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. Grossman spent 10 days in the hospital in Jerusalem and then was flown to his family in Chicago where he was confined to a wheelchair for five months as he recuperated from his many wounds.
The story told by that picture then, was the story of the prejudice of the Times' photo-editor.
In much the same manner, the images we are broadcast from Hurricane Katrina tell us a certain story. The victims, in most of the pictures, are African Americans. And the story that has emerged from these images is one of racism. The white (and Republican) Federal government, we are led to believe, waited for an unforgivably long period of time in providing rescue and relief to the victims of the terrible storm, because of the color of their skin. The pictures, like the people who are asked to tell us the story, repeat over and over again that if these had been rich whites, rather than poor blacks, the National Guard would have been called in days before to restore order to New Orleans and to evacuate the victims.
Caroline B. Glick is the senior Middle East fellow at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C., and the deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post, where this article first appeared.
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