BBC coverage of Har Nof terror attack: filmed reports amplify inflammatory misinformation

BBC coverage of the terror attack at the Kehilat Ya’akov Synagogue in the Har Nof neighbourhood of Jerusalem on the morning of November 18th included seven filmed reports which, as well as being shown to viewers of BBC television news programmes, were also published on the BBC News website.

Out of those seven reports, two are interviews with representatives of Palestinian factions which the BBC saw fit to broadcast and promote on that day. First up was Hamas’ Ghazi Hamad (Hamas spokesperson: ‘Every day Jerusalem is boiling’), with the synopsis to that interview as it appears on the BBC News website yet again failing to inform audiences that pathologists who conducted an autopsy on the bus driver found dead at a Jerusalem bus depot the day before – including one chosen by the man’s family – reached the conclusion that there was no evidence of anyone else having been involved in his death.Pigua Har Nof int Hamad

“On Monday a Palestinian bus driver was found hanged in a vehicle in Jerusalem – Israeli police said he had committed suicide but the driver’s family said they suspected foul play.”

In that phone interview with the presenter of a BBC television news programme, Hamad (who of course is based in Gaza – not Jerusalem) says:

“…every day Jerusalem is boiling. Every day there is a new crime in Jerusalem. Every day there is a crime against the Palestinian citizens, either in the Al Aqsa Mosque or in Jerusalem as a city.”

The presenter makes no effort to correct the misleading impression given to listeners by Hamad’s baseless allegations. He continues:

“We did not see any effort, any action from the Israeli government in order to stop the settlers; not to stop the radical religious men when they decided to attack Al Aqsa Mosque, attack the Palestinian, to kill the Palestinians. Yesterday they killed a Palestinian driver. I think that they all should open their eyes. There’s a revolution in Jerusalem. There’s uprising, there is tension and they did not take any action in order to stop this, to protect the Palestinians. But they did everything to protect the settlers.”

Of course nobody – “radical religious” or otherwise – has attacked or “decided to attack” Al Aqsa Mosque, but Hamad’s lies remain uncorrected by the docile presenter. Likewise – as mentioned above – the bus driver was found to have committed suicide but Hamad’s inflammatory misinformation was nevertheless broadcast to millions and remains on the BBC News website for millions of others to view.

Later on in the day the BBC also interviewed Mustafa Barghouti of the PNI (Mustafa Barghouti: ‘Occupation responsible for attack’) who opened with the following blatant falsehoods – unchallenged by the programme’s presenter.Pigua Har Nof Barghouti

“We’ve been advocating non-violence but when we conduct non-violent, peaceful demonstrations we are attacked violently by the Israeli army. They injure us, they shoot at us, they even kill young people who are peacefully demonstrating with gun shots.”

Later on, in response to the presenter’s assertion that “some Israelis feel” that Mahmoud Abbas “has been making provocative statements”, Barghouti says:

“No. I think in this case Mr Netanyahu has been provoking the Palestinians, is trying to transform this conflict – which is a national liberation movement trying to get freedom – into a religious conflict. It’s not a religious conflict and we don’t want any people who pray to be attacked; this is unacceptable.”

The presenter fails to point out to audiences that several of the recent terror attacks have been claimed by Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad – both religiously motivated Islamist terror organisations – or that much of the incitement coming from Palestinian officials in recent weeks has had a blatantly religious theme. Barghouti goes on:

“But Palestinians are attacked. During the last week a mosque was burnt. Yesterday a Palestinian bus driver was hanged by Israeli settlers.”

Presenter: “Do you have evidence for that?”

 Barghouti: “And then the Israeli army claims there was no responsibility for that. A Palestinian child was burnt alive….”

Presenter: “They say that was a suicide, don’t they? Israel says…”

Barghouti: “No. They claim so but this is not true because our autopsy has shown that he was…there was no way that he hanged himself inside a bus. It makes no sense. And the physical evidence from our autopsy people has shown that this man was killed – not he hanged himself…”

As we see, not only does Barghouti promote the notion that the bus driver was murdered despite the scientific evidence pointing to the contrary but – although no criminal investigation or trial have taken place – he also ‘knows’ who did it and is allowed by the BBC to air his defamatory allegations unhindered. As was reported in Ha’aretz:

“The Palestinian coroner, who was present during the autopsy of the Palestinian bus driver who was found dead on Sunday in Jerusalem, agreed that the cause of death was suicide, insists the Israeli director of the institute that performed the autopsy.

The death of the driver Yusuf Hassan al-Ramouni, who was found hanged inside his bus in Jerusalem, has been treated in the Palestinian media and street as a murder perpetrated by Jews.

Abu Kabir Institute of Forensic Medicine director Dr. Chen Kogel notes that Palestinian pathologist Dr. Saber Al-Aloul, appointed by the family of the driver, was present throughout the autopsy and concurred with the conclusion that the cause of death was suicide. […]

The controversy over Ramouni’s death began with a report from the Palestinian news agency Ma’an saying that the Palestinian coroner had reached the opposite conclusion and that Al-Aloul, who attended the autopsy on the family’s behalf, believed the cause of death to be homicide and not suicide. The report did not quote Al-Aloul directly, but ascribed this claim to him. The Palestinian pathologist has neither confirmed nor denied the report since its publication.”

The Times of Israel notes that the Palestinian pathologist is not answering calls.

Despite the scientific evidence to the contrary, the BBC provided two Palestinian interviewees with an unhindered platform for the amplification of unproven accusations against “settlers” and “radical religious men” based on nothing more than rumour and fertile imagination. Furthermore, that libel (together with additional written versions – see here and here) remains on the website of the organization which increasingly bizarrely claims to be “the standard-setter for international journalism”. 

Whilst the BBC continues to avoid supplying its audiences with proper information on the topic of the recent campaign of incitement by assorted Palestinian leaders, it clearly has no compunction about allowing itself to be used for amplification of such malicious – and dangerous – incitement. 

