Heralded by Palestinians as ‘angel’ and ‘merciful martyr,’ Razan Al-Najjar is an afterthought in western press

Posted on Jun 7, 2018

Volunteer paramedic Razan Najjar, 21, center, is seen before being shot in her chest by Israeli troops while running with protesters to take cover from teargas fired by Israeli troop near the Gaza Strip's border with Israel, during a protest east of Khan Younis, Gaza Strip, Friday, June 1, 2018. Najjar was fatally shot in the chest and died later at hospital, the Health Ministry said. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

Volunteer paramedic Razan Najjar, 21, center, is seen before being shot in her chest by Israeli troops while running with protesters to take cover from teargas fired by Israeli troop near the Gaza StrAdel Hana/AP

by James North, Mondoweiss, June 2, 2018

Let’s say Hamas fired a rocket that killed a young Israeli nurse while she was tending to the wounded from earlier rockets. Is there any doubt that the mainstream media would cover her death extensively, with photos, and interviews with friends and family?

But when Israeli snipers murdered a 21-year-old Palestinian nurse named Razan Al-Najjar yesterday, the mainstream media was nearly silent. Today’s New York Times print edition only includes her as an afterthought, in a report by the usually reliable Rick Gladstone about Israel’s latest defeat at the United Nations. Gladstone’s article notes only that “A 21-year-old Palestinian health worker was killed. . .” Gladstone’s editors could not be bothered to add her name, or to change the passive sentence to report who actually killed her.

By mid-morning in New York, the Times did start to rectify its error. A report went up, datelined KHUZAA, Gaza Strip, that includes basic background about this remarkable young woman, including an interview with her father, Ashram. A photograph shows desperate Gazans trying to carry her body to safety after the Israeli sniper shot her. The report did include a no comment from Israel’s military spokesman, Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, who is normally voluble when he is inventing violence by Gazans.

The Times’s report also has a 2-minute video interview it did with Razan Al-Najjar last month. The interview is powerful, and painful to watch. But it concentrates on whether, as a woman, she has any difficulty doing her job as a health worker. She does get to say that she and the other resisters in Gaza are showing the world that “without weapons we can do anything.”

Other mainstream media outlets have so far missed the Razan Al-Najjar story almost entirely. The Washington Post reported absolutely nothing. The Guardian buried a brief wire service report on its website. The BBC, somewhat surprisingly, also had nothing about Razan Al-Najjar, although it did report that the International Committee of the Red Cross is sending two surgical teams to Gaza to help with the “unprecedented health crisis.” While National Public Radio today allowed an Israeli to ascribe the Gaza killings to Hamas, and failed to mention the latest victim.

On the plus side, social media worldwide is telling some of the missing truths about Razan Al-Najjar. As of this morning, 111,000 tweets had already mentioned her name. Notably, Israeli parliamentarian Ayman Odeh tweeted that an “angel’s life” was taken and highlighted Israeli claims that every bullet its snipers fired can be accounted for.

Palestinian accounts are lionizing al-Najjar, saying her name will never be forgotten. From Palestine Live:

“Princess of Return”, Razan Al-Najjar. A name and a story that will be remembered for generations to come as the youngest dedicated Palestinian paramedic whose worry was to save lives. On 1st June 2018 she was targeted by an israeli sniper.

Palestinian media also showed a photograph of her mother clutching her bloodstained medic’s coat, and calling al Najjar a “merciful martyr.”