42+1 years on BBC still refrains from using the word terror

On May 27th the BBC World Service sent the following Tweet to its one hundred and ninety-four thousand followers.

WS Tweet Lod

The link promoted in that tweet leads to a filmed report which was actually first broadcast a year ago.  As was noted here then, the synopsis to that report about the 1972 Lod Airport Massacre makes no use of the words terror, terrorism or terrorists.

That observation still stands.

 

BBC congratulates itself on its accuracy and impartiality

On May 21st the BBC announced its latest audience figures.

“The figures – the BBC Global Audience Measure (GAM) – reveal that the BBC’s weekly global news audience, which is measured each year, has increased by 18m people, or 7 per cent since last year, to a record-breaking 283 million. This means that one in every 16 adults around the world uses BBC News. […]

The BBC World Service’s audience has increased by 10 per cent in its first year of licence fee funding and now stands at 210m, with the biggest boost coming from new World Service TV news bulletins in languages other than English.

The biggest growth for a single service comes for BBC World Service English, which has its highest-ever weekly reach with an audience of 52m, an increase of more than 25 per cent. The countries where the audience increases for World Service English have been highest are Nigeria, USA, Pakistan and Tanzania.”

The press release also states:BBC brick wall

“Fran Unsworth, Director of the BBC World Service Group, says: “These amazing figures demonstrate the importance and impact of the BBC around the world.

“In times of crisis and in countries lacking media freedom, people around the world turn to the BBC for trusted and accurate information.” [emphasis added]

In a separate blog post Ms Unsworth added:

“The Thai news-stream also highlights one of the founding principles of the BBC World Service – to bring impartial, accurate news to countries when they lack it – although our largest market remains the US. […]

We need to make the most of these opportunities while sticking to the values which make us the most trusted news organisation in the world.

And as we increase our impact and reach around the world, we also need to focus on places where people are lacking accurate impartial news.” [emphasis added]

Those laudable sentiments and aspirations are consistent with statements made by Fran Unsworth when she took on the role of director of the BBC World Service Group. Unfortunately, they do not take into account the fact that BBC World Service content – and not least BBC World Service radio programmes – do not by any stretch of the imagination always live up to those professed standards.

That means that when a BBC presenter exploits her position to advance the inaccurate and defamatory notion of “collective punishment” by Israel or when World Service radio broadcasts unchallenged Hamas propaganda or when US audiences are given inaccurate information about a ceasefire or when a senior BBC journalist promotes claims of a ‘massacre’ that never happened, millions more people are now being misled by shoddy, inaccurate and often cringingly transparent politically motivated reporting.

With the BBC’s growing influence must come a commensurate responsibility to justify the trust of audiences around the world by making accuracy and impartiality mean more than just slogans in a self-lauding press release.

Selective BBC reporting on explosions in Sudan implies Israeli involvement

In the early hours of May 6th confused reports began to emerge concerning explosions in Khartoum.

“The Hezbollah-affiliated television channel Al-Mayadeen and foreign media outlets quoted a message issued by the Sudanese army saying that Sudanese forces shot down an Israeli unmanned aerial vehicle north of the capital of Khartoum overnight Tuesday. Sudanese citizens reported hearing loud explosions during the night. Officials in the Sudanese army arrived at the scene of the strike.

The Al-Araby al-Jadeed newspaper reported overnight Tuesday that “foreign planes” had struck a target in Omdurman, in the capital state of Khartoum, citing Sudanese military officials described as “credible”.

 According to the report, which has not been officially confirmed, a military source said that “members of the Air Defense Command in Sudan hit targets, with the assumption being that the strike was carried out by a warplane in the area of Wadi Seidna in the city of Omdurman.”

The Sudanese Army spokesman Colonel Al-Sawarmy Khaled Saad said in an interview with Arabic-language Sky News Arabia news channel on Wednesday that the army’s Air Defense systems intercepted overnight Tuesday a “moving object that resembles a plane or a rocket’ in the area of the city of Omdurman.

 In contrast to reports in Arab media outlets, the spokesman denied the military facilities were targeted by a domestic or foreign source. He claimed that the Air Defense forces intercepted the object after finding it suspicious.

 According to the report, senior officials in the Sudanese army arrived at the scene of the strike but have yet to ascertain the target of the attack.”

Various media organisations ran the story – the details of which have still not been confirmed at the time of writing – with speculation of Israeli involvement being promoted despite the fact that the only apparent supporting ‘evidence’ was guesswork.

“Witnesses in Omdurman said they saw and heard large explosions at a military site near the city, which sits across the Nile River from the capital Khartoum, the Al-Araby news outlet reported.

Witnesses told the paper they thought the planes had come from Israel, which has been fingered for airstrikes in Sudan in the recent past.”

Whilst the BBC did not publish an article on the topic on its English language BBC News website, Twitter followers of its World Service Africa Editor Mary Harper received the following Tweet.

