HMD edition of BBC One’s ‘The Big Questions’ not exempt from political propaganda

A tweet sent from the account of BBC One’s “moral, ethical and religious debate” programme ‘The Big Questions’ on January 25th has understandably caused something of a stir.

Big Questions tweet

In fact, the provocative question posed in that promotion was not the “one big question” discussed in the edition of the programme broadcast on the same day as readers unable to access BBC iPlayer can see for themselves below. No less contentious than the wording of that tweet was the fact that the programme’s subject matter was allowed to be exploited for opportunistic promotion of political propaganda by Nira Yuval-Davis of the University of East London.

“And part of the problem that we see is that on the one hand we see how Israel is using – very cynically unfortunately – this very important memory of the Holocaust. […]

[…] the fact [is] that the prime minister of Israel, whenever there is a diplomatic visit, he’s taking people to Yad Vashem – the memorial museum – and in order to show them this [is] what happened to Jews in the Holocaust as a preventative measure for any critique of Israeli policies.”

To be clear, the people sitting on the front row are invited guests and like all panel members appearing on ‘The Big Questions’ they would have been ‘vetted’ by the production team before their appearance on live television. That means that Nicky Campbell and his team must have known full well that they had invited an anti-Zionist, BDS-supporting proponent of the notion of the establishment of Israel as a project of “settler-colonialism” to appear on the panel of the edition of their programme advertised as part of the BBC’s Holocaust Memorial Season.

 

 

 

Should BBC News allow its agenda to be dictated by social media?

December 28th saw the appearance of a filmed report in the technology section of the BBC News website (also apparently shown on that day’s edition of BBC Breakfast on BBC One and the BBC News channel) under the title “What news event got us tweeting and posting in 2014?“.

Regarding what he described as “the top three news events shared on social media this year”, presenter Graham Satchell told audiences:

“At [number] three, the month-long bombardment of Gaza: a conflict with Israel seemingly without end.”

Those words were presented with a background of two images: notably both black and white photographs whilst the rest of the report is of course in colour.

Satchell filmed image 1

Satchell filmed image 2

No further context was provided. Probably much like the Tweets and posts which made this topic the third most shared of the year, Satchell’s report made no effort to inform audiences that “bombardment” of Israeli villages, towns and cities also took place throughout the fifty days of the conflict or that what led to its outbreak were over 280 incidents of missile fire by Gaza Strip based terrorist organisations at Israeli civilian targets between June 14th and July 8th and the later discovery of cross-border tunnels constructed for the purpose of terror attacks.

Social media is of course by nature both superficial and easily manipulated to create a level of ‘noise’ way beyond the actual significance of a story by focusing on its eye-catching sound-bites alone. How many of the Tweets and posts which placed the “bombardment of Gaza” in third place actually originated from a small number of political activists and how such activism serves the interests of Hamas’ PR war is not a topic which Satchell saw fit to address.

Satchell stated:

“What we like, share is now influencing everything – including the news.”

That of course can only be the case if news services allow social media to influence their agenda. Among the questions BBC audiences may be asking is why they even need the mainstream media to act as an intermediary between them and what they can already discover for themselves (for free) and do they actually want the content provided by their news service to be dictated by the Tweets and Facebook posts of interest groups and anonymous subscribers to those services and others.

The BBC’s contract with its funding public obliges it to “inform, educate and entertain“. The issue of whether context-free amplification of topics popular on social media – as seen in this report – can be said to meet the terms of that remit is one which readers are invited to discuss in the comments below.

One to watch: BBC’s Panorama on ‘The War of the Tunnels’

An edition of ‘Panorama’ titled “The War of the Tunnels” – which has already been postponed twice for reasons unknown – is now scheduled for broadcast on BBC One on Monday, September 15th with repeats on the BBC News channel and BBC Two as shown below.

Panorama Corbin

The programme’s synopsis states:

“For seven weeks Hamas rockets roared over the border into Israel while Israeli bombs pounded Gaza. Panorama’s Jane Corbin goes deep into the underground tunnels where battles have been fought to investigate the war that has devastated Gaza.

What has each side really gained in this war and can there be a solution to the conflict which is fuelling hatred and fear all over the world?”

As readers are no doubt aware, Jane Corbin’s previous Israel-related documentaries have included the January 2010 programme titled “A Walk in the Park” which was extremely problematic and generated numerous complaints.  

In August of the same year Jane Corbin produced another documentary titled “Death in the Med” which related to the May 2010 ‘Mavi Marmara’ incident in which anti-Israel activists attacked soldiers trying to prevent the ship of that name from breaching the naval blockade. In that case Corbin’s reporting was considerably more accurate and impartial but nevertheless was the subject of complaints – partially at least as the result of an organized campaign by the PSC.

