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Israel Hayom Corrects: Israeli Journalist Ben Caspit Didn't Call for 'Retaliation' Against Tamimi Family


CAMERA's Israel office last week prompted correction of a Israel Hayom article which falsely stated that Israeli journalist Ben Caspit called for retaliation against the Tamimi family, whose daughter Ahed, along with cousin Nour, were recently filmed repeatedly striking an Israeli soldier.
 
The Dec. 21 Israel Hayom article, with a byline of Associated Press and Israel Hayom staff, had originally reported ("Palestinians praise girl who slapped IDF soldier as hero"):
Ben Caspit, a journalist for the Maariv daily, praised the soldiers for not reacting, but called for retaliation against the Tamimi family.
"In the case of the girls, we should exact a price at some other opportunity, in the dark, without witnesses and cameras," he wrote.
This quote appeared in Caspit's Op-Ed entitled "The Power in Restraint" (hardly a headline which suggests a call for retaliation) in which he wades into the internal Israeli debate as to whether or not the soldier who was attacked by Ahed Tamimi did the right thing by not responding and by not arresting her on the spot. He argued for an arrest of the girls away from the cameras, ie "in the dark."
 
As Caspit explained last week in The Jerusalem Post ("Fighting a shaming campaign with the truth"):
In the article itself, I praised the IDF soldiers, for their “superhuman restraint” against Palestinian provocation. I wrote that I was grateful for not being there in their place. I admitted that, in their place, I would not have been able to contain myself. “Sometimes, restraint is power and in this case, the soldiers are worthy of being decorated for valor, instead of being reprimanded,” I wrote in response to the news that the IDF was considering reprimanding the officer who refrained from arresting Ahad Tamimi on the spot.
 
I wrote that restraint, in cases such as this, is much harder than using force against teenage girls, especially when it is crystal clear that any raised hand on the part of an IDF soldier would be interpreted as a provocation that could set the whole region on fire, or serve as ammunition to shame Israel.
 
Here, I moved to a comparison between the situation involving the girls and the soldiers to the one between the IDF and the terrorists in Gaza. I summed up by writing that like in Gaza where it is better to contain the events and not allow ourselves to be dragged into an all-out war, the same applies to the Palestinian girls. It was better, I wrote, to get our pay-back later, in the dark, with no witnesses and no cameras. In other words, to carry out the girl’s arrest without having it turn into another shaming video that would go viral on social media. I never imagined that this leftie and defeatist article (as it was tagged that day in Israel) would turn into a shaming campaign from the opposite direction altogether.
 
That same night, between Monday and Tuesday, the IDF arrested Ahad Tamimi, quietly, without provocation or violence, in a clean and well-planned operation. Israeli policewomen, and not policemen, carried out the arrest, and it was completed in utter silence.
 
On my 5 PM radio show that day, I celebrated the victory of my own approach and said that the “bad cop” in this story were “all those who are convinced that the immediate non-arrest of Tamimi caused harm to Israeli deterrence.”
"Pay-back," according to Caspit, is the "girl's arrest without having it turn into another shaming video that would go viral on social media." No fair reading of his Maariv column can conclude that Caspit was calling for "retaliation." Rather, he was calling for restraint, and a quiet arrest from Tamimi, not recorded by the media.
 
It should be noted that Caspit's original wording was: "In the case of the girls, we should exact a price at some other opportunity, in the dark, without witnesses and the cameras." At a later date, after a social media firestorm erupted in reaction to his comments, the text on the digital article was modified to state more clearly: "In the case of the girls, it is preferable that the arrest will be carried out later, at night, in the way that IDF carries out difficult arrests." Contrary to standard journalist practice, no note is appended alerting readers to the change. 
 
Thus, while the AP/Israel Hayom translation of Caspit's words was sound, the statement that his words were a call for retaliation was note.
 
In response to communication from CAMERA, Israel Hayom amended the text, which now accurately states:

Ben Caspit, a journalist for the Maariv daily, praised the soldiers for not reacting, but wrote, "In the case of the girls, we should exact a price at some other opportunity, in the dark, without witnesses and cameras."

Caspit later clarified that he meant Tamimi's arrest should be carried out later, at night, to avoid it being turned into a viral "shaming video."

The Associated Press, for its part, declined to correct its unfounded claim that Caspit called for "retaliation" against the Tamimi family.


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