BBC coverage of Har Nof terror attack: Sommerville drops the ball

The day after the terror attack at the synagogue in Har Nof – November 19th – the BBC Jerusalem Bureau’s Quentin Sommerville produced a filmed report titled “Anger in Jerusalem after deadly synagogue attack” which appeared on the BBC News website as well as on BBC television news.Pigua Har Nof Sommerville 19 11

Sommerville’s report starts off well enough but as it enters its third minute, viewers hear him say:

“Predictably, the killing sparked clashes across the occupied West Bank.”

Sommerville does not explain to audiences why the premeditated murder of Jews at prayer by Palestinian terrorists should be a trigger for  violent rioting by Palestinians at all – let alone why that should be ‘predictable’. He goes on:

“Palestinian anger has been rising over threats to an important Muslim site.”

Of course there are no actual threats to the Al Aqsa Mosque or any other “important Muslim site”:  the only ‘threats’ which exist are the mythical ones invented by Palestinian leaders in order to incite the population to violence. Not only does Sommerville fail to clarify that point to BBC audiences, but he goes on to state that the terror attack in Har Nof should be understood as having been “motivated” by what are in fact non-existent ‘threats’.

“It was this that motivated the killers – Ghassan [and] Uday Abu Jamal – said Uday’s father. He told me ‘this was done to protect our holy sites; to prove that we won’t be moved. This is a religious war’.”

Later on Sommerville tells audiences that “Mahmoud Abbas condemned the violence” and the report then cuts to footage of Abbas saying:

“We strongly condemn this kind of incidents. We categorically reject attacks against civilians. At the same time I would like to say that while we denounce these acts, we also condemn attacks against Al Aqsa Compound and other holy places.”

Sommerville fails to correct the misleading impression given to viewers by Abbas’ words by informing them that there have not been any “attacks against Al Aqsa Compound”.

It is the BBC’s job to enhance audience understanding of international affairs by means of accurate and impartial reporting. The corporation cannot achieve that aim if its correspondents simply regurgitate Palestinian propaganda whilst making no effort to inform audiences of the facts behind that deliberate misinformation. 

BBC coverage of Har Nof terror attack: filmed reports amplify inflammatory misinformation

BBC coverage of the terror attack at the Kehilat Ya’akov Synagogue in the Har Nof neighbourhood of Jerusalem on the morning of November 18th included seven filmed reports which, as well as being shown to viewers of BBC television news programmes, were also published on the BBC News website.

Out of those seven reports, two are interviews with representatives of Palestinian factions which the BBC saw fit to broadcast and promote on that day. First up was Hamas’ Ghazi Hamad (Hamas spokesperson: ‘Every day Jerusalem is boiling’), with the synopsis to that interview as it appears on the BBC News website yet again failing to inform audiences that pathologists who conducted an autopsy on the bus driver found dead at a Jerusalem bus depot the day before – including one chosen by the man’s family – reached the conclusion that there was no evidence of anyone else having been involved in his death.Pigua Har Nof int Hamad

“On Monday a Palestinian bus driver was found hanged in a vehicle in Jerusalem – Israeli police said he had committed suicide but the driver’s family said they suspected foul play.”

In that phone interview with the presenter of a BBC television news programme, Hamad (who of course is based in Gaza – not Jerusalem) says:

“…every day Jerusalem is boiling. Every day there is a new crime in Jerusalem. Every day there is a crime against the Palestinian citizens, either in the Al Aqsa Mosque or in Jerusalem as a city.”

The presenter makes no effort to correct the misleading impression given to listeners by Hamad’s baseless allegations. He continues:

“We did not see any effort, any action from the Israeli government in order to stop the settlers; not to stop the radical religious men when they decided to attack Al Aqsa Mosque, attack the Palestinian, to kill the Palestinians. Yesterday they killed a Palestinian driver. I think that they all should open their eyes. There’s a revolution in Jerusalem. There’s uprising, there is tension and they did not take any action in order to stop this, to protect the Palestinians. But they did everything to protect the settlers.”

Of course nobody – “radical religious” or otherwise – has attacked or “decided to attack” Al Aqsa Mosque, but Hamad’s lies remain uncorrected by the docile presenter. Likewise – as mentioned above – the bus driver was found to have committed suicide but Hamad’s inflammatory misinformation was nevertheless broadcast to millions and remains on the BBC News website for millions of others to view.

Later on in the day the BBC also interviewed Mustafa Barghouti of the PNI (Mustafa Barghouti: ‘Occupation responsible for attack’) who opened with the following blatant falsehoods – unchallenged by the programme’s presenter.Pigua Har Nof Barghouti

“We’ve been advocating non-violence but when we conduct non-violent, peaceful demonstrations we are attacked violently by the Israeli army. They injure us, they shoot at us, they even kill young people who are peacefully demonstrating with gun shots.”

Later on, in response to the presenter’s assertion that “some Israelis feel” that Mahmoud Abbas “has been making provocative statements”, Barghouti says:

“No. I think in this case Mr Netanyahu has been provoking the Palestinians, is trying to transform this conflict – which is a national liberation movement trying to get freedom – into a religious conflict. It’s not a religious conflict and we don’t want any people who pray to be attacked; this is unacceptable.”

The presenter fails to point out to audiences that several of the recent terror attacks have been claimed by Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad – both religiously motivated Islamist terror organisations – or that much of the incitement coming from Palestinian officials in recent weeks has had a blatantly religious theme. Barghouti goes on:

“But Palestinians are attacked. During the last week a mosque was burnt. Yesterday a Palestinian bus driver was hanged by Israeli settlers.”

Presenter: “Do you have evidence for that?”

 Barghouti: “And then the Israeli army claims there was no responsibility for that. A Palestinian child was burnt alive….”

Presenter: “They say that was a suicide, don’t they? Israel says…”

Barghouti: “No. They claim so but this is not true because our autopsy has shown that he was…there was no way that he hanged himself inside a bus. It makes no sense. And the physical evidence from our autopsy people has shown that this man was killed – not he hanged himself…”

As we see, not only does Barghouti promote the notion that the bus driver was murdered despite the scientific evidence pointing to the contrary but – although no criminal investigation or trial have taken place – he also ‘knows’ who did it and is allowed by the BBC to air his defamatory allegations unhindered. As was reported in Ha’aretz:

“The Palestinian coroner, who was present during the autopsy of the Palestinian bus driver who was found dead on Sunday in Jerusalem, agreed that the cause of death was suicide, insists the Israeli director of the institute that performed the autopsy.

