No BBC report on latest missile attack from Gaza Strip

With the BBC having sent at least two of its Jerusalem Bureau staff to cover the story of migrants and refugees trying to cross the Mediterranean (Quentin Sommerville has been reporting from Libya and Yolande Knell from Sicily), coverage of events in Israel has been decidedly sparse over the past two weeks.No news

One significant incident – which did not even receive coverage in the form of an agency-based report on the BBC News website – occurred on the evening of April 23rd when a missile was fired from the Gaza Strip for the first time since December.

“Sirens went off sounded in the city of Sderot and in other Gaza-bordering communities just before 10 P.M. on Thursday, and residents of the area reported hearing several explosions shortly after. Security services are scouring the area in an attempt to locate the precise landing site.

“We heard the siren, grabbed our child and rushed to the safe room,” said Adi Betan Meiri, a resident of Sderot. “At first we thought it was a false alarm, probably because the rain had messed up the siren. Then we heard a loud explosion. The child was very scared, as were we. We closed the steel shutter which had been open for months.””

Fortunately, the missile did not land in a residential area.

“The projectile exploded harmlessly in an open, uninhabited area, the IDF said, adding that security forces were searching for its remnants.

In response, the IDF struck a terror target in northern Gaza to the earlier rocket attack, the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said on Thursday shortly before midnight.

It was not immediately clear which organization launched the attack. The assessment within the army is that a small Gazan terror group, not Hamas, fired the rocket.”

Expanding on that latter topic, Y-Net reported:

“In recent days Hamas has executed a wave of arrests of Salafists in the Strip, following a series of explosions across Gaza. Hamas’ security forces have searched relentlessly for those responsible but the identity of the mastermind behind the attacks remains unclear.

 According to Salafi sources, 13 of their members were arrested, and it is possible the rocket fire on Israel tonight was intended to embarrass Hamas over the arrests.”

The BBC has also not reported on that recent wave of explosions in the Gaza Strip – including one near the UNRWA headquarters.

Readers may recall that at the beginning of April the BBC gave multi-platform promotion to Khaled Masha’al’s bizarre claim that there are no Jihadist groups in the Gaza Strip. Five days after that interview with Jeremy Bowen was broadcast, Hamas reportedly arrested an ISIS-linked Salafist.

“Gaza’s Hamas-run security services have arrested a radical Salafist sheikh, accusing him of membership in the Islamic State (IS) group, a security source said on Monday.

“Adnan Khader Mayat from the Bureij refugee camp (in central Gaza) was arrested as part of an investigation,” the source told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity and without giving further details.

Sources close to the Salafists said Mayat had been arrested on Sunday “by the Hamas government security services who fight mujahedeen who belong to the Salafist movement.””

Despite the fact that the BBC has a permanent office in the Gaza Strip, internal Palestinian affairs continue to be severely under-reported. That fact obviously not only detracts from audience understanding of Palestinian politics and society but also hampers their ability to comprehend Israeli responses to the attacks on its civilian population by assorted factions operating in the Gaza Strip.

That scenario is of course all too familiar. Between June 14th and July 8th 2014 (the beginning of Operation Protective Edge), two hundred and eighty-eight missiles hit Israeli territory. Not only did the BBC fail to adequately report on those attacks (which were mostly carried out by groups other than Hamas) at the time, but it has subsequently also managed to erase them from its accounts of the causes of last summer’s conflict.  

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BBC responds to complaints about Jeremy Bowen’s ‘Today’ interview

Members of the public who contacted the BBC regarding a claim made by Jeremy Bowen during an interview in the April 14th edition of BBC Radio 4’s ‘Today’ programme have informed us of the receipt of the following template response from different members of staff at the BBC Complaints department.BBC brick wall

“Thanks for contacting us.

We have raised your concerns with the production team who have provided the following response;

“Thank you for taking the time to contacting us [sic], I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy Jeremy Bowen’s contribution to the programme’s items on persecution of Christians on 14 April.

His interview was an analysis of the situation of Christians in Middle Eastern countries, he talked about the various threats and how Christians in various parts of region feel.