BBC coverage of Har Nof terror attack: the backgrounder

As was mentioned in an earlier post, the BBC News website’s live page reporting on the terror attack at the Kehilat Ya’akov Synagogue in Jerusalem on November 18th claimed to be able to provide audiences with the answer to the question “what caused the attack?”.

Pigua Har Nof filmed backgrounder on live page

Readers were directed to a ninety second video titled “Synagogue attack: Months of tension and revenge attacks” which was also promoted separately on the BBC News website as well as appearing as a link titled “Unrest explained” in at least three of the written articles appearing on that day.Pigua Har Nof filmed backgrounder

The synopsis to the video reads as follows:

“Four Israelis have been killed and eight injured as two men armed with a pistol and meat cleavers attacked a West Jerusalem synagogue, police say.

The attackers – Palestinians from East Jerusalem – were shot dead.

The deadly attack comes after months of unrest and apparent revenge killings, as BBC News explains.”

It has not been updated to reflect the fact that Master Sgt Zidan Saif also died later in the day of injuries he sustained whilst responding to the terror attack, bringing the number of Israeli dead to five.

As we see, the synopsis and the title both inform BBC audiences that “apparent revenge killings” (note the plural) have been taking place for “months”. In fact there was one murder – that of Muhammed Abu Khdeir – which can accurately be described as a revenge killing and the suspected perpetrators  were caught by the Israeli security forces within days and are currently standing trial. 

The other deaths in recent months have been the result of terror attacks, of the summer war instigated by Hamas, cases in which Palestinians engaged in violent rioting were shot or cases in which terrorists were killed.

The video’s message is related in text which reads as follows:

“In a city constantly on edge, the attack on a Jerusalem synagogue comes after months of unrest.

In July a Palestinian teenager was killed in an apparent reprisal for the killing of three Israeli teenagers.

Escalating violence led to a conflict in Gaza that claimed more than 2,000 lives.

In October a dispute over a holy site in Jerusalem triggered further unrest.

Palestinians have carried out several deadly attacks against Israelis.

Killings of Palestinians by Israeli forces have also fuelled anger.

Jewish settlement activity in occupied East Jerusalem heightened tensions.

Some believe this could be the start of a third intifada or Palestinian uprising.”

The wisdom of trying to explain the background to the current surge in Palestinian terrorism and violence in a ninety-second video is obviously questionable from the start but as we have seen above, the BBC claimed it could pull it off and explain the issues to its audiences in that time frame and medium. 

Beyond the glaring fact that the word terrorism does not (once again) get a mention in a video purporting to explain a terrorist attack, audiences are not told that Hamas carried out the kidnappings and murders of the three Israeli teenagers or who killed the Palestinian teenager. Neither are they told (yet again) that it was actually the hundreds of missiles fired from the Gaza Strip at Israeli civilians by Hamas and other terrorist groups which sparked the conflict in Gaza (and of course in Israel too, although the BBC manages to make that fact disappear) and the discovery of dozens of cross-border attack tunnels dug by Hamas which exacerbated the hostilities.

The claim of “a dispute over a holy site in Jerusalem” is of course misleading and inaccurate. Israeli officials of the highest level have repeatedly and unequivocally stated that there will be no change in the status quo at Temple Mount, so no “dispute” actually exists. What does exist, however, is a deliberately manufactured campaign of incitement by Palestinian leaders from assorted factions which has been going on since long before October, and of which the myth of ‘threats’ to Muslim holy sites is just one aspect. The BBC of course erased PA incitement and glorification of terrorism during the period following the kidnappings and murders of the three Israeli teenagers from audience view, just as it ignored incitement from the same source during the summer conflict and continues to do even after four weeks of terror attacks in Israel.

Viewers of this video are not informed that “killings of Palestinians by Israeli forces” happened because those Palestinians were engaged either in violent rioting or in carrying out terror attacks at the time. That lack of context of course creates a very misleading impression, implying justification for “anger” which manifests itself as terror attacks and violent rioting.

And of course no BBC report can pass up on the opportunity of promoting the simplistic notion that Jerusalem planning committee meetings on the topic of housing which will not be constructed for years in areas which, according to any reasonable scenario, will remain under Israeli control in the event of a peace deal causes “tensions” which prompt the apparently irresistible urge to run down pedestrians with a van.

Not content with having misled audiences for months now with regard to the cause of the summer’s conflict, the BBC continues to promote an inaccurate narrative of a ‘cycle of violence’ in which the advancement of the notion of moral equivalence trumps facts and acts of terror are portrayed as ‘revenge killings’. It comes as no surprise to find the BBC sticking to form by avoiding calling terrorism by name even though most of the euphemistically termed “deadly attacks” were carried out by members of assorted terrorist organisations and claimed by their leaders. 

Whether or not we elect to name this recent surge of violence and terrorism a third Intifada is irrelevant but in order to properly understand current events, BBC audiences do need to know that they – like the previous “uprising” as the BBC so romantically puts it – are running on the fuel of deliberate incitement and glorification of terrorism supplied by the Palestinian leadership: this time around members of a ‘unity government’ made up of those incapable of negotiating a peace agreement and those who reject that possibility outright.

This video backgrounder does nothing to help BBC audiences understand “what caused the attack” in Har Nof as its promotion claims. In fact, it does everything to avoid telling them about the most significant factor behind that attack and others by further perpetuating a narrative which BBC staff have obviously embraced to the hilt, but which is also a smokescreen concealing the story which the BBC shows no sign of intending to tell. 

BBC coverage of Har Nof terror attack – part one

BBC coverage of the terror attack at the Kehilat Ya’akov Synagogue in Har Nof, Jerusalem, on the morning of November 18th appeared on multiple platforms including the corporation’s website, radio stations and television. Part one of this post deals with written material appearing on the BBC News website.

Coverage began with typical BBC refusal to independently categorise the premeditated murders of civilians going about their daily business as terrorism.

