‘Before I knew you, I didn’t like you’: beyond the BBC narrative on Israel

Over at the Tablet, Yair Rosenberg tells a fascinating story.

“Last week, Tel Aviv University held its annual graduation ceremony for international master’s students. The event unfolded like most of its kind, with the school’s academic officials offering the assembled students congratulations on the occasion and wisdom for the wider world. But then the year’s valedictorian took the stage and delivered an address that was anything but the usual predictable platitudes.

Haisam Hassanein was born and raised in rural Egypt, probably the last place one would expect an Israeli university’s valedictorian to hail from. In his speech, Hassanein recalled how he had been surrounded from childhood by anti-Israeli stereotypes at home and in the media: […]

‘If you think you heard a million reasons why not to come to Israel, I heard a million and a half. Growing up in Egypt, the entire country had opinions about Israel, and none of them were positive. All we knew was that we had fought bloody wars, and that they were not like us.

My first exposure to Israel was through music and television. On the radio, there were anthems about the destruction Israel had caused. In the movies, Israelis were depicted as spies and thieves. In spite of the fact that the two countries struck a famous peace accord in 1979, the Israelis, I was told, were our eternal enemies.'”

So what does Haisam Hassanein think about Israel now? Read the rest of the article here, his recent op-ed at the Jerusalem Post here and watch him deliver his speech in the video below.

Superficial and inaccurate BBC reporting on cross-border incident in northern Israel

At around 5:30 pm on the afternoon of August 20th, four missiles fired from Syria hit areas on the lower flanks of the Golan Heights and in the Galilee Panhandle. Several hours later an article appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page with the typical ‘last-first’ reporting style title “Israel fires missiles into Syria after rocket attack“.

Like all BBC News content, that article’s aim was to “[b]uild a global understanding of international issues” and to inform by means of the provision of “reliable and unbiased information of relevance, range and depth” whilst adhering to standards of accuracy and impartiality. But were those criteria met?Irua Galil Eliyon

The main photograph used to illustrate the report is captioned:

“Rockets fired into Israel caused brushfires after hitting open areas near Galilee” [emphasis added]

Two of the missiles landed in the Upper Galilee district – not “near” it – and we know that the BBC is aware of that because it later quotes an IDF statement.

“A statement released by the Israeli military said the rockets that hit the upper Galilee region….”

The article opens:

“An Israeli aircraft has fired missiles at a building in Syria’s Golan Heights in response to a rocket strike on an Israeli village, according to reports.”

There were four missile strikes – not one as suggested by that phrasing – and the projectiles landed in more than one location. Later on readers are again told that:

“Earlier rockets landed near a village in northern Israel.”

Obviously the main story here is an unprovoked missile attack on civilian targets across an international border. The wider significance of that incident and the effects of the attack on the people it targeted receive no coverage in this BBC report, which devotes almost three times more wording to the topic of the Israeli response than to the missile attack itself.

The bulk of the 318-word article, however, is devoted to the subject of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s denial of involvement via a spokesman over 250 kms away in the Gaza Strip.

“Israeli officials blamed the rocket strike on the Palestinian group Islamic Jihad, which denied the claim.

A statement released by the Israeli military said the rockets that hit the upper Galilee region “were launched from the Syrian Golan Heights… by Islamic Jihad, sponsored by Iran”.

The statement went on to say that Israel “holds the Syrian government responsible for attacks emanating from Syria”.

Islamic Jihad had previously threatened reprisals should one of its activists in Israeli detention, Mohammed Allan, die of a hunger strike, but Mr Allan called off his fast on Wednesday after an Israeli court suspended his detention.

Mr Allan is believed to have suffered brain damage after going 65 days without food.” [emphasis added]

The inclusion of the description of Mohammed Allan as “one of its activists” is particularly notable given that the BBC has previously told audiences in two reports (including the link provided) that his affiliation with the terror organization is only “alleged”. The article continues with amplification of PIJ propaganda and a remarkable insinuation:

“Islamic Jihad’s leaders are based in the Syrian capital. Dawoud Shehab, a spokesman for the group who is based in Gaza, denied it had fired on Israel.

