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June 22, 2005

AFP Spins Jerusalem Summit

Ostensibly a news report, a July 22 Agence France Presse story out of Ramallah dispenses more opinion than fact. The article gets of to a poor start:

Abbas seeks international help after Sharon brush-off

Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas tried to rally international support after coming away with no tangible results from a humiliating summit with Israel's Ariel Sharon, who lectured him at length over militant violence.

Already in the title and opening paragraph, readers are bombarded with anti-Sharon opinion.

The summit was closed to the press, so the AFP reporter (there is no byline) could not know for a fact that Sharon "lectured Abbas at length" — yet this is reported as fact. Nor did the reporter have any firsthand observations on which to base his/her opinion that the summit was "humiliating" for Abbas. Similarly, the headline writer, like the reporter, has nothing but post-summit Palestinian spin on which to base the opinion that Sharon "brushed off" Abbas.

The denunciation continues, with the journalist claiming "The Palestinians ... found Sharon in no mood for concessions." Sharon is described has having a "hardline attitude," while Abbas is dubbed a "moderate."

Then this:

The Israeli press concluded that the former general had undermined the moderate Abbas.

"He pounded on the table, reprimanded, explained matters to Abu Mazen like a division commander talking to a young company commander at the conclusion of a failed battalion exercise," said the Maariv daily.

With one quote from Maariv, the AFP reporter paints the entire Israeli press as castigating Sharon. But the quote doesn't show Sharon "undermining" Abbas, but rather criticizing him, harshly maybe, for his "failed ... exercise" — his failure to stop anti-Israel terror.

The AFP reporter's bizarre interpretation notwithstanding, he/she apparently wasn't interested in other comments from the Israeli press. For example, from a Jerusalem Post analysis:

While both leaders walked away disappointed, it was Abbas's failures that stood out ...

Sharon . . . is willing to go a long way to help Abbas ...

Sharon dangled both a carrot and a stick in front of him on Tuesday.

He promised to give Abbas many of the things he asked for, including an airport, one of the necessary lifelines for a viable economy.

Posted by GI at June 22, 2005 11:35 PM