Something Fishy at AFP

Dear HonestReporting Subscriber,  

The following news photo and caption were released by the AFP (Agence France-Presse) on Saturday (Nov. 1):

A Palestinian woman expresses her anger after Israeli Defence Forces detonated an explosive belt they found in her house, destroying the ground and first floor of the building, in the village of Hizmeh near Jerusalem (AFP/Atta Hussein)



Before addressing the details of this event, let’s take a close look at the AFP photo itself.

A wide-angle lens

The photographer used a wide-angle lens to generate an effect of broad, exaggerated destruction ? note the distorted length of the woman’s hands and the “stretched” background buildings. While a wide-angle lens may be fitting for landscape photos, it was clearly neither necessary nor appropriate here.

When a photojournalist distorts a picture in this manner, he distorts the event he is purportedly conveying in an objective manner ? a violation of journalistic ethics.

Now, what happened in this house? From the AFP caption, one wouldn’t think this woman had any personal connection to the explosive belt ? it was merely “found in her house,” which the IDF has, apparently, cruelly destroyed.

The Jerusalem Post , however, reported the essential context that was entirely omitted by AFP: Acting on intelligence, the IDF captured this woman’s husband, who then admitted that he had planned to carry out a suicide bombing with an explosive belt that he had hidden under his baby daughter’s bed.

Soldiers rushed to the house, evacuated its inhabitants, and safely detonated the explosives. The blast caused the first story of the house to fall ? testimony to the force of its impact that was intended to massacre Israeli civilians.

So an event that illustrates yet again the appalling Palestinian use of children as human shields for terrorist activity (and the quality of IDF intelligence, under constant terror threat), gets twisted around by AFP lenses and caption-writers, who present yet another act of “cruel Israeli aggression.” A classic case of anti-Israel media bias.

Comments to AFP:

Apropos photojournalism: IDF spokeswoman Sharon Finegold recently stated that fully 90% of the news pictures coming out of the Palestinian areas are taken by Palestinian photographers (such as Atta Hussein of the AFP, above). Finegold believes this plays an important role in the overall media distortion of the conflict.


This AFP photo is merely the latest example of European media coverage that consistently distorts the Mideast conflict. What is the cumulative effect of years of European media vilification of Israel?

A highly disturbing poll from the European Commission, due for release today, indicates that almost 60 percent of Europeans believe that Israel is a larger threat to world peace than North Korea, Iran or Afghanistan. When asked, “Does the following country present a threat to peace in the world?”, European respondents selected Israel as the number one threat in the world.

The head of the Simon Wiesenthal Center had this response:

This poll is an indication that Europeans have bought in, “hook, line and sinker,” to the vilification and demonization campaign directed against the State of Israel and her supporters by European leaders and media.

This poll should be a wakeup call. Media monitors must redouble our efforts in Europe, and remain diligent wherever media bias spins the State of Israel ? in relentless pursuit of peace since its very inception ? as a “threat to world peace.”