BBC News portrays counter-terrorism measure as ‘collective punishment’

On the morning of January 31st a terror attack took place at a checkpoint north of Ramallah.

“Three Israeli soldiers were wounded on Sunday when a member of the Palestinian Authority security forces opened fire at an IDF checkpoint near Beit El in the West Bank. He was shot dead by forces at the scene.

Magen David Adom emergency services said that two victims were in serious condition with wounds to the neck and thigh, respectively, and one was lightly hurt.

The shooter drove up to the Focus checkpoint in a car, was asked for his ID, got out and opened fire with a handgun, injuring the three soldiers. Palestinian reports named him as Amjad Sakari, 35, and said he was a member of the Palestinian Authority security forces who was working as a bodyguard for the Ramallah district attorney.”

There was no BBC coverage of that attack at the time and so audiences were not informed of the Palestinian Authority police force’s glorification of the terrorist.

“In a statement it released following the attack, the Palestinian police announced that “with great pride, the members of the Palestinian police eulogize the brave martyrdom of their colleague, Master Sergeant Amjad Sukkari, “Abu Omar”, who committed the operation at V.I.P checkpoint in Beit El.””

poster PA police

Neither did they learn of similar praise from the PA’s dominant faction Fatah.

poster Fatah

The fact that the terrorist was later buried with honours at a PA organized funeral was also not reported to BBC audiences.  

“The Palestinian Authority on Monday held a military funeral for Amjad Sukkari, the Palestinian policeman who carried out the shooting attack near Bet El a day earlier. Three IDF soldiers were wounded in the attack. […]

Senior PA officials, including the governor of Nablus, Akram Rajoub and Fatah Central Committee member Mahmoud Al-Aloul attended the policeman’s funeral.”

The only very brief mention of that terror attack came over 24 hours later in an article titled “Israel restricts entry to Ramallah after shooting attack” which appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page on February 1st.

“The restrictions were imposed after a Palestinian policeman shot and injured three Israeli soldiers at a checkpoint outside the city before being killed.”

Whilst the short closure was in fact lifted several hours after the BBC’s report appeared, that information was not added to the article, which still remained on the website hours after it was no longer relevant.

The BBC’s report refrained from informing readers of the reason for the closure.

“For the first time in more than a decade, the IDF on Monday placed a partial daylong blockade around the large West Bank city of Ramallah. […]

The IDF’s Central Command imposed the closure after security consultation. It had received concrete alerts about future attacks originating from Ramallah, security sources told The Jerusalem Post.” [emphasis added]

Instead, the BBC elected to misrepresent a counter-terrorism measure to its audiences by means of amplification of Palestinian propaganda.

collective punishment

Had BBC audiences been made aware of the facts behind the partial one-day closure of Ramallah and had they been told that the quoted spokesman’s organization publicly glorified his colleague’s act of terror, they may have been able to put his irrelevant claim into more appropriate context.

But at the same time as it eagerly provides uncritical amplification for such propaganda, the BBC continues to embrace an editorial policy according to which PA incitement and glorification of terrorism are taboo subjects, thus undermining the corporation’s public purpose remit of enhancing audiences’ understanding of international issues.

Related Articles:

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BBC papers over UN HRC connection of Swiss PLO deal broker

On January 22nd the BBC News website published an article titled “Switzerland ‘made secret deal with PLO’ after bomb attacks” in which Imogen Foulkes gave a reasonable account of the story and its significance.PLO Swiss deal written

“Controversy is growing in Switzerland over an alleged secret deal, made almost 50 years ago, between the Swiss government and the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO).

The agreement, detailed in a new book, was apparently designed to prevent terrorist attacks on Swiss territory.

In return, Switzerland would offer diplomatic support to the PLO. […]

Almost half a century later, with many countries experiencing terror attacks, it seems outrageous to some Swiss that their own government might have done deals with groups classed as terrorists.

What is more, the relatives of those who died in the bombing of the Swissair flight may be justified in feeling angry that no one has ever been brought to justice, especially as Swiss investigators had identified a Jordanian national as the mastermind behind the attack.”

Foulkes mentioned in her article that the Swiss foreign minister at the time used “a member of the Swiss parliament as an intermediary” in his dealings with the PLO, but did not go into further detail. However, in the January 22nd edition of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newshour’, presenter Owen Bennett Jones conducted an interview (from 37:40 here) with that “member of the Swiss parliament”.

