BBC both amplifies and conceals PA incitement in report on Jerusalem attack

On October 30th the BBC News website’s Middle East page published a report relating to the attempted murder of Rabbi Yehuda Glick which had taken place in central Jerusalem some four hours previously. The article – originally titled “Jewish activist Yehuda Glick shot and hurt in Jerusalem” – has been amended numerous times since its initial publication but its first two versions included the following caption to its main photograph:

“Mr Glick was photographed attending a conference shortly before the shooting about Israeli access to what it calls Temple Mount” [emphasis added]

Glick art main

Later on in the report readers were told:

“He was active in a push by Jews to pray at a sensitive Jerusalem holy site.

Mr Glick had just attended a conference at the Menachem Begin Heritage Centre which had discussed Jewish claims to the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound which is venerated by Jews as the Temple Mount.”

And:

“The Al-Aqsa compound is also revered by Muslims – it is widely seen as Islam’s third holiest site – and is one of the most contentious areas of the Arab-Israeli conflict.”

In other words, visitors to the BBC News website who read either of the first two versions of the article were not informed that Temple Mount (known as such not only by Israelis and long before the BBC’s obviously preferred title ‘Al-Aqsa compound’ came into existence) is the holiest site for Jews due to its being the location of the First and Second Temples. The failure to clarify that fact and the BBC’s use of the inaccurate phrase “Jewish claims to the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound” obviously misleads readers. Neither were audiences adequately informed why it is that non-Muslims (not just Jews) are currently not allowed to pray at the site or why, for example, a Christian wearing a crucifix would not be permitted to visit.

“The Jerusalem Islamic Waqf (endowments), a Jordanian-funded and administered Islamic trust and charitable organization, manages the site and generally restricts non-Muslims from entering the Dome of the Rock shrine and al-Aqsa Mosque, a practice it started in 2000. The Waqf does not allow non-Muslim religious symbols to be worn on the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif.”

In the third version of the report the following amendment was made:

“Yehuda Glick is a well-known campaigner for greater Jewish rights to pray at the site known to Jews as the Temple Mount, and to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif.

He had just attended a conference where delegates discussed Jewish claims to the compound, the holiest site in Judaism, which also contains the al-Aqsa Mosque – the third holiest site in Islam.”

All versions of the BBC report mislead readers by inaccurately stating:

“Israel argues that it tolerates free prayer to all at the site, but Palestinians claim it is unilaterally taking steps to allow larger numbers of Jewish worshippers.”

Interestingly, a very similarly worded statement appeared in an AP report on October 18th.

In the fourth version of the article was it clarified that:

“Jews are allowed on to the compound but are forbidden from praying or performing religious rites there.”

The report’s fifth version stated:

“The site is administered by an Islamic body called the Waqf, while Israeli police are in charge of security.

Jews are allowed on to the compound but are forbidden from praying or performing religious rites there under Israeli law.”

One might have thought that all BBC staff would be capable of writing about such a prominent issue accurately, thus avoiding the omission of such a crucial part of the story as the significance of Temple Mount in the Jewish religion and hence avoiding the situation whereby the accuracy of information received by a reader depends upon the time at which he or she accessed a BBC report. Obviously – as we have seen before – that is not the case.

Some four hours after the article’s original publication it was updated (with advertisement on Twitter) to include the following statement:Glick BBC tweet

“Israeli police have since told the BBC that a suspect was located at a house in Jerusalem, and shot dead after an exchange of fire.”

From the third version onwards the report was retitled “Jerusalem: Glick suspect killed in Israel police shoot-out“.

In the report’s fourth version readers were finally informed that Mua’taz Hijazi from Abu Tor was a member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, who had previously spent 11 years in prison, but not that the PIJ subsequently issued a statement reading:

“The released prisoner Muataz Hijazi who was killed in an exchange of fire in Silwan is our activist. The attempted assassination of Glick is translation into deeds of the Palestinian feeling of vengeance in reaction to what is happening in Jerusalem.”

The appearance of several ‘martyrdom posters’ with the Fatah logo (Mahmoud Abbas’ party, of course) was likewise ignored, along with the Fatah statement “[w]e proudly mourn hero martyr. Shahid in Jerusalem son of Palestine. And the son of Fatah Moataz Ibrahim Hijazi”.

Glick Fatah poster

BBC audiences were also not informed in any of the versions of the report that Yehuda Glick had received numerous threats in the past.

The headline of the seventh version of this BBC report was changed to “Jerusalem holy site closure ‘declaration of war’ – Abbas“, meaning that within less than half a day, the article’s focus had shifted from the attempted murder of Yehuda Glick, through the shooting of his would-be assassin, to unqualified amplification of the ridiculous – yet dangerous – notion that the temporary closure of Temple Mount in order to reduce tension and the likelihood of violence is an intentional “attack” on the entire Muslim world. With no effort made to clarify to readers why the complex had been closed, that version of the report informed them that:Glick BBC tweet 2 declaration

“A spokesman for Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has described the closure of a disputed Jerusalem holy site as a “declaration of war”.

