When I read The Great Brain as a kid, I remember being surprised by the punishment that the parents gave to their kids. This was late 1800s Utah and spanking was perfectly normal. Not for these kids. These parents gave “the silent treatment” for a specified length of time. The author described it as the worst of all possible punishments. At least with a spanking, it was over and done with. The silent treatment made the kids feel invisible. Oftentimes, the kids would cry with relief when the silent treatment was over because they felt like they were returned to the land of the living.
This week Israel’s newspapers were filled with the news of a woman who was stabbed to death in her home, in front of at least one of her six children (four were her natural children and two were adopted). She was a nurse who was learning Arabic to better communicate with her colleagues and patients. By all accounts she was an amazing person.
And then I saw a surprising headline that asked why Dafna Meir’s murder was not reported in the international media. We all know that “if it bleeds, it leads.” There was plenty of blood. We saw the pictures. Check. The victim is sympathetic – a mother, a wife, a nurse. Check. It was a pretty dramatic story. She was stabbed in front of one of her children and the manhunt went on for quite a while. Check.
I went to Google and typed in her name and went to the news tab. Page after page of Israeli newspapers or Jewish newspapers around the world reported the story. But no major international news organization was reporting it. I found one small German paper that reported it in full, but I couldn’t determine if it was a Jewish paper or not. But it was true. The international media ignored her.
Dafna Meir lived in Otniel, which is a small town in Judea and Samaria (you could read that also as a “settlement in the West Bank”). She was a religious Jew. The 15-year-old Palestinian that stabbed her was on the run (meaning that no Palestinian was injured in this attack). So if you believe that the simplest explanation is the most likely, then we are faced with an anti-Semitic media ignoring any news that doesn’t fit into their narrative and agenda. (Here is a very good article about this.)
The next day – while Dafna’s murderer was still at large and her funeral was taking place – a pregnant woman was stabbed by a Palestinian in her store in Tekoa (another small town in Judea and Samaria / another settlement in the West Bank). She was not killed and the Palestinian was arrested. Now the international media paid attention. The attack in Tekoa and that other thing that happened the day before “represent a shift in the recent surge of violence.”
The Meir family has publicly stated that they harbor no hatred against Palestinians. A Palestinian friend, who is apparently a relative of the murderer, paid a condolence call and was welcomed by the family. Unfortunately, this bit of the story does not play into the “cycle of violence” narrative that the New York Times has put together to explain why murder in the settlements is understandable.
Conspiracy of Silence
While the simplest answer may often be the right one, some things still bother me. How does every single editor of every major news outlet in the world decide that this story – a mother murdered in her home in front of her child – get ignored? Can it really be that every single major international news organization blindly accepts that a woman murdered in her home is just the price she paid for living in that neighborhood and moreover that she should be ignored because she doesn’t fit the narrative that has been dictated by a certain political agenda embraced by the paper? Did every single international journalist really shelve their humanity to serve a political agenda?
Many journalists claim to try to bring justice to underprivileged and underrepresented people. They claim to want to shed light on the truth. They are presented as “brave” and “unrelenting” in their pursuit of the story. Today, I am reminded of the bitter and all too accurate pun:
If vegetarians eat vegetables, then what do humanitarians eat?
The international media’s deafening conspiracy of silence is the worst kind of punishment they can deliver. With their silence, they ensure that Dafna Meir doesn’t exist and that their fixed narrative is unshaken.
I hope that all of us together can demand more from journalists. Or perhaps call out the lazy and hypocritical ones. We may even eventually find the invisible hand directing the narrative, the one that ensures that no one thinks for themselves or asks questions.
But for now, as a start, I will not be silent.