SIPA USA, Raw Anti-Israel Incitement in Real Time

August 25 UPDATE:

Following yesterday's publication of this post, Sipa USA removed all of the Aug. 21 photos with captions falsely alleging Israeli excavations under the "blessed Al Aqsa mosque." These images and captions continue to be available on AP's site.

"Using staff photographers, partner agencies and contributors throughout the world, Sipa USA delivers the day’s news in real time," boasts the news agency which bills itself "a leading international media agency specializing in entertainment, news and sports photography."

While the photo service may deliver images in real time, it also traffics in fake facts. An examination of Sipa images of Palestinians in recent days indicates that the editors in bureaus in New York and Los Angeles apply zero editing to the material flowing in from contributors in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip. As a result, the product that the agency shares with its global clients is riddled with the most extreme anti-Israel fabrications, completely unprofessional language, and poor English.

A series of Aug. 21 captions, reproduced in Associated Press' photo archive, adopt Arab anti-Israel fabrications charging Israel with digging under Jerusalem's Al Aqsa mosque. There is zero truth to the charge. Nevertheless, the captions, which apparently were subject to not an iota of editing or fact-checking, incite, citing "the 52nd anniversary of the evil attempt to burn the blessed Al Aqsa Mosque at a time when new and dangerous Israeli violations threaten the buildings and sanctities [sic] through excavations carried out by the Israeli occupation authorities underneath the mosque's walls."

Palestinian protesters hold national flags burn tires during the demonstration by the border fence with Israel, east of Gaza City, denouncing the Israeli siege of the Palestinian strip, Saturday marks the 52nd anniversary of the evil attempt to burn the blessed Al Aqsa Mosque at a time when new and dangerous Israeli violations threaten the buildings and sanctities through excavations carried out by the Israeli occupation authorities underneath the mosqueís walls. (Photo by Mahmoud Issa / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)(Sipa via AP Images)

Palestinian demonstrators evacuate an injured child amid clashes with Israeli security forces following a demonstration near the border fence with Israel, east of Gaza City, denouncing the Israeli siege of the Palestinian strip, Saturday marks the 52nd anniversary of the evil attempt to burn the blessed Al Aqsa Mosque at a time when new and dangerous Israeli violations threaten the buildings and sanctities through excavations carried out by the Israeli occupation authorities underneath the mosqueís walls. (Photo by Mahmoud Issa / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)(Sipa via AP Images)

 

Palestinians clash with Israeli security forces following the demonstration along the Israel-Gaza border, east of Gaza City, denouncing the Israeli siege of the Palestinian strip, Saturday marks the 52nd anniversary of the evil attempt to burn the blessed Al Aqsa Mosque at a time when new and dangerous Israeli violations threaten the buildings and sanctities through excavations carried out by the Israeli occupation authorities underneath the mosqueís walls. (Photo by Mahmoud Issa / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)(Sipa via AP Images)

The baseless charge that Israel is excavating under the mosque serves Hamas efforts to draw Gazans to the dangerous border clashes. Indeed, it is nothing short of incitement, liable to inflame an already tense region. Given the libel's vast distance from the actual truth, it has no place in any Western organization that fancies itself a news provider.
In addition, the reverential reference to the Islamic site, which happens also to be Judaism's most sacred site, as the "blessed Al Aqsa Mosque," in no way conforms to journalistic practice and standards. And though an arson attack against a religious site is a completely reprehensible act according to any moral reckoning, it is not the role of a news item to label it "evil."
A second series of Sipa captions two days later peddled a separate anti-Israel falsehood: that the Australian Christian tourist who attempted to set the Al Aqsa mosque on fire decades ago was Jewish.
The captions had erred: ". . . the 52nd anniversary of burning the Al Masjid Al Aqsa by the Australian extremist Jewish Dennis Rohan stormed Al- Aqsa. On August 21, 1969, a Jewish extremist stormed Al-Aqsa Mosque and set fire to the mosque . . . " (Emphasis added.) In fact, Rohan was a Christian extremist. 

Palestinian Muslim women participate in an event to mark the 52nd anniversary of burning the Al Masjid Al Aqsa by the Australian extremist Jewish Dennis Rohan stormed Al Asqa [sic]. On August 21, 1969, a Jewish extremist stormed Al-Aqsa mosque and set fire to the mosque, which is considered the most important mosque for Muslims in the Islamic world and is located in the city of Jerusalem, the city over which the conflict between the Palestinians and Israelis is taking place. (Photo by Ahmed Zakot/SOPA Images/Sipa USA)(Sipa via AP Images)

 

Denis Michael Rohan was a Protestant follower of an evangelical sect known as the Church of God.
As AP's Diaa Hadid reported on Feb. 1, 2007 ("Muslim officials reveal recreated pulpit at Al-Aqsa mosque"):
The pulpit was severely damaged in 1969 by Michael Dennis Rohan, a Christian tourist from Australia who believed that destroying the mosque would speed the coming of the Messiah. Rohan later was judged insane and deported by Israel.
A Nov. 13, 2000 Wall Street Journalcorrection, prompted by CAMERA, rightly noted:
The arsonist who attempted to burn down Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque in 1969 was an Australian who belonged to a Christian fundamentalist sect. An article in Monday’s edition on talks between U.S., Israeli and Palestinian leaders incorrectly stated that an Israeli had made the attempt. (Wall Street Journal, November 15, 2000
A second falsehood in the Aug. 23 captions was the misidentification of Jerusalem's Al Aqsa mosque "the most important mosque for Muslims in the Islamic world." In fact, Al-Masjid Al-Ḥarām, the Sacred Mosque surrounding the Kaaba in Mecca, holds that distinction. Al Aqsa is the third most holy site in Islam.
Following communication with CAMERA, Sipa pulled the Aug. 23 images and their captions about the "Jewish" arsonist from its site, and the images likewise no longer appear on AP's service. The Aug. 21 captions, however, falsely charging Israel with excavating under the "blessed Al Aqsa," are still available via both news agencies, as of this writing.