BBC’s profile of Ansar Bayt al Maqdis out of date

The BBC News website’s profile of the Sinai-based Salafi Jihadist terrorist group Ansar Bayt al Maqdis – complied by BBC Monitoring – was last updated in January 2014.Profile Ansar Bayt al Maqdis

Since the beginning of April 2014 Ansar Bayt al Maqdis has been declared a proscribed terrorist organization by the UK government (see page 5) and designated as a foreign terrorist organization and a specially designated global terrorist entity by the US State Department. In addition, an Egyptian court ruled on April 14th that the group is a terrorist organization.

Clearly it is time for an update to the BBC’s Ansar Bayt al Maqdis profile.

Related Articles:

Sources, outsourcing fact-checking and the BBC

Latest Sinai-based terror attack on tourism targets comes as a revelation to the BBC

75% of January terror activity on Israel’s southern borders ignored by BBC







How does the BBC define ‘pro-Palestinian’?

On January 21st a report titled “Chile bans Palestino football club ‘anti-Israel’ shirt” appeared on both the ‘Latin America & Caribbean’ and ‘Middle East’ pages of the BBC News website.

Chile football shirt 1

The report opens:

“The Chilean football federation has banned a top division team from using a new shirt that has the number one shaped as the map of Palestine before the creation of Israel.

Jewish organisations complained that the design implied that all the land was Palestinian. […]

Palestino unveiled the new shirts in December, keeping the club’s traditional colours, matching those of the Palestine flag – red, green and black.

However, it replaced the number one by a map of Palestine before the UN voted on the partition of the region in 1947.”1920 JNH

Of course what that map actually does show is the area of the Mandate for Palestine defined by the League of Nations as the Jewish National Home in 1922 after Trans-Jordan and the Golan Heights were excluded from the originally designated area. It does not show any political entity or country named Palestine as readers of this article unfamiliar with the history may mistakenly understand from the BBC’s inaccurate choice of phrasing.

Equally misleading to readers is the irrelevant reference to the 1947  UN vote on partition which is phrased to imply that the vote had some kind of significance regarding the division of the area – which of course it did not, as the implementation of the plan was dependent upon agreement from the parties concerned and the Arab nations rejected it outright.

The same story about these football shirts was the subject of another article produced by BBC Monitoring in its ‘News from Elsewhere’ section on the BBC News website on January 20th. In that report – titled “Chile: ‘Anti-Israeli’ football kit row” – a much clearer and more accurate explanation was provided to readers as to why the map depicted on those shirts is problematic.

“The number “1″ on the Santiago-based Palestino FC shirts is shaped to look like Israel and the Palestinian Territories – as a single entity – and the design has caused consternation among Chile’s Jewish community. 

1922 Sept JNH

They say the shape of the numeral implies that Israel belongs to Palestinians [..]“

BBC Monitoring also notes:

“But Palestino FC remains defiant. “For us, free Palestine will always be historical Palestine, nothing less,” the club says in a statement on its Facebook page. Chile’s Palestinian Federation has spoken out in support of the decision, too, saying the map has existed as a symbol in Chile since 1920.” [emphasis added]

That, of course, is highly doubtful seeing as the map in that form only came into being in September 1922.

Promotion of the first article by the BBC News (World) Twitter account included an interesting choice of wording.

BBC News World tweet football shirt

“Pro-Palestinian shirt”? Does the BBC really hold the opinion that wiping Israel off the map – literally or figuratively – is “pro-Palestinian”?

This is the second time in the past week alone that we have seen bizarre use of the term “pro-Palestinian” by BBC employees. On January 17th the BBC News website published two reports which used that term in their headlines: “Israel berates ‘pro-Palestinian EU’” and “Israel PM’s anger at ‘pro-Palestinian EU“.

In fact, those reports related to comments made by Israel’s prime minister regarding the fact that the EU overlooks the subject of incitement propagated by official Palestinian Authority sources and, as we commented at the time: 

“Those are of course two very different things: ignoring incitement and often racist demonisation is not ‘pro-Palestinian’ any more than pointing it out is ‘anti-Palestinian’.”

Unfortunately, the term “pro-Palestinian” has become a devalued buzz-word in many circles. Sadly, in many cases it does not represent support for the Palestinian people to enjoy freedom of expression, freedom of religion, freedom from discrimination and persecution based on gender or sexual orientation or freedom from the tyranny of armed militias. Instead, it has become a cliché used to describe – and whitewash – precisely such things as the unforgivable brainwashing of children with the glorification of terrorism and violence and the rejection of a peaceful solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict which would see two nations living side by side.

