Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Biased and Misleading Headlines About Palestinian Attacks on Israelis

Do you remember the headline about the man who was killed in a classroom full of children after they’d apparently allowed themselves to get in the way of his bullets? What about the one about the airline passengers who died when a building knocked the plane out of the sky? How angry would you be if headlines following 9/11 focused on the deaths of the hijackers without mentioning the acts that they had committed? How angry would you have been if, following the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the headlines focused on the death of Adam Lanza without explaining that he had just killed children?

Yet those are the sort of headlines that are used to “describe” the ongoing wave of Palestinian terrorist attacks against Israelis (and Jewish holy sites). Here are several examples (most taken from CAMERA’s article Wave of Palestinian Violence Accompanied by Spate of Bad Writing):

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That headline comes from the British newspaper The Independent (and is was later corrected, somewhat). What does that headline omit? How about the fact that the boy in question had just engaged in one of the stabbing attacks. He stabbed two Ultra Orthodox men (both in their 60s). In other words, the headline focuses on the deaths of those who have committed the terrorist acts and says nothing about those who have been the victims of the attacks. As CAMERA also notes, when The Independent previously mentioned a 16-year-old Israeli killed by a Palestinian, that Israeli was described as a “teen” not as a “boy”.

Consider this headline and story from The Wall Street Journal’s Facebook page:

wall%20street%20journal%20killed%20teens%20after%20stabbings

Those two Palestinian teenagers? Yeah, they were the knife-wielding assailants that the story mentions. And the victims? One was a 14-year-old Israeli boy riding his bicycle after buying some candy. This particular story is also interesting because Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, in a televised speech, accused Israel of executing the Palestinian assailants:

In a televised speech on Wednesday night, Mr Abbas condemned the “occupation and aggression of Israel and its settlers” who “execute our boys in cold blood, as they did with the boy Ahmed Manasra”.

One problem. Not only did Israel not “execute” Ahmed Manasra, they even treated his injuries in an Israeli hospital (where he confessed to the attacks). Yet when Israel criticized Abbas for his claim that Manasra had been executed, The New York Times would only refer to Israel’s accusation:

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The article notes that Mansara is alive and that Abbas said that he was executed, but the headline, rather than talking about Abbas’ lie, focuses on Israel and its accusation. Oh, and why would Abbas lie about Israel having “executed” a boy? Incitement, anyone?

Here is some video of the incident:

Or how about this headline from USA Today:

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The first paragraph of the article is just as bad:

Four Palestinians were shot and killed by Israelis Saturday in separate stabbing incidents in Jerusalem and the West Bank in the latest in a month-long upsurge in violent confrontations.

Do either the headline or introductory paragraph give you any context to tell you that the Palestinians who had been killed were the ones who had stabbed or tried to stab Israelis?

And here is a headline from the Los Angeles Times (which was also corrected following a complaint from CAMERA):

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Do you see a pattern here?

Maybe Reuters will do a better job:

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Hmm. Whom and what is a “knife man” and why did the mean Israelis kill him? Might it have involved an attempt by “knife man” to, you know, stab Israelis? Isn’t that, you know, pertinent to the story?

I’m not sure if you’ve heard, but twice in the last week or so, a Jewish holy site (Joseph’s Tomb) has been firebombed by Palestinians. How does CNN report the firebombing?

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Yep. It just caught on fire somehow. And note how CNN headlined an attack on an Islamic mosque:

West Bank Mosque

If a mosque burns, it’s an attack that can be blamed on someone (ooh, Jews!), but if Palestinians attack and burn a Jewish shrine, it appears that no agency or ill will is involved.

Sometimes, the headlines (and even articles) are so egregious that they border on being ghoulishly funny:

nyt%20attackers%20pelted%20the%20road

This one is from The New York Times. There are few things to note here. First, the man “died”. He wasn’t murdered. He simply died. Maybe he died from natural causes, coincidentally at the same time that the rocks pelted his car. Who knows. Second, when do rocks pelt cars? Don’t they need, you know, a human arm to throw them? Well, if you read the article you’ll see that some Palestinians were out for some good-natured fun of throwing rocks at the road. I’m sure they weren’t aiming for cars on the road or the people in those cars, right?

A few more examples (I could probably go on for pages and pages and pages). First, the Irish Independent:

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The Telegraph:

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Sky News:

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Daily Beast:

Israeli Crowd Kills Bystander

A brief note about this last headline: It describes a truly tragic event. In the confusion following a shooting by a terrorist in an Israeli bus station that killed one and wounded several others, bystanders killed an innocent man, apparently thinking that he was the terrorist. But here is what is important about this headline. It gives you no context to understand that the man was killed in the chaos and confusion in the immediate aftermath of a terrorist attack. If you read that headline, you’re left to think that a bloodthirsty crowd of Israelis decided to kill someone rather than that they were either trying to apprehend a terrorist or, perhaps, were responding with understandable but unacceptable anger to the terrorist attack.

To go back to the questions I posed in the introductory paragraph, how would you have felt if you saw this headline the day after 9/11:

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So ask yourself these questions:

  1. Why are these headlines written the way that they are?
  2. What is the effect on public opinion when people read headlines like these?

Finally, I thought it was worth sharing video of some of the recent terrorist incidents. Be forewarned that these are disturbing videos:

 

Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to find “clean” versions of these videos; I apologize for the quality and any additional commentary that were added to by third parties.

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