A Media Line news article, reproduced last week word for word in theJerusalem Post, would have been right at home at either Al Jazeera or Palestinian Maan News Agency. CAMERA yesterday prompted Jerusalem Post corrections of the most egregious elements of Media Line’s propaganda piece: the headline, which had depicted a suspected Palestinian car-ramming attack as a “mistake,” along with the unfounded claim that a video showed the driver bleeding to death with no medical attention for half an hour. The article’s underlying tendentiousness, however, remains, and Media Line has yet to alter its propaganda piece at all.
Media Line’s Dima Abumaria characterizes last week’s car ramming, in which Palestinian Ahmed Erekat was caught on video driving slowly, and then veering suddenly off the road directly into a soldier at a checkpoint, throwing her off the ground and injuring her, as a “mistake.” The headline stated: “Palestinian mistakes at Israeli checkpoints cost lives.” The subheadline read: “A young man is shot dead after his car swerves, injuring a Border Police officer.”
Shani Orr Hama Kadosh, the Israeli border police officer whom Erekat hit, said in an interview that it clearly appeared to be intentional. Times of Israel reported:
“I signaled to him to halt, the car started to slow down, and I moved in his direction,” Kadosh told Channel 13 news. “He saw that I took a step, he looked me in the eye, turned the steering wheel and rammed into me, and I flew to the other side” of the median.
Though Kadosh was on the scene and injured in the incident her view was absent from the article, which dedicates 21 paragraphs to Palestinian interviewees and their views. Among those that Dima Abumaria quotes are numerous members of the Erekat family — cousins Imad, Dalal, and Noura — alongside Osama Qwasme, a Fatah spokesperson who alleged Israeli “field executions” “despite the absence of a real threat to Israeli police or soldiers,” and lawyer Fareed al-Atrash who charged that “Israeli security personnel have orders to shoot to kill as their first option,” according to the journalist’s paraphrase of the two. Israeli speakers, in contrast, appear in just 10 paragraphs. The two quoted Israelis are both retired officials with no direct knowledge of this incident: Grisha Yakubovich, a former official at the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, and Lior Akerman, a political analyst and retired Israeli brigadier general. In addition to overlooking Kadosh, Media Line didn’t bother to turn to the spokesman for the Israeli police, who would be equipped with information specific to this case.
In addition, Media Line’s deeply skewed article stated as fact: “Video footage shows he was left to bleed to death for at least 30 minutes, without medical treatment being administered.” In fact, there is zero video footage showing that Erekat was left to bleed for 30 minutes.
Other media outlets, including CNN, have made clear that the Palestinian claim that the army left him to bleed for half an hour is disputed. According to the army, medical help arrived within minutes, but Erekat was already dead. CNNreported:
The Israeli army says one of its ambulances arrived on the scene within five minutes and that a military paramedic declared Ahmad Erekat dead at that point. Explaining why no one had treated Ahmad Erekat before the ambulance arrived, a border police spokesman said, “it was the kind of incident where you don’t let anyone get close because of the fear that he might be booby-trapped.”
An ambulance service at the nearby Palestinian municipality of Bethany said ittried to assist Ahmad, but that Israeli forces “prevented” vehicles from reaching the checkpoint. The Israeli Army said at no point did it prevent Ahmad Erekat from getting aid.
If CNN includes the Israeli account disputing the Palestinian claim, why wouldn’t The Media Line andThe Jerusalem Post?
In addition, the heavily partisan Media Line report cites Qwasme, the Fatah official, who alleges that “the incident[ie the supposed shooting of an innocent driver unlucky enough to get into a car accident at a checkpoint] was the product of Israeli incitement led by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu against the Palestinian people.”
There is not one word, in contrast, aboutPalestinianincitementpraising deadly car-ramming attacks and encouraging more like them – certainly relevant to this story.
Also ignored in the skewed Media Line report is the fact that a video of Erekat prior to the incident emerged in which he appeared to push back against apparent rumors that he was a collaborator. According to theTimes of Israel:
In asecond videothat emerged Wednesday, Erekat is seen in his car speaking of rumors he has collaborated with Israeli security forces while promising he is “no snitch.” Some Hebrew media reports said the video was made shortly before the incident. But according to Kan news, Erekat’s family said it was a months-old clip.
And another piece of information that the Media Line omits which doesn’t match up to the “mistake” narrative isthe revealing statement by relativeHiba Erakat, who said she knew of no reason Ahmed would have wanted to commit suicide, but seems to have accepted the ramming was an intentional act. She said: “We are wondering if he had any personal problems and wanted to escape.”
In response to communication from CAMERA, The Jerusalem Post amended the headline which had labeled the suspected attack a “mistake.” The headline now states: “Accident or ramming? Different versions for Israeli checkpoint shooting.” In addition, editors removed the unfounded claim that video showed Erekat bleeding to death for half an hour, and added that Israel disputes the allegation:
Palestinians claim that he was left to bleed to death but Israel says that an ambulance arrived at the scene within minutes and that he was declared dead.
Accomplished journalist Marvin Kalb, a Media Line advisor, endorsed the organization:
The Media Line is a precious asset in Mideast journalism. It covers all sides of most issues, using language that is unemotional and crystal clear. It sets a standard of fair and objective reporting that all other media outlets in the region ought to emulate. The Media Line is unafraid, dedicated to truth, persuaded that people deserve the truth — it’s there to do a complicated job, and it does it very well.
But Abumaria’s report, anything but fair and objective, is a huge disservice to Mideast journalism and all people who deserve the truth.