Nabil Abu Rudeina said the Palestinian Authority would take legal action over the move, which came amid tension over the shooting of a Jewish activist. […]

Palestinians hold the Israeli government responsible for a “dangerous act”, Mr Abbas was quoted as saying by Mr Rudeina, in remarks carried by AFP news agency.

“This dangerous Israeli escalation is a declaration of war on the Palestinian people and its sacred places and on the Arab and Islamic nation,” Mr Rudeina added.”

However, no attempt was made in either this version or any other of the report’s various incarnations to place its subject matter – and the PA president’s latest propaganda – in the context of recent incitement from the highest levels of the Palestinian Authority. As PMW has reported, a video of part of a speech made by Abbas on October 17th was broadcast nineteen times in three days by official PA television.

The day after that speech Abbas made another to the Fatah Revolutionary Council in which he dehumanized Jews visiting Temple Mount by referring to them as a “herd of cattle” and accusing them of “desecrating our holy sites”.  On October 27th the prime minister of the Palestinian Unity Government Rami Hamdallah visited Temple Mount, using the opportunity to accuse Jews of “Judaizing” Jerusalem.

““Jerusalem is a redline, and so is the Aksa Mosque,” Hamdallah told reporters. “We will go to all international institutions and Islamic and Arab countries to request that they stand against Israeli violations in Jerusalem.”

Hamdallah accused Israel of working toward Judaizing Jerusalem and the Aksa Mosque.

“We came here to say that Jerusalem is the capital of the Palestinian state and an important part of the national program,” he said.”

With the PA’s employment of the issue of Temple Mount being used to escalate its incitement to new heights, it is obviously essential that BBC audiences be made aware of the highly significant contribution of that factor to the current violence if they are to fully comprehend current and future events. This article, however, makes no attempt to meet the BBC’s obligation to build “understanding” of the issue.

Related articles:

BBC News skirts opportunity to fully inform audiences on PA and Fatah incitement

Accuracy failure in Yolande Knell’s BBC report on Pope’s visit to Jerusalem holy sites

BBC omits vital background information in Temple Mount rioting story  

BBC continues to describe terror in Jerusalem as a ‘car attack’ and terrorist as ‘driver’

Both the headline and the text of the original version of the BBC News website’s October 26th report on the death of a second victim of last week’s terror attack in Jerusalem continued the corporation’s earlier bizarre presentation of the incident as a “car attack”.

Pigua art 26 10

Likewise, the article continued to use the word terror exclusively in the context of quotes from Israeli officials.

“Officials say they are treating it as a “terrorist attack” and that the suspect had previously served a sentence in an Israeli prison “for terrorism”.”

The terrorist was described as a “driver”. [all emphasis added]

“A three-month-old girl was killed and seven injured when a Palestinian driver ran his car into a tram station.

The driver died after being shot by police as he attempted to flee.[…]

On Sunday evening clashes ensued between Palestinians and Israeli police in East Jerusalem after a “symbolic funeral” for the deceased Palestinian driver, Abdel Rahman al-Shaludi.”

Some fourteen hours after the article’s initial publication it was amended but the headline still describes the incident as a “car attack”, the terrorist is described both as an “attacker” and a “driver” and the one reference to terror is still in quotation marks.Pigua art 26 10 amended

“An Ecuadorean woman who was injured in a Palestinian attack in Jerusalem on Wednesday in which a three-month-old baby girl was also killed has died.

They were among a group of people hit when the attacker ran his car into pedestrians at a tram station.

The 21-year-old driver was shot dead by police as he attempted to flee the scene on foot. […]

Ms Mosquera and Haya Zissel Braun were killed in what police say was a “terrorist attack”.”

Relating to a separate incident, both versions of the article inaccurately describe Orwah Hammad as having been shot by “Israeli police” – rather than an army unit as was actually the case. 

Both versions of the article close:

“East Jerusalem has experienced months of unrest since a Palestinian teenager was abducted and burned to death in early July, two days after the discovery of the bodies of three Israeli teenagers who were abducted and killed in the occupied West Bank in mid-June.

The killings set off an escalating cycle of violence, leading to a 50-day conflict between Israel and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip that claimed more than 2,000 lives.”

Rioting and attacks by Palestinians since June 12th have not been confined to “East Jerusalem” and have in fact been more prevalent in Judea & Samaria.Silwad graph

Notably, no attempt is made to clarify to readers that the kidnapping and murders of the three Israeli teenagers was carried out by a Hamas cell in Hebron with funding from the Gaza Strip.

