Haaretz Corrects: Palestinian Grove Wasn’t ‘Torched’

A May 21 update about Peter Beinart’s retraction appears at the bottom of this post.
Following communication from CAMERA’s Israel office, editors of Haaretz‘s English edition corrected headlines which falsely alleged that settlers “torched” a Palestinian grove in Hebron (“Lag Ba’Omer in Hebron: Setters torch Palestinian orchard“). As we wrote yesterday:
But Amira Hass’ and Yair Ettinger’s accompanying article does not support the claim that settlers “torched” a Palestinian orchard. She 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.

Thus, according to Hass, the settlers lit a Lag B’Omer bonfire in the grove and “the fire approached their olive trees.” She does not say that the settlers “torched” trees, nor that the fire reached the trees. While she notes that settlers burned various flags, she makes no mention of the burning of any trees.

Indeed, the accompanying photograph shows a bonfire, surrounded by people, in a clearing among trees.

In addition, as earlier noted, the erroneous headline did not appear in Haaretz‘s Hebrew edition, making this the latest case of “Haaretz, Lost in Translation.”
Haaretz has commendably corrected the erroneous headlines. The online headline was amended, and now appears as follows:
In addition, the following note was appended to the bottom of the article, further clarifying the misinformation:
A correction also appeared in print on page 2 today, although it was not at all clear about what was wrong with the original headline:
Peter Beinart’s Pogrom
In his recent controversial appeal to readers, in which he openly acknowledged the paper’s commitment to advocacy journalism, Haaretz publisher Amos Schocken touted: “This year Peter Beinart, one of America’s eminent journalists, joined our ranks.  . . ” Following Haaretz‘s publication yesterday of the false headline, Beinart took this falsehood one step further, tweeting to more than 24,000 followers about a “Lag Ba’omer pogrom.”
In less than 140 characters, the “eminent journalist” relies on a false headline, apparently fails to read the contents of the accompanying article, and wildly exaggerates. His careless tweeting fans the flames of hatred against Israel. Now that Haaretz has corrected, will he?
Blogger Disputes Haaretz Account
In a separate development concerning the Lag B’Omer bonfire in Hebron, Canadian blogger Ryan Bellerose, who participated in the festivities Saturday night, denied Haaretz‘s report that settlers attacked Haaretz photographer Emil Salman.
Haaretz had reported:
Haaretz photographer Emil Salman, who requested to take photographs of the bonfire from close up, was assaulted by several settlers. A policeman who was there asked he leave the area for fear he might disturb the peace.
Bellerose countered:
Not one olive tree was burned, not one photographer was “accosted,” and the music went on until the fire died down. There were several Europeans filming the entire proceedings, so if something actually happened, I’m sure they would have posted it already. I didn’t see one Jewish person engage with the people taunting them from behind the fence.

I just read this Haaretz story and it is complete fiction.

Bellerose also disputed the Haaretz claim that the bonfire was lit in a Palestinian grove, maintaining that it was situated in a park close to Jewish-owned homes.
No additional information was immediately available about the disputed account concerning the assault of Emil Salman, and whether or not the bonfire was lit in a Palestinian grove. No wire services or Western media outlets published any articles or photographs of the alleged in
As more information becomes available, we will continue to update readers.
May 21 Update: Peter Beinart Retracts ‘Pogrom’ Tweet
Peter Beinart has retracted his vitriolic tweet about a “Lag Ba’omer pogrom.” He tweeted the following yesterday:
For additional Haaretz corrections prompted by CAMERA, please see here.

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