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October 30, 2016

AFP's Error, Editorializing and Omissions

Mavi Marmara aid ship.jpg

Weapons recovered from the "Mavi Marmara," which AFP identified as an "aid ship" though it carried no aid (Photo from Israel Defense Forces)

Agence France Presse, an influential news service, ran two articles yesterday which between them contained a factual error, key omissions, and editorializing.

In a factual error, the first sentence of yesterday's article ("Gaza flotilla raid victims' kin vow legal battle against Israel") incorrectly characterized the "Mavi Marmara" as "a Gaza-bound aid ship."

The "Mavi Marmara" was not an “aid ship” at all. As documented in the UN’s Palmer Report (p. 47), it carried 546 passengers but no humanitarian aid supplies for the people of the Gaza Strip:

If the flotilla had been a purely humanitarian mission it is hard to see why so many passengers were embarked and with what purpose. Furthermore, the quality and value of many of the humanitarian goods on board the vessels is questionable. There were large quantities of humanitarian and construction supplies on board the Gazze 1, Eleftheri Mesogeio and Defne-Y. There were some foodstuffs and medical goods on board the Mavi Marmara, although it seems that these were intended for the voyage itself. Any “humanitarian supplies” were limited to foodstuffs and toys carried in passengers’ personal baggage. The same situation appears to be the case for two other of the vessels: the Sfendoni, and the Challenger I. There was little need to organize a flotilla of six ships to deliver humanitarian assistance if only three were required to carry the available humanitarian supplies. The number of journalists embarked on the ships gives further power to the conclusion that the flotilla’s primary purpose was to generate publicity.


Earlier this month CAMERA's BBC Watch prompted correction of the identical error, and CAMERA has contacted AFP to request that the wire service likewise correct.


Moreover, while "Mavi Marmara" passengers were not carrying aid, they were carrying weapons and they used these weapons to violently attack Israeli soldiers who boarded the ship, facts entirely ignored in the 633-word article.

In another serious omission, the article refers to "the Turkish Islamic Charity IHH that organised the flotilla." At no point does the article note the IHH's reported ties to the Turkish regime and terrorist organizations. The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center reported that IHH in Germany has been designated a terrorist group and that the United States also has examined the possibility of making a similar designation due the organization's "past support for global jihad," its involvement in the filed terrorist attack on Los Angeles International Airport in 2000, its extremists anti-Western and anti-Israeli Islamist character "and the support it gives to Hamas, which is designated as a terrorist organization by the United States."

A separate AFP article yesterday, about a Palestinian ramming attack ("Palestinian attacker shot by Israeli troops: army"), leaves out key information about Palestinian fatalities in the last year of Palestinian attacks. The article ends:

Since October last year, the violence has claimed the lives of 235 Palestinians, 36 Israelis, two Americans, a Jordanian, an Eritrean and a Sudanese, according to an AFP account.

The story leaves out the key information included in most other AFP stories (most recently, for example, on Oct. 26) that Israel identified most of those killed as assailants:

Most of the Palestinians killed were carrying out knife, gun or car-ramming attacks, according to Israeli authorities.

Others were shot dead during protests or clashes, while some were killed in Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip.

Finally, like several earlier AFP articles, this article uses the highly problematic formulation pitting "analysts" as a whole against Israel. About the causes of Palestinian violence, yesterday's article states:

Analysts say Palestinian frustration with the Israeli occupation and settlements-building in the West Bank, comatose peace efforts and their own fractured leadership have fed the violence.

Israel says incitement by Palestinian leaders and media is a leading cause.

As CAMERA's Gilead Ini documented, it isn't only Israel that describes Palestinian incitement as a problem. Plenty of analysts do, too, as does the Quartet, John Kerry, and countless others.

That's a lot of bad reporting for one Saturday from the wire service who employs as a reporter Nasser Abu Baker, the chairmen of the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate, the leading force for the boycott of Israeli journalists and media.

Posted by TS at October 30, 2016 06:47 AM

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