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June 18, 2015 2:54 pm

Watchdog Slams AFP for ‘Completely Unreasonable’ Report on Death of Palestinian Firebomber

avatar by Shiryn Solny

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Arab teen aims slingshot at Israeli security forces in Jerusalem clash (illustration, photo: Dave Bender)

A Palestinian in the West Bank was killed by the IDF after throwing Molotov cocktails at Israeli soldiers. Photo: Dave Bender.

The famed Agence France-Presse (AFP) news agency distorted its coverage over the weekend in an attempt to portray Israeli soldiers as deliberately attacking a West Bank Palestinian, a media watchdog group told The Algemeiner on Wednesday.

AFP ran the contested story on June 14 under the headline “Israel Army Kills West Bank Palestinian.” The article began saying that Israeli soldiers killed a Palestinian man “in the occupied West Bank” by hitting him with their jeep. Only in the third paragraph is it explained, in a single sentence, that the Palestinian died after he threw a Molotov cocktail at the vehicle. The driver attempted to steer away from the ambush but the vehicle overturned onto the attacker.

Failing to mention a vital piece of information early on in the report is AFP’s attempt to highlight “notions of Israeli wrongdoing” and also minimize the role Palestinians play in their own suffering, Dexter Van Zile, a media analyst at the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), told The Algemeiner.

“What happens is that people omit what happened before the Israelis act,” he explained, “and in this instance it was clearly an instance of – do they honestly think the driver of the truck put his own life at risk by intentionally flipping an armored car over onto a Palestinian? Because that’s what the narrative seems to indicate and that’s just completely unreasonable.”

Van Zile has visited the West Bank and witnessed firsthand the confrontation between Jews and Palestinians. He told The Algemeiner he has seen peace activists and journalists focus all their attention on the Israelis, trying to get pictures of “Jews behaving badly.”

“And if AFP has to distort the story in order to provide their readership with that narrative that’s what it will do,” he continued.

Van Zile also faulted the way the perspective of the narrative changes so quickly in media coverage of Israeli-Palestinian confrontations. He said the media tends to “lionize” young Palestinians as heroes for standing up against Israeli soldiers and putting their lives at risk. However, the moment the young men are killed in a confrontation – either as a result of rock throwing or fire bombs – Van Zile said, “then all of the sudden the responsibility shifts immediately away from the young Palestinian men to the Israeli soldiers.”

“Just a few moments before, that Palestinian who is risking his life [is] being lionized for risking his life for a very unjust cause, and when the Israelis defend themselves and Palestinians die, then immediately the responsibility goes 100 percent on the shoulders of the Israeli soldiers.”

The AFP did not respond to The Algemeiner‘s request for a comment.

CAMERA has previously admonished AFP for falsely accusing Israel of wrongdoing. The news outlet was caught misreporting in February after it published a news report and video claiming that Israel deliberately flooded Gaza by opening dams. AFP pulled the story after CAMERA exposed that no such dams exist in the Gaza vicinity.

More recently, CAMERA prompted the AFP to correct an article which claimed that 17 “journalists” were killed covering the Israel-Hamas war last summer. The figure was claimed by Palestinians but disputed by the Israeli Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, which argued that eight of the 17 were Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror operatives, or worked for Hamas or Islamic Jihad media outfits.

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  • Kris Kristian

    This is typical of the newspaper reportinng
    One newspaper printed a headline’ ISRAELI POLICE SHOOT AND KILL PALESTINIAN DRIVER”
    So, how many people read the story. THE HEADING SAYS IT ALL.
    I wrote to the newspaper, complaining about this type of hate reporting
    Obviosly, they never reeplied.
    This week, I sent the article with the photos and names of the international Generals, who said that the IDF went out of their way, to avoid civilian deaths etc and blaimed Hamas
    for the deaths and destruction.
    I mentioned to the reporter that unless he prints this article, people will still blame the IDF for all the deaths etc.
    He repused to print this article, as THEY DO NOT PRINT THIRD HAND NEWS.
    Just this week, there was a letter in this newspaper, written by a Muslims, who wrote of Netanyahu’s massacre of civilians in the Gaza Ghetto and the intentional destruction of it’s civilian buildings, school, roads, hospita,, businesses, water. sanitation and electricity infrastructure under the “guise of Hamas hiding behind civilians” causing huge collective punishement.
    What was worse, is that the announcer of that radio station blamed Bush, Blair and Netanyahu. and said that he would like to see these men appear before the ICC.

    had the newspaper written and shown the photos and names of the generals, these people would never have written this rubbish nor phoned into the local rado station.
    So, what’s mew??

    That is what sells newspapers, and get more people to tune into the radio station.

  • Thank you, Mr van Zile!

  • Abbushuki

    IDF should have a media team specializing in dealing with their photography scrum. They are the unrestricted source of defamation. A set of rules need to apply to them with enforcement: deportation of foreign violators, confiscation of equipment of Arab photographers, arrests as needed. They should be ordered to leave the area or be subject to being physically disabled.
    Note no one heard s peep about Hamas restrictions on Gaza. So the world will hear that Israel is fighting back at photo warfare. It’s better than losing that war. Any news agency that refuses to obey IDF orders should be banned from entering Israel. That should make it even easier to restrain them. Every photographer on site needs to present credentials or be disabled if necessary and arrested. Israel needs a policy!

    • Tom Wood

      Don’t sink to the level of Hamas, Israel has a principal of free press. By restricting that it would give a victory to the people who preach hate.

  • Jacques Bertrand

    Another example of blatant Jew hatred in France. The pitiful thing is that I have not heard of any sanctions against the bigotted news staff who produced this piece of propaganda. Is this the way France buys “peace” at home ? Is this France’s reaction to Charlie Hebdo ?

  • HaroldT

    We hear the pious words of French ministers, but in deeds we see the blatant anti-Semitism of AFP, French TV, Euronews TV , The Louver, etc. etc.

  • Joe

    Someone in France must take the lead and sue the AFP – agency of french pigs bigtime. Put them out of business !

  • dante

    when people wonder why european opinion is so relentlessly, so ridiculously, so idiotically hostile to Israel and obsessed with Israel, the answer can be found, in significant part, in coverage by the propagandists of afp, bbc, etc.

    there is a point at which people credentialed as journalists engage in conduct which is so incompatible with anything that can be called journalism that they should be deported. criticism, even unfair criticism, is one thing. deliberate falsification fabricated as an act of aggression against the People and the State, is something else. these reporters, the propagandists, should be detained, driven directly to the airport, and put on the next outbound flight. they can make arrangements, from abroad, to have their personal effects collected. they are enemies of Israel and the Jews should treat them as such.

  • howiej

    This illustration you used takes away from the thrust of your article Why show a picture of a youth using a sling shot when you should have used a file photo of a Palestinian Arab throwing a fire bomb? The story was about someone who died after throwing a Molotov Cocktail (fire bomb) not using a sling shot.

  • Hillel

    I don’t understand the outrage. why do so many of we Jews think that the rest of the world actually thinks that we have a right to defend ourselves. Imagine what would have happened if we fought back instead of walking into the gas chambers without resistance. Perhaps the allies would have taken even longer than they already had taken to open the second front and take Hitler down. So now they aid and abet the Muslim hoardes to eradicate the, to quote their god Adolf Hitler, “die schmutziger juden”. How about we all start saying it like it is.

    • Gilman Tobin

      Thank you. One Israel.

  • I guess AFP could stand for “Always Favoring Palestinians.”