The death of the driver Yusuf Hassan al-Ramouni, who was found hanged inside his bus in Jerusalem, has been treated in the Palestinian media and street as a murder perpetrated by Jews.

Abu Kabir Institute of Forensic Medicine director Dr. Chen Kogel notes that Palestinian pathologist Dr. Saber Al-Aloul, appointed by the family of the driver, was present throughout the autopsy and concurred with the conclusion that the cause of death was suicide. […]

The controversy over Ramouni’s death began with a report from the Palestinian news agency Ma’an saying that the Palestinian coroner had reached the opposite conclusion and that Al-Aloul, who attended the autopsy on the family’s behalf, believed the cause of death to be homicide and not suicide. The report did not quote Al-Aloul directly, but ascribed this claim to him. The Palestinian pathologist has neither confirmed nor denied the report since its publication.”

The Times of Israel notes that the Palestinian pathologist is not answering calls.

Despite the scientific evidence to the contrary, the BBC provided two Palestinian interviewees with an unhindered platform for the amplification of unproven accusations against “settlers” and “radical religious men” based on nothing more than rumour and fertile imagination. Furthermore, that libel (together with additional written versions – see here and here) remains on the website of the organization which increasingly bizarrely claims to be “the standard-setter for international journalism”. 

Whilst the BBC continues to avoid supplying its audiences with proper information on the topic of the recent campaign of incitement by assorted Palestinian leaders, it clearly has no compunction about allowing itself to be used for amplification of such malicious – and dangerous – incitement. 

BBC coverage of Har Nof terror attack: the backgrounder

As was mentioned in an earlier post, the BBC News website’s live page reporting on the terror attack at the Kehilat Ya’akov Synagogue in Jerusalem on November 18th claimed to be able to provide audiences with the answer to the question “what caused the attack?”.

Pigua Har Nof filmed backgrounder on live page

Readers were directed to a ninety second video titled “Synagogue attack: Months of tension and revenge attacks” which was also promoted separately on the BBC News website as well as appearing as a link titled “Unrest explained” in at least three of the written articles appearing on that day.Pigua Har Nof filmed backgrounder

The synopsis to the video reads as follows:

“Four Israelis have been killed and eight injured as two men armed with a pistol and meat cleavers attacked a West Jerusalem synagogue, police say.

The attackers – Palestinians from East Jerusalem – were shot dead.

The deadly attack comes after months of unrest and apparent revenge killings, as BBC News explains.”

It has not been updated to reflect the fact that Master Sgt Zidan Saif also died later in the day of injuries he sustained whilst responding to the terror attack, bringing the number of Israeli dead to five.

As we see, the synopsis and the title both inform BBC audiences that “apparent revenge killings” (note the plural) have been taking place for “months”. In fact there was one murder – that of Muhammed Abu Khdeir – which can accurately be described as a revenge killing and the suspected perpetrators  were caught by the Israeli security forces within days and are currently standing trial. 

The other deaths in recent months have been the result of terror attacks, of the summer war instigated by Hamas, cases in which Palestinians engaged in violent rioting were shot or cases in which terrorists were killed.

The video’s message is related in text which reads as follows:

“In a city constantly on edge, the attack on a Jerusalem synagogue comes after months of unrest.

In July a Palestinian teenager was killed in an apparent reprisal for the killing of three Israeli teenagers.

Escalating violence led to a conflict in Gaza that claimed more than 2,000 lives.

In October a dispute over a holy site in Jerusalem triggered further unrest.

Palestinians have carried out several deadly attacks against Israelis.

Killings of Palestinians by Israeli forces have also fuelled anger.

Jewish settlement activity in occupied East Jerusalem heightened tensions.

Some believe this could be the start of a third intifada or Palestinian uprising.”

The wisdom of trying to explain the background to the current surge in Palestinian terrorism and violence in a ninety-second video is obviously questionable from the start but as we have seen above, the BBC claimed it could pull it off and explain the issues to its audiences in that time frame and medium. 

Beyond the glaring fact that the word terrorism does not (once again) get a mention in a video purporting to explain a terrorist attack, audiences are not told that Hamas carried out the kidnappings and murders of the three Israeli teenagers or who killed the Palestinian teenager. Neither are they told (yet again) that it was actually the hundreds of missiles fired from the Gaza Strip at Israeli civilians by Hamas and other terrorist groups which sparked the conflict in Gaza (and of course in Israel too, although the BBC manages to make that fact disappear) and the discovery of dozens of cross-border attack tunnels dug by Hamas which exacerbated the hostilities.

The claim of “a dispute over a holy site in Jerusalem” is of course misleading and inaccurate. Israeli officials of the highest level have repeatedly and unequivocally stated that there will be no change in the status quo at Temple Mount, so no “dispute” actually exists. What does exist, however, is a deliberately manufactured campaign of incitement by Palestinian leaders from assorted factions which has been going on since long before October, and of which the myth of ‘threats’ to Muslim holy sites is just one aspect. The BBC of course erased PA incitement and glorification of terrorism during the period following the kidnappings and murders of the three Israeli teenagers from audience view, just as it ignored incitement from the same source during the summer conflict and continues to do even after four weeks of terror attacks in Israel.

Viewers of this video are not informed that “killings of Palestinians by Israeli forces” happened because those Palestinians were engaged either in violent rioting or in carrying out terror attacks at the time. That lack of context of course creates a very misleading impression, implying justification for “anger” which manifests itself as terror attacks and violent rioting.

And of course no BBC report can pass up on the opportunity of promoting the simplistic notion that Jerusalem planning committee meetings on the topic of housing which will not be constructed for years in areas which, according to any reasonable scenario, will remain under Israeli control in the event of a peace deal causes “tensions” which prompt the apparently irresistible urge to run down pedestrians with a van.

Not content with having misled audiences for months now with regard to the cause of the summer’s conflict, the BBC continues to promote an inaccurate narrative of a ‘cycle of violence’ in which the advancement of the notion of moral equivalence trumps facts and acts of terror are portrayed as ‘revenge killings’. It comes as no surprise to find the BBC sticking to form by avoiding calling terrorism by name even though most of the euphemistically termed “deadly attacks” were carried out by members of assorted terrorist organisations and claimed by their leaders. 

Whether or not we elect to name this recent surge of violence and terrorism a third Intifada is irrelevant but in order to properly understand current events, BBC audiences do need to know that they – like the previous “uprising” as the BBC so romantically puts it – are running on the fuel of deliberate incitement and glorification of terrorism supplied by the Palestinian leadership: this time around members of a ‘unity government’ made up of those incapable of negotiating a peace agreement and those who reject that possibility outright.

