Imagine if one of the world’s leading news publications in a headline referred to Washington DC merely as a ‘City on the Potomac River.’ Yet this is exactly what The Associated Press, a wire service with more than 1,300 clients, did in a piece titled Israeli president celebrates Hanukkah at West Bank site. Beyond diminishing the Jewish people’s historic connection to Hebron, AP also chose to ignore Hamas’ threat of violence against the city’s Jewish residents that was made following the announcement that President Isaac Herzog would be lighting the first candle of Hanukkah at the Tomb of the Patriarchs.
Instead of facts, AP’s report is structured as a series of unchallenged Palestinian victimhood narrative talking points.
AP buries Jewish link to Hebron
The Associated Press rather belatedly mentions, in the eighth paragraph of the November 28 piece written by Moshe Edri, that “the cave is believed to be the burial site of the Jewish and Muslim patriarch Abraham. It also is revered as the burial site of other Jewish patriarchs and matriarchs and is considered the second holiest site in Judaism.”
In AP’s estimation, the Jewish people’s ancient connection to Hebron is but an afterthought.
But research has shown that while eight out of 10 people will scan a headline, only two out of those eight will read the remainder of the text. Accordingly, the vast majority of AP readers are likely to have come away believing that Israel’s presence is little more than a provocation that has turned Hebron into one of the “most contentious spots in the occupied West Bank.”
Is AP covering for Hamas?
A reader unfamiliar with Hebron’s long, bloody history may also conclude that the sum total of violence perpetrated by Arabs against Jews was a single instance back in 1929:
There is frequent violence between the sides and the Cave of the Patriarchs, revered by Muslims and Jews, was the site of a massacre by a Jewish settler who killed 29 Muslim worshippers in 1994…Herzog made no mention of the 1994 massacre but paid homage to the more than 60 Jews killed by Palestinians in Hebron during riots in 1929, noting that a relative had survived the fighting.”
What AP fails to mention is that the 1994 massacre by a ‘Jewish settler’ was universally condemned by Israeli leaders at the time. In stark contrast, the many acts of terrorism against Jews living in Hebron, unreported in this piece, have been incessantly glorified by Palestinian leaders. Indeed, it was waves of Palestinian terrorism that led the Israeli government – in an attempt to salvage the Oslo Accords – to sign the Hebron Protocol, and redeploy Israeli military forces from the ancient city.
Despite such good faith efforts, Palestinian incitement continues. As recently as November 28, The US-designated terror group Hamas condemned the planned celebration at the Tomb of the Patriarchs, which it described as “a flagrant violation” and a “provocation.” Senior Hamas member Ismail Radwan said: “The Israeli occupation must bear full responsibility for the consequences of this attack,” adding: “We call on the masses of our people in the West Bank and our people in the city of Hebron to confront this provocative step and to confront the attack on the Ibrahimi Mosque.”
Yet, Israeli president celebrates Hanukkah at the West Bank site doesn’t even mention Hamas – not once.
AP mum on Breaking the Silence
While turning a blind eye to Hamas, The Associated Press cites Breaking The Silence as an authoritative source on the issue of Hebron:
Breaking the Silence, a group of former Israeli combat soldiers who oppose Israel’s West Bank occupation, accused Herzog of “giving an official seal of approval to this obscene reality and the people perpetuating it.”
In reality, Breaking the Silence is a highly controversial group, with a history of spreading false and misleading allegations against the Israel Defense Forces. Its tours are a notable source of misinformation regarding Hebron specifically, and the relationship between Israel and the Palestinians in general. Breaking the Silence is linked to groups that repeatedly glorify Palestinian rock-throwing attacks on Israelis, and that push blatantly antisemitic smears.
Related Reading: How Radical Fringe Groups Manipulate Westerners Against Israel
AP demonizes Hebron Jews
Having downplayed the precarious state of Jews living in Hebron, AP proceeds to engage in full-scale character assassination. The term ‘Palestinian’ is mentioned eight times in The Associated Press piece, without any modifiers. In comparison, ‘Jewish’ appears 10 times, in conjunction with such inflammatory adjectives as ‘ultranationalist,’ ‘hard line’ and ‘radical elements of Israeli society.’
Such a depiction of Hebron as an illegal outpost of renegade Jews is belied by the facts. The city was divided in accordance with an agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, whereby Israeli citizens – including Arab Israelis – can access only 20 percent of the city and not the other 80 percent.
And while AP quotes an Israeli ‘activist’ as saying that there is no freedom in Hebron, Palestinians are able to enter approximately 97 percent of the city. Only 3 percent is off-limits – due to the risk of terrorist attacks that have included shootings and sniper attacks – one of which saw a three-month-old baby targeted – as well as suicide bombings, rock-throwings, Molotov cocktail attacks, and knife assaults on Israeli soldiers stationed to protect Hebron’s small Jewish community.
Indeed, there’s nothing preventing Palestinians in Hebron from worshipping as they see fit. In 2017, the United Nations cultural organization declared the Cave of the Patriarchs as Palestinian.
By diminishing the Jewish connection to Hebron, and whitewashing a long history of Arab violence against the city’s Jewish community that continues until the present day, AP is perpetuating an anti-Israel narrative that denies the wire service’s readers the nuanced, balanced coverage on a complicated issue like the Israel-Palestinian conflict they deserve.
Besides this act of journalistic malfeasance, The Associated Press is helping facilitate – perhaps inadvertently – the normalization of Palestinian violence against Israeli citizens.
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