Harper Twitter

The attached link leads to the BBC News website’s live ‘Africa round-up’ page for May 6th where this item appeared:

Harper Sudan Africa live pge

No stand-alone report on the topic appeared on the website’s Africa or Middle East pages.

Additionally, followers of the BBC Arabic Twitter account received the Tweet below.

BBC Arabic tweet Sudan

The link in that Tweet leads to an article on the BBC Arabic website which also promotes the idea of IsraeliBBC Arabic art Sudan involvement in the incident despite – as noted by the Deputy Editor in Chief of the Sudan Tribune – there being no confirmation of that particular version of events or indeed any other.

One obvious question which arises is why the BBC considered this story suitable for publication on its Arabic language website but not on its English language equivalent.

Another notable point is that if the BBC is going to promote the notion that Israeli planes attacked “Sudanese military installations” despite the lack of any concrete evidence to support that claim, then obviously there is also a need to include factual information concerning the history of Iranian arms smuggling to Palestinian terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip via Sudan rather than just the standard ‘Israel says’-type mention at the end of the BBC Arabic report.

 

 

More BBC promotion of the ‘Jewish lobby’ trope

Barely a week after the mainstreaming of the antisemitic ‘Jewish lobby’ trope in a review of the papers on BBC Radio 5 Live’s Stephen Nolan show, another papers review – this time on the BBC News Channel – promoted the same trope and others on November 8th.

In addition to its being broadcast on television, the item was also posted on the BBC News website’s UK page the following day. The relevant section can be seen in the video below.BBC Papers on website

Presenter Tim Willcox’s guests are Nigel Nelson of the ‘Sunday People’ and former Lib Dem spin-doctor Jo Phillips who is introduced as “our political advisor”.

Asked by Willcox to explain the story appearing in the ‘Independent’ to viewers, Phillips says:

“…what you get is a lot of unnamed people…ahm…from sort of the Jewish lobby and obviously, you know, they’ve been very supportive of the Labour Party and they are abandoning ‘toxic’ Labour.”

Obviously as far as Phillips is concerned, any British Jew – identified or not – who contributes to a political party can automatically be categorised as a member of a supposed “Jewish lobby”. She goes on:

“But they’re not abandoning it because of Ed Miliband’s personal ratings according to this. This is because of what Ed Miliband actually said…ahm…in the summer; his aggressive condemnation of Israel’s attacks – disproportionate attacks and incursion into Gaza.”

Ms Phillips’ qualifications – legal or military – for judging whether or not Israeli attacks were “disproportionate” are of course highly debatable, but Willcox makes no effort to rectify the misleading impression given to viewers by Phillips’ employment of a loaded label without evidence-based justification.

Instead, Willcox bizarrely introduces into the conversation the equally evidence-free notion that Jewish donors to the Labour party will automatically be opposed to a proposed tax on high-value properties, thus tapping into the old stereotype of ‘rich Jews’.

“Yeah and a lot of these prominent Jewish…ah….ah….faces will be very much against the mansion tax presumably as well.”

Phillips later adds:

“…but it is this terrible thing if, you know, you’re not supposed apparently to say anything anti-Israeli. Ahm…and if you attack Israeli political…ahm…policies or the government policies then, you know, this is what you get. Ahm…you know it seems to me that it’s totally hypocritical that on the one hand they [Labour] are now going to have to look perhaps to the unions to get some funding but will be accused of being in the unions’ pockets. But when he’s [Miliband] being brave and principled and standing up and saying, you know, this time Israel has gone too far, people take their money away…”

So, here we have the BBC once more promoting the age-old antisemitic trope that a “Jewish lobby” made up of rich Jews uses its power and financial clout to manipulate political policy. Moreover, viewers are fed the ridiculous idea that a British politician with a “brave” and “principled” stance is being punished by a wealthy ‘lobby’ (which obviously does not share the same characteristics) simply because “you’re not supposed to say anything anti-Israeli”.

This is just one more example of the growing phenomenon of BBC enablement of the mainstreaming of antisemitic discourse. Broadcasting House: you have a very serious problem. 

 

On the BBC’s unwarranted use of legal terms during Operation Protective Edge

The following words will no doubt resonate with readers who have been following the BBC’s coverage of the recent conflict in Israel and the Gaza Strip and have hence heard and read BBC employees and interviewees alike using the terms below on a disturbingly regular basis.EG

“War crimes. Disproportionate response. Collective punishment. Targeting civilians. Throughout Operation Protective Edge, these terms have been fired off at Israel with the same intensity and frequency as Hamas’ rockets. Arab government spokesmen constantly refer to Israel’s actions as “aggression.” In extreme cases, Israel is accused of “genocide” and “ethnic cleansing.” “

Unfortunately for the BBC’s reputation as a provider of accurate and impartial news, those loaded labels were liberally employed and promoted without evidence-based justification for their use and before any proper and professional investigations into the circumstances of the events described in that legal language had been carried out.

