Wada Idris: She’s no saint

February 02, 2002


[Note by Tom Gross]

The following communiqué deals with extensive press interest in the first Palestinian woman suicide bomber to "successfully" murder Israelis. If only the western press would devote just a little of the ample space they regularly give to profiling Palestinian terrorists and their families, and tell us a little about who their victims are instead.


HonestReporting.com communiqué
January 30, 2002

Wada Idris worked as a paramedic volunteer with the Red Crescent dedicated to saving Palestinian lives. But when she blew herself up in Jerusalem on January 27, she was trying to kill and maim as many lives as possible.

This week, almost every major media outlet profiled the woman suicide terrorist. Reporters interviewed her proud mother, pondered the anger and pain she bore, described her hero's status, wrote of her Palestinian patriotism, and proffered their pop psychology. Some reported on her failed marriage, her barrenness, her poor academic record (her college degree was erroneously reported; she was a junior high dropout), and her providing emergency aid to wounded Palestinian rioters.

Something, however, is terribly amiss in the world of journalism.

Idris is portrayed as some sort of new, liberated woman: The First Palestinian Woman "Martyr." Young Palestinian women are interviewed by American networks and vow that they support and may emulate Idris' murderous act. Reporters speak of how Idris "adored children" (New York Times).

What is wrong? Intentionally or not, the press is reinforcing the positive image of a terrorist.

Eight years ago, when an Israeli-American doctor, a man who was in despair after treating so many Jewish terror victims, opened fire on praying Moslems in Hebron, there were no eulogies or psychoanalytical rationalizations. Indeed, Baruch Goldstein's act was roundly condemned by Israeli leaders, press, and rabbis. He was a sick man in a healthy society that honored human life and condemned his horrific act.

Idris, on the other hand, was a sick woman in a malevolent society that hailed her act. She was poisoned by a mother who could take pride in death. Idris was made feverish by brothers who are Fatah members. She was infected by a society whose textbooks, media, preachers, and political leaders glorify death and martyrdom.

Posters went up in the PA-administered territories glorifying Idris as a Palestinian hero.

The coverage of Wada Idris' terrorist act deserves discussion with editors and publishers. We encourage you to express your opinions and engage your local editors and news producers.

Here are some of the media that profiled Idris:

BBC – "Female bomber's mother speaks out"

The New York Times – "An Unusual New Palestinian 'Martyr': A Woman"

The Washington Post – "Palestinians Hail A Heroine"

The Guardian (UK) – "From an angel of mercy to angel of death"

The Baltimore Sun – "She volunteered as a medic, became Palestinian bomber"

All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.