BBC report on Jerusalem gay pride attack second guesses an unsolved crime

BBC coverage of the violent attack on six participators in the gay pride event held in Jerusalem on July 30th included:Jlem attack 30 7

A filmed report for BBC television news which was also posted on the BBC News website under the title “Man held over Jerusalem Gay Pride stabbings“.

A written report on the BBC platform aimed at younger audiences – ‘Newsbeat’ – titled “‘We marched through blood at Jerusalem Gay Pride’“.

A written report on the BBC Arabic website.

A written report titled “Jerusalem Gay Pride: Six stabbed ‘by ultra-Orthodox Jew’” which appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page.

Towards the end of that latter report, in a section describing ultra-Orthodox opposition to the event and to the LGBT community in general, readers are told that:

“Israel’s homosexual community was the target of a 2009 attack in Tel Aviv, where a gunman opened fire at a centre for young gays, killing two people and wounding 15 others.

The assailant behind that attack was apprehended.”

The case referred to in those lines is the Bar Noar youth centre shootings. Once again, however, the BBC has obviously failed to keep up to date on the details of that case and hence misleads its audiences.

The suspect arrested and charged with the murders was later released when the case collapsed after the arrest of the state witness on charges of fabricating evidence and obstruction of justice. No further developments in the investigation have been publicized since then and no motive for that attack has been established in a court of law, meaning that the BBC’s implication of motivational linkage between that attack and the one which took place in Jerusalem on July 30th is at this stage no more than speculation.

Related Articles:

BBC documentary on Tel Aviv gay pride fails to keep up with the news

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BBC News twists Tisha B’Av Temple Mount incident with ‘last-first’ reporting

On the morning of July 26th – the day of the fast of Tisha B’Av – Israeli security forces had to deal with an incident at Al Aqsa Mosque on Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

“Dozens of masked Palestinian protesters hurled rocks, Molotov cocktails and firecrackers at police officers on the Temple Mount compound in Jerusalem’s Old City Sunday morning, before being pushed back into the Al-Aqsa Mosque by security forces who were rushed to the area.

According to police, the protesters had stockpiled homemade explosives, firecrackers and wooden boards inside the mosque, with the intention of attacking thousands of Jewish worshipers gathered nearby for prayers at the Western Wall on Tisha B’Av, a fast and day of mourning that commemorates the destruction of the first and second Jewish Temples.”

The portrayal of that incident provided to visitors to the BBC News website’s Middle East page creates a markedly different impression. The report’s headline – “Al-Aqsa mosque: Israeli police enter Jerusalem holy site” – erases any mention of what preceded the security forces’ brief entry into the mosque in typical BBC ‘last-first reporting’ style.AAM 26 7 BBC art

The opening paragraphs of the article even imply that the violence on the part of the Palestinians was a reaction to the police’s entry into the mosque.

“Palestinian youths have clashed with Israeli police who entered the al-Aqsa mosque complex in East Jerusalem.

The Palestinians are said to have barricaded themselves inside the mosque and thrown stones at police, who moved in to stop them.”

As the Israeli police force noted, the sequence of events was in fact as follows:

“This morning they [the rioters] took up positions in the mosque courtyard and when they saw the police they began throwing stones and firing fireworks at them. […] Masked men and rioters ran away into the mosque and began throwing tens of stones and concrete blocks at the police officers, fired fireworks directly at them and sprayed them with an unidentified liquid.”

Only in the third paragraph are readers of the report given a euphemistic, second-hand description of the rioters’ intentions:

“Israeli media said the Palestinians had intended to disrupt visits by observant Jews to the Western Wall.”

No mention is made of the fact that the rioters had stockpiled rocks, planks, fireworks and Molotov cocktails inside the mosque in order to facilitate that ‘disruption’ or of the fact that the plan was timed to coincide with Tisha B’Av, which sees a high number of visitors to the holy sites.

BBC audiences are told that:

“The al-Aqsa mosque, one of Islam’s holiest sites, is in a part of East Jerusalem also revered by Jews.”

Audiences are not told that Temple Mount is the holiest site in Judaism and, in addition to having failed to clarify that the incident occurred on Tisha B’Av, the report makes no mention of the fact that the fast commemorates the destruction of the two Jewish temples on that site.