He also set this in an historical context, saying Christians had been leaving the Middle East for many years, and that this is why there are communities in South America.

At the end of the interview, after he mentioned Egypt and Lebanon, he said “Palestinian Christians feel threatened not just from extreme Islam but by what the Israeli government might be doing”. He was describing the mood of Palestinian Christians, not the policies of the government of Israel.

Jeremy is the BBC’s Middle East Editor, he has extensive experience of reporting on the ground and his analysis is based on that.”

Rest assured your feedback is very important to us and as such we have placed your concerns on an overnight report. This is a document which is made available to senior staff, programme editors and news teams across the BBC and means your comments can be seen quickly and can be consulted in future broadcasting and policy decisions.

Thanks again for getting in touch.”

Were we to take the ‘Today’ programme production team’s claim that Bowen “was describing the mood of Palestinian Christians, not the policies of the government of Israel” at face value, we would of course have to note that Bowen did not clarify that intention to listeners. Having mentioned the very real threats to Middle East Christians posed by “extreme Islam”, in the same breath he went on to cite “what the Israeli government might be doing” – thus leading listeners towards the mistaken belief that Palestinian Christians do have reason to “feel threatened” by unspecified Israeli government actions just as much as they have cause to fear Islamist extremists.

As readers are no doubt aware, this is the third recent response (see related articles below) from the BBC relating to content produced by its Middle East editor in the last few weeks and it is no more satisfactory than its predecessors.

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BBC responds to complaint about Jeremy Bowen’s ‘Holocaust card’ Tweet

No BBC reporting on last week’s fatal terror attack in Jerusalem

Israel’s Remembrance Day (Yom HaZikaron) commemorates not only those who fell defending the State of Israel, but also the civilian victims of war and terrorism. The most recent of those is twenty-five year-old Shalom Yochai Sherki who was killed when a Palestinian driver from Anata rammed his vehicle into a bus stop at French Hill in Jerusalem on April 15th.BBC News logo 2

“A Palestinian driver deliberately rammed his car into a Jerusalem bus stop this week and killed an Israeli man in a “horrible attack,” Israel Police chief Yohanan Danino said Saturday.[…]

He ruled out initial suggestions that it had been an accident.

Shalom Yohai Sherki, 25, and Shira Klein, 20, were seriously injured in the attack on the bus stop in East Jerusalem.

Sherki, the son of prominent rabbi Ouri Sherki who is well known in the city’s francophone community, died of his injuries on Thursday morning and was buried later that day.

The driver, Khaled Koutineh, a Palestinian from East Jerusalem, was also injured and arrested by the police.”

The second victim is still undergoing treatment in hospital and the perpetrator has since admitted that the attack was deliberate.

That terror attack joins the numerous others which were also not reported by the BBC.

Also on April 15th, the Israeli security forces announced the arrests of twenty-nine Hamas activists.

“Security forces arrested 29 suspected Hamas members in the West Bank city of Nablus overnight Tuesday, including some who have been imprisoned in Israel in the past.

Among those detained were senior members of the Palestinian terror group, the army said.

The operation, carried out by the Shin Bet security service, the IDF, and the Israel Police, came amid concern that the activists were preparing to carry out attacks against Israeli targets.

The suspects were to be questioned by the Shin Bet.

The army noted an increase in Hamas activity in the West Bank and said members of the group have been acting on the instructions and funding of its leaders abroad.”

The subject of the Hamas terror cells in Palestinian Authority administered areas which are controlled and funded by Hamas officials in the Gaza Strip and abroad – and threaten not only Israeli civilians but also the PA itself – is one which the BBC has largely managed to avoid in past months.  

Clearly BBC audiences’ understanding of events in both Israel and the PA controlled areas is not enhanced by the absence of any serious reporting on this topic.

BBC WS radio interview with writer conceals anti-Israel activism

Sadly, there is nothing novel about context-free BBC promotion of the Anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign (BDS) and its proponents. But whilst that political crusade to bring about the demise of Jewish self-determination by means of delegitimisation and demonization is not infrequently directly or indirectly amplified in BBC programming, the corporation inevitably refrains from informing its audiences exactly for what its ‘one-stater’ supporters are campaigning.

