Context-free Tweet from BBC Gaza correspondent compromises impartiality

h/t KK

On November 29th two terror attacks took place in Jerusalem within a matter of hours. In the first incident a 38 year-old Palestinian stabbed a Border Police officer.

“A Border Police officer was lightly to moderately wounded in a stabbing attack at the Damascus Gate leading to Jerusalem’s Old City Sunday morning.

The officer, in his early 20s, was stabbed in the neck. Magen David Adom medics evacuated him to Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem.

The terrorist was identified as a 38-year-old Palestinian resident of Nablus in the northern West Bank.

He was shot and killed by officers at the scene.

He shouted “Allah akbar” as he stabbed the policeman, officers said. A body search found an additional knife in the assailant’s clothing.”

In the second incident a Nepalese national was stabbed by a 17 year-old Palestinian who was later arrested.

“According to police, “An initial investigation of the attack revealed that the woman was standing next to a bust stop on Shamgar Street, when a Palestinian man approached her and stabbed her in the back before fleeing the scene. The wounded woman was evacuated to Sha’are Tzedek hospital. Forces conducted a man hunt to find the assailant.”

He was later apprehended at a construction site and tied himself to the attacks.

According to police, the suspect was a 17.5-year-old Palestinian, who tied himself to the attack. Two other Palestinians were detained for questioning by police.”

The BBC News website did not report either of those attacks.

However, BBC Gaza bureau correspondent Rushdi Abualouf – who likewise ignored the two terror attacks in Jerusalem – did find it appropriate to send the Tweet below to his followers later on the evening of the same day.

Tweet Abualouf

The incident apparently referred to in that Tweet took place in Ras al Amud. According to AFP:

“Israeli border police killed a Palestinian on Sunday during clashes in occupied east Jerusalem, an official at the Palestinian health ministry told AFP, identifying him as Ayman Samih Abassi, 17.

An Israeli police statement said that officers fired at a Palestinian holding a petrol bomb in the Ras al-Amud neighbourhood after they came under attack from a volley of the missiles, but they could not confirm hitting him.

“About 10 petrol bombs were thrown at border police officers in Ras al-Amud,” the statement said.

“The force, whose lives were in immediate danger, fired at the lower body of a suspect who was seen with a petrol bomb in his hand,” it added. “A hit could not be definitely identified.””

AFP also noted that:

“A Palestinian prisoners’ welfare group said that Abassi had been arrested by Israeli police twice in the past for taking part in clashes in east Jerusalem.”

It seems likely that this is the same Ayman Samih Abassi from Ras al Amud described below in an article from the Ma’an news agency in February 2015.

“Prisoner’s families committee representative Abu Asab said that authorities at HaSharon jail released Ayman Samih al-Abbasi, 16, from Ras al-Amud town after 17 months in Israeli custody.

He added that al-Abbasi was detained on Nov. 11, 2012 for a two-week period and was then released but sentenced to house arrest for 10 months.

After this period, he turned himself in and spent 18 months in Israeli jails after being accused of stabbing an Israeli settler in the Ras al-Amud area.”

The information above is undoubtedly relevant to the story of the “17 y boy in Jerusalem” as presented by Rushdi Abualouf in that Tweet amplifying messaging from the Palestinian Ministry of Health. Whilst one may not have expected that latter body to disclose the particular incident’s context and circumstances or to clarify that most of the Palestinians killed in recent weeks died whilst carrying out terror attacks or engaged in violent rioting, a BBC correspondent bound by guidelines on using social media should surely have made more effort to avoid calling the BBC’s accuracy and impartiality into question. 

Abbas’ 2008 peace offer rejection not newsworthy for the BBC

Whilst the BBC’s preoccupation with the lack of diplomatic progress in negotiations to bring about an end to the Arab-Israeli conflict is by no means new, as the few examples below show, the stagnated peace process theme has frequently been used as context by BBC journalists reporting on the current wave of terror attacks against Israelis.  

