Political propaganda from the BBC’s Lyse Doucet in Beit Sahour

On November 24th two loosely sports-themed filmed reports – apparently also shown on BBC television news programmes – appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page.Knell Krav Maga

One – titled “Israeli form of self-defence ‘on rise’” – is by the BBC Jerusalem Bureau’s Yolande Knell and its synopsis reads as follows:

“Following a recent increase in knife attacks by Palestinians, there has been a dramatic rise in Israelis taking self-defence lessons.

Many study Krav Maga, an Israeli method developed for the military and incorporating different fighting techniques.

Our Middle East Correspondent, Yolande Knell, went along to a class.”

To her credit, Knell managed to keep politics out of her report – which is a lot more than can be said for her colleague Lyse Doucet who used her report – titled “The Palestinian runners pounding the pavements” – to promote blatant political messaging and inaccurate information.

The synopsis of that report reads:

“As tensions remain high between Israelis and Palestinians, lives of young people on both sides of the divide are being affected.

Three years ago two Danish aid workers and a Palestinian basketball player founded a running group.

What began as a Palestinian marathon has grown into a global running club which is as much about rights as it is about running.

Lyse Doucet met the Palestinian co-founder of the Right to Movement in the West Bank city of Beit Sahour.”

Doucet’s interviewee is George Zeidan who – like one of those “Danish aid workers” mentioned in the synopsis – used to be employed by the political NGO DanChurchAid.Doucet Beit Sahour

As was the case when her colleague Jon Donnison showcased ‘Right to Movement’ over two years ago, Doucet makes no attempt to provide BBC audiences with an impartial portrayal of the political agenda of the organization she highlights and promotes. Hence, viewers hear the following from George Zeidan – with no effort made by Doucet to inform them that Beit Sahour has been under the full control of the Palestinian Authority for two decades.

“Any runner outside Palestine have to just put on his running shoes and tie his shoes and go out to run. To me if I want to do this I take several other steps that I have to plan. I have to plan which street I’m going, when, and that’s because of the Israeli occupation.”

Doucet also adds her own inaccuracies to the cocktail:

“Pounding crowded streets in the city of Beit Sahour wouldn’t be any runner’s first choice. But these runners say they haven’t much choice; not when tensions are now running so high in an area surrounded by Israeli checkpoints and Jewish settlements.” [emphasis added]

Beit Sahour lies to the east of Bethlehem and to the north of a number of Palestinian villages located in PA controlled Area A or in Area B. It is not “surrounded” by either “Israeli checkpoints” or “Jewish settlements” at all.

And – despite the fact that in the last two months 21 people have been killed and 189 wounded in 74 stabbings, 10 shooting attacks and 12 car rammings by Palestinian terrorists – Doucet gives her interviewee a platform from which to tell BBC audiences who they should view as really being under “continuous threat”.

“We’re running here every Saturday for three years. But nowadays, with the current issues between Palestinians and Israelis and the continuous threat from the Israeli soldiers to be….for a Palestinian to be attacked….we just not comfortable and safe to be here.”

Doucet refrains from clarifying to viewers that no Palestinian has been “attacked” by Israeli soldiers for jogging and hence the “threat” is obviously a figment of her interviewee’s political agenda. Her subsequent claims regarding a “dirt track” which supposedly “lies on privately owned Palestinian land” but is “under Israeli military control” are of course impossible to substantiate given the absence of exact coordinates but she fails to clarify that the division of territory into Areas A, B and C came about under the terms of the Oslo Accords – signed by the recognized representatives of the Palestinian people.

Doucet’s supposed nod to ‘impartiality’ in this report comes in the form of the following statement:

“You say that you’re worried about the settlers but now the Israelis are worried about the Palestinians because of the stabbings. They say they’re the ones who are threatened.”

That statement is in fact merely a cue for her interviewee to introduce his own political statement:

“I’m more concerned that the Palestinians are under occupation.”

Doucet’s conclusion to the report is as follows:

“They take to the streets to say they’re telling a different story. But the old story here of conflict and confrontation is far louder and never seems to end.”

Those closing words reinforce the underlying theme seen in this report and much of the BBC’s other coverage over the last two months: the injection of the false notion of equivalence into the story of the current wave of terrorism against Israelis.

Here we have two filmed reports supposedly telling different sides of the same story. But whilst Yolande Knell’s report tells of Israelis trying to augment their personal security during a wave of terror attacks by taking self-defence classes, Doucet’s report is nothing more than the provision of a platform for opportunistic political propaganda which does nothing to contribute to the BBC’s public purpose remit of building “understanding of international issues”.  

 Related Articles:

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

BBC deems parts of Israeli right of reply statement “irrelevant”

Bethlehem Marathon: the bit the BBC did not report




BBC Radio 5 live phone-in misleads listeners on Zionism

h/t: RG

The BBC’s editorial guidelines include a section titled “Interacting with our Audiences” which outlines the editorial principles behind such activity and includes the following:

 “When we offer interactivity to our audiences we should ensure that it:

  • adds public value and enhances our output in a way which fits our public service remit.”

The public service remit mentioned above includes “Reflecting UK audiences” and “Promoting education and learning“, with the definition of the former including a statement from the BBC Trust according to which “[t]he BBC should give people opportunities to understand the beliefs of others…” and the definition of the latter including the Trust’s declaration that “[t]he BBC should enable people to learn about many different topics”.

 The guideline includes a sub-section about phone-in programmes. There we learn that:

“presenters should be adequately briefed on BBC Editorial Guidelines and the law and be able to extricate the programme from tricky situations with speed and courtesy.”

One might therefore expect that when listeners are given inaccurate and misleading impressions by contributors to a BBC phone-in programme, the presenter would intervene to dispel those impressions.

The November 22nd edition of the Stephen Nolan show on BBC Radio 5 Live included an item (available for a limited period of time from 24:49 here) about a story described in the programme’s synopsis as follows:Stephen Nolan 22 11

“And after the refusal of leading UK cinemas to show an advert featuring the Lord’s Prayer, Stephen takes your calls on whether you think that was the right decision or not.”

One of the two callers put on air made the following remark:

“But I mean where is this going to end? Are we going to have Zionists and Jihadists clogging up the cinemas with their message?”

The second caller responded:

“…we have robust laws against hate speech. […] So, you know, to say we’re gonna have Zionists or ISIS adverts; I’m pretty sure that’s not going to happen.”

Presenter Stephen Nolan, however, made no effort to relieve listeners of the obviously false impression that UK laws against hate speech might theoretically be applied to content relating to the right of the Jewish people to self-determination in the Land of Israel. His failure to do so clearly hindered enhancement of the corporation’s remit to “give people opportunities to understand the beliefs of others” – with “others” in this case including many if not most of Britain’s Jewish community.

Another BBC News correction misses its point

One of the suggestions made in BBC Watch’s submission to the DCMS BBC Charter Review consultation is for the BBC News website to set up a dedicated corrections page where visitors would be able to find details of corrections or amendments made to articles they have already read.

“The BBC News website currently has no dedicated corrections page of the kind seen in reputable newspapers. Hence, when corrections are made to online articles users remain unaware of the fact that information they previously read was inaccurate. Relatedly, the use of footnotes informing the public that a correction has been made to an article is erratic and amendments are sometimes made without notification. A dedicated corrections page would make corrections more visible and accessible, increase the likelihood that people will receive the corrected information and contribute to the BBC’s transparency as well as reducing the likelihood of waste of public funding on unnecessary complaints.”

We recently came across yet another example of just such a case in an article which originally appeared on September 2nd 2015 under the headline “Arafat poisoning inquiry dropped by French prosecutors“.

At the time we noted on these pages that the article did not inform readers that the Russian investigation had ruled out poisoning.

Over two weeks after its initial publication, the article was amended and a footnote was added.  

footnote Arafat art

It is of course highly unlikely that those who read the original article would have returned to it more than two weeks later and seen that amendment and footnote. One must therefore ask once more why an organization supposedly committed to rigorous standards of accuracy does not implement the simple measure of posting such corrections on a dedicated webpage in order to ensure that audiences receive the information. After all; that is surely the point of making corrections. 

BBC News passes up the chance to set the record straight on Gaza shortages

On countless past occasions BBC audiences have been mistakenly led to believe that chronic shortages of medical supplies and electricity in the Gaza Strip are the result of Israeli restrictions on the entry of goods into the territory.

In fact, both those chronic shortages are rooted in disputes between the Palestinian Authority and the Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip. Regarding medical supplies:

“The long-standing shortage of medicines and medical supplies in Gaza emanates primarily from a dysfunctional relationship between the Palestinian Ministries of Health in Gaza and Ramallah.

The conflicts between the two offices have resulted not only in a shortage of medicines and supplies, but also in restricted access to medical treatment for patients outside of Gaza.

The healthcare system in Gaza is marked by a shortage of 400-500 varieties of medical equipment and an average shortage of 33% of desired types of drugs at any given time.

The situation is further exacerbated by the fact that medical suppliers are often reluctant to sell supplies to Gaza due to issues of non-payment.”

Regarding the electricity supply:

“The Palestinian Authority purchases a liter of fuel for the power plant for approximately 4 shekels from Israeli gas companies and has tried to sell it to Hamas for almost double, including excise tax.

Hamas has rejected those prices outright and stopped purchasing fuel for its power plant. The dramatic consequence was that the power plant has shut down and the electricity supply has been completely disrupted. The PA refuses to waive the excise tax, a critical part of its own budget.” 

The topics of medical supplies and electricity both appeared again in a recent BBC filmed report made for television programmes which was also promoted on the BBC News website on November 20th under the title “Life as a cancer nurse in Gaza’s main hospital“. The synopsis to that report reads as follows:Gaza nurse report

“At the age of 27, Azza Jadalla has already lived through six wars – three in the past seven years alone. She is a cancer nurse in Gaza’s main hospital, Al-Shifa. Every day she deals with fall-out of the on-going conflict between Israel and Gaza’s ruling party, Hamas.

Living in a place with a failing economy means she faces daily electricity and supply shortages at work.

“Sometime we go for two or three months without pay,” she says. “But this doesn’t make me want to do my job any less, because it’s not the patient’s fault.”

Despite her dedication and due to shortages in Gaza, there is often only so much Ms Jadalla can do for her patients. For one patient Abdul (name has been changed), who is suffering from leukaemia, the only option for further treatment is outside Gaza.”

In the report itself, viewers are told that:

“Here in Gaza all kinds of supplies – cannulas, syringes – are very rare.”


“And the electricity keeps going on and off. We have to restart the monitors.”

With BBC audiences having been inaccurately informed many times in the past that such shortages are the result of the restrictions on the entry of dual-use goods which could also be appropriated for the purposes of terrorism and with the synopsis to this report clearly suggesting a ‘connection’ between “fall-out of the on-going conflict between Israel and Gaza’s ruling party, Hamas” and “shortages at work”, it would not be surprising to find that viewers would once again go away with a misleading impression about the root causes of those shortages.

This report presented the BBC with an ideal opportunity to finally tell audiences the truth about the reasons behind the chronic shortages of medical supplies and electricity in the Gaza Strip. Notably, the corporation chose to pass up on that opportunity. 

BBC News promotes equivalence between terrorists and victims

November 22nd marked seventy days since the current wave of terror attacks against Israelis began on the eve of Rosh HaShana with the murder of Alexander Levlovich. On that day a further three terror attacks took place: an attempted stabbing attack at a bus stop at the Samaria Junction, an attempted vehicular attack and stabbing near Kfar Adumim and a stabbing attack in Gush Etzion in which 21 year-old Hadar Buchris was murdered. In all three attacks the perpetrators were killed in the act.

Hadar Buchris’ murder brings the total number of fatalities from terror attacks carried out by Palestinians in the last seventy days to twenty-one, with eighteen of the victims being Israeli citizens, one a Palestinian civilian, one an American national and one an Eritrean national.

The BBC News website’s Middle East page promoted a report on the events of November 22nd with a headline which fails to make the obviously necessary distinction between terrorists and victims: “Four dead in West Bank violence”.

ME pge after Sun attacks

The article to which that headline leads is currently titled “West Bank: Israeli woman killed as West Bank deaths spiral” and amendments to the headline and the body of the report can be viewed here. The first version of the report included the following information:

“Seventeen Israelis and 83 Palestinians – many of them attackers – have been killed in the violence.

Israeli police say at least 50 of the Palestinians killed were attackers. More than 30 Palestinians have been killed in clashes with Israeli security forces.”

Notably, by the time the report reached its third and final version, part of that information had been removed and that passage now reads:

“Seventeen Israelis and 83 Palestinians – many of them attackers – have been killed in the violence.”

Once again the BBC provided readers with ‘context’ which fails to clarify in its own words that the conspiracy theories surrounding Temple Mount which underpin the current wave of terror are entirely baseless.

“The surge in violence began in September, when tensions at a flashpoint holy site in Jerusalem revered by Jews and Muslims boiled over, amid rumours that Israel planned to relax long-standing rules to strengthen Jewish rights at the complex.

Israel has repeatedly denied such claims.”

And – as has been the case in BBC reporting throughout the last two months – no effort was made to inform audiences of the official and unofficial incitement and glorification of terrorism which has kept this wave of terror going for the past seventy days.

One of the BBC’s public purpose remits obliges it to “[b]uild a global understanding of international issues”. The repeated promotion of the notion of equivalence between terrorists and their victims, together with the serial avoidance of telling audiences the facts about the Palestinian Authority’s promotion of conspiracy theories, incitement and glorification of terrorism, mean that for the last 70 days, the BBC has failed to meet that legally binding obligation.