As we have seen before, the BBC is intent upon promoting the myth of a “cycle of violence” and the erroneous notion that the summer conflict between Israel and Hamas was caused by the four murders. In order to do so, it erases from audience view the hundreds of missiles launched at civilian targets in Israel between June 12th and the commencement of Operation Protective Edge on July 8th. It was of course that intense missile fire which was the reason for the military operation, with the later discovery of dozens of cross-border tunnels prompting the subsequent ground operation. The military operation could have been avoided had Hamas elected to take advantage of the ample opportunities it was given to stop the missile fire before July 8th, but the terrorist organisation chose not to do so – for reasons not by any means exclusively connected to Israel.

It is high time that the BBC ceased to promote this inaccurate version of events in which Hamas’ instigation of the hostilities is concealed from audiences.  

 

 

 

BBC presents property purchased by Jews as ‘settlements’

On October 25th the BBC News website’s Middle East page ran an article titled “US urges probe after teenager shot dead in West Bank“. Apparently based at least in part on a report appearing in Ha’aretz, the article informs readers that:Silwad art

“The US state department has called for a “speedy and transparent investigation” into the death of a Palestinian-American teenager killed by Israeli soldiers on Friday.

Police said that Orwa Hammad, 14, was about to throw a petrol bomb near Ramallah in the West Bank. […]

A relative identified the teenager as Orwa Abd al-Wahhab Hammad, who was born in New Orleans and came to the West Bank when he was six, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported.”

Other media reports (quoting Palestinian media outlets and Palestinian officials) have described the youth as being sixteen or seventeen years old.

With regard to the circumstances of the incident, in addition describing its location as “near Ramallah”, the BBC informs its audiences that:

“He [Hammad] was reported to have been shot in the head during clashes between IDF soldiers and stone-throwing protesters.

Some of the protesters were seen making and throwing Molotov cocktails.

An IDF spokesman initially told Reuters that forces “managed to prevent an attack when they encountered a Palestinian man hurling a Molotov cocktail at them on the main road. They opened fire and confirmed a hit.” “

In the caption to one of the photographs used to illustrate the report, readers are also told that:

“Molotov cocktails and stones were thrown at Israeli jeeps and soldiers in Silwad, near Ramallah”

So where did the incident occur and what actually happened? Channel 10 News reported as follows:

“According to an announcement by the IDF Spokesman, at around 19:00 hours a unit of the parachute regiment engaged in operational activity between the village of Silwad and Route 60 in the Ramallah area identified a Palestinian throwing petrol bombs in the direction of the road upon which Israeli vehicles were travelling.”

Walla reported:

“A Palestinian youth was killed yesterday (Friday) by fire from an IDF unit which was in an ambush in the village of Silwad, north-east of Ramallah, after the unit identified him throwing a petrol bomb at Route 60 and opened fire.”

The Jerusalem Post reported:

“A Palestinian was shot dead by IDF troops outside the village of Silwad in the West Bank on Friday evening, after he threw a Molotov cocktail at traffic on highway 60, the IDF Spokesperson’s Department said.

The IDF said that the soldiers were on patrol in the area and had set up an ambush overlooking the stretch of highway when they saw the assailant throw the bottle.

They said that the soldiers opened fire “in order to neutralize the threat to the lives of civilians driving on the highway.” “

In other words, the incident did not take place “near Ramallah” as stated by the BBC, but some fifteen and a half kilometers away outside Silwad on a main highway used by both Israeli and Palestinian motorists. Additionally, it is likely that civilian motorists were the target of Hammad’s petrol bomb rather than – as suggested by the BBC – IDF forces, with the BBC’s claim that Hammad was shot “during clashes between IDF soldiers and stone-throwing protesters” not being supported by other media reports.Silwad map

Like the US State Department, the BBC is apparently not overly interested in investigating why a US citizen was throwing petrol bombs at motorists on a main highway.

Notably too, this report misleads readers with the following statement, which appears both as a caption to an illustrative photo and in the body of the report:

“Tensions have been high since the end of the 50-day conflict in Gaza.” 

Later on, a seemingly contradictory statement is presented:

“Although a fragile ceasefire has been holding since the end of the 50-day conflict between Israel and Palestinians in Gaza, incidents of violence have continued sporadically throughout the West Bank and near holy sites in Jerusalem.”

Of course the ceasefire which brought this summer’s conflict in Israel and the Gaza Strip (not exclusively “in Gaza” as described by the BBC) between Israel and Hamas (not “Palestinians” as the BBC claims) has absolutely no bearing on the rioting and violent attacks carried out in other areas.

Whilst on the one hand the BBC informs audiences that tensions “have been high” since the ceasefire came into effect, on the other hand it claims that violent incidents have been ‘sporadic': i.e. “occurring at irregular intervals; having no pattern or order in time“.

So what are the facts behind those two BBC statements?

In fact, according to data collected by the ISA, violent attacks by Palestinians in Judea & Samaria and Jerusalem peaked during July and have since returned to the levels seen prior to Operation Protective Edge. However, it is difficult to see how they can be accurately described as having “continued sporadically” seeing as their occurrence (usually not reported by the BBC) is a daily event.

