AP Stands By Coverage, and Contradicts Its Own Earlier Coverage

In response to CAMERA’s concerns about an Associated Press article on the wire today covering Temple Mount disturbances, the Jerusalem bureau has responded that it stands by its coverage. Noteworthy, though, is the fact that the service’s report today is contradicted by another AP story from 2001.

The reporter (there’s no byline) writes: “In 2000, a demonstrative visit by then-opposition leader Ariel Sharon triggered bloody protests that escalated into more than four years of Israeli-Palestinian fighting.” The contention that Sharon’s visit to the Temple Mount prompted the Intifada–passed off here as fact–is contradicted by earlier AP coverage. A March 2, 2001 article from Sidon, Lebanon begins:

A Palestinian Cabinet minister said Friday that the 5-month-old uprising against Israel was planned after peace failed in July, contradicting contentions it was a spontaneous outburst by Palestinians.

Communications Minister Imad Falouji said during a PLO rally that it was a mistake to think the uprising, in which more than 400 people have been killed, was sparked by Israelis Prime Minister-elect Ariel Sharon’s visit to the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in late September. (“Palestinian Cabinet minister says Palestinian uprising was planned,” emphasis added)

This is not the first time in the recent past that AP reporters have blamed four years of Palestinian violence on Sharon’s visit to the Temple Mount, despite an earlier AP article stating otherwise. CAMERA also documented the problem on Feb. 3, 2005.

Traditionally Jewish East Jerusalem
In a separate misrepresentation, the reporter describes eastern Jerusalem as “traditionally Arab,” which is a common, though incomplete formulation. While there is certainly an Arab tradition in the eastern portion of the city, the Jewish tradition is equally (if not more) worthy of mention. There has always been a Jewish presence in eastern Jerusalem; the City of David, the ancient Jewish Quarter, the 2000 year old Jewish cemetery on the Mt. of Olives, and institutions such as Hadassah Hospital and Hebrew University are all in eastern Jerusalem. The Temple Mount and Western Wall, Judaism’s most sacred religious sites, lie in east Jerusalem.

And while today there is parity population-wise in the eastern part of the city, this area has a long tradition of Jewish plurality. Reforms that came with Egyptian rule over Jerusalem in 1831, and continued with the Ottoman reconquest in 1840, improved the status of non-Muslims and allowed the Jews to become the largest religious group in Jerusalem. Thus, according to Yehoshua Ben-Arieh, “In the second half of the nineteenth century and at the end of that century, Jews comprised the majority of the population of the Old City …” (Jerusalem in the Nineteenth Century). Martin Gilbert states that in 1838 there were 6,000 Jews in Jerusalem, compared to 5,000 Muslims and 3,000 Christians (Jerusalem: Rebirth of a City). Encyclopaedia Britannica of 1853 “assessed the Jewish population of Jerusalem in 1844 at 7,120, making them the biggest single religious group in the city” (Terence Prittie, Whose Jerusalem). Until about 1860, Jerusalem residents lived almost exclusively within the walls of the Old City, in east Jerusalem.

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