As I drove with three of my children through the Jordan Valley on Friday, a man driving a motorcycle menacingly approached alongside my car to pass on the narrow road.
The thought briefly entered my head that he was about to open fire and shoot us all.
On our way to visit the Gan Garoo Zoo (Park Australia) near Beit She’an, I purposely took a longer route through the center of the country, in order to minimize the danger following the murders of Lucy Dee and her children, Maia and Rina, further south in that same valley.
They were on their way to enjoy the previous weekend in Tiberias with their extended family. The Dee family was not targeted because they lived in Efrat, just over the pre-1967 border. They were killed for the same reason that Greek Orthodox monk Georgios Tsibouktzakis was murdered in that valley in 2001: He looked Jewish.
Terror by nature is random, and anyone could end up the victim.
The one positive that has come out of the brutal murders of a mother and her two daughters is that the world has been introduced to Leo Dee, a brilliant orator, inspiring rabbi, loving husband to Lucy and proud father of son Yehuda and daughters Rina, Maia, Tali and Keren.
Realizing that he had been thrust into the spotlight against his will, Rabbi Dee decided to use his pulpit to spread goodness and to challenge the international media to cover Israel fairly. He called a press conference attended by the Reuters wire service before his wife was buried and he gave interviews to nine media outlets while sitting shiva.
Rabbi Dee’s message to humanity was “never accept terror as legitimate, never blame the murder on the victims, and there is no such thing as moral equivalence between terrorist and victim. The terrorist is always bad.”
The rabbi felt compelled to convey such simple messages because media outlets around the world appeared to justify the murders by noting where the Dee family lived and died.
We at HonestReporting called out The Guardian for passively saying the victims had been “killed” as opposed to “murdered” and for stating the location of the deaths in order to justify them rather than pointing out that the perpetrator was a terrorist. An Associated Press headline did not identify the victims or the murderer: “Two killed in West Bank after Israel strikes Lebanon, Gaza.”
Blaming the victims to a new level, Al Jazeera’s headline was “Two Israeli settlers killed in occupied West Bank shooting.” The subheadline stated that “a deadly gun attack was carried out on a vehicle near the illegal Hamra settlement,” dehumanizing the teenagers as if the terrorist’s goal was to harm the car.
As HonestReporting repeatedly reminds our readers, by making excuses for why Jews are being murdered, the international media is complicit, and implicitly fans the flames of more violence.
“We can’t trust the news – sorry, gentlemen,” Dee said at the press conference.
Dee dared the foreign press to stop criticizing Israel for existing.
“Isn’t that how the world media treats Israel?” he asked. “We build, they murder us, they destroy. [They say] it’s your fault, since you built it in the first place.”
Dee’s request to post Israeli flags on social media was readily accepted by Jews around the world. His more important call to cover Israel fairly met with less success.
“World media: show me your true colors,” he implored. “Do you really believe in moral equivalence? Will you continue to support evil by giving it a voice? Am I and my family really a threat to world peace? We who teach kindness and love? We who value life over anything else? Is this anonymous killer really justified? Is he progressing moral values and a future for himself? Come on! Wake up! Listen to your souls. Do you really believe it? Or does it just sell advertising space for material goods none of us really need?”
Dee’s dare should become the baseline for media reporting about Israel from now on. Journalists from media outlets across the globe need to ask themselves before they file their reports whether they crossed that line.
Unfortunately, coverage of Israel during Ramadan crossed that line of moral equivalence repeatedly, and the price quickly became clear.
As HonestReporting revealed, dangerously bad reporting of what happened at al-Aqsa and on the Temple Mount was used as an excuse for Palestinian violence during Ramadan on three fronts. Innocent civilians were murdered, and too many Israeli families spent Passover in bomb shelters.
Police used force to remove armed rioters from the mosque who intended to attack worshipers. The videos went viral, and incorrect reports said the police attacked Muslim worshipers – when the truth was that they used force in self-defense against rioters who intended to attack worshipers and ended up attacking the police.
International media must stop making excuses
Those videos and incorrect reports were probably also the excuse for the murders of the Dee family, though the murderer has not yet been caught to explain.
This moral equivalence has intensified since the Palestinian wave of terror began in March 2022. During that time more than 4,000 terror attacks have been perpetrated against Israelis.
The world’s media keeps a death toll for Palestinians but does not mention that two-thirds were affiliated with terrorist organizations or in the act of attempting to kill Jews, according to statistics compiled by HonestReporting. All but eight of the 50 Israelis murdered during that same time were innocent civilians.
The murders of the Dee family especially hit home, because they are English-speaking Israelis, like most readers of the print edition of The Jerusalem Post. They are an ordinary Jewish family from Northwest London, where protests in 2021 called to kill Jews.
Palestinian protesters marched chanting “F*** the Jews! Rape their daughters!”
Two years later, justifications were made for the deaths of Maia and Rina Dee, because their parents chose to move them from purportedly safe Northwest London to supposedly more dangerous Efrat. Yet antisemitic attacks in the UK are on the rise.
Reuters noted two years ago that such attacks in England were “fueled by reaction to a rise in violence in Israel and Gaza.” In other words, Jews are not safe in the Diaspora or in Israel, and they get attacked regardless of whether they are “settlers” or not.
Like the Dees, I came to live in the Jewish state, hoping for a better fate for my family.
I hope the international media will prevent the next tragedy by heeding the lesson of Leo Dee and reporting more responsibly.
The writer is the executive director and executive editor of the pro-Israel watchdog HonestReporting, which monitors coverage of Israel in the international mainstream and social media. He served as chief political correspondent and analyst of The Jerusalem Post for 24 years.