BBC frames anti-Israel delegitimisation campaign as a sports story

An article about the FIFA presidential election which appeared in the Sport section of the BBC News website on May 4th ended with the following paragraphs:

“The Palestinian Football Association is seeking the suspension of Israel from world football.

A proposal to that effect has been included on the agenda for Fifa’s annual congress in Zurich and would need a 75% majority to succeed.

Palestine has complained that Israel has continued to hamper its football activities through restrictions on the movement of their athletes between the Gaza Strip and the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

Israel cites security concerns for restrictions it imposes but says it has eased travel for Palestinian athletes between the territories.”

On May 20th another report on that topic appeared in the website’s Sport section under the title “Fifa: Israel football faces possible suspension vote” and in addition that article was also promoted on the BBC News website’s Middle East page on May 20th and 21st.FIFA art

Neither of the reports provides BBC audiences with the all-important context of past and present cases of Palestinian football players with connections to terrorist organisations.

“There are numerous examples of Palestinian soccer players who have been publicly acknowledged by terrorist groups to have been members of their organizations. Jabalia Youth Sports Club player Ayman Ahmad al-Kurd was a member of the Qassam Brigades (which acknowledged his martyrdom on their website) and was wearing combat gear when he died during Operation Cast Lead. PIJ admitted—to Reuters, no less—that Wajih Mushtahi, a member of the Palestinian Olympic team who also died in Cast Lead, was a fighter in their organization. Shadi Sbakhi, who played for al-Nuseirat and once earned a spot on the national team, was not just an operative in the Qassam Brigades, but a commander.

The most egregious case, though, was that of 23-year-old Omar Abu Rwayyis (also spelled Rois or Ruis), a native of the Amari refugee camp near Ramallah, who in addition to being the goalkeeper of the Palestinian Olympic team was also an employee of the Red Crescent, the local version of the Red Cross. Abu Rwayyis was arrested in April 2012, along with 12 other Amari residents, for participating in a Hamas plot to attack IDF soldiers. Abu Rwayyis, along with other Red Crescent employees, helped transport Kalashnikovs that were used to fire on IDF vehicles.”

Likewise, at no point are readers of these two articles informed of the fact that this latest politically motivated assault on Israel’s legitimacy is led by the same man who in recent years has also tried to get Israel expelled from the International Olympic community, threatened legal action against sponsors of the Jerusalem Marathon and pressured UEFA to disallow Israel’s hosting of a tournament. Moreover, the second article amplifies the following disingenuous statement from Jibril Rajoub:

“This is nothing to do with politics, this is a sport issue.”

Readers are not told of Jibril Rajoub’s own terrorist past or of the numerous on record statements clarifying his use of sport for political ends.

“He also voiced strong opposition to any form of normalization with Israel, particularly in the field of sports.
The term “normalization” does not exist in the Palestinian sports dictionary, Rajoub stressed during a seminar in Ramallah.
He added that sports in the Palestinian territories was “one of the methods of resistance” against Israel. […]
“The youth sector in Palestine is the basic fuel for the liberation project,” Rajoub said. He also emphasized the youth’s role in maintaining a “permanent state of confrontation” with Israel.”

And:

“The year 2014 is the year of decision; we either go to a state or to a confrontation,” Rajoub said. “The confrontation would be on three fronts: launching and escalating resistance; boycotting and isolating Israel; and halting all forms of normalization [with Israel] on the political, academic, trade and economic levels.” […]

 “The option of armed resistance is also on the table,” he added. […]

“We are entitled to knock on all doors and seek all channels to recruit regional action in favor of our cause,” he said. “Our goal is to create elements of pressure on the international community.”

In addition to framing this story as sports related rather than the political issue it in fact is, the BBC fails to provide its audiences with the full range of information necessary for them to understand this transparent attempt to cynically exploit an organization supposedly committed to eliminating racism and discrimination from football for the purpose of delegitimisation.