“Israel is trying to divert attention from the defeat that it suffered in the face of the determination of the hero prisoner, Mohammed Allan,” Shehab told Reuters.

Islamic Jihad has publicly acknowledged receiving support from Iran, a connection Israel has sought to highlight as it campaigns against the proposed US deal with Iran.” [emphasis added]

In other words, readers are encouraged to view Israeli army statements on this incident as being influenced or dictated by the Israeli government’s stance on the P5+1 (not “US” as stated here) deal with Iran known as the JCPOA.

It is not clarified to readers that the cross-border attack was launched from one of the few areas along the Syrian border with Israel that are still held by the Assad regime – which is of course heavily dependent upon Iran and its proxies at present – and the obviously relevant context of prior Iranian and Iranian-backed activity along that border is absent from this report.

Towards the end of the article readers find more evidence of the BBC’s geographically challenged reporting, tortured phrasing and predictable whitewashing of an internationally recognized terror organization.

“The stretch of border involved in the exchange has been largely quiet since the 2006 war between Israel and the Lebanese guerrilla group Hezbollah.”

A “border” was obviously not “involved in the exchange”: borders do not fire missiles at civilians. Neither is it clear to which border the BBC refers – the Israel-Lebanon border as implied by its reference to the 2006 war or the Israel-Syria border across which these latest missiles were actually fired but where there was no fighting during the 2006 war.

The Oxford Dictionary defines ‘guerilla’ as follows:

“A member of a small independent group taking part in irregular fighting, typically against larger regular forces.”

Hizballah does not confine its activities to attacks on the Israeli military and it is certainly not independent – as evidenced by its Iranian patronage.

The article closes with the following statement:

“Israel captured the western Golan in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed it, a move not recognised internationally.”

The context of why that war began and the obviously relevant history of the pre-1967 Syrian attacks on Israeli villages in the Galilee Panhandle and elsewhere which made it necessary for Israel to take the Golan Heights are not included in that partisan account.

So did readers of this article really get the “reliable and unbiased information of relevance, range and depth” which would enhance their understanding of this incident and its wider implications? Hardly – and as long as the BBC continues to whitewash Iranian backed terrorist organisations and the ideology underpinning them, that will remain the case.

BBC News coverage of terrorism – July 2015

The Israel Security Agency’s report on terror attacks during July 2015 (English here, Hebrew here) shows that throughout the month a total of 107 incidents took place: 63 in Judea & Samaria, 42 in Jerusalem, one incident of missile fire from the Gaza Strip and one incident of missile fire from the Sinai Peninsula.

Two Palestinian civilians were killed and two injured (in the arson attack in Duma on July 31st) and three members of the Israeli security forces were wounded in those attacks. The agency recorded 90 attacks with petrol bombs, one stabbing, two shooting attacks and 12 attacks using explosive devices.

BBC News website reporting on those 107 attacks was confined to two incidents: the July 3rd firing of three Grad missiles from Sinai by ISIS’ ‘Sinai Province’ affiliate was covered in one written report and the July 31st arson attack in Duma was covered in two written articles and two filmed reports. The missile attack from the Gaza Strip on July 16th and the stabbing of a soldier the previous day were among the many incidents which did not receive BBC coverage.

In short, the BBC covered 1.87% of the terror attacks which took place in July 2015.

Table terror July

Since the beginning of the year the BBC has reported just 0.98% of the terror attacks which have actually taken place. Its record on coverage of Israeli fatalities stands at 0% whilst 100% of Palestinian fatalities have been reported.

Related Articles:

BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel – June 2015 & Q2 2015


BBC News zig-zags on PIJ affiliated detainee

As previously noted here, an article which appeared on the BBC News website on August 14th described Mohamed Allan as “an alleged activist for the Islamic Jihad militant group” [emphasis added].

