AFP’s 2022 Innovation? Cite Israelis on ‘Terrorist,’ Use Scare Quotes, Omit Facts

CAMERA has long documented how Agence France Presse photo captions frequently downplay Palestinian terrorism by omitting the particular acts which placed the perpetrators in jail. AFP captions in 2019 failed to note that a deceased Palestinian prisoner was convicted for his role in murdering the Henkin couple in front of their children; 2020 captions euphemistically referred to “female militant Dallal al-Mughrabi,” without noting that she was involved in the deadliest massacre in Israel, the 1978 coastal attack in which 38 Israeli civilians, including 13 children, were murdered; 2021 captions about Marwan Barghouti said he “is sometimes dubbed the ‘Palestinian Mandela,” but ignored his conviction for five counts of murder and one of attempted murder.
With the onset of the new year, a new phenomenon emerges at the French news agency; citing Israeli authorities charging unspecified “terrorism” while deploying the requisite scare quotes and carefully withholding the hard facts which confirm the Israeli “claim.”

Thus, numerous Agence France Presse captions today conceal the essential fact that the Palestinian home demolished today belonged to the suspect indicted for the murder of Israeli Yehuda Dimentman. Instead of simply stating the fact that Mohammed Jaradat was charged in the fatal shooting of an Israeli civilian, AFP’s captions obscure by referring to an unsubstantiated Israeli claim about unspecified “terrorist” (scare quotes in the original) activity. The captions cite: “what the army described as an operation to demolish the home of a suspected ‘terrorist’.” Examples of the many uninformative captions follow:

A member of the Fatah movement attends the funeral of Palestinian teenager Mohammed Abu Salah, 17, who was killed after Israeli forces entered the village of Silat al-Harithiya near the flashpoint town of Jenin in the occupied West Bank, on February 14, 2022. Israeli forces shot dead a Palestinian teenager in West Bank clashes, during what the army described as an operation to demolish the home of a suspected “terrorist”. JAAFAR ASHTIYEH / AFP

Palestinians inspect the damage after Israeli forces demolished part of the residence in the village of Silat al-Harithiya near the flashpoint town of Jenin in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, on February 14, 2022. Israeli forces have shot dead a 17-year-old Palestinian in West Bank clashes during what Israel described as an operation to demolish the home of a “terrorist” suspected of a recent attack. JAAFAR ASHTIYEH / AFP

Palestinians inspect the damage after Israeli forces demolished part of the residence in the village of Silat al-Harithiya near the flashpoint town of Jenin in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, on February 14, 2022. Israeli forces have shot dead a 17-year-old Palestinian in West Bank clashes during what Israel described as an operation to demolish the home of a “terrorist” suspected of a recent attack. JAAFAR ASHTIYEH / AFP

By failing to report the indictment for Yehuda Dimentman’s murder and by referring to an Israeli statement about unspecified “terrorist” activity in scare quotes, AFP conceals that Mohammed Jaradat has been charged with murder.
This is the second time in less than a week that AFP whitewashed Palestinian terrorism. Last week, AFP likewise employed scare quotes around the t-word and unnecessarily attributed the information to Israel, citing “what Israel described as an operation against a ‘terrorist cell’ …” By that time, though, the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, a designated terror organization, had itself already proudly claimed the men in question as members, so AFP’s superfluous use of scare quotes and Israeli sourcing was extremely misleading, casting doubt on the information when in fact it had been confirmed.
Media outlets are not compelled to use the word “terror.” Simply describing the facts — in this case, Palestinians fired on a passing car, killing an Israeli civilian  — can sufficiently communicate to readers the correct information. In fact, that data is exceedingly more informative than non-specific unsubstantiated Israeli allegations about “terrorism.” 
Indeed, Associated Press, another leading news agency, published captions which commendably reported the essential facts, stating: “Israeli forces rolled into Silat al-Harithiya village near Jenin to destroy homes of two Palestinian detainees accused of opening fire at a car traveling near a West Bank settlement outpost and killing a settler in December.”
Perhaps AFP regards its qualified reference to Israeli claims of unspecified “terror” (in scare quotes) as a convenient workaround to avoid actually reporting Palestinian terror activity. But make no mistake: This week’s captions cover up for Yehuda Dimantmen’s suspected murderer just as much as AFP captions in 2019 covered up for the murderer of Rabbi Eitam and Naama Henkin.