Related Articles:

BBC’s Jon Donnison on football and politics

BBC yet again conceals terror connections of Palestinian ‘footballers’

BBC’s Donnison promotes Bethlehem Marathon as non-political event

Palestinian visitors to Tehran not newsworthy for the BBC

20% of BBC’s reporting on car attack in Jerusalem is amplification of anonymous hearsay

As has been noted here previously, despite the marked increase in the number of vehicular terror attacks against Israelis seen in recent months, the BBC refrained from reporting the incidents which took place on May 14th, April 25th and April 15th.

On May 20th yet another attack took place in Jerusalem.

“Two Border Police officers were lightly injured in Jerusalem on Wednesday when a Palestinian man veered off the road and hit them with an SUV in what police said was a deliberate attack.

The driver was shot by police and critically wounded after he tried to back up and run over the injured officers again, police said. He was administered first aid at the scene but died shortly thereafter.” [emphasis added]

Ynet reported:

“The driver had been traveling from the direction of the Augusta Victoria area, when he spotted the group of Border Police, who were conducting security checks.  He appears to have veered off the road towards the group in order to carry out the attack.

 An initial investigation shows that the driver identified the group of police officers and tried to run them over. After the attack, he tried to “confirm the kill” by reversing back over the wounded officers. He was then shot by police.” [emphasis added]

The perpetrator is apparently affiliated with Hamas.

Whilst not producing a stand-alone report on the incident, the BBC did include a couple of paragraphs right at the end of an article on another topic (which will be discussed separately).

car attack a Tur

Contrary to the inaccurate impression given in the BBC’s account of the incident the perpetrator was not shot “after he swerved his vehicle” but after he ran the police officers over. Likewise, as can be seen from the reports above and others, the police officers were not “slightly” injured, but lightly to moderately – as described by the Jerusalem Post:

“According to police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld, the attack took place shortly before 10 a.m. when Amran Abu Dhein, 41, of Jebl Mukaber in southeastern Jerusalem, rammed his car into a female and two male officers, who sustained light-to-moderate injuries to their legs and hips.”

No less notable than the above inaccuracies is the dubious editorial decision to use over 20% of the word count of this brief report to amplify anonymous hearsay claiming that “the driver had tried to swerve to avoid hitting pedestrians” – despite the existence of testimonies indicating that he had actually tried to run them over a second time. 

 

Remembering Professor Robert Wistrich

The news of Professor Robert S. Wistrich’s sudden death was all the more difficult to absorb given that just last Thursday, those of us participating in the Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism had the pleasure of hearing him speak – as eloquently and powerfully as ever. There can be no better account of that address than Professor Wistrich’s own – published in the Jerusalem Post as he requested, but not in time for him to see.

Many tributes have already been written in honour of Professor Wistrich’s life and work and as Ben Cohen observes:

“Robert’s death is an incalculable loss on many levels. At just the time that anti-Semitism has again become socially acceptable in Europe and elsewhere, we have been robbed of one of the few individuals whose voice on this topic underlined urgency, but not hysteria. Robert, moreover, was someone who intimately understood the historical provenance of today’s anti-Semitism, particularly in its insidious “anti-Zionist” guise.”

As readers may recall, Professor Wistrich gave the keynote address at CAMERA’s event examining the effects of UK media coverage of Israel on European antisemitism earlier this year.

May his memory be a blessing.

Related Articles:

In memoriam: Professor Robert S. Wistrich  UK Media Watch

BBC WS’s ‘Newshour’ exploits Pope’s canonizations for promotion of propaganda

BBC coverage of the Pope’s recent canonization of four nineteenth century nuns has focused exclusively on the two who were born in places which were at the time part of the Ottoman Empire: Jerusalem in the Mutassariflik of Jerusalem and Ibillin in the Acco (Acre) Sanjak. The Ottomans of course did not recognize ‘Palestine’ as a separate entity but divided the Levant into provinces, governorates and districts.

On May 17th the BBC devoted two written articles and two items in radio broadcasts to the story.

