Careful what you do on Facebook — especially if you work for the world's most prominent news organizations.
Foreign correspondents for the renowned Associated Press and Agence Frence-Presses as well as activists from Human Rights Watch dove into a full on anti-Israel hate-fest on a "secret" Facebook group called "The Vulture Club."
The exclusive, elusive group currently has about 3,500 members — all foreign news correspondents, photojournalists and human rights officials.
The Israel-trashing posts came following the release of a new Israeli government report that cleared the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) of wrongdoing in the 2000 death of a Palestinian boy, Muhammad al-Durrah. Twelve-year-old Muhammed and his father were recorded by a Palestinian freelance reporter as they sought cover after being caught in crossfire between Israeli and Palestinian forces. The disturbing footage came to symbolize the second intifada as Palestinian-Israeli tensions exploded into war.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu referred to the al-Durrah event and the video that surged from it as an example of the "ongoing, mendacious campaign to delegitimize Israel" with lies. According to the official statement from the Government Review Committee:
The France 2 report's central claims and accusations had no basis in the material which the station had in its possession at the time...There is no evidence that the IDF was in any way responsible for causing any of the alleged injuries to Jamal or the boy.
On the Facebook group, correspondents from numerous outlets, including the Associated Press and the Agence France-Presse, blasted the Israeli government. Peter Bouckaert, senior official at Human Rights Watch, dismissed the report as "typical IDF lies." Associated Press photojournalist Jerome Delay added, "The IDF thinks the earth is flat BTW." The members of the Facebook group continued to call Philippe Karsenty — a French media analyst who came to public attention when he called al-Durrah's death "staged footage" — an extremist. HRW's Bouckaert added that it was "the kindest way to describe Karsentsy..."
When Peter Bouckaert — the current emergencies director at the Human Right Watch — was contacted by the Washington Free Beacon to discuss his comments on the Vulture Club, he responded, "The group is a secret FB group and our discussions are confidential."
According to the Washington Free Beacon, "Human Rights Watch’s founder, Robert Bernstein, publicly broke with the group in 2009 and said the group’s anti-Israel activism was distorting the issue."
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