BBC World News’ Dani Sinha to Israeli minister: ‘why are you killing innocent people?’

We have previously documented here some of the BBC News website’s efforts to distort chronology with regard to the events which brought an end to the ceasefire which was supposed to expire at midnight on August 19th but was violated by terrorists in the Gaza Strip some eight and a half hours beforehand. Those efforts are not however confined to the website.

Below is an interview with Israel’s Minister of the Economy on BBC World News on August 20th. Presenter Dani Sinha gave a taste of things to come in the following Tweet.

Tweet Dani Sinha

Of note are Sinha’s jaw-droppingly ignorant questions and her promotion of Hamas terminology.

“Why did you choose this particular time then, or this particular moment, to end the ceasefire? After all, there have been other occasions when Hamas have fired rockets.”

Even after having been told that it was Hamas which violated the truce, she continues to promote her own revisionist version of events.

“Some will though question the timing of course when you ended the ceasefire – or indeed whether you say Hamas ended this ceasefire – because of course it does coincide with your strike – the Israeli airstrike – on a top Hamas commander.”

In actual fact, the strike on the Al Dalou house took place at 21:59: six and a half hours after the truce had been violated by the firing of three missiles at the Be’er Sheva district and also after at least four additional barrages of missile and mortar fire at Netivot, Hof Ashkelon and communities near the Gaza Strip border.

Sinha’s next ‘question’ is as follows:

“Let’s talk about the people though who are being killed because whatever way you look at this there are an unequal number of casualties. More than two thousand Palestinians killed; mostly civilians. That’s against 66 Israelis; mostly military. Well the figures just don’t add up. Why are you killing innocent people?”

We next see what happens when a journalist with no military understanding tries to pretend otherwise.

“When the ceasefire actually started though, you said that you’d destroyed all you needed to destroy regarding the tunnels. Does this mean that your operation has now failed?”

“Why did the talks then fail in Cairo? Your delegation have now gone home.”

And then a bit of promotion of inaccurate Hamas terminology: 

“Hamas want you to lift the siege. I mean why is it so difficult for Israel to do that if it will bring about peace?”

Apparently the BBC does not think that audiences have had enough of the “news presenter aggressively promoting her own political agenda regardless of the facts” party trick.  

Related Articles:

BBC Newsnight’s Emily Maitlis to Israeli spokesman: “You killed them”

Not enough Israelis killed by “home-made contraptions” for BBC’s Mishal Husain


BBC’s Bowen promotes accusations of Israeli ‘war crimes’

On July 14th the BBC News website’s Middle East page promoted a filmed report by Jeremy Bowen under the title “Israel-Gaza conflict enters seventh day” which was also aired on the BBC World News programme ‘Newsday’.Bowen 14 7 Newsday Sourani

In that report the PCHR’s Raji Sourani is once again given a BBC platform from which to promote his unproven allegations.

Bowen: “Back in Gaza in the bombed fishing port, Raji Sourani – a Palestinian human rights campaigner – said Israel’s tactic of destroying the homes of men it says are Hamas fighters guarantees it will also kill non-combatants: neighbours, families, children.”

Sourani: “They know they committed war crimes, crimes against humanity – and deliberately. Intending to destroy houses where civilians living in it that’s totally illegal in a clear-cut way Geneva Convention article 52 paragraph 3.”

Bowen makes no effort to inform viewers that Sourani’s interpretation of Article 52 is less than “clear-cut” with regard to buildings used, for example, as weapons stores or missile launching sites.  

Seeing as this report is the fourth item of BBC content in less than a week which has promoted assorted unproven accusations made by Raji Sourani of the PCHR and seeing as the BBC does not apparently consider it necessary to wait for any kind of investigation or proof before broadcasting and amplifying Sourani’s grave accusations concerning the ‘deliberate targeting of civilians’, ‘war crimes’ or ‘crimes against humanity’, it is obviously imperative to take a closer look at the record of Mr Sourani and his organization.

That necessity is further compounded by the fact that as was recently revealed here, the UN OCHA civilian casualty figures which the BBC is currently quoting across the board are based on information coming from three primary sources, one of which is Mr Sourani’s PCHR.

