Yesterday, we were treated to another in a series of backpedals, when the Associated Press corrected a caption to the heartbreaking picture above, which faulted an Israeli air strike for killing the infant son of a BBC reporter during Israel’s Operation Pillar of Defense last November. Here’s what the caption to this picture, which graced the cover of countless papers across the world, has been for the last four months:
“Jihad Masharawi weeps while he holds the body of his 11-month old son Ahmad, at Shifa hospital following an Israeli air strike on their family house, in Gaza City. The Israeli military said its assassination of the Hamas military commander Ahmed Jabari, marks the beginning of an operation against Gaza militants.”
The correction came as a result of a United Nations report yesterday casting doubt on the narrative of Israeli blame, which in addition to marking the first time in history that the Washington Free Beacon and the United Nations have ever agreed, suggested the death was caused by a misfired Palestinian rocket.
An errant Palestinian rocket, not an Israeli airstrike, likely killed the baby of a BBC reporter during fighting in the Hamas-ruled territory last November, a U.N. report indicated, challenging the widely believed story behind an image that became a symbol of what Palestinians said was Israeli aggression.
The first replacement caption put forth by the AP was not much better:
FILE – In this Nov. 14, 2012 file photo, Jihad Masharawi weeps while he holds the body of his 11-month old son Ahmad, at Shifa hospital following an Israeli air strike on their family house, in Gaza City. A U.N. report indicates an errant Palestinian rocket, not an Israeli airstrike, likely killed the baby of Masharawi during fighting in the Hamas-ruled territory last November. The death of Omar al-Masharawi, became a symbol of what Palestinians see as Israeli aggression during eight days of fighting that killed more than 160 Palestinians and six Israelis. (AP Photo/Majed Hamdan, File)
And finally, after a few hours, the caption was changed again! Here’s what it reads now.
CAPTION CORRECTION, CORRECTS INFORMATION REGARDING THE CHILD’S DEATH IN THE FIRST SENTENCE, CORRECTS CHILD’S NAME AND CORRECTS FAMILY NAME – FILE – In this Nov. 14, 2012 file photo, an anguished Jihad al-Masharawi, a BBC reporter, clutches his slain 11-month-old son Omar, wrapped in a shroud, at Shifa hospital in Gaza City. An errant Palestinian rocket, not an Israeli airstrike, likely killed the child during fighting in the Hamas-ruled territory last November, a U.N. report indicated, challenging the widely believed story behind the image which became a symbol of what Palestinians said was Israeli aggression. Omar was killed on Nov. 14, the first day of fighting. Palestinians blamed Israel, and this image was broadcast around the world and widely shared on social media. A March 6, 2013, report from the U.N. office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights says the baby was “killed by what appeared to be a Palestinian rocket that fell short of Israel.” Gaza’s rulers, the militant Islamic group Hamas, whose fighters fired most of the rockets into Israel during the conflict, had no response Monday. BBC officials declined to comment, and al-Masharawi said he couldn’t discuss the issue. An Israeli military spokesman said they could not confirm or deny whether they hit the al-Masharawi house. (AP Photo/Majed Hamdan, File)
Does this seem ridiculous to you yet? It should. In the midst of the findings, Armin Rosen at the Atlantic tweeted this, which sums up how this fits with a horrifying list of highly charged accusations leveled against Israel over the years that were ultimately discredited:
Al Dura. The Jenin Massacre. The Swedish organ-harvesting ring. Forced sterilization of Ethiopian immigrants..you’d think the media would have some humility about discredited anti-Israel stories. You would be wrong.
At a certain point, this stops being about the facile media coverage of extraordinarily polarizing events. The battle for the truth and blame is simply mimicking the conflict itself.
Adam Chandler was previously a staff writer at Tablet. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic, Slate, Esquire, New York, and elsewhere. He tweets @allmychandler.