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« Arafat talks to the Brits | Main | Primal simplicity »

Thursday, October 14 2004

AFP's Compounded Error

HonestReporting just released a new communique: 'AFP's Compounded Error'

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Please use the comments section below for discussion of this communique.

UPDATE: In apparent response to the HonestReporting communique, AFP issued this 'official statement' at 1533 GMT on Oct. 14 (two hours after the communique was released):


'Israel's Gaza offensive shows no sign of let-up after two deadly weeks'

ATTENTION - CORRECTION in our story Mideast-Israel-Gaza- military sent on Tuesday October 12 ex-Gaza City please ignore the erroneous reference in the first paragraph that stated that most of the 111 Palestinians killed in the two-week Israeli operation in the Gaza Strip were children. This was wrong and was removed from subsequent leads to the story.




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» AFP's Compounded Error in The Star Newspaper from It's Almost Supernatural
This is one of those touchy and emotional items that is not easy to write about. It deals with correcting a factual error made by AFP, but the error made should not cloud the essence of the issue at heart, [Read More]

» AFP's Compounded Error in The Star Newspaper from It's Almost Supernatural
This is one of those touchy and emotional items that is not easy to write about. It deals with correcting a factual error made by AFP, but the error made should not cloud the essence of the issue at heart, [Read More]



I'm very concerned about Honest Reporting's recent post about the children that were killed in Gaza. I'm an avid reader of Honest Reporting and I believe that this time, the organization has gone too far and has FAILED TO RECOGNIZE THE IMPORTANCE AND VALUE OF LIFE.

Whether or not the French Agency was correct or not, in this case it was not a gross distortion of facts. The fact of the matter is that people were killed, children were killed - many of them accidentally and unnecessarily. This conclusion is sad and unfortunate and we should not dwell on whether or not it was "mostly children" or "mostly adults" that were killed. People were killed. We need to mourn and recognize our wrongs. At the same time the IDF and the people who support it;s actions need to acknowledge the loss of life in a serious way and learn from the wrongs that they've done while continuing to protect Israel.

I hope and pray that the cynical and blind protectors of Israel will realize that life, in whatever form, is valuable and priceless. For the moment that we lose our ability to value life, we have gone down a path that will leads to a devaluation of ourselves and others.

'Highly Concerned':

I have no doubt that the people at HonestReporting -- and the IDF -- value life every bit as much as you do.

The key issue with anti-terror actions, such as the IDF's current action, is 'who were killed'? You certainly would agree that if the great majority were dangerous terrorists out to kill as many Israeli civilians as possible, that's a much more justified operation than if the majority were innocent children...

That's the issue here, that's the distortion, and it's a major problem if the big news companies aren't reporting it that way.

I just wonder if the News agencies have kept count of the Dead/disabled Israeli infants/children blown up by the Arab/ Palestinians. I was there when an infant was targeted and killed (Pass)

Dear "Highly Concerned",
It is most unfortunate that your head-long defense of the English language fails to consider the emotional impact of words, and how they are used. There is no question that a life is a life, regardless of age. Similarly, most reasonable people would agree that the death of a child carries far greater emotional impact than the death of an older person. Thus, the use of the phrase "mostly children" is, in this case, inflammatory and certainly gratuitous. It was no accident. It was intentionally inserted to enhance a political agenda.
Aside from all that, the information was false and misleading. Hardly an indication of fair and impartial journalism and not the stuff for which
Journalistic Prizes are awarded.
Thus, if you have an uncontrollable urge to employ the phrase "cynical and blind protectors", you might consider that it is more aptly applied to your cynical and blind protection of lying reporters than to the IDF.
There is plenty of real blood, gore and dead children to go around without resorting to outright distortions to give a story some emotional "punch" when there is actually no basis in fact.

To "Highly Concerned":

Please link to the following:
to see a penetrating opinion about the reason for the deaths of Gaza children.