Pigua Har Nof tweet bbc breaking

In the first four versions of the website’s main article on the incident – currently titled “Jerusalem synagogue: Palestinians kill Israeli worshippers” – the term terrorist attack was placed in the quotation marks routinely employed by the BBC to distance itself from the description.

Pigua Har Nof on HP

 

Pigua Har Nof 1

Pigua Har Nof 2

In subsequent versions of the article – of which there were twenty-one in all – the word terror and its derivatives also appeared exclusively in the form of quotes; for example:

“US Secretary of State John Kerry said the act of “pure terror… simply has no place in human behaviour”. He called on the Palestinian leadership to condemn it.”

And:

“Israel’s PM Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed a harsh response.

He ordered the homes of the attackers to be destroyed and called for the people of Israel to stand together in the face of a “wave of terror”.”

Versions 3 and 4 of the report inaccurately informed BBC audiences that Rabbi Yehuda Glick had been shot at Temple Mount.

Pigua Har Nof 3

From version 7 onwards, readers were told that:

“Praising the attack, Hamas said it was in revenge to the death of a Palestinian bus driver found hanged inside a vehicle in Jerusalem on Monday.

Israeli police said it was a case of suicide, but his family did not accept the post-mortem findings.”

The information concerning Hamas’ praise for the attack was removed from later versions.

“Hamas said it was in revenge for the death of a Palestinian bus driver found hanged inside a vehicle in Jerusalem on Monday.”

The BBC did not make any effort to inform audiences that the verdict of suicide was in fact not given by “Israeli police” but by pathologists who conducted a post-mortem, including one chosen by the deceased’s family. As the statement issued by the Ministry of Health indicates, the pathologists concluded that there was no evidence of foul play.

“On Monday afternoon, 17 November 2014, an autopsy was carried out on the body of Yousef Hassan Al-Ramouni by personnel from the National Center for Forensic Medicine with the participation of Dr. Saber al-Aloul, who was chosen by the family.

The findings of the autopsy indicate self-hanging.

There were no findings that indicated the involvement of any external agent in the act of hanging.

We are continuing various laboratory tests in order to clarify whether or not any foreign substances are present in the body fluids.

During the autopsy, there was agreement – including by the pathologist chosen by the family – regarding the findings and their significance; there was no suspicion that death was caused by anyone else.”

As has been the case in other recent BBC reports relating to terror attacks in recent weeks and in the ‘backgrounder’ by Yolande Knell which appeared on the BBC News website on November 7th and appears as a link in this article, the report provides audiences with a number of ‘explanations’ for the terror attack. Despite the Israeli government having stated unequivocally on several occasions that the status quo regarding Temple Mount will not be changed to include equal rights of worship for non-Muslims, the BBC continues to promote that issue as a cause of “tensions”, along with Israeli planning decisions.

“Jerusalem has seen weeks of unrest, partly fuelled by tension over a disputed holy site.”

“In the last few weeks, tensions have risen sharply – largely as the result of the revival of an ancient dispute over rights of worship at a site within the walls of the Old City. […]

In recent times, some religious Jews have begun to argue for a change in the status quo which would also allow them to pray there. Any hint of such change is viewed with deep anger in the Islamic world.”

“Tensions in the city have risen in recent weeks, with two deadly attacks by Palestinian militants on pedestrians in the city and announcements by Israel of plans to build more settler homes in East Jerusalem.”

“The Jerusalem compound that has been the focus of much of the unrest – known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as al-Haram al-Sharif – is the holiest site in Judaism, while the al-Aqsa Mosque within the compound is the third holiest site in Islam.

Orthodox Jewish campaigners in Israel are challenging the long-standing ban on Jews praying at the compound.”

Once again we see the inaccurate portrayal of the campaign for equal prayer rights at Temple Mount as an “Orthodox” issue. 

As has been the case in all previous BBC reports on recent terror attacks in Jerusalem, incitement by senior Palestinian figures – including partners in the Palestinian unity government – is not presented to BBC audiences as a contributing factor to the surge in violence and terrorism. The BBC informed readers of this report that:

“Earlier, the office of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas issued a statement saying: “The presidency condemns the attack on Jewish worshippers in their place of prayer and condemns the killing of civilians no matter who is doing it.””

It did not, however, inform them of the praise for the attack issued by Mahmoud Abbas’ advisor and his party Fatah.Pigua Har Nof PFLP art

An additional link appearing in this report leads readers to an inaccurate article – still uncorrected – published in April 2014 in which Temple Mount is described as being situated in the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City.

The report also includes an insert on the topic of the terrorist organization to which the Har Nof attackers belonged and on the same day the BBC produced a profile of the PFLP which is inaccurately illustrated with a photograph of flags belonging to another terrorist organization – the DFLP.

Late in the evening of November 18th, the above article was replaced on the BBC News website’s Middle East homepage by an additional report which will be discussed – along with others – in a later post. 

BBC’s Knell misrepresents Netanyahu statement, side-steps PA incitement

The early version of the November 5th edition of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newshour’ was presented by Julian Marshall and included an item from Yolande Knell (available here from 14:00) on the topic of that day’s terror attack in Jerusalem.Newshour 5 11 Knell

Marshall introduced the item as follows:

“Jordan has recalled its ambassador to Israel over what it says is unprecedented Israeli escalation in Jerusalem. Earlier, Israeli police clashed with stone-throwing Palestinians inside Jerusalem’s Al Aqsa Mosque compound, known to Jews as Temple Mount. Also in East Jerusalem today, Israeli police say one person was killed and nine people injured in a suspected terrorist attack by a man who rammed his car into pedestrians along a tram line in East Jerusalem. The man was subsequently shot dead. The BBC’s Yolande Knell joining us now from Jerusalem, and Yolande – as I understand it Hamas have said that they were behind that attack.”

As was the case in BBC News website reporting on the terror attack, the incident was inaccurately portrayed by Marshall (and later by Knell) as having taken place in “East Jerusalem”. Knell responded with a description of Hamas which omitted any reference to the organisation’s terror designation: clearly a highly relevant piece of information under the circumstances.