This video backgrounder does nothing to help BBC audiences understand “what caused the attack” in Har Nof as its promotion claims. In fact, it does everything to avoid telling them about the most significant factor behind that attack and others by further perpetuating a narrative which BBC staff have obviously embraced to the hilt, but which is also a smokescreen concealing the story which the BBC shows no sign of intending to tell. 

BBC coverage of Har Nof terror attack – part two

In addition to its main article on the subject of the November 18th terror attack at the Kehilat Ya’akov Synagogue in the Har Nof neighbourhood of Jerusalem and its inaccurately illustrated profile of the PFLP (both of which were discussed here), the BBC News website also published a number of additional articles on that day.

Profiles of the dual British and American citizens murdered in the terror attack appeared on the website’s UK and US & Canada pages respectively. The BBC News website also ran a live page throughout the day on November 18th under the title “As it happened: Jerusalem synagogue attack“. On the banner at the head of the page BBC audiences were provided with a number of “Key Points” concerning the story, none of which included the word terror but which did ‘contextualise’ the attack by attributing it to “rising tensions” over what is inaccurately described as a “disputed holy site” (Temple Mount) and “Israeli plans for settler homes”.

Pigua Har Nof Key PointsAmong the numerous notable features of that live page was the fact that just over an hour after it was opened, it was used to amplify inaccurate hearsay concerning a bus driver who committed suicide earlier in the week, with no effort made to inform BBC audiences of the fact that pathologists – including one chosen by the dead man’s family – had already ruled out foul play until the appearance almost an hour later of a partially informative tweet by a BBC employee.

Pigua HAr Nof Live page 1

 

Pigua Har Nof live page 2

The page also included the item below, with no attempt made by the BBC to adhere to its own editorial guidelines on impartiality by informing readers that Daniel Seiderman is in fact a political activist with the foreign-funded organisations  Ir Amim and Terrestrial Jerusalem.

Pigua Har Nof live page 3

Like the day’s main article, this live page promoted an inaccurate BBC article from April 2014.

“For more on what makes Jerusalem so holy – to Christianity, Islam and Judaism – take a look at this explainer by the BBC’s Erica Chernofsky.”

The BBC supplied readers with a variety of ‘explanations’ for the background to the terror attack.

“A key source of tension in Jerusalem has been the renewal of an ancient dispute over the rights of prayer at a key holy site, known to Muslims as al-Haram al-Sharif and to Jews as the Temple Mount. By long-standing convention, Muslims alone have the right to pray there, but some religious Jews have been campaigning to end that monopoly of worship.”

Yolande Knell, BBC News, Jerusalem

Political vacuum

The Palestinian position has been that the issue of the al-Aqsa mosque and announcements about settlements have all added fuel to the fire here.

The breakdown of peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians in April created a political vacuum, and now it seems it has been filled by violence.”

“There have been several deadly attacks and clashes in Jerusalem recently amid tension over a disputed holy site.”

Quentin Sommerville, BBC Middle East correspondent

As horrifying as this incident was, I do not think many people in this city were incredibly surprised by it. More than anything there is a sense of hopelessness here after the failure of peace talks, with no road map or talks. We are hearing a lot of fighting talk, but not a lot of peace talk by either the Israeli or Palestinian leaders to try to de-escalate the tensions.”

“Some background on East Jerusalem: Israel has occupied East Jerusalem since capturing it from Jordan in the 1967 Middle East war. It annexed the area in 1980 in a move that was not recognised internationally. Palestinian residents have long complained of discrimination, and blame increasing tension on the growing number of Jewish settlers moving to the area.

The BBC’s Yolande Knell has written a report about the rising tensions.”

Knell’s article was previously discussed here.

“What caused the attack?

What led to the deadly attack in Har Nof? It follows months of unrest and apparent revenge killings, as our video explains.”

That video will be discussed separately in a later post.

In addition to the BBC’s own above ‘explanations’ of the surge in violence and terrorism in Jerusalem, it also saw fit to provide context-free amplification on this live page for assorted inaccurate statements and downright lies from a variety of Palestinian officials.

“Hamas spokesman Ghazi Hammad tells the BBC most people in Jerusalem “expected this would happen today or tomorrow, because every day Jerusalem is boiling. Every day, there is a crime against Palestinian citizens in either al-Aqsa mosque or in Jerusalem as a city”.

Mr Hammad would not say whether Hamas supported the attack, but said Israel was to blame for the tensions. “We did not see any effort, any action from the Israeli government in order to stop the settlers, in order to stop the radical religious men when they decided to attack the al-Aqsa mosque.” “

And:

“‘Israel responsible’

Mustafa Barghouti from the Palestinian Legislative Council tells the BBC that Israel is “responsible for the bloodshed”.

“In this case, it is the Israeli government that provoked the Palestinians in this terrible manner,” he said, adding that more than 2,000 Palestinians had been killed by the Israeli army and Israeli settlers this year.

Most of the deaths occurred during the Israel-Gaza conflict over July and August.”

And:

“Sabri Saidam, political adviser to the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, tells the BBC: “Tensions have been mounting because Israel has been pushing for more annexation of land, confiscating more homes and has been working vividly to build more and more settlements.

“As you know this formula is totally unsustainable and infuriates the Palestinians and creates the scenes that we saw today.” “

As has been the case in all previous BBC News reporting on the issue of the rise in violence and terrorism in Jerusalem, the topic of Palestinian incitement (including that from partners in the current ‘unity government’) was not independently reported – or even acknowledged – by the BBC and was mentioned only in the form of second-hand statements from Israeli spokespeople.

That editorial policy might perhaps be explained by Jeremy Bowen’s contribution to this live page, in which he defined inflammatory calls by the PA President to ‘defend’ the Al Aqsa Mosque from a ‘threat’ which does not exist as sounding “reasonable” to Palestinians – of whom he apparently has very low expectations indeed.

“Jeremy Bowen, BBC Middle East editor

Many Palestinians believe Israel is preparing to allow Jews to pray in the compound of the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, the third holiest site for Muslims after Mecca and Medina. The Israeli government has denied that emphatically. But Palestinians listen to calls from hard right-wing Jewish nationalists and believe it might happen.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has called for Palestinians to defend al-Aqsa. For Palestinians that sounds reasonable. The Israeli government has condemned it as incitement to terrorism. Both Palestinians and Israelis are now talking about a third Palestinian uprising – or intifada. It’s too early to say one has started. But in the absence of political action to stop the violence escalating, another intifada is a distinct possibility.”

