The FBI has announced it is opening an investigation into the death of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh during a firefight between Palestinian terrorists and the Israeli military in Jenin last May.
That’s strange, since in investigations already completed by both Palestinian and Israeli forensic experts (with U.S. oversight), neither was able positively to determine the source of the bullet that killed Akleh. Furthermore, zero evidence has been offered that Akleh’s death was intentional.
The move signals clearly that either the United States does not trust Israel to investigate such incidents—or that enemies of Israel in the government simply want to malign the Jewish state.
Israel’s Prime Minister, Yair Lapid, has called the investigation a “grave mistake.” A Jerusalem Post op-ed called it “a slap in the face for Israel.”
The superfluous investigation appears to have been opened following letters sent to the FBI by 57 Democratic Representatives and to President Joe Biden by 22 Democratic Senators (plus two independents, including Bernie Sanders).
In response to the insult, Israel has indicated it will not cooperate with the investigation. Many in Israel consider the U.S. action an attempt to demonize the Jewish state, on the basis of no evidence and with clear double standards—both markers of antisemitism.
In any case, the FBI probe seems to be a clear attempt to discredit the Jewish state in the absence of any hard facts—and the impossibility of ever acquiring definitive evidence.
Shortly after the incident, Akleh’s employer, Al Jazeera, accused IDF soldiers of killing Akleh. However, neither Al Jazeera nor any other news outlet has produced proof.
Al Jazeera is funded by the government of the small Arab state of Qatar, which opposes diplomatic relations with Israel. Qatar is also suspected of funding Palestinian terrorist groups like Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
When the investigation of the journalist’s death was launched by the IDF, in cooperation with the United States, the Palestinians refused to cooperate. In fact, for several months the P.A. refused to hand over the bullet that killed Akleh, until American pressure persuaded them to hand it over to experts from the U.S. Justice Department.
Unfortunately, the bullet was damaged too badly to be useful to investigators. Thus, the head of Palestinian Forensic Medicine declared it was impossible to establish who fired it.
The media in P.A.-controlled territory were banned from reporting on Akleh’s death—not surprising, since credible ballistic experts indicated to legal advocate Shurat Hadin a high likelihood that the deadly bullet came from a gun belonging to the Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, armed henchmen of the Palestinian Fatah Party.
The Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade has committed hundreds of murders and other attacks on Israeli civilians, especially in recent months. IDF forces were in Jenin on the morning of Akleh’s death precisely to round up terrorists responsible for recent killings.
In short, any assertion that Israeli troops intentionally killed Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh is ludicrous. The Israeli military has strict rules of engagement that forbid targeting journalists. Israel has no history of intentionally killing journalists.
Furthermore, Israeli troops were 200 yards—two football fields—away from where Akleh was shot, making it highly unlikely that she could be identified as a member of the press.
Tragically, a cadre of Israel-unfriendly U.S. lawmakers has ignored all evidence and diplomatic respect, deciding instead to persecute America’s most trusted ally in the Middle East and one of its strongest in the world.
Ask yourself: Why would the FBI conduct its own investigation into this matter—especially since the United States has never investigated any other allies when U.S. journalists have been killed? What precisely is the FBI trying to determine?
Since 1990, some 2,658 journalists have been killed—many in war zones, most murdered for their reporting. Fifteen American journalists have been killed this year in Ukraine alone. Where are the investigations?
Forty-nine Americans have been killed by Palestinian terrorists—intentionally—since Aug. 9, 2001. No FBI investigations.
Indeed, the United States itself is guilty of killing journalists in combat zones. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, U.S. forces killed 13 journalists in Iraq. But of course, those were American forces, not Israelis. No FBI investigations.
One thing is clear: Partisan members of Congress—and our supposedly non-partisan FBI—are using a double standard against Israel in the Akleh case—and that fits the definition of antisemitism like a glove.
Only Israel is singled out, because, as per renowned legal scholar Alan Dershowitz, Israel is the “Jew among nations.”
U.S. Democratic lawmakers are applying an unfair double standard to Israel. This double standard is both a rude gesture to America’s greatest ally in the Middle East and a vile act of antisemitism.
What’s more, the FBI’s unwarranted and unnecessary investigation only encourages the false narrative that Israel disrespects a free press—when in fact Israel is the only nation in the Middle East that has a free press.
James Sinkinson is president of Facts and Logic About the Middle East (FLAME), which publishes educational messages to correct lies and misperceptions about Israel and its relationship to the United States.