Founded in Gaza City in 1995, the PCHR rejects the Oslo Accords and promotes the ‘right of return’ for Palestinian refugees. It consistently refers to the IDF as IOF (‘Israel Occupation Force’) and engages in‘lawfare’ – including lobbying against the changes made to the ‘universal jurisdiction’ law by the British Parliament. The PCHR also engages in the use of the ‘apartheid’ trope and accusations of the ‘Judaisation’ of Jerusalem and ‘ethnic cleansing’. In 2000 the PCHR described Hizballah as “the legitimate Lebanese resistance against Israeli occupation in Lebanon”, comparing the Iranian-backed terror organization to the French Resistance during World War II. In 2010 the PCHR claimed that the rededication of the restored Hurva Synagogue in Jerusalem (destroyed by the Jordanian Arab Legion in 1948) was a “war crime”. 

After Operation Cast Lead in 2008/9 the PCHR alleged that “1,167 non-combatants (82.2%) and 252 resistance activists (17.8%)” were killed. As is well known, even the Hamas Minister of the Interior later admitted that between 600 and 700 of the casualties were members of Hamas and other terrorist groups; figures which matched the Israeli assessment of 709 casualties from terrorist factions.

Throughout that same operation, the PCHR put out statements claiming that Israel was committing “war crimes” and “crimes against humanity” and engaging in “collective punishment” and “indiscriminate killing”. When Richard Goldstone retracted the substance of his ‘Goldstone Report’ on Operation Cast Lead, Raji Sourani attributed that to a “psychological war orchestrated by Jewish and Israeli groups”.

After Operation Pillar of Defence in 2012, the PCHR claimed that 105 of 160 casualties were civilians. A study by the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Centre showed that 101 of 169 casualties identified (60%) belonged to terrorist organisations.

Readers no doubt recall the tragic incident in which the infant son of a BBC employee was killed in November 2012 by what the BBC – and the PCHR – claimed at the time was an Israeli airstrike.

“…an Israeli warplane fired a missile at a house… Two members of the family (a woman and a toddler) were killed: Hiba Aadel Fadel al-Masharawi, 19, and Omar Jihad al-Masharawi, 11 months.  Additionally, a child from the same family was wounded”.

A UN HRC report later determined that the deaths had been caused by a short-falling missile fired by one of the terrorist organisations in the Gaza Strip.Bowen 14 7 Newsday PCHR pic

In short, the record of Mr Sourani and his organization clearly shows a distinct lack of reliability and objectivity, as well as clear political motivation behind figures provided, statements given and accusations made. Whilst many people may perhaps expect nothing less from an organization which operates under the assumed mantle of ‘human rights’ whilst inviting a leader from an internationally designated terrorist organization to one of its conferences, for the BBC (and UN OCHA) the penny has obviously not yet dropped.

Mind you, that may well be explained by Bowen’s closing statement in this report.

“Smoke from burning buildings spread across Gaza as Palestinians buried men they said were fighting in a legitimate resistance. Israel calls them terrorists.”

So does the United States, the European Union, Canada and Japan – as the BBC’s own profile of Hamas clearly states and as any journalist with integrity would report. In addition, Jordan and Egypt have banned Hamas and Australia designates Hamas’ Izz al Din Al Qassam Brigades as a terrorist organization, as do New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

The irreversible damage being done by Jeremy Bowen to the BBC’s reputation as a provider of accurate and impartial news over the last five days since his arrival in the Gaza Strip continues to pile up. 



BBC World News’ Maryam Moshiri amplifies PA spin

The political spin promoted by the Palestinian Authority after the kidnapping of Eyal Yifrach, Naftali Frenkel and Gil-ad Sha’ar on June 12th, and the subsequent launch of the search for the abducted teenagers throughout Judea & Samaria, included in its early days two very specific claims.BBC WN

One of those claims, made the day after the abductions on June 13th, was that the Palestinian unity government could not be held responsible for a kidnapping which took place in Area C.

“Adnan Dmeiri said the PA was not responsible for the safety of settlers [sic] and had no way to prevent the possible kidnapping of the teenagers. […]

Dmeiri was quoted as saying that the PA had no information about the missing settlers [sic], noting that Gush Etzion, the settlement [sic] from which the teenagers are believed to have disappeared, “is under Israeli security control.” “

The other inaccurate claim – made by the PUG spokesman Ehab Bessaiso on June 15th and later repeated by other PA officials – was that the Israeli searches for three missing youths constitute “collective punishment” of the Palestinian population.

