The recent release of Israeli Arab cousins Karim and Maher Younis, convicted in 1983 for the 1980 kidnapping and murder of Israeli soldier Avraham Bromberg, unleashed a wave of news media misinformation ranging from the terrorists’ nationality to the location of their crime and their legal treatment. CAMERA and its Arabic department prompted a series of corrections, including Arabic corrections at Agence France Presse, France24 and Reuters, alongside correction of an English-language Reuters article. Only The Jerusalem Post and PRI (Public Radio International) remained impervious to requests to set the record straight.
Reuters’ Jan. 5 article, “Israel frees one of longest serving Palestinian prisoners after 40 years,” had erred: “Karim Younis, 60, was convicted of kidnapping and killing Israeli soldier Avraham Bromberg in 1983 in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.” Younis kidnapped and killed Bromberg in central Israel, by Junction Pal-Yam, south of Ceasarea, as detailed in this Walla article — not in the Golan Heights. Second, the murder took place in 1980, and not 1983.
Israeli soldier Avraham Bromberg was murdered by two Israeli Arab terrorists in central Israel in 1980
In addition, the reference to Younis as a “Palestinian prisoner” in both the headline and first paragraph is extremely misleading. Younis is an Israeli citizen, born and raised within Israel’s internationally-recognized boundaries, and it is precisely this citizenship which elements within the Israeli government and the public seek to revoke given his nationalist murder of a fellow Israeli citizen.
In response to communication from CAMERA’s Israel office, Reuters corrected the article to take into account the correct location and year of Bromberg’s murder. The corrected report now states: “Karim Younis, 65, began serving his sentence in 1983 after being convicted of killing Israeli soldier Avraham Bromberg, who had been making his way home from his base in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.” In addition, Reuters added a note to the top of the article alerting readers to the change: “This Jan. 5 story has been refiled to correct Younis’s age and conviction details.”
Despite the fact that The Jerusalem Post
had based its story off the Reuters article, the Israeli publication failed to correct after even Reuters had corrected. PRI
likewise failed to correct even after provided the news outlet with documentation about its errors.
When Karim’s cousin Maher was released later in the month, the Arabic services of AFP (via Swissinfo) and French public broadcaster France24 falsely identified him as coming out of “forty years of arrest.” They also added that his crime – killing Israeli soldier Sgt. Avraham Bromberg in 1980 – was committed “in the occupied Golan Heights.”
Given that Younis is an Israeli citizen who was imprisoned after having been tried and sentenced by Israeli courts, over a crime that took place inside Israel’s internationally-recognized territory, he spent the last four decades imprisoned, not under “arrest.”
This false framing, reflecting the Arab nationalist discourse regarding Arabs in Israel’s prison system, appears frequently in Arabic-language reports in Western news outlets. In this distorted formulation, “arrest,” “detention” and even “captivity” (Arabic: اعتقال, احتجاز, أسر) often replace the correct terms “imprisonment” and “incarceration” (Arabic: عقوبة حبس, سجن), thereby signalling that the Israeli authorities which brought these prisoners to justice are illegitimate.
Similarly, pan-European website Euronews – partly owned by various European public broadcasters – also referred to Younis in Arabic as a “captive/detainee” (Arabic: أسير) rather than “prisoner” (Arabic: سجين). Outside the context of the Israeli-Arab conflict, while the former term could also be translated as “prisoner,” but it most often appears in the phrases “political prisoner,” “prisoner of war,” or “prisoner exchange.”
CAMERA Arabic therefore contacted the media outlets to request correction. (The Golan Heights error also appeared in the English versions of the same AFP and France24 reports.) In our letter to Euronews we also pointed out that its error is contrary to the standards of accuracy and impartiality as stipulated in its charter, aimed at holding the outlet accountable to the European taxpayers who fund it.
Both AFP and France24 promptly corrected, replacing “arrest” with “imprisonment” in Arabic, and “in the occupied Golan Heights” with “near Hadera in the north of Israel, on his way home from the occupied Golan Heights” in both Arabic and English. As of this writing, the publicly-funded Euronews failed to follow suit, though its charter requires accountability to taxpayers.
Notably, AFP, France24 and Euronews have failed to correct numerous media errors in coverage of Karim’s release despite CAMERA Arabic’s requests.
This post was updated on Jan. 31, 2023 to include PRI.