No BBC reporting on weekend terror incidents

Late on the night of April 24th an incident took place at a checkpoint on Highway 1 leading into Jerusalem.

“Ali Said Abu Ranam, 16 years old from East Jerusalem, was shot dead after he attempted to stab a Border Police Officer with a butcher knife at a checkpoint near Ma’ale Adumim on Friday night.”No news

A police officer was wounded in rioting which followed the incident.

On April 25th another incident took place in Hebron.

“A Palestinian man stabbed an Israeli Border Police officer in the West Bank city of Hebron Saturday, inflicting moderate injuries. The alleged attacker, aged 20, was shot and wounded, and died of his injuries on the way to a hospital in Jerusalem.

Police said the officer, 19, was stabbed multiple times in the head, neck and chest at an army checkpoint near Hebron’s Tomb of the Patriarchs. A second soldier shot the attacker.”

Later the same evening three more police officers were injured in another attack.

“Three Israeli police officers were injured Saturday evening when struck by a car on the Mount of Olives in East Jerusalem in what authorities suspect may have been a deliberate attack.

Magen David Adom paramedics said they treated a 20-year-old woman for moderate injuries, and a man and woman for minor injuries sustained after being struck by the vehicle. The three were taken to Shaare Zedek Medical Center for treatment. […]

Emergency responders were forced to flee the scene after rocks and Molotov cocktails were thrown at them.”

A suspect was later arrested.

Police are also investigating a suspected fire-bombing of a bus on Route 443 on the evening of April 25th.

None of the above was deemed newsworthy by the BBC.

Related Articles:

More Palestinian Stabbings, Another NYT Headline Whitewash (CAMERA Snapshots) 

BBC reporting on Israeli aid to Nepal earthquake

Some social media commentators have incorrectly claimed that the BBC has failed to report on Israeli aid to Nepal in the wake of the devastating earthquake in that country. 

In a report titled “Nepal earthquake: Death toll passes 1,000” published on the BBC News website on April 25th the BBC included Israel in its list of countries described as having pledged aid.

Nepal quake 1

Similar phrasing appeared under the sub-heading ‘Offers of aid” in an article titled “Nepal earthquake: Rescue effort intensifies” which appeared on April 26th.

Nepal quake 2

However, by the time that second report was published an Israeli reconnaissance team had already set out on the twelve-hour journey to Nepal.

“An Israeli plane carrying an advance search and rescue team and emergency medical supplies took off for Nepal early Sunday morning, as the death toll in the wake of a massive earthquake that shook the region climbed toward 1,400, officials said.

The Israel Defense Forces plane carrying seven search and rescue crew members and supplies took off just after midnight, Israel’s Army Radio reported.”

In addition, a team of Magen David Adom paramedics departed for Nepal on the morning of Sunday, April 26th.  

“Some 15 paramedics flew out this morning, while the organization was examining the possibility of sending out a larger team that could remain in the country for a longer period of time. […]

After the strong quake hit the area, Magen David Adom decided to send a delegation of doctors and paramedics, in coordination with the International Committee of the Red Cross. The team set out in a special plane equipped with medicine, medical supplies and baby food. They intend to stop at the Chabad House in Kathmandu, where many Israelis –both adults and infants – took refuge.

The team should remain in the country for at least two weeks, but the exact duration of their stay will be determined by the number of wounded individuals.”

Later on Sunday a larger IDF team will also travel to Nepal.

“A delegation numbering 260 medical and rescue crew members will depart on Sunday night (26 April) for Kathmandu. The delegation will focus on establishing a field hospital which will be operational within 12 hours, with the capability of treating 200 wounded a day. It will have two operating rooms, four intensive-care rooms, 80 hospital beds and specialists in neonatal and adult care. The team will include dozens of army physicians in the regular army and the reserves. Col. Dr. Tarif Bader, the army’s deputy chief medical officer, will be in charge of the field hospital.”

In addition to the field hospital, a search and rescue team will work in the affected area.Oketz

“Three large search and rescue teams will divide up into smaller crews and scour ruins to search for survivors. A command and control team will oversee the entire effort, and link up to local authorities. “At the moment, we are set to take off at 22:00 for Kathmandu,” Laredo added. […]

Rescuers are bringing with them cutting equipment, electronic devices to help find trapped victims, generators, lighting equipment, and more. […]

Three IDF Oketz K9 dogs and their handlers will also board one of the planes to Nepal.”

So, whilst the BBC’s description of the pledge of aid from Israel is accurate, it of course does not reflect the fact that practical steps have already been taken to turn that promise into action.

Related Articles:

Which country is absent from the BBC’s list of international aid efforts in the Philippines?