OBJ: “And the information has been revealed in a new book by a journalist who wrote that part of the deal-making was organized by a very well-known and long-standing Swiss member of parliament who has also been a UN rapporteur for a bit as well – Jean Ziegler from Geneva – and his wife apparently had contacts in the PLO and they were able to tell the Swiss foreign minister who was who within the organization. Well I spoke to Jean Ziegler earlier: what was his role in this deal?”

Listeners would have noticed that throughout the item both Bennett Jones and Ziegler used the euphemism “Palestinian militants” to describe terrorists who attacked, blew up and hijacked airliners. With no challenge from the BBC presenter, Ziegler also described the PLO as a “Palestinian resistance organization” and misled listeners by describing that organization as having been “just founded” at the time (1970) when in fact the PLO was established in May 1964 – long before there was any ‘occupation’ to ‘resist’.

Ziegler noted that part of the deal was “to open official diplomatic office of the PLO in Geneva at the United Nations; European headquarters of the United Nations.”

Notably though, Owen Bennett Jones made no attempt to inform listeners of the contemporary significance of this story.

Jean Ziegler was indeed “a UN rapporteur for a bit”: he spent a highly controversial term as the UN Rapporteur on the Right to Food between 2000 and 2008. Ziegler also co-founded – and received – the infamous (and now defunct) ‘Muammar Al Gaddafi International Prize for Human Rights’.

But – as shown on the UN HRC commissioner’s website – Ziegler’s UN career is not a thing of the past. He currently functions as a member of the UN Human Rights Council’s advisory committee (despite opposition to his appointment from the Swiss parliament and the US Ambassador to the UN) and – ironically – in that capacity even co-authored a report on ‘Human rights and issues related to terrorist hostage-taking’.

Considering that regularly the BBC uncritically quotes and promotes statements and content produced by the UN HRC as though they were written in stone, it would have been particularly helpful to BBC audiences to have the dots joined between this past story of a man with sufficient contacts inside a notorious terrorist organization to be able to help broker a self-preserving capitulation to its agenda – including the opening of the door to the UN – and the current advisor to that body’s highly politicised and controversial Human Rights Council. 

BBC News avoids reporting Fatah Day rallies for third year running

In recent weeks visitors to the BBC News website have frequently come across a standard inclusion in articles relating to the subject of the ongoing wave of terror attacks against Israelis which goes along these lines:

“Israel says Palestinian incitement has fuelled the attacks. The Palestinian leadership has blamed frustration rooted in decades of Israeli occupation.”

As has been noted here on countless occasions over the past few months, BBC News has refrained from providing its audiences with any serious reporting on the topic of the incitement underpinning the current wave of terror, choosing instead to consistently present that issue in terms of “Israel says”.

Hence it was not overly surprising to see that for the consecutive third year – see ‘related articles’ below – there was no BBC coverage of the recent ‘Fatah Day’ celebrations (the anniversary of the group’s first terror attack against Israel) in Palestinian Authority controlled areas.

Fatah is of course the controlling party in the Palestinian Authority as well as the largest faction in the PLO. The BBC’s most recently published profile of that party describes it as follows:

“Under Arafat’s leadership, the group originally promoted an armed struggle against Israel to create a Palestinian state. But it later recognised Israel’s right to exist, and its leaders have led Palestinian peace talks aimed at reaching a two-state solution.”

Readers of that profile are also told that Fatah “signed a declaration rejecting attacks on civilians in Israel and committing themselves to peace and co-existence.”

The BBC’s Palestinian Territories Profile has the following to say about the head of the Fatah movement:

“Many analysts regard Mahmoud Abbas as a moderate. He has condemned the armed Palestinian uprising and favours the resumption of negotiations with Israel.”

One might therefore have expected the media organization which describes itself as the “standard-setter for international journalism” to have reported that – as has so often been the case in the past – this year’s Fatah Day celebrations did not reflect that supposed rejection of terrorism and commitment to “peace and co-existence”.

The pictures below come from the Fatah Day rally in Bethlehem – courtesy of Israeli journalist Gal Berger,  along with those that follow.  

Fatah Day 1

These pictures are from Birzeit University near Ramallah.

Fatah Day 2

The Fatah Day event in Nablus (Schem) was attended by the district governor Akram Rajoub: Mahmoud Abbas’ representative.