A follow-up article published on the BBC News website on August 19th under the title “Mohammed Allan: Palestinian hunger striker may be freed” included this passage:Allan PIJ art 1

“Mr Allan, a lawyer and member of the militant group Islamic Jihad, lost consciousness and was placed on a respirator on Friday after his lungs stopped working and he had seizures.” [emphasis added]

Whilst it would have been more informative for audiences had the Palestinian Islamic Jihad been described in more accurate terms as an Iranian backed terror organisation, at least the BBC appeared to have amended its previous inaccuracy.

Some seven hours later, that article was replaced by another one – this time titled “Israel suspends Palestinian hunger striker’s detention“. The first two versions of that article used the following terminology:

“Mr Allan, a lawyer and member of the militant group Islamic Jihad, began refusing food in June in protest at his indefinite administrative detention.”


Mohammed Allan, a lawyer and member of the militant group Islamic Jihad, began refusing food in June in protest at his indefinite administrative detention.”

Curiously however, the third version of the report reverted to the inaccurate language used in the August 14th article:Allan PIJ Ad Det suspended

“Mohammed Allan, an alleged member of the militant group Islamic Jihad, began refusing food in June in protest at his indefinite administrative detention.” [emphasis added]

The following statements were also added:

“The Israeli justice ministry has alleged that Mr Allan is involved in “grave terrorism”. It says that “classified information” warrants keeping him detained.

Mr Allan denies the allegations and any involvement with Islamic Jihad.”

BBC Watch has been advised by official sources that:

“He [Allan] is a Palestinian Islamic Jihad operative. He was first arrested in 2006 after recruiting a suicide bomber. He was tried and served a sentence of 35 months. 

He was arrested in administrative detention in 2014 following substantial and grave intelligence that he was in contact with PIJ operatives that intended in carrying out severe attacks. On July 20 2015 the Supreme Court confirmed and approved his detention.”

Both these August 19th BBC reports concerning Mohammed Allan include the following superficial description of the process of administrative detention, which is of course used in many countries around the world, including the United Kingdom, Ireland, the United States and Australia.

“Mr Allan began the hunger strike on 16 June in protest against his incarceration since November 2014 under what Israel calls administrative detention.

The system allows a military court to order suspects to be detained indefinitely, subject to renewal every six months by the court, without charge or trial.”

Clearly that portrayal does not adequately inform BBC audiences of the very specific circumstances in which the procedure is used or the safeguards in place.

“…a Military Commander (namely, a high-ranking IDF officer with specific authority) may order the administrative detention of a person if there are reasonable grounds to consider that taking such a measure is necessary for imperative reasons of security.

Such an order must rely on credible, current and reliable information, as detailed as possible, showing that the person poses a specific and concrete threat of a substantial nature to the security of the West Bank or its population.

Administrative detention is used solely as a preventive measure and only as a last resort, and cannot be employed where criminal prosecution is possible or less restrictive administrative procedures would adequately contend with the security risk posed by the individual.

The procedure for issuing orders for administrative detention includes several safeguards against both abuse and arbitrariness:

First, prior to the issue of a detention order, an independent military prosecutor provides a legal review through conducting an assessment of the order that is legally binding on the Military Commander.

Second, once a detention order has been issued, it is subject to a multi-layered system of judicial review by the Military Courts in the West Bank. Detainees wishing to challenge detention orders may also file a petition with Israel’s Supreme Court sitting as the High Court of Justice. Detainees have the right to legal counsel of their choice throughout this process.

Administrative detention orders mostly rely on sensitive and classified information gained from intelligence sources. Due to its confidential nature, this information cannot be disclosed in full to the detainee or their attorney so as not to endanger the safety of the source or frustrate future intelligence gathering abilities. In these cases, detainees are provided with the general reasons for their detention.

Administrative detention may be ordered for a period of no more than six months. Following this period, a renewed detention order may only be issued on the basis of an updated assessment of the threat posed by the person, which establishes that continued detention is required to confront the threat posed by that person. Any renewed detention order is subject to the same avenues of review and appeal as an initial order.”

The earlier article also includes the following statement:

“Mr Allan’s hunger strike has continued despite Israel’s parliament passing a law last month, which doctors strongly opposed, that would allow the authorities to force-feed detainees to keep them alive.”