“That’s correct. The Palestinian militant group Hamas has claimed responsibility for the attack and has praised it, indeed. That, of course, has drawn criticism from the Israeli government. We’ve had a statement from the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Ahm…he accuses the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas of being directly responsible for what’s happened in East Jerusalem today…ahm…and said that it’s due to his partnership with Hamas. Of course a reconciliation deal between the president’s Fatah faction and Hamas was signed earlier in the year. Ahm…they now back a unity government…ahm…which is made up of technocrats. Ahm…they have been accused of inciting violence.”

So did the Israeli prime minister really say on November 5th that Abbas was directly responsible for the terror attack “due to [i.e. because of] his partnership with Hamas”? What was actually said is this:

“Over the past several days, we have witnessed increasing incitement by the head of the Palestinian Authority, including sending a condolence letter to the family of Yehuda Glick’s assassin, and a call to prevent the entry of Jews onto the Temple Mount by any means. This incitement has found practical expression on the ground. Today’s terrorist attack in Jerusalem is the direct result of the incitement by Abu Mazen and his Hamas partners.”

But Knell’s whitewashing of Abbas’ incitement did not end with her creative interpretation of Netanyahu’s words; she then went on to tell BBC audiences the ‘real’ reasons for the surge of violence in Jerusalem.

“But this really comes on the back of mounting tensions in East Jerusalem over several months now and there are many factors for that. Ahm…the Israeli government policy of expanding Jewish settlement in East Jerusalem – which the Palestinians of course want as the capital of their future state – is one of the reasons. There have been some extremely controversial announcements of course. Settlements are seen as being illegal under international law although Israel disagrees with that.”

In other words, Knell would have listeners believe that Palestinian terrorism can be ‘explained’ by planning announcements and of course she fails, as usual, to inform them of the existence of legal opinions which contradict the BBC narrative regarding ‘settlements’. She continues – likewise failing to inform audiences that demolished structures are those which were built without planning permission, as would be the case in any Western country.

“Then we’ve had other aspects – Palestinian homes being demolished in just the past few days. And then all of these issues around restricted access to the Al Aqsa Mosque compound…ah…this holy site for Muslims, of course, but also for Jews who call it Temple Mount. Ahm…and it’s because of those tensions that we’ve had this announcement from official media in Jordan saying that the country is now recalling its ambassador for consultation because of all these problems around access to the Al Aqsa Mosque.”

Knell neglects to inform listeners that temporary age restrictions on entry to the site and rare closures are implemented solely as a means of trying to reduce tensions and avoid the violent rioting by young men.

As we have unfortunately had cause to note here on numerous occasions during the past few weeks, the BBC continues to deprive its audiences of the ability to fully understand the background to the recent violent events in Jerusalem by consistently side-stepping the crucial issue of incitement by the member factions of the Palestinian unity government currently in power.  The list of alternative ‘reasons’ for rioting and terrorist attacks proffered by the BBC, however, continues to expand. 

 

BBC’s Middle East editor promotes Amnesty International’s Gaza report

Amnesty International is one of several organisations which have sadly deviated from their original important purpose by allowing politics to dominate their agenda in the Middle East. AI’s anti-Israel reports – now legend for their bias and faulty methodology - are frequently promoted and quoted by the BBC. During this summer’s conflict in Israel and the Gaza Strip, BBC news reports repeatedly used statements from AI to advance the notion of Israeli wrongdoing.

Amnesty International’s latest report was published on November 5th and as usual is based on subjective ‘eye witness’ accounts. Predictably the report reaches the conclusion that the incidents it examined are evidence that: “[t]he repeated, disproportionate attacks on homes indicate that Israel’s current military tactics are deeply flawed and fundamentally at odds with the principles of international humanitarian law”.

Of course any objective assessment of whether or not a specific Israeli action adhered to principles of proportionality is dependent upon the assessor being familiar with their target and perceived military benefit. There is no evidence to suggest that the writers of this AI report were privy to such information.

Amnesty International further concludes that:

“Given the failure of Israeli and Palestinian authorities to independently and impartially investigate allegations of war crimes, it is imperative that the international community support the involvement of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Amnesty International is renewing its calls on Israel and the Palestinian authorities to accede to the Rome Statute and grant the ICC the authority to investigate crimes committed in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). The organization is also calling for the UN Security Council to refer the situation in Israel and the OPT to the ICC so that the prosecutor can investigate allegations of crimes under international law by all parties.”

With Amnesty International being one of the NGOs involved in political warfare against Israel, it is hardly surprising to find it promoting such assertions. And with the BBC having made its own frequent contributions to advancing the agendas of those NGOs engaged in ‘lawfare’ during and after the recent conflict (see here, here and here), it was also not astonishing to see the man responsible for the BBC’s Middle East content promoting that flawed AI report on Twitter.

AI report Bowen Tweet

Another view of Israel’s actions in the Gaza Strip this summer provided on November 6th by a man who has somewhat more credible credentials when it comes to assessing military matters.

“The highest-ranking U.S. military officer said on Thursday that Israel went to “extraordinary lengths” to limit civilian casualties in the recent war in Gaza and that the Pentagon had sent a team to see what lessons could be learned from the operation.

Army General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, acknowledged recent reports criticizing civilian deaths during the 50-day Gaza war this year but told an audience in New York he thought the Israel Defense Forces “did what they could” to avoid civilian casualties. […]

“I actually do think that Israel went to extraordinary lengths to limit collateral damage and civilian casualties,” Dempsey told the group.

“In this kind of conflict, where you are held to a standard that your enemy is not held to, you’re going to be criticized for civilian casualties,” he added. […]

Dempsey said the Pentagon three months ago sent a “lessons-learned team” of senior officers and non-commissioned officers to work with the IDF to see what could be learned from the Gaza operation, “to include the measures they took to prevent civilian casualties and what they did with tunneling.”

The general said civilian casualties during the conflict were “tragic, but I think the IDF did what they could” to avoid them.”