Why is anyone surprised by the French?
Complain to AFP, but as we have seen, it has no effect. Better to do something that has not been done since 1948 - develop a decent, aggressive PR for Israel, ,in Israel.

The actual figures involved show up the emptiness of the thetoric so often used again Israel. Its clear (by the facts, not by the rhetoric) that Israel is far more successful at avoiding causing civilian deaths than any of the Western countries (who keep criticizing Israel) are.

All you need to do is consider not only America (who has already been demonised as much as Israel) but also Britain! Is Britain a rogue culture? How many civilians (including children) did the British army kill in Iraq recently? What about the other European countries in NATO? I seem to remember their missiles repeatedly slamming into civilians in Kossovo. It just wasn;t very popular to scream at them about it. Needless to say, Israel takes far more care than they have ever done to minimise civilian casualties. Its also more successful at it! Israel is also far better than the Arab armies and military factions (who deliberately go after civilians, seeking to kill and maim as many as possible).

When you look at the actions of the Israeli army (as opposed to listening to the adjectives used) you'll see its no accident that Israel is better at avoiding civilian deaths. You'll find that Israel places its soldiers at risk in order to minimise the chance of civilian casualties. You'll find out that Israel - often at high risk - sends in soldiers where America and Europe bomb from the air (at least at first) in order to 'soften the ground' and minimise the risk to their soldiers at the cost of causing large civilian casualties.

I agree that its sad that anyone dies, and even more so when children are killed. Whether they're Israeli or Palestinian. The difference is that Israel seeks to minimise the numbers of civlians killed whereas the Palestinians seek to maximise the number! This isn't in dispute. When the Palestinians detonate bombs in crowded public busses, they can hardly argue they're trying to minimise the risk to civilians. On the other hand, it would be impossible to explain how it is that in Gaza, in this operation, the majority of those killed are combatants if Israel is in fact happy to kill civilians.

There is all the difference in the world between an army that targets combatants (but can hardly guarentee that no civilians will be killed in the process) and a military force that deliberately targets civilians.

The line in AFP grossly misinforms and pretends the majority of those killed in the fighting are children. This is disgusting! If it were to be true, it would (ofcourse) be their duty to point it out, to emphasize it! I wouldn't be saying "people die, no need to point out whether the majority or the minority are civilians/children".

The same honesty is required here! The majority of those killed are combatants. A minority are civilians and a minority of those civilians are children. Its very sad. But that's no reason to pervert the truth. AFP should never have claimed the majority are children and they must issue a clear correction!

AFP's behaviour in this instance is perfectly consistent with its mendacious coverage of the Arab-Israeli conflict of the past several years. It makes no attempt to hide its pro-Arab bias, its coverage forming little more than an arm of the French government's foreign policy.

I worked for several years with an international news service as a senior sub-editor.

Normally, if AFP made a factual error it would send through a detailed correction to all its subscribers - just the same as AP, Reuters etc. That it refused to do so in this case is a perfect example of its blatant contempt for Israel and its brazen descent into pro-Arab propagandising.

Day after day on the sub-editors' desk I was able to compare AFP's coverage of breaking news from the Middle East with that of the other major wire services. Needless to say, none of them could be said to be 'sympathetic' to Israel. However, AFP was in a class of its own: its phraseology often veered from the dry, just-the-facts-ma'am, wire service style to the histrionic.

A thorough investigation by the Australia-Israel Jewish Affairs Council back in about 1998 exposed how AFP disseminated a completely baseless story accusing the IDF of dropping booby trapped toys from aircraft flying over southern Lebanon.

The investigation first proved that the story was baseless by talking to the UN, Israeli sources and others in the area.

It then revealed that the writer of the story was - like so much of AFP's material - submitted by an Arab stringer. These stringers only get paid for what AFP accepts - so the juicier the story, the better. And that's not even taking into account the axes they're trying to grind.

The investigator interviewed AFP's then bureau chief in Beirut, who quite brazenly declared her disdain for the Zionist entity (probably the first honest thing the bureau chief had said for quite some time).

