Navigate to News section

ISM Activist Murdered By Palestinians Shows Double Standard

The death of pro-Palestinian activist Vittorio Arrigoni

Adam Chandler
September 19, 2012
A Mural Depicting Italian Activist Vittorio Arrigoni in Gaza City(Mahmud Hams/AFP)

A Mural Depicting Italian Activist Vittorio Arrigoni in Gaza City(Mahmud Hams/AFP)

On Monday, a Hamas military court convicted four men in the kidnapping and murder of pro-Palestinian activist Vittorio Arrigoni. If your allergies were flaring up at all yesterday, then you might have blinked and missed the coverage of the trial, it was buried in a 150-word capsule on page 8 of the New York Times. The outcome was reported elsewhere, but with similar economy.

Arrigoni, who was a leader in the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), was abducted in 2011 by Palestinian terrorists, videotaped and held for ransom in an attempt to press Hamas in Gaza to release an imprisoned leader of a rival group, and eventually murdered before the deadline even passed. His death was met with condemnation from various Palestinian groups including Hamas–with whom Arrigoni had reportedly aligned. Arrigoni’s death also made him the subject of a number of tributes, highlighting his quest to bring a peaceful solution to the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict. At the time, Noah Pollak, executive director of the Emergency Committee for Israel, begged to differ:

“Arrigoni devoted himself to helping Hamas try to destroy Israel. He was a warmonger, an anti-Semite and a supporter of the repression of Palestinians under terrorist rule in Gaza. The attempt by anti-Israel activists to portray him as a crusader for peace or human rights is nothing less than Orwellian.”

The news of the Arrigoni verdict threw the end of last month’s case against the Israel Defense Forces in the death of ISM activist Rachel Corrie into sharp relief. The verdict in the Corrie trial–which exonerated the IDF of wrongdoing–was front page news across the world, garnering some 950 words of initial reportage on A1 of the Times, as well as a number of follow ups and opinion pieces in media outlets around the globe. Outrage ran wild.

So why the relative silence for Arrigoni, who, unlike Corrie, was obviously and brutally murdered? Where are the off-Broadway plays and poems and paintings? There are some clear factors stunting the media uproar–Arrigoni wasn’t American and the timing of his death–but none of these make the circumstances of his death–now confirmed by a Hamas court of all adjudicators–any less outrageous.

Leading up to and following the Corrie verdict, the ISM website devoted several entries to the case, drawing attention to the news coverage, highlighting the perceived injustice of the trial, and again accusing the IDF of cold-blooded murder. In the days before and after the verdict in the Arrigoni case, there hasn’t been anything posted and, perhaps more telling, from reading the tributes to Arrigoni on the ISM site and elsewhere, one would think he died of natural causes and not at the hands of Islamic fundamentalists. In many ways, this is emblematic of all the deaths that seem to come more cheaply when a Jew is not to blame.

Adam Chandler was previously a staff writer at Tablet. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic, Slate, Esquire, New York, and elsewhere. He tweets @allmychandler.

Support Our Podcasts

In addition to Unorthodox, the world’s No. 1 Jewish podcast, and Take One, our daily Talmud meditation, we’re hard at work on exciting new Jewish audio series.