 

The BBC policy underlying reporting on the Armenian Genocide

Ahead of the centenary commemorations of the Armenian Genocide on April 24th, a number of related reports have appeared on the BBC News website’s Europe page, including:

Armenia mass killing remembered 100 years on” Mark Lowen (filmed)

Armenian tragedy still raw in Turkey 100 years on” Mark Lowen

Germany struggles with Armenia genocide debate” Damien McGuinness

Armenian killings were genocide – German president

Armenia marks centenary of ‘mass killings’ by Ottoman Turks

Armenian mass killings: Iranian author’s diary in animation” (filmed)

The written reports include an insert – most with a link to the BBC’s recently updated backgrounder titled “Q&A: Armenian genocide dispute“.

Insert Armenian Genocide

Some insight into the BBC’s approach to its own presentation of the Armenian Genocide can be gleaned from the link to a BBC Trust ESC ruling from 2008 included in the footnote to that Q&A article.

“…as there is no consensus over the account of the event, even amongst the international community, and taking into account that there was no admission by the Turkish State that this was genocide, it is appropriate that the BBC continues to report this event accurately by stating the facts as they are known, which includes the views of the various sides to the argument without taking a position.”

Under the sub-heading “Who recognises it as genocide and who does not?” the Q&A article states:

“Argentina, Belgium, Canada, France, Italy, Russia and Uruguay are among more than 20 countries which have formally recognised genocide against the Armenians.

The European Parliament and the UN Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities have also done so.

The UK, US and Israel are among those that use different terminology to describe the events.”

Whilst Israel has yet to officially recognize the Armenian Genocide, it has sent an official delegation to the centenary commemoration ceremonies and in January of this year President Reuven Rivlin raised the issue in his speech at the UN General Assembly on the occasion of Holocaust Memorial Day.

“Rivlin recalled quoting the words of Avshalom Feinberg, a leading member of Nili, the Jewish underground, which cooperated with the Allies during World War I.

In 1915, when Armenians were being massacred by Turks, Feinberg wrote: “My teeth have been ground down with worry, whose turn is next? When I walked on the blessed and holy ground on my way up to Jerusalem, I asked myself if we are living in our modern era, in 1915, or in the days of Titus or Nebuchadnezzar? Did I, a Jew, forget that I am a Jew? I also asked myself if I have the right to weep ‘over the tragedy of my people’ only, and whether the Prophet Jeremiah did not shed tears of blood for the Armenians as well?” In New York, Rivlin told those gathered at the UN that when Feinberg had written those words 100 years ago – “100 years of hesitation and denial” – nobody in the land of Israel at the time had denied that the massacre that had taken place.

“The residents of Jerusalem, my parents and the members of my family,” Rivlin said then, “saw the Armenian refugees arriving by the thousands – starving, piteous survivors of calamity. In Jerusalem they found shelter and their descendants continue to live there to this day.””

Avshalom Feinberg was of course not the only member of Nili to witness the Armenian Genocide. In his memoir Eitan Belkind noted that he compiled a report for the British Authorities on the subject of the atrocities he had witnessed during his travels in Mesopotamia and elsewhere.

“As soon as we found horses to ride and soldiers to accompany us, Jacob Baker went on his way to Mosul, I set out to my region, along the River Khabur. At night before departure we heard terrible, heart-rending female screams. The Armenian camp was one kilometer away from our house. The screaming continued all night. We asked what was happening, they told us that children were being taken from their mothers to live in dormitories and continue their education. However in the morning when we set off and crossed the bridge across Euphrates, I was shocked to see the river red with blood and beheaded corpses of children floating on the water. The scene was horrible, as there was nothing we could do. 

After three days riding, I reached Aram- Naharaim where I witnessed a terrible tragedy. There were two camps next to each other, one Armenian and one Circassian. The Circassians were “busy” with exterminating the Armenians. There were also Arab sheikhs, who selected beautiful Armenian girls as their wives. Two women approached me and gave their photos to me. Should I ever get to Aleppo and find their families (whether their families were alive, was a question), the women asked me to send their greetings to whomever I find there. 

The Circassian officer seeing me talk to the two Armenian women ordered me to leave but I stayed to see what would happen to the Armenians. The Circassian soldiers ordered the Armenians to gather dry grass and pile it into a tall pyramid, then they tied up all the Armenians who were there, almost 5000 souls, their hands tied together and put them in a circle around the pile of grass and set it afire in a blaze, which rose up to the heaven together with the screams of the wretched people, who were being burned to death. I fled from the place I could not stand this horrifying sight. I rode as fast as I could, wishing to get as far from the place as possible. After two hours of crazy gallop I could still hear creams of the poor victims until they died out. In two days I returned to that place and saw the burned bodies of thousands people. 

I approached the Sandjer Mountains where Yezidim lived. At the foot of the mountain, on my way to the city Urfa in the north, I witnessed several mass-exterminations of the Armenians. People were wretched, desperate to madness. In one of the houses I saw an Armenian woman cooking her own child’s body in a pot. All the roads were strewn with the corpses of murdered Armenians.”