Vatican boost for Christians in Holy Land” – Yolande Knell, BBC News website

Pope Francis canonises two Palestinian nuns” – BBC News website

‘Newshour’ – “Palestinian nuns become saints” – Julian Marshall, BBC World Service radio (from 00:32)

Sunday‘ – Edward Stourton with Fr David Neuhaus, BBC Radio 4 (from 00:57)

All those items include an element of politicization of the topic by means of promotion of two women who would have been extremely unlikely to self-define as Palestinians as “Palestinian nuns”.

An idea of the aims of such politicization of what is, after all, an event of religious significance can be gleaned from an article published by the Palestinian news agency Ma’an.

“Rifaat Kassis, a prominent political community activist and coordinator of Kairos, a local Christian group, says the canonization is significant on many levels, notwithstanding the recognition that Palestinians under Ottoman rule were part of a diverse, productive society, contrary to the mainstream sidelining of Palestinians from the region’s history.

“This puts Palestine on the map, among not only the catholic world, but the whole world, and I think this will also help people to understand Palestine and the occupation,” he told Ma’an.” [emphasis added]Newshour nuns

Not content with the geographical politicization of the topic, the ‘Newshour’ item went even further and a report supposedly about the canonization of two nuns quickly became a platform for the promotion of political propaganda when presenter Julian Marshall brought into the conversation Oliver McTernan of the Hamas-supporting ‘Forward Thinking’ and a Palestinian Christian from Beit Sahour named only as Ghassan Bannoura who appears to have worked variously for Oxfam GB, and the IMEMC media arm of the ISM-linked Palestinian Centre for Rapprochement between People.

McTernan: “I think to the broader Palestinian public it’s the rebuilding of Gaza, the unity of Palestine: terribly important.”

Bannoura: “Well of course living under occupation, the war-torn Gaza strip needs rebuilding of course – that is very important and we should, you know, be focusing on rebuilding Gaza, ending the occupation in the West Bank, stopping the settlements that eating our resources in the West Bank, make it impossible to build any kind of future state in the Holy Land.”

Bannoura: “We can’t get to Jerusalem not because of the Palestinian Authority – our own government and our own police. We can’t get to Jerusalem because of the Israeli occupation and the wall that surrounds the city.”

Clearly the editorial consideration behind the running of this item was not only to inform listeners worldwide of the life and times of the Catholic Church’s new saints. 

Update on the BBC’s handling of the Tim Willcox case

As readers no doubt recall, back in February the BBC’s Head of Editorial Complaints, Fraser Steel, announced the provisional outcome of the Editorial Complaints Unit’s consideration of the collective points made in the many complaints concerning remarks made by Tim Willcox during BBC coverage of the rally in Paris on January 11th 2015.Presentation Willcox b pic 1

Members of the public have now informed us of the receipt of a further communication from Fraser Steel following the presentation of comments on the provisional finding.

“Having had the opportunity of considering comments on the provisional finding, I’m now finalising it on the basis set out in my previous letter, apart from one modification.

It’s clear from a number of the comments I received that I understood the first of the summarised points of complaint (“That the question put by Tim Willcox to an interviewee was misleading in that it linked the Paris killings in a kosher supermarket with events in the Middle East”) in a different sense from some who complained.

What I had in mind was a direct causal relationship between particular recent events in the Middle East and the Paris killings, and it was on that basis that I wrote “Nothing in the day’s coverage of events in Paris suggested a direct link between events in the Middle East and those killings, and I can’t see that such a suggestion can readily be derived from what Mr Willcox said”.

It has been put to me, and I have accepted, that Mr Willcox’s words suggested a broader link between perceptions of Palestinian suffering and the incidence of anti-Semitic incidents.

However, that doesn’t alter the outcome because I don’t think suggesting a link of that kind can be viewed as a breach of editorial standards (or even as particularly controversial, considering the correlation between anti-Semitic incidents and Israeli actions with an adverse impact on Palestinians which has been noted by organisations such as the Community Security Trust).”

