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Victim of the Media War

Victim of the Media War

Palestinians tried to lynch me, highlighting the power of the media to influence public opinion.


I was thrust into the international limelight when the New York Times and other major media outlets published a photo of me ― bloodied and battered ― crouching beneath a club-wielding Israeli policeman. The caption identified me as a Palestinian victim of the new intifada. In fact, however, I am a 20-year-old Jewish student from Chicago, studying at a yeshiva in Jerusalem.

Here's how it all happened:

It was the eve of Rosh Hashana, and I hailed a taxi with two of my friends to go visit the Western Wall. Along the way, the driver took a shortcut through one of the Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem. We turned a corner and suddenly there were about 40 Palestinians surrounding the car. Before we knew it, huge rocks had smashed all the windows of the taxi.

Some of the Palestinians pulled open the door and dragged me from the vehicle. About 10 attackers jumped on top of me, punching and kicking me. I crouched to the ground, and tried to cover my face to protect myself as much as possible. All I could see were a flurry of sneakers kicking me in the face.

Then I felt a strong pair of hands grabbing me, and I uncovered my face because I thought someone was trying to help me. But it was just another Palestinian; he held the back of my head and punched me square in the face. I fell flat on the ground and the Palestinians jumped on top of me again. One of them stabbed me in the back of my leg, ripping through muscles and tendons. Two other Palestinians held my head so I couldn’t move, while two more bashed rocks onto my head... again and again and again.

By this time the beating had gone on for about eight minutes. I had already lost three pints of blood and was losing consciousness. I said "Shema Yisrael" ― the declaration of faith that a Jew says before he dies. I tried not to black out, because I was sure if I did it would be the end.

Because it was the eve of Rosh Hashana, the image of a shofar flashed through my mind, and I recalled a Biblical story I'd learned in school. The prophet Gideon and his 300 men were badly outnumbered against the Midianite army of 130,000. So Gideon's troops banged pots and blew shofars, hoping that the noise would scare the enemy. With God's help, the ploy worked, and Gideon won the battle.

So I yelled at the top of my lungs. The Palestinians were startled momentarily, and I was able to get up and run. Unfortunately, I am heavily nearsighted and my contact lenses had fallen out. So there I was ― barely able to see a thing, with blood pouring down my face and my leg badly wounded ― being chased up a hill by 40 Palestinians throwing rocks at me.

It was a miracle, but I somehow outran them and reached a gas station where Israeli soldiers were posted.

I collapsed on the ground, and that's when a group of freelance photographers started snapping pictures. An Israeli policeman was protecting me, yelling at the Palestinians to back off from finishing the lynching. But the photo ― sent throughout the world by the Associated Press ― identified me as a Palestinian. The obvious implication was that the Israeli policeman had just beaten me. In truth, it was the total opposite. I was a Jewish victim of Palestinian attackers.

It's bad enough to be beaten bloody, get stitches up and down my head, and have my leg so severely stabbed that therapy is required to regain use of it. But to be used as a pawn in the media war, as part of the Palestinian propaganda to gain international sympathy, well, that hurts even more.

When a photo gets published, there are many links in the chain, and in this case, I don't know where the fault for the garbled caption lies. But it is deeply disturbing that the New York Times, Associated Press, and everyone else in-between assumed that if it's a victim, it must be a Palestinian.

There is a great struggle here in Israel and this event highlights the power of the media to influence public opinion. If truth is to prevail, we can't just "read" the newspaper. Be discerning and become part of the process. Otherwise, you're just a passive object of someone else's agenda.

Who are the innocent victims and who are the aggressors? The truth is often the opposite of how it appears.

with thanks to Shraga Simmons

November 4, 2000

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Visitor Comments: 70

(70) Shaunra, October 15, 2013 8:59 PM

Israel needs to be more smarter and take legal action for defamation and lies

It is sad that the Jewish people who are considered to be the smartest and wealthiest in the world have not taken people, groups or even countries to court and sued them for defamation, lies, loss of income (BDS), human rights violations (for supporting PLO, Hamas, Hizbolla etc). Maybe it is costly to have a case tried in court but the State of Israel should step up and help. That goes for the broadcast media as well. I have watched the following documentaries : Obsession The Third Jihad and a few clips from youtube. I've seen some muslim/Arab TV stations broadcasting lies and hate in their stations. If I remember correctly the where few so called "Palestinian" stations showing children wanting to be suicide bombers. Then there are so many Islamic stations on satellite tv which people watch and believe. There is Aljazeera which most use as their source. And last but not least is Iran's Press TV which was available till recently. Its a shame on the Jewish people and the State of Israel for sitting back and only squealing or complaining. When will there be Orthodox Jewish religious stations and normal Jewish/Israeli programs on TVs or free-to-air Satellite. I pray that the world Jewry and Israel acts soon

(69) Robyn, August 10, 2013 12:04 PM

Israel has the right to exist!

Thank you for telling us the truth! You know there are other victims of any other causes in the world some even caused by the liars themselves being poytrayed as victims who got hurt by the I.D.F! For example are some of the palistinins themselves espeacelly the women and children! The areas I'm speaking about for now is gaza-ruled by hamas and leasibeian-ruled by Hezbollah! Hamas and heabollah caused the pain of these palistinins by GOING underground HIDING behind their civilians! And another israeli this time a child was portrayed as a Palestinian victim was really a victim of a Hamas rocket attack! I will not be fooled!

(68) glenda urmacher, July 7, 2012 3:30 PM

shame on the New York Times, haven't been buying that paper or the L.A. Times for years for false reporting on Israel.They have to rely on gypsy reporters and photographers, their own personel would be killed for reporting the TRUTH. try Wall Street Journal editorial fair mostly

(67) saleh, September 14, 2010 3:08 PM


the name of the policeman "gidaan safadi" "gidon" is the nickname .

(66) Marc Rozenbaum, September 13, 2010 7:39 PM


Tuvia was thinking about Gideon, who would finally win the battle... and the name of the Israeli (druze) policeman who saved him is Gidon : Amazing, isn't it ?

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