Whist travelling from Constantinople (Istanbul) to Haifa via Anatolia in 1915, Sarah Aaronsohn saw scenes similar to those later witnessed and described in his diaries by her brother Aaron in July of the following year as he travelled from Damascus to Constantinople. In November 1916 Aaron Aaronsohn sent a memorandum describing the atrocities to the British authorities and an edited (by the British) version of that memorandum is to be found in the Foreign Office records.

That report of course joins the many others from the time documenting the atrocities against the Armenian people. As we see, however, the BBC is still waiting for an “admission by the Turkish State that this was genocide”.

 

No BBC reporting on last week’s fatal terror attack in Jerusalem

Israel’s Remembrance Day (Yom HaZikaron) commemorates not only those who fell defending the State of Israel, but also the civilian victims of war and terrorism. The most recent of those is twenty-five year-old Shalom Yochai Sherki who was killed when a Palestinian driver from Anata rammed his vehicle into a bus stop at French Hill in Jerusalem on April 15th.BBC News logo 2

“A Palestinian driver deliberately rammed his car into a Jerusalem bus stop this week and killed an Israeli man in a “horrible attack,” Israel Police chief Yohanan Danino said Saturday.[…]

He ruled out initial suggestions that it had been an accident.

Shalom Yohai Sherki, 25, and Shira Klein, 20, were seriously injured in the attack on the bus stop in East Jerusalem.

Sherki, the son of prominent rabbi Ouri Sherki who is well known in the city’s francophone community, died of his injuries on Thursday morning and was buried later that day.

The driver, Khaled Koutineh, a Palestinian from East Jerusalem, was also injured and arrested by the police.”

The second victim is still undergoing treatment in hospital and the perpetrator has since admitted that the attack was deliberate.

That terror attack joins the numerous others which were also not reported by the BBC.

Also on April 15th, the Israeli security forces announced the arrests of twenty-nine Hamas activists.

“Security forces arrested 29 suspected Hamas members in the West Bank city of Nablus overnight Tuesday, including some who have been imprisoned in Israel in the past.

Among those detained were senior members of the Palestinian terror group, the army said.

The operation, carried out by the Shin Bet security service, the IDF, and the Israel Police, came amid concern that the activists were preparing to carry out attacks against Israeli targets.

The suspects were to be questioned by the Shin Bet.

The army noted an increase in Hamas activity in the West Bank and said members of the group have been acting on the instructions and funding of its leaders abroad.”

The subject of the Hamas terror cells in Palestinian Authority administered areas which are controlled and funded by Hamas officials in the Gaza Strip and abroad – and threaten not only Israeli civilians but also the PA itself – is one which the BBC has largely managed to avoid in past months.  

Clearly BBC audiences’ understanding of events in both Israel and the PA controlled areas is not enhanced by the absence of any serious reporting on this topic.

No BBC coverage of new Iranian ‘factsheet’ on P5+1 deal

The millions of people around the world who rely on the BBC to keep them up to date with international news and developments will be unaware of the fact that on April 15th the Iranian parliament publicised its own ‘factsheet’ on the topic of the framework agreement negotiated by the P5+1 and Iran two weeks earlier.BBC News logo

The lack of BBC reporting on this new document means that – as was the case with the equally under-reported previous ‘factsheet‘ put out by Iran – audiences lack the information which would enable them to compare the Iranian view of the framework agreement with the version of its terms publicised by the US State Department – and enthusiastically (and exclusively) promoted in numerous BBC reports.

In this latest document, discrepancies between the Iranian and US accounts of the terms of the framework agreement are seen once again on issues such as sanctions repeal, centrifuges, existing stockpiled nuclear material, inspections and verification of adherence to the deal. Differing interpretations of the duration of the agreement are also apparent, with this latest Iranian document citing a five-year long agreement, whereas US officials have spoken of a ten to fifteen year time frame.

In addition, there has been no BBC reporting on the subject of the short statement put out by the IAEA on April 16th concerning inspection of Iran’s past atomic work and PMDs (possible military dimensions). Reuters reported:

“The U.N. nuclear watchdog said it had a “constructive exchange” with Iran this week but there was no sign of a breakthrough on aspects of its nuclear program that the agency says Tehran has failed to fully address.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is investigating Iran’s nuclear program in parallel to talks between Tehran and six world powers that aim to broker a deal by the end of June to scale down the program in exchange for sanctions relief.

In any final deal, the IAEA would play a major role in monitoring Iran’s compliance.

The IAEA said in March it expected progress with Iran this month on outstanding issues related to the nature of neutron calculations and alleged experiments on explosives that could be used to develop an atomic device.

It said then it expected Iran to propose new measures to address other outstanding issues with the IAEA by mid-April.

The IAEA on Thursday issued a short statement saying it had technical talks with Iranian officials in Tehran on Wednesday, making no mention of major developments.”

As readers may recall, the BBC also failed to report on the part of the speech made by Iran’s Supreme Leader earlier in the month in which he ruled out inspections at military sites as well as ‘anytime, anywhere’ inspections – in contrast to the claim made in the US factsheet which claims that “Iran will be required to grant access to the IAEA to investigate suspicious sites or allegations of a covert enrichment facility, conversion facility, centrifuge production facility, or yellowcake production facility anywhere in the country”.