A version of that statement was also featured in Bowen’s separate article published on November 18th under the title “Jerusalem attack reflects rising Israeli-Palestinian tension“. There, displaying a remarkable ability to deny elements of both pre and post 1948 Palestinian violence, Bowen also told readers that:Pigua Har Nof Bowen art

“The two sides are further apart than ever. Their conflict used to be, at root, about the possession of land. But since Israel captured the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in 1967 it has become more defined by religion.

Perhaps that was why the Palestinians chose a synagogue for the attack that killed the four Jewish worshippers. There have been other attacks on Israelis in recent months by Palestinians, one of which killed a baby.”

Bowen whitewashed the PA’s scuppering of the last round of negotiations (as indeed he did at the time) by erasing from audience view that body’s decision to form a unity government with the terrorist organization Hamas.

“An attempt by the Americans to revive a peace process failed, despite energetic diplomacy from the US Secretary of State John Kerry.”

Predictably, Bowen also promoted the decidedly stereotypical and condescending notion that Palestinians are unable to refrain from attacking Jews with meat-cleavers, knives guns or vans because of Israeli planning decisions and –as has been the case in previous BBC reports – portrayed property legally purchased by Jews in specific neighbourhoods of Jerusalem as being inhabited by “settlers”.

“Palestinians are also angry about the continued growth of Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem. The big settlements in occupied land in East Jerusalem were built on largely open ground. But now the emphasis is on settling Jewish families in areas that are otherwise populated by Palestinians.

The proximity of the two sides, and the feeling that Palestinians have that their land is being taken by armed settlers, leads to trouble.

A particular flashpoint is Silwan, near the walled old city, which settlers have renamed City of David.”

The existence of Kfar Shiloach and the expulsion of Jews from that area during the Arab Revolt of course does not fit into Bowen’s ‘Arab East Jerusalem’ narrative any more than does Jerusalem’s ancient history.

A link to Bowen’s article and quotes from it were also featured in the BBC News website article titled “Synagogue attack: Netanyahu vow in ‘battle for Jerusalem’” which replaced the main article on the Middle East page later in the evening on November 18th.Pigua Har Nof evg art

Like its predecessor, that article also failed to properly describe the oddly termed “deadly attack on a synagogue” as terrorism. Once again, the report ‘contextualised’ the terror attack by providing readers with the same ‘explanations’ for the violence.

“Jerusalem has seen weeks of unrest, partly fuelled by tension over a disputed holy site.”

“Tensions in the city have risen in recent weeks, with two deadly attacks by Palestinian militants on pedestrians in the city and announcements by Israel of plans to build more settler homes in East Jerusalem.

The Jerusalem compound that has been the focus of much of the unrest – known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as al-Haram al-Sharif – is the holiest site in Judaism, while the al-Aqsa Mosque within the compound is the third holiest site in Islam.

Orthodox Jewish campaigners in Israel are challenging the longstanding ban on Jews praying at the compound.”

And again, no mention was made by the BBC of the incitement and glorification of terrorism from Palestinians of various factions, including partners in the ‘unity government’.

The article again failed to inform readers of the fact that a team of pathologists – including one chosen by the dead man’s family – had determined that Yousef Hassan Al-Ramouni’s death earlier in the week was self-inflicted.

“He [Netanyahu] accused Mr Abbas and militant group Hamas of spreading “blood libel” that a bus driver who reportedly took his own life in East Jerusalem on Monday had been “murdered by Jews”.

Hamas had said the Jerusalem attack was in revenge for the death of the driver, who was found hanged inside a vehicle. His family did not accept the post-mortem findings of suicide.”

As we see, this latest batch of BBC News website reports on the subject of a terror attack in Jerusalem joins all the others produced during the last four weeks in promoting a plethora of ‘reasons’ for the surge in violence and terror attacks in that time, all of which imply that the deterioration of the security situation can ultimately be attributed to Israeli actions. The only references to Palestinian incitement and glorification of terrorism have been in second-hand quotes from Israelis and the BBC’s news reports continue to avoid independently informing audiences of that crucial factor, thus actively denying them the ability to enhance their awareness and understanding of this particular “international issue“. 

 

BBC coverage of Har Nof terror attack – part one

BBC coverage of the terror attack at the Kehilat Ya’akov Synagogue in Har Nof, Jerusalem, on the morning of November 18th appeared on multiple platforms including the corporation’s website, radio stations and television. Part one of this post deals with written material appearing on the BBC News website.

Coverage began with typical BBC refusal to independently categorise the premeditated murders of civilians going about their daily business as terrorism.

Pigua Har Nof tweet bbc breaking

In the first four versions of the website’s main article on the incident – currently titled “Jerusalem synagogue: Palestinians kill Israeli worshippers” – the term terrorist attack was placed in the quotation marks routinely employed by the BBC to distance itself from the description.

Pigua Har Nof on HP

 

Pigua Har Nof 1

Pigua Har Nof 2

In subsequent versions of the article – of which there were twenty-one in all – the word terror and its derivatives also appeared exclusively in the form of quotes; for example:

“US Secretary of State John Kerry said the act of “pure terror… simply has no place in human behaviour”. He called on the Palestinian leadership to condemn it.”

And:

“Israel’s PM Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed a harsh response.

He ordered the homes of the attackers to be destroyed and called for the people of Israel to stand together in the face of a “wave of terror”.”

Versions 3 and 4 of the report inaccurately informed BBC audiences that Rabbi Yehuda Glick had been shot at Temple Mount.

Pigua Har Nof 3

From version 7 onwards, readers were told that:

“Praising the attack, Hamas said it was in revenge to the death of a Palestinian bus driver found hanged inside a vehicle in Jerusalem on Monday.

Israeli police said it was a case of suicide, but his family did not accept the post-mortem findings.”

The information concerning Hamas’ praise for the attack was removed from later versions.

“Hamas said it was in revenge for the death of a Palestinian bus driver found hanged inside a vehicle in Jerusalem on Monday.”

The BBC did not make any effort to inform audiences that the verdict of suicide was in fact not given by “Israeli police” but by pathologists who conducted a post-mortem, including one chosen by the deceased’s family. As the statement issued by the Ministry of Health indicates, the pathologists concluded that there was no evidence of foul play.

“On Monday afternoon, 17 November 2014, an autopsy was carried out on the body of Yousef Hassan Al-Ramouni by personnel from the National Center for Forensic Medicine with the participation of Dr. Saber al-Aloul, who was chosen by the family.

The findings of the autopsy indicate self-hanging.

There were no findings that indicated the involvement of any external agent in the act of hanging.

We are continuing various laboratory tests in order to clarify whether or not any foreign substances are present in the body fluids.