“Violence does not come out of the blue. It has a context. Once again, the problem is the unresolved conflict between Palestinians and Jews. It is at the heart of all the violence that shakes this city.” (Jeremy Bowen, BBC News website, 15/10/2015)

“The current violence stems from decades of unresolved conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. At its most basic, it is a fight over land and national rights.[…]

Peace talks aimed at ending the conflict by creating a Palestinian state alongside Israel have repeatedly collapsed over the years and many on both sides have lost faith in the process.” (BBC News website, 22/10/2015)

“On the Palestinian side there is a persistent sense of resentment at continuing Israeli occupation which is intensified not just by the circumstances around the al-Aqsa compound but also by the widespread sense that the whole issue of the two-state solution has been allowed to drift off the international agenda.

It is hard to remember a time when so little diplomatic effort was put into the search for a solution to the long-running issue between Israel and the Palestinians.” (Kevin Connolly, BBC News website, 5/10/2015)

One might therefore have expected to see some BBC reporting on a related story which broke earlier this month – as our colleagues at the CAMERA Snapshots blog have recorded.HaMakor Abbas

“Palestinian Authority (PA) President and Fatah movement head Mahmoud Abbas finally admitted in an interview with Israel’s Channel 10 on Nov. 17, 2015 that he had rejected an Israeli offer of Palestinian statehood and peace in 2008.

As the Times of Israel notes, the 2008 Israeli proposal had been previously reported but had not yet been acknowledged by Abbas (“Abbas admits he rejected 2008 peace offer from Olmert,” Nov. 19 2015).

The PA president admitted that then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert presented him with a map that illustrated prospective borders of a future Palestinian state, with Israel giving up 93 percent of the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) and portions of eastern Jerusalem, in addition to all of the Gaza Strip. In the video-taped interview Abbas was asked by Channel 10 reporter Raviv Drucker about the Israeli proposal which included a swap for most of the nearly seven percent of the West Bank Israel planned to return.

“In the map that Olmert presented you,” Drucker asked, “Israel would annex 6.3 percent [of the West Bank] and compensate the Palestinians with 5.8 percent [taken from pre-1967 Israel]. What did you propose in return?”

Failing to answer the journalist’s question as to whether the PA made a counteroffer, Abbas stated that he rejected the Israeli offer “out of hand.”.”

Notably, despite its frequent promotion of the theme of a stalled peace process (and related negation of Palestinian agency or responsibility on that issue), the BBC apparently did not think this was a story its audiences needed to know about in order to “enhance” their “awareness and understanding of international issues“.

Political propaganda from the BBC’s Lyse Doucet in Beit Sahour

On November 24th two loosely sports-themed filmed reports – apparently also shown on BBC television news programmes – appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page.Knell Krav Maga

One – titled “Israeli form of self-defence ‘on rise’” – is by the BBC Jerusalem Bureau’s Yolande Knell and its synopsis reads as follows:

“Following a recent increase in knife attacks by Palestinians, there has been a dramatic rise in Israelis taking self-defence lessons.

Many study Krav Maga, an Israeli method developed for the military and incorporating different fighting techniques.

Our Middle East Correspondent, Yolande Knell, went along to a class.”

To her credit, Knell managed to keep politics out of her report – which is a lot more than can be said for her colleague Lyse Doucet who used her report – titled “The Palestinian runners pounding the pavements” – to promote blatant political messaging and inaccurate information.

The synopsis of that report reads:

“As tensions remain high between Israelis and Palestinians, lives of young people on both sides of the divide are being affected.

Three years ago two Danish aid workers and a Palestinian basketball player founded a running group.

What began as a Palestinian marathon has grown into a global running club which is as much about rights as it is about running.

Lyse Doucet met the Palestinian co-founder of the Right to Movement in the West Bank city of Beit Sahour.”

