"In general, to report a story involving the murder of a teenager and only provide, unchallenged, the killer’s justification is to neglect your journalistic responsibilities. In this specific case, it is also an affront to all Palestinian victims of Israel's apartheid regime."
August 8, 2023
Josef Federman, News Director (Jerusalem), Associated Press
John Daniszewski, Editor at Large for Standards, Associated Press
Donovan Vincent, Public Editor, Toronto Star
Dear Mr. Federman, Mr. Daniszewski and Mr. Vincent,
I’m writing to you on behalf of Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME, https://www.cjpme.org) to express my deep concern over an article written by The Associated Press and published August 7 on The Toronto Star website entitled “Palestinian teenager dies after he was shot by Israeli troops in the West Bank last week.”
The article asserts that the teenager who died “was shot by Israeli troops last week after throwing a firebomb in the occupied West Bank” and attributes this claim to the Palestinian Health Ministry. While we applaud the accurate labelling of the West Bank as “occupied”—a reflection of the international consensus and legal reality—the article reports as fact that Ramzi was killed by Israeli troops and that he had thrown a firebomb, when these are merely the claims made by Israeli forces (not the Palestinian Health Ministry). The perspective of local Palestinian residents, however, differs significantly. According to multiple reports, the 17-year-old was killed by an Israeli settler security guard while sitting in a car with his friends.
Palestinians living in the West Bank are forced to endure the abhorrent and humiliating conditions of Israel’s brutal military occupation. In general, to report a story involving the murder of a teenager and only provide, unchallenged, the killer’s justification is to neglect your journalistic responsibilities. In this specific case, it is also an affront to all Palestinian victims of Israel’s apartheid regime.
I would therefore ask that this statement be updated to read:
A Palestinian teenager who was shot last week in the occupied West Bank died Monday, the Palestinian Health Ministry said. The Israeli military claims that the child was killed by IDF troops after throwing a firebomb, a claim which has not been verified. Local Palestinian residents maintain that the child was killed by a security guard from a nearby Israeli settlement while he was sitting in a car with his friends.
Furthermore, in enumerating the reasons for the surge in violence across the northern West Bank, the article begins the list with “the rise of shooting attacks by Palestinian groups against Israelis.” However, the article fails to specify that the vast majority of such attacks are not taking place in Israel, but in occupied Palestinian territory, including the northern West Bank. While a smaller number of attacks have taken place within Israel (such as Tel Aviv), these have virtually all been committed by lone individuals, not the armed groups in question. This means that most attacks do not occur within Israel’s borders and that most targets of such attacks have either Israeli soldiers or settlers living illegally in occupied territory. Meanwhile, most attacks against civilians have been committed by lone actors. To leave out this essential context and state simply that these attacks are carried out “against Israelis” paints a very misleading picture for any reader about the nature of these incidents and the aims of armed resistance groups.
I would therefore also ask that the statement be updated to read:
Violence has surged across the northern West Bank with the rise of shooting attacks by Palestinian resistance groups against Israeli soldiers and settlers.
Finally, it is noteworthy that one of the two settlers involved in Qusai Matan’s killing is a former spokesman for a Knesset member belonging to the same far-right “Jewish Power” party as extremist Israeli politician Itamar Ben Gvir. Far from being impartial, Ben Gvir himself has stated that Matan’s killer should be awarded a “medal of honor” for defending himself “against rock-throwing.” The asymmetry of power between Palestinians throwing stones to defend their village from being stormed and settlers carrying out state-sponsored terror with impunity is glaring and such context must be included. In addition to mentioning this connection, the article should provide proper context about Jewish Power, and describe it as a far-right and racist party with origins in Kahanism, a fascist and terroristic movement which calls for the expulsion of Palestinians from Israel.
When one party to a conflict is so obviously at fault, balanced reporting on it might seem one-sided when it remains in fact objective. I urge you to bear this in mind in your future reporting on this issue and consider that Palestinian perspectives and voices are critically lacking from discussions involving their own persecution. Should you wish, you contact me at 438-380-5410 for more information.
Media Analyst, Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East
 See CJPME’s resource, “Israeli party policies on Palestinian self-determination,” https://www.cjpmemap.ca/israeli_party_policies_on_the_question_of_palestinian_self_determination