The BBC Watch event hosted by Mike Freer MP at Portcullis House on November 9th can be viewed below or here.
Readers may be particularly interested to hear Baroness Deech’s views on the Balen Report.
The BBC Watch event hosted by Mike Freer MP at Portcullis House on November 9th can be viewed below or here.
Readers may be particularly interested to hear Baroness Deech’s views on the Balen Report.
The BBC could be perceived as “institutionally antisemitic”, according to a leading academic expert on Jew-hatred.
Lesley Klaff, senior law lecturer at Sheffield Hallam University, accused the BBC of “recycling antisemitic tropes”.
She said that the disproportionate attention afforded to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by the BBC suggested it could be seen as institutionally antisemitic.
Ms Klaff made the comment at Finchley United Synagogue, north London, on Tuesday, at an event co-organised by the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), Campaign4Truth and monitoring group BBC Watch.
Read the rest of this article at The Jewish Chronicle here.
Back in early September we reported here on a story which the BBC did not find newsworthy at the time.
“Thanks to a lot of hard work from blogger Elder of Ziyon and the NGO UN Watch, the issue of antisemitic images posted on social media by some UNRWA employees has recently been brought to public attention.
“UN Watch released a new report today documenting 12 different Facebook accounts operated by UNRWA officials that openly incite to antisemitism and terrorism, and urged UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and UNRWA chief Pierre Krähenbühl to terminate the responsible officials, condemn the offending posts, and establish a commission of inquiry, comprised of representatives of top donor states to investigate the culture of impunity for perpetrators of racism and incitement that pervades UNRWA.””
At the time, UNRWA’s spokesman Chris Gunness claimed that the report made “baseless allegation about anti-semitism” and urged journalists to ignore it.
On October 16th, UN Watch submitted an additional report on the same issue to the UN Secretary General and the head of UNRWA.
On October 22nd UN Watch reported that a transcript of a UN press conference revealed that “UNRWA employees have, “in a number of cases,” been subject to disciplinary action, including suspension and loss of pay”. UN Watch noted that the statement was “not posted as a stand-alone statement by the UN, or indeed anywhere at all on the UNRWA website”.
The October 3rd edition of the BBC News and BBC World News programme ‘Dateline London’ included a discussion on the topic of gun law in the United States, apparently in light of the recent shootings in Oregon.
Guest American journalist Stephanie Baker of Bloomberg Markets raised the subject of the National Rifle Association’s influence on US legislation, stating that the organisation “has so much money to channel into the election process…”. Next came a contribution from a British journalist before Syrian ex-pat Mustapha Karkouti – a journalist with the Dubai based Gulf News – caused the conversation to take a bizarre deviation.
Karkouti: “We outside, away – as Arabs, let’s say – we find it really perplexing sometimes; the division between the Congress and the White House itself. I mean the lobby system…
Gavin Esler: “And the inability of presidents to deal with it…”
Karkouti: “Yeah. I mean take the Palestine issue. It has not been progressing at all for at least three or four dec… – well, through its history – because of the lobby system in the States. They just control the president.”
Host Gavin Esler failed to provide a relevant response to that blatant attempt to mislead audiences with regard to the reasons for the lack of progress in ‘the Palestine issue’ by simplistically blaming an opaque, all powerful lobby in the United States. Although that allegedly omnipotent lobby this time goes unnamed, it would not of course have been difficult for viewers to determine that Karkouti was not referring to the NRA, the oil lobby or any of the countries which actually do invest a great deal in lobbying in the US – including the UAE, which tops the list and just happens to be the country in which the paper for which he writes is based.
It is worth recalling that the BBC’s promotion of the notion of a ‘Jewish lobby’ was cited by the All Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Antisemitism in February 2015 as one of the factors contributing to the rise in anti-Jewish racism in the UK.
“The BBC apologized on Friday for publishing an antisemitic caricature of famed Jewish violinist Leopold Auer in a program for its annual summer concert festival.
“We use a range of caricatures and illustrations in our concert programmes and wanted one of Leopold Auer,” a BBC spokesperson said in an email to The Algemeiner. “We’re sorry to anyone who was offended by the image choice – this was never our intention.”
The spokesperson also said the BBC has “no plans to use that image again.”