Doucet’s interviewee is George Zeidan who – like one of those “Danish aid workers” mentioned in the synopsis – used to be employed by the political NGO DanChurchAid.Doucet Beit Sahour

As was the case when her colleague Jon Donnison showcased ‘Right to Movement’ over two years ago, Doucet makes no attempt to provide BBC audiences with an impartial portrayal of the political agenda of the organization she highlights and promotes. Hence, viewers hear the following from George Zeidan – with no effort made by Doucet to inform them that Beit Sahour has been under the full control of the Palestinian Authority for two decades.

“Any runner outside Palestine have to just put on his running shoes and tie his shoes and go out to run. To me if I want to do this I take several other steps that I have to plan. I have to plan which street I’m going, when, and that’s because of the Israeli occupation.”

Doucet also adds her own inaccuracies to the cocktail:

“Pounding crowded streets in the city of Beit Sahour wouldn’t be any runner’s first choice. But these runners say they haven’t much choice; not when tensions are now running so high in an area surrounded by Israeli checkpoints and Jewish settlements.” [emphasis added]

Beit Sahour lies to the east of Bethlehem and to the north of a number of Palestinian villages located in PA controlled Area A or in Area B. It is not “surrounded” by either “Israeli checkpoints” or “Jewish settlements” at all.

And – despite the fact that in the last two months 21 people have been killed and 189 wounded in 74 stabbings, 10 shooting attacks and 12 car rammings by Palestinian terrorists – Doucet gives her interviewee a platform from which to tell BBC audiences who they should view as really being under “continuous threat”.

“We’re running here every Saturday for three years. But nowadays, with the current issues between Palestinians and Israelis and the continuous threat from the Israeli soldiers to be….for a Palestinian to be attacked….we just not comfortable and safe to be here.”

Doucet refrains from clarifying to viewers that no Palestinian has been “attacked” by Israeli soldiers for jogging and hence the “threat” is obviously a figment of her interviewee’s political agenda. Her subsequent claims regarding a “dirt track” which supposedly “lies on privately owned Palestinian land” but is “under Israeli military control” are of course impossible to substantiate given the absence of exact coordinates but she fails to clarify that the division of territory into Areas A, B and C came about under the terms of the Oslo Accords – signed by the recognized representatives of the Palestinian people.

Doucet’s supposed nod to ‘impartiality’ in this report comes in the form of the following statement:

“You say that you’re worried about the settlers but now the Israelis are worried about the Palestinians because of the stabbings. They say they’re the ones who are threatened.”

That statement is in fact merely a cue for her interviewee to introduce his own political statement:

“I’m more concerned that the Palestinians are under occupation.”

Doucet’s conclusion to the report is as follows:

“They take to the streets to say they’re telling a different story. But the old story here of conflict and confrontation is far louder and never seems to end.”

Those closing words reinforce the underlying theme seen in this report and much of the BBC’s other coverage over the last two months: the injection of the false notion of equivalence into the story of the current wave of terrorism against Israelis.

Here we have two filmed reports supposedly telling different sides of the same story. But whilst Yolande Knell’s report tells of Israelis trying to augment their personal security during a wave of terror attacks by taking self-defence classes, Doucet’s report is nothing more than the provision of a platform for opportunistic political propaganda which does nothing to contribute to the BBC’s public purpose remit of building “understanding of international issues”.  

 Related Articles:

BBC’s Donnison promotes Bethlehem Marathon as non-political event

BBC deems parts of Israeli right of reply statement “irrelevant”

Bethlehem Marathon: the bit the BBC did not report




BBC News promotes equivalence between terrorists and victims

November 22nd marked seventy days since the current wave of terror attacks against Israelis began on the eve of Rosh HaShana with the murder of Alexander Levlovich. On that day a further three terror attacks took place: an attempted stabbing attack at a bus stop at the Samaria Junction, an attempted vehicular attack and stabbing near Kfar Adumim and a stabbing attack in Gush Etzion in which 21 year-old Hadar Buchris was murdered. In all three attacks the perpetrators were killed in the act.

