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Media War on the Flotilla Clash: AP Anti-Israel Bias Exposed

The Washington Times daily wrote a rare verbal attack on the Associated Press, exposing its anti-Israeli bias in coverage of the flotilla clash
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 6/2/2010, 6:49 PM / Last Update: 6/2/2010, 7:49 PM

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The Washington Times daily wrote a rare verbal attack on the venerable Associated Press Wednesday, exposing clear anti-Israeli bias and false reporting in coverage of the flotilla clash.

The AP usually is outside of the range of critics, but the Times ridiculed the most widely known news service for “falsely” reporting, “The pro-Palestinian flotilla had been headed to Gaza with tens of thousands of tons of aid that Israel bans from Gaza.”

The Times wrote, “Yet, not even the Free Gaza folks claim to have brought ‘tens of thousands' of tons of aid. Their claim, which has been widely repeated and accepted by the mainstream media, is that the ships were carrying 10,000 tons…. Furthermore, much of the aid brought by the Free Gaza ships is material that Israel already permits to enter the Gaza Strip -- medical equipment, imperishable foods, and toys.”

AP,  relied on by millions of readers for objectivity, reported the flotilla clash by stating, "Dozens of activists and six Israeli soldiers were wounded in the bloody predawn confrontation in international waters. The violent takeover dealt yet another blow to Israel's international image.”

The mass media followed the AP story line and generally ignored the hundreds of tons of food, merchandise and supplies that are transferred every day via Gaza crossings under Israeli supervision.

The Times pointed out that only after the Mavi Marmara ship ignored Israeli Navy orders to change course from Gaza, “Israeli marines and commandos boarded the ship, some by rope ladders from helicopters. A fierce fight erupted on deck, and only after taking casualties and fearing for their lives did the commandos fire back, trying to aim first at the feet of the ‘peace activists.’"

Mass media also highlighted the one-sided coverage by blandly reporting charges by pro-Hamas elements that the IDF videos of the attack on its soldiers were doctored.

Occasionally, pro-Israel columnists were able to insert the full picture, and the pro-Israel New York Post published a hard-hitting editorial Wednesday under the headline  “Terrorists at the Helm.” It stated, “The convoy was organized and manned by the Foundation for Human Rights and Humanitarian Relief (IHH) -- as bloody-handed a terrorist gang as exists in the Mideast… The media is in full-throated condemnation mode, as is the 'nternational community.' No surprise there -- that's what they do best."

“Has a seaborne intifada now begun? If so, its purpose is not peace, but rather the destruction of Israel and the eviction of democracy and human rights from the Middle East.”

However, the overwhelmingly unquestioning acceptance of flotilla’s organizers’ statements and accusations, echoed and encouraged by Arab and most Western countries, precluded any room for discussion. The result was that the IHH could ignore Israeli documentation that its militants staged a lynch of Israeli Navy commandos expecting peaceful resistance by activists.

In an article was otherwise critical of Israel, Richard Spencer, a London Daily Telegraph Middle East correspondent, noted that the media acceptance of the Turkish militants’ claims allowed them to pay no attention to the IDF documented evidence of a lynch.

He wrote, “The flotilla’s supporters simply refused to engage with [Israel’s] arguments. There was no violence by the activists, they asserted, often with footage of club-wielding activists replayed as they spoke…"

“It wasn’t that they argued the violence was justified as needed to repel an illegal attack by the Israelis: it was as if it wasn’t taking place at all. This paradox largely went unchallenged by the presenters.”