The link provided is to a BBC report from July 30th titled “Israel passes law allowing force-feeding of prisoners” in which the term “force-feeding” is used an additional three times. The accepted meaning of that term obviously implies to readers that detainees would be “force-fed” food by means of an orogastric or nasogastric tube. As the MFA explains, that is not the case.

“While the amendment‘s goal is to save lives, attempts are currently being made to misrepresent it. Opponents to the law are attempting to portray it as being equivalent to forced feeding through a feeding tube administered without pain killing measures. This is not the case. The life-saving treatments available under the law include regular medical procedures such as the intravenous administration of total parenteral nutrition (TPN), widely used for patients – including children – who cannot consume a diet in the regular manner. 

Previously existing legislation also gives physicians the right to consider other necessary medical procedures, such as performing blood and urine tests and dispensing medications and salts. 

Any treatment or test must be done in a manner consistent with a doctor’s ethical obligations, including the proper use of pain management methods. The law does not instruct doctors what to do – any treatment is subject to the medical and ethical judgement of the treating physician. What it does do is give the medical community the authority to save the lives of hunger strikers. A similar authority traditionally exists in the case of individuals who want to commit suicide or who suffer from diseases such as anorexia, and who reach a life-threatening condition.”

Clearly the BBC’s framing of this topic does not meet its obligation to report fully, accurately and impartially.


BBC WS WHYS initiates discussion of the apartheid trope, moderation fails

The August 18th edition of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘World Have Your Say’ included an item about “the Israeli columnist who’s decided it’s time to call Israel an ‘apartheid’ society”. We will be discussing that programme in a future article but in this one we will take a look at the related post on the ‘World Have Your Say’ Facebook account on the same day.

As a reminder – the BBC uses social media and discussion boards as part of its interpretation of the public purpose remit titled ‘Global Outlook’, according to which it will “[e]nable individuals to participate in the global debate on significant international issues”.

“BBC Trust: “The BBC should inform conversation and debate, providing forums where its international audiences can debate issues they find important.””

The WHYS Facebook post the following question:”Apartheid”: right or wrong word?

WHYS FB main

Obviously anticipating the type of offensive comments not infrequently seen when Israel-related topics appear on such BBC discussion boards (see examples in the related articles below), the first comment on that post was posted by WHYS itself:

WHYS FB warning

Below are examples of some of the comments the WHYS moderators apparently did not consider “abusive or inappropriate” seeing as they were left standing on the thread.





‘Powerful’ and ‘influential’ Jews:




‘Ethnic cleansing’:


Promoting the elimination of Israel:


Nazi analogy:




‘Jews are pigs’:




Special demands of the BBC’s Jewish journalists:


Nazi analogy:


Nazi analogy:


Once again we see that defamatory falsehoods, racial abuse and antisemitic tropes pass BBC ‘moderation’ with no problem at all. Perhaps the BBC would like to explain to its funding public how that can be considered as contributing to its mission of ‘informing conversation and debate’. 

Related Articles:

BBC WS WHYS Facebook moderation fails again

Nazi analogies and ‘apartheid’ defamation on BBC World ‘Have Your Say’ Facebook account

BBC’s WHYS promotes Gaza interviewee with a penchant for antisemitic imagery

Antisemitism on BBC WS ‘World Have Your Say’ Facebook page

Antisemitic comments (again) on BBC WHYS Facebook post… about show on antisemitism


Multiple inaccuracies and BDS whitewashing in BBC News’ Matisyahu story

On August 18th an article appeared on both the Europe and Middle East pages of the BBC News website under the billing “Spanish festival drops Jewish singer”.

Matisyahu on Europe pge

Matisyahu on ME pge

The article’s headline claims “Jewish groups protest as Spain festival drops US singer” and towards its end readers learn that:Matisuahu art main

“Ronald Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress, criticised the decision and urged Spanish authorities “to take appropriate action against those responsible for it”.

The Spanish Federation of Jewish Communities said the move was “cowardly, unfair and discriminatory”.”

In other words, the impression given to BBC audiences is that only Jewish groups are concerned about the organisers’ cancellation of a scheduled appearance by the American Jewish artist Matisyahu at the Rototom Sunsplash festival.

