Indy treats Palestinian street theatre as real life.

The Independent did what it often does when reporting on Israeli removal of illegal, EU funded buildings in Area C (areas of the West Bank under full Israeli control): they illustrated the story with a photo designed to maximize the desired narrative of Palestinian dispossession.

The photo used for the article (Israel demolishes EU-funded Palestinian classrooms in occupied West Bank, Feb. 5) leaves the impression that the demolition of their classroom – funded by the EU in an attempt to create ‘facts on the ground‘ in the contentious E-1 area connecting Ma’ale Adumim with the rest of Jerusalem – forced Palestinians to learn while sitting outside amidst the rubble.

The photo caption used by the Indy also leaves this impression:

Bedouin children attend improvised class in the village of Abu Nuwar, West Bank, after the Israeli army demolished their two-classroom school in the West Bank on Sunday AP

However, the scene is almost certainly staged, and the Palestinians depicted are not in fact forced to learn while sitting on old tyres.  We know that because the full AP photo caption makes this clear:

Indy editors were clearly aware that the children were moved to nearby facilities to continue classes, but decided not to convey this information to readers.  

A more accurate photo showing the same children actually learning in the nearby guesthouse wouldn’t have been as evocative. The site depicted in the photo is not their new classroom, but merely a photo-op.  

The omission of this small detail gets to the heart of the double standards in coverage of the conflict: foreign journalists covering the region are so careful not to amplify or accept at face value the “hasbara” disseminated by the Israeli government or pro-Israel groups, yet seem perfectly willing to report (as real news) such staged protests and other forms of political street theatre.

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