A Jerusalem event for BBC watchers

Readers in Israel are invited to the following event:Event Jlem Nov 9

Join CAMERA in Jerusalem on November 9th for a panel discussion on Israel, Hamas, and media coverage of Gaza this summer.

Hamas boasts it won the media war that raged on alongside the military battle. Did major foreign media outlets echo the Hamas storyline? Were journalists intimidated? Were the New York Times and the BBC impartial? How does the Israeli media affect international coverage?

Join us for a discussion of these urgent questions and what we can do to promote responsible and accurate coverage.

Details concerning venue and registration can be found here.

Hoping to see you there! 

Congratulations! CAMERA wins Hasby Award

Over at the Elder of Ziyon blogspot it is Hasby Awards season and the results of the winners of various categories are being announced this week.

BBC Watch is very proud to have been nominated in the “Best Mainstream Media Watchdog” category – especially as the ‘youngest’ of all the nominees – and thanks all those who nominated and cast votes. Hasby

The category was won by our colleagues at CAMERA.

“Besides having a stellar year with dozens of articles showing bias in the New York Times alone (and forcing many corrections), CAMERA also freely released its monograph on that paper detailing its bias during 2011. They were in the forefront of identifying systemic Christian anti-Zionist trends. And they also oversee their fellow nominees, the excellent CiFWatch and BBCWatch, as well as Presspectiva and a couple of other specific sites for Spanish speakers and college students.”

Congratulations to all at CAMERA on a very well-deserved win. 

New CAMERA office in Jerusalem

Mazal Tov to our colleagues at CAMERA, CiF Watch and Presspectiva who have moved into a new office in Jerusalem. door photo smaller

“CAMERA, the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America, announced the expansion of its Israel operations with the opening of its Jerusalem office this week. The new facility will serve as the center for CAMERA’s presence in Israel and will enable increased activity in promoting accurate coverage of Israel and the Middle East in the North American, European and Israeli media.

Strategically located at a prestigious technology park which houses several major international media outlets as well as Israel’s Government Press Office, the new office is home to two CAMERA affiliates. Presspectiva, CAMERA’s popular Hebrew-language website launched in 2010, will share space with the influential CiF Watch, which monitors the Guardian and other British media outlets.

 BBC Watch, CiF Watch’s sister site, will continue to operate from its branch in northern Israel.”

Read more about it here.

BBC’s Jim Muir paints ‘cartoon villain’ Israel

On May 22nd 2013 the BBC News website’s Middle East page included an article by Beirut correspondent Jim Muir titled “Hezbollah plunges deeper into Syrian conflict“.

Muir Hizb

Our colleague at CAMERA Gilead Ini took a look at one particularly strange aspect of Muir’s report.

“In a BBC article about Hezbollah’s involvement in the Syrian conflict, the reporter introduces readers to a shadowy figure lurking in the background and laughing maniacally over the bodies of the dead. The identity of that cartoonish culprit might not come as a surprise to those familiar with the BBC’s Mideast coverage: It is Israel.

If we’re exaggerating here, it’s only slightly. The May 22 story, “Hezbollah plunges deeper into Syrian conflict” by BBC Beirut correspondent Jim Muir, is mostly about intra-Arab clashes, until the reporter and his anonymous source take readers on a little detour: 

“Yes, it’s a risk for Hezbollah, but it’s part of Iran’s overarching regional strategy: the Syrian regime must not fall,” said one well-placed Shia observer.

“It’s all systems go, and Iran will unleash everything it has to. It and Hezbollah consider this a threat to their political existence.”

“Israel’s interest is to see the civil war continue and Hezbollah sucked in and massacred as it has been in the past few days, when they’ve lost 40 fighters. It’s a grinding machine, and Israel is laughing and happy.”

Indeed, put like that, it is hard to imagine Israel not being happy to see what it regards as extremists and terrorists from both the Shia and Sunni sides of the sectarian divide at each other’s throats in Syria.” [emphasis added]

It is apparently quite easy for the BBC reporter to imagine Israel as a caricature, rubbing its hands together gleefully as it watches the carnage in Syria, but very difficult to envision the real country, and its real sense of concern with the upheaval on its northern border.”

Read the rest of Gilead’s commentary here

BBC advances Palestinian narrative on ‘E1′

In no fewer than three articles currently available on the BBC News website’s Middle East page, we find the promotion of the narrative according to which Israeli building in the area known as E1 would prevent territorial contiguity in a future Palestinian state. 

An article from November 30th 2012 entitled “Israel to build 3,000 settler homes after UN vote” states that:

“Plans to build settlements in the area, known as E1, are strongly opposed by Palestinians, who say the development will cut the West Bank in two, preventing the creation of a contiguous Palestinian state.”

Another article from December 1st 2012, entitled “Hillary Clinton warns Israel on settler homes” repeats the same mantra:

“Plans to build settlements in the area, known as E1, are strongly opposed by Palestinians, who say the development will cut the West Bank in two, preventing the creation of a contiguous Palestinian state.”