“With pressure imposed by the international community through a BDS campaign a la anti-Apartheid campaign which brought Apartheid South Africa to an end, we believe that Israel itself can be transformed into a secular democratic state after the return of 6 million Palestinian refugees who were ethnically cleansed in 1948, a state for ALL of its citizens…therefore, we think that one of the major tools of the struggle towards a secular democratic state is BDS.” Haider Eid, 2009

“So BDS does mean the end of the Jewish state…I view the BDS movement as a long-term project with radically transformative potential… the success of the BDS movement is tied directly to our success in humanizing Palestinians and discrediting Zionism as a legitimate way of regarding the world.” Ahmed Moor, 2010

“BDS represents three words that will help bring about the defeat of Zionist Israel and victory for Palestine.” Ronnie Kasrils, 2009

Concurrently, the BBC also often falls short of its own Editorial Guidelines on impartiality by failing to clarify that interviewees are involved with the BDS campaign and/or additional anti-Israel political activities. Such was the case on April 17th when the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Outlook’ interviewed Dervla Murphy – correctly introduced by presenter Matthew Bannister as a travel writer, but with no mention made of her equally relevant anti-Israel political activities.Outlook 17 4

The programme’s synopsis – which is similar to the verbal introduction – reads:

“In 1963, Dervla Murphy left her tiny village of Lismore in Ireland to fulfil a childhood ambition to cycle all the way to India. It was the first of many epic journeys on a shoestring which she turned into best-selling books. Now in her eighties, Dervla has been to destinations as far apart as Siberia, Peru, Cameroon and Tibet. Her latest book tells of spending months living in Israeli settlements and refugee camps in the Palestinian territories.”

Most of the interview (available from 09:15 here) relates to other topics but from 19:28 listeners heard the following:

Bannister: “What took you to Israel and the Palestinian territories? I think you’ve been back there in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011. You’ve even lived in a refugee camp. What took you to that part of the world?”

Murphy: “Well I suppose that is a bit like the impulse that sent me to the north of Ireland and then of course it became much more complicated because, you know, I realized that our world – the West if you like – we really bear a lot of the guilt for how the Palestinians are ill-treated. So I mean it’s one hell of a mess.”

Bannister: “What did you think that your contribution was going to be to the debate because so many words have been spoken and written about that area? What did you feel when you set out to live there for long periods of time that you would be able to add?”

Murphy: “Well I didn’t think that I would be able to add anything in the way of information or insights; anything like that. But why I wrote the two books is because friends said to me ‘well yes; there are hundreds – thousands probably – of really, really good well-researched, well-written books on this theme but if you write a book on the same theme – just your own experiences – it’s possible that you will be able to reach a readership that is not interested in the problems’. I mean the world is so full of problems [laughs]. But, you know, that because they happen to like my travel books, they would read it and therefore the understanding would be widened.”

Bannister: “I understand”.

In other words, the political aims behind Murphy’s book promoted in this programme are clearly of prime importance and of course some insight into those motivations would have helped listeners put the unchallenged simplistic claim that “Palestinians are ill-treated” into its appropriate context.

“In all the countries I’ve visited,” she told me, “that is the only one where I felt it was my actual duty as a writer not to be neutral. Not to play this game of… we must look at this, look at that. We must only look at the fact that the Palestinians are treated utterly outrageously.” But each side, she says, must relinquish a dream in return for peace: the one-state solution is the only answer. “The Palestinians have to give up any notion of having their own separate, independent state, just as the Israelis have to give up having their Jewish-only state… In a sense that’s a good beginning: they both have to give up.”

As one reviewer of Murphy’s previous book about the Gaza Strip put it:

“…it is evident that this is not a travel book at all. The genre has a tendency towards self-indulgence, but there is at least a convention that the reader goes on a psychological, spiritual or political journey with the author as he or she is changed by the otherness of the experience of being somewhere else. There is none of that here. This is a travelogue entirely without a journey. Dervla Murphy has decided what she thinks about the Israel-Palestine conflict long before she sets foot in Gaza and everything she experiences merely reinforces her view that Zionism is a colonial disease that lives only to spread its poison.”

