Iran’s Ahmadinejad could face 74 lashes over election ‘violation’ (& World Press Photo ‘faked’)

May 15, 2013

The “doctored” 2013 World Press Photo of the Year from Gaza. The WPP association has today released a statement standing by their photo, but in many ways they have to, since their whole reputation is at stake


* 4 year-old girl from Syria undergoes successful lifesaving open-heart surgery in Israel, following successful treatment of Iraqi infants also airlifted to Israel

* Tenured Columbia University Politics Professor: All the good Jews died in the Holocaust

* You couldn’t make it up: Iran appointed to chair U.N. disarmament conference

* 2013 World Press Photo of the Year (which was from Gaza) “was faked with Photoshop”


* You can comment on this dispatch here: Please also press “Like” on that page.



1. Headline of the week (or year)
2. A 4 year-old girl from Syria undergoes successful lifesaving heart surgery in Israel
3. “How the 2013 World Press Photo of the Year was faked with Photoshop”
4. Columbia University Professor: All the good Jews died in the Holocaust
5. “This is like putting Jack the Ripper in charge of a women’s shelter”
6. Lord Ahmed resigns from British Labour Party days before hearing over anti-Semitism allegations

[All notes below by Tom Gross]


Al Arabiya: Iran’s Ahmadinejad could face 74 lashes over election ‘violation’

Al Arabiya, a leading pan-Arab TV network, reports that after accompanying his former chief of staff to register for June’s Iranian presidential vote, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad may face punishment for breaking electoral rules.

On Sunday, the country’s electoral watchdog said Ahmadinejad may face a punishment of “74 lashes” for appearing to endorse Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie as an election candidate.

It seems that Ahmadinejad is trying to “do a Putin” and maintain influence by placing Mashaie in office, before later returning to the presidency himself.

Iranian electoral law forbids individuals from supporting candidates in an official capacity, although the Supreme leader hand picks candidates who are allowed to stand in the first place in the Islamic republic of Iran’s less than fully democratic election.

Observers say that they don’t believe Ahmadinejad would actually be lashed (though no doubt he will blame Israel if he is).



Doctors at Wolfson Medical Center in the Israeli town of Holon have saved the life of a four-year old Syrian refugee by performing successful open-heart surgery. She was operated on in Holon on Monday. The child, whose identity is not being released to keep the family safe from Syrian extremists, was airlifted to Israel with her parents from a Syrian refuge camp in Jordan last weekend. Israel has some of the world’s leading heart surgeons and her case required a complicated procedure.

The Israeli charity “Save a Child’s Heart,” founded by the late pediatric heart surgeon Dr. Amiram Cohen, has treated more than 3,000 children from 45 developing nations in Israel.

The charity, together with Holon hospital, performed the operation for free and the doctors and nurses waived fees, as they (and their colleagues at other Israeli hospitals) have done in numerous other cases when treating sick children from Gaza and elsewhere.

The Syrian girl’s mother told the Jerusalem Post that doctors in Syria discovered the girl’s heart condition when the child was six months old, but proper medical care was not available.

“We kept taking her to doctors but nothing could be done for her,” the mother said. “She couldn’t run and play like other children, and she was very sick most of the time.” The mother said after the operation that the doctors treated her family very well. At Wolfson, she met other patients and their families – many of them Palestinian and Arabic speaking – and her daughter is now recuperating in the children’s pediatric intensive care unit.


Tom Gross adds: Earlier this year, Iraqi Muslim extremists were furious when the media revealed that three Iraqi children, aged one, three and six, also underwent heart surgery at Wolfson Medical Center.

Holon hospital director-general Dr. Yitzhak Berkovich said that about 200 Iraqi children are treated in the hospital every year, but they try not to release the names of patients in order to protect their families from being attacked back home for daring to visit Israel.

As noted in previous dispatches on this list, Israeli army helicopters have on several occasions managed to pick up badly injured Syrian refugees who made it to the Syrian-Israeli border and have flown them to Israeli hospitals for treatment.



Several websites are reporting that the 2013 World Press Photo of the Year – a tear-provoking image of a father with his child in Gaza last year – was faked with Photoshop.

The World Press Photo of the Year is the largest and most prestigious press photography award.

For example, a leading photography and computer website, reported on Monday that:

“The World Press Photo association hasn’t yet stripped the photographer, Paul Hansen, of the title, but presumably it’s just a matter of time. … Hansen seemingly managed to trick a panel of experienced judges with his shooping skillz, and how a seasoned computer scientist spotted the fraudulent forgery from a mile off.

“The photo, dubbed Gaza Burial, was purportedly captured on November 20, 2012 by Paul Hansen. Hansen was in Gaza City when Israeli forces retaliated in response to Palestinian rocket fire. The photo shows two of the casualties of the Israeli attack, carried to their funeral by their uncles. Now, the event itself isn’t a fake — there are lots of other photos online that show the children being carried through the streets of Gaza — but the photo itself is almost certainly a composite of three different photos, with various regions spliced together from each of the images, and then further manipulation to illuminate the mourners’ faces.

