German magazine accused of anti-Israel bias, turns terrorist into victim

The Hamburg-based magazine Der Spiegel last week was catapulted into a fresh anti-Israel scandal when it published an article allegedly blaming the Israeli police for shooting a Palestinian terrorist.The title of the Spiegel article read: “Israeli soldiers shoot Palestinian at border crossing.”

A video showed the alleged Palestinian terrorist Ahmad Mustafa Erekat ramming his car into Israeli soldiers. Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said Erekat “drove his vehicle quickly towards the direction of a female border police officer who was injured lightly.”When asked if the headline is anti-Israel, Anja zum Hingst, a Spiegel spokeswoman, told The Jerusalem Post that “no, in this case Spiegel took over a news story from AFP news agency, as clearly shown under the post which is recognizable. It is based on official Israeli information.”When pressed by the Post if Spiegel plans to correct the headline, zum Hingst said “the first sentence of the lead says that the Palestinian quickly approached an official.” She added that “the report is based on official Israeli information. Of course we don’t see anything anti-Israel or antisemitic in this.”A sample of other media outlets shows the role of the alleged Palestinian terrorist in the attack on Israeli soldiers. The AP titled its article “Palestinian Driver Killed In Alleged Attack On Israeli Guard,” and an Israeli media outlet used the headline “Driver tries to ram cops near Jerusalem, is shot and killed — police.”The US wire service Jewish Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) wrote “Palestinian driver who attempted car-ramming attack near Jerusalem shot and killed by police.”

News organizations frequently change story headlines when they are inaccurate or provide a distorted news account.Uwe Becker, commissioner of the German Hessian state government for combating antisemitism, told the Post on Saturday that “the magazine Der Spiegel has obviously a serious Israel problem. In a car ramming attack, a Palestinian terrorist had tried to kill Israeli security forces with his vehicle. The lead story evokes a completely different picture, as if the nephew of a Palestinian Politician was kind of randomly killed by Israeli Forces.”He added that “the ongoing repetition of an anti-Israeli” content in Spiegelarticles spread “a massive anti-Israeli atmosphere in Germany.”The Bild journalist Filipp Piatov wrote on twitter in response to the Spiegelheadline:“How many Jews have to die for Spiegel to name a terrorist as such?”In an article on the Mena-Watch website, the German journalist, Alex Feuerherdt, accused the Spiegel of “double standards” against the Jewish state. He wrote that “an editorially edited agency announcement appears on the Spiegel website with the headline: ‘Man is said to have stabbed police officers in Glasgow.”’The attack in Glasgow, Scotland took place on Friday.“This double standard is no exception, but can be observed very regularly in reporting on Israel, not only at Der Spiegel,” wrote Feuerherdt.Feuerhdert, who has written extensively about German media bias toward Israel, wrote ”German news agencies and the media would certainly have been able to research and present” the accurate sequence of events and “Saeb Erekat’s nephew would not have been portrayed as a victim of Israeli police violence.”He noted that necessity providing context to the readers “about the terrorist means of the Palestinian car-ramming attacks,” adding  “that shouldn’t be too much to ask.”Spiegel faced intense criticism in March for headlining a story on Israel’s fight against as the coronavirus pandemic as the first “Corona Dictatorship,” led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.The Spiegel Middle East journalist Christoph Sydow, who authored the article, later regretted the headline, writing on Twitter: “If I wrote the text again today, I would not use the word ‘dictatorship’ again. I stick to the assessment that the damage that has been done to the democratic system and that may be further inflicted is immense and will have ramifications for the country.”Sydow, who was accused of antisemitism in two articles, committed suicide in early June.

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