In a very interesting article in The Tower the writer of the above words, David Daoud, explains “Everything You Need to Know about International Law and the Gaza War” and it is well worth the long read. Another recent interesting article on a similar topic is titled “The Ethics of Protective Edge” and it was written by Professor Asa Kasher.

Throughout the seven weeks of conflict the BBC made remarkably little effort to explain to audiences the actual meaning of terms such as ‘disproportionate’, indiscriminate’,  ‘collective punishment’, ‘targeting civilians’ or ‘war crimes’ which were so frequently bandied about by its reporters and guests. One of the few efforts which were made came in the form of an eight-minute item (unfortunately no longer available) broadcast on BBC Radio 4’s ‘PM’ show on July 29th in which David Turns of Cranfield University spoke about the meaning of “disproportionate” in international law.

“There is a general misperception that if any civilians at all are killed, then that is automatically disproportionate. But what such people generally fail to say is what something is disproportionate to, and you’ve got to consider; the law requires consideration of the legitimate military objectives of the other side as well.”

Apparently though, there was no BBC memo informing its own employees that the indiscriminate and unwarranted use of such terms is both inappropriate for an organization professing to adhere to editorial standards of accuracy and impartiality, as well as misleading to audiences who would quite reasonably (but wrongly) assume that the BBC’s frequent employment of such language must mean that a legal justification for its use exists. Obviously too, BBC presenters and producers had not been issued with any sort of guidelines on the topic of the legal definitions of such labels and the resulting significance of their use by correspondents and interviewees whilst no proven justification was available.

That in itself speaks volumes about the BBC’s lack of commitment to impartial reporting of Operation Protective Edge and it is an issue on which the BBC’s Director of News and Current Affairs obviously needs to provide answers to the corporation’s funding public.  

BBC WS radio’s ‘Newshour’: insights into presenter intervention on inaccurate claims

Readers may have seen this video doing the rounds on the internet. It is taken from the August 20th edition of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newshour’ presented by Owen Bennett-Jones. The programme included two interviews; one with Israel’s Minister of the Economy Naftali Bennett and one with Husam Zomlot who is the executive deputy commissioner for Fatah’s commission for international affairs, a former member of the PLO’s diplomatic mission in London, a visiting fellow at Harvard’s Center for Middle East Studies, a former UN employee and a member of the Oxford Research Group. He is also fairly frequently interviewed by the international media – including the BBC.Newshour 20 8 WS

These two interviews provide some interesting insight not just by way of the responses to Bennett-Jones’ questions, but also from the point of view of the wording of some of his own questions and statements and from observation of the occasions on which the presenter considers it essential to intervene in order to correct a mistaken impression given to listeners – and the many more frequent occasions on which he does not. The interviews can be found here, beginning at 31:59. Bennett-Jones’ questions to Naftali Bennett include the following revealing statements.

“Do you consider the land on which Palestinians are living – and have lived, of course, for centuries – to be Jewish land?”

Whilst some Palestinians may indeed have lived in Judea & Samaria “for centuries”, the UN’s definition of Palestinian refugees means that is by no means necessarily the case – but Owen Bennett-Jones makes no effort to clarify that point to listeners.

“Palestine refugees are defined as “persons whose normal place of residence was Palestine during the period 1 June 1946 to 15 May 1948, and who lost both home and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 conflict.” 

Later on, Bennett-Jones misleads audiences with the all too prevalent BBC myth of “’67 borders”.

“But your areas would be within the ’67 borders, would it? You’re not trying to make occupied land into Israeli and, are you?”

Later still, he appears to have fallen into the equally frequently seen double trap of ignoring the San Remo resolution and the Mandate for Palestine whilst at the same time pretending that the 1947 UN Partition Plan has some sort of legal significance.

“Yeah but the reason I asked you, you know, how you see the borders of Jewish land is that I think, you know, most people in the international community would think that the UN vote establishing Israel was the legitimate basis for Israel.”

Towards the end of his conversation with Naftali Bennet, Owen Bennett-Jones proposes the following theory for Western politicians’ approach to radical political Islam in the Middle East.

“Well there is an alternative interpretation of what they [Western politicians] think. They may think that peace in the Middle East – some sort of settlement in which the Palestinian people did have their aspirations fulfilled – would be a constructive start towards building a post-conflict society in which people could live together. They may think like that.”

Naftali Bennett’s reply is as follows:

“I can’t believe you’ve actually asked that. Do you think anything we do in Israel would affect ISIS, would affect Al Qaeda, al Nusra? Do you think these guys really want peace? Have you not been listening to them for the past year and a half? They’re talking about a Caliphate in the whole world and you have to face up and fight this sort of terror; not try and appease them and certainly not at the expense of Israel. Well I can tell you we’re not going to be the sacrificial lamb of the world in the hope of appeasing radical Islam. They kill reporters and behead them: that’s what we’re facing in this area. We expect the world’s support fighting these guys.”