“Bessaiso also said that the detention of 80 people across the West Bank and the bombing of Gaza overnight constitute “collective punishment against the entire Palestinian people,” and called upon the “international community and all international human rights organizations to protect the Palestinian people against the Israeli escalation.” “

Interestingly, both those examples of misleading PA spin were amplified in a BBC World News broadcast on June 15th.

Interviewing former Ambassador Dr Dore Gold, presenter Maryam Moshiri said:

“We’re talking about three teenagers who’ve been abducted. We’re talking about the Israelis blaming the Palestinians, or at least passing some of the blame onto their door. How can the blame be there if the teenagers went missing in Israeli-controlled territory?”

Later on, Moshiri said:

“They [the PA] deny that. They say that the detention of eighty people across the West Bank is a collective punishment against the entire Palestinian people. I mean, they have a point, don’t they?”

And still later, Moshiri came up with the following bizarre statement-cum-question:

“But Dore Gold, you talk about any response necessary – what is that response going to take the shape of? I mean, you know, you’ve deployed your Iron Dome missile defence system near Gaza. Why have you done that? Are we going to see further military action now?

As readers will see in the video below, Dr Gold provided robust responses to Moshiri’s baseless assertions, but nevertheless it is of considerable interest that the statements and questions of a BBC World news presenter dove-tail so seamlessly with the PA propaganda messaging put out in the day or so beforehand.


BBC Click reports from Israel

Hats off to the BBC’s technology reporters – and specifically this time the BBC Click team – who have once again demonstrated howClick 31 5 news from Israel can be reported accurately, impartially and interestingly.

A special episode of Click (which appears on BBC News and BBC World News) broadcast on May 31st focused on the Israeli technology scene and included items on an unmanned flying ambulance, a device to enable a smartphone to be used as a thermal imaging camera and a hand-held cancer detector. Readers in the UK can view the whole show on BBC iPlayer and those elsewhere can view a preview here and see a filmed report on one of the items on the BBC News website’s technology page here.

In which the BBC’s Addis Ababa correspondent decides who is Jewish

Here’s a heart-breaking story which was broadcast on BBC World News television and promoted on the Middle East and Africa pages of the BBC News website on April 24th under the title “Ethiopia’s Jewish community divided“.

Falash Mura

Presenter Emmanuel Igunza reports:

“Shouts of praise for the holy scrolls but make no mistake; this is not Israel. Welcome to Gondar – an ancient historic city in northern Ethiopia and home to the Falash Mura: the last Jews of Ethiopia.  

They spend their days living according to Jewish tradition, passed onto them over hundreds of years. The tranquility here betrays the emotional turmoil that many feel, not able to join their families in Israel. Stories of siblings separated, children allowed to settle in the Jewish homeland while their parents remain behind. Under the Israeli government criteria, only those Falash Mura who can show evidence of Jewish ancestry on their mother’s side are allowed into Israel and granted citizenship.

The Jewish community here is big, numbering thousands, and right now they’re having one of their prayer sessions. But there has been disappointment in Gondar. Many hold the cherished idea of travelling to Israel but have not. But there is also a strong sense of determination to keep their faith strong and to make their lives much better.

Abamesh Takiv [?] is a project manager with a local NGO helping poor Ethiopian Jews. Like many who she lives and works with, Abamesh wants to join her family in Israel.

‘Our family was registered fifteen years ago to go to Israel. My entire family from my father’s side has gone and it is only me and my father who have remained. We really, really want to go. We have not given up hope. We continue to live in hope.’

More than five thousand Ethiopian Jews living in Gondar say they have relatives in Israel, but their attempts to go back to what they call their spiritual home have been futile. Last year Israeli authorities announced that they had completed the last major airlift of Ethiopians seeking a new home in Israel. But many here still pray for divine intervention for that day when they will be reunited with their families.”

The problem with Emmanuel Igunza’s story is that he has left out some very critical details, the most obvious one being that the Falash Mura are Christians whose Jewish ancestors were converted by Western missionaries from around the end of the nineteenth century.

Notably, in past articles concerning the Falash Mura, the BBC has reported the issue accurately. In this article from 2000, it states:

“They belong to the Falash Mura community – Jews who converted to Christianity generations ago.”

