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September 14, 2023 10:28 am

The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict According to The Associated Press

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avatar by Rinat Harash


Illustrative: Israeli police at the scene of a terror attack in Tel Aviv. Photo: Reuters/Amir Cohen

Sometimes, anti-Israel bias in the media runs so deep that it necessitates a surgical exposure of the underlying twisted assumptions that fuel it. Unfortunately, the distorted patterns of thought emerging from the Associated Press (AP)’s recent coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict merit such scrutiny.

These patterns fall under the general framing of the victim (Palestinians) vs. aggressor (Israel), which can also be seen through the rather infantile categories of those who are idealized vs. those who are demonized.

The idealization category includes the basic premise that Palestinians can’t be held responsible for any evil or violence, while the demonization category is based on the belief that Israel is a foreign element in their territory and therefore carries most of the blame in the conflict.

Here are just a few examples showing how AP systematically twists the facts to match those premises.

Palestinians not held responsible

When Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas recently justified the mass extermination of Jews during the Holocaust, various officials and media outlets had no issue seeing his remarks for what they really were: gross antisemitism.

Yet the AP absolved him with the following headline, suggesting he was merely (or even wrongfully) “accused” of such despicable rhetoric:

Consciously or not, the journalist/editor who came up with this distortion couldn’t hold Palestinians responsible for any wrongdoing.

It’s even more blatant when it comes to the reporting of actual bloodshed.

In the following example of a report on an Israeli army raid, idealization and demonization join hands.

The AP cannot properly answer the five W’s of journalism (who, what, when, where, and why), because when it comes to Palestinians, the “who” is obscured: The headline doesn’t say that the Israeli forces killed Palestinian gunmen who fired at them. However, in a later version (which failed to correct the headline), the AP easily identified a Jewish settler as responsible for “a shooting death” (in a completely separate incident):

The obscuring of Palestinian perpetrators also takes the form of hiding them behind inanimate objects which mysteriously develop violent tendencies. Here, “A West Bank Bomb” hurts Israelis and nowhere does it say that an Israeli was stabbed:

Moral equivalence between perpetrators and victims is another trick:

At its worst, AP completely ignores Palestinian terrorists’ responsibility for four Gaza wars, blaming them on Israeli actions instead:

Demonization of Israel

How does a news outlet explain the description of an Israeli minister’s visit to Judaism’s holiest site as “storming the al-Aqsa Mosque”? What is behind the false portrayal of Israel as stealing the “natives’” drinking water?

How has a supposedly respectable wire service been reduced to parroting cheap Palestinian talking points?

The answer to all of this is AP’s underlying assumption that Israel is a foreign element that criminally infiltrated the territory, as this shocking paragraph shows:

But the problem is not the mere existence of underlying bias. All journalists (and humans) suffer from it to a certain degree and should strive to be aware of it.

The problem is that it seems like, for the AP, it has become a framework of skewed language and words that are imposed on reality.

The idealization or infantilization of “harmless” Palestinians, coupled with the demonization of “evil” Israel is a flawed perspective that should not infiltrate the reporting of any journalist, let alone a news agency whose words travel across the globe with the power to alter reality.

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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