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. 

No BBC reporting on weekend terror incidents

Late on the night of April 24th an incident took place at a checkpoint on Highway 1 leading into Jerusalem.

“Ali Said Abu Ranam, 16 years old from East Jerusalem, was shot dead after he attempted to stab a Border Police Officer with a butcher knife at a checkpoint near Ma’ale Adumim on Friday night.”No news

A police officer was wounded in rioting which followed the incident.

On April 25th another incident took place in Hebron.

“A Palestinian man stabbed an Israeli Border Police officer in the West Bank city of Hebron Saturday, inflicting moderate injuries. The alleged attacker, aged 20, was shot and wounded, and died of his injuries on the way to a hospital in Jerusalem.

Police said the officer, 19, was stabbed multiple times in the head, neck and chest at an army checkpoint near Hebron’s Tomb of the Patriarchs. A second soldier shot the attacker.”

Later the same evening three more police officers were injured in another attack.

“Three Israeli police officers were injured Saturday evening when struck by a car on the Mount of Olives in East Jerusalem in what authorities suspect may have been a deliberate attack.

Magen David Adom paramedics said they treated a 20-year-old woman for moderate injuries, and a man and woman for minor injuries sustained after being struck by the vehicle. The three were taken to Shaare Zedek Medical Center for treatment. […]

Emergency responders were forced to flee the scene after rocks and Molotov cocktails were thrown at them.”

A suspect was later arrested.

Police are also investigating a suspected fire-bombing of a bus on Route 443 on the evening of April 25th.

None of the above was deemed newsworthy by the BBC.

Related Articles:

More Palestinian Stabbings, Another NYT Headline Whitewash (CAMERA Snapshots) 

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.

Background on Temple Mount ignored by the BBC

Readers may recall that back in December 2014 the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newshour’ sent Tim Franks to Jerusalem to make a special programme titled “The push to increase access to the Temple Mount”.Newshour 5 12 Jerusalem special

Franks’ first interviewee in that programme was a woman he described as being “a guardian of the compound” but – as was noted here at the time:

“…Franks should also have clarified to listeners that the female “guardians of the compound” (whose main activity is to hassle non-Muslims visiting Temple Mount), among whom his interviewee is apparently to be counted, are paid by the Hamas-affiliated Northern Islamic Movement with the funds often coming from Gulf countries.”

The New York Times recently produced an article on the same topic of the female activists on Temple Mount and, writing at Tablet Magazine, Yair Rosenberg provides some additional background and context absent from the BBC’s portrayal of the subject.

“This account is not simply a vivid dispatch from another front in the Middle East’s many religious conflicts. It is also a sobering reminder of why many Israelis insist on ironclad security guarantees in any two-state deal with their Palestinian neighbors. After all, if Palestinian extremists cannot bring themselves to accept Jewish presence even at Judaism’s holiest site, it is hard to imagine them accepting a Jewish presence within any borders outside that site, without detailed and robust security arrangements to head off any unrest–and without responsible Palestinian leadership that calms the fears of its people rather than inflaming them.”

Read the article here.

Related Articles:

BBC WS ‘Newshour’ special edition from Jerusalem – part one

BBC WS ‘Newshour’ special edition from Jerusalem – part two

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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A part of the Israeli story consistently ignored by the BBC

Another terror attack on Israelis ignored by BBC News

Why is this Israeli planning decision different from others for the BBC?

Whenever an Israeli planning body makes an announcement concerning some stage or other of the construction of apartments and houses in certain neighbourhoods of Jerusalem or towns and villages in Judea and Samaria, the BBC is usually very quick off the mark in producing a report which typically includes condemnation from PA officials, comment from at least one political NGO and the standard BBC insert designed to impress upon audiences that “settlements are considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this”.

Last week, however, the Jerusalem District Planning and Building Committee approved the construction of 2,200 new apartments in a neighbourhood on the ‘wrong’ side of the 1949 Armistice Lines and yet not a word on that decision appeared on the BBC News website.SONY DSC

“The Interior Ministry’s District Planning and Building Committee on Monday invited the submission of a master plan for the construction of 2,200 new housing units for the Arab sector in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabel Mukaber. As part of the plan, several hundreds of housing units built illegally will also be retroactively approved. […]

The plan allocates an area of some 1,500 dunman [sic- dunams] between Jabel Mukaber and Abu Dis for the construction of housing units. The project also includes areas allocated for commercial and employment centers, public buildings, schools, new roads and new parks. The “American road” will also be developed as part of the plan, a central traffic artery for east and south-east Jerusalem, along which commercial and employment centers will be developed.”

The BBC’s cognitive dissonance concerning Arab Jerusalemites who live in what it persistently describes as “settlements” has been noted here in the past. Now we see another example of the disturbing fact that the BBC’s issues with Israeli construction actually do not depend on the project’s location – or even on the topic of building itself – but upon the faith and ethnicity of the people it assumes will be moving into newly built apartments and houses in specific areas.

There’s a word for that. 