A BBC report from 2010 states:

“The Falash Mura’s ancestors converted to Christianity under pressure in the 19th Century and so are not eligible to emigrate under Israel’s Law of Return.”

Another article from 2013 states:

“The Falash Mura’s ancestors converted to Christianity under pressure in the 19th Century.”

Emmanuel Igunza, however, chooses to conceal from audiences the very issue which is at the root of the whole story and even takes it upon himself to define the religion of the people who are the subject of his report.

That enables him to turn the story into one of poor Ethiopian Jews rejected by Israel: an obviously superficial portrayal of a much more complex issue with which Israel has been wrestling for many years.

The framing of this story is of course particularly notable in light of other BBC reports on the Ethiopian community in Israel, not least the one by Paul Bakibinga which preceded Igunza’s item by a mere five days. Past BBC reports have not infrequently used the topic of the Ethiopian community as a hook upon which to hang none too subtle insinuations of Israel as a racist society which discriminates against immigrants from Ethiopia – see for example here and here. Now Emmanuel Igunza shows us that even Ethiopians in their native land can be used for the purpose of similar framing – just as long as certain crucial facts are made to disappear.  

What is missing from these two BBC Technology reports?

On May 9th an article appeared in the Technology section of the BBC News website under the title “Keepod: Can a $7 stick provide billions computer access?“. Its writer, Dan Simmons, also produced a filmed version of the report  titled “Keepod ‘magic drives’ put Nairobi’s children online” which appeared on the BBC World News programme ‘Click‘ on May 10th and 11th.Keepod filmed

Both reports are about a company called Keepod which has invented a USB flash drive with its own operating system, circumventing the need for a computer with a hard disk and storing all the user’s files for use on any available computer.

The only very round-about clue to the fact that Keepod is an Israeli start-up in the report’s written version is the following caption to one of the photographs used to illustrate it.

“Keepod is Hebrew for the word hedgehog. It is also a play on words, as it joins the English word “keep” with the Hebrew word “od”, meaning “everything”.”

‘Od’ actually means ‘more’ in Hebrew – not ‘everything’.

Keepod written pic

In the report’s filmed version, no mention at all is made of the fact that Keepod is an Israeli company and in neither report is the fact that the USB flash drive is an Israeli invention noted.


BBC News enables Hanan Ashrawi’s defamatory PLO propaganda fest

Within the framework of the BBC’s generous coverage of the Hamas-Fatah unity deal, BBC television news programmes aired an interview with one of the Palestinian officials who has been doing the media rounds  – Hanan Ashrawi. The interview, conducted by Zeinab Badawi, was also posted on the BBC News website on April 24th under the unambiguous title “Hanan Ashrawi: ‘Israel destroying peace talks’“.

The interview was also promoted on Twitter using similar language.

Ashrawi tweet

The synopsis to the interview as it appears on the website states:

“The Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, told the BBC he would never negotiate with a Palestinian authority that included Hamas, which he called a terrorist organisation committed to the destruction of Israel.” [emphasis added]

Hamas is of course recognized as a terrorist organization by numerous countries and its Charter clearly states its intentions with regard to the destruction of Israel. Neither of those issues – as this synopsis leads readers to believe – is exclusively the view of the Israeli prime minister.  

During the interview Ashrawi – with very little interference from Badawi – goes to great pains to try to convince audiences that the new ‘unity government’, the PLO and Hamas are all unconnected subjects.

Ashrawi: “What President Abbas and Fatah and the PLO did was to try to repair the political system, to reinvigorate the democratic system and practices in Palestine, to build an inclusive…err…pluralistic…err…democracy that will represent all the Palestinians in more ways than one and that will be able to deliver. Now that government, as I said, will be a government of independent professionals and of course the PLO will continue to negotiate on behalf of the Palestinians and anybody who joins it will be committed to the PLO programme to a two state solution and to peaceful settlement of the conflict and will honour all commitments.”

Badawi: “Alright. So basically Hanan Ashrawi…..OK….so you are basically saying that Hamas will not be part of a unity government in the future because if it were, as you know, that would trigger sanctions both from the Israelis and the Americans, on whom you depend for a great deal of aid.”