Silwad graph

But the really interesting part of this BBC report is its shoehorning of the topic of ‘settlements’ into its ‘contextualisation’ of Palestinian terror. Despite there being no confirmation of the motives of Orwah Hammad as he lobbed petrol bombs at passing cars, one of the images used to illustrate the report is presented with the following tendentious caption:

“Palestinians were protesting against the expansion of a Jewish settlement in the West Bank”

Silwad art pic

Relating to the terror attack in Jerusalem on October 22nd, the article later informs readers that:

“Wednesday’s car attack was carried out by a Palestinian man from Silwan in East Jerusalem, where tensions are high among Palestinians who are angry over Jewish settlements in the area.”

Oddly, some might say, the BBC appears to believe that “tensions” and ‘anger’ felt by those who oppose people of a certain ethnicity living in a certain place are a factor which can be used to ‘explain’ both petrol bomb attacks on motorists and the deliberate murder of a three month-old baby.

But are there in fact “Jewish settlements” in the Silwan (Kfar Shiloach) neighbourhood of Jerusalem? Well, not according to the BBC’s own definition of ‘settlements':

“Settlements are residential areas built by the Israeli government in the territories occupied by Israel following the June 1967 war. They are illegal under international law – that is the position of the UN Security Council. Israel rejects this assertion. ” [emphasis added]

What there is in that neighbourhood of Jerusalem is existing housing purchased and inhabited by some 90 Jewish families (roughly 500 people out of a population of over 50,000). Hence we see that the BBC is herding audiences towards a very dubious narrative which encourages them to view the purchase of property in certain areas of a city by people of a specific faith and ethnicity as “illegal” and undesirable. One has to wonder whether the BBC’s ‘progressive’ approach would extend to encouraging its audiences to view neighbourhoods of mixed religion, ethnicity (and perhaps colour or sexual orientation) in any other city in such a light.

But of course that anachronistic BBC narrative does not appear by chance: it is also the narrative of the Palestinian Authority, the president of which recently introduced new punishments (unreported by the BBC) for those who sell property to Jewish Israelis.

“Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday issued an order that would toughen punishment for Palestinians involved in real estate deals with “hostile countries” and their citizens.

Abbas’s decision came following reports that Palestinians have sold houses in Jerusalem’s Silwan neighborhood to Jews. […]

In his order, Abbas decided to amend the Palestinian penal code so that it would include hard labor in addition to life imprisonment for Palestinians who sell, rent out or serve as mediators in real estate transactions with “hostile countries” and their citizens.

In 2010, a PA court reaffirmed that the sale of Palestinian land to Israelis is punishable by death. Although the death sentence has not been officially executed, several Palestinians have been murdered in east Jerusalem and the West Bank over the past four decades after being accused of involvement in property transactions with Jews. ” 

Whilst BBC licence fee payers got a hefty dose of PA propaganda in this article, they have clearly not been provided with the accurate, impartial or comprehensive reporting to which the BBC is committed.

BBC News skirts opportunity to fully inform audiences on PA and Fatah incitement

The morning after the October 22nd terror attack in Jerusalem in which a three month-old baby was killed and eight other people injured, the BBC News website replaced its highly unsatisfactory report on the incident with another article titled “Israel’s Netanyahu accuses Abbas over Jerusalem car attack“.

Although the unnecessary inverted commas around the word attack seen in the previous article’s various headlines did not appear in this one, the description of a “car attack” of course still fails to adequately inform audiences that this was an act of terror and indeed the BBC refrains from categorizing the incident as such itself.

 “A spokesman said the incident was being treated as a “terrorist attack”.”

For some reason the BBC found it necessary to ensure that before readers had reached the end of the first six paragraphs of the article, they had been informed no fewer than three times that the terrorist was shot by the Israeli security forces: once in the caption to the photograph illustrating the report and twice in its text.

Pigua second art

As has often been documented here, the BBC consistently avoids reporting on the issue of Palestinian incitement from all factions and so this report may appear to make a welcome change to that previous policy. The topic of the article’s headline is presented thus:

“Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu has accused the Palestinian president of incitement, after an attack which killed a baby girl in Jerusalem.

Mr Netanyahu said Mahmoud Abbas had provided encouragement for incidents such as the killing of the three-month-old by a Palestinian driver.” […]

In a statement, Prime Minister Netanyahu accused the Palestinian unity government, backed by Mr Abbas’ Fatah party and Hamas, of fuelling such attacks.

“This is the way in which Abu Mazen’s [Mahmoud Abbas] partners in government operate, the same Abu Mazen who just days ago incited to harm Jews in Jerusalem,” he said.

Mr Netanyahu was alluding to comments by Mr Abbas in which he said Jewish “settlers” should be barred “by any means” from entering a disputed holy compound in Jerusalem known to Jews as the Temple Mount and Muslims as Haram al-Sharif. He described Jews visiting the site as a “herds of cattle”.