In which a BBC Radio 4 guest compares Israel to a drug addict

Hosted as usual by Paddy O’Connell, the March 22nd edition of BBC Radio 4’s weekly current affairs programme ‘Broadcasting House’ (available here) included Lib Dem MP Menzies Campbell and actor David Schneider among its guests. At 53:50 listeners heard the following extraordinary conversation.Broadcasting House 22 3 15

Paddy O’Connell: “David Schneider […] I think you want to talk to us about Israeli politics.”

David Schneider: “Well, yes. So, I’m Jewish and I was very depressed this…ehm…this week because of the…Netanyahu’s re-election. Sometimes…I mean it’s very complex for me as a sort of Left-wing Jew and my attitude to Israel. Sometimes it feels like a sort of family member with a severe drug addiction.”

PO: “With that warning, what are you reading from?” […]

DS: “There was… there was a glimmer of hope – which is on page 33 of the Observer – that the Joint List – which is an Arab-Jewish alliance – has actually won 13 seats. So despite Netanyahu saying there’ll be no Palestinian state – which he’s now backtracked on slightly after the election – and saying Arabs are heading to the polls in droves on the day of the election – which was just chilling – ehm…there is a glimmer of hope in that, sort of, more Israeli Arabs voted and there is, you know…and Arab-Jewish parties were coming together.”

Beyond the very obvious point (although clearly, not to some) that an election in the Middle East’s most vibrant democracy is about rather more than the ennui of English chatterati, Schneider misleads with regard to the Joint Arab List and O’Connell makes no attempt to correct the inaccurate impression given to listeners.

That, of course, is not surprising: the BBC has failed to inform audiences in all of its coverage of the recent Israeli election that the Joint Arab List is made up of four existing political parties, only one of which can accurately be classified as a Jewish-Arab party. That party – Hadash – has one Jewish member (Dov Hanin/Khenin) on its list and there are no Jewish MKs in any of the other three parties comprising the Joint Arab List. Schneider’s inaccurate description of the Joint Arab List as an “Arab-Jewish alliance” is hence based on the fact that one of the four parties it includes has one Jewish MK. Working on that principle, Schneider would also have to categorise the Likud, the Zionist Union, Meretz and Israel Beiteinu parties as ‘Arab- Jewish alliances’ because each of those parties has one Arab MK. 

No less important is the fact that the Joint Arab List includes the anti-Zionist parties Balad and Ta’al and the Islamist ‘United Arab List’. That information – which has not been communicated to BBC audiences at any point in the corporation’s coverage of the election – is critical to appreciation of the remarkable fact that parties which oppose the existence of Israel as the Jewish state participate in Israeli elections and enjoy representation in the Knesset.

In addition to O’Connell’s failure to correct his guest’s inaccurate portrayal of the Joint Arab List, we also see that he refrains from clarifying to listeners that Schneider’s cherry-picked parts of statements made by Netahyahu on the subject of a Palestinian state and regarding the connection between the foreign-funded V15 campaign and Joint Arab List voters are not complete quotes. O’Connell similarly fails to challenge Menzies Campbell’s equally selective paraphrasing of one of those statements later on in the conversation.

Menzies Campbell: “Netanyahu – quite extraordinary to be as overtly right-wing as he was in the last 24 – 48 hours. The one thing you can be certain of: he caused yet more anxiety and annoyance in the White House. Relations between Obama and Netanyahu have never been good. Those last 24 hours before the election will really have been – forgive the vulgarity – right up the nose of the American president.”

DS: “There is an interesting comment in this article though; that one of the Israeli-Arab leaders says that in a way it’s good that Netanyahu’s won because it’ll be so bad now, it’ll increase international pressure on Israel to end the occupation. It could get so bad now that things will have to change.”

That Israeli-Arab ‘leader’ is Balad branch secretary Sami Abu Shehadeh – a popular source for the Guardian and an unsurprising interviewee for the writer of the article promoted by Schneider, who previously cut her activism-cum-journalism teeth at 972 Magazine and two political NGOs. Paddy O’Connell however makes no attempt to clarify the political background to Schneider’s article of choice. Menzies Campbell continues with the following debatable declaration:

MC: “The problem is – the settlements. And you can’t…there’s no leader of the Palestinians who could possibly accept a settlement which didn’t include East Jerusalem as the cabinet of a Palestinian state. The settlements are proceeding at such a pace that it will soon be impossible for that to be the case.”

O’Connell interjects:

PO: “And I certainly make the point that the Israelis did vote so that although you’ve got your disagreements, he was returned, wasn’t he, against the odds.”

Campbell: “But look at…you know…him saying the Arabs are coming to the polls; you’ve got to get out. I mean imagine if a politician here had said the black vote is coming out; you’ve got to do something, or the Jews or, you know… it’s just impossible to conceive.”

The item ends there but what is actually inconceivable is that none of the people in that BBC studio were aware of the very relevant context that the bulk of parties making up the Joint Arab List oppose the existence of Israel as the Jewish state. Perhaps if they widened their own media consumption beyond the Guardian/Observer and the BBC, they would be able to come up with informative and relevant commentary more useful to BBC audiences than the obviously politically partisan and inaccurate caricature presented in this programme. 

