Mother most foul
Hebrew media review

Mother most foul

A mom kills her three kids and the papers don't spare any of the gory details

A mourner at Haim Hefer's grave on Wednesday. (photo credit: Avishag Shaar-Yashuv/Flash90)
A mourner at Haim Hefer's grave on Wednesday. (photo credit: Avishag Shaar-Yashuv/Flash90)

In American journalism there is a concept called the breakfast test, which holds that images or words that would cause a normal reader to spit out their Cheerios should not be displayed on the front page. After seeing the shocking headline at the top of Yedioth Ahronoth, and lower down in the three other major Hebrew-language dailies, perhaps a version of the breakfast test is in order in Israel as well. The offending headline is four simple words: “I killed my children.”

The quote was more or less uttered by a mother from Rahat who carried out the grisly knifing of three of her own young. The mother reportedly had been suffering from depression since the birth of her last child two months ago. The story is so filled with gory accounts that Yedioth even features a quote box to highlight all of them, (in case you had any food still in your stomach) for instance: “‘The whole house was filled with blood. The kids were lying there with no sign of life and the mother was yelling and going crazy in the house,’ said Sabar, a neighbor who was the first to respond.”

Maariv relates that the woman heard voices in her head telling her to kill the kids. Yedioth claims to have exclusive information that the woman’s husband preferred to treat her depression with traditional methods rather than using modern medicine. The social services office in Rahat told the paper it had not dealt with the family as it did not seem to be in any danger.

In Israel Hayom, Dr. Eli Dichter weighs in on the phenomenon of postpartum depression: “In extreme and rare cases there is the possibility for postpartum psychosis. This is a harsh condition which causes serious mood swings in the mother, with extreme depression that can turn into joy and hyperactivity. Also possible are delusions and hallucinations offering a distracted view of reality. The mother can fear that the baby is not hers, that the baby can injure her, or that it is not a baby at all.”

Remembering Hefer

The rest of the news in the papers isn’t much better. The funeral of acclaimed poet Haim Hefer is splashed across front pages, with large photo spreads showing the mourning over the Israel Prize-winner’s death on Tuesday. But the farewell was more bitter than sweet.

Haaretz’s Gideon Levy, sending off the legendary writer, notes that attendance was sparse (Yedioth Ahronoth, which employed Hefer for years, sent only a wreath, he says) and remembers Hefer’s writing as representing an Israel that no longer exists: “Some of the lyrics made us blush: ‘When she was prudish, she went to the master sergeant, when she wanted to warm up, she turned to the platoon commander.’ It’s hard to imagine that a book with such sexist, chauvinist passages could be published today, but yesterday at Ein Hod, opposite the lost beautiful Palestinian village which was occupied and taken over by leftist artists, in the light of the late afternoon sunset, with the Mediterranean Sea sparkling as it does at summer’s end, all was forgiven, and only the beautiful memories remained.”

Levy and Yedioth both note that the government failed to send a single representative to the funeral, with many of Hefer’s friends unhappy about the snub. “This is an embarrassment. Not one government representative came to pay respects to the man and the legend Haim Hefer. If somebody wins a medal, the education minister takes a picture with him, but for Hefer, who endowed our heritage for several generations, nobody from the government comes,” one of Hefer’s buddies told Yedioth.

On the security nuclear weapons front: Israel Hayom leads off with an interview with the head of Israel’s atomic energy agency, promising that the country will not stand idly by while Iran rises as a nuclear power. Despite that, Haaretz reports that Israel, as usual, wants no part in a regional non-proliferation confab, despite heavy pressure to get the country, which does not admit to possessing nuclear weapons, to take part in the convention. Maariv wants readers to know that on the table at said meet will be the bomb that Israel may or may not have (it does, according to foreign sources). According to Yedioth, American government officials have warned Israel that attacking Iran could jeopardize its peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, despite the fact that both countries are not exactly the best of friends with Tehran. Whew.


Haaretz’s op-ed page laments the death of Oslo on its 19th birthday: “The Oslo Accords were intended to pave the way to the occupation’s end and the establishment of a Palestinian state in the 1990s. Giving Israel exclusive authority over Area C was meant to be a brief stage on the way to a permanent arrangement …. The idee fixe that preferred the status quo to a peace initiative already exacted a heavy price from Israel 39 years ago. Alarmingly, this destructive idee fixe is returning.”

Yedioth’s Danny Karvan, on the other hand, launches a defense of the Oslo Accords, under fire from both the Palestinians, who object to its financial clauses, and right-wing Israelis who say it has brought us no closer to peace or security. Karvan disputes those claims, saying that Oslo is the infrastructure on which Israel’s current standing in the Middle East is based. “Only by the merit of Oslo did the Saudis agree to a peace agreement signed on by most Arab countries, on the condition that Israel agree to the creation of a Palestinian state. Acceptance of the Saudi plan could have turned the Middle East into a Garden of Eden of blooming economic activity, strengthened the forces of democracy in the region, and helped Israel form a coalition of Arab countries against Iran. But no Israeli government answered the challenge. Oslo gave Israel its across-the-board international support, which it hasn’t known since its founding. That support has been eroded almost completely by the continuing occupation.”

read more: