PA honours for murderers ignored by the BBC

As regular readers will be aware, the topic of the Palestinian Authority’s glorification of terrorism is one which remains – along with incitement and the funding of convicted terrorists – consistently unreported by the BBC.No news

It therefore came as no surprise to see that the BBC’s regional correspondents avoided the following story altogether.

On May 9th the official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida reported that:

“Director of PLO Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs [and PA Parliament Member] Issa Karake…  [visited the] families of prisoners sentenced to life, together with a delegation of the commission.[…] Karake awarded plaques of honor to the prisoners’ families.”

The three prisoners whose families were officially honoured are serving sentences for their part in the October 2000 lynching of two Israeli reservists – Vadim Nurzhitz and Yossi Avrahami – in Ramallah.

As has been noted here in the past, a number of inaccurate BBC reports on that incident are still available on the BBC News website.

Whilst the BBC on the one hand devotes considerable amounts of airtime and column space to the topic of the ‘peace process’, on the other hand it systematically avoids informing its audiences about such examples of the Palestinian Authority’s glorification of terrorism, despite their being a crucial part of the story it claims to tell.

 

Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism 2015

As noted previously, last week we attended the biennial Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism held in Jerusalem and participated in the working group on the issue of Antisemitism on the Internet and in the Media.GFCA logo

Once again the conference presented an excellent opportunity to hear first-hand from delegates from many countries around the world in both the panel discussions and informal conversations. As was to be expected, the attacks in Paris and in Copenhagen earlier this year were at the forefront of discussion.

Readers can view videos of the four panel sessions held on May 13th here and shorter videos of individual speakers can be found on Youtube. Of particular relevance to the working group in which BBC Watch took part was Panel 2 which included representatives from Google and Facebook who were presented with questions from the audience regarding their policies concerning the spread of hate speech and racism via social media.

The context of the BBC’s promotion of ‘Breaking the Silence’

As readers no doubt recall, at the beginning of this month the BBC produced three items on various platforms promoting a collection of anonymous ‘testimonies’ issued by the foreign funded political NGO ‘Breaking the Silence’. In clear breach of BBC editorial guidelines on impartiality, none of those reports provided audiences with any meaningful information about the organisation’s political agenda.BtS written

BBC editorial guidelines flouted in promotion of ‘Breaking the Silence’ booklet

Another breach of editorial guidelines in yet more BBC promotion of ‘Breaking the Silence’

Writing at the Mosaic magazine, journalist Matti Friedman brings some crucial context not only to the issue of the claims touted by ‘Breaking the Silence’ but also to the wider – and no less important – topic of the mainstream media’s uncritical promotion and amplification of the story.

“As a reporter, you wouldn’t be able to get away with publishing purely anonymous testimony that you have collected, but it is one of the peculiarities of Israel-related journalism that you are allowed to use anonymous material if it has been pre-packaged for you by a political NGO. […]BtS audio

The vast media coverage devoted over the past week to this little piece of agit-prop from a little country—its claims parroted without proof, shorn of context and comparison, and presented as journalism to people around the world—must lead us to ask what, exactly, is going on. What is motivating all of this? No one observing our planet of violence and injustice in 2015 can claim any longer that Israel is covered the same way other countries are covered; that the coverage is proportional to the scale of events; or that the tone of moral condemnation—growing in its hysteria, and crawling from the fringes deeper and deeper into the mainstream press—is in the realm of reasonable reportage.

In all the talk purporting to be about the Gaza war, many are beginning to see more clearly the outlines of another war entirely. What is the nature of this war? That is where the real silence lies.”

Read the whole article here

 

BBC misleads on root cause of lack of equality for Saudi women

Since mid-April BBC audiences have seen and heard a number of reports informing them that “progress” is being made by women in Saudi Arabia looking to secure their basic human rights.

April 13th 2015: “Saudi women’s small steps on path to progress“, Barbara Plett Usher, BBC News website.

April 13th 2015: “Everyday life for Saudi women”, Barbara Plett Usher, BBC World Service radio – now unavailable.

May 4th 2015: “Rights for women in Saudi Arabia ‘progressing’“, Lina Sinjab, BBC television news and BBC News website.

The opening paragraph of Plett Usher’s written report states:Women Saudi Arabia 2

“Women have made strides in Saudi Arabia during the last 10 years, in employment, at universities, and even in politics. But they still cannot drive, and continue to face severe social restrictions, as Barbara Plett Usher in Riyadh finds.” [emphasis added]

The synopsis to Lina Sinjab’s filmed report reads:

“Saudi Arabia is known to be one of the world’s most conservative societies, with the role of women particularly limited.

Although changes have been made in employment and politics, women are still not allowed to drive, and continue to face severe social restrictions.

But some think progress is being made, despite resistance from conservative parts of society.” [emphasis added]

But can the severe restrictions on women’s rights in Saudi Arabia (ranked 130th out of 142 on gender equality in 2014 by the World Economic Forum) really be accurately described as “social”?

In fact – in common with many other restrictions on human rights in general in Saudi Arabia – the restrictions on women are legal ones – derived from interpretations of Sharia law.

As Freedom House points out:Women Saudi Arabia 1

“Women are not treated as equal members of society, and many laws discriminate against them. They are not permitted to drive cars or travel within or outside of the country without a male relative. According to interpretations of Sharia in Saudi Arabia, daughters generally receive half the inheritance awarded to their brothers, and the testimony of one man is equal to that of two women. Moreover, Saudi women seeking access to the courts must be represented by a male. The religious police enforce a strict policy of gender segregation and often harass women, using physical punishment to ensure that they meet conservative standards of dress in public. All sexual activity outside marriage, including homosexual acts, is criminalized, and the death penalty can be applied in certain circumstances.

Education and economic rights for Saudi women have improved somewhat in recent years, with more than half of the country’s university students now female, though they do not enjoy equal access to classes and facilities. Women gained the right to hold commercial licenses in 2004. In 2008, the Saudi Human Rights Commission established a women’s branch to investigate cases of human rights violations against women and children, but it has not consistently carried out serious investigations or brought cases against violators.

In August 2013, the government enacted a law that defines and criminalizes domestic abuse, prescribing fines and up to a year in prison for perpetrators. However, according to an analysis by Human Rights Watch, the law lacks clarity on enforcement mechanisms. In July, prominent women’s rights activists Wajeha al-Huwaider and Fawzia al-Oyouni were sentenced to 10 months in prison and banned from traveling abroad for two years for a 2011 attempt to assist a woman who was apparently being domestically abused.”

There is obviously a world of difference between “social restrictions” born out of convention and punishable restrictions enshrined in the laws of a non-democratic theocracy. A social restriction would be if, for example, women dressed in a certain way because of convention but their right to wear whatever they like was protected by law. Unfortunately, the BBC’s journalists do not seem to have an interest in accurately informing their audiences of that crucial difference.  

 

Hamas news you won’t hear from the BBC

Last November the BBC News website reported on the arrest of Hamas operatives in Palestinian Authority controlled areas but missed out a significant part of the story.No news

“As readers may have heard, the Israeli Security Agency announced on November 27th that it had arrested some 30 Hamas operatives, including some foreign nationals, located throughout Judea & Samaria. The Hebrew announcement is available here and it notes the role of the Turkey-based Hamas official Saleh al Arouri in organizing and financing this latest terror network to be uncovered.

“As with the previous network, the man behind the terrorist grouping was Saleh al-Arouri, a Hamas leader who was deported from the West Bank to Turkey in 2010, the sources said.

Arouri, they said, built up and funded the network, and has effectively established a Hamas command post in Turkey which is leading terror efforts in the West Bank. Arouri is reportedly aided by dozens of operatives, some of whom were deported by Israel in the wake of the Gilad Shalit prisoner deal in 2011.”

As was the case when a previous network was discovered in August of this year (see here and here), BBC coverage of this story fails to adequately inform audiences of the fact that Hamas’ operations in territory under the control of the Palestinian Authority are being run from a NATO member country.”

On May 6th the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center published a report which again notes Hamas’ activities in Turkey whilst highlighting the terror group’s recruitment activity in Malaysia – as exposed in the indictment of a Hebron resident.

“On February 13, 2015, Wasim Rashad Umran Qawasmeh, from Hebron, was detained at the Allenby Bridge when he returned from his studies in Malaysia via Jordan. On March 18, 2015, he was indicted by the Ofer Judea Military Court. According to the indictment he was recruited by Hamas during his studies at the International Islamic University Malaysia.” […]

“In July 2014 Sharif Abu Shamala (a Hamas activist in the Islamic University student association) proposed to Wasim Qawasmeh that he participate in a Hamas management and command course in Turkey. Qawasmeh agreed and in August 2014 he flew from Malaysia to Turkey and participated in the course, which lasted a week. Hamas financed his stay in Turkey. One of the lectures was given by Muhammad Nizal, a senior Hamas figure responsible the organization’s foreign affairs.” […]

“Hamas’ external military-terrorist headquarters is located in Turkey. Saleh Muhammad Suleiman al-Arouri, one of the founders of Hamas military-terrorist wing in Judea and Samaria, is in charge. The IDF security services’ interrogations of terrorist operatives clearly indicate the main role played by Turkey in directing Hamas terrorism. The Turkish headquarters gave the course attended by Wasim Qawasmeh.”

Another interesting Hamas connection to Malaysia is outlined in the same report.

“On the night of July 20, 2014, during Operation Protective Edge, an IDF force in the region of Qarara (Khan Yunis) detained a Hamas terrorist operative from an Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades elite unit. Interrogation revealed that he had been recruited to Hamas’ military-terrorist wing in 2007. After three years he and nine other Hamas terrorist operatives from various battalions were sent to Malaysia to train in the use of hang gliders.  

They trained in Malaysia for a week in preparation for using hang gliders to infiltrate Israel to carry out an attack. Upon his return to the Gaza Strip they were called for additional training in the Gaza Strip. They were all warned to keep their activities secret and not to mention hang gliders. Later 2014 he underwent more training in the Gaza Strip along with the other terrorist operatives who had trained in Malaysia.”

Read the whole report here.

Related Articles:

Critical omission in BBC News report on PA tax revenues

BBC WS promotes Hamas claim of “normal right” to carry out terror attacks

BBC sticks to inaccurate narrative despite Hamas claim of June kidnappings

 

BBC News misrepresents BDS campaign yet again

On May 8th the BBC News website’s Europe page ran an article titled “Copenhagen buses burned in ‘anti-Israel attack’“.Copenhagen buses art

Whilst the details of the incident presented in the BBC’s report are consistent with those presented by other media outlets, it continues the BBC’s practice of misrepresenting the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign (BDS) as “pro-Palestinian”.

“Last week, the city’s transit authority ordered the removal of advertisements by a pro-Palestinian group calling for a boycott of Israeli goods.”

The report includes a description of the adverts promoting BDS but fails to inform readers that they also featured a series of inaccurate maps frequently used in anti-Israel propaganda. Whether or not the BBC’s description of ‘Charlotte and Lizzie from Hellerup’ as “two Palestinian women” is in fact accurate is unclear.

“The notices, placed on 35 buses across Copenhagen, showed two Palestinian women opposite the words: “Our conscience is clean! We neither buy products from the Israeli settlements nor invest in the settlement industry.”

But within four days, the bus company, Movia, removed the adverts, saying they were “unnecessarily offensive”.

Movia added that it had “received a significant number of inquiries regarding the Danish Palestinian Friendship Association’s campaign against Israeli settlements.””

Copenhagen buses advert

Clearly readers will be unable to comprehend the bus company’s decision to remove the adverts because, as usual, they are not informed of the aims of the political campaign promoted by the non-transparently funded ‘Danish-Palestinian Friendship Association’ – despite the fact that a link to the organisation’s website appears in the BBC’s report.  

Whilst the BDS campaign’s political crusade to bring about the demise of Jewish self-determination by means of delegitimisation and demonization is not infrequently directly or indirectly amplified in BBC programming, the corporation inevitably refrains from informing its audiences exactly for what its ‘one-stater’ supporters are campaigning.

“With pressure imposed by the international community through a BDS campaign a la anti-Apartheid campaign which brought Apartheid South Africa to an end, we believe that Israel itself can be transformed into a secular democratic state after the return of 6 million Palestinian refugees who were ethnically cleansed in 1948, a state for ALL of its citizens…therefore, we think that one of the major tools of the struggle towards a secular democratic state is BDS.” Haider Eid, 2009

“So BDS does mean the end of the Jewish state…I view the BDS movement as a long-term project with radically transformative potential… the success of the BDS movement is tied directly to our success in humanizing Palestinians and discrediting Zionism as a legitimate way of regarding the world.” Ahmed Moor, 2010

“BDS represents three words that will help bring about the defeat of Zionist Israel and victory for Palestine.” Ronnie Kasrils, 2009

In the interest of adherence to its editorial guidelines on accuracy and impartiality, the BBC needs to ensure that an accurate description of the aims of the BDS campaign is a standard inclusion in any report which relates to that campaign’s activities or features interviews with its supporters.

Flotilla ahoy! A refresher on the background to another anti-Israel publicity stunt

As readers may be aware, flotilla season is apparently again upon us and on May 10th the self-styled ‘Freedom Flotilla Coalition’ announced that a trawler had set sail from Sweden.Marianne

The Times of Israel reports:

“The trawler Marianne of Gothenburg will be carrying a “limited cargo of, among other things, solar cell panels and medical equipment” for use in Gaza, according to a statement by the Ship to Gaza campaign. […]

Along the way it will pick up eight other crew members, according to Israel Radio. Two other vessels are expected to join the flotilla later on.”

One of the various vessels’ passengers will apparently be Moncef Marzouki who has collaborated in the past with Hamas-linked groups in Europe and their associated personalities involved in the organization of previous flotillas.

Moncef Marzouki (3rd from left front row) with Zaher Birawi (1st on left front row) and Dror Feiler (3rd from right front row) Tunis, 30 March 2015

Moncef Marzouki (3rd from left front row) with Zaher Birawi (1st on left front row) and Dror Feiler (3rd from right front row) Tunis, 30 March 2015

According to the Jerusalem Post, passengers on the ‘Marianne’ include:

“Israeli-born Swedish citizen Dror Feiler, a musician and spokesperson of  Ship to Gaza; Henry Ascher, a professor of Public Health and pediatrician; Lennart Berggren, a filmmaker; Maria Svensson, spokesperson of the Feministiskt initiative; and Mikael Karlsson, chairperson of Ship to Gaza Sweden.”

Readers can refresh their memories regarding ‘peace activist’ Dror Feiler here and find archive background material on the organisers of previous such publicity stunts here.

The coordinator of the ‘International Committee for Breaking the Siege of Gaza’ – which partners the ‘Freedom Flotilla Coalition’ (along with ‘Miles of Smiles’ and the IHH) – is Hamas-linked UK-based activist Zaher Birawi who was also involved in the ‘Global March to Jerusalem’ in 2012. 

 

 

Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism 2015

Later this week BBC Watch will be attending in the 5th Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism in Jerusalem.GFCA logo

“The Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism (GFCA) is the premier biennial gathering for assessing the state of Antisemitism globally, and formulating effective forms of societal and governmental response. The GFCA is an active coalition of public figures, political leaders, heads of civil society, clergy, journalists, diplomats, educators and concerned citizens dedicated to the advance of tolerance towards the other in public life and the defeat of Antisemitism and other forms of racial and ethnic hatred. The Forum serves as an important meeting place for exchange of knowledge and for formulating the global work plan for combating Antisemitism.

The 5th Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism will focus on two main themes:

The Oldest Hatred in the Newest Vessels: Confronting Antisemitism and Hate Speech on the Internet and in Social Media 

The information highway has proven an unprecedented tool for accessibility to knowledge, and the advance of free expression and global interconnectedness; but it also presents unique challenges to human dignity – in the form of unfiltered cyberhate, both antisemitic and other forms of severe hate speech, delivered ubiquitously to every multimedia device. How can we increase the decency of the web without harming its essential freedom?

The Rise of Antisemtism in Europe’s Cities Today: Means of Response

The summer of 2014 saw an eruption of mass anti-Jewish protests and attacks in major European capitals not seen in decades. Many Jews today feel limited in their freedom to identify openly as Jews in their manner of dress or political expression. In parts of Europe, Jewish religious practice is under legislative attack, and the return of Jihadi fighters with EU citizenship marks a security crisis, for Jewish communities first and foremost.  Why is this happening today in Europe? Is there a structural threat to Jewish life? What steps can be taken by European leadership to defeat the new wave of Antisemitism in Europe?”

BBC Watch will be participating in the working group dealing with Antisemitism on the Internet and in the Media.

We look forward to bringing readers our impressions of the conference, as we did after the previous session in 2013.

What connects Hamas supplied casualty figures to the BBC’s expedited complaints procedure?

Readers who have studied the BBC Trust’s latest publication of editorial appeals findings (March 2015 – published on 30/4/15) will no doubt have noticed that the first three items relate to appeals – all ultimately unsuccessful – made by members of the public affected by the application of the BBC’s expedited complaints procedure.BBC Trust

An explanation of that procedure can be found in our previous post “The Catch 22 clause in the BBC’s complaints procedure“. As noted there, one scenario under which the BBC can limit a member of the public’s access to the BBC complaints system is when the corporation deems that a complainant has a history of making complaints which “are shown on investigation to have no reasonable prospect of success”.

An additional scenario which allows for the application of the expedited complaints procedure is the failure of appeals:

“(e) after rejection of the complaint at an earlier stage (eg Stage 1), are persistently and repeatedly appealed unsuccessfully to the next stage (eg Stage 2).”

As has been noted here before:

“Of course the body which rules whether or not a complaint has a “reasonable prospect of success” and which rejects or accepts an appeal is none other than the self-regulating BBC itself.”

