BBC News website coverage of Operation Protective Edge: part two

In part one of this post we documented BBC News website coverage of the first ten days of Operation Protective Edge. Part two relates to the next ten days: July 18th to 27th 2014 inclusive.

Content on the website included written news reports and written ‘Features and Analysis’ articles as well as filmed items presented as stand-alone reports and additionally often embedded into the written articles. Those filmed items also appeared on BBC television news programmes and hence give us an idea of what worldwide audiences were being shown and to what extent the BBC lived up to its claims of “equal coverage” of the two sides to the conflict.

A small amount of content which appeared on the BBC News website at the time has since become unavailable, but below are the vast majority of the reports offered to the website’s visitors. We are not including here the many reports concerning demonstrations relating to the conflict in Europe and elsewhere which appeared on the Middle East page: that topic will be covered separately.

July 18th:Chart Jul 18

Written:

Israel starts Gaza ground offensive

Israel ready to widen Gaza ground offensive – PM  (discussed here)

Gaza conflict: UN says number of displaced almost doubles   (discussed here)

Features:

Gaza-Israel: ‘We don’t want civilians to die’

What drove Hamas to take on Israel?  Dr Jeroen Gunning

Gaza: What does Israel’s ground offensive aim to achieve?  Jonathan Marcus

Hospital on Gaza conflict’s front line  Paul Adams (discussed here)

Filmed:

Gaza-Israel conflict: Journalists evacuated from Gaza hotel  Lyse Doucet in Gaza

Gaza City resident: ‘Continuous bombing’  Gaza

Gaza conflict: UN says number of displaced almost doubles  Lyse Doucet in Gaza & Quentin Sommerville in Israel (discussed here)

With Israel’s ground operation having commenced late the previous night following the terrorist infiltration via cross-border tunnel near Kibbutz Sufa (scantily covered by the BBC), much of the BBC’s coverage on that day related to that topic, but with a notable lack of information on the subject of the tunnels themselves. 

July 19th:Chart Jul 19

Written:

Gaza conflict: Obama warns Israel amid rising death toll   (discussed here)

Gaza conflict: Casualties mount amid fresh violence   (discussed here)

July 20th: (discussion here)

Live page:

As it happened: Gaza conflict intensifies

Written:

Gaza shelling by Israel leads to deadliest day of conflict  (discussed here)Chart Jul 20

Features:

In pictures: Gaza conflict intensifies

Filmed:

Hamas ‘defiant’ as Gaza casualty toll rises   Lyse Doucet in Gaza (discussed here)

Gaza crisis: 87 Gazans and 13 Israeli soldiers killed Lyse Doucet in Gaza

Gaza shelling by Israel leads to deadliest day of conflict  Yolande Knell in Gaza

Gaza crisis: 13 Israeli soldiers and 87 Gazans killed  Chris Morris in Israel (discussed here)

Gaza-Israel conflict: ‘Families are on the run again’  Lyse Doucet in Gaza

With fierce fighting having commenced in the neighbourhood of Shuja’iya the night before, the BBC focused its attentions on that topic on July 20th. Themes which appeared early on in the extensive reporting included the vigorous promotion of second-hand claims of a ‘massacre’, the failure to film or adequately inform audiences of the presence and actions of terrorists in that district and the failure to distinguish between civilian and combatant casualties. As was the case in previous reporting, the topic of Hamas’ use of human shields was ignored and the prior warnings issued to residents of Shuja’iya to evacuate the neighbourhood played down. 

July 21st: (discussion here)Chart Jul 21

Written:

Gaza crisis: 13 Israeli soldiers, scores of Gazans killed

Gaza crisis: UN calls for ceasefire as deaths pass 500

Features:

Gaza crisis: Shejaiya assault defines grimmest day  Lyse Doucet

Filmed:

Ron Prosor: ‘Only by demilitarising Hamas can we move on’  interview Israeli Ambassador to the UN

Gaza crisis: Israeli soldiers’ funerals take place  John Simpson in Israel

Middle East crisis: BBC on deserted streets of Sha’af  Paul Adams in Gaza

Gaza conflict: Five dead at hospital hit by Israeli strike  Lyse Doucet in Gaza

Middle East crisis: Israel releases ‘Gaza tunnel footage’  (discussed here)

Clashes go on as Israel holds funerals for the dead  John Simpson in Israel (discussed here)

Gaza crisis: Kerry Israel air strike remarks caught on mic

‘Israel united’ on Gaza offensive to eliminate militants’ tunnels  Quentin Sommerville in Israel

Coverage of the fighting in Shuja’iya continued in the same vein as the previous day and with continued promotion of unverified Hamas-supplied casualty figures which failed to distinguish between civilians and combatants. It is worth noting that to date, BBC audiences have not yet been provided with a comprehensive picture of the circumstances of the fighting in Shuja’iya. Three days after the commencement of the ground operation, the BBC produced a very unsatisfactory filmed ‘guide’ to the topic of cross-border tunnels. 

July 22nd:Chart Jul 22

Written:

Gaza conflict: Five dead at hospital hit by Israeli strike

Gaza conflict: Diplomats push for ceasefire

Gaza conflict: UN chief Ban urges end to fighting

US and European airlines suspend Israel flights

Features:

Gaza: How Hamas tunnel network grew  Dr Eado Hecht

Filmed:

Gaza-Israel: John Kerry and Sameh Shoukry hold news briefing

Gaza: Why is Rafah crossing so important?  Lyse Doucet in Gaza (discussed here)

Airlines halt flights into Israel   Samira Hussain in New York

Gaza-Israel: Casualties mount as violence continues  Paul Adams in Gaza

Relatives mourn Israeli soldier deaths as clashes go on  Quentin Sommerville in Israel

Why is Middle East truce so hard to broker?   Frank Gardner (discussed here)

John Kerry in Egypt in push for Gaza-Israel ceasefire

$47m in aid to Gaza “to alleviate the immediate humanitarian crisis”  Kerry

Notable on this day was the appearance of the first real effort to inform audiences with regard to cross-border tunnels; some four days after the ground operation their use prompted began. Also notable was the continued amplification of Hamas’ pre-ceasefire demands concerning the lifting of border restrictions and the misrepresentation of those restrictions, along with their inaccurate description as a “siege”: a theme which flourished in subsequent BBC coverage.

