Associated Press Linguistic Faux Pas Sanitizes Hamas-initiated Violence Against Israel

Reprinted from Honest Reporting.


Open any English-language newspaper in the world and chances are that a significant percentage of the articles included were actually produced by a wire service. That is why it is especially crucial for news outlets such as the Associated Press (AP) to use accurate terminology and provide crucial context in their stories.

Unfortunately, the AP’s reporting on the ongoing violence emanating from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip has been noticeably poor, with imprecise word choices misinforming readers about events on the ground.

For example, a recent AP article referred to Gazans launching incendiary balloons into Israel and hurling explosive devices at IDF troops protecting the shared border as “activists.” A tweet by HonestReporting drawing attention to the matter quickly spread online. The social media post garnered over 500,000 impressions and prompted a public conversation.

Multiple news organizations cited our work.

Despite the pushback, AP in a subsequent piece doubled down by describing as “activists” those perpetrating acts of volence. An August 29 article titled, “Gaza protesters clash with Israeli troops near the border,”  in the first sentence used the term in connection to the US-designated Hamas terrorist organization:

Hundreds of Hamas-backed activists on Saturday launched what they said was the first in a series of nighttime protests along the Israeli border, throwing explosives toward Israeli forces who responded with live fire.”

Again, HonestReporting called out to the egregious inclusion of what can reasonably be labeled as dystopian language.

Shortly thereafter, the AP on August 30 published, “Israeli policeman dies of gunshot wound from Gaza protest,” which appropriately described the killer of Barel Shmueli as a “gunman” rather than an “activist.”

Nevertheless, linguistic distortions persist. Generally speaking, people do not get shot in the head at point-blank range during “protests” or “demonstrations,” especially one “staged by Hamas” described thus:

“On Monday night, hundreds of Palestinians staged a demonstration along the border, burning tires and hurling rocks and explosives at Israeli troops.”

One could not be faulted for believing that using “riots” or “terrorism” would more aptly denote the chaos.

Meanwhile, inconsistency abound, with the AP apparently unaware that the year is not “1984.”

In “Israel approves steps to ease Gaza Strip blockade,” the wire service noted that “tensions have run high in recent weeks as Hamas activists have launched incendiary balloons into Israel.”

Once again those terrorist-sponsored violent “activists” are rearing their ugly heads.

Perhaps worse, the piece continues:

An Israeli soldier who was shot by a protester on Aug. 21 died of his wounds on Monday.”

Indeed, the Palestinian in a prior AP article referred to as a “gunman” is magically transformed into a “protester.” This, despite reports the Israeli officer, Shmueli, was reportedly murdered by a Hamas lieutenant.

The AP inform millions of people about international events and therefore helps set the tone of global coverage.

It is thus vital that the outlet use accurate terminology so as to not obfuscate facts.

HonestReporting has contacted AP Jerusalem bureau chief Josef Federman to seek clarity on the matter, and encourages readers to — politely but firmly — do the same.

Photo by Fatima Shbair/Getty Images



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