Clearly the BBC needs to have a good think about what the term “pro-Palestinian” actually means and to undertake a serious review of its use of that phrase.


A service announcement for BBC Monitoring

Please excuse us for a moment whilst we issue a service announcement to the BBC department which, according to its own blurb, “observes, understands and explains media throughout the world, providing an accessible and relevant account for you to make better, more informed decisions” and also claims that:

“We are who you come to for a level of insight others cannot provide. The combination of our expertise, ability to identify relevant sources, our regional knowledge and presence on the ground ensures we deliver the most unrivalled insight into world media.”

So, BBC Monitoring: FYI –

This is a porcupine (local variety: Hystrix indica), which in Hebrew is דרבן  (Durban) and it is of course a rodent.


Porcupine at ‘Bio Ramon’ park, Mitzpe Ramon

This, however, is a hedgehog – in Hebrew קיפוד (Kipod) – with the variety found in the Middle East being Erinaceus concolor - and it is not a rodent.

קובץ:Erinaceus concolor - D7-10-3855.JPG

Erinaceus concolor (photo credit: Wikipedia)

By now readers are probably asking why BBC Monitoring is in need of help with the identification of Middle Eastern wildlife. Well on January 6th somebody at the BBC News website apparently decided that its Middle East page would not be complete without an article in the ‘Features and Analysis’ section concerning the earth-shattering revelation that someone in Israel made a spoof video about John Kerry.

BBC monitoring art Kerry spoof ME pge

BBC Monitoring art Kerry spoof

The article – compiled by BBC Monitoring – states:

“A video shows a Hebrew-speaking ‘Kerry’ offering a man stuck on the toilet without paper to use a porcupine instead. “Wipe, don’t gripe”, Kerry tells him. After the “porcu-shine” incident, the advice goes from bad to worse, and the man ends up unemployed and begging in the street.”

BBC Monitoring apparently got that information from the Times of Israel – to which it links in its own story. The Times of Israel wrongly identified the animal in the Hebrew language video as a porcupine although it is clearly a hedgehog and is described as such. In addition the words “wipe, don’t gripe” – as quoted by BBC Monitoring – do not appear in the video. 

Kerry vid kipod

Of course the wider point of this little story is not only that (like the rest of us) BBC Monitoring shouldn’t believe everything it reads in the papers, but also that facts need to be checked before information is regurgitated to BBC audiences – preferably by the fluent Hebrew speaker BBC Monitoring apparently does not yet have on its staff. 

Of camels and humps: the BBC addresses ‘media visual stereotyping’

A couple of recent BBC News website articles relating to the subject of photographed images have the most likely unintended distinction of falling into the category of the old adage “write about what you know” as far as the BBC is concerned. SONY DSC

On November 22nd an article titled “Altered Images: How to verify photos of current events” appeared in the website’s ‘News from Elsewhere’ section which is compiled by BBC Monitoring.

The article states:

“With smartphone use widespread, images of unfolding events quickly fill social media networks. While many are genuine, it is not uncommon for a picture depicting something else entirely to be passed off as documenting a protest, a natural disaster or other event.”

“Not uncommon” indeed.

Another article, which appeared in the website’s ‘In Pictures’ section on December 2nd, addresses the subject of what the BBC College of Journalism Twitter account termed “media visual stereotyping”.

Media Visual Stereotyping CoJ

Whilst the article – titled “Challenging stereotypes: Teesside’s new Roma” – deals with the work of a photographer who “challenges many of the stereotypical visuals seen in the media” in relation to Roma in the United Kingdom, the general theme will be more than a little familiar to BBC Watch readers.

In pictures 1

In pictures 2

In pictures 3

In pictures 4

In pictures 5

In pictures 6

Will the ‘In pictures’ camel finally get around to taking a look at some of its own humps?