During the autopsy, there was agreement – including by the pathologist chosen by the family – regarding the findings and their significance; there was no suspicion that death was caused by anyone else.”

As has been the case in other recent BBC reports relating to terror attacks in recent weeks and in the ‘backgrounder’ by Yolande Knell which appeared on the BBC News website on November 7th and appears as a link in this article, the report provides audiences with a number of ‘explanations’ for the terror attack. Despite the Israeli government having stated unequivocally on several occasions that the status quo regarding Temple Mount will not be changed to include equal rights of worship for non-Muslims, the BBC continues to promote that issue as a cause of “tensions”, along with Israeli planning decisions.

“Jerusalem has seen weeks of unrest, partly fuelled by tension over a disputed holy site.”

“In the last few weeks, tensions have risen sharply – largely as the result of the revival of an ancient dispute over rights of worship at a site within the walls of the Old City. […]

In recent times, some religious Jews have begun to argue for a change in the status quo which would also allow them to pray there. Any hint of such change is viewed with deep anger in the Islamic world.”

“Tensions in the city have risen in recent weeks, with two deadly attacks by Palestinian militants on pedestrians in the city and announcements by Israel of plans to build more settler homes in East Jerusalem.”

“The Jerusalem compound that has been the focus of much of the unrest – known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as al-Haram al-Sharif – is the holiest site in Judaism, while the al-Aqsa Mosque within the compound is the third holiest site in Islam.

Orthodox Jewish campaigners in Israel are challenging the long-standing ban on Jews praying at the compound.”

Once again we see the inaccurate portrayal of the campaign for equal prayer rights at Temple Mount as an “Orthodox” issue. 

As has been the case in all previous BBC reports on recent terror attacks in Jerusalem, incitement by senior Palestinian figures – including partners in the Palestinian unity government – is not presented to BBC audiences as a contributing factor to the surge in violence and terrorism. The BBC informed readers of this report that:

“Earlier, the office of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas issued a statement saying: “The presidency condemns the attack on Jewish worshippers in their place of prayer and condemns the killing of civilians no matter who is doing it.””

It did not, however, inform them of the praise for the attack issued by Mahmoud Abbas’ advisor and his party Fatah.Pigua Har Nof PFLP art

An additional link appearing in this report leads readers to an inaccurate article – still uncorrected – published in April 2014 in which Temple Mount is described as being situated in the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City.

The report also includes an insert on the topic of the terrorist organization to which the Har Nof attackers belonged and on the same day the BBC produced a profile of the PFLP which is inaccurately illustrated with a photograph of flags belonging to another terrorist organization – the DFLP.

Late in the evening of November 18th, the above article was replaced on the BBC News website’s Middle East homepage by an additional report which will be discussed – along with others – in a later post. 

BBC’s Knell misrepresents Netanyahu statement, side-steps PA incitement

The early version of the November 5th edition of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newshour’ was presented by Julian Marshall and included an item from Yolande Knell (available here from 14:00) on the topic of that day’s terror attack in Jerusalem.Newshour 5 11 Knell

Marshall introduced the item as follows:

“Jordan has recalled its ambassador to Israel over what it says is unprecedented Israeli escalation in Jerusalem. Earlier, Israeli police clashed with stone-throwing Palestinians inside Jerusalem’s Al Aqsa Mosque compound, known to Jews as Temple Mount. Also in East Jerusalem today, Israeli police say one person was killed and nine people injured in a suspected terrorist attack by a man who rammed his car into pedestrians along a tram line in East Jerusalem. The man was subsequently shot dead. The BBC’s Yolande Knell joining us now from Jerusalem, and Yolande – as I understand it Hamas have said that they were behind that attack.”

As was the case in BBC News website reporting on the terror attack, the incident was inaccurately portrayed by Marshall (and later by Knell) as having taken place in “East Jerusalem”. Knell responded with a description of Hamas which omitted any reference to the organisation’s terror designation: clearly a highly relevant piece of information under the circumstances.

“That’s correct. The Palestinian militant group Hamas has claimed responsibility for the attack and has praised it, indeed. That, of course, has drawn criticism from the Israeli government. We’ve had a statement from the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Ahm…he accuses the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas of being directly responsible for what’s happened in East Jerusalem today…ahm…and said that it’s due to his partnership with Hamas. Of course a reconciliation deal between the president’s Fatah faction and Hamas was signed earlier in the year. Ahm…they now back a unity government…ahm…which is made up of technocrats. Ahm…they have been accused of inciting violence.”

So did the Israeli prime minister really say on November 5th that Abbas was directly responsible for the terror attack “due to [i.e. because of] his partnership with Hamas”? What was actually said is this:

“Over the past several days, we have witnessed increasing incitement by the head of the Palestinian Authority, including sending a condolence letter to the family of Yehuda Glick’s assassin, and a call to prevent the entry of Jews onto the Temple Mount by any means. This incitement has found practical expression on the ground. Today’s terrorist attack in Jerusalem is the direct result of the incitement by Abu Mazen and his Hamas partners.”

But Knell’s whitewashing of Abbas’ incitement did not end with her creative interpretation of Netanyahu’s words; she then went on to tell BBC audiences the ‘real’ reasons for the surge of violence in Jerusalem.

“But this really comes on the back of mounting tensions in East Jerusalem over several months now and there are many factors for that. Ahm…the Israeli government policy of expanding Jewish settlement in East Jerusalem – which the Palestinians of course want as the capital of their future state – is one of the reasons. There have been some extremely controversial announcements of course. Settlements are seen as being illegal under international law although Israel disagrees with that.”

In other words, Knell would have listeners believe that Palestinian terrorism can be ‘explained’ by planning announcements and of course she fails, as usual, to inform them of the existence of legal opinions which contradict the BBC narrative regarding ‘settlements’. She continues – likewise failing to inform audiences that demolished structures are those which were built without planning permission, as would be the case in any Western country.

“Then we’ve had other aspects – Palestinian homes being demolished in just the past few days. And then all of these issues around restricted access to the Al Aqsa Mosque compound…ah…this holy site for Muslims, of course, but also for Jews who call it Temple Mount. Ahm…and it’s because of those tensions that we’ve had this announcement from official media in Jordan saying that the country is now recalling its ambassador for consultation because of all these problems around access to the Al Aqsa Mosque.”

Knell neglects to inform listeners that temporary age restrictions on entry to the site and rare closures are implemented solely as a means of trying to reduce tensions and avoid the violent rioting by young men.

