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About those unsubstantiated allegations

Calling out those who spread baseless insinuations that Mohamed Abu Khdeir's murder was an 'honor killing'

Part of my job as HonestReporting’s Managing Editor is to call out the media for making unsubstantiated and speculative allegations against Israel.

That’s why I criticized those media outlets that prematurely stated as fact that Jewish extremists or settlers were responsible for the appalling murder of Palestinian teen Mohamed Abu Khdeir. From a journalistic perspective, it was wholly unprofessional to broadcast allegations without stating that they were exactly that. After all, when the media report on criminal cases, accuracy demands the descriptions “alleged” or “suspected” somewhere in the story.

Now that the suspects (and that’s all they are for now despite their arrests) have been revealed to be Jewish Israelis, there will be many on our own side who should reconsider the unsubstantiated speculation that they spread over social media platforms in recent days.

Police statements that left all potentialities open morphed into “facts” concerning honor killings and Abu Khdeir’s sexuality. So many of us hoped and prayed that Jews had played no part in this so that we would not have to confront the devastating reality that some of our own could have committed this crime.

The rumors spread, aided by an information vacuum and uncertainty that those working in Israel’s public diplomacy are only too familiar with. Israeli officials prefer to have all the facts in hand rather than making hasty and inaccurate statements.

I can understand the instinct to close ranks in a situation where Israel’s supporters are being confronted with the worst possible scenario. What I cannot understand, however, are the almost desperate and ultimately futile attempts that I witnessed from normally level-headed people to deflect all possibility that a Jew could be responsible for such a heinous crime.

Those who did so are no better than the media that they sought to criticize for prejudicial reporting.

Correction: This article was amended on July 8, 2014 in response to a reader who correctly pointed out that the original text could be misinterpreted to imply that the author expressed his hope that Mohamed Abu Khdeir had been murdered for being gay. This was certainly not the intention and the updated text reflects this.

About the Author
Simon Plosker is the Editorial Director of HonestReporting, returning to the media watchdog in October 2022, having previously been part of the organization’s management team from 2005 to 2020. Prior to his first spell at HonestReporting, Simon worked in Israel for NGO Monitor, BICOM, and served for a short period in the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit. He was Managing Editor of the Geneva-based NGO United Nations Watch for two years before deciding to rejoin the frontline defending Israel from media bias. Simon has a BSoc.Sc in International Studies and Political Science from the University of Birmingham and an MSc in History of International Relations from the London School of Economics. He immigrated to Israel in 2001 from London.
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