Fatah Day 3

On Fatah social media accounts (translated by PMW) the movement celebrated “Half a century of sowing terror in the eyes of the sons of Zion” and vowed “With blood we will redeem the homeland and saturate its ground”.

Via MEMRI we learn that:

“In his Fatah Day speech in Ramallah, PA President Mahmoud Abbas reiterated his support for young Palestinians who set out to commit terrorist attacks, and senior Fatah officials likewise expressed support for the Palestinian people’s “awakening” and resistance in all its forms.”

Members of the BBC’s audience seeking to enhance their understanding of the topic of the failure of the ‘peace process’ and the background to the current violence clearly need to be informed of this – and related – news. The BBC, however, continues to promote its stylized and sanitized portrait of the Palestinian Authority, Fatah and Mahmoud Abbas whilst studiously avoiding any real reporting on the crucial topics of incitement and glorification of terrorism. 

Related Articles:

BBC ignores Fatah’s anniversary incitement

BBC silent on ‘Fatah Day’ celebrations

BBC ‘tidies up’ Fatah celebrations

Does BBC News really want audiences to be able to ‘make up their own minds’?

The phrase “make up their own minds” is not infrequently found in BBC responses to complaints from the general public – for example:

“We believe we have reported […] in an accurate and impartial manner, allowing our audience to make up their own minds.”

And:

“…our aim is simply to provide enough information for viewers to make up their own minds.”

One would assume, of course, that a media organisation which purports to enable its audiences to decide what they think about a particular story or issue would be keen for them to arrive at informed conclusions based on factual information provided by that organisation. An article published on the BBC News website’s Middle East page on January 9th under the title “Israel: Soldiers shoot dead two Palestinians attackers” calls that assumption into question with the following description of the story.Bekaot art

“Two Palestinians have been shot dead by Israeli soldiers after attempting to stab them at a checkpoint in the occupied West Bank, the military says.

The incident was reported at the Bekaot checkpoint in the northern West Bank. The soldiers were not injured.

The two Palestinian men, aged 23 and 38, were reported to be from villages south of Jenin. […]

The Palestinian Wafa news agency named those killed as Ali Muhammad Aqqab Abu-Maryam and Said Judah Abu-al-Wafa and said they had been shot “in cold blood”.

The Israel Defense Forces said the soldiers had “thwarted the attack and shot the assailants”.” [emphasis added]

In other words, the BBC does not tell readers in its own words what actually happened in that incident but instead provides them with second-hand accounts of conflicting statements they could well have found for themselves elsewhere – and then leaves them to “make up their own minds” with regard to which one really reflects the facts.

The report also includes additional inaccurate and misleading information.

“Overnight, Israeli forces demolished a home in the West Bank belonging to relatives of a Palestinian – Muhannad Halabi – shot dead in October after killing a rabbi in Jerusalem’s Old City.”

The BBC knows that Halabi in fact murdered two people on October 3rdRabbi Nehemia Lavi and Rabbi Aharon Banita-Bennett – as well as wounding the latter’s wife and two-year-old son, because it reported the incident at the time (albeit very problematically).  The corporation should also have been able to tell readers that the house concerned did not belong to mere “relatives” but was Halabi’s family home.  

The article informs readers that:

“Tension between Palestinians and Israelis has risen in recent months with a series of violent incidents. […]

Relations between Israelis and Palestinians remain tense amid a wave of attacks on Israelis by Palestinians and some Israeli Arabs which have killed 22 Israelis since the beginning of October.

During that time 149 Palestinians – more than half said by Israel to be attackers – have been shot dead by security forces or their victims. Others have been killed in clashes with Israeli forces.”

In fact, from the beginning of October until the time this article was published, twenty-seven people – three of whom were not Israeli nationals – were killed in terror attacks perpetrated by Palestinians or Israeli Arabs. Although the information is readily available, the BBC does not tell readers in its own words that most of the Palestinians killed were carrying out terror attacks at the time but instead – once again – uses the qualifying “Israel says” formula.

Similar statements were seen in another report concerning incidents which took place on January 7th which appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page the previous day – January 8th – under the headline “Four Palestinian attackers killed by Israeli troops“.Gush art

“Twenty-two Israelis have been killed in attacks including stabbings, car rammings and shootings since 1 October.

The Palestinian health ministry says 149 Palestinians have been killed in that time. More than half were said by Israel to be attackers. Others have been killed in clashes with Israeli forces.”

