Deadline Hollywood Corrects False Claims in Article About Palestinian Film “The Teacher”

On September 8, Deadline Hollywood, an online publication focused on the entertainment industry, published a puff piece about a forthcoming film, The Teacher, by Farah Nabulsi, previously known for The Present. (“British-Palestinian Filmmaker Farah Nabulsi On Debut Feature ‘The Teacher’: ‘I Needed To Make This Film To Cope With The Injustice I’ve Witnessed’” By Diana Lodderhose.)

Among numerous problems with the Deadline article, it made the incendiary claim that, “the Israeli military dropped bombs on the Palestinian city of Nablus during the [film] shoot.” (Emphasis added.) Of course Israel has raided terrorist targets within the city – in one case destroying a lab just outside Nablus that was manufacturing bombs – in response to terror attacks emanating from within it. After contact from CAMERA, Deadline amended the line to read, “The Israeli military raided the Palestinian city of Nablus during the shoot, just a few kilometers from where the film had been shooting just a few hours prior.”

Additionally, the article initially made the patently false claim that Gilad Shalit was traded for “1,000 Palestinian political prisoners.” According to Merriam-Webster, a political prisoner is “a person put in prison because of his or her political beliefs.” Of course, Israel does not hold political prisoners. In 2011 CNN reported that among those released in the Shalit swap were “hundreds serving life sentences for attacks on Israelis,” (emphasis added) and that “the group [being released] includes two prominent female prisoners: Ahlam Tamimi, serving life terms for being an accomplice in the 2001 bombing of a Sbarro pizza restaurant that killed 15 people; and Amneh Muna, who plotted the killing of a 16-year-old Israeli boy in 2001 and received a life sentence.” Notably, among those killed in the Sbarro pizzeria bombing were an American teenaged girl, Malki Roth, and Ahlam Tamimi is free today and living in Jordan. Deadline has also amended this, after contact from CAMERA, so that the article now says correctly that Shalit was exchanged for “1,000 Palestinian prisoners.”

Archived versions of the article showed that, prior to contact from CAMERA, Deadline had already corrected the description of Shalit as “an Israeli occupation soldier” as well as the characterization of his Hamas captors as “freedom fighters.”

Even with the above corrections – none of which were noted on the article – other problems remain. While the article no longer claims that Shalit was exchanged for Palestinian political prisoners, it omits the fact that many of those released were “‘prisoners with blood on their hands serving life imprisonments.’” Nor does it give the reason for the raid on Nablus that affected Nabulsi’s shoot. Deadline reports that,

One morning, on her way to set, [Nabulsi] pulled up on the road where a couple was standing with their children in front of the rubble of their freshly demolished house. “I got out of my car and ended up hugging the mother – a complete stranger – and crying,” she says. “And then I had to carry on working where we were making a film about what was happening right now.”

Deadline’s readers are not told why this particular house was destroyed. Did one member of the family commit a terror attack? Was it built without a permit? On state land? On an IDF training area? Again, without any specifics, the circumstances here are impossible to check. We are told the “what” but not the “why.”

Similarly we are told of an attack by settlers on an olive grove, also an unfalsifiable story. How does Nabulsi know who the attackers were? Did they face law enforcement consequences? All we are told is one side of an incendiary story. But in light of the clear bias shown by the other problems in the article, it’s difficult to take the claim at face value.

As Nabulsi seemed to be the main source for the article, presumably, her film will suffer from similar flaws.

With a total of four correction made to this article, other entertainment outlets that interview Ms. Nabulsi in connection with her upcoming film should beware of the pitfalls and take steps to ensure that they don’t make the same mistakes. 

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