July 23rd:Chart Jul 23

Written:

Gaza conflict: Abbas backs Hamas ceasefire demands  (discussed here)

UN’s Navi Pillay warns of Israel Gaza ‘war crimes’

Features:

Why Israelis are rallying behind latest Gaza campaign  Gil Hoffman

What is it like to be blind in Gaza and Israel?  Emma Tracey

Filmed:

Middle East crisis: Normal life on hold in Gaza  Yolande Knell in Gaza (discussed here)

Red Cross van attacked by civilians in Gaza   Paul Adams in Gaza

UN human rights boss: Israeli action ‘could be war crimes’  Navi Pillay

Middle East crisis: Israel holds funerals for soldiers  Quentin Sommerville in Israel

Middle East crisis: Airlines suspend flights to Ben Gurion, Israel

#BBCtrending: Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies

Along with renewed promotion of the notion of ‘war crimes’, reporting on this day continued with promotion of Hamas’ pre-ceasefire demands, misrepresentation of the border restrictions imposed by Egypt and Israel and continued amplification of unverified casualty figures.  

July 24th:Chart Jul 24

Written:

Hamas says Gaza blockade must end before ceasefire (discussed here)

UN: Gaza humanitarian situation ‘dire’

Gaza UN school shelter hit, ‘killing 13′

Europe lifts ban on flights to Tel Aviv airport

Features:

Gaza: Hamas seeks to emerge stronger   Yolande Knell (discussed here)

Filmed:

Gaza conflict: Rescue mission to reach Gaza wounded Lyse Doucet in Gaza

Save the Children: Gaza shelter attack ‘shocking’

Gaza’s hospitals struggle with civilians  Ian Pannell in Gaza

Middle East crisis: Gaza UN school shelter hit, ‘killing 13′  Yolande Knell in Gaza

Middle East crisis: Gaza family on living in warzone   Yolande Knell in Gaza

Israel ‘knew building was UN shelter’ – UNRWA  Chris Gunness

Middle East crisis: UN criticism ‘a travesty’ – Netanyahu

Gaza: What are the obstacles to peace?  James Robbins (discussed here)

BBC exclusive interview with Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal   (discussed here)

Much of the day’s coverage was devoted to the incident in Beit Hanoun which the BBC immediately promoted as an Israeli ‘attack’ on a UN school, revealing much about its own impartiality. Also notable was James Robbins’ ‘backgrounder’ which provided one example among many of BBC content which downplayed or erased Hamas’ terror designation.

July 25th:Chart Jul 25

Written:

Palestinians killed in West Bank Gaza solidarity march  (discussed here)

Gaza conflict: Israel rejects truce ‘as it stands’

Features:

Israeli and Palestinian women on Gaza conflict

#BBCtrending: Sexy selfies in support of IDF

Filmed:

Gaza-Israel crisis: UNRWA ‘not informed’ before shelter attack  Chris Morris in Gaza

Middle East crisis: Israeli government on Gaza shelter deaths  Mark Regev (full interview discussed here)

Gaza-Israel: ‘You can hear the bombs and missiles’ – Israeli family  Bethany Bell in Israel

Palestinians killed in West Bank Gaza solidarity march  Nawal Assad in Qalandiya (discussed here)

Gaza baby rescued from mother killed by Israeli airstrike Ian Pannell in Gaza

Ban Ki-moon and John Kerry news briefing in Cairo

Gaza and Israel brace for ‘day of anger’  Jon Donnison in Jerusalem

Coverage of the Beit Hanoun incident continued, along with problematic reporting on riots in PA-controlled areas.

July 26th:Chart Jul 26

Written:

Gaza conflict: 12-hour truce as deaths top 900

Hamas fires rockets into Israel after Gaza truce bid

Features:

Gaza crisis: Toll of operations in Gaza (later amended and date changed to September 1st)

Filmed:

Clashes as diplomatic efforts continue to secure Gaza truce Orla Guerin in Jerusalem (discussed here)

Mark Regev: Israel ‘wants peace and quiet’

Gaza truce: ‘Smell of destruction’ in the air  Chris Morris in Gaza

Israel and Hamas agree 12-hour truce  Chris Morris in Gaza

Israel-Gaza conflict: Bodies recovered amid ceasefire  Ian Pannell in Gaza

Philip Hammond on ceasefire: ‘Stop the loss of life’    UK Foreign Secretary

 July 27th:Chart Jul 27

Written:

Israel rejects Gaza school shelter attack blame

Israel resumes Gaza offensive after Hamas rockets

Hamas announces new 24-hour Gaza ceasefire with Israel

Hamas-declared ceasefire in Gaza stalls as conflict continues (discussed here)

Features:

No place to hide for children of war in Gaza and Syria  Lyse Doucet

Filmed:

Gaza conflict: Dubai’s huge humanitarian aid mission  Mark Lobel

Israeli military: Hamas ceasefire ‘an opportunity perhaps’   Peter Lerner

Hamas announces new 24-hour Gaza ceasefire with Israel  Osama Hamdan

Hamas-declared ceasefire in Gaza stalls as conflict continues  Ian Pannell in Gaza (discussed here)

Rockets lands in Israel after ceasefire stalls  Orla Guerin in Israel (discussed here)

Middle East: Ed Miliband on Israel and Gaza violence

Prominent on this day was misleading coverage of the ceasefire and Hamas’ violations of that agreement.

Between July 18th and July 27th the predominant type of content presented to visitors to the BBC News website’s Middle East page was written news reports and a live page on the topic of the fighting in Shuja’iya was introduced for the first time on July 20th.

Foreign-based Hamas spokesmen were interviewed on just two occasions (in contrast with five interviews or footage from press conferences with Israelis) meaning that the focus of BBC reporting remained on the civilian population of the Gaza Strip. The majority of footage of interviews or press conferences with others (not Israelis or Palestinians) focused on the diplomatic efforts of the US Secretary of State, with two additional ones from UN representatives Navi Pillay and Chris Gunness and two with British politicians.

The total number of filmed reports describing the situation in Gaza during those ten days of the conflict was once again more than double the number of filmed reports describing the situation in Israel and continued to focus on emotive coverage of the effects of the conflict on the civilian population. Three additional filmed reports related to the topic of violent rioting in PA-controlled areas and Jerusalem.

Chart 18 to 27 Jul

By July 27th, visitors to the BBC News website had seen twenty-four filmed reports depicting the situation in Israel compared to fifty-three filmed reports depicting the situation in the Gaza Strip.

