Washington Post Headline Gives Terrorist the Benefit of the Doubt

Video footage taken on Dec. 4, 2021 shows a Palestinian Arab man, later identified as Muhammad Suliman, stabbing an Israeli passerby in the neck in Jerusalem. The terrorist was subsequently shot dead by Israeli border police. The Washington Post, however, decided to afford him the benefit of the doubt.

Footage of the attack was widely available prior to the Post filing its report, which was initially titled “Clashes break out in Jerusalem after Palestinian who allegedly stabbed Israeli is killed by police [emphasis added].” It is interesting—and revealing—that the Post gave the benefit of the doubt to the Palestinian terrorist and not the Israeli police.

The newspaper quickly changed the wording of the headline to read “Clashes break out in Jerusalem after Palestinian who stabbed Israeli is killed by police”—but not before it had already tweeted out the original version. Contravening standard practice in journalism, the Post did not note that the headline had been changed.

Importantly, journalists seldom choose or write the headlines of their reports. Indeed, Post reporter Shira Rubin wrote that “Israeli police later released footage of the incident, which in all lasted about 30 seconds. It shows the Palestinian man crossing the street, turning to stab the ultra-Orthodox man as he passes, then lunging at Israeli police officers before being shot and ultimately killed by them.” Thus, Rubin’s report makes the Post’s decision to choose the initial headline even more inexplicable.

For some in the media, Jews protecting themselves will always be suspect—and the culpability of those seeking to murder Jews will always be minimized and downplayed.