Washington Post defends picture of dead Gaza child after complaints from ‘Jews in large numbers’

Washington Post defends picture of dead Gaza child after complaints from ‘Jews in large numbers’


On Nov. 14, an Israeli warhead struck a house in Gaza City and killed an infant, Omar Masharawi, 11 months old. His father Jiwad Masharawi works for BBC in Gaza. A photo of him grieving his son’s death, taken by the AP (below), was widely circulated and appeared on the front page of the Washington Post on Nov. 15.

Washington Post photo

Today the Washington Post ombudsmanPatrick Pexton, whom we have praised before for straightforwardness, defends the publication of the photo, saying there were no photos of Israeli child deaths to “balance” this image. And who was complaining? Pexton refers to complaints by “American Jews in large numbers.”

But many Post readers saw it differently. Jewish groups and American Jews in large numbers wrote to the ombudsman and to Post editors, protesting the photo as biased…

[They] asked why The Post didn’t balance the photo of the grieving father with one of Israelis who had lost a loved one from the Gaza rocket fire. That’s a valid question.

The answer is that The Post cannot publish photographs that don’t exist. No Israeli civilian had been killed by Gaza rocket fire since Oct. 29, 2011, more than a year earlier. The first Israeli civilian deaths from Gaza rocket fire in 2012 did not take place until Nov. 15, when Hamas, the group that controls Gaza, began firing more accurate and deadly missiles in response to the Israeli offensive that had begun the day before. There were no recent photos of Israeli casualties to be had on the night of Nov. 14.”

The front-page photo on Nov. 15 told not the whole story of the Gaza conflict, no, but certainly a telling and important part of the truth.

Let’s leave aside the overwhelming ratio of Palestinian civilian deaths to Israeli civilian deaths in Cast Lead and Pillar of Cloud, the last two Israeli conflicts with Gazan militants, and what that says about this “biased” photo.

Pexton raises a delicate and important issue. By identifying the religion of complaint-writers (on what basis I can only surmise; hey, I also guess at last names), he is saying that American Jews support Israel overwhelmingly. Well, it is on this basis that some have blamed the American Jewish collective for Israel’s behavior, and said that any American Jewish organization is responsible for the human rights atrocities Israel is committing. I am saying that Pexton’s generalization could foster anti-Semitism, as more and more Americans are disgusted by Israel’s actions and look around for who to blame for Israel’s impunity from accountability.

Which leads to my challenge. Isn’t it time that American media organizations and American Jewish groups began pulling apart the issue of To what extent the American Jewish community is married to Israel? I.e., When did Zionism (Jewish nationalism) ravish the Jewish community, and why? How many American Jews are no longer drinking that potion? I think the answer is, Many object to Israel’s conduct. And it’s time we heard from them. Because their argument is persuasive, and because an open fight among American Jews over Israel’s conduct will help everyone. More later.

(P.S. In fairness, once sharing Pexton’s generalization, I used to do posts saying that there are too many Jews on the Israel beat in our newspapers and too many Jews at the Council on Foreign Relations. I dropped that line because it was imprecise and because I came to believe, based on all the anti-Zionists I was meeting, that there is actual diversity inside the Jewish community. The media ought to foster that diversity by reporting on it.)

(Original here.)


One comment

  1. Andrew Richards

    To be harsh but fair, if those American Jewish groups wound up getting caught up in a subsequent wave of Anti-Semitism, it really will be self-inflicted in many ways.

    Here’s the smoking gun in all of this and the reason why Zionist propaganda this time was an utter flop. The traditional mainstream media cannot compete with social media or the alternative media.

    The fact is that if Jewish groups over in the Us wanted to distance themselves from Zionists, they could easily do it. The trick is to be obnoxiously loud and everywhere.

    Look at the IAJV protests here in Canberra on Saturday – it was 140 people but it made the local media and will start posing questions to people who believe the lie that Zionist=Jew. It’s embarrassed politicians who spout the old nonsense of that lie and it’s effectively lobbed an ideological frag grenade in the middle of the whole Anti-Israel=Antisemite shaming tactic. Today Canberra; tomorrow the entire country.

    Twitter, facebook, bulk email campaigns and Youtube are all ways to make your message viral. If pockets of the American Jewry genuinely oppose Zionism and genuinely want to be seen as opponents to the imperialist war criminal regime in Israel, then they need to organise and mobilise. If they cop hate speech and lies, so what? The truth will very quickly be revealed (as JAO have BRILLIANTLY demonstrated) and those guilty of such shaming tactics and lies will be exposed for the frauds they are.

    Furthermore the US is not an island. I have no doubt that any movement by American Jews opposed to Zionism would find solidarity here, which in turn would reach people internationally, which would in turn reach people in the US which they might have missed (good old 6 degrees of separation/Kevin Bacon).

    In short if the American Jewry who oppose Israel are victims of future antisemitism due to a backlash over the actions of the Zionist regime there; it will be entirely due to a lack of action on their part.

    To any anti-Zionist American Jew reading this who is not currently active in opposing Zionism, my message would be this. If you want to be seen to be against Zionist Israel, then to quote the old saying here in Australia, “put your money where your mouth is” and mobilise – in a way that they can’t shut you up or make you invisible. Those of us internationally who stand with you have your backs when you do.

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