Hadar Buchris’ murder brings the total number of fatalities from terror attacks carried out by Palestinians in the last seventy days to twenty-one, with eighteen of the victims being Israeli citizens, one a Palestinian civilian, one an American national and one an Eritrean national.

The BBC News website’s Middle East page promoted a report on the events of November 22nd with a headline which fails to make the obviously necessary distinction between terrorists and victims: “Four dead in West Bank violence”.

ME pge after Sun attacks

The article to which that headline leads is currently titled “West Bank: Israeli woman killed as West Bank deaths spiral” and amendments to the headline and the body of the report can be viewed here. The first version of the report included the following information:

“Seventeen Israelis and 83 Palestinians – many of them attackers – have been killed in the violence.

Israeli police say at least 50 of the Palestinians killed were attackers. More than 30 Palestinians have been killed in clashes with Israeli security forces.”

Notably, by the time the report reached its third and final version, part of that information had been removed and that passage now reads:

“Seventeen Israelis and 83 Palestinians – many of them attackers – have been killed in the violence.”

Once again the BBC provided readers with ‘context’ which fails to clarify in its own words that the conspiracy theories surrounding Temple Mount which underpin the current wave of terror are entirely baseless.

“The surge in violence began in September, when tensions at a flashpoint holy site in Jerusalem revered by Jews and Muslims boiled over, amid rumours that Israel planned to relax long-standing rules to strengthen Jewish rights at the complex.

Israel has repeatedly denied such claims.”

And – as has been the case in BBC reporting throughout the last two months – no effort was made to inform audiences of the official and unofficial incitement and glorification of terrorism which has kept this wave of terror going for the past seventy days.

One of the BBC’s public purpose remits obliges it to “[b]uild a global understanding of international issues”. The repeated promotion of the notion of equivalence between terrorists and their victims, together with the serial avoidance of telling audiences the facts about the Palestinian Authority’s promotion of conspiracy theories, incitement and glorification of terrorism, mean that for the last 70 days, the BBC has failed to meet that legally binding obligation.

Weekend long read

As has frequently been noted here in recent weeks, BBC News coverage of the current wave of terrorism in Israel has been remarkable for its failure to provide audiences with any substantialAbbas incitement information concerning the incitement coming from Palestinian Authority, Hamas and Fatah sources which underpins the acts of violence. MEMRI has produced a useful compilation of some examples of such incitement which can be viewed here.

Another organisation acting as a useful resource on that issue is Palestinian Media Watch and one of its latest translations is of an interview on official PA TV with Fatah Central Committee member Tawfik Tirawi who for years has been quoted and promoted in BBC content.

At the Telegraph media correspondent Patrick Foster brings news of the results of the BBC Trust’s recent public consultation ahead of charter renewal.Weekend Read

“The BBC should cut “biased” news coverage and low-brow game shows from its schedules and provide more high quality drama, according a survey of nearly 40,000 viewers.

The corporation’s governing body gave viewers the chance to say what sort of programming the BBC should increase, or decrease, as part of a consultation exploring the future of broadcaster. Licence fee-payers told the BBC to produce “more unbiased, impartial news”, and fewer game shows and cookery programmes.

In its analysis of the results, the BBC Trust said there was “desire for less bias and political opinion in journalism and news reports. For these respondents, it is vital that the BBC remain completely impartial and independent, and resist any influence from government or businesses or corporations”.”

At the Times of Israel, Sharon Klaff notes that:

“The Government appointed Culture, Media and Sport Committee (DCMS) has been taking evidence, both oral and written to determine the Future of the BBC, ahead of its current Royal Charter ending in December 2016. The BBC charter is renewable every decade, which represents a once in 10 year opportunity to have any input into BBC functionality. A brief glance at some of the evidence the DCMS has published, shows a general dissatisfaction with the in-house BBC complaints procedure. Randomly chosen from the DCMS website, Ian McNulty, writes:

“My own conclusions are that the BBC will go to any lengths necessary to avoid admitting anything but the most self-evident mistakes, including breaking its own Editorial Guidelines and flying in the face of reason. Moreover, this culture of misrepresentation, denial and prejudice against non-consensus views is systemic and institutionalized at every level of the organization, from the bottom to the top.””