Chart 8 to 27 Jul

Themes which dominated initial BBC coverage of the conflict such as the promotion of the notion of ‘war crimes’ and attacks on civilians carried out by Israel continued, as did the failure to report adequately on Hamas’ use of human shields and the amplification of unverified casualty figures. The theme of border restrictions became more prominent, together with misrepresentation of the reasons for those restrictions and promotion of the inaccurate notion of a ‘siege’ on Gaza. 

Related Articles:

BBC News website coverage of Operation Protective Edge: part one

 

 

 

 

Multiple accuracy failures in BBC reporting on two Jerusalem terror attacks

Two security incidents took place in Jerusalem on August 4th. The first was an attack on a bus and a pedestrian by means of a method with which the city is sadly familiar.

“A tractor driven by a Palestinian man rammed into a bus in central Jerusalem early Monday afternoon, close to the “seam” between the western and eastern parts of the city.

A male pedestrian, later named as Avraham Walz, 29, was run over by the tractor as it headed toward the bus and was killed. The tractor driver, identified as East Jerusalem resident Muhammed Naif El-Ja’abis, 23, turned the bus over onto its side during the attack, making several efforts to do so before he succeeded. The bus driver as well as five others were lightly hurt.

Police said the attack, which took place at the end of Shmuel Hanavi Street, near the Olive Tree Hotel, was nationalistically motivated.

A police officer and Prisons Service official who realized what was happening ran up to the tractor and fired a volley of shots at the terrorist as he sat in the cab and killed him, Jerusalem police chief Yossi  Pariente said. […]

The attacker worked at a building site nearby, Pariente said. He said three of those lightly injured were on the bus. He said the quick action of those who shot the attacker “averted a much more serious incident.””

A few hours later a soldier in uniform waiting at a bus stop was shot and seriously injured by a gunman who escaped on a motorcycle.

“The shooting took place on Hanadiv Street, which separates the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Wadi al-Joz from the Hebrew University. The soldier, 20, was rushed to the nearby Hadassah Hospital Mount Scopus, where he was listed in serious condition. […]

Jerusalem police chief Yossi Pariente said the soldier was “shot at close range by a man dressed in black,” adding that the shooting was, with “very, very high likelihood,” a terror attack.”

The BBC News website’s coverage of these two incidents began in an August 4th article titled “Gaza conflict: Israeli partial ceasefire slows violence“. The report’s later version includes the following statements:

“In Jerusalem, Israeli police said a Palestinian construction vehicle driver was shot dead after an attack on a bus that killed an Israeli passer-by.

Israeli media later said one person – reportedly a soldier – had been seriously injured in a suspected drive-by shooting in Jerusalem’s Mt Scopus area.”

And:

“In Jerusalem, a construction vehicle driven by a man, identified by police as a Palestinian from east Jerusalem, overturned a bus in an ultra-Orthodox neighbourhood.

A passer-by was killed and several people were injured before police shot dead the driver.”

The article is illustrated with the following photograph (among others), vaguely captioned:

“One Israeli passerby and the Palestinian driver of an excavator were killed in Jerusalem”

Bus article 1 pic

An additional article appearing later the same day under the title “Gaza conflict: Israel ‘to pursue campaign’ as truce ends” states:

“Two attacks on Israelis were reported in Jerusalem and Israel said militant rocket fire from Gaza had continued. […]

Meanwhile in Jerusalem, a construction vehicle driven by a man, identified by police as a Palestinian from east Jerusalem, overturned a bus in an ultra-Orthodox neighbourhood.

A passer-by was killed and several people were injured before police shot dead the driver.

Later one person – reportedly a soldier – was seriously injured in a suspected drive-by shooting in Jerusalem’s Mt Scopus area.”

That report includes the following photograph, confusingly captioned:

“An attack on a bus in Jerusalem left an Israeli and a Palestinian dead”

Bus article 2 pic

The first incident was also reported on BBC television news on August 4th by Bethany Bell. The synopsis of that report as it appears on the BBC News website (“Gaza-Israel: Attacks on both sides of border despite ceasefire“) reads:

“Meanwhile, Israeli police said that someone driving a digger overturned a bus in an ultra-orthodox neighbourhood near East Jerusalem. They said that police opened fire and shot the driver.”

Why it was deemed relevant by the BBC to identify the religious persuasions of the residents of the neighbourhood in which the incident took place is unclear. 

Presenter: “We’re also getting reports that there’s been an attack on a bus in Jerusalem just in the last hour: that it was rammed into by a bulldozer. What more do you have on that?”

Bell: “Well the Israeli police say that… erm…someone driving a digger overturned a bus…err…near East Jerusalem. Emm…they say the police opened fire and shot the driver to prevent this incident from continuing and Israeli media are reporting that…emm…at least one person has died in this incident. We don’t have confirmation of that yet…err…but…emm…the police say they are treating this as what they call a terror attack at the moment. They say they’re looking into the identity of the driver.” [emphasis added]

A filmed report on the first incident by James Reynolds appeared on BBC television news as well as on the BBC News website’s Middle East page under the interestingly worded and punctuated title “Israel: Suspected ‘attack’ on bus with digger in Jerusalem“. The synopsis to that August 4th report reads:Bus Reynolds filmed

“A construction vehicle has been driven into a bus in west Jerusalem killing a passer-by, in what Israeli police are calling an “attack” which may have been “politically motivated”.

The driver of the digger, identified by police as a Palestinian from east Jerusalem, was shot by police and died at the wheel of the vehicle.

Alongside the one Israeli passer-by who died, several more were injured when the digger hit the bus.”

Reynolds’ account includes an interesting lesson on the BBC version of Jerusalem geography:

“I’m on the edge of Israeli West Jerusalem and a little earlier today a man, we’re told, stole a digger and he drove it towards this main road. You can see the digger – the 2011 yellow Hyundai. As he drove it he toppled over this bus – the 291. Let’s come and have a look here. The police have subsequently tilted it up again. The police at this stage say that they realized that there was an attack going on so the police who were nearby congregated around this excavator or digger. Come and have a look over here. And they shot dead the driver. Just have a look through here; you’ll see the broken glass. Well the driver was killed and the Israeli police say that they believe that this was possibly a politically motivated attack. That’s certainly what the Mayor of Jerusalem has said as well. We know that one Israeli civilian was killed in this attack and three others were wounded. And just to show you where we are in Jerusalem; this is the edges of Israeli West Jerusalem but just over there, beyond the second set of traffic lights, is where Arab East Jerusalem begins. The entire city is administered by Israel itself. A lot of the attention of the conflict has been focused of course on Gaza but right now today, Israel is looking at what happened here.”

