Mistaken Identity in Photo, Example of Anti-Israel Bias, Says Media Critic

By Julie Stahl | July 7, 2008 | 8:08 PM EDT

Jerusalem (CNSNews.com) - An angry Israeli soldier, raised club in hand, standing over a crumpled, bloodied man - obviously an Israeli beating a Palestinian, right? Wrong.

That was the mistake made by the New York Times and other prominent U.S. and international newspapers when they printed a pre-captioned Associated Press photo over the weekend with the explanation: "An Israeli policeman and a Palestinian on the Temple Mount."

The scene was not, in fact, played out on the Temple Mount nor was the bloodied young man a Palestinian.

"That Palestinian is actually my son , Tuvia Grossman, a Jewish student from Chicago," wrote Dr. Aaron Grossman of Chicago in a letter to the editor of the Times.

"He, and two of his friends, were pulled from their taxicab while traveling in Jerusalem, by a mob of Palestinian Arabs and were severely beaten and stabbed.

"That picture could not have been taken on the Temple Mount because there are no gas stations on the Temple Mount and certainly none with Hebrew lettering, like the one clearly seen behind the Israeli soldier attempting to protect my son from the mob," Grossman explained.

Grossman's uncle, Howard Gissinger of New York City, also complained in a letter to the editor, saying his nephew was not caught in a crossfire but "the target of Palestinian lambs who stoned his cab, dragged him from the vehicle, smashed his head with stones and stabbed him in the leg.

"The Israeli soldier, whom you obviously wished to portray as victimizing the poor, wounded Palestinian was actually saving my nephew's life," he wrote.

Far from a one-time event, the mistaken identity picture is an "extreme" example of anti-Israel bias found in newspapers and media outlets throughout the United States, claimed the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting (CAMERA).

"There is a lot of bias in the media against Israel," said Tamar Sternthal, senior research analyst at CAMERA Thursday. The assumption is that Israel is the aggressor, Sternthal said, and if there is an injured person, it must be a Palestinian.

"We deal with it on a daily basis," Sternthal said on Thursday. "Now we're at a frenzied pace [due to the current wave of violence]."

The Times, which blamed the AP for an "erroneous identification," neglected to mention that Grossman was Jewish and that the Israeli policeman was protecting him. It also incorrectly identified the location as the Old City of Jerusalem.

The AP acknowledged that the error was theirs and agreed to reissue the picture with a corrected caption.

Sternthal said that none of the papers that ran the photo initially with the incorrect caption had so far agreed to re-run the picture. "The correction does not counterbalance the huge [impact] that the image had," she said.

Grossman was released from hospital Thursday.

According to Sternthal, another example of the bias over the past week involved many newspapers willing to report Palestinian casualties but not Israeli casualties.