Read the rest of that article here



BBC News continues to conceal PA’s glorification of terrorism

An article which appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page on November 12th had its original title amended from “Israelis in disguise snatch Palestinian in hospital raid” to “Israelis shoot dead Palestinian in Hebron hospital raid” before it was finally headlined “Israelis in disguise raid Hebron hospital, seizing suspect“.Shalaldeh arrest

The incident reported in that article took place when IDF Special Forces arrested 20 year-old Azzam Shalaldeh who was wounded whilst carrying out a terror attack in Gush Etzion on October 25th.

“The Israeli’s car was pelted with stones at the entrance to the settlement of Metzad. He was hit in the head, causing him to pull over and leave his vehicle. He was then stabbed by a Palestinian man.

The Israeli opened fire at the terrorist and wounded him, but the terrorist managed to flee the scene, likely towards the nearby village of Si’ir.”

The BBC article tells readers that:

“Mr Shalaldeh is alleged to have stabbed and wounded an Israeli on 25 October before escaping after being shot by the victim.

Palestinian officials said Mr Shalaldeh’s 27-year-old cousin, Abdallah Azzam Shalaldeh, was shot and killed in Azzam Shalaldeh’s hospital room.

Israel’s Shin Bet security agency said he was shot after attacking the Israeli forces. Azzam Shalaldeh’s brother Bilal, who was also in the room at the time, said Abdallah Azzam Shalaldeh was shot without warning when he emerged from a bathroom.

Shin Bet said Azzam Shalaldeh belonged to “a family of Hamas militants”, AFP news agency reported.”

It is of course highly unlikely that the Israel Security Agency used the term “militants” to describe the proscribed terror group Hamas and several other media organisations – including Sky News and CNN reported the same statement as having described “a family of Hamas operatives”.

The BBC did not clarify in its report that the Shaladeh family’s version of events supports that given by the ISA – thus leaving readers with a confusing impression which clearly does not contribute to meeting the corporation’s remit of building “understanding” of international issues.

“The Shalaldeh family, that came to collect Abdullah’s body, claimed Israel had executed him, but admitted that he tried to fight the soldiers after realizing they were trying to arrest his cousin.” [emphasis added]

According to the BBC report:

“The Israeli military operates an undercover unit colloquially known as Duvdevan, which sometimes mingle undetected with Palestinians during riots before snatching suspects.” [emphasis added]

The unit’s official name is Duvdevan and that title is not, as stated by the BBC, an informal appellation.

The ‘context’ provided to readers of the BBC’s report inaccurately states that ten – rather than twelve – Israelis had been murdered in the recent wave of terror as of November 12th:

“Ten Israelis and dozens of Palestinians have been killed in recent unrest.

Many of the Palestinian fatalities were attackers in near-daily stabbings of Israelis, shot by their victims or security forces.

The surge in violence began in September when tensions at a flashpoint holy site in Jerusalem revered by Jews and Muslims boiled over, amid rumours that Israel planned to relax long-standing rules to strengthen Jewish rights at the complex.

Israel has repeatedly denied such claims.”

As we see, the BBC not only continues to avoid telling audiences in its own words that such rumours are baseless, but also continues to refrain from informing them on the topic of the Palestinian Authority’s role in promoting the incitement which underpins the wave of violence and its subsequent glorification of terrorism through acts such as erecting monuments to and naming streets after terrorists.



BBC ‘world view’ of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations laid out by Jeremy Bowen

Using the dramatic heading “The night hope died”, the BBC News website published an article by Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen in the ‘Features’ section of its Middle East page on November 4th which invited audiences to ponder the question “Did Rabin assassination kill the best chance for peace?“.Bowen Rabin on ME pge

As readers of the article would soon see, the question posed in that headline is a rhetorical one: Bowen’s take away messaging leaves audiences in no doubt as to which side in the Arab-Israeli conflict killed off “hope” and “peace”. But in order to deliver that take-away messaging, Bowen has to make some rather important components of the story disappear from view.

