Death of a Reporter

Al Jazeera’s Abu Akleh died as much in the line of fire asin the lie of fire!

By David E. Kaplan

So much has been written on the tragic death of Shireen Abu-Akleh, most of it critical of Israel, accusing the Jewish state of pre-meditated murder. All these allegations are unsubstantiated but this is no matter to the purveyors of falsehoods, who are milking her death only to besmirch Israel. Should it be established that the bullet that killed the Al Jazeera news correspondent was by an unintentional stray bullet as she was caught in a crossfire while covering clashes between Israeli troops and Palestinian gunmen during an Israel Defense Forces operation in the West Bank city of Jenin or even a bullet from a Palestinian terrorist – both of which are highly possible – this story will be dropped like a hot potato.


Because its value as an anti-Israel weapon will have been neutralized.

The durable interest in this story was NEVER about Abu Akleh; it was only about how to blame Israel for her death.

When it comes to coverage of Israel, ‘NEWS’ today is more about ‘aiming’ than pointing the cameras, and the death of Shireen Abu Akleh by a bullet is a latest example until the next proverbial ‘round’!


However, there has been another twist in Shireen Abu Akleh’s death that is proving both revealing and disturbingly illuminating.  Writing for the Kuwaiti daily newspaper al-Qabas, Ahmad al-Sarraf  sounds an alarm about a racial chink in the character of “the Arab world” today in his June 3 article ‘IF I WERE ISRAELI’.

No friend of Israel, the Kuwaiti journalist  doesn’t break rank with his anti-Israel cohorts when he characterizes her death as “murder” and accuses Israel of the deed, writing that she:

 “was struck by a treacherous Israeli bullet that took her life, while carrying out her duty.”

So yes, he accuses Israel of treacherous murder without any proof, but look what he accuses the Arab world – with proof!

Noting that while “Her murder sparked a storm of intense sympathy, which was accompanied by a strong wave of protests,”  he then goes  to write that when:

 “everyone discovered Shireen’s full name and the fact that she was the daughter of Nasri Antoine Abu Akleh…… people understood that she was Christian.”

Projecting Prejudice. Popular Libyan Islamic Scholar Sheikh Zain Khairallah: “Palestinian Journalist Shireen Abu Akleh Was A Christian, So We Are Forbidden From Praying For Allah To Have Mercy On Her Soul”

One would think – So what!

Continues al-Sarraf in the Kuwaiti daily:

 At once, public opinion throughout the Arab world changed – and the same people who had just announced her a martyr stripped her of that title. There were even those who asked to stop praying for her soul, since mercy can only be sought for a Muslim. A Kuwaiti cleric known for his extremist views issued a fatwa ruling that she was an infidel that should be shown no mercy. If I were Israeli, I wouldn’t have been able to find a better story or tragedy than that of Shireen Abu Akleh as an example that the Arab world doesn’t deserve any respect. If Abu Akleh’s own people show no sympathy for her death, then why should Israelis do so?  

The Arab nation lost an Arab woman who dedicated her life to the protection of her homeland. If the Arab people can’t describe that woman as a martyr, why should their enemies describe her as such?”

A Bad Call. Following Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh being shot dead  amid gunfire between Israeli forces and Palestinian gunmen in the West Bank, another Islamic scholar courted controversy in his May 13  tweet by calling on Muslims to not pray for her.

He concludes his article with:

As an Israeli, I would genuinely ask myself: Is the Arab world trustworthy? If they reject a loyal daughter of their own, how would they ever come to accept us?”

This development out of the death of Al Jazeera’s Abu Akleh, exposes another distortion prevailing in the middle East – the persecution of Christians in the Middle East. The case of Abu Akleh exposes this because it reveals Arab Muslim attitudes towards Arab Christians in their societies.

Huma Hader writing in his 2017 report ‘The Persecution of Christians in the Middle East’ for University of Birmingham wites in his overview:

A century ago, Christians in the Middle East comprised 20 percent of the population; today, they constitute no more than 3-4 percent of the region’s population (Pew Research Center, 2015; cited in Ben-Meir, 2016). The drastic decline in the number of Christians in the Middle East is considered to be part of a longer-term exodus related to general violence in various countries, lack of economic opportunities in the region, and religious persecution (Katulis et al., 2015; Hanish, 2014; Weiner, 2014).

The Middle East may be the birthplace of Christianity and home to some of its oldest communities, but the Christian population has dropped dramatically over time and this trajectory – including in areas under Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas control – is only going to intensify.

Downgraded in Death. On learning she was Christian, Shireen Abu Akleh was no longer deserving of “prayer for mercy”.


In a 2019 report commissioned by the then British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt found pervasive persecution of Christians, sometimes amounting to genocide in parts of the Middle East that has has prompted “an exodus in the past two decades.”

The report continues that:

“The inconvenient truth is the overwhelming majority (80%) of persecuted religious believers are Christians”.

The exception is in Israel, where the Christian population is growing:

“The Christian population of Israel currently stands at approximately 177,000 citizens, or 2% of the overall population, according to data published by the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) ahead of Christmas (2019).”

So even while a group of 25 bipartisan Congress members -14 Democrats and 11 Republicans – have urged the PA to release the bullet that killed Abu Akleh so it can be forensically examined by Israel, the PA is refusing to do so.

Instead of always blaming Israel irrespective of the facts, the PA should ‘bite the proverbial bullet’ and release the actual bullet.

What is it afraid of again – the TRUTH?

While the mission of Lay of the Land (LotL) is to provide a wide and diverse perspective of affairs in Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world, the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by its various writers are not necessarily ones of the owners and management of LOTL but of the writers themselves.  LotL endeavours to the best of its ability to credit the use of all known photographs to the photographer and/or owner of such photographs (0&EO).

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