That, however, is not the case. The Spanish Foreign Ministry – obviously not a “Jewish group” – has made its position very clear.

“Spain said it rejected boycott campaigns and any sign of anti-Semitism, while reiterating its support for an independent Palestinian state through bilateral negotiations.

“Imposing a public declaration (from Matisyahu), puts into question the principle of non-discrimination on which all plural and diverse societies are based,” the Spanish foreign ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.”

A robust editorial appeared in the Spanish newspaper El Pais under the headline “Unacceptable discrimination“.  

“It is absolutely unacceptable that in the Spain of the 21st century, individuals and organizations can still demand that somebody explain themselves in ideological terms in order to be able to exercise their profession, and takes us back to the dark days when everybody was required to prove their religiosity and purity of blood.

Anti-Semitism and discrimination on the grounds of ideology cannot be tolerated and must be stood up to. Criticism of Israel’s policies and defense of the Palestinians cannot be used as cover for systematic persecution of those who hold different views, or because they are Jewish. Spain’s politicians need to speak out about this scandal that questions this country’s commitment to free speech and thought.”

The Wall Street Journal addressed the topic with similar candidness:

“This year Rototom Sunsplash disinvited Matthew Miller, a Jewish-American reggae star who performs under the name Matisyahu, because he wouldn’t publicly endorse a Palestinian state. The organizers said they cancelled Mr. Miller’s appearance after having “repeatedly sought dialogue in the face of the artist’s unavailability to give a clear statement against war and on the right of the Palestinian people to their own state.”

Mr. Miller was the only participant asked to engage in such political “dialogue.” Micah Shemaiah, Andrae Jay Sutherland and other Jamaican artists weren’t asked to disavow antigay violence in their country. Sudanese journalist and festival presenter Sami al-Hajj, a former Guantanamo detainee, wasn’t required to publicly denounce the Khartoum regime’s human-rights abuses. […]

Many European cultural and intellectual elites still don’t see the connection between singling out the world’s sole Jewish state for opprobrium and the explosion of anti-Semitic sentiment on the Continent. Remember the Matisyahu affair the next time proponents of the anti-Israel boycott, divest and sanction movement insist their aim is to promote Palestinian rights, not anti-Jewish bigotry.”

So – in contrast to the inaccurate impression created by the BBC – it was by no means just “Jewish groups” who found this episode profoundly disturbing.

A further inaccuracy was seen in the link provided to readers in the following section of the report:

“A campaign to cancel Matisyahu’s appearance was launched by the Valencia branch of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign.”

Readers who followed that Spanish language link to El Mundo read that Matisyahu is an “Israeli artist”:

Matisyahu art link 1

Obviously the BBC did not bother to fact-check that article (which has since been corrected) before it was offered to readers as a link.

 Additional inaccuracies are found in the article’s tepid portrayal of the BDS campaign.

“The pro-Palestinian group calls for a boycott of Israeli goods until it complies with international law – Israel calls the campaign misleading and anti-Semitic.”

The BBC’s characterization (also seen in the caption to the main image illustrating the article) of the BDS campaign as “pro-Palestinian” rather than anti-Israel is clearly rendered all the more absurd in light of this story. The claim that the BDS campaign “calls for a boycott of Israeli goods…” is inaccurate: the campaign also includes the boycott of Israeli academics, artists, sports persons and more.

The claim that the BDS campaign’s ‘end game’ is to pressure Israel to comply with “international law” is fundamentally misleading. The link provided leads to the BDS Campaign’s website and the BBC makes no effort to accurately, impartially and independently inform readers to which so-called “international law” it refers. If, for example, the BBC can direct audiences to the text of the “international law” enshrining the BDS campaign’s demands for the dismantling of the anti-terrorist fence and the ‘right of return’ of Palestinian refugees to Israel, it should clearly do so.

As ever, this article fails to clarify to BBC audiences that the practical outcome of that latter demand would be an end to Jewish self-determination.  