Mr Abbas was speaking after a series of clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police on the compound.”

However, as Khaled Abu Toameh has documented, Abbas’ incitement has extended beyond those comments as they are reported by the BBC.

“A few days before the terrorist attack in Jerusalem, Abbas strongly denounced Jews who visit the Temple Mount as a “herd of cattle.”

Abbas told Fatah activists from Jerusalem who visited him in his office that they must make an effort to stop Jewish “settlers,” “by all means,” from “desecrating our holy sites.”

Abbas added:

“We must prevent them from entering the Noble Sanctuary by all means. This is our Al-Aqsa. Al-Aqsa is a red line: Israel must be aware that the ongoing raids and attacks on Al-Aqsa will cause a volcanic explosion in the area that will reach Israel. Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the State of Palestine, and without it, there will be no state.”

Abbas and his Palestinian Authority have been exploiting the visits by Jews to the Temple Mount to incite Palestinians against Israel. They have been incorrectly denouncing these visits as “assaults” and “raids” on Islamic holy sites by Jewish “extremists”.”

The PA president has also recently used other issues to promote incitement:

“During the 50-day military confrontation between Israel and Hamas in July and August, PA President Mahmoud Abbas and his senior officials in the West Bank made it a daily practice to incite their people against Israel.

The anti-Israel campaign of incitement reached its peak with Abbas’s speech at the UN General Assembly last month, when he accused Israel of waging a “war of genocide” in the Gaza Strip. Abbas made no reference to Hamas’s crimes against both Israelis and Palestinians.”

“Forty-eight hours before the Jerusalem attack, Abbas intensified his rhetorical assault on Israel by announcing that any Palestinian who is involved in property transactions with “hostile countries” (Israel) would be punished by life imprisonment with hard labor.

Abbas’s announcement came in response to reports that Palestinians had sold homes to Jewish families in Silwan — the Jerusalem neighborhood where al-Shalodi lived. By threatening to punish Palestinians for selling property to Jews, Abbas was sending a message that this is an awful crime that should not pass without a Palestinian response.”

Rather than clarifying to BBC audiences the scale and intensity of the incitement promoted by the Palestinian Authority president it so frequently describes as “moderate“, the BBC elects to present the issue in terms of “accusations” by the Israeli prime minister. The fact that Abbas’ party Fatah published a ‘martyrdom poster’ praising the terrorist on its Facebook page and that Abbas’ advisor described him as “a heroic martyr” has not been reported to BBC audiences.

Image credit: PMW

Image credit: PMW

Whilst the BBC has one the one hand frequently promoted the erroneous notion that the recent conflict between Israel and Hamas was a result of the lack of a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians and on the other sympathetically amplified the PA’s assorted unilateral moves to achieve international recognition of statehood whilst avoiding negotiations, the corporation consistently fails to provide audiences with information on the very relevant issues of the incitement and glorification of terrorism propagated by Palestinian leaders of all factions. Unfortunately, this report does little to correct those omissions or to begin to provide BBC audiences with the information necessary to enable their understanding of the part played by those factors in encouraging terrorism and making any negotiated peace agreement increasingly unlikely.

Ambiguous BBC reporting on Jerusalem terror attack

On the evening of October 22nd the BBC News website reported on a terror attack which had taken place in Jerusalem a couple of hours previously.  

Abd al Rahman Shaloudi from Silwan ploughed the car he was driving into a group of people waiting at the light rail station at Ammunition Hill, injuring nine of them, including three month-old Haya Zissel Braun who later died from the injuries she sustained. Shaloudi – a member of a known Hamas-linked family who had previously been imprisoned for throwing petrol bombs at motorists – tried to escape the scene on foot and was shot by a member of the security forces, later dying of his wounds. Rioting subsequently took place in the neighbourhoods of Silwan and Issawiya, with at least one motorist injured by stone-throwers.

So what were BBC audiences told about the incident? On the BBC News website’s homepage it was initially presented in language suggesting an accident: “A car hits a group of pedestrians at a Jerusalem railway station, injuring at least nine”.

Pigua Jerusalem on main page

On the website’s Middle East page a similar impression was given.

Pigua Jerusalem on ME pge

The initial version of the BBC News website’s report was also headlined in a manner which made the incident look like a road traffic accident: “Nine hurt as car hits pedestrians at Jerusalem station”. That misleading impression continued in the body of the report with readers encountering the word terror only in the fourth paragraph.

Pigua Jerusalem

The second version of the report (published some two hours later) was presented on the website’s Middle East page under the heading “Jerusalem car ‘attack’ kills baby”.