So here we have yet another example of the BBC’s casual mainstreaming of anti-Israel political activism by means of context-free promotion of its inadequately introduced proponents and their activities. We learn that the BBC apparently has no qualms about giving free promotion to a book designed to spread the propaganda of a campaign seeking to destroy a sovereign state and thus deny self-determination to a specific group of people. We might of course ponder the question of whether the corporation would be similarly eager to add its weight to the promotion of a campaign to revoke the basic rights of any other group of people. 

 

 

Jane Corbin’s BBC documentary on plight of ME Christians promotes jaded Israel-related narratives

On April 15th 2015 BBC Two’s ‘This World’ programme aired a documentary by Jane Corbin titled “Kill the Christians” which is described as follows in the synopsis:Corbin This World

“Christianity is facing the greatest threat to its existence in the very place where it was born. Jane Corbin travels across the Middle East to some of the holiest places in Christendom and finds that hundreds of thousands of Christians are fleeing Islamic extremists, conflict and persecution. From the Nineveh plains in Iraq to the ancient city of Maaloula in Syria, Kill the Christians reveals the story of how the religion that shaped Western culture and history is in danger of disappearing in large parts of its ancient heartland.”

Pre-broadcast promotion of the programme included an article by Corbin titled “Could Christianity be driven from Middle East?” published on the BBC News website and another article by Corbin published in the Guardian under the headline “These may be the last Christians of the Middle East – unless we help“. The sub-heading in the Guardian article reflects one of the themes appearing in the documentary itself as well as in the other written article.

“Islamic extremism has taken persecution to a new level, but the seeds were sown a decade ago in the US- and British-led Iraq invasion”.

Whilst the version of Corbin’s article appearing on the BBC News website confines itself to discussion of the plight of Christians in Iraq and Syria, in the article appearing in the Guardian, readers got a taste of things to come in the documentary itself.

“Christianity remains a force only in Lebanon, where the common enemy for Muslims and Christians alike is Islamic extremism. There are other threats, however – in historic Palestine young Christians leave for jobs and a more secure life abroad. Emigration and fear are sapping the life of Christian communities even in relatively peaceful parts of the region.”Corbin written

At around 37 minutes into the programme Corbin tells viewers:

“But there’s one country where Christians are still secure – their last bastion in the Middle East: the Lebanon.”

That, of course, is not an accurate statement: Christians in Israel are both secure and thriving.  

Remarkably, around a tenth of this hour-long documentary ostensibly about “Christians…fleeing Islamic extremists, conflict and persecution” is devoted to what Corbin variously terms “historic Palestine” and “the Holy Land”.

“The Christians of the Lebanon have a good chance of holding on, but only if their children feel they have a future in the region. That’s not certain when you look at where it all began: historic Palestine. The Christian community has dramatically declined in the very place where Christ was born: in the little town of Bethlehem on the West Bank Palestinian territory occupied by Israel.”

Bethlehem is of course located in Area A and has been under the full control of the Palestinian Authority since 1995.

“It’s not Islamic State that threatens Christians here but a slow process of attrition. Decades of conflict between Israel and the Palestinians have driven many Christians to emigrate. In the 1920s Bethlehem was almost completely Christian; only one Muslim family lived here. But now only a third of the town’s inhabitants are Christian.”

Corbin refrains from informing her viewers of some critical background to Bethlehem’s demographics:

“In 1947 the population of Bethlehem was 85% Christian. In 1990 23,000 Christians lived there, as a 60% majority. After the Palestinian Authority took over control of the town in 1995 the town’s municipal boundaries were altered to include concentrations of Muslim population, turning the Christians into a minority. By 2010 the number of Christians in Bethlehem had fallen to 7,500.”

Corbin continues:

“The Church of the Nativity marks the very place where Christ was born in a manger. It’s somewhere every devout Christian in the world wants to visit. Much of Bethlehem’s economy depends on pilgrimage and tourism and that always suffers when there’s conflict in the Holy Land.” […]

“During the Palestinian uprising against the Israeli occupation a decade ago, the Church of the Nativity itself was besieged. Israeli forces battled Palestinian militants who’d taken refuge inside. Many Christians left Bethlehem following the uprising.” […]

Corbin makes no mention of the fact that the Palestinian terrorists who violently took over the church were in possession of weapons and explosives and held some 200 hostages – civilians and clergy.

