BBC report on building tenders presented in one-sided political terminology

Here are two Tweets sent from the BBC News (World) Twitter account on October 30th 2013:

BBC World tweet 1

BBC World tweet 2

Note the terminology used: “occupied East Jerusalem”, “obstacle to peace”, “new settlement building”.

Beyond the fact that the second Tweet misleads readers by suggesting that Israel announced the building of at least one “new settlement” (rather than the construction of apartments in an established suburb of its capital city, north of the city centre – not east), the adoption of the language of one party to the dispute is clearly visible in these Tweets and it continues in the article they promote, which appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page on the evening of October 30th. The article is titled “Israel approves new East Jerusalem settlement homes“.

Ramat Shlomo art

The caption to the photograph appearing at the top of the article reads:

Settlements in East Jerusalem are considered illegal under international law” [emphasis added]

That choice of wording fails to inform readers of the fact that there are differing legal opinions on the subject. It also adopts the politically loaded term “East Jerusalem” and uses the politically motivated terminology which describes suburbs of Jerusalem as “settlements”.

The article itself opens:

“Israel has announced plans to build new homes in a Jewish settlement in occupied East Jerusalem, hours after freeing 26 Palestinian prisoners.” [emphasis added]

Language does not get much more political than that.

It goes on:

“An estimated 200,000 settlers currently live in East Jerusalem, alongside 370,000 Palestinians.” [emphasis added]

Again, the BBC adopts the politically motivated stereotypical language of anti-Israel campaigners and the Palestinian Authority.

The article then informs readers that:

“Israel captured East Jerusalem from Jordan in the 1967 Middle East war and formally annexed the area in 1980. Settlements built there and elsewhere in the occupied West Bank are considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.

Israel regards Jerusalem as its eternal and undivided capital. However, Palestinians want East Jerusalem to be the capital of their future state.” [emphasis added]

Again, no attempt is made to inform audiences that many others besides Israel dispute that tendentious interpretation of Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention . Neither is any mention made (as usual) of the fact that Jordan’s 19-year occupation of parts of Jerusalem and Judea & Samaria was never recognized as legal by the international community and that before the Jordanian invasion those areas were part of the Mandate for Palestine established by the League of Nations for the purpose of the reconstitution of the Jewish National Home.  By eliminating those all important facts from the picture, the BBC dumbs down the issue and – in true totalitarian tradition – steers readers towards a very specific interpretation of the dispute which is based entirely on certain political views, closing down all other avenues of thought.

The article includes reactions from the PA: Ramat Shlomo

“The Palestinian Authority said the move was “destructive to peace efforts”.” […]

“The Palestinian Authority reacted angrily to Wednesday’s announcement, but it was not immediately clear if it would have any impact on the talks.

“We are worried and concerned that if Israel continues with the expansion of settlements, this might kill the two states vision which we would like to see on this land,” Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah said.

Nabil Abu Rudeina, a spokesman for the [Palestinian] president, told the AFP news agency that the move “destroys the peace process and is a message to the international community that Israel is a country that does not respect international law“.”

Naturally, the BBC does not encourage its audiences to consider how the official Palestinian Authority glorification of terrorism as seen in its lavish welcoming ceremonies for the murderers of Israeli and Palestinian civilians just hours beforehand might have an effect on “the peace process”.

Clearly, the BBC has fully embraced the politically motivated terminology used by the Palestinian Authority and fringe groups of radical anti-Israel campaigners, to the extent that parts of this article look more like a PA press release or an article from ‘Electronic Intifada’  than a report written by an organization committed to impartiality which states in its editorial guidelines “We should not adopt other people’s language as our own; our responsibility is to remain objective and report in ways that enable our audiences to make their own assessments…”.

One hour in Israel

During times of emergency the various Israeli radio stations are of course an important source of information for Israel’s residents. As well as news and regular updates, they also broadcast instructions to the public on how to behave during rocket attacks. In addition, they announce every alert of incoming rockets – ‘Tseva Adom’ or ‘Colour Red’. 

To give readers an idea of what that sounds like, here is a list of the interruptions to regular broadcasts because of incoming rocket alerts throughout one hour alone today – November 15th 2012. 

14:28 – Tseva Adom

14:34 – Tseva Adom

14:52 – Tseva Adom

14:53 – Tseva Adom

14:54 – Tseva Adom

14:55 – Tseva Adom

14:55 – additional Tseva Adom in another location

14:57 – Tseva Adom

15:07 – Tseva Adom

15:17 – Tseva Adom

15:18 – Tseva Adom

15:23 – Tseva Adom 

In some cases, the same places received alerts multiple times. Every time the name of their town or village is announced, the residents have a very limited period of time, depending on their location, in which to find cover from the incoming rocket or rockets. 

BBC Watch took part in a conference call with IDF spokesperson Lt Col Avital Leibovich this evening. Lt Col Leibovich reiterated that the aim of the current operation is to defend Israeli civilians and to restore normal, peaceful life to one million residents in southern Israel by hampering terrorist capabilities and thus reducing the level of rocket fire. 

Since the operation began, the IDF has struck over 220 targets including rocket launching squads, launching sites and weapons stores – among them those containing Fajr 5 Iranian-built and supplied missiles capable of reaching long-range targets such as Tel Aviv. Lt Col Leibovich pointed out that the Gaza Strip is the only place in which the Fajr 5 is used outside of Iran. A large number of underground launching sites have been targeted since yesterday and considerable damage has been caused to the terrorists’ arsenal. 

Well over 200 rockets have been fired at Israeli population centres, with a clear emphasis on the larger towns and cities such as Ashdod, Ashkelon and Be’er Sheva. The Iron Dome missile defence system has had very high success rates in the areas in which it is operational. 

Lt Col Leibovich confirmed that one rocket landed in an open area near Rishon L’Tsion and – in a separate incident – that despite the fact that sirens were sounded in greater Tel Aviv area (which the BBC News World Tweeted as being Israel’s ‘capital’: see Honest Reporting here), no rockets hit the ground in that area. 

Also today, fourteen Palestinians from the Gaza Strip were admitted into Israel for medical treatment in Israeli hospitals – as happens almost every other day of the year.