A recent article by the BBC Jerusalem Bureau’s Yolande Knell indicates that the BBC is not even trying to pretend to appear impartial on the subject of the Arab-Israeli conflict any longer.
Knell uses a report dated March 2nd 2013 – entitled “Israeli army ire over social media posts” – as a platform from which to advertise and promote the virulently anti-Israel website ‘Electronic Intifada‘ and its co-founder Ali Abunimah, with some 28.5% of her total word count dedicated to showcasing Abunimah’s activities and views.
With Egypt in turmoil yet again and Syria imploding by the day, the decision by BBC News website editors to find the space on their Middle East page to run a piece based on such spectacularly trivial subject matter is nothing short of jaw-dropping. But of course the daily drip drip of material portraying Israel as a dark and unenlightened society must be offered up, and who better to recruit for that purpose than a man who dedicates his life to the demonization of Israel, with the aim of bringing about that country’s demise.
Perhaps it was information from Abunimah which prompted Knell to make the claim that:
“Israeli citizens and Jews overseas have been recruited to various public diplomacy campaigns to promote Israel on the internet.”
Then we arrive at the ‘starring Ali Abunimah’ corner:
“Online activists on both sides also scour the net for videos, comments and photos giving insights that support their views. IDF soldiers’ personal accounts are among those monitored.
Last month, a 20-year-old Israeli soldier was reprimanded for posting a photograph of a Palestinian boy’s head in the crosshairs of a sniper’s rifle.
The picture was discovered on Instagram by Palestinian activist, Ali Abunimah, a co-founder of the Electronic Intifada website.
“We look at social media accounts coming out of Palestine/Israel, whether it’s Instagram or Twitter or YouTube. We’re really looking for anything interesting and newsworthy,” he says. “We’ll investigate it and try to find some context.”
His website had hundreds of thousands of hits after it published sets of controversial Instagram pictures by Israeli recruits. International media also picked up on them.
“They had an enormous impact. I think people saw different things in them. When I looked at the picture of the child in the crosshairs, to me it really captured in a sense symbolically the way that the Israeli army and occupation views Palestinians – as potential targets,” Mr Abunimah says.
The IDF was quick to tell reporters that sharing the photograph was “a severe incident”, out of keeping with its values.
Other Instagram photographs since highlighted by Electronic Intifada include an American-Israeli soldier apparently posing naked with guns while on base and illegally smoking marijuana. His public comments express hatred of Arabs.”
“Newsworthy”? “context”? Anyone familiar with Abunimah’s petty, yet relentless, mudslinging and ugly ad hominem campaigns will by now be wondering if this is the same Ali Abunimah they know only too well.
So to sum it up: in an article about social media, the BBC promotes and sanitises the opinions of a man who uses social media to propagate conspiracy theories about a terror attack, to promote antisemitic Nazi analogies and to excuse and advocate terrorist violence against Israeli civilians, and who also runs a website which turns out a daily tirade of defamatory and even dangerous incitement against Israel.
But as we see, Yolande Knell and her editors have completely neglected to inform the BBC audiences reading this report of the nature of Ali Abunimah’s website or of his wider associations and his prime function as a campaigner for the dismantling of the Jewish State. Apparently they need reminding of the clause in the BBC’s Editorial Guidelines which states:
We should not automatically assume that contributors from other organisations (such as academics, journalists, researchers and representatives of charities) are unbiased and we may need to make it clear to the audience when contributors are associated with a particular viewpoint, if it is not apparent from their contribution or from the context in which their contribution is made.”
Clearly the fact that Ali Abunimah is “associated with a particular viewpoint” which promotes the destruction of a particular state and the denial of self-determination to one particular ethnic group is of considerable relevance when he is being quoted in an article concerning that particular country.
The fact that the BBC News website’s editors are willing to promote and grant the BBC stamp of respectability to an extremist site such as ‘Electronic Intifada’ – together with its co-founder – indicates that their own political sympathies render them incapable of self-regulation. Presumably they will therefore continue down the road of making a laughing-stock of the supposed BBC value of impartiality.