Assuming that “The War of the Tunnels” is finally aired, it will be interesting to see which of the above styles of reporting it more resembles.

Update:

It would appear that this programme’s broadcast in the UK has been cancelled yet again with the BBC One Panorama webpage currently informing visitors that “There are no upcoming broadcasts of this programme”. However, viewers of BBC World News not located in either the Middle East or Europe will apparently now (perhaps) be able to watch the programme on September 20th and 21st.

Panorama update

 

 

 

 

 

 

BBC One serves up BDS at Breakfast

h/t AL

It is not unusual to see Hollywood actors appearing on television shows as part of the promotion of their latest film and so the March 26th interview with Samuel L. Jackson and Scarlett Johansson on BBC One’s ‘Breakfast’ was unremarkable – until presenter Louise Minchin decided to re-route the hitherto light-hearted chat by throwing in some out-of-context global politics. BBC One Breakfast

The interview can be viewed here for a limited period of time.

At 4:42 Minchin asks Johansson:

“And just on a serious note before we go on – and I know you’ve got to go – with regards to what happened with SodaStream; will it change your view on what you choose to do – the way you make choices – in the future?”

After the interview ended, audiences were informed by Minchin (not shown in the above clip) that SodaStream has a factory in a ‘Jewish settlement’ in the ‘occupied territories’.

In other words, the BBC’s amplification of the PR of the anti-peace BDS campaign continues – even with your cornflakes.

Related Articles:

BBC News recycles second-hand SodaStream slur, fails to explain BDS

BBC’s ‘Today’ programme ‘should know better’ than to engage in covert promotion of the PSC’s agenda

BBC displays its campaigning colours in SodaStream story coverage

Oxfam’s Ben Phillips on BBC Two’s ‘Newsnight’

 

 

 

 

 

 

BBC’s Simpson mainstreams trope used by anti-Israel campaigners

On September 30th the BBC News website published two items by World Affairs Editor John Simpson. One of them was a filmed report titled “Has the world order changed?” which was broadcast on the BBC 1 programme “The Editors” and also appeared on the website’s Middle East page.

Simpson filmed

On the same date, a written version of that report – titled “September 2013: The month America’s ‘moral mission’ ended” – was also published on the BBC News website. 

Simpson written

In that article Simpson writes: [emphasis added]

“Have we, perhaps, just witnessed a moment like that in 1975, when the Americans evacuated Saigon and their power in South East Asia was brought to a close?

That may be going too far. As the international protector of Israel, the US will still have a major part to play in the central dispute in the region, even though the Israeli tail usually seems to wag the American dog.”

Simpson 3

As has already been pointed out, there is something very revealing in the fact that Simpson – and presumably his editors – are still pushing the line that the Arab-Israeli conflict is the “central dispute in the region” after nearly three years of turmoil in the Middle East.

No less notable is the fact that the country Simpson describes as “the international protector of Israel” has – along with its British allies – recently opted for a policy on Syria which halts the decline of the Assad/Iran/Hizballah conglomerate in that country – and legitimizes it – as well as taking the pressure off an overstretched Hizballah in Lebanon. 

But what of Simpson’s totally unnecessary use of the ‘tail and dog’ phrase?  That of course has undertones of classic “Jewish lobby” antisemitism. Taking a look at who else uses that idiom we find it, for example, on websites such as the Iranian regime’s ‘Press TV’ by antisemitic conspiracy theorist Mark Glenn of the ‘Crescent and Cross Solidarity Movement’. 

We also find the same phrase used on the Far-Left website ‘Solidarity‘, by anti-Israel campaigners Kathleen and Bill Christison, on the anti-Israel blog ‘Mondoweiss‘ and on Russia’s government radio station ‘The Voice of Russia’.

Is that really the sort of ideological company the ‘impartial’ BBC thinks its World Affairs Editor should be keeping?

Related articles:

Antisemitic Dogs and Denying Antisemitism

BBC’s Simpson misleads on potential US targets in Syria

A BBC template response to complaints

 

BBC’s Bowen downplays Iran’s nuclear programme

On May 20th 2013 the BBC One programme The Editors included a filmed report by Jeremy Bowen which was also promoted on the Middle East page of the BBC News website and by BBC World News on its Youtube channel. 

BBC 1 The Editors

Bowen The Editors

Bowen’s report is – interestingly – titled “Will Israel bomb Iran because of nuclear threat?”. He does not appear to be interested in getting his audience to think too much about the no less relevant counter question: will Iran bomb Israel? The item’s synopsis states:

“Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen explores what might happen if Iran continues with its nuclear programme.

