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Associated Press terminates new staffer critical of Israel despite bombing of Gaza office

Journalists are seen among the damaged buildings after Israel carried out air strikes in Gaza on 17 May 2021 [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]
Journalists are seen among the damaged buildings after Israel carried out air strikes in Gaza, 19 May 2021 [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]

The Associated Press, whose office in Gaza was destroyed by Israel during its latest round of assault on the besieged territory, has terminated its contract with a new staff member after she criticised the Zionist state.

According to the Washington Post, Emily Wilder started a new job as a news associate for AP on 3 May. Just 16 days later, she was called and told that she had been terminated for violating the company's social media policy.

The termination is said to be connected to tweets by Wilder, who is Jewish, referencing her advocacy for the Palestinian people and opposition to the actions of the Israeli government. Wilder said she was an active member of the pro-Palestinian groups Jewish Voice for Peace and Students for Justice in Palestine at Stanford University, from which she graduated in 2020.

Wilder criticised media coverage of Israel's ethnic cleansing in Sheikh Jarrah. "'Objectivity' feels fickle when the basic terms we use to report news implicitly stake a claim," she wrote on Twitter. "Using 'israel' but never 'palestine,' or 'war' but not 'siege and occupation' are political choices — yet media make those exact choices all the time without being flagged as biased."

The following day, Wilder's post was flagged up by a Republican group in America. Wilder was denounced as an "anti-Israel agitator" and AP was criticised for hiring her.

Wilder told the Post that she believes the Associated Press acted in response to those high-profile pieces of criticism. She was told, she said, that a review of her social media activity was initiated by the Associated Press after her old posts had been publicised.

"This was a result of the campaign against me," she said. "To me, it feels like AP folded to the ridiculous demands and cheap bullying of organizations and individuals." A spokesperson for the wire service confirmed that "she was dismissed for violations of AP's social media policy during her time at AP."

On Saturday Israeli warplanes destroyed Al-Jalaa Tower, which housed the offices of various media groups, including Al Jazeera and AP. The executive editor of AP has called for an independent investigation into Israel's bombing of the 13-storey Al-Jalaa Tower.

Amnesty International has also called on the ICC to investigate Israel's targeting of residential buildings and Al-Jalaa tower. The rights group believes Israel's shelling may constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity.

READ: Turkey journalists protest Israel attacks on media

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