“Life is hard in Bethlehem. The town’s now partly surrounded by the wall. Israel says it built this separation barrier for its security but Christians say it restricts their movement. Violence still regularly flares up in Bethlehem between Israeli soldiers and Palestinians.” […]

Once again we see the BBC’s standard “Israel says” formula at work in relation to the anti-terrorist fence. As usual, no effort is made to provide audiences with factual information on the subject of the fence’s effectiveness in preventing the terror attacks which were the cause of its construction and just as Corbin avoids any mention of Palestinian terrorism during the second Intifada, she also erases it from her euphemistic description of contemporary violence which, according to her, just “flares up”. Corbin also repeats the standard inaccurate BBC claim according to which Bethlehem is “partially surrounded by the wall”. In fact, not only is there no anti-terrorist fence to the south and east of Bethlehem, but the section which can accurately be described as a “wall” is one small specific section.

“Some Christians also complain of discrimination against them by the Muslim majority and they fear increasing Islamic extremism in the area.” […]

That one-liner is of course the real story behind the plight of Palestinian Christians in Bethlehem and elsewhere but – despite the ample evidence long available – it is one which does not fit the BBC narrative and hence has not been reported comprehensively. As we see, Corbin makes no effort to present an exception to that BBC rule.

“Many Christians in Bethlehem feel cut off from the greatest place of all in the life of Christ – just five miles away. Jerusalem is where three of the greatest religions on earth come together, making this the holiest city on earth. Two of those religions are still thriving in the Holy Land. Judaism is secure in the State of Israel and prayers in Jerusalem’s great Mosques echo those across the Middle East where Islam is predominant. Only Christianity is in terminal decline. They still worship in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, on the site of Jesus’ tomb. But most visitors are from far away – from places where the religion’s growing. Soon these most symbolic sites could become just museums for international pilgrims. Few Christians actually live in the place where Jesus lived and died.”

In the year following the establishment of the State of Israel – 1949 – its Christian population numbered 34,000.  In 1947 there were 28,000 Christians living in Jerusalem. During the 19 years of Jordanian rule over the eastern part of the city, 61% of them left, with the population reduced to 11,000 when the city was reunited in 1967. At the end of 2012, The Christian population of Israel numbered 158,400, 80% of whom are Arab Christians living exactly in “the place where Jesus lived and died”: the Galilee and Jerusalem.

“Most Christian Arabs live in the northern Israel, and the cities with the largest Christian populations are Nazareth, with 22,400; Haifa with 14,400; Jerusalem with 11,700; and Shfaram with 9,400.”

One year later – December 2013 – the number of Christians living in Israel had risen to 160,900, indicating a natural growth rate of around 1.9%. By way of comparison, the natural growth rate of the UK population in 2013 was 0.6%.

So as we see, Corbin’s claim that “…in the Holy Land…Christianity is in terminal decline” is not evidence-based at all. Rather, it clearly flows from the exact same politically motivated source as Jeremy Bowen’s recent attempt to persuade BBC audiences that Israel is just as much a threat to Middle East Christians as the religiously motivated persecution and slaughter perpetrated by Islamist extremists.

The issue of the persecution of Christians and other religious and ethnic minorities in the Middle East is one which clearly does need to be brought to audiences worldwide. It is therefore all the more regrettable that the BBC exploits this serious subject for the promotion of inaccurate, trite political narratives about the one country in the region in which they are not in danger, whilst at the same time downplaying and even concealing the real background to the plight of Christians living under the control of the Palestinian Authority and Hamas. 

BBC ME editor’s analysis of threat to Christians: IS, extreme Islam – and Israel

h/t: MG, SI

The April 14th edition of BBC Radio 4’s flagship news and current affairs programme included an interview (available here for a limited period of time from 01:49:45) with Cardinal Vincent Nichols on the subject of his recent visit to displaced Christian communities in Iraq.Today 14 4

 Immediately after that interview, presenter Mishal Husain brought in Jeremy Bowen (from 01:54:35) for further analysis of the issue of the plight of Christian communities in Iraq as described by Cardinal Nichols and listeners heard an ‘interesting’ interpretation of the cause of Islamist violence against Christians in that country.

