"Failing to correctly identify Jenin as a refugee camp and characterizing it as a “militant stronghold” serves to mislead readers about life in the camp, downplays the devastation faced by civilians, and serves to legitimize the Israeli military attack which has faced significant international condemnation."
July 19, 2023
Ellen Knickmeyer, Journalist, Associated Press
Anna Johnson, Washington Bureau Chief, Associated Press
Josef Federman, Jerusalem, Associated Press
Donovan Vincent, Public Editor, The Toronto Star
John Daniszewski, VP and Editor at Large, Associated Press
Dear Ms. Johnson, Mr. Vincent, Mr. Federman, Ms. Knickmeyer, and Mr. Daniszewski,
I’m writing on behalf of Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME, https://www.cjpme.org) to express concern regarding your article titled “Israeli president seeks to reassure Congress on his country’s democracy, U.S. ties”, published on July 19, 2023.
My first concern is that your article states that Israel carried out a “a two-day air and ground offensive in Jenin, a militant stronghold.”
- Jenin is a city in the northern West Bank, whereas the Jenin refugee camp is located within the larger city of Jenin. Israel’s military offensive targeted the Jenin refugee camp specifically, although there was some spillover.
- Failing to correctly identify Jenin as a refugee camp and characterizing it as a “militant stronghold” serves to mislead readers about life in the camp, downplays the devastation faced by civilians, and serves to legitimize the Israeli military attack which has faced significant international condemnation. During Israel’s 2-day invasion of the Jenin refugee camp, the United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner reported that “Israeli forces killed at least 12 Palestinians… and injured more than 100 Palestinians.” The Palestinian Red Crescent reported 117 injuries. By all accounts, this was a mass civilian casualty event, not merely an attack on a so-called “military stronghold.
- Reporting by The Times, BBC and DCI-Palestine determined that at least one of the four Palestinian children killed by Israeli forces during the attack was unarmed. CCTV footage shows unarmed 16-year-old Abdulrahman Hasan Ahmad Hardan standing in front of a hospital when he was shot in the head by an Israeli sniper.
Given the above, I urge you to update the sentence in question to read:
“…with a two-day air and ground offensive on the Jenin refugee camp which houses thousands of Palestinian civilians, killing at least 12, four of whom were children.”
My second concern is your statement that, “Senior members of Netanyahu’s government have been pushing for increased construction and other measures to cement Israel’s control of the West Bank in response to more than a year long wave of violence with the Palestinians.”
- This is problematic as it implies that “violence with the Palestinians” is something which is a symmetrical fight between two equally capable sides. Israeli settlers have been indiscriminately attacking Palestinian civilians, villages, farmland and property without little fear of being held to account by Israeli authorities. [i]
- Secondly, it misleads readers into thinking that Israel’s far-right government is building more illegal settlements only “in response to… violence with the Palestinians.” Israel has been building illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories for decades.
In the interest of accuracy, this sentence should be changed to:
“Senior members of Netanyahu’s right wing coalition government have been pushing for additional construction of illegal settlements on occupied Palestinian land to further cement Israel’s control while attacks by Israeli settlers against Palestinians have increased in recent months.”
Should you wish to discuss this further, please do not hesitate to contact me at 438-380-5410.
Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East
Director of Strategic Operations