Bennett-Jones then moves on to his next interviewee, Husam Zomlot, who appears to have a problem putting history in its correct sequence, although Bennett-Jones obviously does not see the need to interject. [emphasis added]

Zomlot: “If we go back to the biblical times and the biblical explanations, the map of the world, Owen, will be totally and utterly different – including England and most of Europe as you know. And if we go even further and go back to the Roman time, this is as you know and as you have just asked your…erm…your interviewer, nonsense to start with. I believe it all talks about a bunch of ideologues, purists, exclusivists [sic] brains and mind-sets in Israel right now that are calling the shots. And you have asked him all the right questions I have to say and he answered all the right answers in his own mind. He is not defending Israel proper. He is defending Israel’s expansion, Israel’s colonialism, Israel’s occupation, Israel’s siege. And in his mind, and he believes so, that we do not even deserve to have basic rights and therefore they are fabricating all these stories about beheading journalists somewhere in Iraq, about Palestine and the nation that has been….

Having quietly sat through inaccurate claims of Israeli “expansion”, “colonialism” and “siege”, Owen Bennett-Jones at that point sees the need to interrupt.

“Well hang on: that’s not…that’s not fabricated – that just happened.”

Zomlot carries on:

“It happened somewhere else – in Iraq – as if they are fabricating also the story of the Holocaust that it happened in Europe. Not the story itself, but the reason why they are doing this and using so many other examples to justify their murder of a nation that has been in a quest for self-determination and basic rights; that’s what I mean.”

Bennett-Jones apparently sees no need to clarify his guest’s reference to “fabricating also the story of the Holocaust”. Zomlot himself – a PhD graduate from a London university and therefore presumably a person with a reasonable command of the English language – later claimed that his words were misconstrued and that Bennett-Jones’ introduction of another question prevented him from fully explaining his point.

OBJ: “Let’s just be clear about this. What he [Naftali Bennett] is saying is that Palestinians can live on that land but he is anxious that there will be a tax on the Jewish people so he doesn’t feel that it is appropriate or safe or sensible for the Jewish people to allow the Palestinians to have weapons and the ability to destroy Israel.”

HZ: “Yeah, but that’s like the chicken and the egg. What comes first? Does it…is it their occupation that provoke some of these acts or is it really that we Palestinians are violent by nature? That it’s our violence that provokes their occupation? And I beg to differ, sir, and I beg to say that it’s actually their military occupation, their siege, their colonisation, their daily theft of our resources and land and their daily murder of our families and babies and women. “

As a member of Fatah, Zomlot is no doubt well aware that his organisation came into being long before any “occupation” existed. Owen Bennett-Jones obviously did not see fit to enlighten listeners with that snippet of relevant information or with the fact that it was the combined violence perpetrated by Egypt, Syria and Jordan in June 1967 which brought about Israeli control of the Gaza Strip and Judea & Samaria.  Zomlot continues:

“So…eh…eh…eh…”

OBJ: “Yeah.”

HZ: “…if you really want to put the horse before the cart we can discuss till the morning. I believe your question was the right question: should they end their occupation, should they be in line with international consensus and international legitimacy and then we discuss security matters. Israel is dealing with the whole situation from a security point of view because they are not interested in the political issues.”

OBJ: “I think the point that the Israelis would make is that when they did pull out of Gaza and took some settlements out of Gaza, it didn’t solve any problems for them. It’s actually got worse.”

HZ: “Well of course because they pulled out of Gaza to lay siege on the people of Gaza for all these years and turn Gaza into the dark ages. There are no basic goods and commodities and that’s why the people of Gaza has to act in dignity and dig underneath to provide for their babies. So the Israelis haven’t left Gaza for a political breakthrough. They left Gaza to besiege it and to finish off their job in the West Bank and Jerusalem.”

No effort is made by Owen Bennett-Jones to challenge Zomlot’s inaccurate presentation; to point out that there is no such thing as a “siege” on Gaza, that “basic goods and commodities” are freely available there and that the reason for restrictions on Israel’s borders with the Gaza Strip is the terrorism emanating from that territory and the weapons smuggled into it. Zomlot continues:

“And this is exactly what Bennett has just confirmed. My friend; what we are facing now is a situation whereby they call the shots in Israel. The deciders in Israel are not interested in a political solution. They want the land and they want the people of the land – the original people, the natives, the Palestinians – out.  Whether besieged in Gaza, whether cycled by walls in the West Bank, whether slowly driven out or even – if they can – another ethnic cleansing like they did in 1948.”

Not a peep is heard from Owen Bennett-Jones despite Zomlot’s inaccurate and defamatory claim of “ethnic cleansing”.

HZ: “This is the situation. They are using negotiations as a tactic, wars as a tactic. They are buying time as they did in Cairo only yesterday. They abruptly…”

OBJ: “OK.”

HZ: “…withdrew their delegation to continue – I believe – they have no interest in ending their occupation, period.”

Making no effort to inform listeners that the Israeli delegation left the negotiations in Cairo after Hamas broke the ceasefire the day before this interview on August 19th, Owen Bennett-Jones then closes the interview.