As was noted here at the time, Steel’s misunderstanding of the essence of the complaints on that topic was plain to see. Unfortunately, he obviously still does not (or will not) comprehend the issue properly.

Willcox was not making some academic comment on the ‘epidemiology’ of antisemitic incidents. What he did – whilst interrupting a woman talking about the need for recognition of the targeting of European Jews – was to insert a false equivalence (evident in his use of the words “as well”) in the form of ‘Palestinian suffering’ which he attributed to “Jewish hands”. In other words, Willcox falsely implied that – like Jews in France – Palestinians are targets because of their religion and/or ethnicity and that European Jews can be held collectively responsible for the perceived actions of Israel.

The bottom line of this latest communication from Fraser Steel is that he stands by his earlier proposal to reject en masse the large number of complaints received about Willcox’s remarks. Complainants still have the possibility of appeal to the BBC Trust at their disposal for a limited period of time, but as Steel points out in this letter, “the Trust does not consider every appeal brought to it”.

Four months (and goodness knows how many publicly funded man-hours) on, the BBC has not budged an inch from its original classification of Willcox’s remarks as “poorly phrased”. As Steel wrote in his provisional findings which have now been deemed ‘finalised':

“I share Mr Willcox’s view that his comments were poorly phrased, but I think they were no worse than that.”

One cannot but recall the words of Nick Cohen at the time:

“…Willcox is not some isolated and aberrant racist; his views are the standard opinions of the European left middle class. I meet them every day in my political neighbourhood. They are the result of ignorance rather than malice. (Although I find that in time a dark alchemy can transform ignorance into malice.)

Willcox like so many others does not understand that anti-Semitism is not a rational, if regrettably bloody, critique of Israeli foreign policy but an insane conspiracy theory that has captured the minds of millions of fanatics, moved whole nations and led to uncountable deaths.

I wonder how many more bombs it will take to blow these people out of their folly. In my bleaker moments, I suspect they will take it to their graves.”

The BBC’s handling of this case has from the very beginning been characterized by a complete disregard for its social responsibilities as the publicly funded national broadcaster of a country in which less than a year ago antisemitic hate incidents reached record levels. As we noted here in January:

“Precisely because of the fact there are people in the UK who make threats to British ten year-olds whilst invoking a fabricated connection between them and a conflict thousands of miles away, the BBC still needs to issue a prominent on-air statement clarifying that Willcox’s statement was not merely “poorly phrased”, but that the linkage he promoted based on the premise that Jews anywhere in the world hold collective responsibility for the perceived actions of the State of Israel is both false and antisemitic.”

Unfortunately for both the credibility of the BBC complaints system and the broader reputation of the corporation as a whole – those words still stand. 

 

BBC News misleads on ‘Arab world’ saints, hides significance of Vatican-PA treaty

On May 13th the BBC News website’s Middle East page published a report titled “Vatican to recognise Palestinian state in treaty“. The main image selected to illustrate that article dates from May 2014 when the Pope visited the Middle East and chose to pray beside a section of the anti-terrorist fence covered in graffiti which included a spurious comparison between Bethlehem and the Warsaw Ghetto.Vatican treaty art

The closing paragraphs of the report state:

“This weekend President Abbas will have talks with Pope Francis at the Vatican, and on Sunday he will be attend [sic] a canonisation ceremony during which two Palestinian nuns who lived in the 19th Century – when Palestine was part of the Ottoman empire – will be declared saints.

They will be the first new saints from the Arab world to be named since the early days of Christianity.”

As our colleagues at CAMERA have pointed out, that latter statement is not accurate. In 1977 a Lebanese Maronite Christian was canonized and at least two other saints of Lebanese origin alone have been canonized since then.

As was also the case with many other media outlets, the BBC’s report focuses audience attentions on the political aspects of the story.