That article closes with the following paragraphs which yet again ignore Hamas’ ongoing efforts to escalate attacks and downplay Palestinian Authority and Fatah incitement and glorification of terrorism whilst promoting PLO talking points:

“Most of the attacks have been carried out by individuals not known to have been acting on direct orders from militant groups.

Israel says Palestinian incitement has fuelled the attacks. The Palestinian leadership has blamed frustration rooted in decades of Israeli occupation.”

For over three months the BBC has studiously avoided bringing its audiences any serious reporting on the subject of the Palestinian incitement underpinning the current wave of terror.  As long as that remains the case and whilst BBC News continues to produce patchy coverage which fails to provide audiences with clear, verified information about events rather than recycled allegations and avoidable inaccuracies, it is very difficult to take seriously the claim that it “strives to provide enough information” for audiences to “make up their own minds”.  

 

 

More PLO messaging from Yolande Knell in Christmas report for BBC WS radio

In addition to the politicised Christmas Eve feature produced by Yolande Knell for the BBC News website on December 24th, she also reported from Bethlehem for BBC World Service radio’s ‘Newshour’.Newshour 24 12

In that item (from 30:00 here) Knell recycled themes and interviewees seen in her other report, focusing on a low-key Christmas and economic hardship in Bethlehem. Once again audiences were not informed of the Palestinian Authority’s instructions to municipalities to dampen this year’s celebrations or the Council of Churches’ similar dictate.

Setting the scene in his introduction, presenter Tim Franks failed to adequately clarify to listeners exactly which party has been initiating the acts of violence seen over the last three months, using passive language to promote a false sense of equivalence and – through use of the ‘Israel says’ formula – implying that the BBC cannot independently confirm that most of the Palestinian casualties were either terrorists killed in the act or violent rioters. [emphasis added]

“Even as visitor numbers continue to dwindle Christmas upon Christmas, this year the reason is pretty clear: the tensions that have washed over Israel and the occupied territories show no sign of abating.”

“More than 130 Palestinians have been killed – more than half were said by Israel to be attackers.”

“In Bethlehem – a short distance to the south of Jerusalem in the occupied West Bank – confrontations between young Palestinians and Israeli soldiers continue on an almost daily basis….”

Of course if no Palestinian rioters take to the streets, there are no “confrontations” but as usual, the BBC conceals cause and effect and Knell’s later description did little to help listeners understand the context of the violence either.

“But for weeks now this has been the sound on the streets. An Israeli jeep fires tear gas at the young Palestinians all around me. They’ve been using catapults to fling stones at the Israeli soldiers next to the high concrete wall here: part of Israel’s West Bank barrier.”

As in her written report, Knell provided a platform for opportunistic political messaging. [emphasis added]

Knell: “Back at the road where protests regularly break out in Bethlehem, I meet a priest: Father Jamal Khader.”

Khader: “Now more than ever we see more despair. People don’t believe any more in the two state solution with increase of settlements, with heavy presence of the Israeli army.”

That messaging compliments Knell’s later portrayal of the background to the ongoing wave of terror.

“Israel blames the recent violence on incitement by Palestinian leaders and social media but Palestinians say it stems from the lack of hope after the failure of years of peace efforts.”

More than three months into this wave of terror, the BBC has still not provided its audiences with a factual and comprehensive picture of the incitement underpinning the violence. As a result, BBC audiences are not in a position to be able to determine the relative merits of the Israeli and Palestinian claims paraphrased in this item – which have also appeared in previous reports from Knell and her colleagues.

As readers may recall, the PLO’s guidance document distributed in November to members of the international media under the title “Key Points to Remember when Reporting on Occupied Palestine states:

“The Israeli government attempts to shift the focus away from their colonization enterprise and illegal occupation, which is the root cause of the continuous uprisings of the Palestinian people who have for decades endured an Apartheid regime. Though Israeli spokespeople have claimed that the main issues are Al-Aqsa and “Palestinian incitement”, the fact of the matter is that Israel continues to systematically deny Palestinian rights.”

It therefore becomes increasingly difficult to avoid reaching the conclusion that BBC journalists have indeed chosen to ‘remember’ those ‘key points’ and to keep audiences in the dark on the topic of Palestinian incitement whilst simultaneously refraining from informing them of the actual circumstances of “the failure of years of peace efforts” which include the PA initiated Second intifada, the PA’s rejection of Olmert’s 2008 peace offer and the PA’s decision to scupper the round of talks held in 2013/14.

