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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Iranian news reported Israelis sell women in stores

Last month there was a Ha'aretz article:
Women go on sale at Tel Aviv shopping center

Window display at Dizengoff Center shows real women with price tags in provocative installation aiming to battle sex trafficking.

Shoppers strolling through Dizengoff Center mall in Tel Aviv on Tuesday were confronted with a shocking widow display of women for sale, with price tags attached to them.

Upon closer inspection, it became obvious that the display was part of an installation by the Working Group Against the Trafficking of Women, part of a widespread campaign.

Seven unkempt young women stood in front of shoppers passing back and forth under a sign that read "Women for sale according to personal taste." Some of the women were made up to appear as if they had been beaten, and all had price tags that listed details such as age, weight, dimensions, and country of birth.

The stated purpose of the installation is to solicit a large amount of signatures to submit to the Minister of Justice, in order to put forth a private member's bill by Kadima MK Orit Zuaretz to criminalize johns who solicit sexual services. Members of the Working Group believe that a law like this could eradicate the phenomenon of trafficking in women.
This was a nice publicity stunt to get an important message across.

But in Iran, they used the article to claim that women really were being literally sold in Israeli stores.

Rajanews, saying it was quoting Ha'aretz, wrote
In an evident case of promoting indecency and moral corruption in Zionist society, women are displayed for sale in Israel’s chain stores… According to Haaretz, each woman has a label that includes her age, weight, dimensions and country of origin. Following pictures shed some light on modern slavery in Israel, the country which claims to be a democracy.

A blogger in Mideast Youth named  Mohammad Memarian noticed the deception and contacted Rajanews, which took down the article (you can still find it cached here.) But by that time, other Iranian news sites had picked up on the story, and those sites still show the false story today.

As Memarian wrote,
Given the frank, unambiguous article published in Haaretz, I can hardly imagine that this case could be a simple misunderstanding. Rather, it’s fair to believe that the original news editor/translator distorted the story, assuming that no one would ever dare to find the truth. Such a bitter fact that awkward distortion of the truth is still considered a suitable instrument to manipulate the minds of the audience.

Second implication of the event, however, is far more important. Many Iranians had visited the page, found the story to be consistent with their preconceived perception of the Jewish state, thus related to it and cached it in their long term memory as another indication of Israel’s brutality and corruption. The Israeli society I knew, however, could not be this wild and obscene. That is why I doubted the originality of the story, while many other people, even the educated and the elite, did not even give it a second thought. In other words, average Iranian perception of Israel is far different from the objective truth.
He then goes on to say "Unfortunately, the same point arguably applies to the Israeli side as well" which is largely false, showing that even the most enlightened Iranian doesn't know anything about how Israelis really think.

Even so, all credit to Memarian for noticing and acting on the falsehood.
(h/t Israelity blog)