Shani Louk’s ‘Picture of the Year’

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Shani Louk was a 22-year-old German-Israeli citizen. She attended the Nova music festival on that fateful weekend last October and was murdered by Hamas terrorists simply because she was there.

Several weeks ago, a group of photographers from the Associated Press was awarded first prize in a Pictures of the Year competition for 20 photos they submitted of the Israel-Hamas war. The featured photograph of the submission is of Louk, lying face down in the back of an open truck bed, partly naked, being driven through the streets of Gaza. Louk’s body is surrounded by men in the truck who are holding machine guns and grenade launchers. One of the men draped his leg over Louk’s body while another looked straight into the camera and triumphantly pointed at Louk.

We are disgusted by the picture. We wonder what sort of award the AP photographers deserve for recording part of the aftermath of Hamas terror gone mad, the victimization and murder of an innocent concertgoer and the incomprehensible celebration of her death by a blood-thirsty crowd. And, we wonder, what were the AP photographers doing there?


The Louk picture is not photojournalism. The Louk picture is not war journalism. The Louk picture embraced by AP and the competition’s sponsors is nothing more than the celebration of terrorist activity and aggrandizement of Hamas. The photograph records and promotes the bloody, triumphant return of Cossacks from a murderous rampage with one of the lifeless trophies they plan to further desecrate by parading her body through the cheering streets of Gaza.

If at all, the photo should have been submitted in either a war crime photography contest or to the coroner’s office as evidence of a crime. Under no circumstance can the Louk photograph possibly be associated with war reporting of any kind — as photojournalism, or otherwise. It is certainly not the “Team Picture Story of the Year.”

Tragically, the inhumanity of Louk’s murder and the gratuitous desecration of her lifeless body captured in the photograph seems to have infected the award team and scrambled reporting of what happened. The caption to the tragic picture of Shani Louk on the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute’s website implies that the marauding Hamas terrorists who are featured in the picture killed Louk in response to the massive Israeli bombing in Gaza — jumbling the order of events. But who cares about the facts when you have a winning picture?

Sadly, the storyline comes as no surprise. Of the 20 photographs that make up the AP award package, only five relate to Israel and Israeli suffering on Oct. 7 and beyond. The 15 remaining photographs record the suffering and destruction in Gaza and the victimization of Palestinian innocents resulting from Israel’s war on Hamas.

We have no question that there is a story to be told. But the story is not one-sided. And the story that is told must not embrace the dehumanization of murdered innocents or promote the blood-soaked, terror-motivated barbarians who torture, rape, mutilate and desecrate the innocent people upon whom they prey.

Shani Louk, of blessed memory, deserved better.

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