Unholy mess in the Holy Land

On the day I arrived in Israel, where I was on an Act for Israel media fellowship, terrorists killed five members of the Fogel family. The day after I left, Hamas fired rockets from Gaza into Ashkelon. Israel responded with air strikes in Gaza. More rockets from Gaza ... and then a bomb. The Jerusalem bomb was serious, injuring dozens of Israeli commuters and killing one woman. It was detonated extremely close to where I was staying in Jerusalem, just a two-minute walk or so from my hotel. If there was one thing I learned during my trip to Israel, it was how complicated the political situation is there. But much of the conflict is rooted in religious views, whether it be Israel's right to exist or Hamas' leadership of Gaza. Hamas is an acronym meaning "Islamic Resistance Movement," after all. Hamas is known for its social welfare activity, such as building schools and hospitals and helping the financially needy. It's also known for supporting the killing of Israeli civilians and destruction of the state of Israel. While Hamas' Islamic views are not universal, religion plays a key role in how they operate. And then there was another angle in the Jerusalem bombing, as discussed by the Scotland Herald in "Tributes paid to a special and dedicated Christian person":

A SCOTS Christian campaigner from Scotland who worked in the Third World has been killed in a bomb blast in Jerusalem.

Mary Gardner, 59, who previously taught in Orkney, was the only fatality. She was caught up in the explosion caused by a bomb placed in a phone booth as she stood at a bus station in the Israeli city.

She died in hospital from her injuries despite desperate efforts by paramedics following Wednesday's terror attack.

Ms Gardner, who was studying Hebrew at the city's Hebrew University, was employed by the Wycliffe Society, which works to provide translations of the Bible to the estimated 340 million people who can't read it in their own language.

So a Palestinian bomb targets Israelis, successfully, but also kills a Christian student. Anyway, what's interesting about this article is that we never learn anything about who bombed the civilians. You notice the passive voice above -- "caught up in the explosion caused by a bomb." We learn many more details about Gardner's work in Togo West Africa. She was part of a team translating the New Testament into Ife, which was completed in 2009. She was studying Hebrew in order to go back to Togo to translate the Old Testament. Then more frustratingly non-specific details:

The Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Ms Gardner was killed by the blast across the street from the Jerusalem Convention Centre near the central bus station.

A spokesman said: "[Ms Gardner] was critically wounded as a result of the bombing, and rescue services transferred her to hospital, where doctors fought for her life for about an hour and ultimately were forced to declare her dead."

We never learn who was behind the bombing, much less why civilians were targeted. It's just odd to tell only a portion of the story. This Telegraph article on Gardner isn't much better. Of course, it might be better than the way Reuters handled the terrorist attack:

Police said it was a "terrorist attack" -- Israel's term for a Palestinian strike. It was the first time Jerusalem had been hit by such a bomb since 2004.

It was a phrase repeated (without credit) by CNN, Sky News and the Daily Mail. Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic opined:

Those Israelis and their crazy terms! I mean, referring to a fatal bombing of civilians as a "terrorist attack"? Who are they kidding? Everyone knows that a fatal bombing of Israeli civilians should be referred to as a "teachable moment." Or as a "venting of certain frustrations." Or as "an understandable reaction to Jewish perfidy." Or perhaps as "a very special episode of 'Cheers.'" Anything but "a terrorist attack." I suppose Reuters will mark the 10th anniversary of 9/11 by referring to the attacks as "an exercise in urban renewal."

On the other hand, assuming this translation of Palestine Times is accurate, it sounds like Gaza citizens supported the terrorist attack strike. This is a terribly complicated story. Palestinian Fatah condemned the attack as Palestinian Hamas cheered. The reason for that distinction can be explained at least in part according to religious views. We're not going to see a very good discussion of those religious views if the media is too busy ignoring or excusing Hamas "strikes."

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