The offensive illustration of Auer appeared in the program for a performance of Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto. The concert was part of the BBC Proms, an eight week-long festival of concerts, lectures, workshops and family events, ending with the famous Last Night of the Proms at London’s Royal Albert Hall. A number of composers specifically dedicated pieces to Auer, including Tchaikovsky.”
An anti-Israel demonstration which took place in the heart of London on September 9th, ostensibly to protest a two-day visit to the UK by the Israeli prime minister, received no coverage on the BBC News website on the day that it took place.
That editorial decision is all the more interesting when one considers that the Palestine Solidarity Campaign – which organised the protest – and some of its supporting groups are not infrequently promoted on BBC platforms.
The Palestine Solidarity Campaign was in fact the non-Israeli NGO most promoted in BBC Israel-related content during 2014. Only recently BBC audiences saw coverage of another event organised, among others, by the PSC, the Stop the War Coalition and Friends of Al Aqsa. FoAA’s Ismail Patel has appeared on various BBC programmes, as have the spokesperson for ‘War on Want’ and representatives of FOSIS.
It would therefore have been relevant for audiences to be made aware of the fact that an event organised by groups to which the BBC frequently gives a platform was marked by hate speech, antisemitism and support for terrorism.
For example, as the Jewish News reports (link includes video):
“A pro-Palestinian protester waved a penny at pro-Israel demonstrators and shouted “you only understand money”, before police placed handcuffs on him. […]
“In another incident caught on camera, a […] woman tells Israel supporters that the Jews in Israel should “go into the sea, they’re not coming here.
“We would absolutely march against Zionists coming here as refugees,” added the woman, clad in a keffiyeh and carrying an umbrella bearing the word “Palestine.”
“So you want another Holocaust?” the pro-Israel activist asks her. “I don’t know what the Holocaust is,” she replies.
“I want them out of Israel,” the woman says later in the video, referring to Israeli Jews.
“You’ll have to kill them all,” says a voice off camera. “Well, so be it,” she responds as she walks off.”
The first mention of that demonstration came a whole day after it took place in an article titled “Netanyahu urges action to stop Middle East ‘disintegrating’” which appeared on the BBC News website’s UK and Middle East pages on September 10th. There readers were told that:
“Campaigners clashed ahead of the visit.
Protesters demanding Mr Netanyahu’s arrest for alleged war crimes in Gaza clashed with pro-Israel activists on Wednesday.”
Clearly that is not an accurate or comprehensive portrayal of the demonstration, so perhaps the BBC would like to share with its funding public the editorial considerations behind the airbrushing of antisemitism, hate speech and support for terrorist groups from the picture it presented to its audiences?
Thanks to a lot of hard work from blogger Elder of Ziyon and the NGO UN Watch, the issue of antisemitic images posted on social media by some UNRWA employees has recently been brought to public attention.
“UN Watch released a new report today documenting 12 different Facebook accounts operated by UNRWA officials that openly incite to antisemitism and terrorism, and urged UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and UNRWA chief Pierre Krähenbühl to terminate the responsible officials, condemn the offending posts, and establish a commission of inquiry, comprised of representatives of top donor states to investigate the culture of impunity for perpetrators of racism and incitement that pervades UNRWA.”
BBC audiences, however, have no idea of the existence of this story because the corporation (which of course frequently promotes the UNRWA agenda) has not been among the mainstream media outlets which reported it – despite being urged by UNRWA’s spokesman not to do so.
The ‘Stop the War Coalition’ is just about the last organisation one would approach for rational, impartial, factual and informative comment on anything connected to the Middle East. As has been noted here before, the StWC:
“… collaborates with 9/11 ‘troofers’ and antisemites such as Lowkey. It supports the annual Al Quds Day anti-Israel hate-fest organized in London by the Khomenist-regime’s UK supporters at the IHRC. It dabbles in anti-Americanism and antisemitism of its own and has rallied in support of the Assad regime in Syria and the Iranian dictatorship.”
Nevertheless, that was precisely the group from which BBC Radio Wales solicited comment in an item concerning Cardiff council’s cancellation of a photography exhibition showing coexistence in Israel through football less than a day after it opened which was broadcast on September 4th on its ‘Good Evening Wales’ programme.