Needless to say, Jeremy Bowen’s one hundred and eleven thousand Twitter followers have, at the time of writing, yet to be informed of General Dempsey’s assessment.

BBC News misleads audiences on ICC Mavi Marmara statement

On November 6th the BBC News website’s Middle East page carried a report currently going under the title “Gaza flotilla raid: No Israel charges over Mavi Marmara“. The article has undergone numerous changes since its initial appearance with the headline “No Israel charge over Gaza ship raid” but the version currently available on the site opens as follows:Mavi Marmara art

“The International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor says she will not take action over Israel’s raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla in 2010 that killed nine Turkish activists.

Fatou Bensouda said despite “reasonable basis” to believe war crimes had been committed, the ICC had to prioritise larger-scale events.”

In other words, through the use of a cherry-picked quote from a press release, BBC audiences are mistakenly led to believe that although the ICC has determined that it is reasonable to believe that ‘war crimes’ were committed aboard the Mavi Marmara, it does not have the time or resources to do anything about it.

However, what is not adequately clarified in this BBC report is that not only did the ICC not determine that Israel had committed ‘war crimes’; it did not rule anything at all. No charges were filed, no trial was held and the report (available here) produced by the ICC’s chief prosecutor – the purpose of which was to examine whether or not there was a case for the ICC to pursue – is based on analysis of information already available (including, for example, the Turkish Commission) rather than on independent investigation by the ICC. As the press release linked to in the BBC report states:

“The Office analysed the supporting materials and documentation accompanying the referral along with, among other things, the reports published by the four commissions that have previously examined the 31 May 2010 incident. It should be recalled that the Office does not have investigative powers at the preliminary examination stage. Not having collected evidence itself, the Office’s analysis in the report must not be considered to be the result of an investigation.” [emphasis added]

In the report itself, a similar paragraph to the one above also states:

“The Office’s conclusions may be reconsidered in the light of new facts or evidence.”

So what the ICC’s chief prosecutor is in fact saying is that if the claims made in the material her office examined were shown to be true, certain acts could be considered war crimes for the purposes of jurisdiction. Of course whether or not war crimes were actually committed would subsequently have to be proven in a court of law.

That is a very different picture than the one presented in the BBC’s selected context-free sound-bite.

The BBC’s report also informs readers that:

“Lawyers who brought the case said they planned to appeal against the decision.”

And:

“… lawyers representing the Comoros vowed to appeal against the decision, saying it was a “struggle for justice, humanity and honour”.”

As was the case in a related previous BBC report, no effort is made to inform readers that those Turkish lawyers also represent the Mavi Marmara ‘victims’.

Additionally the BBC report states:

IHH president Bulent Yildirim with Hamas' Ismail Haniyeh

IHH president Bulent Yildirim with Hamas’ Ismail Haniyeh

“The activists, many from a pro-Palestinian Turkish group called the IHH, said they wanted to deliver aid to the Palestinian enclave by breaking Israel’s naval blockade. Israel imposed the sea blockade after Hamas, which it has designated a terrorist group, seized Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in 2006.

Israel says the IHH is closely linked to Hamas.”

The BBC has already corrected at least one previous report to clarify that the Mavi Marmara was a passenger ship which was not carrying aid and this report’s whitewashing of the IHH’s Hamas and ‘Union of Good’ connections and Islamist agenda also clearly does not enhance audience understanding of its subject matter. The claim that the naval blockade was linked to the abduction of Gilad Shalit in 2006 is of course inaccurate: it was in fact announced in January 2009. 

How did BBC News cover this summer’s anti-Israel demonstrations in the UK?

The phenomenon of demonstrations on the streets of cities in Europe and elsewhere in supposed ‘spontaneous’ reaction to this summer’s conflict in Israel and the Gaza Strip came as no surprise to anyone familiar with the activities of the broad auxiliary network which provides support of various descriptions for Hamas’ international PR campaign.

Some of the hundreds of anti-Israel demonstrations organised by groups such as the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and the Stop the War Coalition which took place in the UK were covered by the BBC, with reports appearing inter alia on the BBC News website – including on its Middle East page – as shown in the few examples below.

July 13th: “Manchester protesters march against BBC coverage and Gaza bombings (discussed here). In that report the BBC informed readers that the protest was called ‘Drive for Justice’ and that “[a] second rally was organised by the Stop the War Coalition in Manchester’s Piccadilly Gardens”. No attempt was made to clarify the political agendas of either of those organisations. Here, for example is an image posted on the official ‘Drive for Justice’ Facebook account which reflects an ideology of which BBC audiences should have been made aware in order for them to be able to put the corporation’s amplification of that group’s agenda into its correct context.

FB drive for justice

July 19th: Thousands march through London over Gaza crisis (filmed version under the same title here). That report informed readers that “[t]he event was organised by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and is part of a national day of action” but made no effort to inform audiences of the PSC’s political agenda or of its links to Hamas – a proscribed terrorist organization in the EU.

July 26th: London rally will ‘boost morale of Palestinians in Gaza’ in the synopsis to that filmed report, BBC audiences were told that the demonstration was organised by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign but once again that organisation’s agenda was ignored and – as documented here – an interviewee linked to the PSC was misrepresented as a mere “protester”.

July 27th: Violence breaks out during Gaza protest march in Cardiff. The synopsis to that filmed report informed audiences that the demonstration was “organised by Cardiff Stop the War Coalition” but again no effort was made to clarify that organisation’s political motivations or affiliations.

August 9th: Tens of thousands of protesters march in London for Gaza, Thousands protest in London against Israeli offensive in Gaza, ‘Israel started this war’ – Tariq Ali at Gaza rally in London – discussed here. Readers of the written article were informed that the demonstration was “organised by the Stop the War coalition and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign” and yet, after four weeks of reporting these various demonstrations, the BBC still had not come up with any sort of background information on those groups which would allow audiences to put the demonstrations themselves or the propaganda amplified in its own reports into context.