Related articles:

Seeing Israel through the BBC’s lens

Disproportional representation: every (BBC chosen) picture tells a story

BBC’s “In Pictures” fails to meet editorial standards

BBC pictorial feature on ‘suffering’

BBC pictorial portrayals of conflict in Israel and Gaza

BBC Monitoring puffs wind in the sails of professional anti-Israel campaigners

Readers who also visit the ‘Snapshots’ blog run by our colleagues at CAMERA will no doubt be aware of the recent story – as first reported by the Times of Israel on November 13th – concerning the publisher ‘Scholastic Inc.’ which inadvertently produced a map from which Israel was omitted in one of its children’s books. scholastic map.jpg

The company quickly rectified the situation, as reported by CAMERA:

“The publisher today expressed regret for the omission and announced that it is “immediately stopping shipment on this title, revising the map, and going back to reprint.” “

Five days later, on November 18th, the story was picked up by BBC Monitoring and placed in its “News from Elsewhere” section on the BBC News website. 

News from elsewhere Scholastic

Interestingly, part of the BBC Monitoring article focuses on reactions to the amended map provided by the publisher.

“However, the new map has opened a further can of worms for Scholastic, with readers engaged in a heated argument on whether the map should also include the Palestinian territories.”

Visitors who click on the link to Scholastic’s blog provided in the BBC article will soon realise that many of the writers of the comments there are not mere “readers” as they are described by BBC Monitoring, but veteran – and in some cases, professional – anti-Israel campaigners. 

First off the mark is Greta Berlin of the flotilla-organising, Hamas-supporting ‘Free Gaza Movement’ – perhaps more memorable for her promotion of antisemitic material on the internet.

comments scholastic 1

Berlin’s ‘Free Gaza Movement’ colleague Mary Hughes-Thompson (who goes by the name ‘Mariapalestina‘ on Twitter) appears to be next.

comment scholastic 4

comment scholastic 5

Also popping in to visit was International Solidarity Movement activist Paul Larudee, who was among the organisers of the failed 2012 ‘Global March to Jerusalem’.

comments scholastic 2

There is also a comment apparently from Khaled Mouammar – former head of the controversy-plagued Canadian Arab Federation.

comment scholastic 6

Hanna Kawas is chair of the Canada Palestine Association.

comments scholastic 3

Readers will probably recognize additional names such as Jane Jewell, Kay von Riesen or Samir Twair in what is clearly a collection of comments resulting from a coordinated campaign.

tweet mary hughes free gaza

How curious it is that BBC Monitoring picked up this story at all, and all the more that it only did so after five days. How odd too that it specifically directs readers to a collection of comments made by anti-Israel campaigners. The question of course is whether or not the anonymous writer of the BBC Monitoring article actively sought to amplify the coordinated campaign of ‘Free Gaza’ et al, or whether he or she simply did not bother to do the research in order to find out what kind of voices the BBC would be promoting.

Related articles:

BBC interviewee’s support for Greta Berlin’s antisemitic videos

BBC coverage of prisoner release amplifies narrative of ‘political prisoners’

The BBC’s coverage of the release of twenty-six convicted Palestinian murderers on the night of October 29th – 30th includes a filmed report by Yolande Knell – broadcast on BBC news programmes – and a written article. Both those reports appeared on the BBC News website’s home page as well as on its Middle East page.

pris rel HP

pris rel mep

In her filmed report from Ramallah Knell says:

“There’s a big fanfare as the Palestinian president has welcomed back twenty-one Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails to the West Bank, along with their families here and many supporters. They’re among twenty-six Palestinians that have been released tonight; the other five were sent back home to the Gaza Strip. All of these men were convicted of killing Israelis before or just after the 1993 Oslo peace accords were signed and they’re seen here as political prisoners.” [emphasis added]

In fact, not “all” of the released prisoners were convicted of “killing Israelis”: Fatah member Tsabbag Mohammed was convicted of the torture and murder of three Palestinians, but as usual the BBC does not appear to be overly interested in the subject of violence directed at Palestinians by fellow Palestinians.  

As she once again repeats and amplifies the politically motivated Palestinian narrative of convicted murderers as “political prisoners”, Knell makes no attempt to inform her audiences why that claim is invalid by clarifying that these prisoners were imprisoned for violent crimes – not because of their political opinions – or that the Council of Europe’s  definition of political prisoners specifically excludes those convicted of terrorist acts from that category.

“Those deprived of their personal liberty for terrorist crimes shall not be considered political prisoners for having been prosecuted and sentenced for such crimes according to national legislation and the European Convention on Human Rights.”

Knell continues:

“Israel agreed to release a total of 104 long-term detainees in July as part of a deal with the Palestinians to get peace talks restarted and this is the second batch. But the decision to release these men has proved very unpopular with the Israeli public, who see them as terrorists and there have been large protests too against these releases, including protests by relatives of their victims.”