As readers are no doubt aware, the BBC’s editorial guidelines on impartiality demand that the “viewpoint” of interviewees be clarified to audiences.
“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.”
Lewis: “The Israeli embassy has called Cardiff Council ‘outrageous’ for ending early an exhibition about multi-faith football between Jews and Palestinians just days before the Wales-Israel European qualifying match. Cardiff Council said it received a complaint about the exhibition and was made aware of the potential for a large demonstration outside the city’s main library where the exhibition was being held. It also said it didn’t want to be seen as displaying political bias. Well, Adam Johannes joins us. He’s from the Stop the War Coalition. Good to have you with us.”
That brief introduction of course did nothing to inform listeners of the “particular viewpoint” lying behind the inaccurate information they heard from Johannes during the next four and a half minutes, which included the following:
Johannes: “Erm, well, I think the exhibition should have never really been staged in the first place. It was sponsored by the Israeli embassy. It was essentially, I think, a PR stunt to gloss over the reality of football in the Middle East which is a very serious situation. For instance – if I can give you an example – over the last decade or so four players in the Palestinian national team have lost their lives at the hands of the Israeli military. Other players have been detained without trial sometimes for months or years. Players are regularly prevented from attending matches. The Palestinian national team for instance…Israel is playing in Wales but at the same time Israel’s preventing Palestinian players going from Gaza to the West Bank to play an important match against the UAE. So when you have a country which prevents other, you know, other FIFA members from playing football, then really I think we have to say that Israel – until it allows Palestinians to play football – should be expelled from UEFA and FIFA.”
Gareth Lewis made no effort to provide listeners with the much-needed context deliberately omitted by Johannes. He failed to tell them that it is the known connections of some Palestinian footballers to terrorist organisations which have brought about their detention. He neglected to inform BBC audiences that at least three of those four players who “lost their lives at the hands of the Israeli military” were active members of terrorist organisations (two Hamas and one PIJ) who took part in fighting against Israel during Operation Cast Lead. And he omitted any mention of the fact that it is precisely issues such as those above which make security checks for Palestinian footballers exiting the Gaza Strip necessary and that the topic of movement is often more complex than meets the eye.
Lewis also failed to correct the misleading impression created by Johannes’ risible claim that “Palestinians want to keep politics out of sport” by informing listeners of Jibril Rajoub’s record of coopting sport precisely for political purposes. He neglected to inform audiences of the all-important context behind the following statement from Johannes:
“….the Palestine stadium in Gaza has been bombed twice by the Israeli military – the main football stadium, you know, for Palestinians….”
And Lewis obviously had no concerns about providing Johannes with a BBC platform for the promotion of additional crude delegitimisation:
“…remember the days of apartheid South Africa. People used to hold up these small examples of coexistence […] to gloss over the fundamental reality of institutionalized racism, of apartheid.”
Later on in the programme (from 1:35:55 here) a further five minutes were devoted to the same topic and the interviewee this time was the Israeli embassy in London’s spokesman, Yiftach Curiel. Introduced by presenter Peter Johnson, the segment began with an edited rerun of some of Johannes’ propaganda, again without adequate clarification concerning the views of man and his organisation.
Johnson: “Well earlier on this programme we spoke to Adam Johannes from the Stop the War Coalition who was supporting the withdrawal of the exhibition. He said it glossed over the reality of the situation in the Middle East.”
Johannes: “Erm, well, I think the exhibition should have never really been staged in the first place. It was sponsored by the Israeli embassy. It was essentially, I think, a PR stunt to gloss over the reality of football in the Middle East which is a very serious situation. For instance – if I can give you an example – over the last decade or so four players in the Palestinian national team have lost their lives at the hands of the Israeli military. Other players have been detained without trial sometimes for months or years. Players are regularly prevented from attending matches. So when you have a country which prevents other, you know, other FIFA members from playing football, then really I think we have to say that Israel – until it allows Palestinians to play football – should be expelled from UEFA and FIFA.”
In addition to failing once again to provide the much-needed missing background and context to Johannes’ claims broadcast to listeners twice within the space of an hour, during his conversation with Curiel, Johnson even told audiences that they were legitimate.