Iran insists it does not want nuclear weapons but Israel and the United States refuse to believe its denials.

Our correspondent visits Israel and finds a widespread fear and distrust of Iran.

Could it be that Israel and the US will launch a pre-emptive strike against Iran, possibly launching a wider Middle East conflict?”

Right at the beginning of the video – at 0:21 – Bowen makes sure to inform viewers:

“Iran says it doesn’t want nuclear weapons. Israel already has them.”

Tellingly, Bowen makes no attempt to provide any sort of evidence to back the claim that Iran is not engaged in a military nuclear programme – beyond repeating regime statements. Obviously, the level of international activity surrounding the subject means that – unlike Bowen – those familiar with the subject are less inclined to take the rhetoric of a theocratic dictatorship at face value. 

At 1:06 Bowen – in a very interesting choice of location at the Yad Mordechai Holocaust Museum – says:

“These days Israel is the most powerful country in the Middle East. But history makes some Israelis feel insecure.”

The theme of Israel as the most powerful country in the region is one of Bowen’s stock favourites, repeated in a variety of differing contexts. Quite how he defines “powerful” and the relevance of such a description in the context of Israel being surrounded on numerous borders by terrorist non-state actors backed by other regional powers is irrelevant. Bowen wants his audiences to reach the conclusion that Israeli concerns about Iran’s nuclear designs are exaggerated, irrational and even hysterical – with roots in the traumas of the past – and he implies that, inter alia, through his choice of location. 

At 1:42 we find Bowen in Kibbutz Nachal Oz – situated right on the border with the Gaza Strip. With absolutely no relevance to the subject matter of the report, Bowen gratuitously states:

“In the twenty years or so that I’ve been crossing this border many more Palestinians than Israelis have been killed.”

He continues:

“But Israelis here, including Yael Lachiani, say Iran is now making it more dangerous for their families.”

In other words, audiences are given to understand that Iranian material and financial support to the terrorist organization Hamas is more a matter of Israeli opinion than cold, internationally recognised fact. They are also encouraged – by a man who is supposed to be an expert on the region – to relate to the subject of casualty numbers as an indicator of threat and danger, without any contextualisation of the intent behind those numbers. 

Bowen’s speculations – and that is all they really are – regarding the likelihood of what he terms “a wider Middle East war as a result of an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities” are notable not just because of the fact that they bring no new information to BBC audiences. The really remarkable aspect of this report is its deliberate blinkeredness: its wiping out of the equation the threat which Iran presents to Gulf countries and Saudi Arabia, its failure to place Iranian nuclear aspirations within the context of the wider Sunni – Shi’a conflict taking place right now on the Syrian, Iraqi and Lebanese stages and its underlying suggestion that there is not already a “wider Middle East war” going on at present.

But for Bowen it is enough that his audiences go away with the impression that if, as he states, “war becomes more likely”, it will be the “powerful” Israelis – spurred on to no small extent by hysteria and an irrational “widespread fear and distrust of Iran” – who are to blame for that. 

BBC justifies anti-Israel campaign slogans as “a form of expression”

Readers may remember that last month we reported here on the subject of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s Tony Greenstein being allowed to take part in the BBC One programme ‘The Big Questions’ on February 3rd whilst wearing clothing and a badge displaying political slogans. 

The Big Question

Tony Greenstein wearing PSC shirt and badge, front row right

A member of the public who saw fit to complain to the BBC on that subject has kindly sent us a copy of the reply received from the BBC complaints department. 

Thanks for contacting us regarding The Big Questions on 3 February.

Please accept our apologies for the delay in replying. We know our
correspondents appreciate a quick response and are sorry you’ve had to
wait on this occasion.

We understand you felt contributor Tony Greenstein appeared in this
programme while inappropriately wearing a political campaign jersey
with a political slogan and badges visible.

Tony Greenstein’s background and political stance was mentioned when
he was referred to as: “Tony Greenstein, founder of the Palestine
Solidarity Campaign…”

Although his t-shirt did contain a political slogan and badges, these
were only really visible in passing when the camera was on long shots
or panning around.

It’s important also to remember the programme is a debate programme;
Tony Greenstein was expressing his views on Israel and the
Palestinians, as were other contributors, so his clothing was another
form of expression in this regard.

His views were clearly expressed verbally, and the programme heard
many other views from other contributors.

Nevertheless, we’ve registered your comments on our audience log. This
is the internal report of audience feedback we compile daily for the
programme makers and senior management within the BBC. The audience
logs are important documents that can help shape future decisions and
they ensure that your points, and all other comments we receive, are
made available to BBC staff across the Corporation.

Thanks again for contacting us.

