Ambassador Asaf Zamir, the Consul General of Israel in New York, gave Israel’s side of the story of the death of Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh during an interview with CNN’s Reliable Sources, during which he slammed the Palestinian Authority for not agreeing to a joint investigation.
He noted the fact that “social media, politicians in the United and all over the world are claiming its Israel without any proof of it, while the Palestinian corner said that ‘We’ve examined the bullet. It’s too close to call. We don’t know yet.’ We still have American elected officials and media outlets blaming Israel.”
Responding to an allegation by host Brian Stelter that “you have to wonder if there’s a pattern of Israel targeting members of the media,” Zamir said: “Of course there is not. There is no pattern. In Israel, free press is extremely important. That is why we want to conduct this investigation to begin with. It is a conflict zone. It is not a one-sided conflict zone. It is a conflict zone because terror comes out of it.”
Speaking about the riot at the funeral of Shireen Abu Akleh, Zamir said the media has been taking the footage of rioting and the Israeli police response out of context: “This was a funeral that we were in charge of public safety of. It was coordinated by the police forces with the family of Shireen Abu Akleh. And before the funeral started, people came up and tried to take the coffin from the family, tried to run with it in a different direction. And the police was there trying to help the family try to make sure that what was agreed upon would happen. Then bottles were thrown at police officers.”
“I think it is important for the world to report responsibly,” he said.
“When you talk about anti-Israel sentiment every time something happens in Israel, no matter what side it happened from. Al Jazeera has 10 journalists in the last few years who died in conflict areas, horrible. None of whom were reported as much as this happening in Israel,” Zamir said.
“You automatically blame Israel for things we haven’t done. That turns into into antisemitic attacks at the end of the day and antisemitic sentiments in the United States. In New York City, antisemitic incidents have quadrupled in the last year. And there’s a connection because most of the Jewish people have strong feelings toward Israel, see it as their eternal home, and when you attack that, you attack them, and there is a linkage.”
Zamir asked the media to report honestly instead of automatically always blaming Israel the minute something happens, lambasting them for continually reporting against Israel from a “totally different place in your heart.”
“That is why we’re not asking for any shortcuts, we’re not asking for any discounts. But we are asking for honest reporting for things that happen. We are asking for people to wait for a second before they say Israel [was responsible] for the killing of a reporter. Maybe we are, and if we are we need to investigate that. Maybe we’re not. But when you assume automatically that we are, that comes from a totally different place in your heart.”