The corporation asserts that its audiences “can expect the BBC to keep them in touch with what is going on in the world” and that its priority is to “build a global understanding of international issues”. A media organization committed to doing that could not have systematically avoided informing its audiences about the incitement fueling a wave of terror attacks and violence which has been going on for over a hundred days.

Absurdity of BBC’s ‘international law’ mantra exposed by Yolande Knell

Nearly nineteen years ago, in January 1997, Israel and the PLO signed an agreement called the “Protocol Concerning the Redeployment in Hebron“. That document came about under international tutelage like the rest of the Oslo Accords, which have been described as follows:

“This overall series of commitments and obligations constitutes a contractual framework of obligations between Israel and the Palestinians, signed as witnesses and guarantors by the King of Jordan, the Presidents of the U.S. and Egypt, the Foreign Ministers of the Russian Federation and Norway, the EU and endorsed by the UN.”

Under the terms of that agreement, Israel would administer the area defined as H-2 and the PA the area defined as H-1, with both Israelis and Palestinians continuing to live in the city of Hebron.

However, the BBC’s Yolande Knell has apparently not heard of that agreement willingly signed by the internationally recognised representatives of the Palestinian people.  

After a hiatus of almost a week in its reporting on the current wave of terrorism in Israel, on October 30th the BBC News website’s Middle East page published a filmed report produced by Knell for BBC television news programmes under the title “Tensions rise in Hebron between Israelis and Palestinians“.Knell Hebron 30 10

During that report, Knell told viewers that:

“Hebron is unique in the West Bank because it’s divided. Part is under full Palestinian control and the other part is under full Israeli control, although most of the people living there are Palestinians.”

So far, so good – except that Knell makes no effort to explain to viewers that the arrangement she portrays came about because the Palestinians agreed to it. She then takes viewers through a checkpoint.

“As you can see, it’s guarded by Israeli soldiers. […] The soldiers are here right in the heart of the Old City because just along here there are families of Jewish settlers.”

No attempt is made to inform audiences of the historic background to Jewish settlement in Hebron. After a brief interview with someone described on screen as a “settler leader”, Knell tells BBC audiences:

“The presence of Jewish settlers here is seen as illegal under international law, but Israel disagrees.”

So too, apparently, does the PLO because it agreed to their “presence” in Hebron back in 1997.

Knell’s insertion of the BBC’s standard mantra on ‘international law’ may not be at all surprising, but it does raise an interesting question. Her application of that standard insert to a place where Israelis live according to the terms of an agreement signed between Israel and the Palestinians suggests that either the BBC is either woefully under-informed or – in similar fashion to its bizarre approach to Israel’s capital city – considers itself qualified to over-rule and ignore existing documents and agreements which do not fit in with its political narrative.

It would of course be very helpful were the BBC to issue a clarification on that topic.

Additional noteworthy features in this report by Yolande Knell include the provision of backwind for the Palestinian propaganda seen in recent weeks which attempts to portray terrorists as ‘innocent victims’. [all emphasis added]

“As violence has flared this month there have been a lot of stabbing attacks and alleged attacks on Israelis in and around Hebron. A lot of young Palestinians have been shot and killed as a result.”

An on-screen caption preceding an interview with the mother of a terrorist who attacked a soldier with a knife on October 26th read:

“Saad al Atrash is said to have tried to stab a soldier. He was shot dead.”

Also notable is the inclusion of an interview with Issa Amro in this report and – not for the first time – the inadequate description of that relatively frequent BBC interviewee as a “Palestinian activist”. With Amro’s employment by an anti-Israel organization concealed, viewers would of course have been unable to put the claims he made into their appropriate context.

Knell closed this report by telling BBC audiences that the story of the current wave of terrorism in Hebron is all about ‘narratives’.

“Basically on the ground here you get two starkly contrasting narratives. Speaking to the Israelis over there, they see all of this as hateful, senseless violence. But Palestinians here say that their anger stems from the political situation and their feelings of despair. This is really a nationalistic struggle but increasingly, it’s also taking on a religious dimension.”

Of course this wave of terrorism has been fueled by religiously themed incitement from the start, but the BBC continues to downplay that aspect of it by both failing to report that incitement (and Hamas’ strength in Hebron) and focusing instead on a narrative with which Western audiences – and journalists – are much more at ease. 

