More shabby journalism from the Associated Press

Palestine Media Watch
April 21, 2003

The Associated Press continues to dish out shabby journalism, as the hollow piece on the killing of Palestinian Journalist Nazeh Darwazeh below from Karin Laub again amply illustrates.

A piece from Justin Huggler and Severin Carrell from the British Independent (see below) gives the crucial details that, "Mr. Darwazeh was wearing a bright yellow vest clearly marked 'Press'" when he was shot, that, according to Hassan al-Titi, a Palestinian cameraman for Reuters news agency who was standing beside Mr Darwazeh, "a soldier got out of an armoured car and knelt beside the tank. 'We shouted at him in Hebrew that we were journalists. Nazeh shouted and then I shouted.' But the soldier fired a single shot into the group of reporters", and that, also from Mr. al-Titi, "I looked and saw that [Nazeh's] head was damaged severely. His brain was hanging out of his skull."

Karin Laub's story, by contrast, gives the typical wooden-language AP depiction that Mr. Darwazeh "was killed while filming a confrontation between Israeli soldiers and Palestinians throwing stones and firebombs. Witnesses said Darwazeh was shot by an Israeli soldier taking cover behind an armored vehicle in an alley. The military insisted there were also Palestinian gunmen in the alley."

The fact that it was a single shot fired from a sniper, that the shot ended in the head of the journalist, that the victim was wearing a bright yellow jacket-- none of this makes it to the AP story!

Not only that, but nowhere in the AP story is any active attribution ever given to anyone for the killing of the journalist. Mr. Darwazeh "met his death" and "was killed while filming". Contrast this to the Independent's "he was shot in the head by an Israeli soldier".

Also worth noting is how the Independent’s piece puts this latest killing in context – how this is the second person shot in the head within a few days, the other person being British International Solidarity Movement activist, Tom Hurndall. None of this crucial context is given to us in the AP piece. Instead, we get the usual “contextualization” that is routinely pushed by the IDF, that “Nablus, the West Bank's largest city, has been one of the hotspots. As a militants' stronghold, it was the scene of frequent battles between Israeli troops and Palestinian gunmen.”

The Associated Press's dispatches are the main source for stories on the conflict for practically all the newspapers in the United States. Its deplorable coverage of the conflict is therefore replicated thousands of times across the United States, and the world.

Please take the time to ask for a better quality of journalism from the Associated Press. This kind of astonishingly passive journalism that omits the basic facts, relies on statements from officials rather than digs into stories and tries to uncover what is really happening, not even bothering to interview witnesses, is simply not acceptable.

Contact information for the Associated Press:

New York Headquarters: Tel 212-621-1500 Fax 212-621-7523
Washington Bureau: Tel 202-776-9400 Fax 202-776-9570

You can also email them via:

http://www.pmwatch.org/pmw/mediocrity/sendemail.asp?callID=137

Palestine Media Watch
http://www.pmwatch.org
(610) 993 - 0608

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APTN Cameraman Killed
in West Bank Clash

Sat Apr 19, 5:35 PM ET

By KARIN LAUB, Associated Press Writer

JERUSALEM - Nazeh Darwazeh, a cameraman for Associated Press Television News, was often on the front lines, filming clashes between Israeli soldiers and Palestinians in the West Bank, where he met his death Saturday at age 43.

Darwazeh was killed while filming a confrontation between Israeli soldiers and Palestinians throwing stones and firebombs. Witnesses said Darwazeh was shot by an Israeli soldier taking cover behind an armored vehicle in an alley. The military insisted there were also Palestinian gunmen in the alley.

Darwazeh threw his energy into work after becoming disillusioned with Palestinian politics, a youthful passion that landed him in a Jordanian jail when he was in his 20s.

He once told his colleagues his proudest day as a cameraman was April 8, 2002, during Israel's biggest military offensive against Palestinian militants.

