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.