BBC One fails to correct George Galloway’s lie about Israeli policy

h/t LV

Among the promoted segments on the webpage of the BBC One programme ‘This Week’ one finds a clip from the November 19th edition featuring former MP George Galloway. 

This Week Galloway on HP

About six and a half minutes into that clip, host Andrew Neil asks Galloway for his reaction to the UK Labour party’s response to the recent terror attacks in Paris.

Galloway: “One has to say if anyone comes here with guns and bombs, our police will shoot them down and stop them. There’s no room for equivocation about that at all. Err…of course a shoot to kill policy in general…”

Neil: [interrupts] “That’s a different thing of course. That could give back thoughts of Northern Ireland.”

Galloway: “Indeed – Northern Ireland or what Israel does in the occupied territories and so on. Apart from being wrong, they don’t work. They make more terrorists.” [emphasis added]

Along with his guests Michael Portillo and Labour’s Liz Kendall, Andrew Neil sat in total silence as veteran anti-Israel activist Galloway opportunistically promoted the blatant lie that Israel employs a ‘shoot to kill’ policy to BBC audiences.

In addition to Neil’s failure to comply with BBC editorial guidelines on accuracy – which state “We should normally acknowledge serious factual errors and correct them quickly, clearly and appropriately” – by correcting the materially misleading claim from Galloway immediately after it was made, the BBC has further promoted that uncorrected clip for view by audiences who did not see the programme’s original broadcast. 

Compare and contrast: BBC News personalisation of victims of terror

Whilst stuck in early morning traffic on the way to Manchester airport last Monday I found myself listening to BBC Radio 5 live’s morning broadcast. The programme understandably focused mostly on the weekend’s terror attacks in Paris and one feature particularly notable to Israeli ears was the effort made to personalise and humanise the victims. 

Listeners were given a range of information which typically included names, ages, occupations, family statuses, places of birth and education and in some cases also heard of the reactions of loved ones. Such information of course enables the listener to get beyond mere casualty figures and goes some way towards helping audiences appreciate the individual personal tragedies of victims and their families.

A week on from the attacks, that trend continues to be a feature of BBC content, with an article titled “Paris attacks: Who were the victims?” appearing on the homepage and World page of the BBC News website on November 20th and the BBC News Twitter account promoting a Facebook post devoted to tributes to the victims.

BBC News Twitter paris Victims 1

BBC News Twitter Paris victims 2

BBC News FB Paris victims

By way of contrast, the BBC’s descriptions of five victims of terror murdered in two separate attacks on November 19th in Tel Aviv and Gush Etzion are notable for the paucity of personal details. TA & Gush attacks 19 11

“Five people have been killed in two attacks in Israel and the occupied West Bank, officials say.

In the first attack, two Israelis were stabbed to death by a Palestinian man at the entrance of a shop that serves as a synagogue in the city of Tel Aviv.

Later, a third Israeli, a Jewish American and a Palestinian were killed in an attack near a Jewish settlement.” […]

“One of the victims, a man in his 20s, was declared dead at the scene by the Magen David Adom ambulance service. The second was rushed to Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Hospital, but was pronounced dead on arrival.” […]

“Hours later, an attacker in a car opened fire at a busy junction and then crashed into a group of pedestrians, killing three people and injuring several others, the Israeli military said.

Two of the dead were identified as Jewish – an 18-year-old American tourist and a 50-year-old Israeli. The third was a Palestinian.”

Rabbi Aharon Yesayev, 32, from Tel Aviv, Reuven Aviram, 51, from Ramle, Ezra Schwartz, 18, of Sharon, Massachusetts, Yaakov Don, 49, from Alon Shvut, and Shadi Arafa, 40, from Hebron were not even named by the BBC in its report on the two incidents – even though that information was in the public domain by the time its final version was updated. Their photographs and personal stories are not featured in any dedicated BBC article or Facebook post.

Predictably, the BBC article on the attacks in Tel Aviv and Gush Etzion does not mention the word ‘terror’ whilst the article about the victims murdered in Paris opens with the words “Tributes have been paid to the 130 people who lost their lives in the Paris terror attacks”. Evidently the BBC’s two-tier system of reporting terror attacks is not only confined to the use of language.

BBC removes the word ‘terror’ from follow-up report about Kuwait attacks

Whilst discussing the BBC’s employment of geographically selective double standards in its reporting on terrorism we recently noted here that the corporation’s coverage of the terror attack on a mosque in Kuwait in June 2015 had rightly included the use of the word terror.

