It’s All About The AP, Stupid

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An African immigrant in Israel. - Photo Credit: Brian of London
An African immigrant in Israel. – Photo Credit: Brian of London

This is not a story about The Times of Israel so much as about the AP. Here’s how the following story happened. Here’s the title and subhead:

Watchdog slams Israel’s treatment of African migrants | The Times of Israel.

Policy toward Eritrean and Sudanese migrants coerces them to leave the country, Human Rights Watch report says

The completely misnamed Human Rights Watch (HRW) NGO put out a largely made up story bashing Israel for it’s treatment of African migrants. It’s a complex issue, there’s no doubt a huge deal of suffering and Israel’s not perfect but nowhere else is. While I was in London a whole shipping container of Afghan Sikhs (including at least one dead body) was found at the docks in the UK. I’m pretty sure they’re not going to be having a party as they enter the UK’s overloaded immigration system. I searched in vain for a HRW report on this. The allegedly global organisation, HRW, focuses on the Jewish state almost exclusively.

So HRW, using barely any recognisable methodology beyond phoning their friends, creates a report. This is then passed around to the enormous pool of reporters in Israel and, though I have no basis in fact to make this accusation specific to HRW and AP, its certain that HRW’s people in Israel socialise with most of the foreign press here. Matti Friedman made this point in his article.

So this becomes an AP news wire story. They kick it off by using HRW’s own definition of itself: “An international watchdog organisation” the AP writes. Now there is plenty of criticism of HRW available but as this comes from places like NGO Monitor which Ha’aretz would describe as “right wing” that can safely be ignored.

The following paragraph is the only part of the story that doesn’t appear to come direct from the lips of an HRW spokeshole:

In response to the report, Israeli Interior Ministry spokeswoman Sabine Haddad said Israel was dealing with the challenge of the migrants in a legal and appropriate way.

The rest of it is just boilerplate bash Israel stuff with little significant background information and is clearly slapdash work by AP regurgitating whatever their friends at HRW ask them to.

Why any reputable organ like The Times of Israel allows itself to be used as a tool by those who hate Jewish Israel is still beyond me. Cut AP pieces or drastically edit them. There is no other way.

Here is NGO Monitor’s rebuttal. I reprint it in full because I judge them to be a much more credible source than AP.

HRW CLAIMS ON AFRICAN MIGRANTS REQUIRE INDEPENDENT VERIFICATION
NGO Monitor September 09, 2014

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has published another report harshly condemning Israel for alleged “unlawful” practices (“‘Make Their Lives Miserable:’ Israel’s Coercion of Eritrean and Sudanese Asylum Seekers to Leave Israel,” September 9, 2014). As with HRW’s other statements and publications, journalists, policy makers, and the general public should carefully examine HRW’s record before referring to this publication. They should also verify all claims independently.

The issues related to African migrants are highly complex, and require serious, substantive, and nuanced examination and debate by Israeli citizens.  HRW’s report provides none of these elements.

HRW also lacks a meaningful research methodology and is unqualified to make factual and legal claims regarding human rights issues. In many instances, including the report in question, anonymous, emotive interviews and innuendo take the place of verifiable evidence and conclusive facts.

In addition, its pronouncements on Israel are marked by systematic double standards and distortions. NGO Monitor has shown that key HRW officials, including Executive Director Ken Roth and Middle East department head Sarah Leah Whitson, are ideologically biased against Israel. Their personal obsessions belie a commitment to universal human rights and cast a dark shadow on HRW’s allegations about Israel.

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