Media and Israel: Friday night long reads

1) Over at the Fathom journal is a transcript of a speech titled ‘The ideological roots of media bias against Israel’ given by journalist Matti Friedman at a recent BICOM dinner.candles

“As one BBC reporter informed a Jewish interviewee on camera several weeks ago, after a Muslim terrorist murdered four Jewish shoppers at a Paris supermarket, “Many critics of Israel’s policy would suggest that the Palestinians suffered hugely at Jewish hands as well.” Everything, that is, can be linked to the occupation, and Jews can be blamed even for the attacks against them. This isn’t the voice of the perpetrators, but of the enablers. The voice of the enablers is less honest than that of the perpetrators, and more dangerous for being disguised in respectable English. This voice is confident and growing in volume.”

Read the whole thing here

2) Hebrew speakers can find an article written by Yiftach Curiel in which he discusses the British media’s “obsession with Israel” here.

“After more than a year and a half in the role of spokesman for the embassy in London, I am still more surprised not by negative or inaccurate coverage […] but mainly by the volume of coverage and the unexplained level of interest in what happens in our little corner in the Middle East: in the great hopes hung upon us (such as an end to the conflict between extreme Islam and the West if only we would end the dispute between us and the Palestinians) and in the disappointment when we do not conduct ourselves like Sweden or Finland in the face of challenges which European states themselves have not experienced for tens of years.”

3) Anyone still in need of an antidote to the crass Tweet sent by the BBC’s ‘The Big Questions’ to promote its Holocaust Memorial Day edition can find an exceptionally moving piece by British journalist Hugo Rifkind here.

 

 

Top BBC Watch posts of 2014

Over the last twelve months the posts we have published here at BBC Watch have collectively received well over 460,000 views and this is an ideal opportunity to thank you – our readers – for your interest and support throughout the past year. We would also like to thank all those who have taken the trouble to contact us with feedback, updates on your complaints to the BBC and tips concerning items of BBC content. Your contributions are invaluable – please carry on in the New Year.

We were particularly honoured and touched by the fact that during the past summer when conflict raged in Israel and the atmosphere in Europe deteriorated to worrying depths of hate and animosity, many of you – particularly in the UK – wrote to us to share your feelings and concerns at that difficult time.Happy New Year

So which of our posts were the most read in 2014? Here are the top half-dozen:

1) The curious case of a dual-identity BBC interviewee in Gaza

2) Vital statistics: stealth changes made to the BBC’s Gaza casualty figures article

3) Beyond the BBC caricature of Israel

4) BBC Trending warns of misrepresented photo, BBC correspondent Tweets it

5) BBC’s Evan Davis promotes notion that search for kidnapped teens is ‘collective punishment’

6) Orla Guerin’s parting shot breaches BBC editorial guidelines

Wishing all our readers a happy, healthy and peaceful 2015. 

 

BBC’s favourite Norwegian doctor given multiple platforms for medical agitprop

On November 14th the Twitter account linked to the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Outside Source’ promoted a segment from that day’s broadcast as a stand-alone item.

OS Tweet Mads Gilbert

That podcast can be heard here. The programme from which it is taken can be heard here for a limited period of time, with the relevant item beginning at 36:55. Presenter Chloe Tilley introduced the item as follows:

“Now, people who listen regularly to ‘Outside Source’ may be familiar with the name Mads Gilbert. He’s a Norwegian doctor who has spoken to us lots on the programme and he’s been told he’s been banned from Gaza for the foreseeable future over Israeli government claims he poses a security threat. Dr Gilbert’s been travelling to Gaza to treat patients for over 15 years and he told Outside Source’s Louise Webster what had happened.”

Of course Mads Gilbert has not only been frequently featured on the BBC World Service, but on a variety of other BBC platforms too and, as has so frequently been the case in the past, in this item no attempt whatsoever was made to correct the misleading impressions received by BBC audiences as a result of Gilbert’s promotion of unchallenged propaganda.OS podcast Mads Gilbert

“The fundamental reason for the ill-health in the population in Gaza is of course the siege and the bombing.”

“The siege of Gaza of course has to be lifted. We cannot accept the siege is now also including international medical staff who seek to support the medical sector in Gaza. That is totally unacceptable.”

“Well, I think – you know – the siege of Gaza has been going on for seven years now and they have been denied all sorts of daily commodities; building material, medical supplies and so on. And it seems like the Israeli authorities are also trying to limit the number of foreigners who are allowed to travel through Israel to Gaza. So what is lost is actually the flow of information about the realities in Gaza and we need to know what is the circumstances and the situation for the population in Gaza.”

In fact the main causes of death in the Gaza Strip are cardiovascular disease, cancer and cerebrovascular disease. There is, of course, no “siege” on the Gaza Strip, but nevertheless the BBC still continues to energetically promote that particular falsehood. As we had cause to note here on numerous occasions during this summer’s conflict, the issue of shortages of medical supplies in the Gaza Strip has nothing to do with the restriction on the entry of dual-use goods imposed by Israel as part of counter-terrorism measures and in fact arises from long-standing disputes between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas. Clearly too, Gilbert’s hysterical claim of a limit or ban on foreign medical staff travelling to Gaza is a gross distortion.

So yet again we see the BBC providing an unhindered platform for Mads Gilbert to promote his usual deliberate misinformation.

In the full version of the item, Gilbert’s monologue was followed by Chloe Tilley informing listeners that:

“…an Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman told Outside Source that an investigation was underway into Dr Gilbert, who he described as a ‘Jekyll & Hyde figure hiding behind a cloak of being a humanitarian doctor’. He said there was strong suspicion that he had been involved in matters relating to supporting terror activities. An investigation is underway and Dr Gilbert’s position would be reassessed when it came to a conclusion.”

That statement was omitted from the version of the item promoted on Twitter, a link to which also appeared in a written article titled “Israel bans Norwegian doctor Mads Gilbert from Gaza” published on the BBC News website’s Middle East page on November 14th. That article further amplified Gilbert’s inaccurate “siege” propaganda:Gilbert on website

“”The fundamental reason for the ill health of the population in Gaza is of course the siege and the bombing,” he said.”

It also told readers that:

“In July, Dr Gilbert was one of the co-signatories in a strongly-worded letter denouncing Israeli action in Gaza, published in the medical journal, the Lancet.”

Notably, the BBC made no effort to inform audiences of the controversy surrounding that letter when two of Gilbert’s co-signatories were found to have a history of disseminating antisemitic material or of the Lancet editor’s subsequent comments on the issue.

The BBC knows full well that there is no “siege” on the Gaza Strip and it should by now also be aware of the fact that Israel does not pose any limitations on the entry of medical supplies. However, it continues to mislead BBC audiences worldwide by providing an unhindered platform for Mads Gilbert’s promotion these falsehoods, thus clearly breaching its own supposed editorial standards of accuracy and impartiality.

Related Articles:

The reality behind the BBC’s promotion of information from medics in Gaza

Hamas terminology and propaganda in BBC’s ‘Hardtalk’ interview with Mads Gilbert

A Jerusalem event for BBC watchers

Readers in Israel are invited to the following event:Event Jlem Nov 9

Join CAMERA in Jerusalem on November 9th for a panel discussion on Israel, Hamas, and media coverage of Gaza this summer.

Hamas boasts it won the media war that raged on alongside the military battle. Did major foreign media outlets echo the Hamas storyline? Were journalists intimidated? Were the New York Times and the BBC impartial? How does the Israeli media affect international coverage?

Join us for a discussion of these urgent questions and what we can do to promote responsible and accurate coverage.

Details concerning venue and registration can be found here.

Hoping to see you there!