The article states:

“The police said a number of officers were injured. There were no immediate reports of any Palestinian casualties.

Six Palestinians were arrested, an AFP news agency photographer reported.”

As the BBC could have discovered directly from the Israeli police, three Palestinians were in fact arrested rather than six and four police officers were injured.

As we see, the BBC’s report focuses on the entry of policemen into the Al Aqsa Mosque. The issue of Palestinians intending to use violence to prevent Jews from exercising their religious rights is not apparently a topic about which the BBC considers its audiences need to know more.

Resources:

Contact BBC News Online

 

BBC’s Panorama Jerusalem train programme takes viewers on a predictable journey

On July 20th the BBC One current affairs programme ‘Panorama‘ aired an episode titled “The Train that Divides Jerusalem“. Israeli readers may be surprised to learn from the programme’s synopsis that the light rail system serving their capital city is “controversial”.Panorama light rail prog main

“On the anniversary of last summer’s brutal conflict in Gaza, film-maker Adam Wishart visits Jerusalem and rides the city’s controversial new train. Only nine miles from start to finish, some hoped it could help heal divisions between Israelis and Palestinians, but as Wishart discovers, it has only deepened the sense of resentment on both sides. Travelling through the old city, he comes face to face with the battle over one of the world’s holiest sites and asks, could it be the flashpoint for the start of another war?”

In fact, the title chosen for this programme is a self-fulfilling prophecy: Wishart clearly sets out to ‘prove’ that Jerusalem is divided and the train is merely a hook for his pre-existing hypothesis.

As anyone who has ever spent an afternoon or an evening in Jerusalem’s various parks, at the Mamilla Mall, the Malha Mall or at the restored First Station knows, Jerusalemites of all backgrounds and ethnicities shop, eat, play, work and stroll at such locations and many use public transport to reach them. That aspect of Jerusalem life had no place in Adam Wishart’s film; he has decided that the city is “divided” and he already knows why.

“It was meant to help unite this place but the train is dividing it further.”

“Now it’s easier for Jews to travel into Palestinian suburbs…”

Very early on in the film Wishart finds it necessary to establish his credentials.

“I’m Adam Wishart – a British Jew….”

Scattered throughout the film are references to his previous visit to Jerusalem “on a Zionist education course as a teenager” and to his Zionist grandparents. Apparently his own background is intended to be a claim to added credence for his current assertions.

At the outset of the film Wishart proposes to take viewers on “a journey into the heart of a city which feels more divided than ever” and his concluding remarks half an hour later indicate that he found exactly what he was looking for – including some fashionable disappointment with the people who did not fulfil the dreams of others who do not actually live in Israel.

“My journey has been heartbreaking. When my grandparents campaigned for the State of Israel they hoped for a place of refuge, of tolerance and equal rights for all. As I take the last train I just can’t believe this could be the place that they dreamt of all these years ago.”

The highly selective journey which takes Wishart to that conclusion begins in Jerusalem’s Old City – or as he portrays it: “a world divided by religious rivalry”. Temple Mount is described as follows:

“…one of the holiest sites for Muslims – home to the Dome of the Rock, the Al Aqsa Mosque and the courtyard that joins them. They’re all under Muslim control.”

That, of course, is a partial representation of the site’s actual status. Wishart goes on:

“It’s also home to the holiest site in Judaism – a Jewish temple destroyed over two thousand years ago. All that remains is the western wall of the courtyard – the Wailing Wall where Jews come to pray.”

The phrase “Wailing Wall” is of course a foreign invention: Jews and Israelis do not use that anachronism. Wishart goes on:

“Now some want to completely rebuild the temple on what they call Temple Mount. No matter that Muslim holy places are here already.”

The site has of course been known as Temple Mount for centuries – long before it was called anything else. Wishart then says:

“Once Jews only ever came as far as the Western Wall. Now one thousand Jews a month enter the courtyard – the heart of this Muslim place of worship.”

He gives generous airtime to the group of women engaged in what he calls “protest” at visits by non-Muslims on Temple Mount but avoids telling viewers who those women really are and how they are paid to harass visitors. Whilst Wishart’s Jewish interviewees actually represent a tiny fringe school of thought, no mainstream Israeli opinions on the topic of Temple Mount are heard and the issue of equal prayer rights for members of all religions on a site holy to Jews and Christians as well as Muslims obviously does not interest our ‘progressive’ film-maker.