As we have unfortunately had cause to note here on numerous occasions during the past few weeks, the BBC continues to deprive its audiences of the ability to fully understand the background to the recent violent events in Jerusalem by consistently side-stepping the crucial issue of incitement by the member factions of the Palestinian unity government currently in power.  The list of alternative ‘reasons’ for rioting and terrorist attacks proffered by the BBC, however, continues to expand. 

 

BBC’s Connolly fails to tell all about the ‘status quo’ on Temple Mount

The November 8th edition of the BBC Radio 4 programme ‘From Our Own Correspondent’ opened with an item by Kevin Connolly on the topic of Temple Mount. The programme is available here, with the relevant segment commencing at 00:38.FOOC 8 11 Connolly

Connolly’s account includes the following:

“A strict status quo governs rights of access to this holiest of places. Muslims alone have the right to worship. Jews may visit but may not pray. Any hint of change could instantly provoke widespread disorder. Here’s how powerful that status quo remains. Jordan controlled East Jerusalem until 1967 and so controlled access to the Western Wall – insensitively but memorably known to British troops of an earlier occupation as the Wailing Wall.”

In standard BBC mode, Connolly begins his historic account from 1967 and does not inform listeners when, why or how Jordanian control commenced or what the situation was before that brief 19-year stint of Jordanian occupation. He also fails to mention that Jordanian control of access to the Western Wall meant no access for Jews, along with the destruction of numerous synagogues in the Old City, from which all Jewish residents had been expelled. And of course Connolly’s description of the British administration of the Mandate for Palestine as an “occupation” is inaccurate. He continues:

“So when Israel captured the Old City in 1967 it put the most important place of prayer in Judaism back in Jewish hands.”

Connolly is of course referring to the Western Wall in that statement – as is apparent from his next lines – but his description is misleading in that it fails to inform listeners that whilst the Western Wall is in indeed the most important place to which Jews have access to pray, it is not the most important place. He goes on:

“But Israel also captured Haram al Sharif, or Temple Mount. There’s a photograph that shows young paratroopers flying the Israeli flag nearby. Their commanders quickly and smartly ordered them to take it down and then returned control of the sanctuary which contains the Al Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock to the control of the Islamic religious authorities. Even in the afterglow of a series of stunning military victories that defined the modern Middle East, Israel was anxious to avoid doing anything here that might provoke a wider holy war. After all, a clumsily managed row over the site under British rule in the 1920s had triggered violent rioting and widespread loss of life.”

Connolly’s opaque reference is of course to the 1929 riots but he refrains from informing listeners which party instigated the “violent rioting” or of the similarity between the pretext used to incite then and that being used by the president of the Palestinian Authority and others today.

“In September 1928, a small group of Jews erected a “mechitza” (a divider to separate men and women during prayers) for Yom Kippur prayers at the Western Wall. The British forcibly dismantled the divider, but Husseini used this incident as a pretext to incite Muslims. He accused the Jews of attempting to seize Muslim holy sites, including the al Aqsa Mosque. […]

According to the Davar newspaper of August 20, 1929, incitement against the Jews was rampant, especially in the Jerusalem and Hebron area. Rumors were spread that Jews had cursed Islam and intended to take over their holy places; Muslims were told that it was their duty to take revenge. “Defend the Holy Places” became the battle cry.”

Instead, Connolly promotes other reasons for the current tensions in Jerusalem:SONY DSC

“But some Jews now talk again of revising the status quo. Why, they ask, should they not pray there since the place is sacred to them and since Israel controls access to the Old City? Jerusalem was already feeling edgy; a legacy of the summer fighting in Gaza and continuing Jewish settlement in Arab areas of the east of the city. The Israeli government says the status quo will remain, but you sense it wouldn’t take much to make things worse – a reminder to those of us who live in Jerusalem that the very things that make the place one of the glories of our shared civilization make it difficult and dangerous too.”

Whilst Connolly’s monologue puts significant emphasis on the topic of the ‘status quo’ on Temple Mount, beyond the issue of rights of worship and access he does not actually bother to inform BBC audiences what that status quo includes.

  • The Waqf, as an arm of the Jordanian Ministry of Sacred Properties, would continue to manage the site and be responsible for arrangements and for religious and civil affairs there.
  • Jews would not be permitted to pray on the Temple Mount, but they would be able to visit it. (This right of freedom of access to the Mount was also eventually anchored within the context of the Protection of Holy Places Law.)
  • Israel, by means of its police force, would assume responsibility for security in the sacred compound, both within the site itself and regarding the wall and gates surrounding it.
  • Israeli sovereignty and law would be applied to the Temple Mount as to the other parts of Jerusalem, to which Israeli law was applied after the Six-Day War. (This stipulation was approved more than once by the Israeli High Court of Justice.)
  • It was later decided that the only entrance gate through which entry to the Mount by non-Muslims, including Jews, would be permitted would be the Mughrabi Gate, which is located at the center of the Western Wall, whereas Muslims would be able to enter the Mount through its many other gates.
  • Over the years the raising of flags of any kind was prohibited on the Mount.

Neither does Connolly inform his listeners how that status quo has been changed over the last 47 years.

Whatever one’s opinion of the campaign by some for equal Jewish prayer rights on Temple Mount (for some reason uniformly portrayed by the BBC as a “Right-wing” issue), it is clear that the Israeli government has no intention of changing that aspect of the status quo. However, the many other components of that status quo which have changed – including damage to antiquities, unauthorized construction, restriction of access to non-Muslims and harassment of visitors – are consistently concealed from audiences in BBC portrayal of the topic. Kevin Connolly’s latest item is no exception. 

BBC WS ‘Newshour’ continues to mislead on Temple Mount issues

We noted here the other day that Yolande Knell had promoted the inflammatory and dangerous falsehood that Jews are trying to enter Al Aqsa Mosque on the BBC World Service’s ‘Outside Source’ on November 7th.

Two days prior to that, on November 5th, the evening edition of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newshour’ – presented by Tim Franks – included a no less pernicious interview with a former Jordanian ambassador to the UN. The item is available here from 14:05.Newshour 5 11 Jordanian amb

Tim Franks: “It’s been another bloody day in Jerusalem. One person was killed, several others injured, when a man drove his van into pedestrians. The driver was later shot dead by Israeli police. The Palestinian Islamist group Hamas said it had organized the attack. For his part, the Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu condemned the car attack and blamed the group for tensions at a religious site in Jerusalem. [Recording of the Israeli PM speaking in Hebrew]

That’s the Israeli prime minister saying that in recent days we’ve witnessed increasing incitement, not by Hamas but by the head of the Palestinian Authority – in other words Mahmoud Abbas – including sending of a condolence letter to the family of the killer – or the man who shot dead – eh – didn’t shoot dead but shot and seriously injured – Yehuda Glick; a prominent Right-wing Israeli activist.