Unfortunately Badawi refrains from asking the crucial question of what will happen if elections take place as stated in six months’ time and this unelected “government of independent professionals” is replaced by one which includes Hamas. She does not ask exactly what such an unelected interim government will be “able to deliver” to the Palestinian people or what will happen if that “unity government” adopts policies at odds with those of the PLO. Neither does she press Ashrawi on the non-inclusive and non-democratic make-up of the PLO itself, with members of the Palestinian National Council – the PLO’s legislative body – being nominated by the PLO Executive Committee rather than by the ordinary Palestinian people. Likewise Badawi makes no attempt to unravel the obvious complications arising from the fact that Hamas – which won a significant proportion of the votes in the 2006 PLC elections – is not currently a member of the PLO. 

Instead, Badawi allows Ashrawi to distract audiences from the issue of Hamas’ terror designation with a smoke and mirrors tirade of defamation.Ashrawi interview

HA: “Now excuse me. I think the government we’re talking about is not a factional government – a government of representatives of political parties – but it is a government of independence that will deliver the required services; this is it. But too I don’t see why it is any of…emm…Netanyahu’s…Israel’s business or even America’s business to tell who’s acceptable and who’s not in a pluralistic political system. I can tell you I don’t want to talk to Lieberman or we don’t want to talk to Naftali Bennett. These are people who are either racist or settlers or who deny Palestinian rights or who reat us as sub-human species or who want to take all of historical Palestine for greater Israel. These are people who are in the Israeli government coalition and the Israeli government is responsible for an army that is daily killing Palestinians and yet they tell us that if we reconcile and if we repair our system and if we have elections, then that means we don’t want to negotiate. What about [unintelligible] settlements?”

In near-apologetic manner and folding quickly, Badawi replies:

ZB: “OK well I was asking you about the formation of a unity government that would include Hamas. I was just seeking your clarification on that.”

HA: “It’s a government of national accord.”

ZB: “So it may not have a Hamas..”

HA: “It’s a government of national accord.”

ZB: “Alright. I understand.”

HA: “No, there will be no card-carrying member of any faction or any party. That’s the government we have agreed to and everybody knows that. It’s no secret. And we’ve been striving for national unity because it is the responsibility of any leadership to repair this lethal rift that has weakened the Palestinians and of course the EU welcomed it.”

Expressing no interest in which ‘non-card-carrying’ personality is set to head the ‘unity government’ to be set up according to the Shati Reconciliation Agreement, Badawi says:

“Alright. Tell me briefly though….OK….briefly, do you accept though that President Abbas has basically given a hand up to Hamas, which has been looking pretty isolated and relatively weak, particularly since the ousting of President Mohammed Morsi in Egypt?”

HA: “Definitely Hamas has been weakened, but what President Abbas has done is he has responded to the Palestinian people’s persistent and vocal demands to go back to unity, to try to repair the system itself, to try to bring Hamas to the fold and to have elections – because we need elections badly and without Hamas we cannot have it – and to present Hamas as part of this fabric – the political fabric of the Palestinian system – rather than as an alternative to it.”

Again, Badawi does not use the opportunity to ask what will happen if Hamas once again wins the next election. She concludes by providing Ashrawi with yet another opportunity to promote PA political propaganda.

ZB: “Alright. In a quick word – are the peace talks dead then; in the future they may not be revived?”

HA: “I think Israel has done everything possible to destroy the peace talks, to sabotage the process itself, and I think this time its withdrawal from the talks – even though we still have a few days left till April 29th – is a clear signal that it’s looking for any pretext, any excuse, to undermine them and to bring them to an end while giving it a free hand to continue with its settlement activities, its siege of Gaza and its annexation of Jerusalem, plus reneging on its commitments and its signed agreements – particularly the release of Palestinian prisoners.”

Even the BBC must be aware that when the PA demanded the inclusion of Israeli Arabs among the list of terrorists to be released it knew exactly how that demand would endanger the talks.  Of course when Mahmoud Abbas signed applications to join various UN bodies in defiance of the ‘pre-nup’ agreement which facilitated the current round of negotiations, it was perfectly obvious that their continuation was in jeopardy. Likewise, the PA and the PLO were well aware in advance of the precise reactions that a ‘unity agreement’ with Hamas would bring from Israel and the international community. But Badawi makes no attempt to clarify those points to BBC audiences and instead allows them to go away with only Ashrawi’s unchallenged PLO propaganda.  