Clearly adopting – and promoting – one very specific narrative, Wishart tells audiences:

“Today’s skirmish is part of growing hostility fueled by the competing claims of Jews and Muslims to this holy place. It has already escalated into serious violence. Last November a group of Temple Mount visitors were attacked by Palestinians. In response police entered the Al Aqsa Mosque. It may only have been by a few meters but for many Muslims it crossed a sacred line.”

The accompanying footage shows masked rioters using the mosque as a launch site for rocks and firecrackers. Wishart refrains from pondering whether that crosses any ‘sacred lines’.

Wishart’s half-hearted attempt to provide historic background is completely lacking in context.

“Back then [1948] Israel only held the western part of Jerusalem – after the so-called green line. Then in 1967 Israel occupied the eastern areas.”

Viewers are not told why Israel only held part of the previously united city in 1948 or what led to the war that resulted in its reunification in 1967 and no mention is made of 19 years of Jordanian occupation.

Wishart’s journey moves on to Shuafat.

“The Palestinians who live here remain angry at being under Israeli control. The train just adds to their grievances.”

 Interviewees’ hyperbole passes without challenge:

“This is a racist train to keep Jerusalem for the Jews only.”

“Every day the train passes they are butchering me. Every day they are killing me. This is what the train means to us.”

Concerning the latter interviewee viewers are told:

“…what used to be his land until it was taken to build this train station…”

It is called compulsory purchase, of course, and it happens all over the world. Wishart refrains from using that terminology however, telling audiences:

“He refused compensation because the taking of land fits into a broader picture. Since 1967 Israel has seized about six thousand acres of land in East Jerusalem. Walid has lost about ten acres.”

No source is provided for that information.

Whilst Wishart has plenty to say about Shuafat and clearly steers viewers towards a specific narrative, his account does not include any mention of Hamas’ activities in that neighbourhood.

“I can’t help feeling that the state of this place and the lawlessness – all enclosed by the barrier – make this part of Jerusalem a tinder box waiting to ignite.”

Interviewee: “It’s difficult to be a child born into an environment of occupation and racism. […] Nobody’s born a violent person but the segregation and disparities lead to war and violence.”

At around 17:02 Wishart says:

“Just as we’re leaving the camp [Shuafat] there’s an attack on the guards at the checkpoint.”

He later adds:

“It turns out that most of the noise comes from fireworks – the ammunition of the powerless.”

During that segment (at 17:38) viewers see a boy apparently describing the scene and his words are translated on screen as follows:Panorama light rail prog soldiers

“These are the kids that throw stones at the soldiers”

BBC Watch asked a professional translator to verify that translation and this was his response:

“…it is impossible to make out what the boy says. I listened to it over and over again, together with an expert on Palestinian dialects. There are two words that the boy says before “al-yahud”, it is impossible to make out what these words are. But “al-yahud” is clearly heard, and of course that does not translate as “soldiers””.

Once again, apparently, we have a case of ‘creative’ BBC translation which censors the Arabic word for Jews, thus depriving audiences of important insight into the context and background to a story.

An additional case of ‘lost in translation’ appears in a section of the film showing Jerusalem Day celebrations which Wishart describes as “a celebration of Israel’s 1967 capture of East Jerusalem and the Old City” with no explanation of the subject of the reunification of the city after 19 years of Jordanian occupation during which Jews were prevented from visiting their holy sites. At 22:42 viewers see the chants of Palestinian protesters translated as:Panorama light rail prog defend Palestine

“With our souls, our blood, we defend Palestine”

The accurate translation does not include the word ‘defend':

“With our souls and our blood, we will redeem you, oh Palestine”

From 22:55 an interviewee’s words pertaining to the Israelis celebrating Jerusalem Day are translated on screen as follows:

“This scene causes great anger for all the people of Palestine. They break into the Old City of Jerusalem and provoke people with their shameful dancing. This is unacceptable.”