Well…err….there were clashes between Palestinian protestors and Israeli police at the Al Aqsa Mosque compound – the place also known to Jews as the Temple Mount – in Jerusalem. And a little bit earlier I spoke to Hassan Abunimah. He’s a former Jordanian ambassador to the UN who is in the Jordanian capital Amman. The reason for speaking to him is that Jordan acts as a custodian of the Al Aqsa Mosque and it withdrew its ambassador to Israel today and said that it will lodge a complaint at the UN Security Council about Israel’s actions around the compound.”

Hassan Abunimah: “The Jordanian people have been boiling with anger for quite a long time at the Israeli constant provocations and the constant incursions on the Aqsa Mosque. Jordan did its utmost – I mean His Majesty the King did use his diplomacy, the government activated all its international contacts – to try to dissuade Israel from continuing these daily incursions and…”

TF: “Sorry – forgive me for interrupting – what do you mean exactly by incursions? Because the police would say – the Israeli police would say – all they’re trying to do is to stop Palestinian protesters from throwing stones.”

HA: “Well [laughs], I mean the Israelis – the Israeli police – is preventing Palestinians from praying in this place and it has been a tradition for a long time that only people of a certain age are allowed in, while Jews are allowed in the place. The Israeli chief of police, two days ago has published in the Times of Israel, was saying we will protect them with [unintelligible]. Ministers, officials do intentionally…eh…cross into this area, not minding the sensitivities of the Muslim world and not minding also the peace treaty between Israel and Jordan; the right of custodianship for Jordan for the holy places. This morning there was shooting…”

TF: “Well do you agree with the…”

HA: “…there was an invasion inside the mosque, there was people there. When people are attacked, probably they throw stones, yes.”

TF: “Do you agree with the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas when he says Jews should not be allowed up onto the top of the Temple Mount or Haram al Sharif?”

HA: “Why should they be there? I mean this is…”

TF: “Because it’s a holy place…it’s a holy place for Jews as well.”

HA: “It’s not. Not the mosque – no. No it’s not a holy place. No the mosque is not. The Western Wall, where the Jews pray all the time; nobody is impeding or trying to obstruct that. But the holy mosque is a Muslim shrine. It is revered and considered holy by all the Muslim world. It is under the custodianship of the Jordanian government and the Hashemite royal family as recognized by the treaty and Israel is violating all that, knowing very well that this place very well in the hands of extremists. We are engaged in a war against extremism and at the same time Israel continues to throw oil on the fire, driving young people into despair not only in the Arab world and the Muslim world, but even in Europe and the Western world.”

TF: “That was Hassan Abunimah, the former Jordanian ambassador to the United Nations.”

So as we see, here is another example of BBC audiences worldwide being wrongly informed that Jews are going to Al Aqsa Mosque. Additionally, listeners are led to believe that Temple Mount is not a holy site for Jews with Franks’ intervention doing little to clarify the fact that not only is that not true, but it is actually the most holy site in Judaism.

No effort was made by Franks to counter the inaccurate version of the same morning’s events (in which Palestinian began rioting before the police entered the compound rather than the other way round) and the fact that age restrictions on entry to Temple Mount are intended purely to prevent organized – and often paid – rioters from disturbing the peace was not adequately clarified.

Whilst Abunimah invoked the peace treaty between Israel and Jordan on several occasions as supposed back-up to his claims, no attempt was made to inform audiences that Israel is responsible for security at the site or what that treaty actually says with regard to Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem. The reality is in fact considerably different to the picture presented by Franks’ guest.

“ARTICLE 9

PLACES OF HISTORICAL AND RELIGIOUS SIGNIFICANCE

Each party will provide freedom of access to places of religious and historical significance.

In this regard, in accordance with the Washington Declaration, Israel respects the present special role of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in Muslim Holy shrines in Jerusalem. When negotiations on the permanent status will take place, Israel will give high priority to the Jordanian historic role in these shrines.

The Parties will act together to promote interfaith relations among the three monotheistic religions, with the aim of working towards religious understanding, moral commitment, freedom of religious worship, and tolerance and peace.”

Neither were audiences informed that in March 2013 Jordan’s king signed a treaty with the Palestinian Authority concerning sites which are not under the control of either of those entities and which, according to at least one legal opinion, appears to interpret the topic of Jordanian custodianship in a manner at odds with the spirit of the peace treaty signed 19 years earlier.

“The definition of the Temple Mount (Haram al-Sharif) as outlined in the agreement is so broad that it even includes the Western Wall. The apparent attempt of the custodianship to appropriate authority over non-Muslim Holy Places as well is unacceptable and unrealistic.”

The former ambassador was at least right on one point: the issue of Temple Mount is one which has the potential to incite and inflame far beyond the borders of Jerusalem. For that reason alone, it is vital that the BBC – particularly in its broadcasts to audiences worldwide – should ensure that content relating to the topic is meticulously accurate and impartial and should avoid the propagation of the type of dangerous falsehoods given amplification in this pre-recorded interview.

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BBC WS ‘Newshour’ gives platform to PA falsehoods and incitement on Temple Mount

BBC News tells half the story of UN campaign to end statelessness

On November 4th the BBC News website published an article titled “UNHCR seeks to end statelessness in 10 years” about the launch of a campaign titled “I Belong“.statelessness art  

In so far as it goes the article is fine; an accurate and impartial news report informing BBC audiences about the UNHCR initiative. What is interesting is the part of the story the BBC elected not to tell: the fact that the UN’s campaign to end statelessness does not include Palestinian refugees and their descendants deliberately kept stateless by Arab League countries as part of a political strategy initiated over half a century ago.

“In the year 1959 the Arab League accepted decision number 1457 and this is its text: “Arab states will reject the giving of citizenship to applicants of Palestinian origin in order to prevent their integration into the host countries”. This is a shocking decision, which stands in stark opposition to international norms on all subjects concerning the treatment of refugees during those years and particularly during that decade.” 

As AFP’s Nina Larson reported:

“The UN’s refugee agency launched a campaign Tuesday to eradicate statelessness within a decade, but UNHCR refrained from including Palestinians in the effort, citing the need for a separate “political solution” to their plight. […]

“Every 10 minutes a new stateless person is born,” UN refugee chief Antonio Guterres told reporters in Geneva, describing the situation as “absolutely unacceptable” and “an anomaly in the 21st century.”

With its “I Belong” campaign, UNHCR aims to highlight the “devastating life-long consequences of statelessness” and push countries to rectify their laws to ensure no person is denied a nationality. […]

The [UNHCR] report does not count the case of the Palestinians, since the UN General Assembly had recognized the State of Palestine, Guterres said.