With regard to the disputed topic of sanctions relief (which the BBC has reported – in line with the hitherto promoted US account – as being phased and in accordance with verification of adherence to the terms of the deal), the Wall Street Journal reported on April 17th that:

“President Barack Obama suggested on Friday that Iran could receive significant economic relief immediately after concluding a deal to curb its nuclear program, a gesture towards one of Tehran’s key demands. […]

The Obama administration estimates Iran has between $100 billion and $140 billion of its oil revenue frozen in offshore accounts as a result of sanctions. U.S. officials said they expect Tehran to gain access to these funds in phases as part of a final deal. Iran could receive somewhere between $30 billion and $50 billion upon signing the agreement, said congressional officials briefed by the administration.

Complicating negotiations, U.S.-ally Saudi Arabia has repeatedly charged in recent weeks that Iran has provided significant funding, arms and training to Shiite insurgents in Yemen who gained control of the country’s capital, San’a, and forced the country’s president to flee. Iran has denied these allegations. Iran also is a major supporter of the Lebanese militia Hezbollah, the Assad regime in Syria and a group of Shiite militias fighting in Iraq.”

Clearly, the BBC’s purpose remit of enhancement of “awareness and understanding of international issues” (in this case, both the framework agreement between the P5+1 and Iran and broader Middle East issues) is not served by its continued omission of significant parts of this story. 

BBC responds to complaints about Jeremy Bowen’s interview with Khaled Masha’al

Several members of the public who submitted complaints concerning Jeremy Bowen’s recent interview with Hamas leader Khaled Masha’al (see related articles below) have received the following template response.Bowen Hamas filmed

“Thank you for contacting us about BBC News Middle East Editor Jeremy Bowen’s interview with Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal. We have received a wide range of feedback about this interview, so we apologise in advance if your specific concerns have not been fully addressed in this response.

Some people contacted us saying this interview showed bias in favour of Hamas, or against Israel. Firstly, we would like to point out that the longer version of the interview shown on the BBC News at Ten on 1 April clearly explained the nature, intentions and ideology of Hamas to viewers. During the introduction to the report we said that Hamas is:

“…designated a terrorist organisation by Israel, the US and other countries and “still calls for the destruction of Israel in its charter”.

The BBC News website’s article, which featured a shorter version of the interview, said:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-32060613 

“Hamas is designated a terrorist organisation by Israel, the US and other countries due to its long record of attacks on Israelis and its refusal to renounce violence. Under its charter, the group is committed to the destruction of Israel.”

This interview sought to give a brief insight into Hamas’ position given the current political landscape in the Middle East. We felt it was relevant and important to explore the likely challenges facing Palestinians and their leadership, particularly following the results of the Israeli general election in March, last year’s war with Israel in Gaza and the growing crisis in Syria and Iraq.Bowen Hamas written

Jeremy Bowen challenged Khaled Meshaal on a number of points during the interview. He reflected on comparisons between Hamas and jihadist groups such as Al Qaeda and ‘Islamic State’. When Mr Meshaal described Hamas as “moderate” in response to this comparison, Jeremy remarked that many in the US, Israel and the UK would “laugh” at this description.

During the News at Ten report, Jeremy was shown some of Hamas’ network of tunnels by Colonel Peter Lerner from the Israeli Army. Col Lerner explained how sophisticated the tunnels are and emphasised the threat posed by them to those living in southern Israel. This point was put directly to Khaled Meshaal during the interview. 

Across our coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict we have extensively reported on Hamas’ actions. We have covered their targeting and killing of Israeli soldiers and civilians, on the threat posed by rocket attacks and tunnels, and their hostility towards the state of Israel. This interview was a small part of a much wider range of reports on this complex and ongoing conflict.

Thanks again for contacting us.” 

Obviously, nothing in that generic first stage response addresses the issues raised on these pages and others. As Tom Wilson writing in the Spectator noted with regard to Bowen’s interview:

“When journalists have the much sought after opportunity to interview the heads of states and organisations with appalling human rights records the very least we expect is to see such people given a thorough cross-examining. What we don’t expect is for heads of terrorist organisations to be provided with a platform from which to give the equivalent of a party political broadcast and to get away with it virtually unchallenged. “

Members of the public considering pursuing their complaint further may find the following links helpful.

How to Complain to the BBC

Tips on using the BBC Complaints Procedure

Related Articles:

 BBC’s Bowen facilitates Hamas PR binge

More enablement of Hamas propaganda from BBC’s ME editor

Jeremy Bowen exploits Radio 4 news bulletin for Hamas PR promotion

Superficial BBC report on Russian missile deal with Iran

Over the last couple of weeks BBC audiences have been repeatedly informed that the essence of the framework agreement reached between the P5+1 and Iran on April 2nd is restrictions on Iran’s nuclear programme in return for the gradual lifting of sanctions following verification of Iranian compliance.

