Settler Intrusions and Talmudic Rituals: Temple Mount Coverage in Arabic Western Media

Last month, CAMERA took Reuters to task for English-language captions which described Jews visiting the Temple Mount as “worshippers,” despite the fact that Jews are strictly prohibited from praying or carrying out any other religious rituals at the site, Judaism’s most sacred. A review by CAMERA Arabic has found that many Arabic-language reports from Western media outlets including Sky News, CNN, BBC, al-Hurra, Independent Arabia, Reuters and France 24 commonly employ even more extreme and unfounded language, falsely calling Jews who visit the Temple Mount, or intend to visit,  “settlers” or “extremists.” (All translations that follow are by CAMERA Arabic.)

Thus, for example, a France 24 broadcast misidentified Jewish visitors who visited the Temple Mount on Tisha B’Av, a solemn fast day commemorating the destruction of the Jewish temples, as settlers (“Clashes between Palestinians and the Israeli police in the al-Aqsa mosque plaza coincide with the prayer of Eid,” Aug. 11, at 0:51.)

Likewise, Al Hurra, a U.S.-based public media outlet, reported that Prime Minister Netanyahu decided not to allow “settlers” to carry out an “intrusion” or “storming” of the “al-Aqsa mosque” (“Clashes in al-Aqsa between worshippers and the Israeli police,” Aug. 11). Of course, the Jewish visitors never entered the mosque itself, and only walked around the compound outside the mosque.

BBC similarly referred to “extremist Jewish groups” and “Jewish extremists (“The al-Aqsa Mosque: clashes between Israeli police and Palestinians after Eid al-Adha’s prayer”, Aug. 11) and CNN and the Independent went with the false headlines, respectively: “Dozens of settlers intrude/storm into al-Aqsa Mosque under IDF guard,” Aug. 4. and “An Israeli minister storms/intrudes al-Aqsa under guard, heading [a group] of settlers,” July 3 (screen shot at left). Reuters, a leading wire service, also employed the “intrusion/storming” language (“Extremist Jews’ visit stokes Palestinians’ anger in the al-Aqsa Mosque compound”, June 2, video, 0:51) and wrongly reported that the Jews entered the al-Aqsa mosque.

Arabic-language reports in Western media outlets also occasionally cite “Talmudic rituals” (Arabic: Tuqoos Talmoodiyya), referring to alleged Jewish attempts to pray at the site (contrary to the rules enforced by the Waqf and the Israeli police). Sky News Arabia, for instance, claimed on Aug. 15 that Jews reportedly attempted to performTalmudic rituals” on the site, according to “eye witnesses” (“Israeli settlers storm/intrude on the al-Aqsa mosque“). CNN and the Independent also referred to “Talmudic rituals.”

The use of the word “Talmud” in Arabic, especially in the context of modern Jewish life, has an extremely negative connotation. In the Arabic-language media, it invokes mysterious and sinister Jewish prayer and rituals.

In addition, Arabic-language coverage in Western media outlets at times refers to the Jewish Temples that stood on the site in antiquity as “alleged.” “The alleged temple” (Arabic: al-Haykal al-Maz’oom) is standard terminology in non-Western Arabic-speaking media, signaling that the past existence of the two Jewish Temples is in doubt. While CNN uncritically quoted Palestinian news agency Wafa using this language, Sky News Arabia used it in the reporter’s voice (Aug. 11, Aug. 14), as did the Independent.