The problem for many of the 4.5 million of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza and the millions more living as refugees around the world is that the State of Palestine has yet to approve its nationality laws, he said, insisting that this “very specific situation” required a “political solution”.

Apparently the BBC did not consider it necessary for its audiences to know that stateless Palestinians will remain pawns in a decades-old battle of political warfare initiated by their Arab League ‘brothers’ and backed by the UN.

BBC WS ‘Newshour’ gives platform to PA falsehoods and incitement on Temple Mount

On October 30th the evening edition of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newshour’ was presented by Julian Marshall. The programme included an item (available from 30:00 here) concerning the brief closure of Temple Mount to visitors as part of measures to calm the situation following the attempted murder of Rabbi Yehuda Glick in central Jerusalem the evening before and the subsequent death of the would-be assassin in a shoot-out.Marshall Newshour 30 10

After Marshall’s introduction (which included a description of Yehuda Glick as “an outspoken Jewish activist”), listeners heard brief contributions from Israeli spokesman Mark Regev and Minister Naftali Bennett. Marshall then introduced “the representative in the UK of the Palestinian Authority” – Manuel Hassassian.

During the next four minutes Hassassian was given free rein to promote a series of inaccurate, defamatory and often contradictory claims with no meaningful intervention from Marshall as listeners were misled by his falsehoods time after time. Manuel Hassassian responded to Marshall’s first question concerning the reason for Mahmoud Abbas’ description of the temporary closure of Temple Mount as “a declaration of war” by saying:

“This is not the first time that the Israelis have been desecrating, you know, the holy sites by allowing settlers, you know, to go in, you know, and act as gung-hos, you know, trying to instigate the Palestinians and what have you. The element of religion here which the Israelis are putting into this conflict is going to escalate further and further by not alienating the Palestinians and Christians but by alienating 1.5 billion Muslims. And this is not really helping in coming back to the negotiating table while at the same time the building of Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem and in the Old City and the confiscation of 35 homes just recently is adding fuel to the fire. And that’s why, you know, when the closure took place, which was unprecedented since 1967, President Abbas thought this is a declaration of war. But we hope that the Israelis, as they claim, that they will open it in the 24 hours – that might reduce a little bit the conflict but…but Israel’s continuous policies of trying to revoke residencies, demolishing houses, shooting indiscriminately, allowing – you know – the settlers to go into the Haram without impunity, I mean this is escalating the situation on the ground at a time when we’re trying basically of course to get the two parties to the negotiating table.”

Marshall failed to point out to listeners that Hassassian’s claim that the closure was “unprecedented since 1967″ is inaccurate, that the PA is not currently making any efforts to get negotiations back on track but rather – after its scuppering of talks earlier this year by means of the announcement of a unity government together with Hamas – instigating a series of unilateral moves. Revealingly, he also failed to challenge Hassassian with regard to the reactionary claim that the very presence of non-Muslims on Temple Mount ‘desecrates’ the site and avoided questioning him on the issue of Palestinian violence at the location. Marshall instead continued:

JM: “OK. Now you talk about Israeli provocation but you’ve heard from the Prime Minister’s spokesperson who says there are different elements within the Israeli body politic who would probably like to have greater access for Jews to pray there on the Temple Mount. The Prime Minister has said that he will support the status quo. Now that from the Israeli prime minister…”

MH: “The same prime minister is saying that we can continue to build settlements in Jerusalem because Jerusalem is the eternal capital of Israel. He is the one who is going to accept the promulgation of a law totally dividing the Al Aqsa Mosque between Jews and Muslims and he is going along with this coalition government that is based on settlements and desecration the holy sites. Israelis are going to the Temple Mount. We don’t control the Al Aqsa Mosque. Israel controls it with its soldiers. They are the ones who tell the worshippers whether to go and pray or not to pray. We don’t control the Al Aqsa Mosque.”

Marshall failed to clarify to listeners that – in contrast to Hassassian’s false claim – there is no evidence to suggest that the Israeli prime minister intends to promulgate a law “dividing” Temple Mount. He refrained from challenging the equally false claim of government-sponsored “desecration” (definition: treat a sacred place or thing with violent disrespect) of holy sites by Israelis. Likewise, Marshall avoided clarifying to listeners that restrictions on access to Temple Mount are related solely to the security situation.

JM: “I thought the Jordanians controlled it?”

MH: “The Jordanians are considered to be under their auspices; their mandatory [unintelligible] but al Waqf – the Islamic al Waqf of the Palestinians – are the ones with all the employees are Palestinians. So I mean we control the situation per se, alright, with the coordination of the Jordanians but the Israelis, you know, are not allowing us to worship or to practice our religion there. Every time they close; they don’t allow people to enter. If they allow them they have to be above 55 years old and even women were not allowed to enter the Al Aqsa Mosque the other day to pray. I mean these are discriminatory policies that only escalates the tension at a time when Israel feels that the international community is recognizing the state of Palestine, that the international community is attacking Israel for its hegemonic policies in the occupied territories and this is the reaction: to derail the entire peace process by creating new facts on the ground and escalating tensions.”

Marshall refrained from clarifying to audiences that there is no factual basis to Hassassian’s claims of “discriminatory policies” or that Israel does not allow Muslims “to worship or to practice our religion” on Temple Mount. He avoided asking his interviewee why the PA refuses to allow members of other faiths to practice their religion at the site and once again failed to challenge Hassassian’s false claims with regard to the non-existent ‘peace process’.

JM: “Do you see this being resolved at all by negotiation or does your position remain that you will not allow Jews to pray there?”

MH: “First of all you have to end the occupation. Once we end occupation and they recognize us as a fully fledged state, everything will be negotiable.”

The background to the Temple Mount story is of course complex but certainly this interview (nor the one which followed it with the Guardian’s Middle East editor) did nothing to promote better understanding of it among listeners and in fact the unchallenged amplification of Hassassian’s falsehoods could only further mislead and confuse audiences.

As we see, the BBC takes inflammatory Palestinian allegations of ‘desecration’ of Temple Mount by the very presence of non-Muslims at the site as an axiom to be blindly promoted to audiences. At the same time it reneges on its obligation to build audience understanding of “international issues” by consistently refraining from fully reporting on the background to the Palestinians’ use of the site for purposes other than worship – as documented in the video below – whilst providing amplification for false claims of religious discrimination tendentiously based on access limitations made necessary by precisely that same deliberately instigated political violence which is obviously not considered ‘desecration’ by either the PA or the BBC.