Johnson: “OK, the point that Adam Johannes made is a valid one – that it isn’t actually easy for Palestinians to play football in the Middle East and that Israel has actually impeded the travel of Palestinian footballers. I mean that much is true.” [emphasis added]
Ironically in an item laden with anti-Israel propaganda, Johnson later added:
“There will be those, Yiftach, who merely see this [exhibition] as an opportunity for Israeli propaganda in Wales….”
So what should BBC Radio Wales have told its listeners about Adam Johannes before it provided him with an unhindered platform for partisan political messaging which even got BBC endorsement from Peter Johnson?
Here, in his own words, is Johannes’ bio from a site called ‘Radical Wales’:
Audiences should also obviously have been told that Johannes has been involved in football-related anti-Israel campaigning for some time and is one of those involved in organizing the opportunistic agitprop ahead of the Israel-Wales match in Cardiff. Listeners would also have been better able to put Johannes’ contribution to this programme into its correct context had BBC Radio Wales bothered to tell them that he is fond of using Nazi analogies during his anti-Israel campaigning, as the following example from 2012 shows.
Not only did BBC Radio Wales clearly breach its own editorial guidelines by failing to provide listeners with any of the very relevant background on Adam Johannes or the ‘Stop the War Coalition’, but it also materially misled audiences on the topic of Palestinian football by failing to provide the facts and context missing from its interviewee’s politically motivated diatribe.
BBC Radio Wales – contact details
As was documented here at the time, on July 23rd BBC Radio 4 chose to air a repeat broadcast of a show by comedian-cum-political-activist Jeremy Hardy (originally aired in September 2014) which promoted crude stereotypes and factual inaccuracies.
A member of the public who complained to the BBC received a response which includes the following interesting statement:
“The BBC would never include what it considered to be anti-Semitic material in its comedy programmes; here the production team and Radio 4 took great care in reviewing the programme’s content to ensure this, especially in the satire concerning actions of Israeli governments past and present. No offence was intended by the jokes and satirical observations in the programme.”
The key words in that sentence are obviously “what it considered to be”. As we learned from the BBC Editorial Complaints Unit’s response to complaints about remarks made by Tim Willcox during a broadcast from Paris in January 2015, the BBC does not use the EUMC Working Definition of Antisemitism and as was observed at the time:
“It is worth noting at this point that Steel’s rejection of the classification of Willcox’s statement as antisemitic is based on the following claim inserted as a footnote:
“In fact the phrase isn’t part of the EUMC definition, but is one of a number of examples provided of what might be considered anti-Semitic under the definition, subject to “taking into account the overall context”. The EUMC definition was withdrawn in 2009 by its successor organisation, the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, which has published no definition of its own.”
This of course is not the first time that the BBC has exploited the fact that the European Agency for Fundamental Rights has not put out its own definition of antisemitism because its mandate does not include such activities. Whilst the EUMC Working Definition of Antisemitism was indeed removed from the FRA’s website along with other EUMC documents in 2013, it has not been “withdrawn”.”
So, whilst we do know that the BBC does not work according to the EUMC Working Definition of Antisemitism, we do not know which definition it does use and hence the BBC’s funding public has no way of determining what the corporation does in fact consider “to be anti-Semitic material”.
That of course makes it very difficult for any member of the public wishing to submit a complaint concerning antisemitism in BBC content to know whether it is worth his or her time and effort to do so because the ‘goal posts’ are unclear. It also means that public funding is likely to be wasted on handling complaints which, were the general public privy to the BBC’s definition of antisemitism, may not have been submitted in the first place.
At the Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism held in Jerusalem in May, one of the many issues identified was the need for media organisations to adopt standard accepted definitions of antisemitism such as the EUMC Working Definition or the US State Department definition.
Until the day the BBC recognizes the imperative of working according to internationally accepted definitions, in the interests of transparency and accountability it must at least publish its own definition of antisemitism and inform its funding public with which experts (if any) it consulted in order to arrive at a definition it obviously considers to be superior to and more authoritative than the existing ones.
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?
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:
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:
Promoting the elimination of Israel:
‘Jews are pigs’:
Special demands of the BBC’s Jewish journalists:
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’.