Significantly, whilst audiences read, saw and heard copious amplification of the demonstrators’ anti-Israel propaganda in the BBC’s reports, one recurring phenomenon at those demonstrations was not covered: the frequent use of antisemitic slogans and imagery. Moreover, the BBC actually produced an item in which it gave a platform to the PSC’s Hugh Lanning to lie through his teeth on that issue by saying “antisemitism or any form of racism isn’t tolerated on any of our protests”.

Equally remarkable was the lack of BBC coverage of pro-Israel demonstrations during the same period of time.

By failing to provide audiences with a comprehensive picture of the records and political agendas of the fringe groups which organized these demonstrations – along with the highly relevant topic of their links to repressive regimes in the Middle East – the BBC created the false impression that those demonstrations galvanized around a consensus issue for ordinary members of the British public. By refraining from reporting on the antisemitic imagery and slogans used on numerous occasions by some participants in the demonstrations, the BBC denied audiences a view of the real motivations underpinning their organization and messaging.

That, of course, is not journalism; it is self-conscription to giving a leg-up to a political cause. Whether that self-conscription came about as a perceived need to compensate for the well publicised criticism of the BBC’s coverage of the conflict organised by those same organisations from its very beginning is unclear but what is obvious is that the BBC failed to give its audiences an accurate and impartial picture of those demonstrations or to provide the relevant background information necessary for them to be put into their correct context as part of the PR war waged by Hamas support groups in the UK. 

BBC report on second death in Jerusalem attack: 469 words but not one of them is terror

On the morning of November 7th seventeen year-old Shalom Ba’adani, who was seriously injured in the terror attack in Jerusalem two days previously, died of his injuries.

A report appearing on the BBC News website on the same date under the title “Jerusalem: Victim of Palestinian van attack dies” notably did not mention the victim’s name until its fourth version but interestingly  – given that Palestinian casualties of similar ages and even older are frequently referred to in BBC reports as ‘teenagers‘ or ‘boys‘ – described him as “the man”.Pigua 5 11 2nd victim

The sections of the report relating to its title’s subject matter read as follows:

“An Israeli seriously wounded when a Palestinian driver attacked pedestrians in Jerusalem on Wednesday has died.

Another person was also killed and eight were injured when the man rammed his car into people at a tram stop.

He hit police officers with an iron bar before being shot dead. Militants Hamas said they carried out the attack.”

In fact, thirteen people were injured in the attack rather than eight as stated by the BBC. The report continues:

“The man declared dead on Friday after the Jerusalem attack was a 17-year-old student at a Jewish seminary, Israeli army radio reported.

The driver of the van, Ibrahim al-Akari, was from Shuafat refugee camp in the east of the city, police said.

His Facebook page states that he is a member of Hamas, and the Twitter account for the group’s armed wing, the al-Qassam Brigades, described him as a member and a martyr.

Hamas said it had carried out the Jerusalem attack in revenge for Israel’s actions around the al-Aqsa mosque, part of a holy compound.

A 38-year-old Israeli Druze border policeman, Jaddan Assad, was killed in the incident – the city’s second attack by a Palestinian with a vehicle in a week.

A baby girl and an Ecuadorean woman were killed in the previous attack, carried out by a member of the Islamic Jihad militant group.”

In fact the November 5th attack was the second using the same method in two weeks – not “in a week” as stated by the BBC – with the previous attack having taken place on October 22nd.

As we see the perpetrators of both of those attacks are described as belonging to “militant” groups – Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad – and readers are not informed of their designation as terrorist organisations.

Hamas is of course defined as a terrorist organization by Israel, the United States, the European Union, Canada and Japan – as the BBC’s own profile of Hamas clearly states. In addition, Jordan and Egypt have banned Hamas and Australia designates Hamas’ Izz al Din Al Qassam Brigades as a terrorist organization, as do New Zealand and the United Kingdom.  The Palestinian Islamic Jihad is designated as a terror organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Japan, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Israel.Terror 1

Both the perpetrators of these attacks were affiliated to known terrorist organisations – a fact which many people would consider reason enough to term them terrorists – and carried out acts of violence which deliberately targeted civilians. The BBC, however, continues to refrain from using the word terror and its derivatives to describe them, their acts and the organisations to which they belonged.

As readers are no doubt aware, the BBC’s guidance on “Language when Reporting Terrorism” states:

“The word “terrorist” itself can be a barrier rather than an aid to understanding. We should convey to our audience the full consequences of the act by describing what happened.  We should use words which specifically describe the perpetrator such as “bomber”, “attacker”, “gunman”, “kidnapper”, “insurgent”, and “militant”.”

It appears that the word “driver” can now be added to the BBC’s list.

As readers probably also know, the BBC’s rationale for avoidance of the use of the words ‘terror’ and ‘terrorist’ is supposedly rooted in the corporation’s aspiration to avoid “value judgements” – bizarrely even when a vehicle is deliberately ploughed into a pram carrying a three month-old baby or a bicycle ridden by a seventeen year-old youth.Terror 2

That rationale might – debatably – be less problematic were it at least applied uniformly by the BBC. However, as we have noted here on numerous occasions in the past – it is not. Moreover, we have learned in the past couple of weeks that whilst Israelis murdered in premeditated terror attacks on a public transport system are not described by the BBC as being victims of terrorism, even a potential threat to British travellers is reported using the word terrorists.

“British travellers have been warned they could be targeted by terrorists seeking revenge for UK air strikes against Islamic State (IS) militants.”

The double standards apparent in the BBC’s reporting of terrorism continue to shine a spotlight on the value judgements it does choose to make.

Related Articles:

Mapping the BBC’s inconsistent use of the word ‘terror’

 

BBC News website yet again fumbles report on Jerusalem terror attack

Any expectations that the BBC might have learned something from the public outcry over its previous miserable reporting of the terror attack in Jerusalem on October 22nd were proved premature on November 5th when another attack using the same modus operandi took place in the city.