For example: [all emphasis added]

“”Under the agreed-upon parameters, sanctions will be suspended in a phased manner upon verification that Iran has met specific commitments,” [US State Department] spokesman Jeff Rathke told reporters.” [source]

“According to the framework agreement, sanctions will be gradually phased out as the global nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), confirms Iranian compliance.” [source]

“The deal aims to prevent Tehran making a nuclear weapon in exchange for phased sanction relief.” [source]

“Under the terms reached last Thursday, Iran must slash its stockpile of enriched uranium that could be used in a nuclear weapon, and cut by more than two-thirds the number of centrifuges that could be used to make more.

In return, UN sanctions and separate measures imposed unilaterally by the US and EU will be gradually suspended as the global nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), confirms Iranian compliance.” [source]

So, when one of member of the P5+1 group which negotiated that framework agreement announced that it was unilaterally terminating a five year-old ban on the supply of missiles to Iran before the terms of a final deal have been reached and before the IAEA has given any confirmation whatsoever of Iranian compliance with an agreement not yet even written down, one might have thought that the many obvious issues that raises would feature in the report on the subject produced by the self-declared “standard-setter for international journalism”.

However, in the article titled “US concern as Russia lifts ban on Iran arms delivery” which appeared on the BBC News website on April 14th, readers were not even reminded that Russia is one of the P5+1 nations.Russia S 300 art

Audiences were informed that:

“The US has expressed concern after Russia lifted a ban on supplying Iran with the sophisticated S-300 air defence missile system. […]

Russia said the embargo was no longer necessary after an interim deal was reached on Iran’s nuclear programme.

Tehran and six world powers aim to reach a final deal by 30 June.”

No questions were raised by the BBC regarding the issue of whether the framework agreement means that sanctions repeal is open to individual interpretation by countries and organisations or, alternatively, subject to a joint P5+1 decision-making process on which specific sanctions would be lifted when and under what conditions. The potential effects of this unilateral Russian decision (and pre-existing ones) on the functioning of the P5+1 were also not addressed by the BBC.

“Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, later confirmed statements by a Russian diplomat that Russia was already supplying Iran with various goods in exchange for oil. Peskov said this trade was not barred under the sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council.

The moves raised alarm bells in Israel and the US, which said a Russian-Iranian barter deal would raise serious concerns and could interfere with sanctions that the United States and other Western nations imposed on Iran over its nuclear program.”

The article states:

“Russia agreed to sell the S-300 system in 2007, but blocked delivery in 2010 after the UN imposed sanctions on Iran over its nuclear programme.

The S-300 is a surface-to-air missile system that can be used against multiple targets including jets, or to shoot down other missiles.”

However, readers were not informed of the implications of the Russian move – and in particular its potential to complicate the option of military action in the event that Iran does not comply with the pending agreement. That omission is particularly remarkable in light of the fact that just days before the publication of this report, the BBC had seen fit to amplify statements made by the US President regarding Israel’s safety – which included the claim that:

“…we still have the options available to me — or available to a future president – that I have available to me right now.”

Once again the self-imposed limitations of BBC reporting on the P5+1 negotiations with Iran are glaringly evident.

BBC’s Yolande Knell promotes Muslim Brotherhood messaging

“…there were many interviews with members of the Brotherhood itself – some rank-and-file, some described as leaders. All of these stressed that their movement favoured freedom and democracy, and did not seek to impose an Islamic order on people against their will. Some of the expert commentators accepted these statements more or less at face value, stressing the Brotherhood’s evolution towards pragmatism during its long years in opposition and semi-clandestinity…”

Source: ‘A BBC Trust report on the impartiality and accuracy of the BBC’s coverage of the events known as the “Arab Spring”’ – June 2012

One might have perhaps thought that in the four years which have passed since the so-called ‘Arab Spring’ in Egypt, BBC correspondents would have had the opportunity to garner enough understanding of the Muslim Brotherhood to prevent them from repeating the same face value acceptance – and amplification – of its messaging as was seen in BBC coverage of the events at the time.Knell MB art

However, if the article titled “Muslim Brotherhood: From rapid rise to sharp decline” produced by Yolande Knell on April 13th is anything to go by, not only is that is definitely not the case, but Edward Mortimer’s description of Muslim Brotherhood statements being naively “accepted … at face value” by BBC “expert commentators” may be in need of review.

Knell has no comment to add on the use of the phrase “democratic process” by a supporter of an organization which states that its intention is to create a state ruled by religious law which discriminates against women, non-Muslim minorities and others.

“On Saturday, a court confirmed death sentences on the group’s General Guide, Mohammed Badie, and others for planning attacks against the state.

But another man, Ahmed, insists they have done nothing wrong.

“God willing, we’ll see the democratic process get back on track soon,” he says.”

Neither does Knell make any effort to explain the reasoning behind her promotion of the notion that the Muslim Brotherhood as a whole is ‘relatively moderate’.