In other words, this ostensible impartiality box ticking ‘explanation’ of the BDS campaign is once again nothing more than whitewashed amplification of its own PR with no meaningful clarification to audiences concerning the campaign’s real political agenda.

This developing story of the bullying of an American Jew because of his ethnicity should clearly have clarified to the BBC (which has hitherto failed to cover the issue of the BDS campaign accurately and impartially) what that campaign is really all about and prompted it to begin providing its audiences with objective information on that topic. Obviously that did not happen.  

Related Articles:

Jewish musician banned from Spanish music festival because he’s….Jewish  (UK Media Watch)   

More BBC mainstreaming of the anti-Israel BDS campaign – part one

More BBC mainstreaming of the anti-Israel BDS campaign – part two

More BBC mainstreaming of the anti-Israel BDS campaign – part three


BBC News Online – contact details


BBC News continues to ignore terrorism against Israelis

Earlier this week three men were indicted in connection with the June 19th terror attack in which Danny Gonen was murdered and his friend wounded. At the time, the BBC did not report on that terror attack in English and the later arrest of the suspects also did not receive coverage.

On the same day two additional men were indicted for the June 29th terror attack near Shvut Rachel in which Malachi Rosenfeld was killed and three others injured. That incident was also not reported by the BBC in English.

There has been no BBC coverage of those indictments and the corporation continues to ignore the broader related topic of Hamas activity in Judea & Samaria – some of which is orchestrated from abroad.  

“In July 2015, Israeli security forces uncovered a Hamas military network from the village of Silwad (north of Ramallah), whose operatives were involved in the shooting attack on June 29, 2015, near the village of Shvut Rachel, north of Ramallah. Malachi Rosenfeld was killed in the attack and three people were wounded. Two days earlier, this network had carried out a shooting attack on an Israeli ambulance. Under questioning, the network operatives, some of whom also detained by the Palestinian Authority, revealed that their handler was a Hamas operative in Jordan. The handler was Ahmed al-Najjar, from the village of Silwad, who was previously imprisoned in Israel, released in the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange deal (hereinafter: the Shalit deal) and deported to the Gaza Strip. He moved from the Gaza Strip to Jordan and from there he handled the Hamas terrorist network.”

In contrast to its extensive coverage of the arson attack in Duma on July 31st, the BBC has refrained from reporting on numerous additional terror attacks which have taken place then. As well as the incidents documented here, attacks which have received no coverage include:No news

August 9th: the stabbing of an Israeli man filling his car at a petrol station on Route 443.

August 15th: the stabbing of a soldier at Ofer checkpoint – also on Route 443 – and the later stabbing of a Border Guard officer near Tapuach Junction.

August 17th: an additional stabbing of a Border Police officer at Tapuach Junction.

August 18th: a rock-throwing attack on a bus in Jerusalem which caused injury to five passengers.

Regarding terror attacks prevented by the security forces, the Times of Israel reports:

“According to the Shin Bet’s own statistics, Israeli security forces have prevented 17 suicide attacks so far this year — that’s 17 in just seven months. This figure does not include attacks prevented by the Palestinian Authority, which has dismantled several cells that planned such attacks.

Five of the 17 attacks thwarted by Israel were planned by members of Hamas, five were planned by other groups, and the remaining seven were not associated with any organization. […]

…so far this year, too, Israel prevented eight kidnappings planned by these so-called amateurs — and, again, this figure does not include kidnappings prevented by the Palestinian Authority. Of those eight, four were planned by members of Hamas and the rest by Islamic Jihad and other groups.

In all, over the first seven months of 2015, Israel’s defense and security establishment prevented 111 attempted terror attacks, including shooting attacks and bombings along with the kidnappings and suicide attacks.

Hamas is the prime offender, the Shin Bet figures show, responsible for more than half of those attempts (62, to be precise, or 55 percent).”

BBC audiences, however, remain severely under-informed with regard to both terror attacks perpetrated against Israelis and those prevented by the security forces, despite the corporation’s pledge that “they can expect the BBC to keep them in touch with what is going on in the world”. 

