Independent corrects misleading article on Macron outburst

An article in the Independent reported on an incident involving French President Emmanuel Macron’s visit to Israel to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz (‘Respect the rules’: Macron yells at Israeli police after they try to enter French territory in Jerusalem, Jan. 22).

French president Emmanuel Macron has been filmed yelling at Israeli police in an angry confrontation at a church during a tour of Jerusalem.

Mr Macron was visiting the Church of St Anne in Jerusalem’s walled Old City on Wednesday, where the French flag has flown ever since it was gifted to France’s Napoleon III by the Ottomans in 1856.

It is seen as a provocation in France for Israeli police to enter the church’s sandstone complex, which is considered a French territory

In a video of the incident, Mr Macron can be seen jostling in the centre of a crowded group in an archway leading to the building and angrily demanding Israeli security personnel to leave the church.

The incident has drawn comparisons to a similar confrontation between Jacques Chirac, then-French president, and Israeli security agents at the same church in 1996.

Mr Chirac lost his patience with Israeli officers during a walk in the Old City and described his treatment as a “provocation” before threatening to cut short his trip to the country.

The Indy article also claimed that “an Israeli police spokesperson declined to comment on the incident on Wednesday, while an Israeli government spokesperson did not immediately provide comment on behalf of the Shin Bet internal security agency, which also helps guard foreign dignitaries.”

However, as we noted to Indy editors, Israeli police and the Shin Bet did in fact comment prior to the article being published. 

The Guardian, for instance, who published their report on the row prior to the Independent, noted this:

“Israeli police and the domestic intelligence agency, Shin Bet, said in a joint statement on Wednesday it had been agreed in advance that a police officer and Shin Bet guard would escort Macron inside the church.

The statement said that after Macron finished the visit “he apologised about the incident and shook hands with the security personnel”.”

We argued that the omission of such information represents a significantly distortion of events that took place that day, an incident which some suggested was a pre-planned provocation, not by Israel, but by the French President, designed to evoke Chirac’s 1996 incident and, thus, project an image of strength and assertiveness.

Here’s a clip of Macron’s outburst.

Indy editors eventually upheld our complaint, and added the following text:

They [Israel’s security services] later said in a joint statement that it had been agreed in advance that a police officer and Shin Bet guard would escort Macron inside the church.

Editors also added the following addendum:

This post originally appeared at CAMERA’s UK Media Watch.

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