Another document produced by the BBC Trust’s ESC provides a summary of “Complaints closed at stage 1b and complainants subject to the Expedited Complaints Procedure” between February 2013 and September 2014.

There we see for example that among the “complaints closed at stage 1b” in July 2014 (16% of a total of 954 complaints) was one questioning the accuracy of the BBC’s “description of Hamas as militant”. In September 2014 “complaints closed at stage 1b” (10% of a total of 912 complaints) included three questioning the accuracy of Hamas casualty figures promoted by the BBC.

As readers are no doubt well aware, there is nothing to suggest that the BBC carried out any kind of independent verification of the casualty figures promoted by Hamas both directly and indirectly (via the UN) either whilst last summer’s conflict was ongoing or after it ended. The corporation has refrained from reporting on the results of investigations which show the unreliability of the civilian/combatant casualty ratio presented by Hamas at the time as part of its publicly declared strategy and has even defended its use of statistics supplied by the terrorist organization.

Whilst it is not possible to determine from this document which of the complaints “closed at stage 1b” by the BBC were made by members of the public to whom the expedited complaints procedure was applied, we can at least ascertain that in theory, a complainant who questioned the BBC’s use of Hamas provided casualty figures could have been deemed to have made a complaint which has “no reasonable prospect of success” and thus become a candidate for application of that procedure.

This example once more highlights the fact that the concept of stakeholders in an organisation they are obliged to fund by law being subjected to limitations on complaints on the basis of arbitrary decisions made by that same self-regulating organisation is one which is worthy of public debate – particularly as the renewal of the BBC’s Royal Charter in 2016 approaches.

Related Articles:

BBC Complaints defends its use of Hamas supplied casualty figures

 

NYT reports on a topic consistently off the BBC radar

As we have noted here on numerous previous occasions (most recently just last month), when reporting on the topic of Palestinian Authority tax transfers, the BBC has persistently failed to adequately inform its audiences of the related issue of the scale of the PA’s outstanding debts to Israeli companies and bodies.pylons

The largest of those debts is to the Israel Electric Corporation but – despite having staff in both Jerusalem and Ramallah – the BBC has avoided reporting that story, as indeed it does many other Palestinian issues.

On May 5th the New York Times published an article titled “Palestinians’ Unpaid Electric Bills in the West Bank Thicken Tension With Israel” which includes information that has not been made available to those getting their news from the BBC.

“Collectively, the 22,000 residents of the Tulkarm camp in the northern West Bank have amassed $15.2 million in unpaid electric bills over at least 10 years, part of a yawning Palestinian power debt of $430 million that is at the core of the latest breakdown in relations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. […]

Ms. Zeidan and her neighbors face neither fines nor service cutoffs, creating the widespread impression that there are no consequences for ignoring the bills. Israel briefly cut power to two Palestinian districts in February, but a large-scale blackout in Palestinian communities would most likely set off a diplomatic crisis. […]

Residents of the camp are too poor to pay, Mr. Sallameh said, and they see electricity as the responsibility of the Palestinian Authority, which the refugees widely despise. “Let those dirt bags pay for us” is a common refrain, he said. […]

Elsewhere in the West Bank, the Israel Electric Corporation sells power to Palestinian municipalities and distribution companies, but, Mr. Milhem said, Israel holds the Palestinian Authority broadly responsible for payment. The World Bank found that some municipalities collected customers’ payments but used them to offset general expenses rather than passing them on to the Israelis.”

The article also notes the internal Palestinian frictions which exacerbate the problem of the PA’s massive debt.

“The World Bank estimated in November that Palestinians had failed to pay for 58 percent of the power they used in 2013, up from 37 percent in 2010.

About 40 percent of the power debt is from Gaza, where Hamas, the militant Islamist Palestinian political faction, has ruled since 2007. The World Bank says that Hamas collects payments from Gaza’s 1.8 million residents but refuses to hand the money over to the Palestinian Authority because of its rivalry with Mr. Abbas and his Fatah party.”

The issue clearly has broader implications too.

““The current system doesn’t make sense, especially if we want to build a functioning Palestinian state,” said Steen Lau Jorgensen of the World Bank, which has extensively studied the issue of electricity in the region.”

Whilst the BBC does cover the topic of PA tax revenues whenever it comes up, this essential aspect of the background to the story remains under-reported by the media organization which claims to be “better placed than many to make sure that we report both sides of the story”.

Related Articles:

BBC again avoids informing audiences about PA debt to Israel

BBC promotes selective narrative on PA economy

BBC advances Palestinian narrative on ‘E1′

BBC fails to report PA’s cancellation of electric bills