Friday, September 4, 2015

AFP, the war against Israel—and anger

The French news service, AFP, has a history of reporting its news with an anti-Israel bias (Tamar Sternthal, “AFP Lies, Dam Lies and Floods”, CAMERA, February 23, 2015). Sometimes, that bias is ridiculous. Sometimes, it’s an exercise in how AFP manipulates facts to demonize Israel or to whitewash Arab terror. Always, it’s unprofessional. Always, it’s racist.

If you’re a day-labourer, being biased against Israel will hardly ever get you into trouble.  You’re a private citizen. Your ability to influence tens of thousands of people is probably limited.

But if you’re a national news service, you do influence tens of thousands. Your words and pictures influence how people feel about Jews and about Israel. Your words and pictures can bring peace—or war.

If you want to be a big-league news provider, you should be professional, not a war-monger: you should check facts. You should make sure your reports are accurate. You should give both sides of a story a chance to be heard.

When it comes to Israel, however, AFP does none of that.

Two 2015 AFP reports illustrate this point. One report, subsequently pulled, occurred in February, 2015. The other report occurred September 3, 2015. It hasn’t been pulled or amended--at least not yet.

The first report, dated February, 2015, showed a picture of what looked like a flooded Arab street. The title of this story/video was, “Gaza village floods after Israel opens dam gates". The story suggested that Israel was brutalizing Gazan citizens by purposely opening up dam flood gates in near-by southern Israel, allowing waters to flood defenceless Gazans.

The story published quoted Gazan authorities and local Gazan residents stating that Israel “had opened the sluice gates of a dam”, causing the floods (“AFP Sets Record Straight on Gaza Flooding”, CAMERA, March 1, 2015). No Israelis were quoted.

All one read were the accusations. All one saw were the floodwaters in an Arab village.

There was just one problem with this story. It was completely false. It was false for a simple reason: there are no dams in southern Israel that have moveable, controllable flood-gates. Israel couldn’t have deliberately caused the flooded streets.

While AFP has not always corrected such errors, the outcry this story created prompted AFP to act. First, a week after the original report, AFP published a commentary about that report. It acknowledged that “no such dam exists in Israel that could control the flow of water into Gaza” (ibid).

The second action AFP took was, it removed the video from (most of) the internet.

The second AFP report reveals how it manipulates its news presentation to whitewash Arab terror. This report was about an Arab attack against Jews (“Palestinians attack US tourists mistaken as settlers”, AFP, September 3, 2015).

The facts of the incident include this information: five Jewish American students visiting Israel drove into Hevron seeking to pray at the Cave of the Patriarchs, which is a major Jewish destination point in Israel for many religious Jews. The boys used a GPS system to find their way (Gil Ronen, “IDF Rescues US Jews from Arab Lynch Mob in Hevron”, Arutz Sheva, September 3, 2015).

The GPS system took them into an Arab section of Hevron. There, they were immediately recognized as Jews. Arabs attacked the boys’ car with stones. Arabs hurled firebombs at the car. The car was set alight.

Arabs surrounded the car. They shouted, “Jew! Jew! Jew!” (Gil Ronen, “'They Screamed Jew, Jew, Jew!'”, Arutz Sheva, September 3, 2015).

The AFP story gave this incident its pro-Arab slant by not reporting the Jew-hate content of the attack. The AFP story didn’t report the shouts of ‘Jew! Jew! Jew!’ That might have suggested that Arabs might not attack Jews because of their passionate desire for their ‘freedom’ from Israeli oppression’; they might attack Jews because of an intensely passionate Jew-hate, something AFP apparently doesn’t you want to see.

The only thing the AFP story reported was that the Arab attackers had ‘mistakenly’ thought the American students were ‘settlers’ (“Palestinians attack US tourists mistaken as settlers”, ibid).

But there was no mistake. The attackers knew exactly who these five boys were: they were Jews.

That’s probably why the attackers screamed, ‘Jew! Jew! Jew!’ That’s probably why they had attacked the car in the first place.

The AFP story doesn’t mention that. Instead, it sanitizes an Arab terror attack by changing a deliberate attack in to a ‘mistaken’ attack.

There are a growing number of anti-Jewish terror attacks in Israel. Because of those attacks, there’s an anger growing in Jewish Israel (Gil Ronen, “'There Will Be Blood in the Streets'”, Arutz Sheva, September 4, 2015). It’s an anger aimed at those who would demonize us. It’s an anger aimed at those who would terrorize us. It’s an anger aimed at those who would sanitize the daily terror attacks we see.

That anger begins, albeit slowly, to unite us. We need that unity. Our Redemption depends upon it.

Stay tuned. This Israel story isn’t over.


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