We have to be careful about evaluating media coverage and try not to assume that the whole world is against us.

However, AFP is - no doubt about it - against us and doesn't care who knows about it. The real shame is that there are reputable newspapers and others who continue to use its service assuming that it holds to at least a modicum of professionalism.

This was sad and fascinating, but what can be done? Perhaps letters to the papers who printed AFP's false item. We know yahoo is one of them. Who else?

It seems to me that the AFP should not be reporting from its relatively safe comfortable offices in Jerusalem. They should be asked to leave and set up offices in Gaza or the West Bank. Maybe they would get a different perspective.

as per your comment

This was sad and fascinating, but what can be done? Perhaps letters to the papers who printed AFP's false item. We know yahoo is one of them. Who else?

A newspaper in South Africa carried the error. They are called the Star...see the excerpt here.

You can write to them here.

Be polite people, this wasn't the SA newspapers error.

MG is RIGHT !!!!!!

The fact that it is so easy to sit in Jerusalem AC office, file "war stories" and go have some sushi is what makes Israel to be in the headlines all the time.

If it was harder to report from israel as it is from Sudan maybe the AFP guys would go elsewhere to look for REAL stories.

"Highly Concerned,"

Children have been dragged into this war in many ways, all of them bad. They may become accidental casualties of Israeli actions—but never as a matter of intentional policy; or they may be the deliberate targets of Palestinian shootings and bus or pizzeria bombings; or the innocent victims of indiscriminate rocketry; or used as shields by Hamas gunmen (for one example, see; or as lookouts, scouts or runners for the "militants." It is even an oversimplification to divide the casualties into combatants and children, as some that we would call children have been recruited by the Palestinians as active participants in the violence.

Children have also been given an important role in the propaganda war that is being waged against Israel. When a Palestinian child from any of the above categories is hurt, it is held up as proof of Israel's brutality: The ISM designates naive Westerners to "protect" Palestinian schoolchildren precisely so as to give other naive Westerners the impression that, otherwise, IDF snipers would be picking them off. So when AFP reports that most of the casualties in Gaza are children—and refuses to correct itself—it is taking the Palestinian side in a cynical war of lies.

I hope Israelis, Zionists and Jews never stop feeling pain at the suffering of innocents and I hope you never do either, but your outrage is misplaced. If you want the children spared, you should make sure the blame is placed where it belongs and you should demand that AFP does the same.

Honest Reporting has also made an error in its communique by saying -

"Surprisingly, AFP did not issue a correction."

Given AFP's past record you should have said -

"Not surprisingly, AFP did not issue a correction."