Pigua Jerusalem on ME pge 2

The link led to the second version of the report – similarly ambiguously titled “Jerusalem car ‘attack’ kills baby at rail station”. Apparently the attack – presented in typical BBC ‘we’re not saying it actually was an attack’ inverted commas – was carried out by a car rather than a person. In the body of that report punctuation was also used to suggest to readers that there is room for doubt as to whether the incident was a terror attack. Three of the victims were described as “American” – the fact that they are also Israeli Jews is not mentioned. The incident was ‘contextualised’ for readers as being part of a “cycle of violence” and inaccurate BBC promotion of the causes of the summer conflict between Israel and Hamas continued with the hundreds of missile attacks on Israeli civilians which preceded the military operation once more erased from audience view. 

Pigua Jerusalem version 2

The report’s third version appeared some six hours after the publication of the initial report. By that time the identity of the victim was known and yet Haya Zissel Braun was not named in the BBC article. At that stage the name, Hamas connections and details of the previous convictions of the perpetrator were also known but the BBC elected to refrain from informing audiences of those details, instead promoting a slightly amended version of the ambiguous and interestingly punctuated statement from the previous version of the report.

“Officials say they are treating it as a “terrorist attack” and that the suspect had previously served time in an Israeli prison “for terrorism”.

Pigua Jerusalem version 3

On official BBC Twitter accounts similar use of punctuation was apparent.

Pigua tweet BBC World 2

Shaloudi’s known Hamas connections were presented exclusively in terms of Israeli claims.

Pigua tweet BBC News

Clearly the BBC’s deliberately ambiguous reporting of this incident fails to provide audiences with the full range of information available in relation to the perpetrator, the victims, the circumstances of the incident itself and the subsequent rioting, thus denying them the ability to reach an accurate understanding of this particular “international issue“. 

BBC’s Knell turns planned mixed Jerusalem neighbourhood into ‘Jewish settlement’

The BBC News website’s efforts to promote the topic of last weekend’s donor conference in Cairo were evident before, during and after the event.

On October 11th – the day before the Cairo conference – an article by Yolande Knell titled “After Gaza war, Palestinians seek new path to statehood” appeared in the ‘Features & Analysis’ section of the website’s Middle East page.Knell Cairo conf art

Roughly half of Knell’s article is devoted to amplification of the PA’s various current unilateral strategies, with her closing sentences so encumbered by redundant understatement that they fail to inform readers of the true significance and implications of the PA’s breach of its existing commitment to a negotiated solution to the conflict in favour of additional headline-grabbing unilateral moves.

“The Palestinians know that their latest plan to return to the Security Council, which has been criticised by Israel, is very likely to fail. However, they hope for a show of support for statehood.

A draft resolution calls for an Israeli withdrawal from all occupied territory by November 2016 and for an international presence in East Jerusalem to protect the Palestinian population.

The Palestinian back-up plan is to sign the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court to pursue legal action against Israel.

Both moves would stir up tensions with the US and other major donors to the Palestinian Authority. While they will raise the political profile of the Israel-Palestinian conflict, they are unlikely to bring a real peace deal much closer.”

Knell’s characterization of the PA’s attempts to bring about externally imposed actions rather than negotiated agreements as merely “unlikely” to bring about an end to the conflict is clearly absurd. Notably, she fails to make any mention of the fact that one partner in the current PA unity government – Hamas – refuses to recognize Israel’s right to exist and is not a member of the body with which Israel negotiates – the PLO.

 No less remarkable is her earlier misrepresentation of an existing construction project in the Jerusalem district.

“But in the coming days, Palestinian officials hope a series of events will put their cause back in the spotlight.

At a donors’ conference in Cairo on Sunday, President Mahmoud Abbas will seek $4bn (£2.5bn) for Gaza reconstruction.

A day later the British parliament is scheduled to hold a non-binding vote on whether the government should recognise Palestine as an independent state within the boundaries of the ceasefire lines which existed prior to the 1967 Middle East war.

Later this month there is a plan to ask the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) for recognition and to set a deadline for Israel to pull out from occupied Palestinian territory.

The latter two steps are likely to be little more than symbolic but the Palestinians hope to increase political pressure on Israel, which has recently continued to expand its settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Jewish settlements are considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.”

The location of the “settlements” to which Knell refers is indicated by an accompanying photograph with the following caption:

“Israel has been criticised this month for approving new settlement construction in Givat Hamatos neighborhood in East Jerusalem”

Knell Cairo conf art pic

Seeing as it already reported on the same planning application in 2012, the BBC should be aware of the fact that there is nothing remotely “new” about the plan to build housing in the Givat HaMatos district of Jerusalem. Knell, however, refrains from informing readers that the neighbourhood was the site of temporary housing for new immigrants from the former USSR and Ethiopia from 1991 onwards. She neglects to state that initiatives to replace caravans with proper housing were first proposed nine years ago and that the plans approved by the district planning committee in late September allocate around half of the planned apartments to Arab residents of nearby Beit Safafa - which itself straddles the 1949 armistice line and yet of course is never referred to by Knell and her colleagues as a “settlement”.  

