BBC’s promotion of linkage between Congress speech and Israeli elections falls flat

One of the themes promoted by the BBC in its coverage of the Israeli prime minister’s recent address to the US Congress was that the speech was connected to the upcoming elections in Israel.

On the day before the event – March 2nd – the BBC Jerusalem Bureau’s Kevin Connolly told audiences that:

“At the White House they will probably be watching in spite of themselves – but through gritted teeth.

Back home in Israel Mr Netanyahu’s rivals in this month’s parliamentary elections will be watching too – and in a similar frame of mind.”

Connolly was, however, honest enough to include the following information in his report:

“One of Mr Netanyahu’s advisors, Dore Gold, says the timing is nothing to do with Israel’s election – it is just that Iran is an important issue on which Mr Netanyahu has important things to say.

“March is a crucial month,” he said. “Unfortunately we have elections this month but he needs to tell his version of his understanding of the dangers of this agreement because Israel will be the first country to be affected.””

Nevertheless, another BBC News article from the same day informed audiences that:

“The speech comes two weeks before Israeli elections, with his Likud party under pressure in domestic polls.”

The March 3rd article titled Israel’s “Netanyahu warns US against ‘paving way to Iran bomb’” told readers that: “The speech comes just two weeks before a closely fought election in Israel” and included the following insert of analysis from Kevin Connolly which clearly ties the topic of Netanyahu’s speech to Congress with the Israeli elections.

Connolly Congress speech elections

That same insert of analysis also appeared in the report titled “Obama says Netanyahu’s Iran speech contains ‘nothing new’” published on March 4th.Indyk int

Viewers of BBC World News America on March 3rd saw Katty Kay open her interview with Martin Indyk (whose credentials were only partially disclosed) with the question “Was it useful for Mr Netanyahu to come to address Congress like this?” to which Indyk replied:

“Well, I think it was very useful for his own…err…err…reelection campaign. Two weeks off before the voters in Israel make a decision. He’s actually this week trailing in the polls behind his main rival, Isaac Hertzog, and he’s got a problem with the president of the United States which normally the Israeli voters don’t like: a prime minister who can’t handle his relationship with the president. But now he’s got a photo – and it was streamed live to Israel – of ‘the Congress has got our back and I know how to talk to the Congress and everything will be alright’.

So if – as the BBC’s theory goes – Netanyahu’s appearance in Congress was in part intended to improve his chances at the ballot box, we would expect to see a subsequent significant boost in his party’s ratings in opinion polls. That, however, has not materialized – as the Washington Post reports:

“According to polls carried out by Israeli TV news channels Wednesday, the day after his high-stakes speech to Congress, Netanyahu’s address had only a modest influence on the Israeli electorate.

Israel’s Channel 2 news said Netanyahu’s Likud party had increased its likely support by one seat in the parliament. On rival Channel 10, Likud had gained two seats to tie its main challenger.

In answer to Channel 2’s question — “Did the speech strengthen or weaken support for Netanyahu?” — 44 percent of those surveyed said it strengthened support, 43 percent said it had no influence and 12 percent said it weakened support for the premier.”

A later poll by the Jerusalem Post indicates that:

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to the US Congress did not help his Likud party cut the Zionist Union’s two-seat lead, according to a Panels Research poll taken on Wednesday and Thursday forThe Jerusalem Post and its Hebrew sister publication Maariv Sof Hashavua.

If the March 17 election were held now, the Zionist Union would beat the Likud, 24 Knesset seats to 22, the poll found. In last week’s survey, the Zionist Union received 25 seats and Likud 23.”

It is worth remembering that this is not the first time that the BBC has misled its audiences by fabricating connections between elections in Israel and separate events.

The numbers behind BBC promotion of the ‘Israel lobby’

As readers may recall, we have posted here a few times about the BBC’s unsatisfactory responses to complaints which have arisen due to its journalists having employed the loaded term ‘Jewish lobby’ – see for example here and here.Capitol

BBC employees are no better at dealing with their interviewees’ promotion of the notion of an all-powerful ‘Israel lobby’ either, as we noted in this recent post, perhaps because the BBC itself does not shy away from using either term – as shown for example in a 2007 article still available on the BBC News website titled “US storm over book on Israel lobby” which opens with the words:

“The power of America’s “Jewish lobby” is said to be legendary.”

Now a study on lobbying of the US government has been published which might be of help to members of the public making similar complaints in the future and, as Yair Rosenberg explains, the results are very interesting.

“If you estimated the amount of money a country spends on lobbying the United States based on critical media coverage of that lobbying, you’d probably put Israel at the top of the list. But a new study by the Sunlight Foundation reveals that not only isn’t Israel a big spender, it practically doesn’t even make the list. Of the 84 countries surveyed, Israel ranked 83rd, spending just $1,250 to lobby America in 2013. (The only country that ranked lower was Mali, which spent nothing at all.) By contrast, other key American allies unloaded massive sums to influence the U.S. government. Topping the list is the United Arab Emirates with $14.2 million. It is followed by Germany ($12 million), Canada ($11.2 million), and Saudi Arabia ($11.1 million).”

