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'Ultra-Orthodox Jewish' gunmen and 'terrorists': Tel Aviv attack in world media

Israeli security forces gather at a shopping complex in the Mediterranean coastal city of Tel Aviv following a shooting attack on June 8, 2016
Jack Guez (AFP)
Misleading media headlines draw fury of Jewish and pro-Israel readers

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a topic that is widely followed world-wide and as such, terror attacks like the one that occurred Wednesday night in Tel Aviv are widely covered in international media, and often published with distorted or misleading headlines.

At around 9:30 pm Israel time, two Palestinian gunmen opened fire in a restaurant at Tel Aviv's popular Sarona market, and surrounding area, killing four and wounding several others.

A variety of reports with varying details flooded in during the ensuing chaos, many of which were misleading, ended up in international headlines, much to the fury of Israelis.

Russia's RT news headlined their coverage of the attack with "2 'Ultra-Orthodox Jewish' gunmen kill 3 in central Tel Aviv," based on reports quoting eyewitnesses as saying that the gunmen were dressed as ultra-Orthodox Jews.

Security footage later showed that while the two gunmen were dressed in black suits, that was about as close as they came to looking like Haredi or Hasidic Jews. Israeli authorities said the two attackers were Palestinian cousins from the Hebron area in the West Bank.

The headline shared by the pro-Israel NGO StandWithUs on Facebook gathered a number of reactions such as "It's just so g-d dam disrespectful!!!!!! Innocent people were murdered tonight and they have the audacity to publish such a headline. What's the point of a headline like that????"

Another comment read " RT stop supporting terrorists and promoting Anti Semitism!"

RT's updated headline on Thursday read "‘Harsh terror attack’: 2 Palestinian gunmen kill 4 in Tel Aviv shopping center."

In the first paragraph of RT's updated article they keep the initial description of the gunmen, writing "the attackers, wearing black suits described by witnesses as ultra-Orthodox Jewish outfits, have been detained."

The word "terrorists" is mention twice in the article after this, but it is not until the fifth paragraph that RT quoted police as saying that the attackers were Palestinian.

US based CNN news infuriated some readers after it initially reported the attack with the word terrorist in quotation marks.

In the caption accompanying a tweet linking to their story, CNN wrote "Tel Aviv shooting update: -shots fired at outdoor market – at least 3 dead – 2 "terrorists" captured.

Tel Aviv shooting update:

- Shots fired at outdoor market
- At least 3 dead
- 2 "terrorists" captured

Latest: https://t.co/NE6Lhpuksl

— CNN (@CNN) June 8, 2016

One Twitter user replied to the tweet, saying "hey @CNN if you walk into a coffee shop and shoot women & children, you are a terrorist. no " " needed."

The headline of the CNN story, updated at 8:51 GMT, reads "2 suspects, 4 victims in Tel Aviv terror attack identified," with the word terror written without quotes.

Inside the story, however, CNN also quoted a "police source" as saying that "the attackers were dressed as Hasidic Jews."

The New York Times almost completely left the word terror out of their report, using only once in a sentence reading "reigniting fears of terrorism in Israel just as a recent wave of Palestinian attacks had seemed to be waning."

Throughout the article the New York Times instead refers to the terrorists as "gunmen" and "attackers."

Another outlet to leave the word terror out of their report was Britian's BBC News, who used the word only when quoting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the police and eyewitnesses.

This is not the first time during the latest round of violence that international media outlets have drawn criticism for showing alleged bias with their headlines.

Last February the head of Israel's Government Press Office (GPO), Nitzan Chen, said that Israel will consider revoking GPO cards from international media outlets that give distorted headlines about attacks on Israelis.

"This time we won't sit in silence, we'll consider revoking press cards from journalists and editors who are neglectful in their jobs, and give headlines that are the opposite from the reality," he said in February.

A wave of Palestinian knife, gun and car-ramming attacks erupted in October. Most of the attacks have been stabbings, although there have also been occasional shootings.

Comments

(1)

Ha'aretz ran the same headline and it is obvious that RT just published their news feed unchanged. So strange that so many people piled on a Russian web site when an Israeli site was first to publish the headline. In fact, Ha'aretz did NOT change their headline after RT changed it. I don't know if Ha'aretz has changed it since but it almost looks like some people are simply anti-Russian. So odd because the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs just ran a glowing report on the recent Netanyahu-Putin meeting, in which the former thanks Putin for his cooperation. Now in view of the Holocaust, I can't imagine a an Israeli news site being against any ethnicity. After all, they know what racism is.

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