A third article entitled “UN’s Ban Ki-moon warns Israel of ‘fatal blow’ to peace“, dated December 3rd 2012, states:

“Plans for construction in the E1 envelope are strongly opposed by Palestinians, who say such development will prevent the creation of a contiguous Palestinian state.”

All three articles also include the same not-so-handy map, which does little to explain the issue to BBC audiences. 

bbc map E1

The claim repeated in all three of the BBC articles above is far from a new one. Back in 2005 our colleagues at CAMERA produced a much more comprehensive map which puts the subject of “E1″ into perspective. 

map E1 camera

For an explanation of the map and more reading on the subject, see here


An additional article from December 3rd – “UK and France summon Israeli envoys in settlements row” – promotes the same erroneous narrative both in the body of the article itself and in a sidebar with analysis from the BBC’s Diplomatic Correspondent Jonathan Marcus.  

JM art E1


Yet another article published on December 3rd  – written by Jonathan Marcus and entitled “Israeli settlement move risks diplomatic fallout” – also repeats the same narrative. Notably, in both cases Marcus omits the caveat of “Palestinians say”, thus presenting the narrative as fact.

Whilst referring to the Israeli decision not to transfer customs revenues to the Palestinian Authority this month, Marcus makes no mention of the long standing arrears well in excess of 700 million shekels which the Israeli Electricity Corporation is owed by the PA and the Palestinian-owned ‘East Jerusalem Electricity Company’ (which supplies power to Ramallah, Bethlehem, Jericho and Beit Jala, among other places) and which those revenues will go towards paying. 

The Israeli Electric Corporation also supplies electricity to Gaza, for which it does not receive any payment from the Hamas regime, as well as to parts of PA-controlled territory not supplied by the ‘East Jerusalem Electricity Company’ such as Jenin and Hebron. The cost of that electricity is taken from the revenues collected on behalf of the PA by Israel. The Palestinian Authority uses some 7% of the total electricity generated by the Israeli Electric Corporation.  Meanwhile, Israeli consumers were informed this year that their electricity bills will rise by 31% over the next three years.  

JM 2 E1



BBC Jerusalem Bureau chief Danahar on US radio

Our colleagues at CAMERA have noted that the head of the BBC Jerusalem Bureau Paul Danahar appeared on a radio station in the United States on November 15th

“The World, a popular radio news that airs on over 300 stations across America, is a co-production of the BBC, Public Radio International, and WGBH/Boston. So it wasn’t a surprise when host Aaron Schachter turned to a BBC journalist during the Nov. 15 program about the conflict between Israel and the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

Unfortunately it also wasn’t surprising when Paul Danahar, the BBC reporter, seemed to justify the use of Palestinian population centers by terrorists firing rockets into Israel, an act that violates international law.”

Read the rest here

BBC uses photo of exploited child to promote anti-Israel propaganda

According to the BBC’s Editorial Guidelines

“Material from Third Parties


Material supplied by third parties needs to be treated with appropriate caution, taking account of the reputation of the source.


We should only broadcast material from third parties who may have a personal or professional interest in its subject matter if there is a clear editorial justification.  The material should be labelled.  This includes material from the emergency services, charities, and environmental groups.”

Amnesty International long since ceased even trying to pretend to appear objective on the subject of Israel. Its London premises regularly host some of the more extremist anti—Israel campaigners. 

Despite that, and despite the clear guidelines quoted above, a November 6th report on the BBC News website is actually little more than a slightly re-hashed version of an Amnesty International press release on the subject of 44 year-old Bassem Mohamed Abed Alrahman Tamimi from Nabi Saleh who, having violated the terms of two suspended sentences pending against him since April 2012, was recently sentenced to a term in prison.  

Tamimi is the coordinator of the Nabi Saleh branch of the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee which, among other things, organizes the weekly violent demonstrations in that village. On October 24th 2012, he was one of a group of Palestinians, anarchists and some 20 foreign activists from the International Solidarity Movement who staged an unauthorized demonstration at the Rami Levy supermarket in Sha’ar Binyamin.

The BBC article quotes Amnesty International: 

“It said he [Tamimi] had been held solely for peacefully expressing his rights to freedom of expression of assembly when he attended a non-violent protest on 24 October at an Israeli-owned supermarket near Shaar Benjamin against the encroachment of settlers onto Palestinian land.”

The supermarket in question is actually a model of co-existence and exemplifies the kind of relations of which those of us in the region – Jews and Arabs alike – who aspire to peace would like to see more. Sixty of the 134 employees at the supermarket are Palestinian. Jews and Arabs work and shop there (and elsewhere) side by side every day. 

Co-existence in the Rami Levy supermarket in Sha’ar Binyamin (Photo: Atta Awisat)

But in recent months, the Rami Levy supermarket has come under fire from those in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement who are not happy at seeing this sort of coexistence and normalization of relations between Arabs and Jews. Among those nay-sayers are the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee activists and their foreign friends. 

