Tuvia Grossman is an American-Israeli man who was wrongly identified as a Palestinian when the caption of an Associated Press photograph of an Israeli police officer defending him from a violent Arab mob, was published. The photograph, taken during the Second Intifada in 2000, as published in The New York Times, The Associated Press, The Wall Street Journal, and other newspapers worldwide, gave the impression that the Israeli police officer had brutally beaten a Palestinian.
On the eve of Rosh Hashana 2000, Grossman, a student from Chicago at Yeshivas Bais Yisroel in the Neve Yaakov neighborhood of Jerusalem, hailed a taxi with two friends to visit the Western Wall. When the driver took a shortcut through the Arab neighborhood of Wadi al-Joz, a mob of about 40 Arabs surrounded the taxi, smashed the windows, and dragged Grossman out, whereupon they beat him. The mob kicked him repeatedly, stabbed him once in the leg, and then pounded his head with rocks. Grossman managed to run to a nearby gas station, where he collapsed, and an Israeli policeman, wielding a club protected him, threatening the mob. This was when the infamous picture was taken, by a freelance photographer who was at the gas station, of Grossman bleeding and crouched under the policeman, who is shouting and waving his club.
At the outset of the Second Intifada on September 30, 2000, the New York Times and other media outlets published an Associated Press photo of a bloodied Grossman crouching beneath a club-wielding Israeli policeman. The caption under the photo simply identified the two as: "an Israeli policeman and a Palestinian."
Regarding your picture on page A5 of the Israeli soldier and the Palestinian on the Temple Mount -- that Palestinian is actually my son, Tuvia Grossman, a Jewish student from Chicago. He, and two of his friends, were pulled from their taxicab while traveling in Jerusalem, by a mob of Palestinian Arabs, and were severely beaten and stabbed. That picture could not have been taken on the Temple Mount because there are no gas stations on the Temple Mount and certainly none with Hebrew lettering, like the one clearly seen behind the Israeli soldier attempting to protect my son from the mob.
In response, The New York Times published a correction on October 4, stating that:
A picture caption on Saturday about fighting between Israelis and Palestinians in Jerusalem included an erroneous identification from The Associated Press for a wounded man shown with an Israeli policeman. He was Tuvia Grossman of Chicago, an American student in Israel, not an unidentified Palestinian. In some copies the caption also misidentified the site where Mr. Grossman was wounded. It was in Jerusalem's Old City, but not on the Temple Mount.
In this correction, Tuvia Grossman is accurately identified as "an American student in Israel," but it is not noted that he is Jewish and his beating is not described. The location is still misstated, this time as Jerusalem's Old City, while the true location was the Arab neighborhood of Wadi al-Joz.
Three days later, on October 7, the Times published another correction, noting that:
A picture caption on Page A6 last Saturday about fighting in Jerusalem gave an erroneous identification from The Associated Press for a wounded man shown with an Israeli policeman. He was Tuvia Grossman of Chicago, an American studying at a Jewish seminary in Jerusalem, not an unidentified Palestinian. In some copies the caption also included the news agency's erroneous reference to the site. The incident occurred in an Arab neighborhood of Jerusalem, not on the Temple Mount or elsewhere in the Old City. A correction in this space on Wednesday cited the errors incompletely and omitted an explanation of the scene. The officer was waving a nightstick at Palestinians, telling them to stay away from Mr. Grossman. He was not beating Mr. Grossman.
This note was accurate, and accompanied by an article which described the beating:
They looked out, as they recalled later, and saw a crowd of Palestinian youths blocking the road and closing in on them. A stone crashed through the back window and Mr. Pollock's head was gashed. Then all of the taxi's windows were shattered in a volley of rocks, and the terrified Americans tried to huddle down and cover their faces. The doors were jerked open, they said, and they were dragged out by the mob and beaten.
The article further noted that:
The officer [shown above Grossman in picture], wielding a club and moving toward him protectively, ordered the Palestinians to back off.