Revealingly, Zomlot’s assertion that the beheading of journalist James Foley was “fabricated” rightly produced a very swift reaction from Owen Bennett-Jones who obviously could not allow listeners to be misled by that inaccurate claim. Equally revealingly, none of Zomlot’s other no less inaccurate claims evoked any intervention from a BBC presenter charged with promoting audience understanding of international issues. 

BBC WS presenter: filmed evidence of Hamas’ misuse of hospitals is ‘rumours on the internet’

The International Solidarity Movement (ISM) is – as readers are most likely aware – an organisation which since the early days of the second Intifada has been providing financial, logistic and PR support to terrorist organisations which attack Israeli civilians.

One of the ISM’s activists currently located in the Gaza Strip is American Joe Catron who has been very busy in the past three weeks giving interviews to the Iranian regime-run Press TV, putting out propaganda material and acting as a voluntary human shield. Catron’s “standpoint” can be discerned very easily from his use of social media.

Tweet Catron

 

As readers also know, the BBC’s editorial guidelines oblige it to inform audiences of an interviewee’s “standpoint” so that his or her contribution can be understood in its correct context. However, when the BBC World Service’s Dam Damon interviewed Joe Catron for the July 31st edition of ‘World Update’ (available here for a limited period of time from around 43:21, or here as a separately promoted podcast), he failed to inform listeners that Catron is a member of the Hamas-supporting ISM and made no attempt whatsoever to “summarise” his “standpoint” with the result being that listeners were subjected to over three and a half minutes of undiluted Hamas propaganda, supposedly from a ‘neutral’ source.World Update Catron

Catron was introduced by Damon thus:

“Nine foreigners are in Gaza’s main hospital al Shifa. They are volunteering as human shields. They take turns sitting in the wards on 12 hour shifts. They think that their presence will help deter military attacks by Israeli forces. Other hospitals have human shields – so called human shields – as well. I’ve been speaking to one of these at al Shifa. He’s Joe Catron – 33 years old. The line wasn’t great. I think you’ll be able to hear though everything that is in Joe’s mind. Here’s what he told me.”

Catron: “In terms of aerial assaults they’ve gotten very close. Ahm…the other night I was here for the overnight shift from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. and there were repeated airstrikes all around the building. I stepped outside. I could see flares as well as smoke coming from a short distance away. In terms of the ground invasion they haven’t pushed that close.”

Damon: “And has the hospital been hit at all?”

Catron: “The hospital has been hit peripherally. Ah…one wall was damaged by a shell the other day. I think there were a couple of injuries from that but it has not been targeted per se.”

Damon: “Because you will know that there have been all kinds of rumours on the internet about hospitals being used to hide men and indeed weapons. Any evidence?”

Catron: “Oh yes; I’ve heard all these…all kinds of these rumours. I’ve seen numerous claims that al Wafa hospital where I stayed for a week in Shuja’iya was the centre of a Hamas and Islamic Jihad militant command centre. Now every journalist that came into the hospital from every major news agency had full run of the place. They could go anywhere in it they liked. How none of them ever noticed this command centre…. Shifa as well is thick with reporters at the moment and I’ve seen no reports of anything like that from any of them.”

Damon: “Are you making a difference being there as a human shield?”

Catron: “You know, that’s difficult to say. Obviously the operational logic is that Israel is much more reluctant to target foreigners than it is Palestinians. Now it’s difficult to say. Ahm… I had a number of expectations at the beginning of this escalation about how far the Israelis were willing to go and what they were willing to do. They’ve already proven a number of those expectations wrong. So how safe we are here and how much of a deterrent we offer, I can’t offer a firm answer to that. All we can do is sit and hope.”

Damon: “Do you have any understanding of Israel’s position that the rockets are flying from Gaza, err…those rockets are intended to kill civilians, they’re entitled to respond?”

Catron: “Well I think it’s very clear looking at the outcomes who intends to kill civilians. Israel has now killed over a thousand of them while Hamas has targeted its attacks on Israeli soldiers and it’s been doing fairly well on that front considering the circumstances.”

Damon: “I guess you don’t mean to deny that the rockets fired by Hamas are targeting civilian areas inside Israel?”

Catron: “Well, Israel places many of its military assets in civilian neighbourhoods. The headquarters of the Israeli military is located in a large civilian block of buildings in Tel Aviv. Ahm…but Hamas has always made it clear that its rockets are aimed at these military assets. [unintelligible] also knowledge is that they’re unfortunately imprecise.”

Damon: “What about the people back home, Joe? Don’t they think that you’re being foolhardy?”

Catron: “I’m sure some of them do and they may have a point. [Damon laughs] Ahm…they’re a mix of course. America has a broad range of opinions.”

Damon: “What about your family?”

Catron: “Ahm…they’re a political mix when it comes to the situation. You would hear various perspectives from them.”