Kind Regards

Stuart Webb

BBC Complaints

The BBC must surely be aware of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s record of support for Hamas and other terror organizations, as well as the controversy surrounding members of some of its various branches and Holocaust denial. It must also be aware that PSC officials have collaborated with Interpal (linked to the ‘Union of Good’ which is headed by the virulent anti-Semite and homophobe Yusuf Qaradawi) and that its director Sarah Colborne was aboard the IHH ship the Mavi Marmara in 2010 when Islamist passengers attacked the IDF soldiers boarding the ship to stop it from breaking the naval blockade intended to prevent arms running to terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip and that Colborne was active in the organization of the 2012 ‘Global March to Jerusalem’ together with members of Hamas and Hizbollah and representatives of the Iranian regime. 

Despite that, the BBC continues to invite a member of the extremist PSC to take part in ‘debate’ and – we now learn – even allows him to wear apparel promoting that terror-supporting organization as “a form of expression”.

Apparently, the fact that such “expression” might be offensive to the many people around the world – not just Israelis – who have lost loved ones in terror attacks perpetrated by the very organisations with which the PSC collaborates does not concern the BBC.

As we remarked at the time:

“..we can perhaps now anticipate seeing guests on BBC programmes wearing Combat 18 T shirts, EDL scarves, anti-Gay badges or anti-Muslim hats.” 

After all, the BBC’s obligation to impartiality would suggest that if members of the PSC are invited to debates and allowed to “express” themselves in this way, then other extremist organisations which also promote the abolition of the rights of certain groups of people on the basis of their ethnicity, colour, gender, religion or sexual orientation should surely also be granted similar access to this “form of expression”.

That, fortunately, is not going to happen, but this response from the BBC complaints department does show the depth of the corporation’s denial regarding the extremism of the PSC and the way in which intolerance which would not be countenanced by the BBC in relation to any other ethnic, religious or national group is promoted and given mainstream legitimacy by a publicly funded organization in 21st century Britain. 

BBC’s ‘The Big Questions’ prompts big questions about its impartiality

On Sunday, February 3rd 2013, the BBC One weekly debate programme ‘The Big Questions’ asked “Is criticising Israel anti-Semitic?”.  Those in the UK can watch the programme on BBC iPlayer for a limited period of time whilst those elsewhere can see a video of the relevant portion of the programme at the bottom of this article.

Beyond noting the sterling contributions of Rabbi Yitzchak Schochet ,Tom Wilson of Stand for Peace and the young man in the beige sweater, I am going to leave commentary on the programme itself to you, the reader, in the comments below.

But what I would like to raise here is this:

The Big Question

The anti-Zionist Palestine Solidarity Campaign founder Tony Greenstein (front row, right) was permitted to take part in this programme whilst wearing a ‘Free Palestine’ T shirt with a clearly visible slogan and a Palestine Solidarity Campaign badge. 

Having participated in this programme myself a few years ago – also alongside Greenstein – I know that the programme’s producers at that time stated very clearly (when Greenstein then tried to get into the studio wearing an over-sized ‘Boycott Israeli Goods’ lapel badge) that clothing, badges or suchlike with a political message were not to be worn by anyone participating in the show. 

It may be that the BBC’s regulations on that subject have since been relaxed, in which case we can perhaps now anticipate seeing guests on BBC programmes wearing Combat 18 T shirts, EDL scarves, anti-Gay badges or anti-Muslim hats. 

If that is not the case, then someone on The Big Questions production team has some other big questions to answer, because the promotion of publicity for an organisation which supports and enables a genocide-aspiring, antisemitic terror group responsible for the deaths, injury and maiming of thousands of Israelis (particularly in a discussion which touches on the Holocaust and antisemitism) on licence fee-funded television is clearly way beyond the pale and severely compromises the BBC’s reputation for impartiality. 

BBC’s ‘Question Time’ features uninterrupted anti-Israel misinformation

The November 22nd 2012 edition of the BBC’s ‘Question Time’, which raised much controversy, is available here for UK viewers only. 

The part of the programme which – judging from our inbox – many found offensive and objectionable was the two minute and eighteen second uninterrupted diatribe of lies, misrepresentation and distortions by ‘The Independent’ columnist Owen Jones

It is one thing to promote ‘robust debate’ between differing viewpoints – an essential part of any democratic society.

It is quite another for an institution charged with making sure it “gives information about, and increases understanding of, the world through accurate and impartial news, other information, and analysis of current events and ideas” to allow a torrent of misinformation to pass without correction by the BBC presenter managing the debate.

In order to understand the significance of the BBC’s inaction in this and many other cases of anti-Israel propaganda being passed off as ‘opinion’, it is sufficient to see who is now promoting the BBC-sanitized clip above – some examples here, here and here.