The newly created Public Diplomacy Ministry has put out an English-language video on social media warning international audiences not to trust foreign journalism.
“Fight the fake: A quick guide in reading the news about Israel” cited several leading international news agencies, newspapers and networks, accusing them of bias against Israel. A background graphic at one point listed the Associated Press, the BBC, CNN, The New York Time, Reuters, and The Guardian.
It advised “being critical when consuming information from international media outlets.”
The video, published Tuesday, gave examples of several instances, mostly from CNN, in which terror attacks on Israelis were inaccurately described.
Among the examples given was a headline from CNN covering a 2014 terror attack on a Jerusalem synagogue in which four Israelis were killed and the two Palestinian attackers were later killed by police. The headline read, “Four Israelis, 2 Palestinians dead in Jerusalem.”
“You’d think a bunch of innocent people died for some mysterious reason,” the video accused. “The network later apologized for the incorrect reporting but the damage was done.”
It also cited a recent incident in which CNN’s Christiane Amanpour referred to a Palestinian terror attack that killed an Israeli mother and her two daughters as “a shootout.” Amanpour later apologized for the error.
The video took aim at the wording used to describe attacks. “Some reports completely distort the facts,” it asserted, pointing to the use of quotation marks around the word “terrorist” as way of “undermining its validity.”
“Sometimes you can’t even guess the identity of the terrorists, because it seems like inanimate objects do the killing for them” it said. “Guns, cars, and flying rockets out of nowhere. There is no identity for the actual murderer.”
“This is not journalism. This problem must be exposed,” it urged.
The video recommended that if people want to know “what’s really going on,” they should follow the social media accounts of the ministry.
The Foreign Press Association, an umbrella group for foreign journalists in Israel, accused Public Diplomacy Minister Galit Distel Atbaryan of “launching an unprovoked attack on the foreign media.”
The association said it had sent a letter to the ministry and other officials “expressing our objections to this language, the false impressions it could cause and our concerns that it could even promote violence against journalists.“
The FPA said the Government Press Office had told it in response that the video exposed examples of bias, but that the office nevertheless “strongly rejects” blanket condemnation of the foreign press as “untrue and dangerous.” The GPO said it had not been involved in the video’s content.
Distel Atbaryan shot back, saying the FPA had claimed in its letter that painting journalism as fake news was a hallmark of a dictatorship.
The minister called the assertion “maddening,” vowed that the clip would not be taken down, and said that “my war for the truth has only just begun.”
Distel Atbaryan has a reputation as a firebrand lawmaker. Her ministry, which opened at the beginning of the year with the formation of the new government, is intended to promote Israel’s positive image abroad and fight anti-Israel positions.