Doppelganger: Real AP News Report on Black Americans, Palestinians Mimics Fake News

A global influence campaign linked to Russia uses spoofed versions of legitimate news websites to misinform the public about the war between Hamas and Israel. According to a report in Haaretz, this “Doppelgänger campaign” spreads disinformation using “replicas of websites of respected legacy media outlets across the world,” including the French newspapers Le Monde, Le Figaro, and Le Parisien; Der Spiegel, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Die Welt and Bild in German; the Israeli sites Mako and Liberal in Hebrew; and the English-language Jewish Journal, a prominent Jewish American outlet.

The Dec. 17 Associated Press article, “Black American solidarity with Palestinians is rising and testing longstanding ties to Jewish allies,” left this CAMERA researcher wondering whether the storied AP had also fallen victim to the Doppelgänger campaign.

But a careful examination of the link, along with the fact that the article appears on the Lexis-Nexis news database, confirms that the piece’s provenance is authentically AP. The piece’s reporting, on the other hand, is as detached as could be from AP’s vaunted journalistic standards. Inverting the Doppelgänger campaign, this real AP story masquerades as fake news.

Indeed, a second CAMERA researcher reacted after reading the piece: “Is this an Op-Ed? Does AP publish Op-Eds? Because it reads like one. A really terrible one.” 

Tanzanian Joshua Mollel, an agricultural intern in southern Israel, was murdered by Hamas terrorists on Oct. 7, 2023 (Courtesy)

Intent on shoehorning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including the Oct. 7 Hamas atrocities, into the struggle of Black Americans against racism, it’s no wonder that AP video journalist Noreen Nasir and race and ethnicity editor Aaron Morrison ignore the shocking video of the final terrifying moments of the life of Joshua Mollel. Mollel was a Black, Tanzanian agricultural intern who came to Israel in September to study farming. Hamas terrorists brutally murdered him, gleefully capturing the barbaric attack on video, and kidnapped his mutilated body to the Gaza Strip. (Warning: the difficult, very graphic video of Mollel’s murder is available here.) Mollel was not Hamas’ only Tanzanian victim. Clemence Felix Mtenga, also a cohort in the agricultural internship, was also murdered by Hamas.

The video showing a Black man brutally slaughtered for the crime of studying in Israel fails to conform to the baseless narrative promoted by those who “see the Palestinian struggle in the West Bank and Gaza reflected in their own fight for racial equality and civil rights,” a narrative which the AP writers platform without challenge. Freely editorializing as if they are Op-Ed as opposed to news writers, Nasir and Morrison continue: “The recent rise of protest movements against police brutality in the U.S., where structural racism plagues nearly every facet of life, has connected Black and Palestinian activists under a common cause.”

But what common cause does Palestinian brutality, which did not spare the life of even non-Israeli Africans, have with Black Americans’ fight for racial equality and civil rights? 

Indeed, the insistence on molding the Palestinian-Israeli conflict into the image of the American civil rights movement is a known ploy of anti-Israel activism, falsely casting Israelis as white oppressors. As Einat Wilf wrote in Sapir Journal in 2021 (“How Not to Think About the Conflict“):

And so, in an act of blatant neocolonialism, the American story is viewed as the universal prism through which all societies should be understood and analyzed. Blithely ignorant of the specificity of their own experience, the neocolonialists fit the square peg of the conflict into the round hole of American history. Jews are bizarrely cast as “white,” and Zionism as a movement of “white supremacy,” while Arabs, who look exactly like Jews (Fauda, anyone?), are cast as “people of color.” The Israeli–Palestinian conflict is cast as a mirror of race relations in America, but without the relevant local context of slavery, Jim Crow, or any of the specificities of Jewish, Arab, or Middle Eastern history. 

The AP writers depict the Palestinian-Israeli conflict as the Middle Eastern version of the American civil rights movement through the eyes of Cydney Wallace. AP reports that the Black Jewish activist recently returned from a West Bank trip which reinforced her view that Palestinians are fighting the same civil rights battle as Black Americans. “Back home in Chicago, Wallace has navigated speaking about her support for Palestinians while maintaining her Jewish identity and standing against antisemitism. She says she doesn’t see those things as mutually exclusive,” recount Nasir and Morrison.

AP gives no indication that Cydney Wallace is on the fringes of the Jewish community. Wallace is a member of Beth Shalom B’Nai Zaken Ethiopian Hebrew Congregation, which serves the Black Israelite community and is not representative of the mainstream Jewish community including Black Jews who adhere to American Orthodox, Conservative or Reform Judaism. Some of its members may be Jewish according to criteria of the mainstream Jewish community, and indeed their leader Rabbi Capers Funnye undertook a Conservative conversion. While Judaism recognizes as Jewish those born within the Jewish community, or converted to Judaism under the auspices of recognized Rabbinic authorities, the Black Israelite community, in contrast, is based on self-identification. An in-depth Anti-Defamation Report backgrounder on the very diverse Black Hebrew Israelites community explains: “The Black Hebrew Israelite (BHI) movement is a fringe religious movement that rejects widely accepted definitions of Judaism and asserts that people of color are the true children of Israel.” 

Nevertheless, AP simply ignores Wallace’s unusual and noteworthy affiliation.

The lengthy article ostensibly explores the dynamics between antisemitism, the Black experience in America, and the supposed intersectionality with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In doing so, the AP writers entirely ignore antisemitism within the Palestinian population. Indeed, a 2014 global survey carried out by the Anti-Defamation League found that the West Bank and the Gaza Strip are among the world’s top antisemitic “hot spots,” with 93 percent of the population harboring antisemitic views.

