Ex-reporter accuses AP of bias on Israel


The world's largest news-gathering organisation is embroiled in a row after a former employee accused its Jerusalem bureau of slanting its output against Israel.

A fortnight ago, Matti Friedman, a Jerusalem-based reporter for Associated Press from 2006 to 2011, claimed in an article that his former bureau - and much of the Jerusalem foreign press corps - was in cahoots with foreign activists, non-governmental organisations and diplomats, to control what gets published about Israel.

Mr Friedman claimed in Atlantic that many journalists saw themselves as "the media arm" of that anti-Israel world. He wrote that "a distaste for Israel has come to be something between an acceptable prejudice and a prerequisite for entry" into those circles.

In an earlier article in Tablet Magazine, Mr Friedman argued that the press corps consistently cast Palestinians as "passive victims of the party that matters" - namely, Israel.

In an interview this week, the Canadian-Israeli journalist recalled that he had been "thrilled" when he landed a job at AP, and was keen to step outside of the Israeli "echo chamber". But he said that he became disillusioned around the time of the 2008-9 Gaza war.

When the UN's Goldstone Commission published its report on the war, with its intense criticism of Israel, according to Mr Friedman "the flaws were discussed in the bureau but our understanding was that our role was not to criticise the UN report".

AP responded to Mr Friedman's articles with a statement last week by its media relations director, Paul Colford. He claimed that, in covering the recent Gaza violence, AP tried "as always, to present a fair and accurate picture".

Josef Federman, AP's bureau chief, said that Mr Friedman had levelled "unfounded allegations" against the organisation and drawn on a "worn out stereotype" of journalists' links with NGO workers and other international groups. He also defended AP's coverage of the Goldstone Report.

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