MH: “On the line is our Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen. Jeremy, listening to Cardinal Nichols, it’s a reminder that although we may see the fight against IS and the position in the Middle East at the moment often through sectarian…in sectarian terms and through that sort of prism, this has been traditionally a religiously diverse part of the world.”

JB: “Yes. In Syria and Iraq there was a delicate mosaic – a very interesting mosaic – of different faiths which really has been shattered now. In Iraq, in the last…since 2011…since the war started there…sorry; in Syria I should say…2011…but in Iraq it’s been going on since the invasion by American-led forces in 2003 in that since then, the population of Iraqi Christians has been reduced pretty much by more than half. And there have…it’s been a catastrophe for them which started before the rise of Islamic State, which started as a consequence of the invasion. And if you talk to the Christian communities in other parts of the Middle East as I often do, a lot of them will look to that example of Iraq and say we do not want to be like Iraq and now they’ll also say of course we don’t want to be like what’s been happening in Syria too.” [emphasis added]

Following a question about the possibility of Iraqi Christians from the Nineveh Plains being able to return to their homes, Husain said:

MH: “Perhaps we’ve only just recently woken up to the reality of what’s been happening to minority communities in this part of the world because of all the headlines and the attention that’s been grabbed by Islamic State. From what you’re saying, this is a much longer phenomenon.”

JB: “Well, Christians have been leaving the Middle East for an awfully long time. There are well-established groups of émigré Middle Eastern Christians in all sorts of countries – in South America for example; one region of the world. But…ehm…what has changed; the rise of extreme Islam – which of course has resulted in the killing of many Muslims – has also resulted over the last ten years or so in a lot of Christian communities being dislocated and it’s become particularly acute since the rise of Islamic State. And it’s not just Islamic State either: Christians in Egypt feel very threatened there by different kinds of religious extremism. There is still a large community of Christians in Egypt, also in Lebanon – they’re pretty well established in Lebanon and strong but they again feel pressure. And Palestinian Christians as well feel threatened from not just of course from extreme Islam, but they also feel threatened by what the Israeli government might be doing. So all round the place when you look at it, it’s difficult.” [emphasis added]

Bowen of course provided no fact-based support for his fallacious claim that Palestinian Christian communities are “threatened” by Israel and neither did he inform listeners that the Christian community in Israel is both safe and thriving.

But no less remarkable is the fact that Bowen would clearly have listeners believe that, in terms of threats to Middle East Christian communities, “what the Israeli government might be doing” (whatever that bizarre phrase is supposed to mean) can and should be seen as being on a par with the religiously motivated persecution and slaughter of Christians (and of course other minorities) by Islamist extremists.

And that, dear readers, is from the man whose entire job was created with the stated intention of “providing analysis that might make a complex story more comprehensive or comprehensible for the audience”. 

 

 

 

BBC News website corrects an error, leaves another standing

Back in early March we noted here that a BBC report on a terror attack in Jerusalem misled readers with regard to the PLO’s previously adopted recommendation to halt security coordination with Israel.

“The article implies to readers that there is some kind of linkage between this latest terror attack and the unrelated topic of the PLO’s recent call for a halt to security co-operation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

“The incident came shortly after Palestinian officials voted to halt security co-operation with Israel. […]

The Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) decided to suspend co-operation, part of 1993 peace accords with Israel, at a meeting on Thursday night.”

The BBC fails, however, to clarify to readers that the PLO’s decision does not have any practical effect at this stage.

“A source close to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told Israel Radio that the council’s decision was a recommendation only. Another Palestinian official said that Abbas must issue a presidential order ending the security cooperation with Israel.””

