Emirati affiliated Sky News Arabia persists in calling Israeli communities inside Israel’s internationally-recognized territory “settlements”, even after its correspondents were publicly called-out by CAMERA staff.
This is how CAMERA Arabic advisor Meir Masri responded on air to Sky News Arabia’s Israel correspondent Firas Lutfi calling the Israeli city of Kiryat Shemona a “settlement”, in an August 4th broadcast following Hezbollah firing missiles at Israeli northern communities that day:
However, not only did Sky News Arabia fail to correct its online item which referred to Kiryat Shmona and other Jewish communities within pre-’67 Israel as “settlements” earlier that day, its website subsequently published three additional items over the next five days which used the same terminology.
August 4th, headline: “Missiles fall close to an Israeli settlement near Lebanon, and the Israeli military responds”; photo caption: “A missile fell in an open area close to the Kiryat Shmona settlement“; body: “The Israeli military responded with [firing] seven rockets across the border with Lebanon, at the Marjayoun plateau facing the two settlements of Metula and Tallat al-Hamames [probably the Har Tsfiya neighborhood, also in Metula; Tallat al-Hamames is an uninhabited hilltop inside Lebanon].”
August 5th, 01:01: “Fire resumed in the shrub-lands nearby the Kiryat Shmona settlement inside Israel”
August 5th, 02:33: “Missiles launched on Wednesday on the Kiryat Shmona settlement”
August 9th, op-ed by Lebanese columnist Mohamad Kawas: “[The missiles] targeted the Kiryat Shmona settlement”
To the best of our knowledge, Sky News Arabia is the only Western-branded, Arabic-speaking media outlet which covered the Israel-Hezbollah fire exchange while consistently using the “settlements” terminology in reference to the Jewish communities in northern Israel, thus continuing to question Israel’s legitimacy within any borders.
AFP’s Arabic wire service, in contrast, refrained from doing so this time, calling it “a town” instead. In comparison, between May 14 and 19, AFP Arabic referred to nearby Metula as “a settlement” no less than three times. Though CAMERA Arabic contacted editors repeatedly over the matter, they’ve refused to correct it.
In the case of Saudi owned and operated Independent Arabia, the picture is more ambiguous. For the most part, IA covered the early August events while correctly referring to Kiryat Shmona as “a city” or “a town“, populated by “residents” (rather than “settlers”), with the single exception of an August 7 op-ed by Lebanese journalist Walid Choucair.
However, historically there have been ups and downs with this last outlet.
Interestingly, following a June 2020 communication with CAMERA Arabic, Independent Arabia nearly stopped using the “settlements” terminology in reference to Gaza envelope communities, with two exceptions from June 2021 (one of them a report which indirectly quoted Gaza authorities). Nevertheless, it continued to use the same problematic term in regards to communities adjacent to the Lebanese border, with the latest examples dating back to November 2020 (“settlement of Manara”) and May 2021 (“settlement of Metula”). It is hence unclear whether or not IA intends to apply the same standards it set in the case of Gaza, on northern Israel as well.
Notably, in recent months CAMERA Arabic prompted several Arabic news outlets to correct the “settlement” terminology with regards to Jewish communities inside Israel’s internationally recognized territory: the Arabic brands of BBC, Reuters and EuroNews.