Psycho killer: Qu’est-ce que c’est?
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Hebrew media review

Psycho killer: Qu’est-ce que c’est?

The Hebrew media goes all out in its restricted coverage of a suspected serial rapist and murderer, even though the case remains under partial gag order

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Fyodor Beijanri (Israel Police)
Fyodor Beijanri (Israel Police)

There’s a serial killer on the loose in the Hebrew media on Wednesday, as all the nation’s newspapers focus on the story of an alleged rapist and murderer suspected of sexually assaulting and killing at least four women.

The Israel Hayom and Yedioth Ahronoth tabloids milk the terrifying tale of 26-year-old Fyodor Beijanri for all it’s worth, with dramatic black, red and yellow graphics and large mug shot-style photographs.

“Suspicion: The most dangerous serial killer in Israel,” reads Yedioth’s headline.

The decidedly serious — thank you very much — Haaretz broadsheet opts for a far tamer approach in its coverage of Beijanri’s horrific acts and eventual arrest. “Haifa resident suspected of raping and killing four women from around the country,” the headline reads.

Much of the case remains under a court gag order so the actual reports themselves are relatively light on content.

What is known is that Beijanri was arrested over a month and a half ago and has denied the accusations against him through an attorney. His name, age and residency location have also been cleared for publication, but information about his victims remains secret.

Yedioth lands an interview with the suspect’s wife, who says she has been “simply destroyed” by the revelation.

“I am simply destroyed. It has destroyed me as a person,” she tells the tabloid. “I don’t know how I am going to recover from this.”

Lacking an interview with someone close to the case, Israel Hayom instead goes for the age-old tactic of nonsensical, baseless analysis.

“A serial killer is a criminal who is motivated by the need to fulfill his suppressed fantasies to the point of committing a crime,” Itzik Saban writes in the paper.

Saban, who is not a psychologist, tells readers: “A serial killer normally suffers from childhood trauma, and in general from additional mental disorders.”

It’s not clear why a journalist untrained in the mental health profession feels comfortable enough to describe the mindset and motivations of a serial killer, but I’ll leave that question to the Israel Police.

Haaretz wants to get you high, Yedioth scores big interviews

Haaretz’s top story has less to do with heavy crime and more with petty drug busts, which Israeli stoners should expect to continue unabated.

Public Security Minister — and apparent buzzkill — Gilad Erdan, along with a special police committee, put the kibosh on former police chief Yohanan Danino’s call for law enforcement to reconsider the current heavy-handed approach to Israel’s marijuana policy, Haaretz reports.

A bud tender at Private Organic Therapy, or POT, a nonprofit cooperative medical marijuana dispensary in Los Angeles, displays various types of marijuana available to patients, Oct. 19, 2009. (David McNew/Getty Images/JTA)
A bud tender at Private Organic Therapy, or POT, a nonprofit cooperative medical marijuana dispensary in Los Angeles, displays various types of marijuana available to patients, Oct. 19, 2009. (David McNew/Getty Images/JTA)

“In order to reach dealers, large and small, I need to get there through customers, who are ordinary people. I need access to their cellular phones, and I need to wait for them under the dealer’s house as they carry out the transaction, and to have them come to court and identify the dealer,” a police intelligence officer tells the newspaper, all but encouraging people to buy weed.

The article is far too serious to make light of the drug issue, but does feature a photograph of what appears to be a bearded elf watching an elderly woman roll a marijuana joint.

Yedioth Ahronoth, meanwhile, goes military with its top story, as military correspondent Yossi Yehoshua manages to get interviews with not one West Bank regional brigade commander, but all six.

The article, which will be published in full later this week, has the six colonels discuss their tenures in the West Bank over the past seven months’ wave of violence, and their visions for the future.

“If the [terror] wave starts up again, it will go up a few levels. It won’t go back to the 13-year-old kids with knives,” Col. Shai Kalper, who heads the Samaria Brigade, said. “The bus explosion in Jerusalem brought us all back to the early 2000s.”

The commanders also talk about the recent Hebron shooting in which an IDF soldier, who is now on trial for manslaughter, shot a supine, disarmed Palestinian assailant in the West Bank city after an attack.

According to the colonels, the incident forced them to review the rules of engagement with all their soldiers to ensure that such incidents do not happen again.

Israelis cool off at Lifta Spring in Jerusalem on April 26, 2016, as temperatures hit 40 degrees in some parts of the country. (Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Israelis cool off at Lifta Spring in Jerusalem on April 26, 2016, as temperatures hit 40 degrees in some parts of the country. (Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Israel Hayom’s Wednesday edition lacks any large, exclusive stories, and its third page is dedicated to the weather.

The 557-word article, which has five — five! — reporters’ names on the byline, details the best ways to beat the unseasonable heat, including a trip to the beach. (Presumably where the paper’s staff spent yesterday.)

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