> The following speech will be the "balancing act" in the fourth annual
> Palestine Solidarity Movement conference at Duke University.
> Phillis Chesler writes: "Brigitte Gabriel is a Maronite Christian, which
> means she is the descendant of Phoenicians, whose presence in the Middle
> East pre-dates that of the Arabs. Today, Brigitte owns a successful
> American media company with national and international clients. She grew
> up in southern Lebanon under Palestinian tyranny. Israeli soldiers and
> doctors literally saved her life and that of her mother. She does not want
> to see Israel or America "Islamized" or "Palestinianized," as Lebanon was.
> She desperately wants to wake Americans up to the danger of this
> happening.
> Brigitte says, "When you refuse to condemn suicide bombers and terrorism
> and violence, your hands are soiled with the blood of the innocents just
> as much as any suicide bomber who blows himself up.
> managed to persuade the Freeman Center at Duke to allow Brigitte to
> speak. They have agreed to do so but have given her only five minutes.
> (Probably each speaker against terrorism has only five minutes). Brigitte
> is an exceptionally passionate and powerful speaker. I think that what she
> has to say deserves more than five minutes."
> Remarks of Brigitte Gabriel
> to be delivered at the Duke University Counter Terrorism Speak out
> October 14, 2004
> I'm proud and honored to stand here today as a Lebanese speaking for
> Israel the only democracy in the Middle East . As someone who was
> raised in an Arabic country I want to give you a glimpse into the
> heart of the Arabic world.
> I was raised in Lebanon where I was taught that the Jews were evil,
> Israel was the devil, and the only time we will have peace in the
> Middle East is when we kill all the Jews and drive them into the sea.
> When the Moslems and Palestinians declared Jihad on the Christians
> in 1975, they started massacring the Christians City after city. I
> ended up living in a bomb shelter underground from age 10 to 17
> without electricity eating grass to live and crawling under sniper
> bullets to a spring to get water.
> It was Israel who came to help the Christians in Lebanon . My mother
> was wounded by a Moslems shell and was taken into an Israeli
> hospital for treatment. When we entered the emergency room I was
> shocked at what I saw. They were hundreds of people wounded,
> Moslems, Palestinians, Christian Lebanese and Israeli soldiers lying
> on the floor. The doctors treated everyone according to their
> injury. They treated my mother before they treated the Israeli
> soldier lying next to her. They didn't see religion they didn't see
> political affiliation, they saw people in need and they helped.
> For the first time in my life I experienced a human quality that I
> know my culture would not have shown to their enemy. I experienced
> the values of the Israelis who were able to love their enemy in
> their most trying moments. I spent 22 days at that hospital, those
> days changed my life and the way I believe information, the way I
> listen to the radio or to television. I realized I was sold a
> fabricated lie by my government about the Jews and Israel that was
> so far from reality. I knew for fact that if I was a Jew standing in
> an Arab hospital I would be lynched and thrown over to the grounds
> as shouts of joy of Allahu Akbar, God is great would echo through
> the hospital and the surrounding streets.
> I became friends with the families of the Israeli wounded soldiers
> one in particular Rina, her only child was wounded in his eyes.
> One day I was visiting with her and the Israeli army band came to
> play national songs to lift the spirits of the wounded soldiers. As
> they surrounded his bed playing a song about Jerusalem Rina and I
> started crying. I felt out of place and started waking out of the
> room, and this mother holds my hand and pulls me back in without
> even looking at me. She holds me crying and says: "it is not your
> fault". We just stood there crying holding each other's hands.
> What a contrast between her, a mother looking at her deformed 19
> year old only child, and still able to love me the enemy, and
> between a Moslem mother who sends her son to blow himself up to
> smithereens just to kill a few Jews or Christians.
> The difference between the Arabic world and Israel is a difference
> in values and character. It's barbarism versus civilization. It's
> democracy versus dictatorship. It's goodness versus evil.
> Once upon a time there was a special place in the lowest depths of
> hell for anyone who would intentionally murder a child. Now, the
> intentional murder of Israeli children is legitimized as
> Palestinian "armed struggle". However,
> once such behavior is legitimized against Israel, it is legitimized
> every where in the world, constrained by nothing more than the
> subjective belief of people who would wrap themselves in dynamite
> and nails for the purpose of killing children in the name of god.
> Because the Palestinians have been encouraged to believe that
> murdering innocent Israeli civilians is a legitimate tactic for
> advancing their cause, the whole world now suffers from a plague of
> terrorism, from Nairobi to New York , from Moscow to Madrid , from
> Bali to Beslan.
> They blame suicide bombing on "desperation of occupation" Let me
> tell you the truth. The first major terror bombing committed by
> Arabs against the Jewish state occurred ten weeks before Israel even
> became independent. On Sunday morning, February 22, 1948, in
> anticipation of Israel 's independence, a triple truck bomb was
> detonated by Arab terrorists on Ben Yehuda Street in what was then
> the Jewish section of Jerusalem . Fifty-four people were killed and
> hundreds were wounded. Thus, it is obvious that Arab terrorism is
> caused not by the "desperation" or "occupation", but by the VERY
> THOUGHT of a Jewish state.
> So many times in history in the last 100 years, citizens have stood
> by and done nothing allowing evil to prevail. As America stood up
> against and defeated communism, now it is time to stand up against
> the terror of religious bigotry and intolerance. It's time to all
> stand up and support and defend the state of Israel , which is the
> front line of the war against terrorism.


