If you read any American newspapers this week, you saw the headlines: “Wisconsin Mom Accused of Spreading Support for ISIS” … “Wisconsin Mother of Seven Charged with Trying to Recruit for ISIS” … “Wisconsin Woman Pleads Guilty to Terrorism Charges.”
I’ve searched high and low, and I can’t find a single major news media outlet that described the woman as a Palestinian Arab. Not in the headlines. Not in the articles. Nowhere.
Why do you suppose that is?
The woman, Waheba Issa Dai, “tried to recruit ISIS supporters to carry out attacks and provided them with information on making explosives and biological weapons,” according to the prosecutors. She also “used hacked social media accounts to discuss possible attacks with self-proclaimed members of the IS.”
Since a terrorist’s nationality is often relevant to their motives for carrying out terrorism, you would think that the media would have mentioned that Dai is a Palestinian Arab. No such luck.
The Associated Press mentioned—all the way down in paragraph 7—that Dai was “born in Jerusalem.” USA Today called her “a native of Jerusalem.” But neither of them acknowledged her identity as a Palestinian Arab. Which is interesting, because when Palestinian Arabs in Jerusalem protest something, the American media always describe them as Palestinians. You don’t see stories headlined “People Born in Jerusalem Accuse Israel of Persecuting Them.”
Yet suddenly, when one of those “Jerusalemites” does something out of Israel that reflects badly on Palestinian Arabs, she is stripped of her Palestinian Arab identity by the news media.
It gets worse. NBC News.com didn’t even mention that she was born in Jerusalem. She was just “a Wisconsin mother of seven.” Puzzling! I wonder what it is that drives Wisconsin women with large families to manufacture biological weapons?
And it even gets worse than that. The New York Times and the British Daily Mail led their readers to believe that this Palestinian Arab-would-be-mass-murderer is—an Israeli!
The Times characterized her as “a permanent legal resident of the United States who was born in Israel.” Not Palestinian, not Arab, not Muslim. Just “born in Israel.” The Daily Mail called her an “Israeli native.”
Another curious thing—the media outlets that mentioned she was “born in Jerusalem” typically placed that information deep within their article. But the ones that called her an “Israeli” for some reason felt that information should be up front. In the New York Times, it was in the second paragraph; in the Daily Mail, it was in the third.
I think it’s safe to assume that if the American public was informed that a Palestinian Arab terrorist was caught trying to organize a 9/11-style slaughter, it might diminish support for giving the Palestinians a sovereign state in Israel’s back yard. Could that be the reason that the major news media suppressed Waheba Issa Dai’s Palestinian Arab identity?
Ordinarily, the major news media go out of their way to promote the idea that the Palestinian Arabs are a distinct, identifiable ethnic group deserving of recognition and statehood. Palestinian Arab literature, music, and cuisine frequently are the topic of feature stories. The media’s cheerleaders for the Palestinian cause usually want us to hear the word “Palestinian” as often as possible.
Thus, public figures who say anything contradicting that line are ridiculed and depicted as racists. Recall the savage treatment meted out to former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich when he suggested, in 2011, that Palestinian nationalism is a recent invention. And don’t forget New York City Council Kalman Yeager, who was recently hounded out of his seat on the council’s immigration committee for daring to question the idea of Palestinian Arab nationalism. How dare they minimize or downplay Palestinian identity! It’s an outrage!
But when a mention of someone’s Palestinian Arab identity would be a liability to the cause, the word “Palestinian” is conspicuously omitted by the media. Hypocrisy? Dishonest journalism? Dirty politics? Maybe a bit of all three.
Stephen M. Flatow, an attorney in New Jersey, is the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995. His book, “A Father’s Story: My Fight for Justice Against Iranian Terror,” has just been published.