The basis for Reynolds’ claim that the digger was “stolen” is not clear: according to numerous local media reports, the attacker worked at a nearby construction site.

“Ja’abis left the construction site in the digger and after travelling some 50 meters hit the bus, said a member of the Israel Police. Three people were lightly hurt when the bus was attacked. He attacked the pedestrian several dozen meters from the bus.”

And:

“The assailant, Naif Jabis of Jabek Mukaber, drove his vehicle out of a construction site, hit a 25-year-old passerby, then turned toward a nearby square, and after several meters used the digger’s arm to flip over the bus.”

The Israeli police of course did not say that the attack was “politically motivated” as Reynolds claims: they said nationalistically motivated – i.e. a terror attack. Reynolds refrains from informing audiences that the attack was later praised by Hamas officials both in the Gaza Strip and in Qatar (though not claimed) and that the perpetrator was known to the police. He also refrains from telling audiences that just days ago Hamas spokesman and frequent BBC interviewee Fawzi Barhoum called for such attacks.

“Do you not have cars, motorcycles, knives, clubs, diggers and trucks? If you do and do not hit Jews or settlers, and do not kill dozen of Zionists – then you are not Palestinian.”

A report appearing on the BBC News website early on the morning of August 5th under the title “Gaza conflict: Israel and Hamas ‘agree ceasefire’” informs readers:

“And in Jerusalem, a construction vehicle driven by a man, identified by police as a Palestinian from east Jerusalem, overturned a bus in an ultra-Orthodox neighbourhood.

A passer-by was killed and several people were injured before police shot dead the driver.

Later a soldier was seriously injured in a suspected drive-by shooting in Jerusalem’s Mt Scopus area.”

The report includes the following photograph, inaccurately captioned:

“At the same time Orthodox Jews in Jerusalem were burying a man killed in the city on Monday by a Palestinian man who had stolen a bus” [emphasis added]

Bus article 3 pic

The same article also includes a video clip of James Reynolds’ above report, again promoting the unsubstantiated notion of a stolen digger.

“James Reynolds reports from Jerusalem after Israeli police shoot a man who allegedly attacked a bus with a stolen digger” [emphasis added]

Bus article 3 pic 2

An additional report appearing on the BBC News website on August 5th under the title “Israeli troops ‘withdraw from Gaza’” has no written account of the attacks but originally included the same photograph as above with the same inaccurate caption describing a ‘stolen bus’. That photograph has now been removed.

So as we see, apart from Bethany Bell’s second-hand reference (“what they call a terror attack”), BBC audiences have not been informed that two terror attacks took place in Jerusalem on August 4th and some BBC reports even cast doubt on whether an attack took place at all. Additionally, BBC coverage includes unsubstantiated reports of a “stolen” digger along with inaccurate reports of a “stolen” bus and James Reynolds misleads audiences by misquoting the Israeli police as having described the attack as “politically motivated”. The context of previous similar attacks is erased, as is Hamas praise for the latest one.

One can only wonder what these reports would have looked like were the BBC not committed to editorial standards of accuracy and impartiality. 

Related Articles:

BBC reports on Qalandiya rioting omit live fire by Fatah terror group, whitewash Fatah terrorist

BBC’s Jon Donnison misrepresents PFLP ‘fighter commander’ as charity worker

 

BBC News’ televised coverage of missiles attacks on Israel July 30 – August 3

In our previous post we looked at coverage of the hundreds of missile attacks on Israeli civilians between July 30th and August 3rd inclusive on the BBC News website’s Middle East page. In this one we will look at coverage of the same events by the BBC’s correspondents on the ground in Israel at the time: Orla Guerin, Bethany Bell and James Reynolds.Missiles filmed 1

To recap: on July 30th 140 missiles were fired from the Gaza Strip. On July 31st 102 missiles were launched, 17 of which were intercepted and 76 hit Israel including one direct hit on an apartment in Kiryat Gat. On August 1st over sixty missiles were fired and on August 2nd, eighty-six, of which 58 hit Israel and six were intercepted. On August 3rd 119 missiles were launched, of which 109 hit Israel and eight were intercepted.

Filmed reports broadcast on BBC television news during that time which supposedly showed the Israeli side of the story included three by Orla Guerin, one by Bethany Bell and two by James Reynolds.

Aspects of Orla Guerin’s report of July 30th (“Gaza crisis: Israel’s military strategy“) have already been discussed here. The only mention of missile fire at Israeli civilians in that report comes from Guerin’s interviewee Ya’akov Amidror.

“If Hamas will not stop launch missiles and rockets, as it did even today…”

Viewers did however see a full 20 seconds of footage of Israeli tanks, bulldozers and other heavy equipment in that 160 second-long report.Missiles filmed 2

Guerin’s July 31st report (“Gaza crisis: Israel releases ‘aborted airstrike’ video“) in which she visited an air-force simulator has also been discussed here previously. No mention of missiles fired by terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip at Israeli civilians appears at all in that 189 second-long report, but its last 59 seconds are all dedicated to footage of Israeli soldiers and more tanks and jeeps.

On August 1st Orla Guerin was to be found presenting a report inaccurately and misleadingly titled “Israeli soldier ‘captured’ by militants as ceasefire ends“. That report also opens with thirteen seconds of footage of Israeli tanks and in addition Guerin takes a ride on an Israeli naval vessel – or as she calls it, a “fast attack missile boat”. Towards the end of the report Guerin goes to visit Kibbutz Kfar Aza.

Guerin: “Back on dry land, the deserted streets of Kfar Aza. This Israeli kibbutz sits on the border with Gaza. Most residents have fled.”

Her interviewee shows damage to a building.

“Luckily this is a bomb shelter so it took most of the impact and you can see nothing actually penetrated the house.”

Guerin: “Noam Stahl is one of the few who remains after twelve incoming hits in recent weeks and the constant percussion of outgoing Israeli artillery.”Missiles filmed 3

But if viewers perhaps anticipated at this point that they may get to hear more about Mr Stahl’s experiences of living under terrorist missile fire not just in “recent weeks”, but for the past thirteen years, they would be disappointed. Orla Guerin had other priorities.

“Do you still believe in the idea of peace between Israelis and Palestinians? Do you think it can be achieved?”

