A photograph depicting the chairman of an organization dedicated to bolstering Jewish presence in Jerusalem running over two Palestinian children who were hurling stones at him was chosen as the best photograph at the "Local Testimony" 2011 exhibition.
"Local Testimony" is a regional exhibition of photojournalism, running concurrently with the annual "World Press Photo" exhibition that features international press photographers. This year's exhibit is shown at the Eretz Israel Museum in Tel Aviv.
The winning photo was shot for the French News Agency (AFP ) by Ilia Yefimovich, in October 2010 in Silwan, next to Jerusalem's Old City. The driver, David Be'eri, chairman of Elad Association, a group dedicated to strengthening Jewish settlement in the area, claimed after the photo was published that photographers were part of a Palestinian ambush and that the photo was actually staged.
Yefimovich vehemently denies these claims. "Who staged the photo? It can also be interpreted in defense of the driver. Who staged it? The children who felt like being run over that day?"
There was video of the incident:
As we noted at the time:
The boy was running towards the car even during the impact. The car honked the horn to get him out of the way. Clearly the driver was worried about his safety and didn't want to stop, and for good reason - we see his back windshield smashed by the innocent, youthful rocks being thrown.See also Honest Reporting at the time.
The driver was swerving to avoid a different stone-thrower. In other words, he had a car behind him and two kids in front of him; if he would have stopped he would have been in mortal danger.
And there are a whole bunch of photographers there, whose presence makes the kids want to act with bravado and who might have actually been goading them into throwing rocks.
The photo is undoubtedly dramatic - and also clearly deceptive. (The photographer's protests that the photo could be seen as a defense of the driver is laughable.)
Shouldn't award-winning news photos be chosen based more on how accurately they tell the truth than how sensational they are?