Malawi’s announcement this week that it will open an embassy in Jerusalem prompted a series of media errors, many of which were subsequently corrected in response to CAMERA’s activity. The most common error was that Malawi will be the first African nation to open an embassy in Jerusalem, Israel’s capital.
In fact, there was a period in Israel’s short history when [Guatemala] was one of at least 16 states that had their ambassadors stationed in the city.Three of them were African nations — Ivory Coast, Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) and Kenya. . . .So how did Jerusalem go from hosting 16 embassies to zero? The first blow occurred after the Yom Kippur War, when Ivory Coast, Zaire and Kenya all severed relations with Israel following a meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement in Algiers in September 1973.
Reuters was particularly forthright in correcting its report which had erred: “Malawi said on Tuesday it will open a full embassy to Israel in Jerusalem, becoming the first African nation to do so in the contested city” (“Malawi says it will open Israel embassy in Jerusalem“).
In response to communication from CAMERA, editors amended the text to accurately refer to Malawi “becoming the first African nation in decades.” Moreover, Reuters commendably appended the following correction to the bottom of the article, adhering to the highest level of journalistic accountability and transparency: “The story corrects to say that Malawi would be the first African country to open an embassy to Israel in Jerusalem in decades, not the first ever.”
Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA), the German wire service, had published an English-language headline Nov. 3 which erred: “Malawi to open embassy in Jerusalem, in first for African country.” The accompanying DPA article more precisely reports: “The foreign ministers of Israel and Malawi announced on Tuesday that the African country will open an embassy in Jerusalem, which would make it the only state from the continent to have an ambassador based there.”
The Jerusalem Post likewise ran an article which began: “Malawi plans to open an embassy in Israel and place it in Jerusalem, making it the first African state to do so, Malawian Foreign Minister Eisenhower Mkaka announced Tuesday during a visit to Israel” (“Malawi to be first African state with embassy in Jerusalem“). While the inaccurate headline remains unchanged, The Jerusalem Post amended the accompanying text now correctly states: “Malawi plans to open an embassy in Israel and and place it in Jerusalem, making it the first African state to do so in recent decades . . .” Unlike Reuters, The Jerusalem Post did not append a correction alerting readers to the change.
CAMERA also contacted the Media Line yesterday about its story that day, “Malawi To Become First African Country To Open Embassy in Jerusalem” which began: “Malawi will open an embassy in Jerusalem, becoming the first African country to do so, according to Malawi Foreign Minister Eisenhower Mkaka.” The Media Line replied that they caught the error and had assigned an editor to fix it. The headline now correctly states “Malawi to Open Embassy in Jerusalem,” and the amended article accurately opens: “Malawi will open an embassy in Jerusalem, according to Malawi Foreign Minister Eisenhower Mkaka.” No correction is appended to the text alerting readers to the change.
Several journalists informed CAMERA that their source for the misinformation was Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, who had referred to Malawi as the first African nation to open its embassy in Jerusalem. CAMERA subsequently spoke with a Foreign Ministy spokesman who stood by Ashkenazi’s statement, but with the key qualification that the foreign minister was referring to the “current round,”meaning in the current context since the U.S. embassy opening. The Foreign Ministry therefore acknowledged that previously other African countries had embassies in Jerusalem.
United Press International’s story on the Malawi embassy also contained errors, but of a different nature. First, its headline had erred: “Malawi to move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.” The first paragraph repeated the headline’s error that Malawi is “mov[ing]” its embassy in Israel, stating: “The government of Malawi is planning to move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.” Malawi currently does not have any embassy in Israel, so it is not moving an embassy, but opening one.
The United States moved its embassy from Tel Aviv in 2018, following up on a campaign promise made by President Donald Trump. Sudan followed last month amid normalizing relations with Israel.
The deal does not immediately entail full diplomatic relations, for instance with an exchange of embassies, but it is an agreement to start discussions over normalization with an initial focus on economic and related matters.