Our translator pointed out that the term ‘Old City’ and the word ‘provoke’ do not appear:

“This scene leads to tremendous anger from all segments of the Palestinian people. They forcefully attack the city of Jerusalem with racist incitement and this scandalous dance. This is an unacceptable act.”

Towards the end of the film, at 24:32, and despite having previously told viewers that the government of Israel has made it perfectly clear that no changes will be made to the status quo on Temple Mount, Wishart returns to his dubious hypothesis:

“When I was here 31 years ago even my most fervently Zionist friends weren’t rushing to build a temple on this site. Now the idea is gathering support from within the mainstream. Even a member of the new cabinet supports the idea. I can’t help but think that if some Jews push much further this would surely be the last stand for the Palestinians.”

And at 25:01 he manages to introduce conspiracy into what is no more than an urban public transport system:

“I’m left wondering what is the purpose of the train. Does its ultimate destination hold a clue? It travels north, through the Palestinian neighbourhoods, and snakes round the refugee camp. What’s so controversial is that the ultimate destination is an Israeli settlement. A thousand acres taken by Israel to build a beautiful suburb. Like all settlements in occupied territory, most of the international community consider them to be illegal.”

That ‘settlement’ is the Jerusalem neighbourhood of Pisgat Ze’ev and a quick search even of Pisgat Ze’ev’s Wikipedia entry would have shown Wishart that much of the suburb is in fact built on land purchased by Jews before the Second World War. In line with the usual BBC practice, Wishart makes no effort to inform viewers of the existence of differing legal opinions concerning the legality of ‘settlements’ and he also makes no effort to clarify that under any realistic scenario, Pisgat Ze’ev would be likely to remain under Israeli control in the event of a peace agreement with the Palestinians. He even promotes his hypothesis further with the following ridiculous claims:

“The train makes permanent the expansion of Israel. This settlement is built like a fortress.”

In late 2013 the BBC’s Director of Television claimed that it measures the success of its programmes by asking itself whether they are “fresh and new”. Perhaps the saddest thing about this edition of Panorama is that it is so predictable. From the standard, jaded, presentations of ‘settlements’, ‘the wall’ and ‘international law’, through the impartiality box-ticking inclusion of brief segments pertaining to terror attacks against Israelis – with no mention of the word terror – and to the failure to seriously address the political, religious and ideological roots of Palestinian terrorism whilst misrepresenting fringe opinions as “mainstream” Israeli thought, this politicized film treads a well-trodden route which is anything but “fresh and new”.

Fresh would have been to tell BBC audiences about the increasing numbers of Muslim Jerusalemites living in mixed neighbourhoods (including Pisgat Ze’ev) or to inform viewers of the extremist incitement which goes on inside Al Aqsa Mosque. New would have been to get the history of Jerusalem right and to go back before the standard BBC starting point of 1967 by including coverage of the topics of Jewish-owned lands before 1948 and the expulsion of Jews from the Old City and other neighbourhoods by Jordan.

Adam Wishart however chose to stick with the tried and trusted formula which guaranteed the airing of his film by the BBC and his bizarre shoe-horning of a light rail system into the story does nothing to disguise that fact.

Resources:

Panorama – contact details

How to Complain to the BBC

 

Revisiting BBC reports on a Jerusalem terror attack

In March 2015 BBC reporting on terror attacks against Israelis amounted to coverage of one incident which took place on March 6th in Jerusalem.

A filmed report by David Eades, which was shown on BBC television news programmes and promoted on the BBC News website, did not mention the word terror at all. As was noted here at the time, the written report appearing on the BBC News website mentioned the word terror twice – both times using punctuation intended to clarify to readers that the terminology was not endorsed by the BBC.

March 6th incident

The perpetrator of that attack – Mohammad Salima from Ras al Amud – confessed to five counts of attempted murder and has now been sentenced to 25 years in prison.  

“On March 6, Salaimeh drove his vehicle into the group – lightly-to-moderately wounding all five – before being shot twice upon exiting the car while wielding a large meat cleaver in an attempt to attack more victims. […]

After being treated at an area hospital, Salaimeh, who resides in the Arab neighborhood of Ras el-Amud, confessed that the attack was premeditated, and that he intended to kill as many Jews as possible.