Bowen’s own approach to the topic is evident in his opening statements:

“My view is that Rabin’s assassination, 20 years ago today, was one of the most successful political killings of the 20th Century; his assassin, Yigal Amir, wanted to destroy the Israel-Palestinian Oslo peace accords by shooting dead the only Israeli leader who had a chance of making it work.”

Later on he adds:

“Of course it is impossible to map out with certainty an alternative future for Israelis and Palestinians had Rabin lived.

The Oslo peace process had a slow death, but I believe it contracted its fatal illness on 4 November 1995 when Yigal Amir shot Yitzhak Rabin in the back.”


“There was a chance of peace with the Palestinians when Rabin was alive. He was forging an unlikely understanding with Yasser Arafat, his detested old enemy. […]

But between them, Rabin and Arafat might have seized the chance to make history.”

Addressing the same topic at the Times of Israel, David Horovitz writes:

“…the sorry fact is that Yasser Arafat — whom Clinton said so trusted Rabin, and was even “a little intimidated by him” — wasn’t sufficiently trusting, or intimidated, or committed to peacemaking, as to put a halt to Palestinian terrorism even as they were all shaking hands on the various interim deals. As Dalia Rabin noted starkly in my recent interview with her, “The waves of terror hit the peace process, undoubtedly… (and) I have the feeling that (Rabin) wouldn’t have let it continue. There would have been a stage where he would have decided: We’re in a phased process. Let’s evaluate what we have achieved and what the price has been. He wouldn’t have stopped Oslo, but he would have done what Oslo enabled him to do: to look at it as a process and assess whether it was working.”

Eitan Haber, Rabin’s closest aide whom I interviewed two years ago, also sounded rather less than convinced, giving me a series of somewhat ambiguous answers, including this bleak sentence: “I didn’t believe for a second that Arafat was a partner and I’m not at all sure that Rabin believed he was.””

A caption to a photograph illustrating Bowen’s article tells BBC audiences that “Israel shifted to the right after Rabin, with the election of Benjamin Netanyahu” but the article fails to clarify that at the election after that, Israel elected the Labour party’s Ehud Barak as prime minister after he ran on a manifesto which included withdrawal of Israeli forces from Lebanon and negotiations with the Palestinians or that a decade after Rabin’s death, Israel under Ariel Sharon disengaged from the Gaza Strip.

Regarding the 1996 general election, Bowen speculates:Bowen Rabin main

“But when Israel woke, the final votes had given victory to Mr Netanyahu and the right. Yitzhak Rabin would most likely have beaten Mr Netanyahu. The future would have been different.”

David Horovitz points out that:

“…Netanyahu was carried to victory, by a nailbiting 29,457 votes, by those very same waves of terrorism — specifically four suicide bombings in February and March 1996 that persuaded a narrow majority of Israelis, however much they mourned for Rabin and for a country that could produce his killer, that the Oslo path, the Arafat path, was a bloody disaster.”

However, the obviously very relevant topic of Palestinian terrorism – which killed more Israelis after the Oslo Accords were signed than in the years prior to the agreement – only gets a walk-on part in Bowen’s overall portrayal.

“Among the Palestinians, militants in Hamas had already started a suicide bomb campaign. They would have nothing to do with Oslo, saying it was surrender and that there could be no territorial compromise with an Israeli state they believed should not exist. […]

Shimon Peres was sworn in as prime minister after the assassination. Instead of calling a snap election to capitalise on a surge in the polls he decided to see out the government’s term. A succession of blunders followed, and so did an intensification of the Hamas suicide bombings.”

