June 23 Update: Israel Press Council Rules in CAMERA’s Favor
March 1 — Once upon a time, journalists would report the news. Today, some prefer manufactured news. When journalists collaborate with organizations driven by a one-sided agenda aimed at influencing public opinion, the distinction between a newspaper and a propaganda mouthpiece is dangerously blurred.
Take, for example, B’Tselem, which noticed that some lazy journalists prefer to receive pre-packaged video clips over actually doing their jobs. These edited and ready-to-view clips then appear next to bombastic headlines, and the journalist congratulates himself for getting a scoop.
Such was the case early this week (Feb. 27) at the Israeli site Ynet, which appears in English and in Hebrew. Sunday’s Hebrew article by Elior Levi and the corresponding English version (“Video: 11-year-old Palestinian stone-thrower arrested”) are based on a video that B’Tselem apparently supplied to Levi.
One wonders if the intrepid Ynet journalists, including both Levi, his editors, and English translators, even bothered to view the pre-packaged B’Tselem video before passing it off as journalism. The article states:
In the video the officers can be seen putting the boy, Karim al-Tamimi, in a police vehicle after chasing him down. The boy’s mother pleaded with the officers to allow her to accompany him to the Sha’ar Binyamin police station, but her request was denied. . . .
The boy’s father, Salah al-Tamimit [sic] told Ynet, “They took him without a chaperone, and by the time we arrived at the police station he was already being interrogated.”
It is abundantly clear that the youth’s arrest and the policemen’s actions, for better or for worse, were not staged. It is also clear that not all of the neighbors that came out to see what was happening and then surrounded the cops received staging instructions. However, one does wonder whether the whole arrest scenario would have happened at all without the B’Tselem photographer. As Avshalom Peled, an IDF commander of the Hebron region remarked about the organization Breaking the Silence, which conducts tours in Hebron: “They are smooth operators. Their activists provoke the settlers and then wait for them to attack.”
If this is the case as well with B’Tselem in Nabi Salah, then this video was created not simply to document authentic circumstances, but rather entails the cynical exploitation of an innocent child, and possibly also his mother.
Did Ynet not see what we saw? Maybe Levi and his colleagues saw, but did not care? Do they think that posting videos from an organization with a blatant agenda without fact-checking constitutes journalistic work?
Here’s an idea for a journalistic investigation for Ynet: an analysis of all B’Tselem’s videos in which adult Palestinians are filming Palestinian children who are undertaking criminal and dangerous acts, and an expose of the criminal exploitation of these children who are not kept safe at home.
Now, that’s an investigation which requires actual journalistic work. Is Ynet up to the challenge?
March 2 Update: Arabic Translation Proves Scene Was Staged
CAMERA translated the Arabic which is heard in the video, and the translation provides additional evidence that Levi’s report is entirely erroneous and that the B’Tselem photographer, Nariman al-Tamimi, staged the scene.
When Karim’s mother is about to enter the police van after the police tell her to board, one of the Palestinians clearly says to her in Arabic, “Don’t get in,” and then the Palestinian man in a black jacket pulls her away from the vehicle. This sentence proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that it is the Palestinians themselves who prevented her from joining her son in the van, while the Israeli police repeatedly urged her to get in.
It is also noteworthy that in the beginning of the clip videographer Nariman al-Tamimi shouts to the boy, “hurry, hurry, hurry” as he runs in her direction.
It appears that B’Tselem has some explaining to do regarding its “citizen journalists,” the recipients of B’Tselem cameras, who fabricate news as opposed to document it.
For the Hebrew version of this article, visit Presspectiva, CAMERA’s Israeli site.