New Cabinet, minus two…eh?

New cabinetI am sure most people would agree that this makes a fantastic story: two ultra-orthodox newspapers printed pictures of the Israeli prime minister Netanyahu’s new cabinet with two minsters (Livnat and Landver) photoshopped out!

The story goes that the Israeli religious daily Yated Ne’eman altered the image by putting male ministers in the place of the two female ones, and the Sha’a Tovah, a religious weekly, blacked out the faces and figures of the ministers. Supposedly, the ultra-orthodox newspapers consider publishing images of women as a violation of their modesty. The story then ends with the statistic that 8 to 15% of Israeli’s are ultra-orthodox, to make it all more dramatic, when we are talking about two very marginal papers here.

But is it all true?

It is remarkable that although the story went around the world, nobody printed a link to the offending papers, and most just repeat the same content. The papers do not seem to have an active website (of course), but what journalist could resist taking a picture of the cover of the ultra-orthodox paper if he actually had it in his hand? Have a look at a few papers who printed the story:

Courrier International (F) BBC (UK) Associated Press (US) The Guardian (UK) The Independent (UK) The Star (Canada) Die Welt (Germany)

Did any of them check if this is really true?

The Guardian and The Independent both have an Israeli correspondent write the story, but did they see the offending newspaper themselves? (They both use the AP image like everybody else.)

That ultra-orthodox jews consider that women should not be in government does not surprise me (otherwise you would not call them ultra-orthodox), but pretending that reality is different than it is, is just ridiculous – it’s a newspaper! What is the point in reading fake news? If the ultra-orthodox really thought pictures of women were immodest, they could also have not printed the picture and just written about the new cabinet.

So why is there not a copy of the newspaper cover anywhere? The Iranian newschannel Press TV managed to find an old anti-internet quote from the Yated Neeman editor, but still, someone could have scanned the newspaper to show that this is not an April 1st joke … or is that why nobody managed to find any proof?

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