Ironically, just as Knell is informing audiences that Israelis “see” the murders of civilians by members of terrorist organisations as terrorists, the filmed footage shows a plethora of flags belonging to the PFLP – a terrorist organization proscribed by the US, Canada, the EU and Israel – in the welcoming crowd.  

Knell filmed pris

In the written article (titled “Israel frees new batch of 26 Palestinian inmates“) it is erroneously stated that:

“All but one of those released on Thursday were imprisoned for murders committed before the signing of the 1993 Oslo Peace Accords.”

In fact, two of the prisoners committed murders after the signing of the Oslo Accords on September 13th 1993: Amawi Halmi murdered 22 year-old Yigal Vaknin on September 24th 1993 and Shabir Hazam murdered 67 year-old Holocaust survivor Isaac Rotenberg with an axe in March 1994.

The report also repeats Knell’s promotion of the notion of terrorists as “political prisoners” and “heroes of the Palestinian cause”:

“The BBC’s Yolande Knell reports from the West Bank that those who have been freed are seen there as political prisoners and heroes of the Palestinian cause – but that the decision has been hugely unpopular with the Israeli public.”

Neither in the article itself nor in the ‘on the scene’ side box written by Knell is any analysis offered to audiences with regard to the Ramat Shlomopotential effects on the peace process of the public displays of glorification of terrorism by the Palestinian Authority. In contrast, the report implies that the announcement of the construction of apartments in the Jerusalem suburb of Ramat Shlomo (described in political terms by the BBC as a “settlement”) could endanger the future of talks and repeats its now habitual misrepresentation of the reason for the cessation of the last round of talks in 2010.

“Shortly after the prisoners were freed, Israeli media reported that the government had announced that it would build 1,500 new homes in the east Jerusalem settlement of Ramat Shlomo.

The move was seen as an effort to mollify government hardliners. Talks between Israel and the Palestinians were suspended in 2010 after an Israeli freeze on settlement construction expired.”

Notably, the BBC once again fails to inform its audiences that before that ten month-long building freeze expired, the Palestinians refused to come to the negotiating table for 90% of its duration. 

Throughout this report just one brief mention is made of the actual crimes committed by the men released.

“The longest serving prisoner, Isa Abed Rabbo, was convicted of murdering two students while they were hiking south of Jerusalem in October 1984.”

In the side box, Knell describes and quotes the murderer’s mother, whom she also promoted in one of her Tweets.

“A prisoner’s elderly mother, Amuna Abed Rabbo, had come from Bethlehem in a wheelchair wearing her traditional embroidered dress. “Thank God my son returned back to me before I die. I have all the happiness in the world,” she said.”

Knell Ramallah

Apparently in an attempt to present impartiality, Knell’s side box continues with a short second-hand quote from the wife of one of the murdered Israelis – although in this case BBC audiences learn no engaging details about her age, dress, medical condition or place of residence.

“Esther Caspi, the widow of an Israeli taxi driver murdered by a Palestinian man who was set free, told Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper: “We shouldn’t release prisoners who have committed murder because they will do it again.” “

An additional BBC article included in the coverage of this event is titled “Profiles: Palestinian prisoners released by Israel” produced by BBC Monitoring on October 29th.

article profiles pris

There, as was the case in a previous similarly themed article published in August, short profiles of a few (nine out of twenty-six) of what are bizarrely termed “the better known prisoners” are provided.

The article repeats the inaccurate claim that:

“All but one were imprisoned for murders committed before the signing of the 1993 Oslo Peace Accords. This is the second of four batches to be freed.”

Whilst the inclusion of references – albeit sparse and partial ones – to the crimes committed by the released prisoners is an improvement on previous BBC coverage of the subject of Palestinian prisoners, the lack of balance in coverage is still very apparent, with no BBC reporter on the spot to cover the demonstrations against the release and the reactions of the victims’ families. 

BBC backgrounder on peace process erases twenty years of terror

Readers of the BBC News website’s Middle East page may have noted the interesting use there of the word ‘crisis’. At the bottom of that page audiences have for some time now seen the heading “Egypt in Crisis”.

me page egypt in crisis

That link leads to a dedicated page with the same header.

Egypt in crisis

However, according to the BBC, Syria is not “in crisis”, but in “conflict”.