On August 2nd Bethany Bell produced a report titled “Israeli forces continue search for soldier missing in Gaza“. With the exception of 14 seconds of footage, that entire 73 second-long report shows images of tanks, APCs and soldiers. Bell does tell viewers:

“…and Hamas has fired more rockets into Israel – about ten today. Sirens have been sounding over various parts of central Israel and along the border with the Gaza Strip…”

James Reynolds produced a report on August 3rd titled “Gaza crisis: BBC reports from Israeli staging post“. All of the footage of that 94 second-long report shows Israeli tanks. Reynolds gives a decent, if short, representation of the scale and purpose of Hamas’ cross-border attack tunnels and also says:Missiles filmed 4

“But of course Israelis in this border area want the army to do much more than just find tunnels. They want the army to stop all rocket fire, all mortar fire from Gaza towards Israel. And just before we started recording we heard an alarm here and everyone was told to get in their tanks. There was a warning of a mortar coming in. It didn’t land around this area but nevertheless I think it shows that the overall fight between Israel and Hamas continues…”

An additional report by James Reynolds later on the same date – August 3rd – appeared under the rather pompous title “Gaza conflict: BBC assesses Israel’s military campaign” and the first 30 seconds of that report (104 seconds all told) also show Israeli tanks and APCs. Reynolds then goes to Kibbutz Kfar Aza.

“Batya Holin lives in the border village of Kfar Aza – a target of Palestinian rockets. Ninety percent of her neighbours have fled their homes.”

Holin: “I want that all the missiles will stop. I really want that all our people that live now outside of this area will come back and we can live quiet.”

Reynolds also interviews a reservist who says:

“You know the motivation is very high because before most of us came here we had like shooting in our places. I was caught up like next to my place in Tel Aviv. I was in the shelter and there was nothing I can do so I understand that we have to do Missiles filmed 5something and we have to come and finish here the thing with Hamas.”

Reynolds closes with the following odd and unsourced claim regarding the fallen soldier Lt. Hadar Goldin:

“Israel calls his death part of this country’s unfinished war of independence.”

During the five days in which the above six reports were produced, hundreds of missiles were fired by terrorist organisations in the Gaza Strip at Israeli civilians. BBC television news audiences heard of “about ten” rockets from Bethany Bell and of one mortar from James Reynolds. They heard general statements regarding missile fire from various interviewees, with all those interviews conducted in calm circumstances which contrast sharply with the type of footage from the Gaza Strip which has been shown on BBC television news in recent weeks.

There are no images of injured civilians or of crying women and children, no pictures from emergency rooms or hospital wards and only one short section of footage of minor damage to a building in six reports. The direct hit on an apartment in Kiryat Gat on July 31st was not mentioned and no live footage of it or any of the other attacks were shown. Two of the reports note that many residents of area around the Gaza Strip have had to evacuate their homes because of missile fire from the Gaza Strip, but the BBC has to date not made any attempt to portray the experiences of those people.

The extensive useMissiles filmed 6 of footage of soldiers, tanks, APCs and other military equipment contrasts sharply with the fact that BBC audiences have not seen even one image of an armed terrorist, an anti-tank missile or mortar being fired by terrorists or a missile launcher in over four weeks of intense BBC coverage from the Gaza Strip. 

These filmed reports cannot be said to give BBC audiences a realistic and comprehensive idea of the Israeli side of the story or to reflect the scale and intensity of the ongoing attacks from the Gaza Strip in the period from July 31st to August 3rd. In common with the written coverage appearing on the BBC News website, they certainly cannot be said to support the claim made by the BBC complaints department that “BBC News has reported extensively on the series of rocket attacks launched by Hamas and other Palestinian militants into southern and central Israel in recent weeks”.  

 

Additions to stock BBC euphemisms for terrorist

On September 8th 2013 the BBC News website’s Middle East page offered visitors the opportunity to read a story headlined “Egypt army attacks Sinai militants”. 

HP attacks sinai militants

The link leads to a report now titled “Egypt army launches offensive against Sinai militants” but which originally ran under the same title as that homepage headline. Over the weekend that article was the most read of all the reports on the Middle East page.

Most popular

Confusingly, readers may also have come across another article at a different URL titled “Egyptian army bombards Sinai militants” which, despite having been last updated some five hours after the initial publication of the other article on the same subject, appears to have run alongside it for some time. 

Egypt bombards

Whilst the BBC’s usual practice of using the euphemism ‘militants’ to describe armed terrorists continues in the version of the report now appearing on the Middle East homepage, we also see some interesting additions to the terminology employed.

“A security official said “dozens” of insurgent suspects had been wounded in the attack.”

Rebel fighters in the region can threaten Israeli cities with long-range rockets. Weapons are being trafficked across the desert from Sudan and Libya into the Hamas-run Gaza.” [emphasis added]

The Oxford Dictionary defines the noun ‘rebel’ as:

“a person who rises in opposition or armed resistance against an established government or leader”

And it defines ‘insurgent’ as:

“a person fighting against a government or invading force; a rebel or revolutionary”

Of course terrorist activity in the Sinai Peninsula has been going on whilst three different ruling bodies were in power in Egypt – the Mubarak regime, the Morsi government and most recently the current Egyptian army-led administration. The terrorists operating in Sinai are therefore ill-defined as ‘rebels’ or ‘insurgents': their activity is obviously not dependent upon a specific Egyptian government or leader being in power and the religious dimension to their ideology is not adequately reflected by the use of those terms. 

Interestingly, the BBC’s version of the story completely neglects to reflect the links or affiliations of what it at best terms “Islamist militants” in Sinai to Al Qaeda or to mention the presence of foreign terrorists in Sinai and once again the connection between terrorism in Sinai and the Gaza Strip is erased from the picture presented to BBC audiences.

 

Which themes got most exposure on the BBC News website in August?

The volume of articles concerning Israel which appear consistently on the BBC News website has been recorded over the last six months in our series of articles titled “BBC Israel focus in numbers”. There we record not only the appearance of an article, but also its exposure in terms of the number of days it is left up on the webpage. A closer look at the exposure of some of the articles published throughout the month of August 2013 suggests an interesting trend. 

The longest time any Israel-related article was left up on the Middle East homepage was eight days, with four articles falling into that category, including Jon Donnison’s attempt to persuade readers that Gaza has “some of the highest population densities in the world” which was discussed here. Two other articles which appeared on the website for eight consecutive days were Jonathan Marcus’ “Does Middle-East peace process matter?”  and Bethany Bell’s “Scepticism all round amid renewed Mid-East peace talks”

The fourth article left up for eight days was titled “Palestinian shot dead by Israeli troops on Gaza border” . Another article about an incident in Jenin, titled “Palestinian killed in Israeli raid in West Bank” , was left up on the webpage for seven consecutive days whilst the report on the riots in Qalandiya headlined “Palestinians killed in clashes with Israeli police” was viewable for three days running.

