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To use or not to use the Itamar photos of the dead and mutilated children?

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There’s been great debate among news outlets of whether or not to use photos of the Fogel family children stabbed to death last Friday night in the Jewish settlement of Itamar, on the West Bank. The photos were circulated first by a PR firm affiliated with the Yesha Council of settlers, with the family’s permission, and then by Israeli government hasbara officials.

While there are valid arguments to be made on both sides of this issue, we decided against using them. Maybe those arguing in favor of usage are right that the world does need to see these gruesome photos to appreciate the true horror of terrorism against Jews living in the West Bank, and to understand that slashing a baby’s throat and stabbing a 4-year-old to death is not the same as building a home on a disputed hilltop.

But for our mostly Jewish audience, who we believe appreciate that difference, publishing the photos just felt exploitative and gratuitous. And sometimes, you’ve got to go with your gut.

However, we did forward them on to our client editors (JTA is a syndication service) with this note:

EDITORS: We received the photos in the link below from the scene of the killings in the Jewish settlement of Itamar, in the West Bank. While some Israeli media outlets have run the photos, which show graphic images of the dead, we have declined to use them thus far out of respect for the victims and their privacy. While the attached note says relatives of the victims have permission to use the photos, in this instance we felt that say-so from unnamed relatives was not enough to warrant showing photos of dead and mutilated children, and that only a parent could grant such permission. In this case, tragically, those parents were themselves murdered.

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