AFP Transfers Ethiopian Jews to the West Bank

Ethiopian Jews perform a dance during a visit with President Peres, 2008, in Beit Shean, northern Israel. Seven percent of Israeli Ethiopians live in the northern district, versus just 2 percent in the West Bank. (Photo by Avi Ohayon/GPO)

The international media’s tendency to see Israel through the narrow lens of the state’s presence in the disputed West Bank leads to bizarre outcomes at times. Thus, this week Agence France Presse gerrymandered the disputed territory into a completely unrelated story: the debate over bringing relatives of Israeli Ethiopians to Israel in light of Ethiopia’s civil war.

Thus, AFP’s Nov. 14 article, “Hundreds in Israel protest for rescue of Ethiopia Jews,” falsely reported: 

It was only in 1984, and then in 1991, that the Jewish state organised massive air lifts for around 80,000 Ethiopians, many of whom ended up living in the occupied West Bank. (Emphasis added.)

Screenshot from CBS report

In fact, according to Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics, less than 2 percentof Israel’s Ethiopian Jews live in the West Bank.

Many Ethiopians live in central Israel and the southern district. Few live in the West Bank. The French version of the same article does not contain this error.

As CBS reported (“The Population of Ethiopian Origin in Israel,” Nov. 24, 2019): 

More than 60% of the population of Ethiopian origin lives in two main districts: approximately 38% live in the Central District and approximately 25% live in the Southern District. At the end of 2018, the urban locality with the largest population of Ethiopian origin was Netanya (approximately 11,900 persons). However, the highest percentage of residents of Ethiopian origin out of the total population in a locality was found in Qiryat Mal’akhi (16.3%).

CAMERA brought the CBS data to the attention of AFP editors on Nov. 15. As of this writing, AFP has yet to correct the basic factual error.