Exclusive: First-Hand Account How The Guardian Twisted the Story

Shayna Abramson studied History and Jewish Studies at Johns Hopkins University before moving to Jerusalem. She has also spent some time studying Torah at the Drisha Institute in Manhattan, and has a passion for soccer and poetry.

As a follower of HonestReporting’s work, I know that there is a persistent problem with anti-Israel bias in the media, but last week, I got a view of journalistic bias from up-close, when a Guardian article by Kate Shuttleworth managed to completely skewer the facts concerning my Saturday night date with my husband.

It was a bit of an unusual date; we attended a memorial in downtown Jerusalem for Naama and Eitam Henkin, who’d been murdered by a Palestinian terrorist a few days earlier. An Israeli Arab woman joined our memorial, in solidarity, at which point our small circle caused something of an uproar from passersby.

According to The Guardian, however, my husband was “a left-wing protester” who “staged a sit-in” in response to a protest being held by Lehava, an organization “that advocates killing Arabs.” First of all, my husband is not a left-wing protester. (I asked him again five minutes ago, just to make sure.) Second of all, he didn’t stage a sit-in, for two reasons: 1. He did not organize the event. 2. It was not a sit-in, it was a memorial service.

The event was (to the best of my knowledge) not organized as a response to the Lehava protest. While some Lehava protesters took offense at our presence, we invited those who came over to join our circle, and one of them did so for a short while. Also, Lehava doesn’t officially advocate killing Arabs – if it did, it would be shut down by the Israeli government, which has laws against incitement to violence. Additionally, the article referred to the Israeli Arab woman who joined our memorial as a “Palestinian girl,” which both disrespects her accomplished adult credentials, such as the fact that she holds a master’s degree and has children, and makes it sound like she doesn’t have Israeli citizenship when in fact, she does.

Actually, however, the worst factual error in the article was not about my Saturday night at all: It was about something happening just a half hour’s walk away, when a Palestinian terrorist stabbed two Israelis and reached for a victim’s gun in order to cause more havoc. According to The Guardian, however, it was one of the victim’s wives who reached for the gun.

All of these errors have since been corrected, and I commend The Guardian for doing so. For a few hours, however, wild misinformation was floating out there in cyberspace. Who knows how many people read this misinformation before it was changed, or how many Facebook posts and tweets permeated the internet? In an age of digital media, all it takes is a few hours of false rumors to ruin someone’s reputation forever, or to tarnish a country’s image – so it’s worth double-checking sources before you publish, and not relying on issuing corrections after.

Below: The correction as published by The Guardian.




Editor’s note:

guardian-magGlassThe published correction above does not tell the full story. Shayna Abramson mentions that The Guardian’s article referred to Lehava, an organization “that advocates killing Arabs.” This piece of editorializing on the part of Kate Shuttleworth was quietly removed from her story without any reference in the correction.

Lehava is certainly an extremist organization that has attracted the attention of Israel’s police for incitement and calls for violence. This shouldn’t, however, detract from a poor piece of journalism that The Guardian has tried to bury in the midst of other factual errors.

You can see how The Guardian’s article has been gradually amended here.

The erroneous statement that the wife of one of the victims had taken a gun and shot at police was corrected following a request from HonestReporting.


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