Following the attack, Hamas’s spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri posted a statement on his Facebook page lauding the terrorist, but did not claim responsibility.” [emphasis added]

That, of course, is the same frequently quoted and promoted Sami Abu Zuhri upon whom the BBC recently called to provide comment on a report into last summer’s conflict between Israel and the terror group he represents – and then defended that action.

So – a terrorist has confessed to trying to commit the premeditated murder of five people simply because they were Jews and yet the BBC content relating to that incident which is still available on the internet (and hence still potentially the subject of editorial complaints) does not clarify the nature of that incident to audiences.

 

More Palestinian terror ignored by BBC News

Two days after having refrained from reporting on a fatal terror attack near Dolev to its English language audiences the BBC also found fit to ignore another serious incident which took place on the morning of June 21st in Jerusalem.No news

“A Palestinian man stabbed and seriously injured an Israeli Border Police officer Sunday outside Jerusalem’s Damascus Gate, police said. An officer on the scene shot the suspected assailant.

The suspect was identified as an 18-year-old Palestinian man from the West Bank, who was named by Arabic media as Yasser Yassin Tarwa of Hebron. He was seriously injured and sent to Hadassah Hospital.

The officer suffered multiple stab wounds to the neck and chest and was taken to Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Hospital after receiving treatment on site. The man was on life support in serious condition.”

Whilst still in a very serious condition, the Border Police officer was said to be showing slight improvement 24 hours after the attack.

Although Hamas did not take responsibility for the attack, the terror organisation’s Qatar-based spokesman praised it and photographs of the attacker in Hamas garb circulated on social media.

“The Facebook page of Hamas website al-Resalah.net posted two photos of 18-year-old Yasser Yassin Tarwa from the town of Sa’ir near Hebron.

In one, Tarwa is seen wearing a Hamas scarf and headband, and camouflage pants.

In another, the Hebron Polytechnic student is seen displaying the green flag of his university’s Islamic bloc, his face painted in camouflage colors. […]

Hamas spokesman Hossam Badran said in a statement Sunday that the “heroic” attack was timed perfectly to coincide with the first anniversary of the killing of Palestinian teenager Muhammed Abu Khdeir by Jewish extremists.

“The operation sends a message of resistance to the occupation whereby resisting youth are able to defy the occupation and reach its soldiers even where they [the policemen] gather,” Badran wrote.”

Another of Hamas’ cadre of spokesmen praised the previous attack on June 19th:

““Congratulations to the modest arm in the West Bank which carried out the heroic attack against the settlers against the Zionists west of Ramallah on the anniversary of the martyring of Qassam [Brigades] heroes Marwan Kawasme and Amer Abu Aysha,” wrote Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum on Saturday, referring to the killers of three Israeli teenagers last June. The two kidnappers were killed in a firefight with Israeli soldiers in September 2014, after a manhunt of several months.

“More of these quality, heroic operations rekindle the hope of our people and its faith in the spirit of jihad, after some have counted on its eradication.””

Later on the evening of June 21st a bus travelling near Geva Binyamin was attacked with firebombs and rocks and one man was injured.

The BBC’s audiences of course remain severely under-informed about the rise in terror attacks against Israelis and notably two fatal attacks which have taken place since the beginning of the year have both been ignored by BBC journalists reporting for the corporation’s English language services. Likewise, Hamas’ material and ideological support for acts of terror in Jerusalem and Judea & Samaria remains seriously under-reported by the BBC.

Related Articles:

BBC ignores another terror attack on Israelis – in English

BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel in May 2015

BBC coverage of terrorism in Israel in April 2015

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

A Jerusalem story the BBC will not be covering

Late last year, when a surge in terror attacks against Israelis took place – particularly in Jerusalem – the BBC provided its audiences with backgrounders and numerous articles and reports which purported to explain the ‘context’ to those attacks.Knell backgrounder filmed

However, one essential aspect of the story was consistently concealed from BBC audiences: that of Palestinian Authority incitement. As was noted here at the time:

“So, whilst BBC audiences were repeatedly told that the “rising tensions” which supposedly led to the terror attack in Har Nof can be attributed to a variety of factors which are mostly – according to the BBC’s portrayal – attributable to Israeli actions, they remained completely ignorant on the issue of the crucial factor of the atmosphere being engineered by the Palestinian Authority and its main party Fatah – also headed by Mahmoud Abbas.”