Ibrahim al Akari ploughed the van he was driving into a group of people at the Shimon HaTsadik light rail stop. He then continued, driving the vehicle into an additional group of people before getting out of the vehicle and attacking passers-by with a metal crow-bar. One person was killed – Border Police Officer Jidan Assad from Beit Jann – and thirteen others injured – two of them seriously. Police shot and killed the Hamas-affiliated terrorist at the scene and Hamas later claimed responsibility for the attack.

So how did the BBC portray that incident? Yet again the BBC News website’s initial reports gave the impression of a road traffic accident.

Pigua 5 11 on HP

Pigua 5 11 report

Later on that report’s title was changed but with no improvement to the headline’s accuracy: “East Jerusalem pedestrians hit by driver”. Subsequent amendments to the report (see all changes here) saw its title rewritten yet again to read “Jerusalem attack: New ‘Palestinian’ car attack kills one” and later without the superfluous inverted commas: “Jerusalem attack: New Palestinian car attack kills one”.

Unnecessary and misleading punctuation did however still appear in the body of the obviously hastily composed version of the report:

“At least nine others were injured in the “suspected terror attack”, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld.”

Similarly, a caption to one of the photographs used to illustrate the article states:

“The authorities have called it a “terrorist” attack”

The report described the location of the attack as follows:

“A driver has rammed a car into several pedestrians in East Jerusalem, killing one person, hours after clashes erupted at the city’s holiest site.” [emphasis added]

That inaccurate description of the location of the Shimon HaTsadik light rail station is misleading to audiences.

Pigua 5 11 map

The report also stated:

“Israeli media reports say the driver – named as Ibrahim al-Akari – was from Shuafat refugee camp in the east of the city and was a supporter of the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas. However, this has not been confirmed.”

In fact, the Israeli media has described al Akari as being from Shuafat – but has not stated whether the intention is the refugee camp or the village of the same name. With Hamas having already produced a ‘martyrdom poster’ displaying its own logo, the BBC’s caution is clearly redundant.Pigua 5 11 poster

The BBC report once again downplayed recent Palestinian Authority incitement by informing readers that:

“Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has accused Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of inciting Palestinians to carry out attacks in Jerusalem. Palestinian officials have rejected the charge, saying Mr Netanyahu is fuelling tensions in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.”

No mention was made of the fact that just days before this latest incident the PA president sent a letter of condolence to the family of the terrorist who attempted to murder Rabbi Yehuda Glick which described him as a martyr who “rose to Heaven while defending our people’s rights and holy places”. The BBC also failed to report incitement in the official PA newspaper and social media.

Viewers of BBC television news on the afternoon of November 5th saw a filmed report by Yolande Knell, the website version of which also misled BBC audiences with regard to the location and nature of the incident in both its title – “Driver hits pedestrians in East Jerusalem” – and its original synopsis.

“A driver has rammed a car into several pedestrians in East Jerusalem, police say, hours after clashes erupted at the city’s holiest site.

At least three people were seriously wounded in the “suspected terror attack”, a police spokesman says.”Pigua 5 11 Knell filmed

In the original report at that URL (it has since been replaced by another one) Knell described the vehicle driven by Akari as a “car” rather than a van, wrongly informed viewers that only one person – “a baby girl” – was killed in the similar October 22nd terror attack when in fact there were two casualties and again inaccurately claimed that the Israeli media reported that Akari came from “the Shuafat refugee camp”.

Knell also reported on the rioting earlier in the morning on November 5th at Temple Mount, describing the rioters as “protesters” holding a “sit-in”.

“This was from early this morning. Israeli police had moved into the site to try to clear away a sit-in by Palestinian protesters. They had heard that there were some Jewish Right-wing activists who were planning to visit the site…ahm…and they were sitting there by the Al Aqsa Mosque trying to protect the area, as they saw it.”

The above BBC News website written report now about the terror attack was originally titled “Clashes briefly shut key Jerusalem holy site to visitors” and related to the morning’s rioting on Temple Mount. That article was promoted by the BBC on social media using the inaccurate term “worshippers” to describe rioters throwing rocks and fireworks. It failed to mention the Fatah incitement which preceded that incident.

Pigua 5 11 worshippers

BBC reporting of events in Jerusalem continues to compromise the corporation’s obligations to inform audiences accurately, impartially and fully of the incidents themselves and their background. Until the BBC abandons its own self-censorship on reporting the issue of Palestinian incitement it can only continue to fail to fulfil its public purposes.

BBC News website coverage of Operation Protective Edge: part five

In the first four installments of this post (see ‘related articles’ below) we documented BBC News website coverage of the first forty days of Operation Protective Edge. Part five relates to the final ten days of the conflict and the day after the ceasefire agreement was reached: August 17th to August 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.

August 17th:Chart Aug 17

Written:

Gaza conflict: Peace talks resume in Cairo  (discussed here)

Features:

Gaza: What does the future hold for the children?  Kevin Connolly (discussed here)

August 18th:

Written:Chart Aug 18

Arrests at protests against Israeli mixed wedding

Gaza conflict: Peace talks continue as deadline looms

Filmed:

Interfaith wedding: ‘It’s time the Muslims leave Israel’

August 19th:

Written:Chart Aug 19

Gaza ceasefire ‘extended by a day’ after Cairo talks  (discussed here)

Features:

Gaza’s infrastructure crippled by conflict  Yolande Knell 

Filmed:

Strikes hit Gaza after rockets fired  Yolande Knell in Gaza & Kevin Connolly in Israel

Gaza conflict: Israel hits Gaza after rockets fired  Kevin Connolly

Israel-Gaza crisis: Palestinians downbeat on Cairo talks   Azzam al Ahmed

Israel: Ceasefire in Gaza ‘a two-way street’  Mark Regev

Bristol doctor Rachael Craven treats wounded in Gaza  Gaza

August 20th:Chart Aug 20

Written:

Gaza conflict: Truce ends amid fresh fighting (discussed here)

Gaza conflict: Israel ‘targets Hamas leader Deif’ (discussed here)  

Filmed:

Daniel Barenboim: ‘No one winning Middle East conflict’