Syria conflict

But there is also an additional “crisis” on the Middle East page: one which has been consistently promoted there for the past nine months and which is apparently much more widespread and of broader consequence than the “crisis” in Egypt or the “conflict” in Syria because it is called the “Mid-East crisis”. 

Mid East crisis 2

Yes, the subject of talks between Israel and the Palestinians somehow justifies the title “Mid-East crisis” according to the BBC.

Under that header readers seeking information on that “crisis” will find a variety of articles presumably intended to provide them with the type of background information which the BBC claims compliments its news reports. 

“.. our strategy is to supplement our news coverage by providing detailed background on BBC News Online. It has the space to carry more information than broadcast news programmes, helping readers to understand the political, historical or economic background to an event.”

So let’s take a look at what BBC audiences might “understand” from what is clearly intended to be an informative article – titled “Q&A: Israeli-Palestinian talks in Jerusalem” – dated August 14th 2013 and compiled by BBC Monitoring. 

Q&A talks

Apart from the bizarre Anglicisation of the name of one of the Israeli negotiators, Yitzhak Molcho, the piece does pretty well for the first few paragraphs as far as accuracy and impartiality are concerned. Then, under the heading “What has happened so far?” readers are told that:

“…as part of the process, Israel has agreed to release 104 long-serving Palestinian prisoners. This began with 26 in the early hours of 14 August.”

Accuracy demands that the above statement be accompanied by a clarification to the effect that the three subsequent tranches in the agreed prisoner release are – according to most reports – subject to progress in the talks themselves. Clearly, mention should have been made of the fact that the prisoners concerned are “long-serving” because they had been convicted of murder, attempted murder or accessory to murder. 

The article goes on to promote the now standard BBC canard of Israeli building plans “sabotaging” the talks and includes its default – and misleading – clause on the subject of “international law“.   

“The resumption of talks was preceded by the Israeli government’s announcement of the construction of some 2,000 new settler homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

The Palestinians voiced dismay but Mr Kerry said the move was “not unexpected”.

Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem are considered illegal under international law, although Israel disputes this.”

But things really begin to go downhill once the reader reaches the heading “Why is it so hard to reach agreement?”

“The Palestinians are divided politically between the West Bank-based Fatah and Islamist Hamas movement, which has controlled the Gaza Strip since 2007, and has condemned the talks.

Some other Palestinian groups, such as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), staged protests against the talks.”

That phrasing of course erases the fact that Hamas and the PFLP are terrorist organisations which reject any negotiation whatsoever with Israel – not just “the talks” at present ongoing – and promote terrorism as the alternative with the aim of eradicating Israel. The next paragraph of the article seems to try to compare democratically elected parties within the Israeli political system with the (albeit euphemistically described) terrorist organisations named in the prior paragraphs.

“Mr Netanyahu also faces internal challenges. Despite the public support for peace talks, some of his coalition partners – for example the Jewish Home party – and members of his own Likud party oppose the establishment of a Palestinian state.”

Curiously, given that the PLO negotiators are not able to claim to represent the Palestinian people as a whole (Hamas is not a member) and are clearly incapable of enacting the terms of any agreement which may be signed in the Gaza Strip, the writer of this article then dismisses the crucial subject of Palestinian divisions by writing the following: [emphasis added]

More importantly, the two sides appear to have wide gaps separating their optimal positions. The Palestinians want East Jerusalem to be the capital of their state, an idea that is vehemently opposed by some parties in the Israeli cabinet, who maintain Jerusalem should be the undivided capital of Israel.”

Under the heading “What has been agreed in previous deals?” comes this gross distortion of history: [emphasis added]

“The 1993 Oslo accords ushered in a new era with the formation of the Palestinian Authority as an interim body and the withdrawal of Israeli troops from parts of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

But the assassination of former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995 put the process on hold. Subsequent Israeli governments carried out more territorial withdrawals and signed further economic agreements, but without ending the conflict.”

The Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip was signed on September 28th 1995 – thirty-eight days before Rabin’s murder. Following that event, a number of additional stages to the process took place including the practical implementation of that agreement, the signing of the Wye River Memorandum on October 23rd 1998, the signing of the Sharm el Sheikh Memorandum on September 4th 1999 and the resumption of final status negotiations at Erez on September 13th 1999. On July 11th 2000 the Camp David Summit began and further talks were held in Washington from December 19th to 23rd 2000. In late January 2001 another round of talks was held in Taba and at the end of April 2003 the Roadmap was presented. One cannot accurately describe all that as a “process on hold”.