Hanan Ashrawi’s lies about Temple Mount status quo given multiple BBC platforms

On October 16th the BBC’s Lyse Doucet conducted an interview with the PLO executive committee member Hanan Ashrawi.

As well as being broadcast on BBC television news programmes, an abridged version of that interview was promoted separately on the BBC News website under the title “Israeli occupation is ‘abnormal, cruel and lethal’” and embedded into a written report titled “Palestinian rioters torch Jewish holy site Joseph’s Tomb“.Ashrawi on website

In addition to blaming Israelis for the terror attacks against them, Ashrawi used her BBC platform to promote blatant falsehoods which are at the root of the Palestinian incitement fueling the current wave of terrorism.

“…and the latest escalation is that they change the status quo of the Al Aqsa Mosque – of Haram al Sharif – and again they have blocked off Jerusalem for all Palestinians. No Palestinian West Banker or from exile or from Gaza can get to Jerusalem and they have managed to provoke every single Palestinian – Muslim, Christian or otherwise – by carrying out such draconian measures.”

Both the abridged versions appearing on the BBC News website end at that point and so audiences are left with the materially misleading impressions promoted by Ashrawi. Only those who happened to see the full report heard Lyse Doucet’s half-hearted ‘challenge’ to Ashrawi’s falsehoods and her provision of a lead for yet more propaganda.

Doucet: “Hanan Ashrawi; you mention the status quo, which is a very sensitive issue. Israeli leaders say they have not changed the status quo – that is, that Palestinians can pray at the Al Aqsa Mosque, that Jews can visit the Temple Mount but they’re not allowed to pray there. They say that they haven’t changed it. You’ve seen otherwise?”

Ashrawi: “Of course. I mean we don’t need to listen to Israeli fabrications and fiction because we deal with reality – we look at what’s happening on the ground. Certainly they have changed the status quo. Certainly they have changed even the physical surroundings. They have dug beneath the mosque and el Haram Sharif. They have repeatedly prevented Palestinians from entering the mosque. They have put restrictions on the age of men and women who can enter the mosque. This is supposed to be a place of worship open to everybody. They’ve prevented Palestinians without Jerusalem IDs – which means all West Bankers and Gazans – from entering Jerusalem as a whole. Where is freedom of worship? And they’ve also transformed the Haram Sharif. So let’s talk about illegal annexation, let’s talk about changing the character, the culture, the history, the narrative of the place. And then let’s talk about provocation. This is what is happening.”

Changing the subject, Doucet makes no effort to challenge that chapter in Ashrawi’s volume of lies and distortions. She fails to clarify to audiences that any age restrictions on men (not women, as stated by Ashrawi) visiting the site are directly linked to security issues and that Palestinians from PA controlled areas and Gaza can get permits to visit Jerusalem but that the PA has reportedly failed to cooperate with such initiatives in the past. She also fails to make it clear to audiences that only on very rare occasions has the mosque been closed due to extreme incidents of Palestinian violence and that Ashrawi’s false claims are refuted by the fact that there were 3.5 million visits by Muslims to the site last year, compared to 200,000 by Christians and just 12,500 by Jews. Doucet also fails to challenge Ashrawi’s pernicious – and downright dangerous – falsehoods concerning the physical site itself which are part and parcel of the very long history of a libel used for the purpose of incitement.

Understanding what the status quo on Temple Mount is – and is not – is crucial to audience comprehension of this latest wave of terrorism and wider issues. Doucet’s widely promoted report not only fails to contribute to such comprehension, but materially misleads BBC audiences on the topic by allowing (not for the first time) an inadequately challenged platform for yet more Palestinian incitement.

 

More BBC News rebranding of Munich Olympics terrorists

The current edition of the BBC News feature ‘This week in history’ includes the murder of eleven Israeli athletes at the Olympic Games in Munich in 1972.

As can be seen below, both in the synopsis to the clip appearing on the BBC News website and in the on-screen caption in the video itself, the BBC has once again avoided the use of the word terror, preferring to describe the perpetrators as “Palestinian extremists” and a “Palestinian extremist group”.

This week in history Munich

Related Articles:

Munich Olympics terrorists get BBC rebranding  

No BBC coverage of Abbas’ PLO resignation

Even for an organization which serially avoids serious coverage of internal Palestinian affairs, the BBC’s failure to report on a recent story coming out of Ramallah is remarkable – especially as it is obviously aware of events.