"He recognized that Tuvia was Jewish and was being pursued, and he was yelling, 'Back off! Back off!'" Mr. Grossman's aunt, Shelley Winkler, of Far Rockaway, Queens, said yesterday, having learned what happened from Mr. Grossman's parents, Dr. Aaron and Tzirel Grossman, who went to Israel early in the week.
The picture led to widespread outrage from the American Jewish community. The outrage was caused not only by the picture, but by the first brief retraction - described by Honest Reporting as "half-hearted" - which failed to identify Grossman as a Jew, and completely left out the part about his beating at the hands of an Arab mob.
According to Seth Ackerman of FAIR, a liberal media watchdog, seven to eight U.S. newspapers picked up the photo along with the original erroneous caption. The Associated Press acknowledged the error and set about correcting it, along with almost all of the newspapers that printed the photograph. The New York Times published two retractions (one on October 4, 2000 and another three days later) as well as a 670-word news article tracing the incident from the time the photograph was taken to when it was published.
Ackerman posits that the response of pro-Israel media critics was excessive, as "no one alleged any deliberate falsification" by AP, adding that "the vast majority of injuries in Jerusalem the day the Grossman photograph was taken were sustained by Palestinians"
"Newspapers across the country carried angry commentaries and letters by supporters of Israel brandishing the mislabeled photograph as palpable proof of their long-held suspicions. The New York Post (10/5/00) and Wall Street Journal (10/6/00) each ran op-eds on the photo. In commentaries, the mislabeled photo was proof that pro-Palestinian "misreporting by the media has been rampant" (Albany Times-Union, 10/25/00), and that "Anti-Israel Bias Warps American Minds" (Providence Journal-Bulletin, 10/13/00). Daily Oklahoman columnist Edie Roodman (10/13/00) accused the media of "'indirectly stimulating riots' by Palestinians."
As a result of the incident, the organization HonestReporting was founded.
"I knew that I wanted to be here, in Israel," Grossman said as he prepared to leave his hometown of Chicago for his flight. "Nothing was going to stop me." Grossman had studied law in his native Chicago. After immigrating to Israel, he did an internship at the Israeli Supreme Court, passed the Israeli bar, and became a lawyer. Grossman worked for a time as an energy and infrastructure lawyer at both Gornitzky & Co. and Epstein Rosenblum Maoz (ERM) in Tel Aviv. He is currently the Director of Business Affairs at Tahal Water Energy Ltd.
In 2010, ten years after the incident, Tuvia Grossman finally met the police officer that saved his life, learning that his name was Gideon Tzefadi. Tzefadi is an Israeli Druze and former Chief Superintendent of the Israeli East Jerusalem Border Police. The event was documented on the website HonestReporting.
- Victim of the Media War by Tuvia Grossman on Aish HaTorah
- The Photo that Started it All by Honest Reporting
- Myre, Greg; Griffin, Jennifer (2011). This Burning Land: Lessons from the Front Lines of the Transformed Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. John Wiley and Sons. p. 80. ISBN 978-0-470-55090-8.
- Falk, Gerhard (2007). Fraud: Deceit Among Scientists, Academics, Writers, and Philanthropists. University Press of America. p. 116. ISBN 978-0-7618-3858-6.
- Sloan, William David; Burleson Mackay, Jenn (2007). Media Bias: Finding it, Fxing it. McFarland & Company. p. 184. ISBN 978-0-7864-3042-0.
- McFadden, Robert D. (October 7, 2000). "Abruptly, a U.S. Student In Mideast Turmoil's Grip". New York Times. Retrieved May 26, 2010. "The A.P., which had received many pictures of injured Palestinians that day, did not clarify the garbled caption but sent the picture to subscribers with a caption based on the erroneous assumption that Mr. Grossman was a Palestinian. It also misidentified the site, first as the Temple Mount and later as another site in the Old City. Many newspapers published the picture and erroneous captions based on The A.P.'s information. The New York Times misidentified Mr. Grossman in last Saturday's issue as a Palestinian and in some copies misidentified the site as the Temple Mount."
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