Of course what this BBC article spectacularly fails to inform readers is that between the signing Declaration of Principles in September 1993 and the start of the second Intifada in late September 2000, two hundred and sixty-nine people were murdered in attacks by Palestinian terrorists in Israel and since September 2000, a further 1,234 people have been killed and thousands of others injured. The BBC, however, makes all that disappear from the information it provides for its audiences, thus concealing the fact that the Palestinian Authority’s decision to engage in, finance, support and glorify terrorism exists at all – and of course failing to inform audiences of the influence of terror on the progress of the peace process.

In the next paragraph a similar sleight of hand manages to further excuse the PA of any responsibility for the lack of progress towards peace: [emphasis added]

“In September 2008, the two sides appeared to be close to signing a final peace deal during talks between former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Mr Abbas. However, this round ended fruitlessly after Mr Olmert’s resignation over corruption charges and the alleged refusal by Mr Abbas to accept the Israeli offer.”

That “alleged refusal” was of course well documented, including by the BBC’s favourite Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz.  

“Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday rejected an Israeli peace proposal, which included withdrawal from 93 percent of the West Bank, because it does not provide for a contiguous Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.

Nabil Abu Rdainah, Abbas’s spokesman, told the official Palestinian news agency WAFA that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s plan showed a “lack of seriousness.” “

Former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice wrote about Olmert’s offer in her memoir:

“The following day, Rice brought Olmert’s proposal to Abbas in Ramallah. He rejected it, telling Rice the PA could not agree to a deal that prevented nearly 4 million Palestinians from being able to “go home” (i.e., to return to their ancestors’ former homes in pre-Six Day War Israel).”

This BBC article is not some quickly cobbled-together news story but supposedly a fact-based reference item from which readers can find information to help them understand the latest chapter in the complex subject of the Middle East peace process.

It is bad enough, therefore, that it fails to meet the BBC’s professed standards of accuracy on so many counts, but the deliberate and systematic erasing of all mention of terrorist deeds by Palestinian prisoners, of terrorist ideology on the part of organisations such as Hamas and the PFLP and of the thousands of terror attacks which have taken place since the Declaration of Principles twenty years ago is ample testimony to the unavoidable fact that the BBC has absolutely no intention of allowing ‘trivialities’ such as its obligation to impartiality to get in the way of its attempts to shape audience perceptions.

BBC’s ‘Israeli building threatens peace talks’ meme in numbers

How many times over the last week have readers of the BBC News website been told that Israeli building tenders in Jerusalem and Judea & Samaria threaten to “sabotage” peace talks?  

On Sunday, August 11th they were told so in no fewer than three separate reports: “Israel backs new Jewish settlement homes, “New West Bank settlement homes anger Palestinians and the filmed report by Kevin Connolly which also appeared on BBC television news “New Israeli settlement homes anger Palestinians- which stayed up on the website for an additional four days. 

August 12th saw the appearance of an article titled “Israel names 26 Palestinian prisoners for release in which the same meme was also promoted, as well as an item by Jonathan Marcus entitled “Does Middle-East peace process matter? in which he misleadingly suggests that a construction freeze was part of the “understanding” reached in order to resume the latest round of talks. That article has been featured on the website for eight days – and counting.

On August 13th the BBC published an article called “Kerry: Israeli settlements move was expected which also promoted the notion that Israeli building would “sabotage” the talks. The same day also saw the appearance of a report by Kevin Connolly titled “Little hope for talks among Israelis and Palestinians in which the same meme was advanced. That report stayed on the website for three days in all. Another article titled “Palestinian prisoners ‘moved’ before Israel release devoted over half its word count to the subject of Israeli building. 

August 14th saw the appearance of three reports – one written (“Israel releases 26 Palestinian prisoners ahead of talks) and two filmed – both titled “Israel frees Palestinian prisoners“, both by Yolande Knell (see here and here) and both of which also appeared on BBC television news as well as on the website again the following day.  All of those reports purported to report on the release of Palestinian prisoners, but all of them also promoted the ‘building sabotages peace talks’ meme. Also on the same day an article by BBC Monitoring entitled Q&A: Israeli-Palestinian talks in Jerusalem was published in which the subject of building tenders was reported to have caused “dismay” to Palestinians. 

On August 15th (and for three additional days afterwards) the BBC News website carried a report titled Israel-Palestinian peace talks resume in Jerusalem  which promotes the claim that: 

“Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem have continued to overshadow the resumption.

