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July 06, 2017

AFP's Double Standard on Hebron Massacres: 1929 vs. 1994

Members of the Slonim family, murdered in the 1929 Hebron massacre

When it comes to two brutal massacres in Hebron, one in 1929 and the other in 1994, Agence France Presse coverage displays an egregious double standard.

Today's article, "Palestinians, Israelis square off on UNESCO vote on Hebron," fails to give even the most basic information about the 1929 massacre, stating only:

There had been a Jewish community there for decades earlier, but they were forced out by attacks in British mandatory Palestine.

AFP fails to note who carried out the attacks (local Arabs). It fails to note the outcome of the attack: 67 murdered Jews and 60 wounded. And it fails to note the nature of the attack: an enraged Arab mob wielding knives, axes and iron bars killed all of the Jewish students in the local yeshiva and the mob slaughtered a delegation of Jewish residents on their way to the police station. The mob also broke into the home of Rabbi Ya'akov Slonim, where Jews were seeking refuges, and murdered him, his family and all those sheltering there. Dutch-Canadian journalist Pierre Van Passen described the scene at Rabbi Slonim's house:

we found the twelve-foot-high ceiling splashed with blood. The rooms looked like a slaughterhouse . . . I intended to gather up the severed sexual organs and the cut-off women's breasts we had seen lying scattered over the floor and in the beds.

Regarding the 1994 Hebron massacre, on the other hand, AFP provides all of the critical information, identifying the perpetrator ("Israeli-American Baruch Goldstein"), the outcome ("killing 29") and the means "opened fire on Muslims praying at the site." AFP reports:

In 1994, Israeli-American Baruch Goldstein opened fire on Muslims praying at the site, killing 29, before being beaten to death by survivors.

Why does AFP fail to note how many Jews were killed in the 1929 massacre? Indeed, the article doesn't even indicate that there were any fatalities in the "attacks." Why does it fail to identify the perpetrators (Arabs from Hebron) and their means of murder (knives, axes and iron bars used to kill and mutilate), while the key facts do appear with respect to the 1994 massacre?

In addition, in a separate problem in the very same sentence, the AFP inaccurately reported that there had been a Jewish community in Hebron "for decades" before the 1929 "attacks." In fact, Jews had been living consistently in the city for centuries before the massacre. Jews who survived the murderous rampages of the Ottoman Turks in 1517 fled to Beirut, but returned to Hebron in 1533 and the Jewish presence in the city remained unbroken from that time until the 1929 massacre.

This post was updated on July 9 to note that Jews lived in Hebron for centuries prior to 1929, not decades, as AFP had reported.

July 9 Update: Subsequent Article Includes Key Info on 1929 Massacre

A July 7 AFP article ("What is the Hebron row?) included key information about the 1929 massacre that had been omitted from the July 6 article. The more recent article noted:

Jews had been living in Hebron decades before 1967 but were forced out after violent attacks by Palestinians during the British Mandate - the most violent of which saw 67 Jews killed in a 1929 massacre.

Notably, AFP uses the passive voice for the 1929 attacks ("violent attacks by Palestinians . . saw 67 Jews killed") versus the active voice in which Israeli-American Baruch Goldstein "opened fire . . .killing 29," but the very fact that the news agency included the information at all is a step forward.

Posted by TS at July 6, 2017 06:37 AM


AFP stands for Arab Fiction Press.
Good article about this.
Time to play "Spot the Bias!" - AFP edition (UPDATE: Video)
Time to play Spot the Bias, courtesy of AFP:
Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Posted by: Barry Meridian at July 8, 2017 02:15 AM

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