“Abir Kopti, an activist with the Palestinian popular committees, told Ynet that Wednesday’s protest was part of a line of steps recently taken. The first was last week’s blocking of route 443.

According to Kopti, the activists are planning additional protests in the future. “This time we chose the Rami Levy store because we want to send a message to boycott the occupation and its products. As long as the Palestinians get no justice, settlers and Israelis will not lead normal lives.”

 She added that the protest was also meant to send a message to the Palestinian people not to shop in Rami Levy. It should be noted that the retail chain has two branches in the West Bank that also serve Palestinians.”

Kopti (who is herself from Nazareth, incidentally, and is a professional activist with several organisations) is the spokesperson for the PSCC. On the day of the demonstration she Tweeted the following:

So as we see, by their own admittance the organisers of the unauthorized demonstration were not – as claimed by Amnesty International  and cited by the BBC– protesting “against the encroachment of settlers onto Palestinian land”. Rather, they were engaged in harassing and intimidating shoppers and staff in order to promote the BDS agenda. Here is some footage from the inside of the store.

But it is not only the text of this article which demonstrates how the BBC has allowed itself to be co-opted for political purposes by anti-Israel campaigners. Take a look at the second photograph chosen by the BBC to illustrate the article.

The picture was taken by AP photographer Majdi Mohammed on November 2nd at Nabi Saleh. Obviously, the contrast between the big, fully equipped and armed Israeli soldier and the small, helpless and sweet blonde Palestinian girl is designed to send a very clear symbolic message.

Now take a look at this video footage shot on the same day:

The little girl in question is named A’hd Tamimi and she is the daughter of Bassem Tamimi and his wife, Nariman who films for B’Tselem’s video project.

Tamar Sternthal of CAMERA wrote about the cynical exploitation of eleven year-old Miss Tamimi by her parents for the creation of anti-Israel propaganda in the Times of Israel two months ago. According to a recent article in the Algemeiner

“A senior IDF source told Ynet that intelligence indicates that pro-Palestinian activists pay Palestinian children from Nabi Salih and other nearby villages to confront the soldiers. “The soldiers are briefed on the fact that these protests are staged for the sake of provocation, so that they could be filmed acting violently and so that those videos could be distributed worldwide in an effort to harm the IDF’s image,” the officer said.”

 By way of the Nabi Saleh solidarity website we learn that A’hd and her cousin Marah – who also features prominently in propaganda photos and videos – even received recognition from the PA President for her “bravery”. 

A’hd Tamimi (left) and Marah Tamimi (right)

Marah Tamimi (left) and A’hd Tamimi (right) with Mahmoud Abbas

The BBC Editorial Guidelines claim that: 

“We must always safeguard the welfare of the children and young people who contribute to our content, wherever in the world we operate.

The Ofcom Broadcasting Code obliges broadcasters to take “Due care … over the physical and emotional welfare and the dignity of people under eighteen who take part or are otherwise involved in programmes.”  This obligation is irrespective of any consent that might have been given by a parent or other adult acting in loco parentis. “

It is therefore difficult to see how the BBC can justify the use of a photograph of a minor deliberately and repeatedly placed in danger by her parents in order to try to score a cheap publicity stunt for propaganda purposes.

No less puzzling is the BBC’s decision to unquestioningly and partially promote the anti-Israel, anti-peace and co-existence agenda of Bassem Tamimi and his champions at Amnesty International, not least due to the fact that the lack of scruples in promoting that agenda is exemplified by the serial exploitation of children. 

Welcome to BBC Watch

BBC Watch is a sister project of CiF Watch (founded in 2009 to monitor the Guardian’s ‘Comment is Free’ website) with the independent support of CAMERA (the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America). 

Its aim is to monitor BBC output on the subject of Israel with the object of ensuring adherence to the BBC’s own editorial guidelines and its legal obligation to provide accurate and impartial news, information and analysis to its funding public.  

The BBC is the largest broadcasting organisation in the world today and also one of the most influential. However, the BBC’s coverage of the Arab-Israeli conflict has long been a source of frustration to many, with severe criticism of its standards of accuracy and impartiality being voiced.

When the BBC fails to meet standards of accuracy and impartiality, it matters not only because of the effect this has on public opinion in the UK and worldwide, but also because the BBC is in fact neglecting its duty to increase the understanding of the people who fund it. As the former Chairman of the BBC Trust, Sir Michael Lyons, once wrote:

“The day the BBC accepts reporting that is mostly true is the day we no longer deserve the licence fee.” 

The BBC Watch website includes background information on the BBC itself and its editors, on the editorial standards to which it aspires and on existing reports about, and critiques of, BBC content. It also provides information to the general public about the different ways of getting involved and on complaints procedures

Our regularly updated blog page will examine BBC output and provide complimentary information.  

We welcome public participation in alerting us to BBC errors or distortions. Please contact us at contactus@bbcwatch.org.

In the meantime, feel free to check out the different areas of the website and follow us on Twitter at @bbcwatch and like us on Facebook.