Several days later, on March 13th, the BBC amended the wording of that part of the article and added the following footnote.

footnote 13 3

Unfortunately, the lack of a dedicated corrections page on the BBC News website means that it is unlikely that those who read the original version of the report would have returned to it a week after publication and seen that footnote. One must therefore once again ask the BBC what exactly is the point of amendments and corrections to reports appearing on its website if no effort is made to ensure that audiences receive the corrected version?

Notably the inaccurate and no less misleading graphic appearing in the same report which leads readers to believe that there is such a thing as a “1967 ceasefire line” running through Jerusalem was not corrected.

Pigua Jlem map

 

What percentage of Q1 2015 terror attacks against Israelis was reported by the BBC?

Throughout the first quarter of 2015 the BBC News website reported on three separate terror attacks in Israel:

January 21st: Israel bus attack: Tel Aviv passengers stabbed (discussed here)

February 23rd: Jerusalem mayor overpowers attacker after man stabbed (discussed here)

March 6th: Jerusalem: Israeli police hit in Palestinian car attack and Jerusalem attack: Driver rams car into pedestrians (discussed here)BBC News logo 2

As far as BBC audiences are concerned, therefore, the number of terror attacks (although not specifically named as such) against Israelis during the first three months of 2015 totals three: one in Tel Aviv and two in Jerusalem. But is that an accurate representation of the situation?

The Israel Security Agency publishes a monthly summary of terror attacks and its reports for the first quarter of 2015 provide the following information:

January 2015: total number of attacks – 124. Of those: 105 in Judea & Samaria, 18 in Jerusalem.

February 2015: total number of attacks – 96. Of those: 84 in Judea & Samaria, 12 in Jerusalem.

March 2015: total number of attacks – 89. Of those: 58 in Judea & Samaria, 31 in Jerusalem.

The BBC’s above reports relate to two stabbing incidents and one vehicle attack. Two additional stabbings, nine small arms shootings, forty attacks using IEDs (including pipe bombs and improvised grenades) and 256 incidents of firebombing were not reported. Also noteworthy is the fact that whilst most of the attacks – almost 80% – took place in Judea & Samaria, that was not reflected in BBC coverage.

As we see, the total number of attacks during the first quarter of 2015 is 309, which means that the BBC reported less than 1% of the incidents which took place.

Clearly BBC audiences are still not being provided with the comprehensive picture of this subject necessary in order to meet the corporation’s remit of building “a global understanding of international issues”.

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BBC’s ‘Hardtalk’ mainstreams anti-Israel delegitimisation

In June 2014, whilst appearing on the BBC radio 4 programme ‘Desert Island Discs’, Raja Shehadeh gave the following account of his family’s decision to leave Jaffa for their second home in Ramallah in the spring of 1948.

“Jaffa it’s very hot and humid in the summer and so they had a summer-house in Ramallah. When hostilities began they decided it’s safer in Ramallah because it was getting rather dangerous actually – physically dangerous – so they decided, towards the end of April, to take that short drive down to Ramallah – short drive from Jaffa – and my father always thought that if the worst happens – that is the partition – Jaffa was going to be on the Arab side so they will always be able to go back. And they took very few things with them and they were never able to go back.”

That did not prevent Zeinab Badawi from making the following inaccurate and misleading claim in her introduction to the March 16th 2015 edition of ‘Hardtalk’ shown on the BBC World News channel. The same claim appears in the programme’s synopsis on the BBC website.Hardtalk Shehadeh

“My guest today is the award-winning Palestinian author and lawyer Raja Shehadeh. For three decades he has written many books about human rights and the Israeli occupation. His family were forced to leave Jaffa in 1948 and settled in Ramallah on the West Bank where he lives today.” [emphasis added]

Notably, Badawi makes no attempt to inform her audience of Shehadeh’s activities beyond “author and lawyer”: no mention is made of his record of political activism with organisations such as Al Haq and Palfest, meaning that viewers – in clear breach of BBC editorial guidelines on impartiality – are denied the ability to put his comments into their appropriate context.

Predictably, Shehadeh uses the platform provided by the BBC to promote the well-worn language and distortions of anti-Israel campaigning. No less predictably, little effort is made by Badawi to counter that propaganda.