Had she made sure to accurately and impartially inform BBC audiences of the above facts, Knell would of course have found it rather more difficult to make use of the BBC’s misleading standard editorial guideline breaching insertion “Jewish settlements are considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this”. The Givat HaMatos project is not a “Jewish settlement” but a planned mixed neighbourhood of Jerusalem in an area which would remain under Israeli control according to any realistic scenario of a negotiated two-state solution.

In other words, Yolande Knell has once again ditched her commitment to the BBC’s supposed editorial standards of accuracy and impartiality, as well as her obligation to enable audiences to reach an “understanding” of international issues, in favour of exclusive amplification of the PA’s political narrative. 

 

When stone-throwing at vehicles does interest the BBC

We have not infrequently had cause to note on these pages the BBC’s general lack of coverage of terror attacks against Israelis in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria, including the issue of attacks on Israeli vehicles. In 2013, more than 2,400 such incidents took place with 116 civilians injured as a result of stone-throwing.

Last month, for example, two such incidents took place on one evening alone.

“A two-and-a-half-year-old infant was lightly wounded by glass shards after unknown perpetrators hurled rockets at a bus in a Jerusalem street. Earlier in the evening, a Molotov cocktail was thrown at a bus on Route 505 between Tapuach and Sha’ar Shomron. The bus driver suffered light wounds from glass shards from the windshield of the bus.”

BBC audiences, however, are not informed of the overwhelming majority of the many such incidents taking place just a short drive from the corporation’s Jerusalem offices and do not see photographs such as the one below.

Photo credit: Ynet

Photo credit: Ynet

In contrast, BBC audiences have recently been shown the photographs below on the BBC News website, on BBC television news and on Twitter.

Top Gear written

Top Gear filmed

Top Gear tweet

Obviously, the BBC does consider stone-throwing attacks on vehicles to be a topic of interest to its audiences – when the story is about the BBC. 

No follow up on story which got four separate BBC News reports in one day

Back in the first week of July the BBC News website produced two written reports (here and here) and two filmed reports (here and here) all inReynolds Abu Khdeir story one day on the topic of American teenager Tariq Abu Khdeir who was arrested on July 5th in the Shuafat neighbourhood of Jerusalem during violent rioting following the murder of his cousin Mohammed Abu Khdeir and allegedly beaten by a member of the Border Police.

In addition to appearing on the BBC News website, the two filmed items were also shown on BBC television news programmes and they – together with the second written report – remained on the website’s Middle East page for three consecutive days. In the first of those filmed reports the BBC’s James Reynolds told viewers that rioters “accuse Israel of failing to deliver justice”.

On September 10th it was announced that an indictment had been filed at the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court against the Border Policeman in question.  

Notably, that news has not been reported by the BBC despite its considerable prior interest in the story. Significantly too, additional BBC insinuations regarding discrimination within Israel’s justice system from around the same time have also yet to be clarified to audiences. 

 

BBC News report on Palestinian rioter shot near Ramallah fails to provide context

On September 10th a short report appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page under the title “Palestinian man shot dead in West Bank raid“.Jelazoun

“A Palestinian has been killed during an Israeli raid on a refugee camp near the West Bank city of Ramallah.

Palestinian medics said Issa Qatari, 22, was shot in the chest and died shortly before reaching hospital.

The Israeli military said its forces had clashed with dozens of protesters after entering the al-Amari camp on Wednesday to arrest a Hamas operative.

“A main instigator attempted to hurl an explosive device” at the troops, who opened fire in response, it added.

Witnesses in the camp gave a similar account of the incident.

Protesters “showered the invading forces with stones, and soldiers responded with live ammunition, injuring a number of other Palestinians”, one told the Maan news agency.

The Israeli military said the Hamas operative was arrested in the raid.”

The BBC’s “dozens of protesters” would have been more accurately described as rioters.

“An IDF unit sent to arrest a Hamas member in Ramallah encountered violent disturbances when approximately 50 Palestinians hurled rocks, firebombs, and burning tires, the army said. One of the rioters was seen throwing an explosive device at soldiers, according to the IDF Spokespersons Unit. Soldiers opened fire at the suspect, striking him. The man later died of gunshot wounds.”

What is missing from this report is of course the context necessary to enable BBC audiences to understand the background to the incident. There has been no BBC reporting of any of the recent violent rioting and attacks in Jerusalem and in Judea & Samaria. In fact, the last time visitors to the BBC News website were told anything about violence in those areas was on July 25th when Jon Donnison presented a very selective report on incidents in Qalandiya and elsewhere. BBC audiences are hence entirely unaware of the fact that the number of attacks in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem has – according to ISA reports – risen dramatically since the beginning of July with 507 attacks having taken place during that month compared to 100 the month before.

The chart below was compiled using the monthly statistics provided by the ISA but does not include separate representation of kidnappings, murders, stabbings or attacks using vehicles.

