Wednesday, March 1, 2017

AP Fact Check Riddled with Factual Errors

The Associated Press decided to do a "fact check" relating to comments made by David Friedman, the man designated as the next American ambassador to Israel. Unfortunately, the AP's should have submitted its own fact check to a fact check before publishing it. The following was sent by Daniel H. Trigoboff to the AP.

To The Editor:

The AP Fact Check on issues related to President Trump's selection of David Friedman as U.S. Ambassador to Israel was riddled with factual errors. As a result your readers were grossly misled regarding Israel, and the history of Israel's attempts to reach peace with the Palestinians.

To begin with, in response to Friedman's comments that Palestinians had failed to end incitement and have actually increased terrorism since the Oslo Accords, your fact checkers responded that "Not all Palestinians are the same." Yet Palestinian terrorism has continued to emanate from all areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority and from the Hamas-infested Gaza Strip. The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), which translates Arabic statements by government and leading Palestinian officials, has documented uncountable statements urging Palestinians to attack and murder innocent Israeli civilians, and has documented differences in what these leaders and officials say in English to Westerners about wanting peace, vs. what they say in Arabic to the Palestinian population inciting violence. Even Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian President, routinely calls for violence in statements such as "...every drop of blood shed in defense of Al-Aksa is sacred", "Jews contaminate Al-Aksa with their filthy feet", and "not one Jew" will be permitted to reside in a nascent Palestinian state. Abbas leads the Palestinian Authority in naming streets, soccer stadiums, and other municipal infrastructure after brutal terrorists who have murdered dozens of innocent civilians in horrific attacks. Abbas also presides over the financial incentivization of Palestinian terrorism, such that families of terrorists killed or incarcerated for their crimes are paid stipends by the Palestinian Authority, a total that recently reached $170 million dollars per year. Abbas presides over a Palestinian education system which uses textbooks that label all of Israel as occupied territory, and media which spew forth disgraceful antisemitic material inciting violence daily, material which might shame Der Sturmer.

Your fact checkers attempted to whitewash this misuse of international financial aid by offering the justification bruited about by the terrorists themselves, that they are "driven" to such acts by Israel. Yet a frequency count of Palestinian terrorist acts shows a very sharp increase in every single year following the Oslo Accords, as compared to the frequency of such acts prior to Oslo, demonstrating that it doesn't matter to Palestinians when Israel makes concessions for peace. Instead what matters to the Palestinians is destroying Israel and killing Jews.

So while the Palestinian Liberation Organization may have "denounced" terrorism decades ago as asserted by your article, Palestinian terrorism continues at a fever pitch, as has been the case since that time. All current Palestinian leaders are fully involved in at least some of the Byzantine morass of Palestinian front groups, like Al Fatah and the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigade, which carry out terrorist attacks. Therefore for the AP fact checkers to assert blandly that "...attacks have continued to be a problem for Israel in the years since" is an odious distortion of the actual reality faced by Israel every day. The attacks have not merely "continued" as implied by the passive voice of that sentence. Israel has instead been subjected to a murderous campaign of terror against its civilians for decades by a blood stained death cult sworn to its destruction, the Palestinians, who couldn't care less about a state of their own as long as they destroy Israel. These facts are easily available to even the most desultory of fact checkers, and the fact that your article overlooked them is inexcusable.

The AP fact checking article characterized Abbas as stating "...the Palestinians met their peace requirements by recognizing Israel", and that "'s not up to them to determine the religious nature of the State of Israel". The AP fact checkers failed to point out any of the relevant history surrounding this mendacious claim, namely that refusal to recognize Israel's right to exist as the nation-state of the Jews has been a central factor in the continuation of the conflict. Palestinians have turned down generous peace offers including a state of their own in 2000, 2001, and 2008 precisely because the agreements would have ended their war against Israel, and would have settled the question of Palestinian refugees in a manner which would leave Israel intact as a Jewish state. Arab and Palestinian inability to tolerate the existence of Israel as a Jewish state has been at the core of attacks on Israel by the surrounding countries and by Palestinians almost continually since Israel's rebirth.

AP fact checkers are not supposed to be swallowing demonstrably false reassurances like the ones Abbas offers in English, but are obligated instead to investigate the underlying realities, including what Abbas et. al. say to their own population in Arabic about destroying Israel. This is a fact checking responsibility they repeatedly failed to meet.

Furthermore, the article referred to the Israeli town of Beit El as having been built on private Palestinian land without permission from the landowners, yet offered not one single fact to corroborate this assertion, which was made by an organization, Kerem Navot, which is in principle opposed to the existence of such towns. Given the complexities of real estate law in Israel, which is a mixture of Ottoman, Arab, British, and Israeli statutes, some documentation of this claim would have been in order.

So this article, despite its title, did precious little actual fact checking. The AP should correct the errors it contained, and see that those corrections are published in the newspapers, like The New York Times, in which the original article was published. The editorial staff of The New York Times and all other media outlets in which this collection of pro-Palestinian falsehoods disguised as fact checking appeared should review their standards as well, as submissions from the AP regarding Israel obviously cannot be assumed to be valid. Finally the AP should review its own internal processes in order to improve the quality control of its own articles related to "facts" about Israel and the Middle East.

Daniel H. Trigoboff, Ph.D.

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