Why You’ve Heard of Shireen Abu Akleh but not Nizar Banat

The first might have been killed by Israel, so has become a cause célèbre; the other was tortured and murdered by the Palestinians, so no one cares

By Ryan Jones | | Topics: palestinians
Shireen Abu Akleh's case is not at all unique, except in that it provides an opportunity to Israel's detractors.
Shireen Abu Akleh's case is not at all unique, except in that it provides an opportunity to Israel's detractors. Photo: Wisam Hashlamoun/Flash90

That the Israeli army tries to silence bad press by assassinating journalists is not the only gross misconception being promoted by the Shireen Abu Akleh affair.

The exaggerated attention paid to Abu Akleh’s demise likewise suggests that it’s rare for war reporters to be killed. But that’s not at all the case.

  • 8 local and foreign on-assignment journalists had been killed as of May 30 in the current Russia-Ukraine war;
  • 50 journalists were killed in the line of duty worldwide in 2020. This was a low year for reporter deaths;
  • 147 journalists were killed in 2012 alone, one of the highest annual death tolls over the past three decades;
  • Since 1992, a confirmed 2,162 journalists have been killed worldwide while on assignment.

In other words, while tragic, journalists being killed is not uncommon, particularly in war zones.

The Palestinian Authority’s handling of this saga also gives the purposeful impression that it is a defender of free speech, which is equally untrue.

Shireen Abu Akleh is given attention and has become a cause célèbre because doing so is an opportunity to harm Israel. The Palestinian Authority couldn’t care less about freedom of the press, or free speech in general.

Case in point is Nizar Banat, another Palestinian Arab who died not long ago while going about the business of speaking his mind. His name you’ve probably never heard, because his death can’t be pinned on Israel. Banat was tortured and murdered by the Palestinian Authority, and so no one cares.

Banat died in Palestinian Authority custody in June of 2021. He had been arrested for openly criticizing the regime.

The Palestinian Authority put on a show trial for the officers involved in the brutal killing, but Palestinian Media Watch reported the incredible news that last month those officers were sent on vacation. Palestinian officials argued they could not be kept in jail due to an outbreak of coronavirus.

The Palestinian media hasn’t again reported on the trial, which presumably has yet to resume, if it ever will.

This behavior is routine in the Palestinian Authority, which many hope to transform into the State of Palestine on Israel’s biblical heartland.

Last week the non-profit UN Watch released a report detailing the Palestinian Authority’s dark history of torturing and killing detainees, including human rights activists, public critics (including journalists), political opponents, homosexuals and women.

If the international community is truly dedicated to justice in the Holy Land, then it needs to stop listening to the impassioned cries of those looking to delegitimize Israel without evidence, and start focusing on the facts. All the facts.

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