BBC WS amplifies former ISM activist’s falsehoods about Gaza blockade

The August 16th edition of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newshour’ included an item (available here from 38:32 or here as an abridged clip) on 3D printed stethoscopes developed by a person described in the introduction by presenter Julian Marshall as “a Canadian-Palestinian physician.”Newshour stethoscopes

At the beginning of the item listeners hear the following false claim from Dr Tarek Loubani:

“I had attended the war in Gaza in 2012. I’ve been working there for about the last five years and while I was there we had patients coming in – no equipment because the siege has gotten so bad even though it’s medical equipment – and we had to listen to patients’ chests by putting our ears to their chests which is exactly what we would have done 200 years ago.” [emphasis added]

There is of course no “siege” on the Gaza Strip and no restrictions are imposed by Israel on the entry of medical equipment. As it has unfortunately been necessary to point out here on numerous prior occasions due to inaccurate BBC reporting on that issue, shortages of medications and medical equipment in the Gaza Strip are due to long-standing disputes between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas.

Julian Marshall however made no effort to relieve audiences of the inaccurate impression created by his interviewee – who, in response to a question concerning the material used to make his stethoscope, later promoted a similar inaccuracy.

“It’s made of plastic. So the plastic that it’s made of is available anywhere. In the Gaza Strip because it’s such a closed system, because things are not allowed in, they have a very rich culture of recycling their plastic….” [emphasis added]

The only restrictions on materials entering the Gaza Strip are of course on weapons and dual-use goods which can be diverted to the purposes of terrorism.

One presumes that before this item was recorded and broadcast the production team exercised due diligence by researching their interviewee. If that is the case, then the BBC will be aware of the fact that in addition to being a doctor, Kuwait-born Tarek Loubani (who moved to Canada at the age of ten) is a veteran political activist who in 2003 was arrested near Jenin and deported from Israel due to his activities with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM). Loubani was also arrested in Egypt in 2013 whilst trying to enter the Gaza Strip and in 2014 was detained at Ben Gurion airport.

Tarek Loubani’s promotion of the Hamas narrative of a “siege” on the Gaza Strip and his promotion of the falsehood that Israel does not allow the import of medical equipment therefore does not come as a surprise.

However, adherence to the BBC’s editorial guidelines on accuracy should obviously have prevented that falsehood from being broadcast literally worldwide and the editorial guidelines on impartiality should have ensured that listeners were made aware of Loubani’s political agenda and the fact that he is rather more than just a “physician”. 

Related Articles:

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


BBC World Service contact details

BBC WS airbrushing of the Iranian regime – part two

A segment heard in a BBC World Service radio programme on August 15th displays similar issues to those evident in the programme discussed in part one of this post. The synopsis of that edition of ‘Boston Calling’ states:Boston Calling 15 8

“Iranian hardliners have long chanted “Death to America” at Friday prayers and government rallies. But in the wake of a nuclear agreement, are the slogan’s days numbered?”

The item itself (from 1:00 here) opens with some very clear signposting for listeners from presenter Marco Werman.

“…’yes or no’: that is the stark choice US Congress is facing on the Obama administration’s nuclear deal with Iran. The president laid it out in these terms:

[Obama] ‘Let’s not mince words. The choice we face is ultimately between diplomacy or some form of war – maybe not tomorrow, maybe not three months from now, but soon.’

One thing that keeps coming up in the argument against the nuclear deal is a chant: ‘death to America’. Hardliners in Iran belt it out at Friday prayers and demonstrations so critics here say how can we trust people who regularly call for the death of our country? Here’s what President Obama had to say about that:

[Obama] ‘Just because Iranian hardliners chant ‘death to America’ does not mean that that’s what all Iranians believe.'”

Obviously not, but Werman fails to point out that Obama’s argument can be regarded as redundant as long as Iran is a theocratic regime in which “all Iranians” have scant influence on their country’s policies and actions.

He goes on to introduce journalist Nazila Fathi who recently wrote an opinion piece on the topic which is very similar to her contribution to this programme.