Damon closes the item by saying:

“That’s Joe Catron; described as a human shield at the al Shifa hospital in Gaza.”

So what did World Service radio audiences learn here and did anything in this interview contribute to fulfilling the BBC’s obligation according to its constitutional document to “build a global understanding of international issues”?

Well, they discovered that the BBC considers filmed and photographed evidence of the discovery of weapons, missiles, explosives and tunnel entrances in at least one hospital in the Gaza Strip to be “rumours on the internet”.

They got to hear the BBC provide a platform for Joe Catron’s obviously dishonest claim that Wafa hospital was not used by Hamas for military purposes and his promotion of the notion that the hospital in which he is currently located – Shifa – is not used by Hamas either. That of course is especially ridiculous in light of the fact that the BBC has interviewed at least one member of Hamas at that location.

Audiences also discovered – for the second time in two days – that not only has the BBC no intention of informing them about what really went on at Wafa hospital in Shuja’iya, but that it will actively hinder that information from coming to light, along with any other documentation of the use of civilians in Gaza as human shields.

They were also misled by Catron’s assertion that the foreign media in Gaza is able to report freely and that there cannot be any Hamas abuses of hospitals because the foreign media has not reported them. Increasingly, evidence coming out of the Gaza Strip shows that claim to be patently untrue. 

Listeners were exposed to Catron’s unchallenged and inaccurate assertion that over one thousand civilians have been killed in the Gaza Strip.

They were misled with regard to the civilian targets of Hamas missiles as Catron spouted propaganda straight from the Hamas handbook claiming that it targets military installations.

Clearly, the broadcasting of this interview with a Hamas supporter fails to contribute anything to the fulfilment of the BBC’s public purposes and the fact that his “standpoint” and affiliations were not declared to listeners breaches editorial guidelines.

No less worrying for the BBC should be the fact that it has rendered itself utterly indistinguishable from the Iranian regime’s media mouthpiece which Joe Catron usually frequents.

 

 

Another BBC social media guidance failure

Meet Naziru Mikailu. He works for the BBC World Service/ BBC Africa. And he likes to Tweet.

Tweet Naziru BBC

Tweet Naziru BBC 2

Tweet Naziru BBC 3

And there’s more here.

“You shouldn’t state your political preferences or say anything that compromises your impartiality. Don’t sound off about things in an openly partisan way. Don’t be seduced by the informality of social media into bringing the BBC into disrepute.”

Apparently he hasn’t read the BBC’s social media guidance

BBC’s Doucet promotes and amplifies Hamas “massacre” propaganda on WS radio

On the afternoon of July 20th the BBC promoted an item by Lyse Doucet included in its World Service’s ‘Newshour’ radio programme.

Tweet Doucet Newshour 20 7

That report – which is one of the most blatantly manipulative items the BBC has produced in the last two weeks – can be heard here. No context is provided, no background, no facts. The entire item is deliberately aimed purely at the level of emotion.

It is worth noting that according to other reports produced by the BBC, Shuja’iya is a neighbourhood with a population of 80,000. Doucet opens: [all emphasis in bold added]

“From midnight last night and throughout the night the soundtrack of Gaza was one of endless pounding and constant shelling and anyone who heard those sounds in the dark of night knew just how intense the military operations were and if you lived through that, that kind of intense bombardment, you were lucky enough to survive to tell the story this morning. And through most of today the shelling has continued. We spent hours there; we just returned and I’m going to share now an audio postcard from one of the neighbourhoods east of Gaza City that’s been under fire – Shuja’iya.

Now we’re in the rubble of the building that’s been shelled last night. The medics have rushed in. One…two…half a dozen medics in their…with their hands…they’re searching through the rubble. The sheets are ready, stretchers here and you can see body parts protruding…you can see the body parts protruding, buried under rocks and rubble, sand. And bits of torn cloth. This is a morning where the ambulances, the workers, are on the run. Another pulling…they’re pulling the material. See them pulling the material. My God. There’s a man emerging. The sound of shelling and the people are running. People are running everywhere you look. Bodies are being dug from the rubble. People are running and the sound of shelling, bombardment that went on through the night is continuing now in the day. Black clouds of smoke, white smoke as well, rising just beyond where we’re standing at the end of this street.

Everywhere you look on these streets people are trying to escape. Now coming down this road I can see two women. One young and the other with her an elderly woman with a long black coat, a white scarf and she’s holding as high as she can a piece of cloth – a white piece of cloth – a flag of surrender – as if that’s going to protect her. But she walks with dignity down this street.

This is the main hospital in Gaza and it’s absolutely packed and I’ve come in with Dr Hassan Hulaf [phonetic] who’s the…what’s happening here now on this cot? Oh there’s a little girl…”

Doctor: “Yeah…four years old girl…one of seven people the same family injured and this is her father.”

LD: “Aww…and what…her leg is bandaged, her hand is bandaged, but…and there’s blood. Where did she come from? From Shuja’iya?”

Doctor: “Tufah.”