If you wish ro mourn the deaths of dozens of terrorists then go ahead but when using the term 'we' you should know you are actually only reffering to yourself.

E2SJ, that was very interesting. It won't help much but every little helps. Ultimately, the only real change can come from within. Arab society is ultra-nationalist and fascistic in the sense that no deviation from the extremist nationalist line will be tolerated. Even the Christians among them (and it is only the Muslim Palestinians who havegone on suicide bombing missions) don't dare to break the spell which the 'leaders' cast.

There are so few in the Arab world who take a moderate line - I don;t ask them to only count the views of the 'other side' (the way some Israelis do) but just to take a moderate line. This is all too rare. For them, to admit Israel has a point, is as taboo as saying paedophilia or rape is legitimate. On the one hand, its unthinkable, on the other hand, it carries a strict punishment.
Its a lethal combination. Very effective.

We can hope more people like her dare to speak up. We can hope more Muslims dare to speak out. To make it worse, they're more numerous than we are, especially in Europe and the Arab world is one which the rest of the world wants to keep on the right side of..

So they issued a correction! Now we know that some method do work!

The AFP story confirms my long-held belief that anti-Semitism---especially where Israel is concerned---remains rampant and shameless in much of Europe..Bob Teague


I posted that to address the fact that critics of those who murder Jews as a matter of policy are a diverse crowd.

Think it will help? Not for a minute, but when you lose hope, your enemy wins, HaTikvah!

"Highly Concerned":
The gallant IDF warriors are the most compassionate army in the world, risking their lives so as to spare innocent civilians, unlike the filthy terrorist scums who deliberately and maliciously target innocent children and old people and then those murderous Palestinians dance wildly in the streets and throw candy around.
As an example of how conscious the IDF is about causing harm to civilians, especially kids, last Wednesday 13 October, an Israeli platoon commander was suspended for firing multiple shots at the dead body of 13-year old Iman Al-Hams, who had been riddled by 20 bullets by three IDF soldiers while she was on her way to school in the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah. The soldiers naturally assumed that she was carrying explosives in the bag, as most Palestinian kids do, so they had to shoot her before she got too close. But when the soldiers saw their commander go to the body, shoot her twice in the head, then put the weapon on automatic and empty the whole clip, they were so disgusted that they reported him, although he threatened them and even tried to bribe them. That is a truly caring gesture. Did Arafat ever suspend any of those suicide bombers? You bet your tuchus he did NOT!

I am sad about the number of casualties for those under 16, but I wonder if any of these "children" were terrorists or would be terrorists as the Hamas etc wouldn't hesitate to use children.

Methinks bebe is a provocateur. The misrepresentation of facts in bebe's comment can't be accidental. This is a common and cheap trick. The idea being to write something nasty and misleading but to present it as though you are 'one of them'.

Its also useful later on when you want to demonize them. You simply point to the comment you yourself placed there, and say "look at how they talk".

Frankly, we've been running around these provocators for no good reason and it's best to ignore them. bebe can begin to write messages to her own side, the side bebe admires, telling them how heroic they are for deliberately killing and maiming civilians (yes, including women and children). It seems to me their side does it very openly, explicitly, systematically. Their side doesn't even hide it in shame. The Palestinian population takes great pride in the killings of masses of civilians. bebe should have something useful to say to them about it before coming on to this site!

"Misrepresentation of facts?!" Chas vesholom that I should reply in kind to such prevarication! May G-d curse those killer Palestinians who rejoice so greatly in the death of our innocents, but G-d will not abide the slaughter of innocents, for are we not to love the stranger in our lands, as stated in Leviticus? Read the Jerusalem Post of 2 cheshvan 5765 and you will see that an investigation has been requested by Israeli Arabs, and that justice shall be granted unto those who ask it. Until then, let G-d be the Judge. Amin.

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