Saturday, May 25, 2013

Myth vs. Fact

Book by: Mitchell G. Bard

“Israelis cannot deny the truth of pictures showing their abuses.” 


A picture may be worth a thousand words, but sometimes the picture and the words used to describe it are distorted and misleading. Photographers understandably seek the most dramatic pictures they can find, and those suggesting that brutal Israeli Goliaths are mistreating suffering Palestinian Davids are especially appealing, but the context is often missing. 
Iconic, mislabeled photo
In one classic example, the Associated Press circulated a dramatic photo of an angry baton-wielding Israeli soldier standing over a bloody young man. It appeared the soldier had just beaten the youth. The picture appeared in the New York Times and spurred international outrage because the caption, supplied by Associated Press, said, “An Israeli policeman and a Palestinian on the Temple Mount.” It turned out, however, the caption was inaccurate and the photo actually showed an incident that might have conveyed almost the exact opposite impression had it been reported correctly. The victim was not a Palestinian beaten by an Israeli soldier, it was a policeman protecting an American Jewish student, Tuvia Grossman, who had been riding in a taxi when it was stoned by Palestinians. Grossman was pulled out of the taxi, beaten and stabbed. He broke free and fled toward the Israeli policeman. At that point a photographer snapped the picture. 
Besides getting the victim wrong, Associated Press also inaccurately reported that the photograph was taken on the Temple Mount. When Associated Press was alerted to the errors, it issued a series of corrections, several of which still did not get the story straight. As is usually the case when the media makes a mistake, the damage was already done. Many outlets that had used the photo did not print clarifications. Others issued corrections that did not receive anywhere near the prominence of the initial story. 

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