Once again the BBC makes a mockery of its commitment to “enable individuals to participate in the global debate on significant international issues”. 


Propaganda in the guise of art from the BBC News Gaza office

On April 4th a video report titled “Making art in the Gaza Strip: Mohammed al-Hawajri” appeared in the BBC News website’s ‘magazine’ section, on its main home page and on its Middle East page. The report was also apparently shown on the BBC World News programme GMT.

The synopsis to the video report as it appears on the website reads:

“The struggling artist is a stereotype that resonates throughout the world, but being a painter or sculptor in the Gaza Strip can be particularly challenging.

Mohammed al-Hawajri struggles to import the materials he needs because of border restrictions imposed by Israel and Egypt.

Mohammed has been asked to participate in international exhibitions but it is so difficult for him to get permission to export his work and leave the Palestinian territory that he is staging his latest show in Gaza City.

BBC News went to meet Mohammed al-Hawajri and find out about his work.” [emphasis added]

Artist GS

The voice over to the report is narrated by Hawajri himself. [emphasis added]

“I am very interested in modern art. These are pictures that I paint of my children. We are not sure about our future here but I have use a lot of colour to show that we have hope.

My name is Mohammed al Hawajri. I am Palestinian artist from the Gaza Strip. My work is very affected by the situation here. Because of the siege in Gaza artists cannot get materials that we need. So, sometimes I make a sculpture from animals’ bones. I have done some paintings with the spices. You can smell it. This one uses curry and cumin. This is another part of my idea that you should use different senses.

This is my new project. It is an installation work. We are filming about the siege in Gaza. It is a critical of the situation but in a humorous way. It’s called ‘the red carpet’. People who support us in Gaza cannot reach us in normal ways. So the only way to enter is from the sea. I am rolling out a red carpet to welcome them and show respect.

Like everyone in Gaza I find it very difficult to get permission to leave. We can only get out through Egypt or Israel. Some galleries in Europe have shown my art work and I get many invitations to travel. My new exhibition is being shown here in Gaza City.”

No context is provided in this report with regard to why a partial blockade on the Gaza Strip exists. The words ‘Hamas’, ‘terrorism’ and ‘missile attacks on Israeli civilians’ of course have no place in this piece of filmed propaganda. Neither are viewers made aware of the fact that restrictions on the import of materials to the Gaza Strip are confined solely to dual-use goods which can be used for the purpose of terrorism.

As the lively flow of Western politicians, activists and journalists to the Gaza Strip indicates, Hawajri’s claim that “the only way to enter is from the sea” is patently inaccurate. No explanation is offered as to why the Gaza Strip does not have a functioning airport and no mention is made of the fact that thousands of people exit the Gaza Strip via the Erez crossing alone every month or that there are no restrictions on exports from the territory.

And what of Hawajri himself? Well, according to his self-composed Twitter profile he has visited Jordan, Italy, France, Switzerland and Egypt. According to his profile on the website of the Al-Ma’mal Foundation for Contemporary Art, Hawajri visited Jerusalem, Alexandria in Egypt and Pescara in Italy in 2008 alone. An interview Hawajri gave to Ramallah Online in 2010 states:

“Although Mohammed has been fortunate to be granted permission to travel, owing to his higher status, it saddens him that so many of his peers are refused. “It is the most difficult thing. The denial of participation and transfer of their art, and also depriving them of the exchange of experience with artists of the world.” [...]

Al-Hawajri enjoys spending time abroad, but cannot stay away for long. “I like the freedoms in the West, but my thoughts and my art come from the crowded streets and markets of Gaza. Life is not natural, but my future is here”. “

According to his profile on the website of the artists collective to which he belongs, he was already working with animal bones in the year 1997 and with spices in 2002 – years before the Gaza Strip was declared a hostile entity in September 2007 and the partial blockade put in place due to the surge of terrorist activity after the violent Hamas coup. The choice of those media is therefore clearly not connected to any shortages of materials as the BBC’s report suggests.

Hawajri’s work is – according to his own description – political. Seven years after Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip he described one of his exhibitions in the following terms:

“In my latest project entitled Guernica-Gaza, I express the reality of the world and of the Palestinians, the life under Israeli occupation, racial segregation, violence, destruction, murder and assassination. [..]