The issue halted the last direct talks in September 2010 and Palestinian representatives have accused Israel of trying to sabotage the latest negotiations.

In recent days Israel has announced plans for more than 2,000 new settlement homes.

Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) official Yasser Abed Rabbo said the settlement expansion was “unprecedented”.

“The talks might collapse any time because of the Israeli practices,” he told Voice of Palestine radio.”

As we see, a regular reader of the BBC News website would have been exposed to the meme that Israel announced the issuing of building tenders on August 11th as a means of “sabotaging” the renewed talks – and hence a threat to peace in general – in no fewer than thirteen reports published on the website in the period August 11th to August 15th inclusive. Naturally, the promotion of that meme was often accompanied by now standard misleading BBC slogans such as:

“Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem are considered illegal under international law, although Israel disputes this.”


“The issue of settlement-building halted the last direct talks.

These collapsed in September 2010.”

During the same week, Israel released twenty-six convicted terrorists and murderers as a ‘goodwill gesture’ aimed at encouraging the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table. As was widely documented by the BBC itself, those prisoners were received at official Palestinian Authority organized celebrations in which the man holding the highest office in the PA – Mahmoud Abbas – literally and figuratively embraced the men as heroes, glamourising and glorifying their acts of terrorism.

The BBC, however, does not appear to consider the Palestinian Authority’s public glorification of terror just hours before renewed talks were set to commence as an attempt to “sabotage” those talks or a threat to ‘Middle East peace’ and so the number of articles exploring that angle which visitors to the BBC News website would have read in the same period of August 11th to 15th is zero.

Were the BBC’s coverage of these renewed talks truly accurate and impartial it would not refrain from informing its audiences of the fact that, even whilst sitting at the negotiating table, the Palestinian Authority continues to incite its people against Israel, to glorify terror and to spend 6% of its budget on salaries for convicted terrorists. As it is, BBC audiences have so far read no analysis on the subject of how those factors might influence the talks, but they have been spoon-fed a meme on Israeli building which bears uncanny resemblance to the campaign currently being run by the PLO.  


BBC finally gets round to (briefly) reporting crimes of Palestinian prisoners

As regular readers of BBC Watch well know, we have on too many occasions been obliged to take note of the BBC’s downplaying or ignoring of the crimes committed by Palestinian or Israeli Arab prisoners who have been the subject of BBC reports usually either due to their engagement in hunger-strikes or the upcoming slated prisoner release. See for example here, here, here, here and here.

On August 12th 2013 an article entitled “Israel names 26 Palestinian prisoners for release” appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page, although it disappeared not long afterwards.  

prisoners named

The article once again amplifies the PA-promoted notion that the issue of building tenders is an attempt by Israel to “sabotage the peace talks” and rehashes quotes from Hanan Ashrawi and Saeb Erekat already used in previous BBC reports. As can be expected, the report also includes some of the now standard misleading BBC slogans which appear in most of its recent written content.

“About 500,000 Jews live in more than 100 settlements built since Israel’s 1967 occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The settlements are considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.”

The article also promotes yet again the erroneous notion that:

“The Palestinians have previously agreed in principle to minor land swaps.”

In fact, as previously pointed out here, only the Fatah Central Council has accepted such an idea, and even then under very limited terms.

Refreshingly though, the article does include a link to the list of prisoners scheduled for release and even carries brief descriptions of the crimes committed by two of the men and a reaction from a family member of one of the victims. Whilst it may not be much given the scale of atrocities carried out by the prisoners scheduled for release, this is at least a step in the direction of the accurate, impartial and comprehensive reporting which BBC audiences need in order to be fully informed.

Unfortunately, that positive step is somewhat negated by the inclusion of a side-box of ‘analysis’ by the BBC Jerusalem Bureau’s Yolande analysis KnellKnell which opens with a tear-jerker reaction from the brother of one of the prisoners scheduled for release, but neglects to point out that the reason he has spent “22 years in an Israeli jail” is that he murdered a French tourist with a 16 inch kitchen knife. 

“Relatives of the Palestinian prisoners due to be freed have reacted enthusiastically to this news. In Bethlehem, Nayef Asakreh’s brother, Khaled, is due home after 22 years in an Israeli jail. “I feel good but I wish my parents were still alive to welcome him,” he says.”