Hamas was not of course the only terrorist organization carrying out terror attacks during that period but Bowen erases the acts of terror perpetrated by other groups and – more crucially – those carried out by terrorists affiliated with Arafat’s Fatah party.  Thus he avoids the issue of Arafat’s failure to tackle terrorism from within his own ranks as well as by other groups and –strikingly – entirely erases the Palestinian Authority initiated second Intifada from his account of how ‘peace died’.

Bowen also claims that:

“Rabin himself had not stated publicly that he supported the idea of a Palestinian state, though his closest aides said after his death that he knew it would be part of a final settlement.”

Over at the Tablet, Yair Rosenberg reminds us that Rabin’s vision – as presented to the Knesset a month before his death – was distinctly at odds with Bowen’s speculations.

Bowen’s take-away message to BBC audiences is abundantly clear: peace and hope died together with Rabin because the Israeli right killed both. In order to get that political message across, Bowen has to erase from view the agreements signed between Israel and the PLO after November 1995, the second Intifada, the Gaza disengagement and the peace offers made by Barak in 2000 and Olmert in 2008.

Predictably, Bowen’s distorted presentation of this topic patronizingly affords no agency or responsibility to the Palestinian side whilst firmly placing the onus of blame for the failure of negotiations to deliver at one door only.

Readers familiar with the identical messaging appearing in day-to-day BBC coverage of the Arab-Israeli conflict in general and the peace process in particular will at least have gained some insight into that messaging’s roots in this article.

Weekend long read

As recently noted on these pages, the BBC refrained from providing its audiences with any follow-up reporting on the subject of Palestinian reactions to the agreement between Jordan and Israel to place surveillance cameras on Temple Mount in a bid to reduce tensions at the site. Khaled Abu Toameh provides some interesting insight into “Why Palestinians Do Not Want Cameras on the Temple Mount“.Weekend Read

“Why is the Palestinian Authority (PA) opposed to Jordan’s proposal to install surveillance cameras at Jerusalem’s Haram al-Sharif (Temple Mount), sacred to Christians, Muslims and Jews?

This is the question that many in Jordan have been asking in light of the recent agreement between Israel and Jordan that was reached under the auspices of US Secretary of State John Kerry. The idea was first raised by Jordan’s King Abdullah in a bid to ease tensions at the holy site in the Old City of Jerusalem.

Shortly after Israel accepted the idea, the Palestinian Authority rushed to denounce it as a “new trap.” PA Foreign Minister Riad al-Malki and other officials in Ramallah expressed concern that Israel would use the cameras to “arrest Palestinians under the pretext of incitement.””

Since the current wave of terrorism in Israel began, the BBC has produced two articles which relate to the topic of social media. Jerusalem attacks: Social media fear and defiance” was produced by BBC Monitoring on October 15th but does not comprehensively portray the role of social media in spreading incitement. On October 22nd an article also published on the BBC News website asked “Is Palestinian-Israeli violence being driven by social media?” but audiences learned little about that topic and the use of social media by the PA and Fatah was ignored.

At the International New York Times, the son of Richard Lakin – who was murdered last month in a terror attack in Jerusalem – gives his view of “The Facebook Intifada“.  

“Watching the well-wishers congregating in the intensive care unit, however, I realized that the world leaders who were having the most impact on the situation in the Middle East right now weren’t Mr. Ban or Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, Jack Dorsey of Twitter and other young entrepreneurs who shape the social media platforms most of us use every day.

It may sound strange to talk of Twitter and Facebook as relevant players in the war against terror, but as the recent wave of violence in Israel has proved, that is increasingly the case. The young men who boarded the bus that day intent on murdering my 76-year-old father did not make their decision in a vacuum.”

BBC reporting on the ongoing wave of terror has included very little coverage indeed of the victims of those attacks. One rare exception was seen in a filmed report by Orla Guerin in which a brief interview with Odel Bennett (who was wounded, along with her son, in the terror attack in which her husband was murdered on October 3rd) comprised a total of thirty-eight words.

