CAMERA's Israel office today prompted corrections of a Haaretz headline and accompanying article which recounted as fact Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' false charge that "settlers" are "attacking Al-Aqsa."
The original headline and first paragraph of the Oct. 19 article
The original headline stated as fact that "settlers" are "attacking" Al-Aqsa. While Abbas has indeed alleged that "settlers" are "attacking" Al-Aqsa, his accusation is completely unfounded. Has there been even one recent incident of a settler, or any Jew, attacking Al-Aqsa mosque or the surrounding compound?
The original AFP headline was more balanced and accurate than Haaretz's version. It stated: "Abbas vows legal measures to prevent Al-Aqsa 'attacks.'"
By qualifying the word "attacks" with quotation marks, the AFP headline makes clear that the accusation is not necessarily founded. The AFP headline also omits the problematic use of the word "settler" in this context. While Abbas cited the "aggression of settlers" and "attacks" of settlers, his full comments reveal that his statement refer to their mere presence at the compound. And, of course, it's not just settlers who are visiting the Temple Mount. Religious Jews from across Israel, and outside Israel, have been visiting the Temple Mount.
In addition, Haaretz's first sentence reinforces the false impression that settlers are attacking the Al Aqsa mosque. It states:
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said his administration would take legal action "at the international level" to stop Jewish settlers from attacking the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, which Jews refer to as the Temple Mount.
The AFP story, in contrast, made clear in the very first paragraph that Abbas claims about settlers' "attacks" actually refers to their mere presence. The AFP article begins:
Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas said Saturday legal measures would be taken to prevent Jewish settlers from attacking Jerusalem's flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque compound, having said their presence desecrates the site.
Haaretz only mentions Abbas' statement about the Jews' presence in the second paragraph. Casual Haaretz readers who get only as far as the headline and first paragraph would therefore incorrectly believe that settlers have, in fact, been attacking the compound.
Following communication from CAMERA staff on these points, Haaretz editors immediately amended the headline and first paragraph, making clear that Abbas' charge was nothing more than that. The article now begins:
The new headline places the phrase "stop settlers from attacking Al-Aqsa" in quotes, thereby indicating that there is not necessarily any truth to Abbas' charge. Likewise, the commendable addition of the phrase "what he called attacks by Jewish settlers" has the same effect. Contrary to common journalistic practice, editors did not append any note to the article indicate that changes had been made.
In addition, editors failed to correct a second erroneous point in the original Haaretz story. The article states:
But, as has been reported on numerous occasions at Haaretz, it is Palestinian visitors to the site who routinely attack police and target Jewish worshipers in the Western Wall plaza. There is not "fighting between the two sides," because Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount and the Jewish worshipers at the Western Wall are not attacking Palestinians.
For additional Haaretz corrections prompted by CAMERA, see here.