On November 20th a short follow-up report on that story was published on the BBC News website’s Middle East page under the title “Kuwait crackdown on ‘IS-supporting extremist cell’“.Kuwait report

The version of that article appearing on the BBC News website at the time of writing opens:

“Kuwait has arrested members of an alleged cell accused of supplying funds and weapons to the so-called Islamic State (IS), reports say.”

Later on, readers are told that:

“In June, 27 people died after an attack on one of Kuwait’s oldest Shia mosques.

It was the deadliest bombing in decades in the predominantly Sunni Muslim country. An affiliate group of IS calling itself Najd Province said it carried out the attack.”

However, those paragraphs underwent amendment about three hours after the article’s initial publication. The first paragraph originally read:

“Kuwait has arrested members of an alleged terror cell accused of supplying funds and weapons to the so-called Islamic State (IS), say reports.” [emphasis added]

The other paragraphs highlighted above originally read:

“In June, 27 people died after an attack on one of Kuwait’s oldest Shia mosques.

It was the worst terror attack in decades in the predominantly Sunni Muslim country. An affiliate group of IS calling itself Najd Province claimed responsibility the attack.” [emphasis added]

Oddly, the phrase “terror attack” remained in place in the caption to the photograph illustrating the report.

Readers will no doubt recall that it is not long since the BBC complaints department ‘explained’ the corporation’s use of the word terror in reporting on the June attack in Kuwait by telling BBC Watch that “We don’t believe the Har Nof murders [in Jerusalem, November 2014] are comparable to the recent attacks in Tunisia and Kuwait” and “We don’t believe it is unreasonable to say that the Har Nof attacks were very different to the events in Tunisia and Kuwait…”.

As the BBC ridiculously continues to tie itself in ever more embarrassing knots over the issue of the language used when reporting acts of terror, Kuwaitis may be interested to know that they too are apparently now subject to the BBC’s two-tier system of reporting which censors the use of the word terror and its derivatives in certain geographical locations.

Weekend long read

As has frequently been noted here in recent weeks, BBC News coverage of the current wave of terrorism in Israel has been remarkable for its failure to provide audiences with any substantialAbbas incitement information concerning the incitement coming from Palestinian Authority, Hamas and Fatah sources which underpins the acts of violence. MEMRI has produced a useful compilation of some examples of such incitement which can be viewed here.

Another organisation acting as a useful resource on that issue is Palestinian Media Watch and one of its latest translations is of an interview on official PA TV with Fatah Central Committee member Tawfik Tirawi who for years has been quoted and promoted in BBC content.

At the Telegraph media correspondent Patrick Foster brings news of the results of the BBC Trust’s recent public consultation ahead of charter renewal.Weekend Read

“The BBC should cut “biased” news coverage and low-brow game shows from its schedules and provide more high quality drama, according a survey of nearly 40,000 viewers.

The corporation’s governing body gave viewers the chance to say what sort of programming the BBC should increase, or decrease, as part of a consultation exploring the future of broadcaster. Licence fee-payers told the BBC to produce “more unbiased, impartial news”, and fewer game shows and cookery programmes.

In its analysis of the results, the BBC Trust said there was “desire for less bias and political opinion in journalism and news reports. For these respondents, it is vital that the BBC remain completely impartial and independent, and resist any influence from government or businesses or corporations”.”

At the Times of Israel, Sharon Klaff notes that:

“The Government appointed Culture, Media and Sport Committee (DCMS) has been taking evidence, both oral and written to determine the Future of the BBC, ahead of its current Royal Charter ending in December 2016. The BBC charter is renewable every decade, which represents a once in 10 year opportunity to have any input into BBC functionality. A brief glance at some of the evidence the DCMS has published, shows a general dissatisfaction with the in-house BBC complaints procedure. Randomly chosen from the DCMS website, Ian McNulty, writes:

“My own conclusions are that the BBC will go to any lengths necessary to avoid admitting anything but the most self-evident mistakes, including breaking its own Editorial Guidelines and flying in the face of reason. Moreover, this culture of misrepresentation, denial and prejudice against non-consensus views is systemic and institutionalized at every level of the organization, from the bottom to the top.””

Read the rest of that article here



BBC Watch submission to the DCMS Charter Review

Many readers and members of the public attending our recent events in the UK have asked for a copy of BBC Watch’s submission to the DCMS public consultation on the topic of the renewal of the BBC’s Royal Charter in 2016.DCMS consultation

On our menu bar above we have now added a tab titled ‘2016 BBC Charter Review’ where all material on that topic will be stored for convenient location.

BBC Watch’s submission to the public consultation can be found in the drop-down box at that tab or here.

We will update the tab as more information becomes available.