Outrageous Photo Caption Error
Caption: An Israeli policeman and a Palestinian on the Temple Mount

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Here is the Truth

Received via E-mail: Wednesday, October 4, 2000 4:34 PM
Subject: CAMERA Obtains Correction from AP on Outrageous Photo Caption Error

The Associated Press (AP) sent out to countless papers around the country a grossly miscaptioned photo on Saturday, September 30th. The photo showed a dazed, bloody young man slumped on the ground, with a fierce looking Israeli soldier standing behind him, raised baton in hand. The caption read, "An Israeli policeman and a Palestinian on the Temple Mount." However, the wounded young man is not a Palestinian but an American Jewish student named Tuvia Grossman. The attack did not take place on the Temple Mount, but on a street in Jerusalem, and the Israeli soldier, contrary to the impression left by the picture, is not attacking the young man, but is protecting Tuvia from an Arab mob who had dragged Tuvia out of a taxicab and had beaten and stabbed him.

CAMERA Executive Director Andrea Levin spoke with AP executives and learned they were in the midst of writing a correction. However, they still had the story wrong! AP thought the young man was a medic who was injured in one of the riots. AP was still unaware that the victim was a young American Jew who had simply been riding in a taxicab. It was only after speaking with Andrea that the AP decided to go to the hospital to get an actual identification and to learn the true details of the attack.

Tuvia told his story to an Arutz-7 (www.a7.org) reporter today: "I was in a taxi on the way to the Kotel [Western Wall] and we got stoned... [They took me out of the car and beat me and] I gave a scream, and for a second they let go of me, and I said Shma Yisrael, because I thought it was all over... After they let go of me, I ran - even though I had a knife in my leg, G-d gave me the strength to run and I was able to make it up the hill where there were soldiers by the gas station and they took care of me. But I [had been] beaten for around 5 or 6 minutes with a rock on the top of my head, and I was stabbed in the back of my leg and kicked and punched all over my body."

"[When I saw the mis-captioned AP picture] I was extremely, extremely upset. People see a picture of a youth and they think that it's a Palestinian being beaten by Israelis, it changes their world view and makes them think that it's the Israelis beating up the Arabs. I was extremely upset. It was totally the opposite. That policeman was yelling at the Arabs to back off, and was protecting me from them - so to change it around and to say that he was beating me, that's just total distortion, and the world must be notified about how this is not true - the Jews are the ones suffering at the hands of the Arabs."

The AP reporter or editor responsible for the misidentification of this vivid photo has caused untold harm, fueling stereotypes about the conflict. Unfortunately, the false labeling underscores the press's automatic willingness to assume that every victim in this conflict must be a Palestinian and every perpetrator must be an Israeli. It should be noted that Palestinians injured or killed in the conflict were hurt in the midst of violent riots initiated by Palestinians and escalated with their use of rifles, firebombs and stones. Most of the Jewish victims, many of them civilians such as Tuvia, were not involved in any way with the riots, but were rather brutally attacked as they were going about their daily business, e.g. riding in a cab or changing a tire.

As well as appearing in the NY Times, this photo was published in the Boston Globe on the front page, above the fold, in color. No doubt this arresting photo appeared in numerous newspapers across the country. It has left a lasting and false impression of supposed Israeli brutality.

While, due to CAMERA's action, AP has issued an accurate correction, it is up to individual newspapers to publish the correction. While the New York Times and Boston Globe published a text-only correction today (10/4), most papers have not done so.

The only way the AP can redress this serious error in a sufficiently public fashion is to assign a reporter to write a story about the attack on Tuvia. The 9/30 photo should be included, but with an accurate caption. The story should include information about the erroneous caption and the added anguish it brought to Tuvia and his family. Since this is about an American citizen who has been hurt in the current conflict, this is an inherently interesting story to the American public.

Story source: Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America - www.camera.org

To add insult to injury (quite literally), the Arabs are using Tuvia Grossman's picture (depicting him as a "palestinian") in an ad poster encouraging Muslims worldwide to boycott Coca Cola.  Click here to see the poster.

YashaNet Staff