“The Vatican is to formally recognise Palestinian statehood in a treaty that will be signed shortly, officials say. […]

The Vatican’s announcement comes amid growing momentum to recognise Palestinian statehood. Over the last year the European Parliament as well as the UK, Republic of Ireland, Spain and France have all passed non-binding motions in favour.

Sweden has gone further, officially recognising Palestine as a state.”

Readers also came across the following opaque generalised statements:

“The Vatican is eager that property and civil rights of the Catholic Church in the Palestinian state is protected, correspondents say.

According to the New York Times, it has strong religious interests in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories that include Christian holy sites.

The BBC’s David Willey in Rome says that Pope Francis is making every effort to strengthen the Christian presence in the Middle East at a time when when [sic] hundreds of thousands of Arab Christians are fleeing Islamic violence. […]

The agreement on Wednesday will define Catholic Church activities in areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority, the Holy See said on Wednesday.”

A clue to the context behind those vague statements and insight into a no less significant aspect of the treaty between the Vatican and the Palestinian Authority is provided by the Catholic News Service:

“Msgr. Antoine Camilleri, the Vatican undersecretary for relations with states and head of the Vatican delegation at the negotiations, said the Vatican wanted the agreement to “promote the life and activity of the Catholic Church and its recognition on a juridical level.” […]
The chapter on “freedom of religion and conscience,” he said, is “very elaborate and detailed.”
Other chapters deal with “various aspects of the life and activity of the church in the Palestinian territories: its freedom of action, its personnel and jurisdiction, its personal status, houses of worship, social and charitable activity (and) means of social communication. Finally, a chapter is dedicated to financial and property questions.

Asked if the agreement could be a model for agreements with other Muslim-majority countries, Msgr. Camilleri said every bilateral treaty deals with the specific situation of the countries involved.
“In this case, because it deals with the presence of the church in the land where Christianity was born, the agreement has a unique value and significance,” he said.
At the same time, though, he said the agreement’s recognition of the church and of religious freedom “could be followed by other countries, including those with a Muslim majority, and demonstrate that such recognition is not incompatible with the fact that the majority of the country’s population belongs to another religion.””

La Stampa’s Vatican Insider adds:

“But the debate over the recognition of the State of Palestine must not overshadow other passages in the agreement which promise to be of significance. They have not been made public yet but they were summarised by the Under-Secretary for Relations with States, Antoine Camilleri, who is head of the Vatican delegation at the negotiations.

Having announced that the preamble will express the Holy See’s hope for a two-State solution (entailing the Palestinian side’s full recognition of the legitimacy of the State of Israel), the prelate explained that the agreement contains a “very elaborate and detailed” chapter on the “freedom of religion and conscience”. The legal agreement then sets out a number of fundamental elements regarding religious freedom and the freedom of conscience for all those living and working in the Palestinian Territories. Guarantees, such as respect for places of worship, the freedom of action of the Church, the protection of its social and charitable activities and the right to promote means of communication, are put down in black and white.”

Given that the BBC’s interest in the topic of Middle East Christians has increased of late due to prevailing events on the ground, one might have thought that news of a treaty aimed at protecting their religious freedom in one part of the region would have prompted the self-styled ‘standard-setter for international journalism‘ to break away from the media pack and provide its audiences with informative coverage of the background story of why the rights of Christians need to be protected in an agreement between the Vatican and the Palestinian Authority. 

 

BBC’s Evan Davis promotes the chimera of ’67 borders

Over the years we have taken note here of numerous instances (see some examples here, here and here) in which the BBC has misled its audiences by inaccurately referring to the 1949 Armistice Lines (also known as the ‘Green Line’) as ‘the 1967 border’.

As readers are no doubt aware, the 1949 Armistice Agreement between Israel and Jordan specifically states that the ceasefire line – which is what the ‘Green Line’ is – is not a border.

