A fake “screenshot” of The Times of Israel’s homepage made social media rounds over the weekend, purportedly showing a report of Israel’s airstrikes on the Gaza Strip being screened on a Tel Aviv beach.
But as most savvy news consumers already know, that screenshot was a doctored photo and the only thing Tel Aviv beachgoers are watching are sand, waves and the occasional Iron Dome interception overhead after Hamas shoots rockets at the city.
The headline on the supposed screenshot, dating from Thursday, July 17, reads “Tel-Aviv municipality to install giant screens on beach to watch IDF offensive in live.” The picture and text are reminiscent of controversial (and real) photos of Sderot residents sitting on a hilltop to watch the Israeli Air Force conduct air raids on the Strip.
The underline of the “story” reads: “Finally, IDF supporters will have the opportunity to enjoy their favorite game in an ideal environment. Hundreds of thousands of fans are expected to gather on the beach tonight and enjoy the warm summer evening while counting the F-16 strikes on the nearby coastal city of Gaza.”
The image accompanying the story shows two people sitting in beach chairs, purportedly in Tel Aviv, looking at a large television screen that shows a bombing.
The photo of the bombing can also be seen on the right-hand side of the “screenshot” — the “Current Top Stories” section of the Times of Israel’s homepage.
The photo is doctored; the shot of the bombing was photoshopped onto the screen.
The original photo was actually taken over a month ago, on June 16, 2014 — not in Tel Aviv, but in Brazil. The shot, taken by Associated Press photographer Wong Maye-E, depicts two men relaxing between games in front of a blank screen erected on the Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro for fans to watch live broadcasts of the World Cup.
The fake screenshot supposedly taken from The Times of Israel was first posted on Thursday, July 17. It was uploaded to Twitter by user @boun0479, who identifies himself as Nicolas Bousserez, an atmospheric scientist and musician from Boulder, Colorado, and retweeted — at the time of writing — 267 times.
Bousserez’s doctored photo was likely meant as a parody on a photo uploaded to Twitter on July 9 by Danish journalist Allan Sorensen. Dubbed “Sderot cinema” by Sorenson, the photo showed Israeli citizens in Sderot sitting on beach chairs while viewing IDF strikes on the Gaza Strip.
Sorensen’s tweet caused a media stir, as it seemed to portray Israelis as eager to watch violence against residents of the Gaza Strip. Bousserez most likely intended to drive the message home, and at least one source — Mondoweiss columnist Steven Salata, at whom Bousserez tweeted the doctored image — confirmed that it was “more of Nicholas’s brilliant satire.”
Bousserez himself then wrote, “I’m afraid reality will soon outdo the satire my friend. Harder and harder to be creative,” indicating that the image was indeed meant to be satirical.
— Nico (@boun0479) July 17, 2014
But, like scores of other images that were passed off as being from Israel or Gaza since the start of Operation Protective Edge, but were actually found to have been taken elsewhere, this photo, too, was perceived by some as genuine.
Even as Bousserez indicated that the photo was his satirical take on the confrontation, Twitter users kept commenting on the photo as if it were genuine. “They just keep outdoing themselves… I mean what could possibly be next,” wrote one user, while an Israeli user tried to set the record straight: “There are no such screens, and no such plans.” A third wrote, “Great, a perfect example of War Porn in action.”
This is not the first time Bousserez has used images to express criticism of Israel and Zionism. Less than two hours before he posted the Times of Israel “screenshot,” he uploaded a photo of Austro-Hungarian journalist Theodor Herzl, largely considered the father of modern political Zionism, “giving birth” to Adolf Hitler.
The caption read, “Gestation at term for #Zionism.” On Friday, he tweeted the image again, this time with the caption “Hertzl’s descendant.”
— Nico (@boun0479) July 17, 2014