UPDATED: Ha’aretz’s Conflicting ‘Nakba’ Headlines: Clashes or Quiet?

May 16 — The headline for Ha’aretz‘s front-page story today on yesterday’s “Nakba Day” events is:

And, yet, the headline for the page 2 jump of the very same article is:


Which one is it? Clashes or quiet? According to the article itself, by Jack Khoury and Oz Rosenberg, there were indeed clashes:

Palestinians from throughout Israel and the Arab world marked the civil anniversary of Israel’s establishment yesterday with demonstrations and large marches, including a march in Jerusalem. Most of the rallies passed peacefully, but a few violent confrontations took place, mostly in the West Bank . . .

Elsewhere, however, there were violent altercations with Israeli security forces. One of the most serious occurred in Bitunya, near Ramallah, when some 350 people gathered and threw rocks at the forces, who responded by firing tear gas grenades and using other crowd-disperal tactics.

Near the Qalandiyah checkpoint, there were recurrent confrontations between dozens of Palestinians, Israel Defense Forces soldiers and border policemen. Three border policemen were hurt by thrown stones, but the wounds were light and treated at the scene.

East Jerusalem’s Issawiya neighborhood saw three separate confrontations, during which dozens of Arab youths burned Israeli flags and threw stones at the security forces. One border policeman was lightly wounded by a stone, and police arrested 10 of the rioters. There were also clashes outside the Shuafat refugee camp in northeastern Jerusalem.

(The Hebrew version of this article provides even greater details about various clashes, but that information must have been lost in translation.)

At the same time, in a separate article, Ha’aretz‘s Amos Harel writes that yesterday’s confrontations were “relatively quiet.” Herein appears to lie the truth: While there were violent confrontations yesterday, with Palestinians hurling stones at Israeli forces, who responded with crowd disperal measures, these confrontations were smaller than previous years. So while the day was not “quiet,” it was relatively quiet.

To avoid the absurd contradictions in the two headlines (“Clashes,” page one, versus “Quiet,” page two), the headline writer could have written on the second page — there was enough space — “Nakba: Relatively Quiet day,” or just “Nakba: Relatively Quiet.”

The Associated Press photograph below the “Quiet day” page 2 headline also belies the supposed quiet of the day:

Unforunately, Ha’aretz‘s caption for this image is erroneous. It states: “Palestinians clashing with IDF forces in Ramallah yesterday.” In actuality, this clash did not take place in Ramallah; there were no violent confrontations yesterday in Ramallah. It took place next to the Ofer Prison in the West Bank, near Ramallah.

As the AP’s original caption states:

Masked Palestinians hurl stones at Israeli troops, not seen, during clashes outside the Ofer military prison, near the West Bank city of Ramallah, Tuesday, May 15, 2012 . . .

Whether there were violent exchanges between Palestinians and Israeli troops in Ramallah, a Palestinian Authority-controlled city (Area A), or next to the Ofer prison, which is under Israeli control (Area C), is a critical, substantive distinction.

The International Herald Tribune, which is published together with the English edition of Ha’aretz in Israel, promptly corrected a similar caption error two months ago. The IHT caption erroneously stated that the pictured clash took place in Ramallah, when in fact it took place at the Area C Qalandiya crossing. The IHT’s commendable March 13 correction stated:

A photo caption Friday misstated the location of a clash between Palestinian women demonstrators and Israeli security forces. It was at the Kalandia checkpoint near Ramallah. It was not in Ramallah.

We urge Ha’aretz to likewise correct its photo caption area, making clear that the clash did not take place in Ramallah.

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