Following UN Report, Major Jewish Groups Call for Media Outlets to be Held Accountable
by Zach Pontz
Several Jewish organizations have responded to a UN report that contradicts claims made by several news outlets and human rights groups following the death of an 11-month-old Palestinian baby killed during Israel’s conflict with Gaza terror group Hamas last fall.
Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, told The Algemeiner he wasn’t surprised that the media got the story wrong, but felt that this incident in particular was especially egregious. “We have all become inured to the serial bashing of Israel, but this incident borders on blood libel,” he said.
At the time of the incident, the news organizations and human rights groups attributed the boy’s death to an errant Israeli airstrike. An iconic photo of the boy’s father, who was employed by the BBC, holding his deceased child made the front page of the Washington Post and was published with an accompanying article by, among others, the BBC and the Huffington Post, the latter of which attributed the boy’s death to Israel in the headline of its story which is still posted online.
However, the report issued by the United Nations Human Rights Council cast doubt on Israel’s culpability, stating: “On 14 November, a woman, her 11-month-old infant, and an 18-year-old adult in Al-Zaitoun were killed by what appeared to be a Palestinian rocket that fell short of Israel.”
The ADL released this statement to The Algemeiner criticizing the knee-jerk journalism practiced by the media covering the story:
“Israel has been a convenient target for certain international human rights groups who reflexively cast blame on Israel whenever there is military action involving the Palestinians. We have seen it over and over again in the so-called Jenin ‘massacre’ in 2002, the Second Lebanon war in 2006, Operation Cast Lead in 2008 and Operation Pillar of Defense in 2012. These groups rely primarily on reports from the Palestinians and they are unwilling to withhold judgment until all of the facts are known. Unfortunately, even some mainstream media outlets publish stories based on these biased reports.”
Calling for editors to be held accountable for inaccuracies, the ADL added, “When the facts become fully known at a considerably later time and the story is no longer ‘news’, editors still have a responsibility to acknowledge the inaccuracies in the initial reports and they should be called on to do so.”
“This image was not only picked up in real time by the international media but has been used online as well,” the Wiesenthal Center’s Rabbi Cooper also said. “That the media and pictorial editors of major media would not run the photo with the true facts degrades whatever credibility the BBC lays claim to when it comes to Middle East and serves to instigate more hatred of Israel and Jews in the UK and beyond.”
B’nai B’rith International echoed the sentiments of the ADL and Rabbi Cooper, telling The Algemeiner: “This is, yet again, more evidence that too much media reporting is inherently biased against Israel. There is a pre-disposition to believe the worst about Israel which colors reports and results in the spreading of false information.”
The statement continued: “It’s especially unfortunate since most people will never read a correction, even in the limited cases where news outlets actually admit to errors and bother to correct their inaccurate reporting. Falsehoods are carried on page 1. Corrections are buried inside the paper.”
For his part, the BBC’s Jon Donnison, who covers the West Bank and Gaza and attributed blame to Israel at the time of the incident, offered his version of a mea culpa, writing in an article on the BBC’s website that “‘The son of a BBC journalist and two relatives killed in last November’s war in Gaza may have been hit by a misfired Palestinian rocket,’ a UN agency says.'”
Donnison attempted to defend himself, writing that at the time “The family, and human rights groups, said that the house was hit in an Israeli attack” and that “The Israeli military made no comment at the time of the incident but never denied carrying out the strike.”
Donnison also reported that the boy’s father dismissed the UN report as “rubbish,” saying that Palestinian Arab terror groups would have apologized if they were responsible.
At the time of publication the BBC and the Huffington Post had not responded to The Algemeiner’s request for comment on this story.