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With His Dying Breath

With His Dying Breath

Noam Apter's heroic act saved countless lives. Why didn't more people hear about it?


Noam Apter, age 23, died as a hero in the recent attack on the Jewish community of Otniel. His picture was on the front page of every Israeli newspaper. His bravery was reported on every Israeli newscast. His family's mourning and loss was the subject of conversation at dinner tables, office coolers, and essentially all over Israel.

Yet, the story of Noam Apter did not appear in the LA Times, or in most papers abroad. Not even his name was mentioned. Nor his age. Nor the names or ages of the other three victims brutally murdered in the Sabbath eve massacre at Otniel. He was just another one of "four Israelis killed in the West Bank."

Since you probably missed it, here is the story:

On Friday night, December 27, over a hundred Israeli teenagers and young adults sat down for the Sabbath meal at the yeshiva of Otniel. Four of the students whose turn it was to be the evening's "waiters" went to serve the main course in the kitchen adjoining the dining room. Noam Apter was among them. The other three waiters were: Yehuda Bamberger, 20, Zvi Ziman, 18, and Gabriel Hoter, 17.

He closed the door, locked it, threw the key into a corner -- then collapsed and died.

Suddenly two terrorists dressed in Israeli army uniforms burst into the kitchen and sprayed the four waiters with fire from their M16's. Hit by the bullets and mortally wounded, Noam used his last strength to run to the door connecting the kitchen and the dining room. He closed it, locked it, and threw the key into a corner. He then collapsed and died, lying against the door.

The terrorists tried to open the door. Seeing it locked, they sprayed gunfire through a small glass window into the dining room. After realizing that this fire was inaccurate and wild (it wounded six more students) and having already killed the four student waiters, the terrorists fled the kitchen, later to be hunted down and killed by the Israeli army.

Yaacov Ohana, an 18-year-old wounded survivor of the attack, told Ma'ariv: "Our great luck was that Noam succeeded in locking the door to the dining room and throwing the key into a dark corner. Otherwise the terrorists would have massacred dozens".

To illustrate how one-sided the world media coverage has been, one needs to go no farther than the LA Times. During the four days after Noam's death, the LA Times published seven major articles on the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians -- a total of over 7,000 words. Yet no room could be found for Noam's name or his story of bravery, nor for the story of his family's loss.

While not a single name of an Israeli victim was listed, the LA Times listed 17 Palestinians "victims” by name.

By contrast, stories about Palestinians, their names and ages filled these seven LA Times articles over those four days. While not a single name of an Israeli victim was listed, nor the age of a single Israeli victim, the LA Times did find the room to list by name 17 Palestinians "victims" (some of whom were terrorists killed in gun battles with Israeli troops), and the ages of a total of 20 different Palestinian "victims.”

Lack of ages and names are only the beginning. Each Palestinian "victim" has a story, heart-rending, full of context, detail, local color, and moving quotes. The Israeli victims are just statistics, without quotes, without a context, essentially without a story. This lack of balance might be explained if the numbers were unbalanced -- so many more Palestinians dying than Israelis. Yet on December 29, the Times itself reports that in the month of October, more Israeli civilians were killed (45) then Palestinians (41).

So why no names, no ages, no stories for the Israeli victims? Why don't the Israeli unarmed civilians who are deliberately targeted by terrorists get at least the same consideration as the Palestinian civilians who are tragically and mistakenly killed in a tough war against terror that Israel must fight in populated areas?

One is left with the unmistakable conclusion that for the LA Times, Palestinian suffering and Jewish suffering operate by different standards.

Noam Apter was one of the many heroes in Israel's current war against terror. They all have names. They all have ages. And they all have stories. It's about time they were told.

Read Jonathan Medved's profile, Seeding Israel.

January 12, 2003

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Visitor Comments: 35

(35) Susan Levene, April 18, 2017 2:31 AM

Horrible, horrible tragedy, so sad.

Unfortunately it draws attention to the fact that these lovely young people were not being guarded by armed people to avoid a tragedy like this. I hope that in future there will be armed guards protecting a gathering such as this.

(34) Anonymous, March 10, 2008 7:22 PM

What else can we expect?

Our media is making the most they can to convert us into a french style nation, catering to the muslims and our innate enemies.We must start gathering ALL family members from any suicide attacker and send them to do some jail time and let them know that after they become suicide bomber their family will pay the consecuences.

(33) batya, January 1, 2008 10:47 AM

and why didn't you mention that he's from Shiloh?

I consider it important. Many of Israel's recent heros were raised in YESHA.

(32) audrey, December 11, 2007 4:23 PM

My Hero

Years have passed since this heroic act occured and I get tears in my eyes everytime I think about Noam Apter. I hope one day to have a son that I could name Noam and hope that a spark of his neshama will be with us.

(31) Richard, September 8, 2006 2:39 AM


I don't offer pacification by your terms and I don't intend to. I just do realize that this happens everywhere in the world and everyday. You are mad at the LA times for not mentioning it but at the same time how many names do you know from the same paper that died today. Do you know their stories. I mourn for you and anyone that knew him. I am sure that the world is at a loss and will be without his prescence. "Do not ask of that which you will not give." Didn't read it, just believe it. I hope you find peace, mine is with you.

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