Abbas resig PLO Rushdi tweet

As readers are no doubt aware, eighty year-old Mahmoud Abbas presides over three bodies: he is president of the Fatah party, president of the Palestinian Authority (although his elected mandate expired long ago) and chair of the executive committee of the PLO. According to reports disputed by some, Abbas resigned from that latter post on August 22nd, together with several other committee members. What prompted that apparent move is explained in an article by Khaled Abu Toameh:

“Palestinian political analyst Hani al-Masri said that, if true, the resignations are merely an attempt to “reengineer” the PLO and its institutions after more than 20 years of “negligence.”

The entire move, he said, was simply made to replace some members of the Executive Committee.

“These are not real resignations,” Masri explained.

“Those who reportedly submitted their resignations have no intention to leave. They just want to use the resignations to call for an extraordinary meeting of the Palestinian National Council in accordance with Article 14 of the Palestinian Basic Law.””

The Palestinian National Council – the PLO’s legislative body and highest authority – has not held a regular session since 1996. Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad are of course not members of the PLO but the former had been slated to join that body according to the ill-fated Hamas-Fatah ‘unity agreement’ of 2014. Khaled Abu Toameh again:

“Hamas responded to the reports [of the resignations]by describing what happened in Ramallah as a “play,” calling the move “invalid,” because it did not take into consideration efforts to achieve reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah.

Musa Abu Marzook, a senior Hamas official, said the purported resignations were designed to pave the way for allowing Abbas to have exclusive control over the decision- making process.”

Ghaith al-Omari has more about the broader significance of this story the BBC apparently did not find any interest in covering.

 

BBC’s ‘Hardtalk’ provides propaganda platform for Erekat yet again

The last thing that can be said about the PLO’s chief negotiator Saeb Erekat is that he suffers from a lack of BBC airtime but nevertheless, the end of May saw him back at one of his regular spots – ‘Hardtalk‘.Erekat Hardtalk May 2015

Not only did Erekat have nothing new to tell host Zeinab Badawi, he even recycled statements made during previous appearances on the same programme. At 10:32 in the video below, Erekat says:

“See, in my opinion Christian and Muslim Palestinians will not convert to Judaism and become Israelis. Jews will not convert to Islam and Christianity and become Palestinians.”

If that sounds familiar, that may be because only last year Erekat made a very similar statement during a previous ‘Hardtalk’ interview.

“Are Christian and Muslim Palestinians going to convert to become Israelis? Or are Jews going to convert to Christianity and Islam and become Palestinians? This is not happen.” 

And if it rang a bell even in 2014, that could be because back in 2011 Erekat told Zeinab Badawi in yet another ‘Hardtalk’ interview:

“I don’t think Christian and Muslim Palestinians would convert to Judaism and become Israelis. I don’t think that Jews would convert to Islam and Christianity and become Palestinian.”

In other words, for four years at least Saeb Erekat has been pushing the same broken record mantra and not one BBC journalist has bothered to follow it up by informing audiences that not all Israelis are Jews – as the country’s two million strong non-Jewish population (25.1%) indicates – or by asking him why Jews cannot be citizens of a Palestinian state.

Let’s take look at some of the other falsehoods propagated by Erekat – with no disturbance from Badawi – in this programme.

“I have as a Palestinian recognized the State of Israel’s right to exist on the ’67 borders.”

“We recognize them to live in peace and security in the ’67 borders – that’s 78% of historic British mandated Palestine – and accepted to establish our state in the remaining 22% of the land.”

There is of course no such thing as “’67 borders” because the 1949 Armistice Lines were specifically defined as not being borders – as even the BBC’s style guide notes. Nevertheless, Badawi makes no effort to clarify the point to viewers.

“In one week of his government he [Netanyahu] issues more than two thousand housing units of settlements in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank. They’re moving their offices – his ministers – to occupied East Jerusalem and today, literally speaking, there are buses in Israel that Palestinians cannot use. They call it sterilized buses and there will be roads that they call sterilized roads.”