LD: “Mmm? Tufah…also….in…she’s come from Tufah just next to Shuja’iya?”

Doctor: “Yes. One member killed also of the family and seven injured and this is one of them.”Newshour WS

LD: “I see [unintelligible] little girl nearby. It’s absolutely packed in here. The medics in their green clothes…blue clothes…and every bed is taken. Many of them are children. Looking…I’m looking down the corridors here….another – an older child. A boy…ah…his legs are all….his legs….two legs are bandaged. His feet are bloodied. He’s wearing sports clothes. He’s clenching his fists.”

Doctor: “His name is Izz al Abdul Karim [phonetic]. Also another member of the injured people in this massacre this morning.”

LD: “Have you had this many people coming yet in this escalation?”

Doctor: “Yes.”

LD: “Is this the biggest number of patients you’ve had since this started?”

Doctor: “That’s right. A big number of killed people. More than 40 people killed and around 200 were injured. So this is an example of the innocent childhood killed by the Israelis now intentionally. By the Israeli tanks without, you know, [unintelligible] bombardment of the civilian during night. This is attack from start of the Israeli aggression even before the offensive – ground offensive.”

Allowing unchallenged free rein – and amplification – to the Doctor’s baseless claim of a “massacre” carried out “intentionally”, Doucet makes absolutely no attempt to report accurately or impartially on the events in Shuja’iya. No effort is made to explain to audiences that the residents were advised to evacuate four days previously, that Hamas ordered them to stay to act as human shields or why military action was necessary there. No inquiry is made into the topic of how many of the dead and injured civilians were actually killed by terrorist fire and notably, the words ‘terrorists’ and ‘Hamas’ do not appear at all in this report. No mention is made of Hamas’ missile launchers, tunnels and weapons stores located in the neighbourhood: all that would detract of course from the gut-wrenching, emotional picture she so earnestly tries to paint.

Emotional reactions such as those the BBC’s chief international correspondent is deliberately trying to solicit in this item produce judgement. When audiences are prevented from seeing the whole picture in its proper context as they are in this item, such judgement is necessarily flawed and can even be dangerous. And that is how a lethal narrative is created.

Lyse Doucet and her colleagues know that very well. They – and we – have been there before.

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Myths and lethal narratives on the BBC website

Another lethal narrative on the BBC website

 

BBC World Service gives inaccurate report on the ceasefire that wasn’t

As readers are no doubt already aware, the ‘ceasefire’ of July 15th lasted a mere six hours due to the fact that terrorist organisations in the Gaza Strip did not cease their fire of missiles into Israel.

However, a BBC World Service radio programme – BBC World Update: Daily Commute – which was broadcast at 05:30 US Eastern time (12:30 Israel time) on July 15th – i.e. three and a half hours after the ceasefire supposedly came into effect, – gives some interesting indications regarding the BBC’s already emerging framing of the topic of the ceasefire.WS Daily Commute

The programme (available here as a podcast for a limited period of time) is presented by Dan Damon who opens by saying: [all emphasis in bold added, emphasis in italics in original]

“Coming up: the Israeli security cabinet has accepted a ceasefire proposal by Egypt but the armed wing of Hamas in Gaza rejects that. Where does that leave the current strife?”

A newsreader then tells listeners:

“The Israeli security cabinet has approved an Egyptian proposal for a truce in its week-long conflict with the Palestinian militant group Hamas in Gaza. Almost 200 Palestinians have been killed in the latest conflict, many of them civilians.”

The news bulletin then moves on to an interview with James Reynolds in Tel Aviv, after which the newsreader introduces Yolande Knell.

Knell: “The military wing of Hamas has said that the terms being offered by the Egyptians would amount to a surrender and is continuing to insist on its own conditions which include the release of Hamas activists from Israeli jails and also an opening of the border crossings between the Gaza Strip, Israel and Egypt. That said, we have to say on the ground here, what we have seen over the past few hours is certainly a much lower intensity of fighting.”

The programme then returns to Dan Damon.

“…this morning some glimmers that an end to the violence that has claimed almost 200 Palestinian lives in the past week might be at an end. The Israeli security cabinet this morning agreed an Egyptian proposal for a ceasefire. Let’s talk to Kevin Connolly, our correspondent in Jerusalem. It’s reported, Kevin, that Hamas rejected that proposal and I think there’s been further development.”

Kevin Connolly: “Well what we have here at the moment is half a ceasefire in the sense that Israel has accepted it. Hamas for the time being has not and the military wing of Hamas in Gaza has really been talking down the proposal from Egypt which is on the table. Now that’s not to say that Hamas won’t eventually be talked round by the Egyptians but for the moment, as I say, we have half a ceasefire.”

DD: “And it’s difficult, I guess, to understand completely what the mood is inside the Palestinian territories where you are but surely after nearly 200 deaths on one side and…eh…some injuries on the Israeli side, the people inside Gaza must be desperate for some kind of a ceasefire.”