I have chosen this title because of the similarities between the war in Gaza in 2008/2009 and the German aggression against Spain in 1937, during which the village of Guernica was destroyed.”

In this report the BBC News Gaza office has clearly self-conscripted to the promotion of a similar context-free cocktail of propaganda, art and politics which obviously flouts BBC editorial guidelines on accuracy and impartiality. 



‘Nice country you’ve got there’ Hague gets a soft ride on BBC’s ‘Hardtalk’

The February 6th edition of the BBC Two and BBC World News programme ‘Hardtalk’ featured presenter Stephen Sackur interviewing the British Foreign Secretary William Hague.

Most of the programme (which can be seen here) was dedicated to the subjects of Syria and to a lesser extent Afghanistan, but a segment towards the end related to what Sackur described as “important policy areas” and termed “Israel-Palestine”. 

That particular part of the programme was also aired separately on BBC News programmes and was in addition promoted on the BBC News website’s Middle East page

Sackur opened:

“The Americans, it seems, are going to publish their vision – their plan – for a two-state solution very soon. In getting ready for that, John Kerry warned the Israelis that if they reject this push for peace, he said, it is going to intensify calls for the isolation, for a boycott upon the Jewish state – upon Israel. Do you echo those sentiments? Do you see Israel’s isolation becoming more complete?”

William Hague: “Ah..he’s right to warn about that and I have warned Israeli leaders as well as Palestinians that much of the world will see this as the last chance at a two-state solution. You know, if John Kerry – and I really pay tribute to John Kerry and to the energy and the commitment that he has put into this – and many observers will say, if it doesn’t work – that if John Kerry with all of the weight of the United States, all his experience and standing in the Middle East and the world – cannot bring the two sides together to reach final status agreements, then who can?

SS: “But in talking of isolation of Israel, Kerry put Israeli government ministers’ backs up. One – Yuval Steinitz who was on my programme recently – he said in response to Kerry’s words: ‘Kerry is holding a gun to Israel’s head’. Is the EU, with its own boycott of Israeli businesses that have operations in occupied territory, is the EU putting a gun to Israel’s head?”

WH: “We don’t – just to be clear – we don’t have boycotts; we have guidelines.”

SS: “But you’re blocking loans and grants to….”

WH: “That is a different thing from a boycott. We’re not putting a gun…nobody is putting a gun to anybody’s head. In fact what the EU is offering is an unprecedented package of economic partnership and assistance to work with Israelis and Palestinians if this is successful. There is a real positive…”

SS: “And if it’s not? That’s the question: if it isn’t going to go further..”

WH: “If it isn’t, that can’t take place. And if it doesn’t happen, if there isn’t an agreement on these things, then I think it will be a very dark time both for Israelis and for Palestinians – for both sides actually. There are terrible consequences to fear. And certainly it would bring a great deal of international pressure on Israel, including at the United Nations and there’ve been many moves for Palestinians to seek greater recognition at the UN which would command a huge amount of international support. That is evident from previous votes. Britain hasn’t committed itself on that but…

SS: “But if we’re painting that scenario – exactly – if we’re painting that scenario…”

WH: “It would be difficult for Israel but it would be difficult for Palestinians as well because without embracing a two-state solution, their situation would be pretty desperate as well.”

As we see, not only did Sackur provide a platform for the promotion (and subsequent BBC amplification) of Hague’s blatant ‘nice country you’ve got there; would be a pity if anything happened to it’ tactics, but he failed utterly to clarify to viewers that Hague’s presentation of the issue as though it were all down to what the parties involved want to do – rather than what they are currently capable of doing – is plainly ridiculous.

Viewers were at no point made aware of the fact that the party negotiating on behalf of the Palestinians does not include the faction – Hamas – which secured the largest number of votes in the last PLC elections. They were not told that the current president of the Palestinian Authority lacks the authority or the ability to sign any agreement seeing as his term of office expired over five years ago and elections are long overdue and currently impossible to carry out. Neither was it made clear that the Palestinian Authority has no control whatsoever over the Gaza Strip – one of two areas projected to become part of a future Palestinian state – and Sackur avoided asking Hague how any signed peace agreement could possibly be implemented in an area ruled by a third-party terrorist group which categorically rejects the two-state solution, is committed to the destruction of one party to any potential agreement and has a significant presence (along with additional rejectionist terrorist groups) in the area which is controlled at present by the Palestinian Authority. 

