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May 5, 2022 10:48 am

AP Misrepresents Tel Aviv University Report to Blame Israel for Global Antisemitism Rise

avatar by Rachel O'Donoghue


Tel Aviv University researchers. Photo: TAU.

Tel Aviv University published a report last month examining the global rise in antisemitism in 2021.

Released on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day, the report revealed that there had been a sharp increase in antisemitism affecting Jewish communities outside of Israel in 2021.

Specifically, the report linked the escalation of anti-Jewish bigotry to the rise in some countries of the “radical populist right and the anti-Zionist radical left” and COVID-19 conspiracy theories.

In addition, it states:

The conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza in May 2021 saw a particularly sharp rise in antisemitic incidents. The conflict exposed an unacceptable reality — when Israel defends itself from rocket attacks against civilian targets, Jews across the world become the target of incitement and hate crimes.

Yet, when the Associated Press (AP) published an article on the report, this was the headline: “Researchers: COVID-19, Israel-Gaza war fueled antisemitism.”

No, AP, the coronavirus pandemic did not fuel antisemitism: COVID-19 conspiracy theories did.

Indeed, the report clearly states that the prominent pandemic-related conspiracy was that “Jews — and Israeli Jews specifically — had engineered the virus and spread it around the world with a clear sinister goal: to be the first to find a cure, sell it to the ailing world, and become rich.”

The AP, however, completely ignores this point.

Instead, the article opens with the following paragraph:

The coronavirus pandemic and Israel’s overwhelming force during the Gaza war helped fuel a worldwide spike in antisemitism last year, Israeli researchers reported on Wednesday.” [Emphasis added]

At no point did Tel Aviv University researchers allude to or use the term “overwhelming force” in reference to Israel. Rather, the report is clear that there is an “unacceptable reality” whereby Israel cannot defend itself “from rocket attacks against civilian targets” without Jews around the world becoming the target of hate crimes.

This AP piece is thus a classic example of editorializing taking place within a news story, misrepresenting the core finding of the report it is covering as a result.

As such, the increased rates of antisemitism are tacitly blamed on Israeli actions.

The AP then continues to opine, noting the Israel-Hamas conflict saw “intense Israeli airstrikes” that resulted in “heavy damage in Gaza and drew international concern and condemnation.”

The above quotes are problematic, because they deny AP readers crucial context: no reference to the thousands of Hamas rockets that were fired at Israel, and no mention of the international condemnation of the Gaza-based Palestinian groups who committed the double war crime of targeting population centers while launching their attacks from such installations as hospitals, schools, and other civilian areas (see here, here, and here).

Instead, Israel is presented as an aggressive state whose bellicosity is inviting antisemitism.

Other key points from the Tel Aviv University report that the AP omitted from its coverage include:

  • How anti-Israel campaigners — specifically the “anti-Zionist radical left” — engage in antisemitism. Instead, the AP makes an oblique reference to “political extremism.”
  • How the signing of the Abraham Accords by Israel led to a proliferation of antisemitic conspiracy theories in the Arab world.

HonestReporting reached out to the Associated Press on April 28 to ask for the headline and body of the article to be amended so as to more accurately reflect the report’s key findings.

We received no reply. And sadly, that is par for the course.

The author is a contributor to HonestReporting, a Jerusalem-based media watchdog with a focus on antisemitism and anti-Israel bias — where a version of this article first appeared.

The opinions presented by Algemeiner bloggers are solely theirs and do not represent those of The Algemeiner, its publishers or editors. If you would like to share your views with a blog post on The Algemeiner, please be in touch through our Contact page.

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