Audiences hear mostly unchallenged references to Israelis as ‘colonisers’, promotion of the ‘apartheid’ trope and comparison to South Africa, the claim that “Israel never left Gaza” along with description of the Gaza Strip as a ‘large prison’ and the claim that the Arab-Israeli conflict is “the most important issue in the world today” and “at the core of the problems of the Middle East”. Shehadeh distorts history both actively and by omission with viewers hearing, for example, an account of his father’s post-1967 proposals which is devoid of any mention of the Khartoum Declaration and a euphemistic representation of the 2013/14 round of negotiations which eliminates the Palestinian Authority’s decision to run those talks aground by means of its reconciliation deal with Hamas.  

And so here we have yet another example of the role played by the BBC in mainstreaming anti-Israel delegitimisation and defamation by means of a passive-aggressive failure to challenge the falsehoods and factual distortions promoted by an inadequately introduced political activist.

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BBC WS ‘Heart and Soul’ claims Israel causes antisemitism in Europe

On April 11th and 12th BBC World Service radio aired an edition of ‘Heart and Soul’ titled “Faith and Food: The Jewish Community of Paris“, presented by Hardeep Singh Kohli.Heart and Soul

First impressions suggested that the programme would provide an all too rare opportunity to record some accurate and impartial BBC reporting and that perception was encouraged at 11:12 minutes into the programme when, as part of his purported attempt to understand contemporary anti-Semitism in France, the presenter interviewed Professor Andrew Hussey. Professor Hussey gave a concise yet comprehensive summary of four factors contributing to the phenomenon: conspiracy theories prevalent in the Paris suburbs inhabited by North African immigrants, Right-wing Catholic anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial/revisionism, Islamist radicalization and ‘salon’ antisemitism.

However, despite having heard that academic appraisal of the topic, Singh Kohli found it necessary to promote his own theories in the next segment of the programme. Describing his topic as the “exodus of French Jews to Israel”, Singh Kohli opines:

“It’s obviously a controversial topic as many of the Jews moving to Israel will find homes in the occupied Palestinian territories.”

Whether or not Singh Kohli has any factual evidence to support the claim that he already knows exactly where “many” of those immigrating to Israel from France will be going to live is of course highly questionable. In fact had he checked, Hardeep Singh Kohli would have discovered that the destinations of choice for those who made aliyah from France in 2014 included Ashdod, Tel Aviv, Ra’anana, Jerusalem, Ashkelon and – most popular of all – Netanya. But nevertheless, at 15:14 he repeats his theme:

“I don’t mean to be simplistic about it but the outside world looking in sees people leaving France to go to Israel, so people think well, people are coming to Israel and that increases the occupied territories which then increases antisemitism which then increases more people leaving France.”

And again at 16:14:

“I get this sense of a vicious cycle: antisemitism causing Jews to leave and then Israel continuing to expand illegal settlements on the West Bank to accommodate them. It’s one of the factors contributing to more antisemitism.

Again, Singh Kohli provides no factual source for his pronouncements but the bottom line here is that has he has found a way to place the blame for European antisemitism at Israel’s door and even to suggest that Jews themselves are responsible for anti-Jewish racism.

In doing that he elects to promote a fabricated political narrative at the expense of the route which could have actually provided listeners with informative content: serious exploration of the pointers provided by Professor Hussey.

Towards the end of the programme (24:15 and also in a clip promoted separately by the BBC on Twitter), listeners hear Singh Kohli say:

“I think if the Jews of the world retract – if they all move to Israel – then we will never grow up living next door to a Jewish family and that’s very sad. Why are they being taken away from?… why is my city?… my hometown of Glasgow has less Jews now than ever and my city is worse for it.”

Clearly Jews are not being “taken away” from Glasgow or anywhere else in Europe: their reasons for deciding to leave are, as his interviewee tells him, rooted in a variety of contemporary realities evident in European society. One of those realities is anti-Jewish hatred fuelled by inaccurate, lazy and narrative-based media presentation of Israel. Hence, before he allows himself to sink any further into self-indulgent bemoaning of ‘his’ loss of neighbourhood diversity, Hardeep Singh Kohli would do well to take a critical look at his own contribution to that particular phenomenon.