Scarf versus Disappeared - Media Double Standards - updated 5/9/2011

Sheila Musaji

Posted May 9, 2011      •Permalink      • Printer-Friendly Version
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Scarf versus Disappeared - Media Double Standards

by Sheila Musaji

A few months ago BBC carried a story (including before and after photos) about two ultra-Orthodox Jewish newspapers altering a photo of Israel’s new cabinet, removing two female ministers. BBC notes the event but with no emotion. 

Middle East Online noted: “During the election, campaign posters featuring female candidate Tzipi Livni were defaced near ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods.”  

Press TV included the following in their story about the incident:  “The ultra-orthodox community which accounts for an estimated 8 to 15 per cent of Israel’s population, are known for their strict interpretation of the Jewish faith.  In 2007, a committee of rabbis formulating the education policy in the ultra-Orthodox community banned females from going to school.” 

It is curious that this and other incidents of religious extremism in the Jewish community are not a big issue in the mainstream media.  If this incident had involved Muslims instead of Jews there would have been hundreds or even thousands of stories discussing radicalism and fanaticism among Muslims.  The far right blogsphere would have buzzing with righteous indignation about this affront to women.

Back in 2005 when CAIR doctored a photo by adding a scarf to a woman in the photo,  Robert Spencer called it “Stalinism”.  I have to wonder what it is called when a woman is disappeared from a photo rather than simply adding a scarf?

UPDATE 5/9/2011

Today, an article was published on the Huffington Post Hillary Clinton Removed From Situation Room Photo By Der Tzitung, Hasidic Newspaper which reported that

A Brooklyn-based Hasidic newspaper removed Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and another woman from the now-iconic photo of the Obama national security team watching the raid that killed Osama bin Laden from the White House Situation Room.

The original photo, taken as the raid was occurring, famously shows Clinton in the center of the room, with her hand over her mouth. But the newspaper Der Tzitung, described by the Jewish Week as “ultra-Orthodox,” has a policy of never printing photos of women in its pages because it thinks they could be sexually suggestive. Thus, Clinton and counterterrorism director Audrey Tomason, who was seen standing at the back of the room, were removed from the picture.

The blogger Failed Messiah was the first to notice the Photoshopping.

UPDATE: Der Tzitung sent a statement to the press, apologizing for altering the photo—which the White House had forbidden news outlets from doing—and explaining why they had removed Clinton and Tomason.

“In accord with our religious beliefs, we do not publish photos of women, which in no way relegates them to a lower status,” the statement said in part. “... Because of laws of modesty, we are not allowed to publish pictures of women, and we regret if this gives an impression of disparaging to women, which is certainly never our intention. We apologize if this was seen as offensive.” Read the full statement here.

The article includes a number of links and photographs.

Originally published 7/26/2009