The speaker in the video below (filmed on May 29th 2015) teaches two religious classes a week at the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem and is apparently paid by the Palestinian Authority funded Waqf (religious authority) to do so.

BBC audiences have of course neither seen, read nor heard any coverage of this story to date.

20% of BBC’s reporting on car attack in Jerusalem is amplification of anonymous hearsay

As has been noted here previously, despite the marked increase in the number of vehicular terror attacks against Israelis seen in recent months, the BBC refrained from reporting the incidents which took place on May 14th, April 25th and April 15th.

On May 20th yet another attack took place in Jerusalem.

“Two Border Police officers were lightly injured in Jerusalem on Wednesday when a Palestinian man veered off the road and hit them with an SUV in what police said was a deliberate attack.

The driver was shot by police and critically wounded after he tried to back up and run over the injured officers again, police said. He was administered first aid at the scene but died shortly thereafter.” [emphasis added]

Ynet reported:

“The driver had been traveling from the direction of the Augusta Victoria area, when he spotted the group of Border Police, who were conducting security checks.  He appears to have veered off the road towards the group in order to carry out the attack.

 An initial investigation shows that the driver identified the group of police officers and tried to run them over. After the attack, he tried to “confirm the kill” by reversing back over the wounded officers. He was then shot by police.” [emphasis added]

The perpetrator is apparently affiliated with Hamas.

Whilst not producing a stand-alone report on the incident, the BBC did include a couple of paragraphs right at the end of an article on another topic (which will be discussed separately).

car attack a Tur

Contrary to the inaccurate impression given in the BBC’s account of the incident the perpetrator was not shot “after he swerved his vehicle” but after he ran the police officers over. Likewise, as can be seen from the reports above and others, the police officers were not “slightly” injured, but lightly to moderately – as described by the Jerusalem Post:

“According to police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld, the attack took place shortly before 10 a.m. when Amran Abu Dhein, 41, of Jebl Mukaber in southeastern Jerusalem, rammed his car into a female and two male officers, who sustained light-to-moderate injuries to their legs and hips.”

No less notable than the above inaccuracies is the dubious editorial decision to use over 20% of the word count of this brief report to amplify anonymous hearsay claiming that “the driver had tried to swerve to avoid hitting pedestrians” – despite the existence of testimonies indicating that he had actually tried to run them over a second time. 

 

How a BBC WS News bulletin misled on Jerusalem Day

Those who happened to be listening to the BBC World Service at 2 a.m. GMT on May 18th will have heard the following item in the news bulletin (from 03:40, available for a limited period of time only) read by Fiona MacDonald.World Service

“Israeli police have clashed with Palestinians protesting against a march by Jewish nationalists to mark Israel’s capture of East Jerusalem in 1967. Palestinians threw stones as Israelis bearing flags marched through the predominantly Muslim old walled city. A Palestinian activist, Ahmad SubLaban, said the march was a provocation.

[voiceover] During the march the Old City gets closed and its residents are forbidden from entering or leaving. They say that day for them feels like a prison, keeping them inside their houses. They’re forbidden to go in and out of the Old City. They’re also attacked; some of their properties are destroyed. The shopkeepers are forced to close their stores.”

The Israeli prime minister said Jerusalem would always be the capital for the Jewish people alone.”

MacDonald is of course describing Jerusalem Day or Yom Yerushalayim – the national holiday marking the reunification of the city after nineteen years of division due to the occupation by Jordan between 1948 and 1967. That context is glaringly absent from her distorted description of the purpose of the event.

Among the numerous events taking place on May 17th to mark the occasion was the traditional march to the Western Wall, which for geographical reasons obviously has to pass through what MacDonald bizarrely finds necessary to describe as “the predominantly Muslim old walled city”.

Not unrelated to the content and style of this news item is the fact that this year, two political NGOs unsuccessfully petitioned the High Court in an attempt to prevent the march (now in its thirtieth year) from passing through the Old City’s Muslim Quarter. One of the political NGOs which filed the rejected petition was the foreign funded Ir Amim.

One of Ir Amim’s employees is Ahmad SubLaban – apparently the same inadequately introduced man given a platform by the BBC World Service from which to promote political propaganda.