Werman also introduces his own anecdote into the conversation:

“I heard the chant used by the Iranian delegation to an anti-apartheid conference in West Africa of all places in 1987 and a couple of the Iranians seemed to have this little smile on their faces as if they knew it was kind of crazy to wish death on a whole country. Do you think the majority of people, you know, older than you who chanted it actually believed the words they were saying?”

More signposting from Werman comes later on in the segment:

“So has the nuclear deal basically made this phrase obsolete for all intents and purposes?”

Interestingly though, he chooses not to pick up on the following part of Fathi’s answer to his question.

“But I can’t say that this is an empty slogan because as you know a lot of these regimes that rely on propaganda they can use them, they can snowball it into something bigger and take advantage of them for their own benefits.”

So as we see, the take-away message of this item – based on one opinion piece from one journalist – is that a point allegedly raised by “critics” making “the argument against the nuclear deal” is invalid because Iranians never believed what they were chanting anyway and apparently the signing of the nuclear deal has made Iranian regime animosity towards the US “obsolete”.

Again – had BBC audiences been provided with objective critique of the arguments for and against the terms of the JCPOA deal reached last month then this obviously partial item would have been less problematic. However, BBC presentation of that topic has been as monochrome, lacking in curiosity and predictable as its airbrushing of the Iranian regime on other issues.

Related Articles:

Why does the BBC continue to describe Rouhani as a ‘moderate’?

How the BBC whitewashed the issue of women’s rights in Iran



BBC WS airbrushing of the Iranian regime – part one

In the past few weeks alone the BBC  has refrained from informing its English-speaking audiences about the Iranian regime sponsored annual  hatefest known as Al Quds Day, told audiences that Israel is not under threat from Iran, framed Israel as a greater threat to Middle East stability than Iran, censored the Iranian leader’s pledge to continue supporting terror, whitewashed Iranian patronage of terror organisations, claimed that Israel can defend itself against a nuclear armed Iran and avoided reporting on admissions of Iranian funding for Hizballah and Hamas.

Audiences might therefore not have been overly surprised to find a rosy view of Iran promoted in an interview by Tim Franks with an American Jewish journalist who recently visited the country in the August 12th edition of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newshour’.Newshour Franks Iran

The interview is available here from 30:00 and an abridged version was promoted separately on social media.  

One of its more bizarre features is Tim Franks’ focus in the later part of the conversation on the fact that his interviewee flew to Israel after his visit to Iran.

“You went in [to Israel] with the same passport? You didn’t have two passports?”

“That’s extraordinary! And you were let in?”

“…to Israel, with a stamp from an Iranian visa in your passport.”

“That’s remarkable.”

Had Franks bothered to take a quick look at the consular services section of the Israeli Foreign Ministry website, he would have discovered that not only is it not in the least “remarkable” or “extraordinary” that a US passport holder with an Iranian visa in his passport was “let in”, but that holders of Iranian passports are able to enter Israel too after securing a visa.

The main messaging comes early on in the item:

“…even among some senior Islamic leaders [….] I found that while there was not one warm word among any of them about the State of Israel, in several cases I saw that there was a diversity of opinion about whether the problem was Israel’s mere existence or whether it was the policies. I had an ayatollah who is very close to the senior leadership tell me that the problem is Israel’s violation of international law.”

With regard to the “real issue” of the approach of the “Supreme Leader and the hardliners”, Cohler-Esses says:

“The main thing I came away with is the understanding that this was a matter for debate – it wasn’t about a uniform policy.”

Unfortunately, at no point during the item did Tim Franks inform listeners that Larry Cohler-Esses was accompanied by a government-approved fixer and translator throughout his one-week trip.

On the basis of his interviewee’s experiences, Franks even goes so far as suggesting that:

“…the sense that dissent is not tolerated [in Iran] is perhaps erroneous.”

Of course if BBC audiences were already equipped with accurate and impartial information concerning the Iranian regime’s patronage of terrorist organisations dedicated to the eradication of Israel and if they were adequately informed about the nature of statements concerning Israel coming from high-level Iranian officials, they would be able to put Mr Cohler-Esses’ impressions into context and proportion. However that – as can be seen above – is not the case.