But Hague also got off scot-free with regard to other issues. Sackur failed to challenge him on the subject of UK government and EU funding for organisations and NGOs which promote, support and operate the BDS movement against Israel. He failed to demand accountability from Hague regarding the doublespeak of a UK government which claims in public to be opposed to any boycott of Israel and yet, for example, funds the British Council and Arts Council England – both of which have in turn funded the BDS supporting, anti-two-state solution project known as the PalFest.  Neither did he solicit a response from Hague with regard to the recent claim published in an Israeli newspaper according to which a senior British diplomat told a reporter “It’s my job to f*** settlement factories like this one in Ein Gedi”. 

Sackur also conveniently refrained from dissecting Hague’s cringingly transparent ‘equality’ chimera of EU or UK censure of the Palestinian Authority (the same body which was recently revealed to be holding explosives and weapons in a diplomatic mission on EU soil) should peace negotiations collapse. After all, as past experience shows, even when the PA actively sabotaged the Oslo Agreements by initiating and financing an unprecedented campaign of terror against Israeli civilians in 2000, the EU continued to fund that body and even raised its contributions to the tune of an annual average of 250 million Euros. Hence, there is little reason to anticipate an about-face this time around and just as little reason to anticipate any letting-up in EU and UK funding of anti-Israel NGOs or an end to the practice of paternalistic, diplomatically illiterate finger-wagging from the hand which still feeds sections of the BBC. 

Thanks to Sackur’s ineffectual performance, the licence fee paying public remained oblivious both to the existence of many objective factors which make the culmination of the current talks in a workable agreement extremely unlikely and to the redundancy of the FCO’s pompously simplistic approach to such a serious and complex subject.

So much for the BBC’s obligation to “[e]nhance UK audiences’ awareness and understanding of international issues” – and journalistic independence.

Rinse and repeat: BBC’s ‘Hardtalk’ enabling Roger Waters’ hogwash

h/t J

On January 1st 2014 the BBC World News programme ‘Hardtalk chose to broadcast a re-run of an interview with Roger Waters which was originally aired in September 2013 and has now been shown a total of a dozen times. 

At around six minutes into the programme, presenter Stephen Sackur says:

“And perhaps the strongest reaction you’ve got is from people who see some of the imagery – and in particular the imagery on that inflatable pig, which is a central part of the show…” 

Waters interrupts:

“Here we go..”

Sackur: “..see it as anti-Israeli and some say antisemitic.”

Waters: “Well this is…has become an old chestnut now because this whole question of this particular pig which appears in the second half of the show when I am playing the part of a fascist demagogue – or any kind of extremist demagogue if you like – is satire and it’s recognized as being that. This record has been out there with the lyrics that are contained in the work, which are part of the narrative, for – as you say – since 1979. So, the use of different symbols on the pig – which include the Star of David, the crucifix, crescent and star, the dollar sign, the hammer and sickle and all kinds of other symbols that ..emm..I felt were relevant when we were designing the show – have been there as part of the show since 2010.”

However, an Israeli who attended Waters’ show in July 2013 had a different experience:

“I came to the concert because I really like his music, without any connection to his political stance toward Israel,” says Alon Onfus Asif, an Israeli living in Belgium. “And I had a lot of fun, until I noticed the Star of David, on the inflatable pig. That was the only religious-national symbol which appeared among other symbols for fascism, dictatorships and oppression of people. 

See if you can find any other religious-national symbols in this footage from the show.

Here is what Waters told ‘Billboard’ in December 2013: [emphasis added]

“Waters says a new set of pigs were built for the South America leg of the tour and the Star of David was one of the symbols added to them. “Since then, because of the complaints from some of the Jewish community, we’ve added a crucifix and star-crescent,” Waters says.”

In other words, the claim made by Waters in the September 2013 interview with Sackur – according to which the symbols of Christianity and Islam were presented alongside the Star of David on the inflatable pig from the very beginning of the tour – was apparently not verified by the Hardtalk production team before the initial or numerous repeat broadcasts of this programme.