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Thursday, January 05, 2012

Kotel Photoshop kerfuffle causes Ha'aretz to incite Muslims

From Ha'aretz:

IDF rabbinate edits out Dome of the Rock from picture of Jerusalem’s Temple Mount

Israel’s military rabbinate released an educational document ahead of the holiday of Hanukkah last month, featuring a photo of Jerusalem’s Temple Mount without the Dome of the Rock, Haaretz learned on Thursday.

The photo was featured in a packet prepared by the Military Rabbinate issued to Israel Defense Forces bases ahead of Hanukkah, under the section titled “The Festival of Jewish Heroism,” which included an article and a quiz on the Jewish struggle against Hellenistic rule.

One reserves officer talking with Haaretz said that when he “received the materials from the battalion rabbi something seemed strange about that picture.”

“We get material from the rabbinate every week and it’s mostly positive things,” the IDF officer said, adding that the edited picture was part of an “official release, which is why it’s problematic the army is distributing it.”

The IDF Spokesman’s Office said in the response that Haaretz’s description was “absurd and biased, a fact which we can only regret,” adding that the educational packet included a photo meant to illustrate Jerusalem during the period of the Second Temple.

“As was explained to the reporter, the Dome of the Rock did not exist at that time, so there was no need for it to appear in the picture,” the IDF said.
Based on the photo in the story, I tracked down the original.


It was definitely Photoshopped, as the base of the Dome of the Rock is still there.


The original photographer/artist is Mikhail Levit, who apparently did the editing. I've seen the photo on websites as far back as 2008.

So obviously the IDF rabbinate did not edit the photo. It was a nice picture, the people behind the pamphlet found it somewhere online, and put it on the pamphlet. (The IDF's explanation that it represents the time of the Second Temple is silly as well - where is the Temple? Moreover, notice that the photograph still includes the Al Aqsa Mosque on the far right side!)

This does not look deliberate. It is easy enough to take or find a photo of the Kotel where the Dome of the Rock isn't visible - without editing. Here's one I took a couple of years ago:


Or a painting of the Temple could have been used.

The graphic designer probably just Googled "kotel" and picked the nicest photo he or she could find. This is not a huge story about IDF hate for Islam.

But the officer who brought it to the attention of Ha'aretz, and Ha'aretz itself by quoting him approvingly, show more than a little hypocrisy:
Speaking with Haaretz, the reserves officer said he expected “the Military Rabbinate to be more alert about the educational messages it passes on, especially considering the Temple Mount’s history,” adding: “A world war could break if someone would try to do something about that place, and I think they should be more cautious when approaching the subject.”

It’s infuriating that the rabbinate isn’t more being more responsible about this,” the officer added.
He's infuriated that the rabbinate wasn't more careful? Because it is so incendiary?

Let's see. Chanukah ended weeks ago.


No one noticed this photo. No Arab riots, no angry op-eds in Al Jazeera, nothing.

Now, this incensed officer is so angry about how dangerous this pamphlet cover photo is that he brings it to Ha'aretz weeks later, which splashes the story prominently in its online edition. Where everyone can see it!

The story got picked up by Islamic Jihad (top story), Hamas and Fatah websites, and probably around the Arabic press worldwide. Tens of millions of easily excited Muslims will see the story and potentially be incited to violence.

Thanks to Ha'aretz for bringing this story to their attention!

Because it is responsible journalism to publicize something silly the IDF rabbinate did with little intent and twist it into a story that could incite millions of people to believe that it is an attack directly on their souls. And to pretend that you are doing it because of potential problems that didn't occur!

Ha'aretz, by pretending to position this story as a warning against incitement, has done far more to incite hate against the IDF than the rabbinate did.

But Ha'aretz doesn't have to follow the same rules it insists the IDF does.