Here is Kay Wilson, who survived a terror attack in 2010, telling one of the many Israeli stories BBC audiences do not get to hear.


Behind the BBC’s ‘lone wolf’ portrayal of terrorism in Israel

Over the past few weeks BBC audiences have been repeatedly told that the current wave of terrorism in Israel is characterized by “lone wolf attacks”. For example:

“This amateur video was filmed in the Old City last Saturday. The distant screams are from an Israeli woman whose husband had just been killed in a lone wolf knife attack.” (Orla Guerin, BBC television news, October 9th 2015)

“It is proving a struggle to prevent the sporadic lone wolf attacks by young Palestinians. These have been motivated by deep anger over access to al-Aqsa Mosque and the current political situation. There is a danger that a heavy-handed Israeli police response could exacerbate the situation.” (Yolande Knell, BBC News website, October 9th 2015)

“Israelis have been targeted in a growing number of apparent lone-wolf attacks.” (BBC News website, October 22nd 2015)lone wolf attacks

That description conceals the links of some of the perpetrators of recent attacks to terrorist groups such as Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. It also ignores the fact that whilst some of the individual terrorists may indeed have operated outside an organised command structure, they did not act within a vacuum.

A very interesting essay titled “What Do Palestinians Want?” by Daniel Polisar at Mosaic magazine provides insight into the backdrop to the current wave of terror.

“Absent almost entirely from this discussion has been any attempt to understand the perspective of everyday Palestinians. Yet it is precisely the climate of public opinion that shapes and in turn is shaped by the declarations of Palestinian leaders, and that creates the atmosphere in which young people choose whether to wake up in the morning, pull a knife from the family kitchen, and go out in search of martyrdom. Whether commentators are ignoring the views of mainstream Palestinians out of a mistaken belief that public opinion does not matter in dictatorships, or out of a dismissive sense that they are powerless pawns whose fate is decided by their leaders, Israel, or regional and world powers, the omission is both patronizing and likely to lead to significant misunderstandings of what is happening. In this essay I aim to fill the lacuna by addressing what Palestinians think both about violence against Israelis and about the core issues that supply its context and justification. […]

Though they may be lone wolves in the technical sense of not belonging to an organizational command structure, they are anything but alone within their communities. To the contrary, they are surrounded by people who share many of their core beliefs, who justify the attacks they are carrying out, who see their actions as potentially valuable in furthering Palestinian goals, and who can be counted on to venerate them and their families.”

The full essay – which addresses issues conscientiously and consistently avoided by BBC correspondents confined to reporting within a very specific narrative – can be found here.  



Palestinian Authority news BBC audiences will not get from Yolande Knell

As we know, the BBC Jerusalem bureau’s Yolande Knell recently produced filmed and audio reports from Hebron which, like the rest of the BBC’s coverage of the ongoing wave of terror attacks in Israel, made no effort to inform audiences of the role played by the Palestinian Authority in inciting such attacks and its related glorification of terrorism.

In recent days the Palestinian Authority has held state funerals with military honours for terrorists killed whilst carrying out attacks on Israelis. Palestinian Authority officials were present at the funerals of five terrorists in Hebron on October 31st.

Photo: Maan

Photo: Maan

According to Channel 10’s veteran Arab affairs correspondent Zvi Yehezkeli, this is the first time that terrorists have been given military funerals by the PA and the order to do so came directly from the president, Mahmoud Abbas. Yehezkeli adds that although the PA officially bans the flying of Hamas flags in Hebron, such flags were permitted at the recent funerals there.

Channel 10 also reports that Mahmoud Abbas has ordered financial grants to be paid to the families of the terrorists killed whilst carrying out recent attacks.

The BBC refrained from covering any and all aspects of those recent funerals, meaning that BBC audiences remain uninformed with regard to the PA’s glorification of terrorism as well as its incitement and are therefore deprived of vital information necessary for them to understand this particular “international issue” – information which the public purpose remits as defined in the BBC’s charter oblige it to provide.