They say that one picture is worth a thousand words. No doubt this is true. But what is the guarantee that those words are truthful?
On September 30, 2000, The New York Times ran a photograph that, no doubt, for the photo editor, told the entire tale of the then two-day-old Palestinian terror war against Israel.
The picture showed a bloodied, frightened youth sitting in the foreground and an irate Israeli border guard, mouth agape, standing behind him, wielding a police baton. In the background, crimson flames and black smoke plumed upward behind cement blocks.
The photo editor never questioned what it is that he was looking at. Of course, the boy was a Palestinian. The assailant was the angry Israeli policeman. After all, as an enlightened man of the world, he knew what every right thinking person knows: the Palestinians are the victim. The Israelis are the aggressors. And so, the caption under the photograph told Times readers that indeed, what the photo editor assumed, was reality.
Sadly, the thousand words told by that photograph were a thousand lies. The bloodied youth in the foreground was a Jewish student from Chicago named Tuvia Grossman. He had been dragged out of his taxi in east Jerusalem by a Palestinian mob and was beaten and stabbed to the edge of death. With his last measure of strength, Grossman screamed and ran to the nearest Israeli security forces he could find. The border guard with the baton was protecting him from the mob.
Eventually, after receiving an angry letter from Grossman’s father in Chicago, the Times apologized for the error.
The story told by that picture then, was the story of the prejudice of the Times’ photo-editor. [emphasis added]
[T]hese examples show…that in spite of what we have been led to believe by our image-inundated world, images do not speak for themselves. They speak with the voice of their creators and their distributors. Every one of us attaches our pre-existing beliefs to what we see and each of us is influenced at some level, and often deeply by the interpretations that are given to the images by those who bring them to our attention.
In Israel, the challenge of imagery is perhaps the greatest challenge that we face. . . If we simply glance at the images purveyed to us this week, we understand how massive the challenge remains and how dangerous is will become if we do not rise to meet it.
The great challenge of Israel is to meet the false images portrayed by those who cling to their mendacious “narratives” of the Palestinian war against Israel with truthful ones.
Tuvia Grossman made aliya on Wednesday. In an interview with The Jerusalem Post, he said, “You don’t realize how many people’s lives have been affected forever from terrorist attacks. Some people are wounded for the rest of their lives. Once I get settled in, I would love to assist victims of terror in any way I can.”
Grossman’s story…is the story of the Jewish people and of the Jewish state. It is this truth we must uphold and contrast against the barbarism of our enemies if we do not wish for their false images to become our reality.