Wednesday, March 22nd | 29 Adar 5783

February 13, 2023 11:58 am

Media Headlines Distort Truth of Palestinian Terror Attack

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avatar by Rachel O'Donoghue


A general view shows the scene where a suspected ramming attack took place in Jerusalem, February 10, 2023. REUTERS/Ammar Awad

Last Friday, Israelis reacted with horror to a deadly terror attack in which a Palestinian attacker later identified as Hossein Karaka, a 31-year-old from eastern Jerusalem, drove his car into a crowd of civilians waiting at a bus stop in the Ramot neighborhood of Jerusalem.

Despite the fact that the nature of the incident was clear from the outset, numerous international media outlets printed grossly misleading headlines about the incident, including several publications that appeared to question whether a Palestinian driver had deliberately crashed into pedestrians at all. 

Here are the most egregious and offensive headlines that HonestReporting called out following the attack:

Scare Quotes to Question Reality

The website version of the Daily Mail, MailOnline, was notable for its appalling use of scare quotes in the headline that had the effect of encouraging its readers to doubt whether the Palestinian attacker was motivated by terrorist sympathies.

As of Sunday, the quotation marks around the word “terrorist” had not been removed.

This, even as further details of Karaka’s history emerged, including the fact that his personal Facebook account was awash with praise for Hezbollah and Palestinian terrorists. In one post, he described the terrorist who carried out a shooting attack at the Shuafat checkpoint last year as a “hero.”

Covering Up the Facts

CNN appeared to go out of its way to conceal the identity of the attacker in its headline above the story of the incident.

In an example of wording that serves to completely distort what had occurred, the headline suggested a “car” had rammed into the crowd of people, allowing the publication to make no reference to the person who was actually behind the wheel of the vehicle.

Cars do not drive into people on their own accord. Cars are controlled by their driver — in this case, a Palestinian terrorist.

Other outlets guilty of similar phrasing in their headlines or intros included the Associated Press, the BBC, and Reuters:

A Killer Car, Not Terrorist

The Times, one of the UK’s leading newspapers, went even further and transformed the terrorist’s car into a sentient being, producing a headline that suggested the car was behind the attack.

What’s more, the headline and subheading sought to mask the identities of the victims and attacker, turning the Palestinian terrorist into a mere “culprit” and neglecting to mention the victims were specifically targeted because they were visibly identifiable as Jews.

Offering a Mitigation

The New York Times produced among the most outrageous and misleading reports of the attack (of which you can read more on here).

Not only did the so-called “newspaper of record” fail to acknowledge the fact it was a terror attack, but the paper also tacitly offered an explanation for why the attack occurred, other than the fact that Karaka was a radicalized terrorist — specifically, that it had taken place in a “settlement.”

Thus, the Times regurgitated the same propaganda that the likes of Hamas use: Israelis are all colonizers who occupy stolen land and are, therefore, legitimate targets for violence.

Turning Facts into Fiction

American nonprofit news outlet NPR wove an element of doubt into its headline, framing the attack even taking place as something that is potentially unclear. The organization ignored the photos and footage of the scene of the attack that unequivocally show a terror attack occurred and instead stated the incident was something that “Israel said” had happened.

In addition, NPR masked the identity of the perpetrator by referring to him simply as a “man” and refused to call the ramming assault what it was — murder.

Attack or Accident?

German news site Deutsche Welle’s headline read more like the description of a road traffic accident than a terror attack.

Although the outlet acknowledges the car had “rammed” into pedestrians at a bus stop, it is not clear from their headline that it was both deliberate and the targets were innocent Israeli civilians.

How to Get it Right

The news outlets that attempted — either deliberately or carelessly — to downplay the nature of the attack or cover up who was responsible, must do better.

Indeed, they could even do with revisiting the five Ws:

Who? A Palestinian terrorist and Israeli civilians.

What? A terror attack.

Where? Israel’s capital city Jerusalem.

When? Hours before Shabbat.

Why? Because the victims were Jewish.

The author is a contributor to HonestReporting, a Jerusalem-based media watchdog with a focus on antisemitism and anti-Israel bias — where a version of this article first appeared.

The opinions presented by Algemeiner bloggers are solely theirs and do not represent those of The Algemeiner, its publishers or editors. If you would like to share your views with a blog post on The Algemeiner, please be in touch through our Contact page.

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