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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

American captive in Iran mixed up with yeshiva student

From the Jewish Week (NY):
In a widely disseminated error by news outlets and bloggers, Joshua Fattal, 27, currently a captive in Iran, is being confused with Joshua Fattal, a teenaged local yeshiva student who has written two articles for Fresh Ink, the high school supplement of The Jewish Week.

The case of mistaken identity has led to speculation that the older Fattal may be charged with being a “Zionist” spy.

Iran seized the older Fattal on July 31, along with two other Americans, Shane Bauer and Sara Shourd, after they allegedly strayed across the Iran-Iraq border near Kurdistan.

Although the captive Fattal attended college at the University of California at Berkeley, and has no connection to The Jewish Week or to any yeshiva, the mistaken
identity led Aljazeera.com, the Arab news service, to headline on Aug. 8: “Three Americans Held in Iran Are all Jews: Were They Spies?

After perfunctory Internet searches for “Joshua Fattal,” several bloggers and news services apparently discovered the younger Fattal’s bylines for The Jewish Week, most recently for a June 3 article on the film “Defiance,” and falsely concluded that the captive Fattal is a Jewish journalist and Zionist, making him all the more vulnerable in Iran’s volatile political climate.

Al Jazeera reported that the captive Fattal “is a researcher in the American Jewish center and works for the Jewish magazine ‘The Jewish Week.’” An Iranian television station also identified the captive as “an extreme Zionist.”