“Article II

With a specific view to the implementation of the resolution of the Security Council of 16 November 1948, the following principles and purposes are affirmed:

  1. The principle that no military or political advantage should be gained under the truce ordered by the Security Council is recognized;
  2. It is also recognized that no provision of this Agreement shall in any way prejudice the rights, claims and positions of either Party hereto in the ultimate peaceful settlement of the Palestine question, the provisions of this Agreement being dictated exclusively by military considerations.”

“Article VI

  1. The Armistice Demarcation Lines defined in articles V and VI of this Agreement are agreed upon by the Parties without prejudice to future territorial settlements or boundary lines or to claims of either Party relating thereto.”

Moreover, the point is made abundantly clear in the BBC’s ‘style guide’.  

“The Green Line marks the boundary between Israel and the West Bank. It is properly referred to as the 1949 Armistice Line – the ceasefire line of 1949. […]

In describing the situation on the ground, take care to use precise and accurate terminology. The Green Line is a dividing line or a boundary. If you call it a border you may inadvertently imply that it has internationally recognised status, which it does not currently have.” 

Nevertheless – and perhaps precisely because this frequent error is rarely if ever corrected – the organization supposedly committed to building “a global understanding of international issues” continues to allow audiences to be misled and misinformed through the repeated use of inaccurate terminology.

The latest example of the use of the inaccurate term “’67 border” came in the May 18th edition of BBC Two’s flagship news programme ‘Newsnight‘ which the corporation has claimed is “routinely being watched by more than 700,000 people”.Newsnight

Whilst interviewing Shimon Peres, presenter Evan Davies asked:

“Can you imagine now any situation – anything the Palestinians could do – in which Israel would agree to go back to this newly defined ’67 border.”

And no – we have no idea what “newly defined” means in this context either.

Also notable is Davis’ promotion of the notion that “it’s warranted to say that [the first Lebanon war] created Hizballah” – with no mention of no less relevant factors such as the Iranian revolution, Iranian policy or the Lebanese civil war.

In response to Shimon Peres’ assertion that “the chances for a two state solution exist”, Davis retorts:

“It doesn’t seem like it from the Israeli government though. Netanyahu didn’t mention it in his opening statement.”

As our colleagues at Presspectiva have pointed out (in Hebrew), none of the Israeli governments during the past two decades have specifically mentioned the two state solution in their founding guidelines. The new Israeli government’s founding guidelines do, however include the following:

“The government will advance the political process and aspire to a peace agreement with the Palestinians and with all our neighbours…”

One might assume that a reasonable level of proficiency in the subject matter – including the use of accurate terminology – would be a fairly basic requirement for an interviewer on a flagship news programme. These and other questions posed by Evan Davis raise the issue of whether the purpose of this interview was in fact to inform viewers or to promote the BBC’s own ‘world view’. 

 

 

How a BBC WS News bulletin misled on Jerusalem Day

Those who happened to be listening to the BBC World Service at 2 a.m. GMT on May 18th will have heard the following item in the news bulletin (from 03:40, available for a limited period of time only) read by Fiona MacDonald.World Service

“Israeli police have clashed with Palestinians protesting against a march by Jewish nationalists to mark Israel’s capture of East Jerusalem in 1967. Palestinians threw stones as Israelis bearing flags marched through the predominantly Muslim old walled city. A Palestinian activist, Ahmad SubLaban, said the march was a provocation.

[voiceover] During the march the Old City gets closed and its residents are forbidden from entering or leaving. They say that day for them feels like a prison, keeping them inside their houses. They’re forbidden to go in and out of the Old City. They’re also attacked; some of their properties are destroyed. The shopkeepers are forced to close their stores.”

The Israeli prime minister said Jerusalem would always be the capital for the Jewish people alone.”

MacDonald is of course describing Jerusalem Day or Yom Yerushalayim – the national holiday marking the reunification of the city after nineteen years of division due to the occupation by Jordan between 1948 and 1967. That context is glaringly absent from her distorted description of the purpose of the event.

Among the numerous events taking place on May 17th to mark the occasion was the traditional march to the Western Wall, which for geographical reasons obviously has to pass through what MacDonald bizarrely finds necessary to describe as “the predominantly Muslim old walled city”.