A report titled “Israeli jets bomb Lebanon target after rocket strike” was viewable on the Middle East homepage for six consecutive days. In contrast, the BBC report on the missile fire which caused the Israeli response only appeared on the website for a matter of hours. 

A report on the closure of Eilat airport due to security assessments stayed on the website for two days whilst another article about an air-strike against terrorists in Sinai was viewable for seven consecutive days.

Here at BBC Watch we have frequently remarked on the BBC’s tendency to fail to report many if not most of the terror attacks – attempted and executed – against Israeli civilians. But according to the statistics for August, it appears that even when the BBC does report on threats or attacks against Israelis, those reports are given less exposure than articles dealing with Israeli responses to terror attacks or Israeli counter-terrorism activities in which there are Palestinian casualties. We will of course continue to monitor this apparent trend.

A great deal of the Israel-related content which appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page during August was connected to the renewal of talks between Israel and the Palestinians. Three main categories of subject matter – often all appearing in the same report – can be identified: the issue of the talks themselves, the accompanying ‘goodwill gesture’ release of 26 Palestinian prisoners convicted of terrorist acts and the subject of Israeli construction which the BBC promoted vigorously throughout the month as ‘sabotaging’ the renewed talks – even though that was clearly not the case. 

Articles about the talks themselves included “Livni urges Israel coalition to support peace talks” which appeared on the website for three days and “Israel-Palestinian peace talks to resume in Jerusalem” which includes standard BBC presentations of the subject of Israeli building and ran for two days. The backgrounder titled “Q&A: Israeli-Palestinian talks in Jerusalem“, which also presents Israeli construction as ‘sabotaging’ talks, ran for two days on the Middle East homepage and an article called “Israel-Palestinian peace talks resume in Jerusalem” likewise including promotion of the same theme appeared for four consecutive days. 

Articles about the prisoner release included “Israel names 26 Palestinian prisoners for release” which ran for one day and “Profiles of Palestinian prisoners set to be released” which likewise ran for one day – but not on the Middle East page. Also appearing for one day was the article titled “Palestinian prisoners ‘moved’ before Israel release” which actually devoted the majority of its content to the subject of Israeli building tenders.  That subject also appeared in Kevin Connolly’s “Little hope for talks among Israelis and Palestinians” which ran for three consecutive days.

Other reports promoting the theme of construction in neighbourhoods the BBC describes as “settlements” as a threat to peace talks included “Israel widens Jewish settlement subsidies” which ran on the Middle East page for five consecutive days, “Israel backs new Jewish settlement homes” which ran for several hours before being replaced with “New West Bank settlement homes anger Palestinians” which ran for one day and “Kerry: Israeli settlements move was expected” which appeared for two days. 

Thus we see that audience exposure to written articles promoting the notion of Israeli construction as a threat to peace talks throughout August was considerably greater than, for example, exposure to the issue of terror as an obstacle to peace. Obviously, the BBC’s reputation for impartiality depends not only upon actual written or spoken content, but also on the editorial decisions behind the prioritising of some reports over others. 

Related articles:

Filmed reports on the BBC News website’s Middle East page in August

BBC Israel focus in numbers – August 2013

Filmed reports on the BBC News website’s Middle East page in August

Our monthly count of Israel-related articles and comparison with the amount of exposure given to other countries in the region on the BBC News website’s Middle East page relates to written articles only. Also featured on the same webpage, under the heading “Watch/Listen”, are filmed reports which previously appeared on BBC television news.

During the month of August, a total of twelve such reports relating to Israel appeared on the Middle East page and they are categorized here according to the number of days they were left up on the site. 

Appeared for one day:

Kerry hopeful on Mid-East talks despite settlement move

Kerry

Appeared for two days:

Syria crisis: Israelis queue for gas masks – Richard Galpin.

Galpin gas masks

Israel frees Palestinian prisoners – Yolande Knell – discussed here.

Knell prisoner release

Israel frees Palestinian prisoners – Yolande Knell – discussed here.

Knell prisoner release 2

Shimon Peres: ‘Live in peace side by side’

Peres

Israel’s President Shimon Peres turns 90 – Lyse Doucet. 

Peres 90 Doucet

Appeared for three days:

Israeli hospital treats Syrian war-wounded – Sam Farah – discussed here.

Syrian wounded

Appeared for four days:

Would new Israeli ports bring efficiency or job losses? – Jonathan Frewin.

Ports Jonathan Frewin

Why Mid-East peace talks now? – Bethany Bell – discussed here. Originally posted in July, continued to run in August. 

Bell talks

Appeared for five days:

‘Last airlift’ of Ethiopian Jews to Israel – Emily Thomas. Still on the website at the time of writing.

Ethiopian new immigrants

New Israeli settlement homes anger Palestinians – Kevin Connolly – discussed here.

Connolly construction

Appeared for six days:

Palestinian prisoner release highlights divisions – Kevin Connolly – discussed here.

Connolly prisoner release

As we see, more than half of these filmed reports are connected to the subject of the talks between Israel and the Palestinians and in terms of exposure, that issue was the subject matter of two of the longest running reports. Seven of the items promote the theme of Israeli construction as ‘sabotaging’ or jeopardizing the talks (which was a major theme on the BBC News website throughout August) and the BBC-written synopsis of the report featuring Shimon Peres’ speech does the same. The total number of days the eight articles promoting that theme remained on the website is twenty-four. 

BBC showcases convicted anti-Israel activist in context-free illustration

On July 31st 2013 an article by Bethany Bell titled “Scepticism all round amid renewed Mid-East peace talks” appeared in the ‘Features & Analysis’ section on the Middle East Page of the BBC News website. 

F and A Bell article hp

Bell’s article is of little interest, being nothing more than a collection of ‘he said, she said’ beachcombed from other media outlets and hearsay, and with the usual BBC euphemisms used to describe a terrorist organization.

“Many Palestinians are deeply sceptical about the prospects for peace, both in the West Bank, where President Mahmoud Abbas is in power, and in the Gaza Strip, which is controlled by the Islamist group Hamas.” [emphasis added]

To her credit, however, Bell does at least mention the Hamas Charter:

“Under its charter, Hamas is committed to the destruction of Israel. It has repeatedly condemned efforts for peace.”