“Yet many in Egypt accept the clampdown on the Brotherhood, believing it failed its test in power, and across the entire region the fate of this relatively moderate Islamist organisation has undergone a dramatic turnaround.”

The Oxford Dictionary defines the political sense of moderate as “not radical or excessively right- or left-wing”. The aim of running a state ruled by Sharia law cannot accurately be described as anything other than radical and right-wing and of course there is little evidence of ‘moderation’ on the part of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood or the movement’s Qatar-based  ‘spiritual guide’ Yusuf al Qaradawi.

‘Moderate’ political organisations obviously do not support terrorism or cultivate links with its perpetrators – but a journalist who uses the makeover term “political faction” to describe a terrorist group which just months ago launched thousands of missiles at civilians will obviously be oblivious to that nuance.

“Not far away, in the Palestinian territories, Hamas – which is aligned to the Muslim Brotherhood – is also suffering from the organisation’s demise.

Its leaders were treated like VIPs in Egypt during the Brotherhood’s brief reign.

But in February, a court in Cairo joined Israel, the United States, the European Union and others in pronouncing Hamas a terrorist organisation.

In Gaza, which is controlled by the political faction, ordinary people feel more isolated than ever. […]

Across Gaza, the green flags of Hamas still flutter defiantly above the mangled metal and rubble of homes destroyed in last summer’s war with Israel.” [emphasis added]

Knell’s take-away message to readers comes right at the end of her article:

“But throughout much of the Middle East, there is a sense that times are changing.

And what worries many is that just as the Muslim Brotherhood, the grandfather of Islamist groups in the region, is in decline, so fanatical ones – like Islamic State – are gaining momentum.

The danger is that efforts to suppress the Brotherhood could radicalise its younger supporters and help swell the ranks of the extremists.”

Yolande Knell does not reveal to her readers the identities of the worried “many” who apparently believe that the political aspirations of young Middle Eastern Muslims are to be found exclusively on a scale lying between ‘moderate’ Islamists and ‘fanatical’ ones and hence promote the highly debatable claim-cum-threat that the decline of the Muslim Brotherhood could “swell the ranks of the extremists”.

However, a clue to the potential source – and background motivations – of that claim promoted and amplified by Knell comes in the form of a report published by Associated Press about the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan which appeared almost a month before Knell’s article saw the light of day. Interestingly, the two pieces show some curious similarities.

In a section of her article about the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood Yolande Knell writes:

“A new, officially licensed branch defines itself as strictly Jordanian, saying it has cut ties to the regional movement, so it is not identified as militant.”

The earlier AP article states:

“The new, officially licensed Brotherhood offshoot defines itself as a strictly Jordanian group, saying it cut ties with the regional movement to avoid being branded as militant.”

Yolande Knell writes:

“The legal status of the other, larger faction is less clear, but it is keeping its links to the wider Brotherhood.”

The earlier AP article states:

“The larger Brotherhood faction, still loyal to the regional movement, alleged the government engineered the division to weaken the group.[…] The status of the second faction now remains unclear.”

Yolande Knell writes:

“The danger is that efforts to suppress the Brotherhood could radicalise its younger supporters and help swell the ranks of the extremists.”

Readers of the AP report were informed that:

“In Jordan, some warned that the government’s apparent divide-and-control policy could backfire by pushing more Brotherhood supporters into the ranks of extremists like the Islamic State group, seen as the main threat to the country’s stability.”

And:

“Some warn the government crackdown could radicalize Brotherhood supporters and help swell the ranks of the Islamic State group.”

In other words, Yolande Knell’s supposedly impartial take-away message to Western audiences on the topic of the Muslim Brotherhood appears to have come straight (or perhaps via AP) from the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood horse’s mouth.

So much for ‘standard-setting’ journalism.

Related Articles:

The BBC and the Brotherhood

Must read article by former BBC journalist

BBC’s Yolande Knell ditches any semblance of impartiality

A way but no will: BBC coverage of Palestinian affairs in Q1 2015

We have often noted on these pages that the BBC’s coverage of Palestinian affairs is for the most part focused on subjects with some sort of connection to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and that the corporation shows considerably less interest in reporting on internal Palestinian topics such as domestic politics, human rights or social issues. Even reports which ostensibly do deal with purely Palestinian stories are frequently used as a hook for political messaging.

Throughout the first quarter of 2015 twenty-nine reports relating to the Palestinian Authority, PA controlled areas and the Gaza Strip appeared on the BBC News website, along with an additional three previously discussed reports relating to specific incidents of terrorism perpetrated by Palestinian attackers. 

