. It makes him a terrorist thug moron who will burn in Hell for trying to hurt the good guys.
Funny how that juxtaposition thing works. Because the formula works both ways. Because after Jodi does her thing, I do my own.
1) Victims are inhuman, go places where they shouldn’t, have parents that fail the parenting test, and probably weren’t really kidnapped. More likely they are doing vodka Jello shots off the tanned belly of a Beverly Hills starlet, with Sheldon Adelson footing the bill.
2) Terrorist thugs are victims of circumstance. Perhaps you’d throw rocks, too, if someone took your land and ruled over you against your will, not allowing you to earn a decent living. If only the Jews really cared about peace, Mohammed could have had a future, instead of falling into such deep despair his only recourse was to vent his violent frustration on those he deems his captors. His REAL captors. Unlike those Hamas terrorists that “supposedly” took those three boys for the sake of Allah. Mohammed is a holy warrior and now he will have a lot of sex with many virgins. Nice life if you can get it and all you have to do is throw stones at Jews (you know, people like, um, Jodi?).
1) Victims should not be tried by a journalist in the court of public opinion. Captives and their families are, at the very least, entitled to sympathy and understanding by the international community and especially by journalists, who have a responsibility to tell the truth which is this: Jews deserve to be safe in their own land. Their history in Judea and Samaria is founded in history, literature, and in tangible archaeological artifacts. The Gush is a loving place where Jews rush to help each other. Hitchhiking is a way of life, a way of trust and love in our rural indigenous community. They were just schoolboys, SCHOOLBOYS coming home from school. They were boys that volunteered with less fortunate communities. They were good boys. Their parents trusted them.
2) Terrorist thugs get what they have coming to them, in this case an inglorious death for the act of throwing stones at those entrusted with finding and freeing three innocent teenage captives. He is no martyr and his homeland is in Jordan, as agreed upon by the British Mandatory authorities, the League of Nations, and the U.N. The fact that his own people use him as fodder for their land-grabbing ways is a pity, but not a reason to kill Jews.
In fact: there is no reason, no good reason, to kill Jews. Throwing rocks is attempted murder. Throwing rocks makes Mohammed a terrorist thug. A terrorist thug MORON. A soldier’s bullet killed him because he was where he shouldn’t be, doing what he shouldn’t be doing. The proof?
His own mother LOCKED HIM UP IN HIS BEDROOM.
Jodi, I can’t say I understand the pathology behind your need to harm your own people, but I want you to know this: you were hired by the NY Times for this one reason alone—to hurt your own people.
Because it looks so much better when a Jew does it to a Jew.
I wish you could have been there last night, Jodi, at that rally, to finally experience, and cherish, what it means to be one with your people. To not feel the shame of an entire world’s hate, but instead, to feel the love of an entire nation for itself and for God. To be proud of our intellect and achievement, to show warmth and love to Rachel Frenkel, Bat Galim Shaer and Iris Yifrach, to feel the damp humidity in the seaside air of Tel Aviv and imagine that the very air is crying for our boys to come home. To pray with all one’s might, #BringBackOurBoys!!!
To understand that we have an enemy that hates us and covets our land, our beauty, and our intellect. To understand that victims are victims, terrorists merely evil. And to believe that righteousness and truth will win out every time. As God is our witness. Because the nation of Israel lives and has outlived all its enemies.
There is a reason for that, Jodi.
Wake up to the beauty. Don’t paint white black, black white. Embrace your nation and help to build her. Understand that your evil will haunt you forever and that when it is your time to go, only the wispiest ugly stain will be left behind for all your maneuvering about on this earth, as long as you continue to back the wrong (evil) horse. As long as you side with the side of evil.
As long as you side with the side of evil, as long as you give it an assist, you are and will be evil. And you will not be a part of the beautiful human experiment that is the Nation of Israel lives.
The Nation of Israel Lives.
Am Yisrael Chai.