Sky-high Palestinian antisemitism, just like Hamas’ brutal murder of Tanzanians, belie the tale of Palestinians as the Middle Eastern equivalent of oppressed Black Americans. The same dynamic is at play as the journalists blandly downplay Hamas’ Oct. 7 atrocities asthe unprecedented Oct. 7 attacks on Israel by Hamas militants.” In exactly what way the Hamas attacks were unprecedented — was it the “historic win for the Palestinian resistance,” as anti-Israel campus groups put it, or the sheer number of civilian victims; the deliberate targeting of children, women and elderly; the widespread rape, torture, mutilation, beheadings, burning alive, murder of children in front of parents and vice versa; the kidnapping of hundreds of Israelis and foreigners, including children and even a nine-month-old baby? Nasir and Morr don’t say. By contrast, regarding “Israel’s ensuing bombardment of the Gaza Strip,” the duo suddenly locate “shocking images of destruction and death.” It is as if, through the authors’ eyes, there were no shocking images of destruction and death from Hamas’ attacks on Israel. 

Indeed, Nasir and Morrison simply can’t shake the compulsion to withhold adjectives when it comes to the Hamas atrocities, even as they extend adjectives highlighting the severity of Israel’s response. In this vein, they persist: “None of the members of [Wallace’s] ‘Black Jerusalem’ trip anticipated it would come to a tragic end with the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks in which some 1,200 people were killed in Israel and about 240 taken hostage. Since then, more than 18,700 Palestinians have been killed in Israel’s blistering air and ground campaign in Gaza, now in its third month.” (Emphasis added.)

The pattern downplaying Palestinian violence manifests again with respect to the hostages and Palestinian prisoners released in prisoner exchanges. AP reports:

During a week-long truce between Israel and Hamas as part of the recent deal to free dozens of hostages seized by Hamas militants, Israel released hundreds of Palestinian prisoners and detainees. Many were teenagers who had recently been picked up in the West Bank for minor offenses like stone-throwing and had not been charged.

Strikingly, the reporters take care to note that many of the released Palestinian prisoners were teenagers held for “minor offenses” and were not charged. (Unmentioned are the released Palestinian prisoners convicted of attempted murder and others charged with stabbings. In addition, the “minor” offense of stone-throwing has been known to kill and seriously injure.) In contrast, the partisan pair provide zero details about any of the 105 released hostages of all ages — from toddlers to octagarians — whose only crime was to be Israeli (whether Jewish or Arab) or associating with Israelis (as in the case of the Tanzanian students, along with dozens of Thai and Nepali workers). Almost all of the Israeli hostages released so far have been elderly women, mothers and children. They are guilty of no offenses and “had not been charged.”

Silence on Black Antisemitism

Palestinian antisemitism is not the only anti-Jewish bigotry which gets a pass. “The 39-year-old said she had plenty to focus on at home, where she frequently gives talks on addressing anti-Black sentiment in the American Jewish community and dismantling white supremacy in the U.S.,” the AP duo report about Wallace.

But they gloss over existing anti-Jewish sentiment in certain pockets within the Black community, including within elements of the Black Hebrew Israel movement, while expanding on Black support for Palestinians:

From Black American groups that denounced the U.S. backing of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory to Black protesters demonstrating for the Palestinians’ right to self-determination, some Jewish Americans are concerned that support could escalate the threat of antisemitism and weaken Jewish-Black ties fortified during the Civil Rights Movement.

The journalists also underreport the grotesque antisemitism embedded in Black Lives Matter movement, stating:

In 2016, when BLM activists formed the coalition known as the Movement for Black Lives, they included support for Palestinians in a platform called the “Vision for Black Lives.” A handful of Jewish groups, which had largely been supportive of the BLM movement, denounced the Black activists’ characterization of Israel as a purportedly “apartheid state” that engages in “discrimination against the Palestinian people.”

But the Movement for Black Lives did not stop at false apartheid charges; it also accused Israel of genocide, which, according to the widely-accepted International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition, constitutes antisemism. As CAMERA’s Ricki Hollander previously reported: “One section, headlined ‘Invest-Divest,’ accused the US, through its alignment with Israel, of complicity in what the authors called the ‘genocide that is taking place against the Palestinian people’ and Israeli ‘apartheid.’” Other BLM manifestations of antisemitism include at least one documented riot organized by a BLM leader in Los Angeles targeting a historic Jewish neighborhood.

And, as our colleagues at CAMERA UK have noted, “BLM groups in Los Angeles, Chicago and DC issued statements . . .  literally supporting Hamas’s barbarism. BLM Chicago tweeted an image of a Hamas paraglider with a Palestinian flag attached to his parachute and the caption ‘I stand with Palestine’ before evidentially deleting the tweet following criticism.”

Critically, some Black Hebrew Israelites completely reject Wallace’s notion that the Palestinian experience is analogous to the Black American experience, and argue that Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre underscores the commonalities between the Jewish and Black stories. But AP, which boasts that it seeks to “expand the reach of factual reporting,” silenced voices and facts which contradict its predetermined narrative.

AP’s effort to pass off the Palestinian-Israeli conflict as the Middle Eastern doppelgänger of the civil rights movement, with the Palestinians playing the part of Black Americans battling against racism, is nothing short of a parody of journalism. In short, it’s a real news outlet playing at fake news.

With research by Adam Levick.

See also “Black Lives Matter, JVP’s Deadly Exchange, and Israel” and “The BLM Movement and Antisemitism

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