BBC Watch enquired about SubLaban’s claims that “residents are forbidden from entering or leaving” the area and that “shopkeepers are forced to close their stores” and was not informed of any restrictions imposed on movement or commerce, although according to the Israeli police force, some shopkeepers do chose to close earlier than usual on that day. We were also informed that there were no reports of damage to shops or properties and that two police officers were lightly injured by participants in an illegal protest at Damascus gate in which stones and bottles were thrown.

And what of MacDonald’s claim that “the Israeli prime minister said Jerusalem would always be the capital for the Jewish people alone”? According to the Times of Israel, what Netanyahu actually said in his Jerusalem Day address was:

“Jerusalem was only ever the capital of the Jewish people, not of any other people,” […] “Here our path as a nation began, this is our home and here we shall stay.”

Interestingly, a strikingly similar interpretation of those words to the one presented by the BBC is to be found in the headline of an article appearing in Ha’aretz which reads “Netanyahu: Jerusalem is the capital of the Jewish people alone”. Whilst the Ha’aretz article supplies context to that misleading headline, the BBC World Service appears to have further garnished it in such a way that listeners would inevitably misunderstand the meaning and intention of the words spoken. 

Were the BBC to expand its news gathering beyond one Israeli newspaper of a specific political stripe and beyond inadequately introduced representatives of political NGOs of a particular genre, the accuracy and impartiality of its reports on events in Israel would of course be vastly improved. However, as this example of a supposedly factual item in a news bulletin once more indicates, the BBC’s reliance upon sources promoting a distinct political view defines, restricts and shapes the objectivity and accuracy of information passed on to audiences worldwide.

 

BBC’s Yolande Knell back on the ‘one state’ bandwagon

On May 15th the BBC Jerusalem Bureau’s Yolande Knell produced a filmed report for the corporation’s television news programmes which was also promoted on the BBC News website’s Middle East page under the title “How will new Israel government affect two-state solution?“.Knell Har Homa

The synopsis appearing on the website includes the following statement:

“The government includes conservative, far-right, and ultra-Orthodox Jewish parties who would fight any recognition of a Palestinian state.”

The accuracy of that statement is of course contestable – not least in relation to the stance of coalition member party Shas, which has traditionally supported the two-state solution.

If viewers thought that the title of this report indicated that they were going to get some reliable background information on the new Israeli government’s approach and policies, they were sorely mistaken: Knell’s report is just one more addition to her long record of partial and inaccurate political propaganda.

Knell opens her report as follows:

“Har Homa: it’s one of Israel’s most controversial housing projects on land the Palestinians want for their state. Here, Bethlehem is cut off from Jerusalem.”

Does Har Homa in fact cut Bethlehem off from Jerusalem? A look at the map shows that the answer to that is no, with two routes bypassing Har Homa available for travel.

map Har Homa

Knell continues:

“Back in the late 1990s this is the same hill before building began. Now there are about twenty thousand Jewish residents and ahead of his re-election, the prime minister came promising to expand settlements. They’re seen as illegal under international law but Israel disagrees.”

As ever, Knell makes no attempt to comply with BBC editorial guidelines on impartiality by informing her viewers of the existence of opinions which contradict the BBC’s standard “illegal under international law” insert. Neither does she bother to inform them of the fact that the majority of Har Homa (Homat Shmuel) is built on land purchased by Jews prior to 1948 – a fact recognized even by the PLO.

Knell goes on:

“He [Netanyahu] also said he wouldn’t allow a Palestinian state.”

That context-free representation of the Israeli PM’s words relates to an interview given to the Israeli website NRG, the full text of which can be found here. Notably, Knell also ignores the subsequent clarifications made by Netanyahu.

She proceeds to explain a map inserted into the footage:

“This is where the Palestinians seek full sovereignty: in East Jerusalem which they want as their capital, the West Bank and Gaza – areas captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war.”

No attempt is made to inform viewers why war broke out in 1967 or of the legal status of the areas she describes before they were conquered and occupied by Jordan and Egypt in 1948.

Next, with no effort made to conform to BBC editorial guidelines on impartiality by informing audiences of the political aims of the NGO he represents, Knell introduces her first interviewee.