Those “East Jerusalem” apartments are in fact located in Ramat Shlomo and have been going through the planning process since 2010. One Israeli minister has approached the Finance Ministry with a request for new offices in Jerusalem. The same ministry has a long existing office in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood of Jerusalem: an area which was classified as no-man’s land throughout the 19 years of the Jordanian occupation of parts of Jerusalem. There are no “sterilized buses” and the restriction on travel for PA registered vehicles on certain small sections of road arises from the very real security issues which of course do not get a mention in this programme at all.

“I’m telling the Israelis if you worry about courts, stop committing crimes. […] I cannot have every two years 12,000 Palestinians killed and wounded in Gaza. I cannot leave the continuation of the settlement activities, by-pass roads – now they call sterilized road – sterilized buses. I cannot continue living a deeper apartheid system in the West Bank and East Jerusalem than the one that existed in South Africa. So what I’m telling the Israelis wake up, wake up. What you’re doing in the West Bank in accordance with the international law – the four Geneva Conventions and the 4th Convention of 1949 – are war crimes.”

Like the vast majority of Palestinians in Judea & Samaria, Saeb Erekat lives under full Palestinian Authority control. The topic of Palestinian self-rule in areas A&B is of course not mentioned at any point in this programme either and Badawi sits idly by as Erekat promotes the false and defamatory notion of a system of ‘apartheid’ worse “than the one that existed in South Africa”.

“I know I have an agreed agenda with them, signed by the Israeli government, saying that permanent status negotiations issues are borders, Jerusalem, water, security. Is Mr Netanyahu willing to utter the sentence two states on the 1967 lines? […] Is he willing to carry out his commitment – not condition – to stop settlement activities in the land that’s supposed to be the State of Palestine?”

“What is between me and the Israelis are elements of contracts, agreements signed. There are obligations emanating from those agreements signed – on me as a Palestinian and on Israel. And Israel must stop settlement activities and must accept two states on 1967 lines and must accept to sit with me to delineate the borders on the basis of the 1967 lines. If they’re willing to honour their commitments we’ll meet tomorrow.”

The “agreements” and “contracts” signed between the Palestinians and Israel are the Oslo Accords. In contrast to the misleading impression given to viewers of this programme, nowhere in those agreements is any restriction placed on building in Israeli towns and villages in Judea & Samaria or Jerusalem and nowhere do they state that the 1949 Armistice Lines – or “67 lines” as Erekat calls them – would be the final borders between Israel and a Palestinian state. That, of course, is precisely why the subject of borders is one of the issues to be discussed in final status negotiations.

“We’re willing to engage seriously on the basis of the agreed terms of reference specified in the Quartet’s statements saying that negotiations should be on the basis of two states on 1967.”

The Quartet’s February 2015 statement makes no mention of “1967” and neither does its 2003 roadmap stipulate that Erekat’s much-touted “1967 lines” are a basis for negotiations.

“The fact that Palestine became and has gained the legal status for observer state meant that it’s a state under occupation. The West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem is identified as now as a Higher [sic] Contracting Party to the four Geneva Conventions of 1949. […] Palestine has a status of a state under occupation like what countries like Norway, Belgium, Holland, France, Korea, the Philippines were in the Second World War under German and Japanese occupation [Badawi: sure, sure…] so the Israelis cannot say it’s disputed territories…”

Legal experts contacted by BBC Watch in connection with Erekat’s claim that the 2012 granting of the status of UN non-member observer state automatically confers High Contracting Party status advised us that “neither joining the Geneva Conventions nor receiving observer status in the General Assembly are procedures for assigning territorial sovereignty, and neither action could give “Palestine” sovereignty over the territory of “West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem.”

“Zeinab, settlements in the West Bank including East Jerusalem are illegal settlements. Actually, in accordance with the 4th Geneva Convention these settlements are war crimes.”

That inaccuracy is reinforced by Badawi at 07:45:

“And of course, as you say, international law says that the settlements are illegal.

Once again the BBC breaches its own editorial guidelines on impartiality by failing to inform audiences of the existence of legal opinions which disagree with the politically partial line it chooses to promote.

Were viewers of this programme provided with factual information which would aid them in building an “understanding of international issues“? Regrettably, no. Were they provided with unchallenged misinformation in breach of BBC editorial guidelines on accuracy and impartiality? Unfortunately, yes. That, however, is par for the course in any BBC content featuring Saeb Erekat.

Related Articles:

 BBC’s Hardtalk provides platform for Saeb Erekat’s fabricated histories – part one

BBC’s Hardtalk provides platform for Saeb Erekat’s fabricated histories – part two

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