KC: “I haven’t the slightest doubt that Palestinian civilians in Gaza – we talk to our people there every day, of course – are desperate for an end to the suffering and destruction. Hospitals there are struggling to treat the injured, many people are homeless, people are – you know – living in terrifying circumstances. Nothing is more terrifying than being bombed from the air. But politically of course, Hamas also has an agenda here. Having embarked on this round of hostilities, I think it is going to feel that it can’t emerge from them without some kind of political victory to show its people, so something is going to have to be found to allow Hamas an elegant way out, if you like, of the fighting.”

DD: “And what would be called a victory? What would be a victory from Hamas’ point of view?”

KC: “Well it’s given us quite a long list of demands. One of the things it would like – which is unlikely, I think – is to see Israel releasing Hamas prisoners, some of whom have been rounded up over the last couple of weeks. But a more important strategic goal for Hamas and one which would help its standing with the Palestinian people in Gaza is some kind of easing of the economic restrictions which are jointly imposed on the enclave by Israel and by Egypt. The new Egyptian government in particular has been very tough with Hamas – which it sees as an offshoot of the Muslim brotherhood – so it’s closed the smuggling tunnels which were a kind of economic lifeline both for Hamas and for the people of Gaza. That is one area where there’s a bit of scope for Egypt to offer Hamas something in return at least for coming to the table. I think what the Egyptians tried to do is sequence all of this so that you begin with a cessation of hostilities then you start to talk about things like prisoner releases or an easing of economic conditions. So, talking is going on we think between Egypt and Hamas. The Egyptians do have cards to play there, so the situation as it stands where Israel has accepted and Hamas has rejected – that could change. There has been a bit of rocket fire today from Hamas – or from the Gaza militants anyway – towards Israel at a relatively low level of intensity and no response yet from Israel so, it feels as though a diplomatic game is underway and success is not guaranteed.”

Let’s look at that last part first. After having spent the entire item telling listeners about “half a ceasefire” but failing to clarify what that really means in practical terms, Connolly in his last sentence finally informs them of “a bit of rocket fire …towards Israel” (not at it) at a “relatively low intensity”.

In fact, between 09:00 and 12:30 local time (when this programme was broadcast) over 22 missiles had already been fired at the Eshkol region, Ashkelon, Sderot, Ashdod, Kiryat Malachi, Be’er Tuvia, Netivot, Rehovot and Nes Ziona. One of those missiles landed in the yard of a house in Ashdod and one person was injured in Sderot. Three minutes after this programme went on air, missiles were also fired at Haifa, Daliyat al Carmel and the Carmel and Zichron Ya’akov areas. All in all, between 09:00 and 15:00 local time, fifty missiles were fired at civilian targets in Israel by terrorist organisations in the Gaza Strip. By no possible interpretation of the word is that a “bit” of rocket fire.

Notable too is of course Knell’s description of convicted terrorists – including those freed in prisoner release deals – as “Hamas activists”, the fact that at no point in this broadcast are listeners reminded that Hamas is an internationally designated terrorist organization, Connolly’s bizarre reference to Hamas being “seen” as an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood and Damon’s description of Kevin Connolly’s location as “the Palestinian territories” even though he was in Jerusalem.

Likewise, it is remarkable that both Knell and Connolly chose to highlight the same two issues from Hamas’ pre-existing list of demands – ignoring no less significant other ones such as the demand for the Palestinian Authority to transfer money to pay Hamas employees and the demand that parties unnamed “stop interfering in the new unity government”. Whilst Knell and Connolly focus on what he terms “economic restrictions”, neither of them bother to clarify to listeners that Egypt’s actions against the smuggling tunnels came as part of its crackdown on Jihadist terror in northern Sinai and that Israel’s measures are aimed at preventing the entry of weapons into the Gaza Strip will obviously be just as relevant in the future as this round of conflict has proved they were in the past.

Most significant, however, is the fact that by the time this programme began at 12:30 local time, the ceasefire had been rejected by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad  and Fatah’s Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade took responsibility for some of the missile fire during the supposed ceasefire.  Most importantly, Hamas – not just its “military wing” as claimed several times in this programme – had already rejected the ceasefire via its spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri.

“In an early-morning meeting, Israel’s security cabinet approved the cease-fire, which calls for a de-escalation of fighting by both sides starting at 9 a.m. local time on Tuesday, with hostilities ending within 12 hours.

At a news conference at a hospital in Gaza City, a Hamas official said his group wouldn’t observe the cease-fire terms proposed by the Egyptian government because no one had conferred with them.

“We don’t like the policy pushing us into a corner,” said spokesman Samy Abu Zohry. Hamas was fighting for Palestinians, not a cease-fire, he said.”

It will be worth keeping an eye on additional BBC reporting on the topic of the ceasefire-that-wasn’t in order to note if it is reported in a similarly inaccurate and misleading fashion, downplaying both Hamas rejection of the opportunity for a halt to hostilities and missile attacks on Israeli civilians.