Knell: “In his Bethlehem office Jad Isaac monitors settlement growth. He no longer believes in a two state solution to the conflict with Israel.”

Isaac: “This is not realistic; anybody who sees things on the ground will come to that conclusion.”

Knell: “Dr Isaac faces losing his own land because of new construction in Har Homa. He tells me the International Criminal Court should act.”

Isaac: “This is the last resort. We have to go to the international justice – to the international community – to see what they say about this occupation. Displacing people, bringing Israeli citizens to live inside the West Bank – the occupied territory – is a war crime.”

Again, Knell makes no effort whatsoever to clarify to viewers that Isaac’s “war crime” claim is highly debatable to say the least. She then goes on to ostensibly present a differing viewpoint but fails to tell viewers that her next interviewee is not only a journalist, but also the former director of the political NGO the New Israel Fund.  

Knell: “On the Jerusalem side of Har Homa I get another perspective from an Israeli journalist who lives nearby.”

Ya’ari: “This whole…eh…expressions of two state solution is almost like a cover up on something different.”

Knell: “Unusually, Eliezer Ya’ari visits his Palestinian neighbours. Israel made their villages part of Jerusalem when it unilaterally extended the city’s boundaries but it views them as residents – not citizens. Mr Ya’ari thinks they should have the same political rights as he does.”

Ya’ari: “OK – we are now tangled together. What does it mean? From my point of view Israel has decided that Jerusalem – its own capital – will be a bi-national city and I don’t think that all Israeli citizens actually understand what it means.”

This is not the first time we have seen Yolande Knell deliberately mislead BBC audiences with regard to the status of Palestinian residents of Jerusalem: she made the exact same inaccurate claim in November of last year, failing to clarify that they are entitled to apply for citizenship should they so wish and that those who choose not to exercise that right (and hence to disenfranchise themselves as far as voting in parliamentary elections is concerned) are nevertheless entitled to vote in municipal elections and to receive social security benefits and healthcare. We have also seen the BBC promoting similar misinformation in additional past reports.

Knell closes her report:

“The view has changed dramatically since battles were fought over this land nearly fifty years ago and as Israel’s political landscape continues to alter even moderate voices are looking at alternatives to established peace plans.”

This is also not the first time that we have seen Yolande Knell promoting ‘alternatives’ to the two state solution, whilst failing to clarify to her audiences what that actually means. Her latest misrepresentation of this as being the approach of “moderate voices” exposes the political agenda actually being promoted in this so-called ‘news’ item.  

Related Articles:

BBC’s Yolande Knell ditches any semblance of impartiality

Yolande Knell ties one-state banner to BBC mast

Two videos from Jerusalem: the one BBC viewers saw and the one they didn’t

On April 29th visitors to the BBC News website’s main homepage were presented with a video filmed in Jerusalem.

petrol station story on home page

So were visitors to the website’s ‘World’ homepage:

petrol station story on World page

And also those who arrived at the website’s Middle East page:

petrol station story on ME pge

The BBC also uploaded the same video to its BBC News Youtube channel.

Whilst the footage (taken from a CCTV camera at a Jerusalem petrol station) is certainly dramatic, the story behind it is perhaps not quite as earth-shatteringly important as its promotion on three separate pages of the BBC News website would suggest. The BBC’s synopsis states:petrol station story

“A woman has denied deliberately setting fire to a petrol pump on a Jerusalem forecourt, after being refused a cigarette by a motorist, according to local police.

Israeli police released CCTV in which a woman is seen approaching a man filling his car, then walking away, before turning back and appearing to use a lighter to set the fuel ablaze.

According to local media, the driver’s brother was in the car, but no injuries were reported.

Police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld was quoted as saying; “The woman was arrested shortly after the incident and… denied the incident”.”

BBC audiences are not, however, informed that the woman apparently suffers from mental health problems.

Another video taken from CCTV footage in Jerusalem was also released into the public domain on April 29th. That film shows the terror attack which took place in the French Hill district of the city on April 15th in which one person was killed and a second seriously injured.

As readers will recall, the BBC did not see fit to report on that fatal terror attack at the time and the corporation obviously does not consider the video footage of the attack worthy of promotion on three separate webpages and a Youtube channel now.