Not unrelated to the content and style of this news item is the fact that this year, two political NGOs unsuccessfully petitioned the High Court in an attempt to prevent the march (now in its thirtieth year) from passing through the Old City’s Muslim Quarter. One of the political NGOs which filed the rejected petition was the foreign funded Ir Amim.

One of Ir Amim’s employees is Ahmad SubLaban – apparently the same inadequately introduced man given a platform by the BBC World Service from which to promote political propaganda.

BBC Watch enquired about SubLaban’s claims that “residents are forbidden from entering or leaving” the area and that “shopkeepers are forced to close their stores” and was not informed of any restrictions imposed on movement or commerce, although according to the Israeli police force, some shopkeepers do chose to close earlier than usual on that day. We were also informed that there were no reports of damage to shops or properties and that two police officers were lightly injured by participants in an illegal protest at Damascus gate in which stones and bottles were thrown.

And what of MacDonald’s claim that “the Israeli prime minister said Jerusalem would always be the capital for the Jewish people alone”? According to the Times of Israel, what Netanyahu actually said in his Jerusalem Day address was:

“Jerusalem was only ever the capital of the Jewish people, not of any other people,” […] “Here our path as a nation began, this is our home and here we shall stay.”

Interestingly, a strikingly similar interpretation of those words to the one presented by the BBC is to be found in the headline of an article appearing in Ha’aretz which reads “Netanyahu: Jerusalem is the capital of the Jewish people alone”. Whilst the Ha’aretz article supplies context to that misleading headline, the BBC World Service appears to have further garnished it in such a way that listeners would inevitably misunderstand the meaning and intention of the words spoken. 

Were the BBC to expand its news gathering beyond one Israeli newspaper of a specific political stripe and beyond inadequately introduced representatives of political NGOs of a particular genre, the accuracy and impartiality of its reports on events in Israel would of course be vastly improved. However, as this example of a supposedly factual item in a news bulletin once more indicates, the BBC’s reliance upon sources promoting a distinct political view defines, restricts and shapes the objectivity and accuracy of information passed on to audiences worldwide.

 

Update on the BBC’s ‘angel of peace’ story

As was reported here recently, the BBC News website published an article on May 16th in which it was claimed that the Pope had described the PA’s Mahmoud Abbas as “an angel of peace”. The same claim also appeared in an additional article published on the website the following day, together with a link to the first report.Angel art

In fact – as was noted in our report and communicated to the BBC – several Italian language media outlets reported the story somewhat differently and the apparently inaccurate translation seemed to have originated with news agencies.

“So it would appear that there is a distinct possibility that rather than describing Mahmoud Abbas as an ‘angel of peace’, the Pope in fact urged or wished him to become one by taking steps to bring about a peaceful solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. That, of course, would leave readers with a markedly different impression than the version of the story promoted by the BBC.”

Two days after the publication of the original report – May 18th – the BBC News website produced an additional article titled “Vatican clarifies Abbas ‘angel of peace’ comments“. Despite the fact that the BBC had been one of many media outlets to promote the dubious claim, in a distinctly detached tone the report informs readers that:Vatican art

“Journalists from leading news agencies reported that the Pope called Mr Abbas “an angel of peace” when giving him a bronze medallion representing one.

But an Italian newspaper says he merely expressed hope that the president might one day become an angel of peace.

The Vatican’s spokesman said he did not hear the exact words, but that they had been meant as an “encouragement”.”

The section of the BBC’s Editorial Guidelines on accuracy which deals with the subject of ‘managing online content’ states that:

“Unless content is specifically made available only for a limited time period, there is a presumption that material published online will become part of a permanently accessible archive and will not normally be removed.

For news stories, the archive is intended to act as a permanent public record.”

Given that and the appearance of this latest article, one would of course expect to see clarifications appended to the two previous reports in which the inaccurate claim was promoted. At the time of writing, no such clarification appears in either article.