The Israel BBC audiences do not see

Israel’s Ministry of Science, Technology and Space – the state body responsible for setting national policy on issues such as international scientific collaborations and research and development funding – has just appointed a new deputy chief scientist.Min Science

“The deputy chief scientist is responsible for overseeing national scientific infrastructure, statewide intellectual property and the taxation of academic institutions, according to the ministry’s website.”

The appointee to that prestigious position is called Dr Tarek Abu-Hamed and he previously served as Director of the Center for Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation at the Arava Institute.

“Abu-Hamed received his BSc in chemical engineering from Ankara University in Turkey and studied for his post-doctorate at Rehovot’s Weizmann Institute of Science in collaboration with the University of Minnesota, focusing his dissertation on oil substitutes for public transportation and renewable energy sources.”

As Yaacov Lozowick points out, what is notable about Dr Abu-Hamed’s appointment to such a senior civil service position is not his ethnicity.

“The thing about Dr. Abu Hamed is that he’s not an Israeli citizen. He’s a Palestinian of East Jerusalem, a permanent resident by legal status, but not a citizen.”

Not a story which fits into the BBC narrative… 

Elections 2015: round up of BBC coverage – election day filmed reports, part one

By far the strangest choice of location for a filmed BBC report on the topic of the Israeli elections was Ramallah, from where Yolande Knell reported for BBC television news on March 17th in an item titled “Israel election: The view from Ramallah“. Knell opened that report as follows:Knell filmed 17 3

“I’ve just crossed into the occupied West Bank through the Qalandiya checkpoint which is manned by Israeli soldiers and this is part of Israel’s separation barrier. For Palestinians living here these have become symbols of the decades-old conflict with Israel. And while those in the West Bank, in East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip don’t get to vote in the Israeli elections, they are watching them closely.”

Knell’s claim that “those…in East Jerusalem…don’t get to vote” is of course inaccurate. Residents of East Jerusalem are entitled to apply for Israeli citizenship and those who do so successfully have the right to vote just like any other Israeli. Those who chose not to exercise their right to apply for citizenship obviously voluntarily forgo the right to vote in national elections, although they are still eligible to vote in municipal elections. This is not the first time that the BBC has promoted this inaccurate portrayal of the voting rights of East Jerusalemites.

Knell also fails to inform viewers that residents of PA controlled areas A and B and residents of the Hamas controlled Gaza Strip do of course have the right to vote in Palestinian Authority elections. That perhaps not accidental omission sets the stage for the next part of her report, in which BBC audiences are encouraged to believe that relevant commentary on the topic of the Israeli election is to be had from someone who not only does not participate in them, but represents the largest faction in a body which has not held democratic elections for seats in its own parliament for over nine years and which is governed by a president whose term of office expired years ago.

Knell: “Palestinian officials say the peace process is being ignored by the [Israeli] political campaigners – and it shouldn’t be.”

Fatah’s Husam Zomlot then says:

“You decide, the Israelis, what is it exactly. Are you occupying us? Then it’s too long an occupation – you have to end it. Or do you consider the West Bank and Gaza your territory? Then you want us either citizens or you want us actually being discriminated against. But in all scenarios, it’s your moment of choice and unfortunately I don’t see the Israeli society now debating this.”

This is of course blatant exploitation of the occasion of the Israeli elections for the propagation of unrelated political propaganda and whilst that comes as no surprise, nevertheless it misleads BBC audiences.

Israelis debated these issues over two decades ago and that debate culminated in the Oslo Accords which led to the establishment of the Palestinian Authority, the relinquishment of Areas A & B (and the Gaza Strip in 2005) to its control and the framework of final status negotiations to determine the future of Area C. The PA’s decision to scupper those final status negotiations by means of terrorism, its refusal to accept any of the subsequent offers made to resolve the situation and its newer policy of avoidance of face to face negotiations in favour of activity in the international arena do not of course get any mention in Knell’s own little campaigning video.

After having found two people on the streets of Ramallah to endorse her claim that “many believe it doesn’t even matter if the next Israeli prime minister is Left or Right wing”, she closes by promoting the debatable notion that “the Palestinian president says he’ll work to revive peace talks with Israel”.

In less than two months’ time, the British public will also be going to the polls. It is highly unlikely that the BBC’s election coverage will include “UK election: The view from Buenos Aires”, reports in which Spanish officials bemoan the fact that the issue of Gibraltar is not on the British voters’ agenda or interviews with IRA officials claiming that the ‘occupation’ of Northern Ireland has gone on “too long”. Were the BBC to indeed produce such reports, British voters would no doubt question its editorial priorities – and perhaps its collective sanity.

The decision to allow the broadcast of this piece of blatant political propaganda from Yolande Knell, which actively detracts from accurate audience understanding of the topic she is supposed to be covering (as well the broader subject of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in general), should likewise be questioned. 

Related Articles:

Elections 2015: round up of BBC coverage – the run-up

BBC’s Yolande Knell ditches any semblance of impartiality