By Aryeh Savir
The State of Israel and its citizens are faced with lies and bias published about them on a daily basis. Anti-Semitic and Anti-Israel forces are constantly working to taint Israel’s image, generating myths and fabricating events and half truths.
The Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) has documented another such lie and its evolution from a biased news report to a full blown liable.
A week ago, following the Lag Ba’Omer festivities, Ha’aretz News in Hebrew published the following headline: “Lag Ba’Omer: Settlers from Hebron lit a bonfire in an olive grove in Tel Rumeida.” The article states that: “The celebrants chose to mark the holiday in the heart of a Palestinian neighborhood in private property belonging to the Al-Knibi family. At Mount Meron, the festivities commemorating Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai begin.”
Subsequently publishing the article in English, the headline read as follows: “Lag Ba’omer in Hebron: “Settlers Torch Palestinian Orchard.”
Amira Hass and Yair Ettinger, who wrote the article, did not actually claim that settlers torched a Palestinian orchard. They wrote: “Settlers in Hebron celebrated Lag Ba’Omer Saturday night by lighting a bonfire in an olive grove in the heart of the Palestinian neighborhood Tel Rumeida. The grove, which belongs to the al-Knibi family, is located in the front of a house inhabited by the Youth Against Settlements center, an organization that documents settlers, soldiers and police in Hebron.”
“The owners of the orchard and their children looked on with concern as the fire approached their olive trees, while the young Israelis who were celebrating burned the flags of the Palestinian Authority, Fatah and the team of international observers. The group, which began setting up the sound system right as Shabbat ended, played loud music, jumped around and sang as they passed around Palestinian homes, whose windows are protected by iron bars.”
Hass and Ettinger did not write that the settlers “torched” trees, nor that the fire reached the trees. While they note that settlers burned various flags, they make no mention of the burning of any trees.
Following Haaretz’s publication of the false headline, Ha’aretz writer Peter Beinart, who is considered by some to be one of America’s eminent journalists, took this falsehood one step further, tweeting to more than 24,000 followers about a “Lag Ba’omer pogrom.”
Following communication from CAMERA’s Israel office, editors of Haaretz’s English edition corrected the headline which falsely alleged that settlers “torched” a Palestinian grove in Hebron. They further published a correction to the headline in their print edition.
Peter Beinart also later retracted his vitriolic tweet.
CAMERA points out that this erroneous headline, which appears only in the English edition, is a continuation of the ongoing phenomenon which they call “Haaretz, Lost in Translation.” The well documented pattern is consistent. The English edition has repeatedly omitted or downplayed information that appeared in the Hebrew original concerning Arab violence or wrongdoing, and has also added erroneous misinformation concerning alleged Israeli wrongdoing.
Tazpit News Agency