Four of those reports related to the Palestinian Authority’s bid to join the ICC:ICC probe art

Palestinians sign up to join International Criminal Court (discussed here)

Palestinians submit ICC membership bid documents

Will ICC membership help or hinder the Palestinians’ cause?  (originally published on January 14th – discussed here)

Israel-Palestinian ‘war crimes’ probed by the ICC (discussed here)

Three reports were about PA tax revenue transfers suspended – and later reinstated – by Israel:

Israel freezes Palestine tax funds over ICC bid

US opposes Israeli tax freeze on Palestinians

Israel to resume tax transfers to Palestinian Authority (discussed here)

One report related to the PLO’s recommendation to halt security cooperation with Israel:

PLO votes to end historic Israeli security agreement (discussed here)

One report concerned Palestinian views of the Israeli election:

Israel election: The view from Ramallah  – Yolande Knell  (discussed here)Knell filmed 17 3

One report marked the ten-year anniversary of the death of Yasser Arafat:

Arafat’s widow on husband’s legacy  (discussed here)

Two reports related to water issues connected to the city of Rawabi:

Rawabi: A new Palestinian city in the West Bank and The new Palestinian city that lacks only one thing – Lyse Doucet (discussed here)

Three reports concerned terrorism:

Palestinian jailed for murder of Israeli teenagers (discussed here)

The lost sons (discussed here)

Palestinian groups face $218m Israel attacks fine in US (discussed here)

Three reports related to damage to buildings in the Gaza Strip resulting from last summer’s conflict and the slow pace of reconstruction:

Gaza resident: ‘Everyone has forgotten us’ – Lyse Doucet (discussed here)

Caught in a wasteland: Gaza six months after the ceasefire  – Lyse Doucet (discussed here)

Banksy artwork appears on the streets and walls of Gaza – Rushdi Abualouf (discussed here)

Two reports concerned Palestinian Islamic Jihad rearmament:

Palestinian Islamic Jihad have rearmed and replenished ranks and Inside Gaza’s tunnels, militants get ready for the next war – Quentin Sommerville (discussed here)

One article was about an Amnesty International report on the subject of Hamas war crimes:

Amnesty: Hamas rocket attacks amounted to war crimes

Examples of reports ostensibly covering Palestinian stories but used as a hook for political messaging include a feature by Yolande Knell on Christmas in Bethlehem, an article by Yolande Knell on Palestinian democracy, a sports article and a report about a protest in Ramallah.Knell Democracy Day art

The town with three Christmas Days – Yolande Knell (discussed here)

How Palestinian democracy has failed to flourish – Yolande Knell (discussed here)

Palestine lose 4-0 to Japan in first Asian Cup match (discussed here)

Canada’s foreign minister egged in Ramallah by protesters and Palestinians throw eggs at Canada’s John Baird (discussed here)

Just three of the reports appearing on the BBC News website during the first quarter of 2015 can be said to give audiences some sort of glimpse into Palestinian social issues.  In “Saving Gaza’s only grand piano” Tim Whewell briefly touches on the issue of attitudes towards music:

“but with […] a steady growth of conservatism in local society, such performances became a thing of the past. After the Islamist militant movement, Hamas, took over the Gaza Strip in 2007, live music events became even rarer.”

And:

“The music school has existed for seven years, discreetly hidden away inside the Gaza headquarters of the Palestinian Red Crescent. It operates only in the evenings but provides a rare space for music in a society where some reject it as haram – forbidden by God.”

The BBC Monitoring report titled “Palestinian paper apologises over ‘Muhammad cartoon'” includes a brief description of what it deems to be the prevalent social attitude on that topic and the Palestinian Authority’s reaction.

Whilst Rushdi Abualouf informs readers of his article titled “Can music help to de-stigmatise disability in Gaza?” that “despite the high prevalence of people with disabilities in the territory, disabled children are still shrouded in social stigma” he refrains from informing readers about the relevant topic of congenital disabilities – instead focusing their attentions on ‘the conflict’ as a cause of disability.

“The tiny territory has been blighted by successive conflicts between Palestinian militants and Israel, which have had serious physical and psychological impacts on the population.

It’s estimated that between 126,000 and 270,000 members of the population in Gaza are disabled, according to a 2012 report by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, and the 50-day conflict last summer has left many more with a long-term or permanent impairment.”

Palestinian paper apologises over ‘Muhammad cartoon’

Can music help to de-stigmatise disability in Gaza?  – Rushdi Abualouf

Saving Gaza’s only grand piano – Tim Whewell

However, visitors to the BBC News website during the first quarter of 2015 learned nothing substantial about the ongoing animosity between ‘unity government’ partners Hamas and Fatah which continues to deter international donors from contributing to reconstruction in the Gaza Strip. They were also not informed of the resignation of the unity government’s deputy prime minister or of allegations of human rights abuses by Hamas and a PA crackdown on social media users and journalists. The topic of Hamas’ rearming and reorganization was only briefly mentioned in a couple of BBC reports with no serious attempt made to explore that obviously important issue.  And of course the topic of the long overdue elections for both the Palestinian legislative body and president remain a no-go area for BBC journalists – along with subjects such as women’s rights, gay rights and the rights of religious minorities.