Bizarrely, Knell goes on to discuss the trials and tribulations of Palestinian plans for celebrations of the release of murderers.

“This makes it difficult for the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to build political capital out of this release. Although he plans an event at his Moqataa headquarters in Ramallah, the number of former detainees will look small after at least 14 are sent to the Gaza Strip. Celebrations could be further muted if Israel releases the prisoners as soon as it legally can – 48 hours after publishing the list. That would see the inmates heading home very early on Wednesday.”

Should such celebrations take place – as they no doubt will – it will be interesting to see whether the BBC presents them to its audience as a move also intended to “sabotage the peace talks”. 

Notably, the BBC has so far scrupulously avoided informing audiences about the effects on the ‘peace process’ of the PR campaign run by the Palestinian Authority on the subject of prisoners as recently reported by Barak Ravid in Ha’aretz.

“Over the past two weeks, since the Israeli government decided to release 104 pre-Oslo Palestinian prisoners, the Palestinian Authority has been conducting a political and PR campaign focused on this issue. Palestinian ambassadors around the world were asked to relay letters to foreign ministries in the countries where they are serving, which emphasize that contrary to Israeli’s claim, the prisoners are not terrorists. […]

One of the letters relayed by Palestinian ambassadors around the world was obtained by Haaretz. The letter, which was distributed by the Palestinian Embassy in Santiago, Chile, a day after the cabinet’s decision on the prisoner release, claimed that Israel is the one terrorizing the Palestinians, and not vice-versa. “A terrorist is someone who forcefully occupies the other’s land, expels him and comes to live in his place,” the letter read, “…not the Palestinian political prisoner, the freedom fighter.”

The letter from embassies around the world also criticized senior Israeli officials for defining prisoners as terrorists. […]

“The [Palestinian] Foreign Ministry strongly condemns the Israeli statements and positions and sees them as a diversion attempt aimed at drawing attention from the accusation against the true Israeli criminals,” the letter says. “They distort the image of the Palestinian freedom fighter, who struggles against the occupation and fights in accordance to international law.” “

In addition to the above article, another report on the subject of the prisoners scheduled for release also appeared on the evening of August 12th. Entitled “Profiles of Palestinian prisoners set to be released” and compiled by BBC Monitoring, it gives some details of fewer than half of the 26 prisoners concerned. Somewhat oddly though (considering that this is an ongoing story) whilst this additional welcome step in the right direction was promoted briefly to audiences on the home page of the BBC News website, the article did not appear at all on its Middle East page and it currently appears only as one of several ‘related articles’ appended to this report.

Main HP 13 8

Perhaps though – now that someone at the BBC has at long last begun recording the fact that these prisoners were convicted of violent acts of terrorism – we may finally see a correction made to the BBC’s article of April 2nd 2013 (still available online) in which they were erroneously described as “political prisoners”.

BBC quotes Holocaust-denying terrorist-run website

One of the BBC’s many post-election articles appearing in the Middle East section of the BBC News website on January 23rd 2013 was an item entitled “Israeli press considers Netanyahu ‘failure’ ” which presented a round-up of local reactions to the results of the poll. 

Israeli press article

The article – produced by BBC Monitoring – highlighted quotes from articles appearing in several of Israel’s leading newspapers – including Ha’aretz, Yediot Aharonot, Ma’ariv, The Jerusalem Post and Israel HaYom. 

However, for some reason – and despite the title – the writer also considered it worthwhile to quote two non-Israeli sources which were described as being “Palestinian newspapers”.

Filastin & Al Quds

Al Quds has frequently been criticised for its antisemitic content, including its 1997 promotion of the ‘Protocols of the Elders of Ziyon’ as fact. Here is one of its more recent cartoons: 

Al Quds cartoon

The Hamas-run website ‘Filastin’ has, as may be expected, supported terrorism against Israeli civilians and published commentary condemning a visit by a PA official to Auschwitz in 2012 which included the statement:

“What is the wisdom in such a simple step that supports the Jews and their crimes?… Neither the Jews nor we believe that Hitler killed six millions Jews,” 

Does the BBC really think that it contributes anything to its audiences’ understanding of the Middle East by reproducing opinions from terror-supporting antisemitic outlets alongside those from legitimate members of the media? 

And perhaps – with Holocaust Memorial Day approaching –  BBC Monitoring and the Editor of the BBC News website could find the time to explain to their licence fee-paying funders why they consider the promotion of material from a Holocaust-denying website appropriate.