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October 26, 2022 10:58 am
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Associated Press’ Toothless Response to Photojournalist Who Called Zionists ‘Filthy Pigs’

avatar by Rachel O'Donoghue

Opinion

Israeli firefighters work around burnt bus and car, after they were hit by a rocket fired by the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas from Gaza towards Israel amid the escalating flare-up of Israeli-Palestinian violence.

On May 10. 2021, Hamas sparked a short — yet deadly — war with Israel when it fired a barrage of rockets at Jerusalem following weeks of unrest, under the pretense that the Palestinian terror group was somehow “defending” the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

The conflict, which saw Israel unleash defensive airstrikes on terrorist infrastructure in the Gaza Strip, lasted just 11 days before a ceasefire was brokered with the help of mediators from Egypt, the United States, and Qatar.

A total of 13 people were killed in Israel, with at least 248 Palestinians left dead in Gaza.

One week into the war — and when most of the world’s attention was focused on the countless rocket attacks emanating from the Strip — a short exposé about an Egyptian photojournalist working for the Associated Press was published by right-wing American news outlet Breitbart.

For obvious reasons, in light of the more significant news dominating the headlines at the time, the story about Mosa’ab Elshamy went largely unnoticed as media watchdogs like HonestReporting focused on countering the deluge of misinformation that was published by the mainstream international media throughout the conflict (see here, here, and here).

Elshamy, who works for the AP’s Morocco desk, has posted numerous antisemitic tweets over the years, such as one in which he labeled Zionists “filthy pigs.”

Other bigoted social media ramblings from Elshamy that were uncovered included:

  • In November 2010, he tweeted to a since-deleted account that, “the filthy pigs theory was, surprise surprise, a joke as well 🙂 I think it should only be applied to Zionists (and their women).”
  • In 2011, he slammed Jewish children and their families in two separate tweets that made light of the Holocaust, with one asserting that Jews play “the holocaust card” to “distract you from the slaughter [they] commit daily.”
  • Later in 2011, he invoked ancient, antisemitic blood libels when he responded to a tweet that asked what Twitter users would ask an Israeli soldier, claiming he would ask, “How many babies do you eat for breakfast?”
  • In 2011, he falsely accused Israel of upholding a system of apartheid and claimed he had burned Israeli flags on numerous occasions.

When the disturbing messages posted by Elshamy — whose images have been seen in TIME Magazine, The New York Times, and Rolling Stone — were brought to the AP’s attention, the agency responded by saying that it was “unaware of such tweets,” and said it had immediately taken steps to ensure they would be deleted.

“The tweets do not reflect the views of the AP, which strives to cover the Israeli-Palestinian conflict fairly and factually,” the wire service added.

The Associated Press also acknowledged its own strict set of social media guidelines that its journalists are required to follow — rules, it was apparent, that Elshamy had flagrantly broken during his antisemitic diatribe.

The AP’s rather muted response to such serious charges against Elshamy seems all the more inadequate today in light of how other news organizations have reacted to similar revelations about their own staff and contributors.

This month, for example, the Thomson Reuters Foundation (TRF), which is the charitable arm of Reuters, rescinded an award that had been conferred upon Palestinian journalist Shatha Hammad after HonestReporting discovered numerous tweets praising Hitler and expressing support for the genocide of Jews.

Both the TRF and the Kurt Schork Memorial Fund, which had chosen Hammad as the recipient of the 2022 Local Reporter Award, sprang into action immediately following the worrying revelations, and released a joint statement confirming robust action had been taken.

In August, the New York Times, VICE News, the BBC, The Guardian, SBS Australia, and ABC News Australia all severed ties with a Palestinian freelancer and fixer, Fady Hanona, after HonestReporting put a spotlight on his horrifying social media history that included describing Jews as the “sons of dogs” and calling for killing every “Jew, Israeli or Zionist, or anyone else who speaks Hebrew.”

In September, we also revealed how two other freelancers working for the New York Times, Soliman Hijjy and Hosam Salem, had lauded Hitler and Palestinian terrorism in multiple chilling Facebook posts.

The fact is, compared to competitor news outlets that found themselves in similar positions, the AP’s response to Elshamy’s social media posts was insufficient. It appears that nothing– barring asking him to delete the offending tweets — was done in the way of disciplinary action.

We have since reached out to AP to ask why this was — why did the AP not distance itself further from Elshamy’s antisemitism, and did the agency not think any further measures should be taken against him?

For the sake of credibility, it is critical that AP answers these questions.

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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