Whilst covering events in Jerusalem over the past year, including tensions at the city’s holy sites in the summer of 2017, Sky News Arabia has repeatedly leveled unsubstantiated and erroneous allegations against Jewish visitors and Israeli security forces when reporting on incidents at The Temple Mount – Judaism’s holiest site. Namely, all Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount are blanketly referred to as “settlers”, and are accused of “storming”, “infiltrating” and “violating” the al-Aqsa Mosque, with the support of the Israeli police (“the police of the Occupation”). However, Jews (and all non-Muslims) are forbidden from entering the mosque, and all visits (to the Temple Mount) are peaceful.
UK Media Watch already dedicated a post to such a Sky News Arabia report in August 2017. But, as you’ll see, it was only the first in a series of reports by the network – a joint venture between the UK-based Sky News and Abu Dhabi-based Media Investment Corporation – a bearing almost identical headlines and terminology.
Here are English translations of the Arabic headlines accompanying five articles by Sky News Arabia over the last 14 months.
- August 1st, 2017: “Biggest infiltration to Al-Aqsa mosque in 50 years”
- September 20th, 2017: “Extremist settlers storm Al-Aqsa plaza”
- April 1st, 2018: “Dozens of settlers storm Al-Aqsa plaza”
- May 23rd, 2018: “Hundreds of settlers storm Al-Aqsa plaza”
- July 22nd, 2018: “Under heavy guard: hundreds of settlers storm Al-Aqsa”
The highly problematic phrasing of these reports (i.e. naming the entire Temple Mount compound “Al-Aqsa”, “Al-Aqsa plaza” or “Al-Aqsa mosque”, omitting entirely the Jewish connection to the site, and attributing to Jewish visitors aggressive and violent behavior without any evidence, have been highlighted previously at our sister sites BBC watch and CAMERA Arabic, as well as at Palestinian Media Watch.
However, there’s also another element of these misleading reports that we haven’t yet highlighted – the fact that all rely almost entirely on Palestinian Authority sources. Thus, four of the five mentioned reports relied solely on either the Palestinian Ministry of Waqf or the official Palestinian News Agency WAFA, whilst the fifth quoted unspecified “Palestinian news outlets”.
This phenomenon, of Sky News Arabia adopting the official Palestinian position and uncritically citing highly propagandistic and misleading terminology, reached new heights in a news piece published on August 21st this year.
In the report, commemorating the 49th anniversary of the al-Aqsa mosque arson attack, Sky News Arabia chose to exclusively quote not one but three different official PA sources: WAFA (credited under the name of “National Palestinian Center of Information”), the PA government’s spokesperson, and the Jerusalem Mufti (appointed by the PA).
All of the sources treated the incident as the latest in decades-long Jewish and Israeli attempt to “Judaise” the mosque.
WAFA even cited two false historical ‘facts’ to promote this conspiracy theory. The first is that the perpetrator of the arson, the Australian Michael Dennis Rohan, was Jewish (he was actually a devout Christian); The second is that the Israeli government was eager to send him back to his homeland as fast as possible, after having spent only “a short period of time” under its supervision” (in fact, he was hospitalized in Israel for more than four years before leaving).
This is another example of Sky News Arabia’s lack of adherence to basic journalistic standards of cross-referencing and using multiple sources – professional breaches that presumably wouldn’t be accepted by editors of Sky’s English edition.
See the original Arabic version of the post here.
- Guardian op-ed by Avi Shlaim on Oslo’s failure erases Palestinians from the story (UK Media Watch)
- Hamas account of boy’s death: a media litmus test (CAMERA)
- BBC Radio programme on Hebron omits vital background (BBC Watch)