Readers may be interested to learn too that the eternally cash-strapped, donor supported Palestinian Authority spent $1,110,769.59 on lobbying the US via the PLO in 2013.

As Jeff Dunetz points out:

“Some of you may be thinking, “nice trick Jeff what about AIPAC? (The American Israel Public Affairs Committee)”. If one includes AIPAC, then other groups such as the American Iranian Friendship Council must be included. So asking about AIPAC is making demands of the Israel numbers that aren’t being made of other countries.

But I will bite anyway. According to Open Secrets, AIPAC spent $2,977,744 in lobbying in 2013, when the $1,250 is added it brings Israel’s total to $2,978,994 which puts Israel in eighth place between South Korea and the Republic of Srpska.

Even when AIPAC spending is included Israel’s lobbying dollars is only 21% of what the UAE spends, about a quarter of Germany’s spending, 26.5% of Canada’s, 26.8% of the Saudi’s, 48.6% of Mexico’s and about three-quarters of both Morocco and South Korea’s lobbying spending.”

If anyone comes across a BBC reporter or interviewee talking or tweeting about the UAE lobby, the Morocco lobby or the Canada lobby “taking control of a foreign government“, or perhaps the BBC’s World Affairs editor John Simpson writing that ‘the Mexican tail usually seems to wag the American dog’, please do be sure to let us know. We’ll pop out and buy a lottery ticket. 


Misleading BBC audiences through failure to correct inaccurate terminology

Although it might be glaringly obvious to most of us, the simple fact that the BBC cannot hope to meet its public purpose remit of building “a global understanding of international issues” and enabling “individuals to participate in the global debate on significant international issues” if it allows audiences to be misled through the use of inaccurate terminology appears to escape the corporation itself.

On April 3rd BBC World News America broadcast an interview with former US president Jimmy Carter which was also featured on the ‘US & Canada’ page of the BBC News website. During that interview, Carter said: Carter int

“…President Obama made a good start in Cairo when he announced that there wouldn’t…to be no more settlements in Palestinian territory and that the 1967 borders would prevail.”

Anchor Katty Kay made no attempt whatsoever to clarify to audiences that no Israeli communities exist in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip or in the Palestinian Authority-controlled Areas A & B as defined under the Oslo accords. Neither did she bother to point out that the status of Area C – the part of Judea & Samaria in which Israeli communities are located – is subject to final status negotiations under the terms of those same accords and hence, with the agreement of the Palestinians seeing as their representatives willingly signed those accords, cannot currently be described accurately as “Palestinian territory”.

Likewise, Kay made no attempt to intervene to dispel the misleading impression created by Carter that such a thing as “1967 borders” exists. She did not clarify that what the former president referred to are in fact the 1949 armistice lines and made no effort to explain to audiences that the text of the armistice agreement specifically states that those lines do not constitute a border.

“Article II

With a specific view to the implementation of the resolution of the Security Council of 16 November 1948, the following principles and purposes are affirmed:

1. The principle that no military or political advantage should be gained under the truce ordered by the Security Council is recognized;

2. It is also recognized that no provision of this Agreement shall in any way prejudice the rights, claims and positions of either Party hereto in the ultimate peaceful settlement of the Palestine question, the provisions of this Agreement being dictated exclusively by military considerations.”

“Article VI

9. The Armistice Demarcation Lines defined in articles V and VI of this Agreement are agreed upon by the Parties without prejudice to future territorial settlements or boundary lines or to claims of either Party relating thereto.”

In just one sentence Carter managed to conjure up a double-headed chimera which misleads, confuses and actively hinders BBC audiences’ understanding of two important issues underlying the subject matter of that part of Kay’s interview. Katty Kay’s failure to challenge Carter’s inaccurate terminology obviously breaches BBC editorial guidelines on accuracy.

Related Articles:

BBC defends employee’s use of term ‘Jewish lobby’

Jimmy Carter, History and the Jewish State (CAMERA)

BBC promotes the false concept of ’1967 borders’


BBC defends employee’s use of term ‘Jewish lobby’.

The Jewish Chronicle reported on November 8th that the Board of Deputies of British Jews had criticised the BBC World News anchor in Washington, Katty Kay, for using the phrase ‘Jewish lobby’ during a Question & Answer session about the US elections on Twitter. 

“Board chief executive Jon Benjamin said that the reporter’s “loose use of language really has to be seen in a context where support for America’s key ally in the Middle East is cynically questioned — and the motives of Israel’s supporters are seen as suspect”.

Successive US governments, he said, “have recognised the value of this strategic relationship to the national interest, and it is unfortunate that a BBC journalist falls into the trap laid by Israel’s enemies and conspiracy theorists of reducing support for Israel to parlance of Jewish money and power”.”

The BBC’s response?

“A BBC spokesman said that the correspondent’s “primary point in responding was that the US regards Israel as a key ally in the Middle East and also recognises the importance and influence of this relationship on the voting”.”

Obviously the BBC spokesman does not understand what the fuss is all about. Perhaps the penny will drop if he takes a look at the valiant defenders of Katty Kay’s use of the term over on ‘Stormfront’ and the David Icke forum.