At the time, troops had sealed off Nablus' old city, or casbah, and Darwazeh was among the first journalists to get to the area of fighting, filming rows of bodies of gunmen in a makeshift morgue in a mosque, which also served as a field hospital for wounded Palestinians.

Darwazeh, a burly man with a large mustache and glasses, was a familiar figure in Nablus, where he managed one of three family-owned photo studios.

Born July 30, 1959, into a large family – he had five brothers and two sisters – Darwazeh became politically active as a teenager, joining the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a Marxist group and one of several PLO factions dedicated to ending Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip (news - web sites).

As a 17-year-old, Darwazeh formed his own splinter group, distributing leaflets and trying to recruit members. Israeli troops ordered him to leave his Nablus high school because of his activism and forced him to spend his senior year in a nearby village.

In 1979, Darwazeh went to Jordan, planning to study economics at Jordan University in Amman. Several months after his arrival, he was arrested by Jordanian intelligence because of his activism and was sentenced to 7 1/2 years in prison. At the time, Jordan was clamping down hard on PLO activists, who in 1970 had staged a revolt against the monarchy.

Dr. Nizar Qaed, a Nablus physician who shared a cell with Darwazeh for some of the time, said his friend eventually became disillusioned with Palestinian politics.

"He had put his energy into politics, but later found the Palestinian factions to be false, so he turned his energy to his job," Qaed said.

In Palestinian society, time spent in prison for political activism is not unusual. Tens of thousands of Palestinians have been rounded up by Israel, many for membership in outlawed factions or for stone-throwing, and others for involvement in armed attacks.

Darwazeh returned to Nablus in 1990, becoming an apprentice in one of the family's photo studios. After saving some money, he married his wife, Naela, who holds a degree in English literature from An Najah University in Nablus. The couple had four boys and a girl, ranging from four months to 11 years old.

In 1994, with the establishment of the Palestinian Authority (news - web sites) as a result of interim peace deals with Israel, Palestine TV was formed and Darwazeh was hired as a cameraman in Nablus. Two years ago, several months after the outbreak of Israeli-Palestinian fighting, he began working for Associated Press Television News.

Nablus, the West Bank's largest city, has been one of the hotspots. As a militants' stronghold, it was the scene of frequent battles between Israeli troops and Palestinian gunmen. Darwazeh was often in the front lines, but rarely rattled – a cool his colleagues attributed to his prison years.

Only a few days ago Darwazeh was on the streets of Nablus as usual – this time joining a group of several dozen Palestinian journalists to protest the death of a reporter for al-Jazeera, the Arab satellite network, killed during the U.S. attack on Baghdad.

On Saturday, Darwazeh's body was carried through Nablus wrapped in Palestinian flag to a funeral attended by about 4,000 people

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Israeli army accused of targeting
TV man killed in West Bank

British 'human shield' near death as soldiers are blamed for another civilian shooting

By Justin Huggler in Jerusalem and Severin Carrell
20 April 2003

A TV cameraman for the Associated Press news agency died in the West Bank yesterday after he was shot in the head by an Israeli soldier. An eyewitness accused the soldier of deliberately targeting a group of journalists, saying he carefully took aim at them and fired a single shot.

The killing came as the father of Tom Hurndall, the British human shield shot in the head by an Israeli sniper nine days ago, said he suspected his son was deliberately targeted for helping protect Palestinian civilians. The 21-year-old photography student from north London is close to death, with severe brain damage, after being critically wounded in the Palestinian refugee camp of Rafah on the Gaza Strip.

His father, Anthony Hurndall, 52, said local witnesses and human rights activists from the Independent Solidarity Movement (ISM) – the group his son was helping in Rafah – believed that Tom was singled out by an Israeli sniper.

A similar accusation was being made yesterday about the death of Nazeh Darwazeh, a Palestinian cameraman working for Associated Press Television News. Mr Darwazeh was shot as he tried to film clashes between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian youths in the narrow streets of the casbah (old city) in Nablus.