As the BBC’s World Editor acknowledged last year, the fact that it has permanent offices in Gaza, Ramallah and Jerusalem – as well as an entire Arabic-speaking division – means that the BBC is better placed than most if not all Western media organisations to provide its audiences with quality in-depth journalism which goes beyond the usual flat-pack reports on the subject of ‘the conflict’. So whilst there is already a way, what appears to be lacking is a will – and the question the corporation’s funding public must be asking is why. 

Another BBC report on Iran framework agreement stays on message

On April 12th the US & Canada and Middle East pages of the BBC News website ran an article titled “Iran nuclear deal: Obama says US partisanship gone too far“. The report’s main subject matter is remarks made by the US President at the recent ‘Summit of the Americas’ in Panama.Obama partisanship art

“US President Barack Obama has said that partisanship over the Iran nuclear deal has gone too far.

He rebuked the stance of some Republicans in the US Congress. […]

President Obama, speaking after a regional conference in Panama, said he remained “absolutely positive” that the deal was the surest way to prevent Iran obtaining nuclear arms. […]

Mr Obama said that entrenched partisanship was no way to run foreign policy.”

In order to be able to reach an informed opinion on the topic of the US President’s claims of “partisanship”, BBC audiences clearly need to have enough information to judge whether or not the reservations regarding the framework agreement between the P5+1 and Iran expressed in many quarters have any factual basis.  

Unfortunately, the BBC’s coverage of the framework agreement to date (see related articles below) has refrained from informing them of the existence of an Iranian factsheet presenting a version of the terms of the agreement which differs markedly from the factsheet on the same topic produced by the US State Department – which has in contrast been extensively promoted by the BBC. Similarly, the range of opinions on the subject, as expressed by commentators including researchers, diplomats and scientists, has been excluded from BBC News website coverage.

That means that when readers of this article are told that “one of those criticised by the president – Senator John McCain – said that there were discrepancies between US and Iranian versions of the deal” and “he [McCain] argued on Saturday that discrepancies between US and Iranian versions of the deal extended to inspections, sanctions relief and other key issues”, they are not in a position to know whether McCain’s appraisal of the two documents is correct or not and hence whether his criticism is indeed nothing more than “entrenched partisanship”.

This article also tells readers that:

“The deal aims to prevent Tehran making a nuclear weapon in exchange for phased sanction relief. […]

Earlier, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that a final agreement must result in an immediate end to all sanctions.

President Obama said on Saturday that Mr Khamenei was simply addressing his own country’s internal politics.

“Even a guy with the title ‘Supreme Leader’ has to be concerned about his own constituencies,” he said.”

The BBC makes no effort to point out to readers that – despite the US President’s reassurances – many observers are concerned about the implications of Iran’s obviously different reading of the framework agreement on the ability to implement a final deal.

And whilst the BBC has, as noted above, heavily and exclusively promoted the US administration’s version of the framework agreement in its coverage of this subject, it has to date made no effort to provide audiences with objective and informed appraisal of its content. One such appraisal was recently published by the Institute for Science and International Security.

“The recent nuclear framework between the P5+1 and Iran was neither written nor published as a collective document. Instead, France, Iran, and the United States have each written “Fact Sheets” describing the various agreed provisions in the framework. The French one has not been made public. However, the U.S. and Iranian versions differ significantly in key elements such as sanctions relief or include different provisions. The U.S. Fact Sheet is the most detailed of the two public ones. In briefings by U.S. officials involved in the negotiations, they have stated that during the negotiations Iran agreed to every provision listed in the U.S. Fact Sheet. Therefore, in this analysis, we base our comments on the U.S. Fact Sheet and assume that these provisions are accurate. […]

…our overall assessment is that this complicated framework has some excellent provisions (such as those relating to the Arak reactor), several that are inadequate as currently described (enrichment and centrifuge research and development limitations), and several that cannot be judged at this time because they remain to be further negotiated. […]

However, the negotiations are not over; many difficult challenges must be overcome in order to arrive at a final deal. Our goal remains obtaining an adequate deal. To do so, a key goal of the negotiations remains a final deal which provides confidence of the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program and ensures sufficient reaction time, namely, enough time to respond diplomatically and internationally to stop Iran if it does decide to renege on its commitments and build nuclear weapons. According to Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman, “We must be confident that any effort by Tehran to break out of its obligations will be so visible and time-consuming that the attempt would have no chance of success.” That goal must be at the core of any agreement. Overall, however, we do not assess that this essential goal has yet been achieved.”

The BBC can of course continue to portray this topic to its audiences by means of blinkering reporting which promotes one approach alone and excludes any meaningful presentation of information and views which dissent from those presented by the US administration. Or – as required by its public purpose remit – it can begin to tell its funding public the whole story so that they can reach informed opinions on this particular international issue.  

Related Articles:

Did the BBC News website’s reporting on the P5+1 framework agreement with Iran tell the whole story?

BBC audiences still getting cherry-picked information on Iran framework agreement

More spin than a centrifuge: BBC report on Khamenei nuclear deal speech