Gaza conflict: Operation ‘not finished’ – Benjamin Netanyahu

Gaza conflict: Israel ‘targets Hamas leader Deif’   Yolande Knell in Gaza

Gaza conflict: Israel ‘targets Hamas leader Deif’  Yolande Knell in Gaza

August 21st:Chart Aug 21

Written:

Gaza crisis: Israel kills three top Hamas commanders  (discussed here)

Filmed:

Hamas: Palestinians ‘will continue to resist’  Ihab Al-Ghussin

Gaza crisis: Israel kills three top Hamas commanders  Yolande Knell in Gaza

Gaza: Thousands rally for Hamas leaders’ funerals  Shahdi Alkashif in Gaza

August 22nd:Chart Aug 22

Written:

Gaza: Hamas says 18 suspected informants executed   (discussed here)

Gaza conflict: Israeli boy’s death ‘will intensify ops’  (discussed here)

Filmed:

Suspected informants killed in Gaza  Quentin Sommerville in Gaza (discussed here)

Israeli child ‘killed by rocket fired from Gaza’  Mark Lobel in Israel (discussed here)

August 23rd:Chart Aug 23

Written:

Gaza conflict: Mahmoud Abbas urges fresh talks in Egypt  (discussed here)

Holocaust families criticise Israel over Gaza  later amended and date changed (discussed here)

Filmed:

Israel continues air strikes on Gaza targets  Quentin Sommerville in Gaza (discussed here)

August 24th:Chart Aug 24

Written:

Gaza conflict: Erez crossing ‘attacked’ amid Israel raids  (discussed here)

Filmed:

Gaza residences targeted in Israel air strikes  Alpa Patel  (discussed here)

Apartment block destroyed after Israeli air strike   Quentin Sommerville in Gaza

August 25th:Chart Aug 25

Written:

Gaza: Eight die in Israeli strikes as ‘new truce floated’

August 26th:

Features:

Gaza-Israel conflict: Is the fighting over?

Filmed:Chart Aug 26

Gaza conflict: Israel and Palestinians agree new truce  Quentin Sommerville in Gaza (discussed here)

Gaza conflict: Israel and Palestinians agree long-term truce  Quentin Sommerville in Gaza (discussed here)

Gaza conflict: Abbas declares acceptance of truce

Ceasefire ‘good for Gaza, good for Israel’ – Mark Regev

August 27th:Chart Aug 27

Written:

Gaza conflict: Israel and Palestinians agree long-term truce (discussed here)

Gaza ceasefire: Thousands return home as calm returns

Gaza conflict: Israeli PM Netanyahu says war was ‘victory’ (discussed here)

Features:

Indecisive end to Gaza conflict  Kevin Connolly

Filmed:

Gaza ceasefire: ‘It feels like normal life’  Quentin Sommerville in Gaza

Steinitz: Israel paid heavy price over Gaza  Yuval Steinitz

Military reoccupation of Gaza ‘was seriously considered’  Yuval Steinitz

Gaza-Israel ceasefire: Scepticism on Jerusalem streets

As was also the case in the previous ten days of the conflict, the period between August 17th and August 27th showed a drop in the amount of content produced by the BBC in comparison with its coverage of the first thirty days of hostilities after the number of journalists working in the Gaza Strip was reduced and media attentions shifted somewhat to the ISIS-related events in Iraq and Syria.

However, BBC audiences still saw over four times as much filmed content depicting the situation in the Gaza Strip as they did concerning the situation in Israel.

Graph Aug 17 to 27

BBC promotion of Hamas’ demands to lift border restrictions remained a prominent theme in the final days of coverage. The theme of Gaza’s damaged infrastructure – also a popular topic in the weeks since the conflict’s end – also continued to be promoted.

The BBC continued to misrepresent the terrorists’ breaches of truce agreements and bizarrely and misleadingly portrayed the ceasefire negotiations held in Cairo as “peace talks”. Missile fire into Israel was again severely under-reported. 

Graph Jul 8 to Aug 27

In the period between July 8th and August 27th, four hundred and sixteen separate items of content (not including the exceptions noted above) appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page; an average of over eight items a day. The predominant type of report presented was written news reports – 121 in total. Over a quarter of the content made available to visitors to the BBC News website came in the form of filmed reports depicting the situation in the Gaza Strip (also shown on BBC television news programmes). Throughout the entire 51 days of coverage, BBC audiences saw nearly three times more filmed reports from the Gaza Strip than they did comparative filmed reports from Israel.

Another interesting aspect of BBC coverage is to be found in the wording of the headlines used to present reports. The most frequently appearing wording for headlines included the categorization of their topic as the “Gaza conflict” (85 reports) with that term being employed from day one of the hostilities. The categorization “Gaza crisis” first appeared on the conflict’s fourth day and was to be found in 38 headlines. Day two of the conflict saw the appearance of the term “Middle East crisis” and that description was used in the titles to twenty reports. Headlines reflecting the fact that the conflict was also taking place in Israel – using the terms “Israel-Gaza conflict”, “Israel-Gaza crisis” or “Gaza –Israel” – appeared in only 22 reports in total.

Thus, as we see, both in the signposting to audiences by means of headline composition and in the proportion of filmed reports from the Gaza Strip compared to those depicting the situation in Israel, the BBC’s presentation of the conflict was heavily tipped towards focus on its effects upon the civilian population of the in the Gaza Strip, indicating that the corporation’s claims of “equal coverage” and “fair balance”of the two sides of the conflict do not stand up to scrutiny.

Related articles:

BBC News website coverage of Operation Protective Edge: part one

BBC News website coverage of Operation Protective Edge: part two

BBC News website coverage of Operation Protective Edge: part three

BBC News website coverage of Operation Protective Edge: part four

BBC WS ‘Newshour’: a test case for BBC claims of ‘equal coverage’

The BBC’s pictorial portrayal of conflict in Israel and the Gaza Strip

‘From Our Own Correspondent’: a test case for BBC claims of ‘equal coverage’