Hassan al-Titi, a Palestinian cameraman for Reuters news agency who was standing beside Mr Darwazeh when he was shot, said they were with a group of journalists and Red Crescent workers. An Israeli tank had broken down inside the casbah and Palestinian youths had gathered to throw stones and molotov cocktails at it. Suddenly, Mr Titi said, a soldier got out of an armoured car and knelt beside the tank. "We shouted at him in Hebrew that we were journalists. Nazeh shouted and then I shouted." But the soldier fired a single shot into the group of reporters.

"The soldier looked. He saw me and Nazeh," Mr Titi said. "I looked and saw that [Nazeh's] head was damaged severely. His brain was hanging out of his skull."

There were suggestions that the soldier might have been firing at stone-throwers behind the journalists, but Mr Titi stressed that all that was behind them was a wall and a doorway. The cameramen were experienced at working in Nablus, and had carefully positioned themselves so that they were not in the line of fire between the soldiers and the stone-throwers.

Mr Darwazeh was wearing a bright yellow vest clearly marked "Press". He leaves behind a wife and five children, the youngest six months old. His death, so soon after journalists were killed when a US tank deliberately fired a shell into the Palestine Hotel in Baghdad, will raise new concerns that journalists are being targeted.

Meanwhile, as his son lies in a coma, Mr Hurndall has been independently investigating his shooting by interviewing local Palestinians and ISM activists.

Tom Hurndall, who arrived in Rafah in February after spending time as a human shield in Iraq, was hit as he tried to shepherd to safety two children who were pinned down by gunfire from an Israeli tank. Like Mr Darwazeh, he was wearing a bright fluorescent vest.

Mr Hurndall admitted yesterday the outlook for Tom, who is being kept alive by a breathing machine in the intensive care unit of an Israeli hospital, was grim. Mr Hurndall insisted he was still "open minded" about the circumstances of the shooting and was anxious not to appear partisan, but stressed that he was becoming increasingly sceptical about the army's conduct and its willingness properly to investigate the shooting. On Thursday, the army suggested their sniper had fired only at a Palestinian gunman.

So far, the army general investigating the shooting has refused to meet Mr Hurndall, and failed to interview local witnesses.

The Israelis say they are now considering a fresh request to meet Mr Hurndall, but he is preparing to demand an independent investigation. "My son has been possibly fatally wounded by the Israelis," he said. "If they can show me that they fired in genuine error at what they thought was a Palestinian gunman, then I will accept it. But if we're not satisfied that we're getting open and honest answers we may call for an independent inquiry of some sort to find out the truth and hope the Israelis will cooperate with that."

Last week, a preliminary Israeli army inquiry concluded that its forces were not to blame for the death of Rachel Corrie, an American peace activist crushed to death by an army bulldozer in Rafah. It said she was obscured from the driver's view -- a claim hotly disputed by witnesses – and alleged that she and other ISM activists were guilty of "illegal, irresponsible and dangerous" behaviour.

'They had courage in the face of danger'

When he was shot in Gaza, Tom Hurndall had just returned from serving as a "human shield" in Iraq. This is extracted from an article he wrote on the experience.

I had never been a part of a group of people that I respected so much. Few, if any, conformed to their tree-hugging image and only a couple had ever before been any form of activists ... They were normal in every way, except that they had the courage to take the protest one step further and still keep it peaceful. I felt proud to be associated with them.

Their ideals and motives as well as their ages and professions differed. Some were there to "stop the war", some to "defend" hospitals and schools, some simply to stand beside the Iraqi public (including a very select few to stand beside the "regime") and some, like myself, were there to document and provide coverage.

They were the handful out of millions who had the courage to protest even when their lives and freedom were on the line, and when I return to Manchester, any suggestion of their "stupidity" would result in a probably violent rebuttal from myself. These people were heroes in my eyes, and to anyone who knew them.

Israel-Palestine Timeline

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History of the Israel Lobby


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Palestine Photography Project


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