The Board of Deputies of British Jews (BOD) took the rare step of submitting a formal complaint to the Guardian Readers’ Editor regarding the headline accompanying their report on Thursday night’s deadly Palestinian terror attack in Tel Aviv, while blasting the publication on Twitter for its “disgraceful” coverage. Though the BOD complained about the second version of the headline, to show how their headline evolved, we’ll show all of its iterations.
Here’s the original Guardian headline, published at 10:20pm (Israeli time) on Thursday (attributed to ‘Staff and Agencies’), on the shooting attack, by a Palestinian from Jenin, at a pub on the crowded Dizengoff Street which ultimately killed three Israeli civilians.
Despite the strap line’s claim that a motive was not “immediately clear”, it was, in fact, already quite clear to most serious observers at that point, by reports in the Israeli media and tweets by journalists, that it was a terror attack. However, as you’ll see, this first iteration is actually better than the second version of the headline (which the BOD and others complained about) published after the article was revised around 7:00am ( Israeli time) on Friday morning.
Whilst in the first headline, the identities of the perpetrator and victims are unclear, it’s telling that the second version, written after their respective identities were made clear, leads with “Israeli forces” killing the Palestinian perpetrator, instead of – as you’d expect when reading about terror incidents – by highlighting the actions of the instigator of the violence. Further, the wording, particularly the words “after Tel Aviv shooting”, even leaves doubt as to whether the Palestinian who was killed by “Israeli forces” was the same person responsible for “the shooting”.
In contrast to the Guardian, the headline by Associated Press (AP) on Friday was “Palestinian kills 2, wounds several in Tel Aviv shooting”, which makes clear that the Palestinian was the perpetrator – ands leads with his deadly act.
Though it’s not until the strap line – which reads “Security forces say 28-year-old Palestinian suspect was killed after being tracked down in Jaffa” – when we learn that the gunman was a Palestinian, the headline is still a significant improvement over the previous one.
Now, here’s the final version, which was published shortly after the third version, and after the death of the third Israeli victim of the Palestinian terror attack, Barak Lufan, 35, was announced.
It took editors four tries, but they finally produced an accurate headline – making it clear that a Palestinian killed three Israelis at a Tel Aviv bar.
Those who closely follow the Guardian’s coverage of Israel and the Palestinians would see their latest example of headline bias as consistent with the media outlet’s broader pattern of portraying Palestinians as passive victims of Israeli oppression, rather than as complex, flawed adults with full possession of moral agency. As the chorus of openly anti-Zionist voices in journalism grows louder, demanding that every event in the region be framed through the fallacious context of “Israeli apartheid”, it’s likely that the Guardian method of obfuscating facts that conflict with their egregious prejudice about the Jewish state will gain traction – even within mainstream media outlets.
See this post by our colleague Tamar Sternthal on Reuters’ similarly misleading headline on the Palestinian terror attack.