But what really stands out about this article is the choice of photograph used to illustrate it. 

bell article abu rahma

That picture is over five and a half years old, having been taken in December 2007 in Bil’in.

Source pic abu rahma

The person on the right is prominent anti-Israel campaigner Adib (also spelt Adeeb) Abu Rahma (also spelt Rahmeh) who has played a lead role (literally) in the weekly violent demonstrations in Bil’in and appears extensively in the film ‘Five Broken Cameras’. Abu Rahma’s deliberate, and sometimes violent, provocation of Israeli soldiers guarding the fence at Bil’in is extremely well documented.  

abu rahma 1

abu rahma 2

abu rahma 3

In 2009/10 Abu Rahma – a taxi driver and father of nine who is a member of Bil’in’s ‘Fence Committee’ – spent 18 months in detention after having been convicted of incitement to violence and disturbing the public order, among other things. Ironically, filmed footage of Abu Rahma’s actions – shot by the co-director of ‘Five Broken Cameras’, Emad Burnat – was instrumental in his conviction.

The BBC, however, does not trouble its audiences with the all-important background to this picture: it presents it out of context as a representation of ‘the conflict’, when in fact it is an illustration of Palestinian provocation through amateur dramatics.

But of course what readers are supposed to take away after viewing this BBC-selected image is the simplistic impression of unarmed Palestinian civilians up against armed Israeli soldiers: an impression of an imbalanced conflict. And that is the overall narrative which the BBC promotes in words and by omission, as well as through the use of selected images.  

 

What are BBC audiences being told about ME talks?

The July 30th edition of BBC News website’s Middle East page promotes a filmed report entitled “Why Mid-East peace talks now?” in two of its sections. 

Bell MEPT

Bell MEPT filmed

Contrary to the impression viewers might receive, this report by Bethany Bell was not made for CBeebies, but was broadcast on BBC television news programmes aimed at adult audiences.

Bell informs her audiences that:

“The Americans are worried that time is running out for peace as more Jewish settlements are built on occupied Palestinian land in the West Bank.” [emphasis added]

The jaded chimera of “time running out for peace” is of course an empty cliché which has been repeatedly promoted by assorted actors for over two decades, but apparently that fact does not stop the BBC’s new Jerusalem correspondent from offering up her own particular contribution to the altar of that myth. 

Neither does it seem that Ms Bell is particularly interested in accurately reporting on the subject of the building of Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria. She obviously has difficulty in distinguishing between “Jewish” and Israeli – despite that subject having been addressed in the BBC’s recently updated version of its “Key Terms” guide.

“Jewish 

Be careful over whether you mean ‘Israeli’ or ‘Jewish’: the latter might imply that the story is about race or religion, rather than the actions of the state or its citizens.”

Bell also misleads audiences with regard to the location of building itself, which of course takes place within the municipal boundaries of existing towns and villages and not – as Bell’s report clearly suggests – on new sites.

Bell’s use of the phrase “occupied Palestinian land” is obviously both inaccurate and partial as the land in question is subject to final status negotiations according to agreements signed by the Palestinians themselves and was never “Palestinian”, but previously under illegal Jordanian occupation for 19 years, before that part of the British-administered Mandate established by the League of Nations and prior to that, part of the Ottoman empire for four hundred years.

So that’s three politically motivated deliberate inaccuracies and a myth in one sentence from a journalist charged with ensuring that BBC audiences remain informed about the Middle East. And it does not get any better: next Bell tries to co-opt her viewers to the plainly ridiculous notion that an Israeli – Palestinian peace settlement is at the epicentre of the Middle East as a whole. Apparently without realizing the comedy value of her words, she begins by telling audiences:

“And they’re [the Americans] concerned that Israel is getting more and more isolated in an increasingly volatile and unstable Middle East.”

After showing footage of the civil war in Syria and the unrest in Egypt, Bell goes on to opine that:

“Progress on the Israeli – Palestinian issue would bring some welcome stability to the region.”

Later in the report Bell does a couple of ‘standing on a hill overlooking the subject matter’ shots. With the Gaza Strip in the background she  talks about the euphemistically-termed “Islamist group Hamas” and with Jerusalem as her backdrop she gives audiences a dumbed-down caricature laced with obviously politically motivated equivalence.

“The issues at stake have eluded solution for years. One of the most difficult is this place – the Old City of Jerusalem with its holy sites – claimed by both sides.”

The renewal of talks provides ample opportunities for journalists to offer serious, in-depth information and analysis on the subject of the Arab-Israeli conflict and the peace process for audiences in the United Kingdom and around the world. Sadly, it seems that the BBC is not interested in making the most of those opportunities in order to meet its designated public purpose of providing it funders with “high-quality coverage of global issues in its news and current affairs and other output for the UK”.

 Instead, the best the BBC can do is to resurrect a standard set of dumbed-down, tired narratives which are so transparently politically motivated as to border on the cartoonish and which fail to conform to its own editorial guidelines on accuracy and impartiality, making a mockery out of its professed aspiration “to remain the standard-setter for international journalism”.

 

BBC’s Bell suggests Maccabiah Games are racist

Participation in some international sporting events is conditioned on geography – for example the Pan-American Games, the All-African Games or the Pacific Games. The right to take part in the Commonwealth Games depends on historical and cultural alliances and in the Youth Olympic Games participation is limited by age. The Pan-Arab Games are open to athletes from predominantly Muslim Arab countries.  

As far as this writer is aware, it has not occurred to the BBC to imply to its audiences that controversy surrounds – or should surround – any of those sporting events due to the non-inclusion of participants who do not meet their specific criteria. 

So consider the following passage from a July 27th article about the Maccabiah Games by Bethany Bell which appeared in the ‘Features & Analysis’ section of the BBC News website’s Middle East page. 

“While a handful of Israeli Arabs take part in the games, this is an overwhelmingly Jewish event, something that the Israeli sports commentator Ron Kofman has criticised.

“If there is a sports event, everyone who wants to come should come, from Morocco, from Tunisia, from Kuwait, from Iran, from Iraq,” Mr Kofman says. “It’s sport. There’s no room for religion or race in sports.” “

Whether or not Bell is familiar with the ‘colourful’ reputation of the one sports journalist she elected to showcase and quote in this article is unclear, but certainly she appears to be treading a path already well-worn by other BBC journalists by using the subject of sport as a springboard from which to try to influence audience perceptions of Israel.