“This revelation comes from Neal Krawetz, a forensic image analyst. There were two main stages to the analysis: First an interrogation of the JPEG’s XMP block, which details the file’s Photoshop save history, and then pixel-level error level analysis (ELA). To begin with, the XMP data shows that the original, base image was converted from Raw format and opened in Photoshop on November 20, 2012 (the same date that it was taken). Then, on January 4, 2013, the XMP block shows that a second Raw image was opened and added to the original. An hour later, a third image was spliced in. Finally, 30 minutes later the photo chimera was actually saved to disk. The January 4 date is interesting because it shows that the final photo was only edited a couple of weeks before the January 17 submission deadline, not soon after original photo was taken in Gaza — in other words, it was probably edited specifically for the contest…

“The final nail in the coffin is shadow analysis. At the time the photo was taken — 10:40 am, in the winter — the sun should be fairly low in the sky. The shadows on the left wall are consistent with a sun location that should cast deep, dark shadows on the mourners’ right sides — but, as you can see, those magical light rays seem to be at work again.”


Tom Gross adds: As I have documented in dispatches and columns for over a decade, the main international news agencies have regularly doctored photos to portray Israel in a bad light, just as many journalists at respected papers have made things up (although the situation has improved recently as journalists and photographers come under more scrutiny by the public).

However, unlike for example, the infamous Reuters photo in which bombing clouds over Beirut were added in 2006, or another photo where a child’s doll was placed near some rubble to falsely allege that Israel had bombed a pre-school, Hansen’s Gaza picture didn’t attempt to change the facts as such, but he manipulated the picture in order to make it appear much more dramatic and emotional.

Hansen has previously won multiple photography awards in his native Sweden.

Hansen and his supporters deny claims that the image was manipulated by him.



In his latest outrageous statement about Jews, Joseph Massad, who is a tenured Columbia University professor of politics, published a column yesterday on the website of Al Jazeera in which he claimed that the ‘good’ Jewish people who opposed the existence of Israel died in the Holocaust.

“The Nazi genocide … killed the majority of Jewish enemies of Zionism who died precisely because they refused to heed the Zionist call,” Massad wrote, before going on to accuse America of promoting “pro-Zionist Nazi policies.”

Atlantic writer Jeffrey Goldberg tweeted: “Congratulations, al Jazeera. You’ve just posted one of the most anti-Jewish screeds in recent memory.”

Massad has regularly espoused conspiracy theories about Jews and Nazis.

Columbia remains in some respects one of the world’s most controversial universities and has often been accused of providing a platform to anti-Semites, most infamously to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad shortly after he denied the Holocaust and threatened a new one.

For more on this, please see the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh items here:

* New York Times readers’ page: “Bravo, bravo, bravo, Columbia!”

And this dispatch:

* Deny Holocaust? Get welcomed by Columbia University


Some of Massad’s colleagues at Columbia, such as Professor Paul Appelbaum, the university’s Dollard Professor of Psychiatry, Medicine, and Law, yesterday attacked Massad’s “profound ignorance of history.”



Iran has been appointed to chair the United Nations’ most important disarmament negotiating forum during the panel’s May-June session, which opened on Monday in Geneva.

“This is like putting Jack the Ripper in charge of a women’s shelter,” said Hillel Neuer, who is the director of the Geneva-based group UN Watch (and a subscriber to this email list).

“Iran is an international outlaw state that illegally supplies rockets to Syria, Hizbullah, and Hamas, aiding and abetting mass murder and terrorism. To make this rogue regime head of world arms control is simply an outrage. Abusers of international norms should not be the public face of the UN.”

The U.S. announced it would now boycott the session as a result of Iran being awarded the chair.



The Labour legislator Lord Ahmed, who was made a peer by then Prime Minister Tony Blair in an effort to promote “moderate Muslims”, has resigned from the Labour Party days before he was due to face a hearing over allegations that he made anti-Semitic comments in a TV interview in Pakistan.

Ahmed was due to appear before Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee today to answer accusations that he blamed a Jewish conspiracy for his dangerous driving jail term.

As a result, he will not now go before the panel, but he will remain a member of Britain’s upper chamber of parliament, the House of Lords.

In March, The Times of London reported that Lord Ahmend blamed his 2009 prison sentence – for sending text messages shortly before his car was involved in a fatal crash in which he killed a young Slovak man – on pressure placed on the courts by Jews “who own newspapers and TV channels.”

The Muslim peer allegedly told an Urdu-language broadcaster in Pakistan that the judge (who was not Jewish) who jailed him for 12 weeks was under the control of “the Jews.”

After the Times broke the story, a Jewish journalist at the Times (who had not been the author of the Times’ story) was sent what has been described as a “Jew-baiting tweet” by a journalist at The Guardian, angry with the Times for having reported on Lord Ahmed’s anti-Semitism.

For background on this, please see the second, third and fourth items in this dispatch:

Norway admits its aid went to Palestinian terrorists (& “Reward for Obama’s capture”)

And my 2011 article:

The Guardian’s readers’ editor acknowledges a degree of anti-Semitism among Guardian journalists.

[All notes above by Tom Gross]

All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.