Chart jan 13 to jul 14

Of course there is nothing new about the BBC’s failure to report on security incidents, as we have frequently documented here in the past (see related articles below). However, that practice means that incidents such as the one reported in the above article are seen by BBC audiences in isolation, without the essential understanding of their backdrop.

Related Articles:

BBC silent on doubling of terror attacks since renewed ME talks

Review of the BBC’s reporting of security incidents in Judea & Samaria in January

A round-up of BBC reporting of security incidents in March 2014

Round-up of BBC coverage of security incidents – April 2014

100% of missile fire from Gaza Strip in May ignored by BBC

 

 

 

In which BBC R4 misrepresents an Israeli law and its roots

The September 6th edition of BBC Radio 4’s ‘From Our Own Correspondent’ was titled “Matters of Life and Death” and included an item by Claudia Hammond, described in the synopsis as follows:FOOC Hammond

“Claudia Hammond discovers that many patients in Israel remain on life support for years”.

 The programme is available here, with the relevant segment beginning at 18:10, or here as a podcast under the different title “The Silent Wards”.  

The item is introduced by programme presenter Kate Adie thus:

“The news from Israel has been dominated recently by events in and around Gaza. On this programme though, we like to give ourselves the space to examine other aspects of life and death. In January this year a former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon died after eight years in a coma following a massive stroke. In many other countries the machines keeping him alive would have been turned off earlier. Jewish law forbids people ending a human life. As Claudia Hammond discovered in Jerusalem, the result is that large numbers of hospital patients spend years on life support.”

Hammond’s item is mostly devoted to the telling of individual stories, with the background she provides to listeners limited to the following segment:

“In most countries a ward like this would not exist and doctors and families in discussion together might have made the decision to turn off Hava’s husband’s ventilator to allow him to die. But since 2005 this has been illegal in Israel and is considered to be killing the patient, even if they’re already dying. The law in Israel was informed by Jewish tradition. But talking to families of other faiths in the hospital here, it seems to have become a cultural viewpoint too.”

Let’s take a look at the accuracy of some of those statements.

Kate Adie claims that “large numbers of hospital patients spend years on life support” but listeners are not told how many people “large numbers” actually are. In January 2011, for example, there were 787 people on life support in hospitals throughout Israel but by no means all would have been long-term chronic patients as that number includes, for example, premature babies and people in ICUs as the result of an accident or an illness. Israel’s population at the time was 7.7 million people: in other words, Adie’s “large numbers” are a few hundred people out of millions.

Adie states that “Jewish law” is the factor responsible for the “large numbers” of patients on life support. In fact Israeli state law is of course a separate issue from Jewish law, which is itself open to many different interpretations and by no means as simple and straightforward as Adie suggests.

According to Hammond, “the law in Israel was informed by Jewish tradition”. In fact the relevant law was the product of years of discussion by a public committee – the Steinberg Committee – appointed in the year 2000 by the Minister of Health. Members of that committee included, for example, Mr Ziad Abu Moch – Director of the College for the Study of Shari’a and Islamic Sciences in Baka al Gharbiya; Father Dr George Khouri – theologist and psychologist, President of the Greek-Catholic Court in Haifa and Sheikh Professor Fadel Mansour – member of the management committee of the Higher Druze Religious Council in Ussafiya and a biologist at the Vulcani Centre. Other members of the committee included experts in civil law, Jewish religious law, ethics, philosophy and medicine.

As we see, Hammond’s claim that the law “was informed by Jewish tradition” is a very partial and selective representation of the facts.

The law itself (a translation can be seen here), although passed in December 2005 actually came into effect in December 2006. Its wording is in fact considerably more nuanced than this BBC report suggests and it provides the opportunity for the patient to define in advance what sort of treatment he or she wishes to receive – or not receive – by means of signed advance directives. Hammond’s claim that “since 2005 this [turning off a ventilator] has been illegal in Israel” is both overly simplistic and inaccurate. Article C, clause 16 (a) for example states:

“Where an incompetent terminally ill patient is suffering significantly, and in respect of whom it has been determined pursuant to the provisions of section 5(b) that he does not want his life prolonged, medical treatment relating to his incurable conditions should be withheld from him, including tests, operations, resuscitation, ventilation, chemotherapy, radiation or dialysis, all in accordance with his wish as ascertained pursuant to section 5(b).”

In addition to its misrepresentation of the law itself, this BBC report clearly sets out to present an inaccurate view of an Israeli law as being synonymous with and defined by Jewish religious law. The political motivation behind that deliberate misrepresentation is all too apparent. 

Update:

A written version of this report by Claudia Hammond appeared in the ‘Features & Analysis’ sections of the BBC News website’s Middle East and Health pages on September 14th under the title “Suspended between life and death“. Unfortunately the inaccuracies evident in the audio version were not addressed before the written version was published. Moreover, they seem likely to be further amplified on BBC World Service radio in the near future.