Groundwork and maintenance on BBC’s ‘From Our Own Correspondent’

The June 13th 2013 edition of ‘From Our Own Correspondent’ – broadcast both on BBC Radio 4 and on the World Service – included an item by Bethany Bell (usually to be found in Vienna) reporting from the Golan Heights and a second item from Yolande Knell in the Gaza Strip.

The programme can be heard here, or as a podcast here. Bell’s report begins at 06:16 and Knell’s at 17:04. 

FOOC cherries Golan & Gaza

Concurrently, an article based on Bell’s report appeared in the Magazine section of the BBC News website on June 14th, as well as on its Middle East page. 

cherries Golan Bell

Bell’s report focuses on the residents of the four Druze villages in the northern Golan Heights, currently busy with the cherry picking season. Like most journalistic forays into the area it presents a monochrome picture of the Golan’s Druze community, putting the accent upon their self-identification with Syria and – in the majority of cases – their support for the Assad regime, but obviously without understanding the background to those factors. Bell says: SONY DSC

“Traditionally the Druze have had close religious and political ties to the family of the Syrian leader Bashar al Assad. The secretive Druze religion, like Mr Assad’s Alawite sect, draws on branches of Shia Islam and strong Syrian nationalism has tended to mean loyalty to the Assads.”

Bell makes little attempt to dig deeper, apart from her brief paraphrasing of one interviewee.

“But lots of people in the Golan are still in the middle and they’re too frightened to take part in [anti-Assad] protests they’ve seen here because they’re worried that could hurt their relatives in Syria.”

Listeners to Bell’s report are left in ignorance of the fact that a proportion of the Druze living in the northern Golan already hold Israeli citizenship and that those numbers have risen since the beginning of the civil war in Syria. They are not told of economic aspects such as the free tuition in Syrian universities which the Golan Druze have enjoyed for years or that Druze apple farmers, who were convinced this last season that they were going to be left with a business-destroying glut of fruit, were surprised and relieved when the Assad regime once again purchased their produce despite the ongoing civil war. Neither does Bell appear to be in the least bit curious about the wider connections of the minority of activists who openly oppose the Assad regime.

Having laid the groundwork for homogeneous BBC audience impressions of ‘occupied Syrians’ on Israel’s north-eastern border, the programme later moves on to the job of maintaining existing impressions about its south-western one with Yolande Knell’s report from the Gaza Strip. 

In that report audiences hear an introduction by presenter Kate Adie in which she says:

“Thousands of Palestinians marched from Gaza City to close to the Israeli border the other day to demand the liberation of east Jerusalem which was occupied by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war.”

The event to which Adie refers was actually one of the events organised by the ‘Global March to Jerusalem’ campaign: a conglomeration of Islamists from Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood and the Iranian regime, among others, but Adie’s reference to the event fails to inform listeners of that fact.

Adie also states in her introduction that:

“Israel continues to impose sanctions on Gaza. The blockade limits the movement of goods in and out of the Strip.”

Yolande Knell, however, opens her report with a tale of KFC fast food smuggled into the Gaza Strip from El Arish in Egypt and Hamas limitations on that enterprise – neither of which of course have anything whatsoever to do with Israel. But Knell is soon back on target, with references to “daily hardship” and “food rations” and explaining to listeners that:

“Their struggle’s largely caused by border restrictions that were tightened by Israel and Egypt in 2007 when Hamas – which refuses to recognise Israel – took control here.”

Knell’s meticulous airbrushing of the very significant subject of terrorism out of the picture continues throughout her report, compromising its impartiality and accuracy. Later Knell says:

“While border restrictions have been reduced, there are still regular power cuts and a ban on most exports. This constricts industry and unemployment is high at around 30%.”

The power cuts in fact have their roots in Hamas policies dating back to 2011:

“Meanwhile, Hamas has stopped buying fuel for the Gaza power plant from the Palestinian Authority. The fuel, which was itself purchased by the PA from Israel, is believed to have been replaced by a steady supply of fuel smuggled in from Egypt through the Rafah tunnels.

This is a significant coup for Hamas, from an economic point of view.

Hamas previously received 150,000 liters of fuel per day from Israel, via the Palestinian Authority.”

That Hamas plan went sour when Egypt began clamping down on smuggling through the tunnels, but Western journalists such as Knell still insinuate that power cuts in the Gaza Strip are Israel’s fault.  Likewise, Knell’s banal claim that “most exports” are “banned” is simply a fabrication and fails to provide listeners with the context of the effects of terror activity upon the crossings. 

Knell employs the same policy of omission of context in her story of Gazans “playing football on a field partly obliterated by an Israeli air strike” – without clarifying whether that same football field was one of those used to launch missiles at Israeli civilians. Her tales of “classic cars repaired for everyday use” and “Gazans resorting to donkeys when their cars ran out of fuel” naturally omit any mention of the latest craze for brand new Chinese cars in the Gaza Strip.

But Knell’s aim in this report is very clear: what listeners are supposed to go away with is not accurate and impartial insight into the situation in the Gaza Strip or new knowledge about it, but the much peddled emotion-directed message that:

“Gaza specializes in tales of creativity in overcoming adversity.”

Knell’s final story is that of Mohammad Assaf – a contestant in the ‘Arab Idol’ reality show who Knell claims is “a new hero” in the Gaza Strip, describing his participation in the show “another triumph in tough times”. Naturally, Knell avoids any mention of the fact that Assaf’s song, which she reports as being extremely popular in Gaza, eradicates Israel from the map of the Middle East. 

“Oh flying bird, circling round, 
My eyes protect you and Allah keeps you safe 
By Allah, oh traveling [bird], I burn with envy 
My country Palestine is beautiful 
Turn to Safed and then to Tiberias, 
And send regards to the sea of Acre and Haifa 
Don’t forget Nazareth – the Arab fortress, 
And tell Beit Shean about its people’s return 
By Allah, oh traveling [bird], I burn with envy 
My country Palestine is beautiful.” 

‘From Our Own Correspondent’ claims to offer:

“Insight, wit and analysis as BBC correspondents, journalists and writers take a closer look at the stories behind the headlines.”

Neither of these items by Bell and Knell meets that description. In fact, both reports actually do more to hinder audience insight than to promote it. There is something fundamentally disturbing and condescending about the attempts by Yolande Knell – and to a lesser extent, Bethany Bell – to shoehorn local populations in the Middle East into their own pre-existing tendentious narratives either by deliberate omission of context in the case of the former, or a lack of curiosity to look beyond the obvious in the case of the latter. That is made even more grave by the fact that these are journalists supposedly obliged to adhere to standards of accuracy and impartiality.