BBC repeats use of loaded punctuation in reporting terror attacks on Israelis

An article dated December 3rd and appearing in the Middle East section of the BBC News website under the title “Palestinian killed in West Bank” carries the following headline: “Palestinian ‘with axe’ killed by Israeli forces in West Bank”. 

axe story

The article relates to an incident which took place on December 3rd 2012 on Route 57 and claims that members of the Israeli Security Services were involved in a chase after a Palestinian man named Hatem Shadid.

“Reports say the man had been driving a car between the settlements of Shavei Shomron and Einav, raising the suspicions of the security personnel.

They began chasing him and his car collided with their own vehicle, which then overturned. The man is then said to have come towards them with the axe.”

No other news agency appears to be carrying that version of the story. Reuters described Shadid as having “rammed” the ISS vehicle. 

“The witnesses said that after the vehicles collided, Shadid approached the Israelis, who were already injured from the crash, hitting one in the head and the other in the shoulder with an object that he was carrying.

One of the Israelis then shot him dead, both sides said.”

The Huffington Post – using an AP item – quotes an eye witness:

“Palestinian truck driver Rafik Salem says the Palestinian car hit the jeep at high speed Monday before veering into an olive grove. He says an ax-wielding man emerged from the grove and attacked the Israelis.”

Ynet states that:

“The man’s car crashed head on into an army vehicle transporting a Shin Bet officer and other security personnel near the Palestinian village of Deir Sharaf in the West Bank. The jeep overturned upon impact, lightly injuring the passengers. The assailant then exited his car and stormed towards the troops with an ax while yelling “Allah Akbar,” managing to hurt two of the soldiers before being shot dead by the Shin Bet officer.”

The Jerusalem Post , quoting the Spokesman for the Israeli Police Force, describes the incident thus:

“The Shin Bet [Israeli Security Service] was carrying out security activity along the road when the Palestinian vehicle swerved from its lane and crashed head-on into them. 

The Palestinian driver then lunged at the security personnel with an axe while shouting “Allahu Akbar.” He injured two Israelis in the attack. A Shin Bet officer shot and killed the attacker.”

Another outstanding feature of this BBC article is the interesting use (yet again) of punctuation in the headline. Why exactly were those inverted commas inserted to surround the words ‘with axe’? The clear implication is that the BBC is not prepared to take reports that the man was wielding an axe as verified, thereby suggesting that perhaps this was not a terror attack.

So here, especially for the Editor of the BBC News website, is a picture of the axe used by Hatem Shabib. The image can be seen here at 08:59. 

axe

Will the unnecessary punctuation now be removed? 

BBC-quotee Seumas Milne whipping up the crowd against Israel

Readers may remember that we recently drew attention to the fact that on its ‘live updates’ page which ran in the Middle East section of the BBC News website during Operation ‘Pillar of Cloud’, the BBC saw fit to promote an article by the Guardian’s Seumas Milne on November 20th 2012. 

As we remarked at the time:

“As you see, the BBC informs readers that:

“The Guardian’s Seamus Milne says in a new article that looking at the timeline of events, Israel is responsible for the military escalation that led to the current conflict.”

Well, seeing as the BBC has been pushing that theme incessantly for the past week at least, it is hardly surprising that it would promote the same kind of selective vision from a fellow bird of a feather. Not surprisingly, Milne’s screed also promotes another favourite BBC trope: ‘it’s all because of the elections’.

But that is not all that Milne’s BBC-endorsed article says. It also condones rocket attacks and other forms of violence against Israeli civilians, glorifies terror and even calls for the further arming of Palestinian militias.”

A few days later, on November 24th, Milne was to be found on the streets of London at a ‘Stop the War Coalition’ rally (the organisers perhaps had been too busy to notice that a cease fire came into effect two days previously) – once more inciting violence against Israeli civilians. 

In case anyone is wondering who the person presenting Milne is, allow us to introduce Mohammed Kozbar. Here he is (second from the right) pictured at the Gaza Legislature building with a delegation from the Muslim Brotherhood-linked ‘charity’ Interpal – which is proscribed by Israel and the United States due to its links to the Hamas-financing ‘Union of Good’. 

Does the BBC’s News website editor still think that the citation of Milne as an ‘authority’ on events in the Middle East represents the kind of balanced, accurate and impartial information to the corporation’s audiences are entitled? 

BBC promotes the false concept of ’1967 borders’

The BBC News website’s Middle East page of November 28th featured an article concerning France’s apparent decision to back the Palestinian Authority’s upcoming bid for ‘non-member observer state’ status at the UN General Assembly. 

In the side-box of ‘analysis’ the BBC’s Barbara Plett has, perhaps predictably, found a very euphemistic way in which to describe the OIC-led bloc which so often manages to turn UN proceedings into something between a farce and a witch-hunt. [emphasis added]

“The Palestinians are guaranteed to win the vote for an upgrade to the status of non-member state because of strong sympathy from the post-colonial nations which dominate the General Assembly.”

In the rest of the report, besides the rather glaring absence of the word ‘Hamas’ which should surely be of relevance when discussing the bid’s implications and potential results, readers will no doubt notice the erroneous use of the term “1967 borders”. 

Nowhere in this article does the BBC make it clear that the so-called “1967 borders” are in fact the 1949 armistice lines and that not only do those lines not represent any kind of territorial frontier but that, at Arab insistence, they were specifically defined as lacking any such status in the 1949 Armistice Agreement

“Article II

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

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

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

Article VI

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

The BBC’s Steve Herrmann – Editor of the BBC News website – needs to ensure that a correction is made to this article in order for it to meet Editorial Guidelines on accuracy.

BBC website promotes Guardian’s Milne

Here is a screenshot of the BBC News website’s live updates page in its Middle East section from Tuesday evening (November 20th).

As you see, the BBC informs readers that:

“The Guardian’s Seamus Milne says in a new article that looking at the timeline of events, Israel is responsible for the military escalation that led to the current conflict.”

Well, seeing as the BBC has been pushing that theme incessantly for the past week at least, it is hardly surprising that it would promote the same kind of selective vision from a fellow bird of a feather. Not surprisingly, Milne’s screed also promotes another favourite BBC trope: ‘it’s all because of the elections’.

But that is not all that Milne’s BBC-endorsed article says. It also condones rocket attacks and other forms of violence against Israeli civilians, glorifies terror and even calls for the further arming of Palestinian militias. 

See commentary on Milne’s article here and here

Did the BBC employee who decided to promote Milne’s article actually read those parts? Did he or she consider that an appropriate message to promote and circulate to the millions of readers of the BBC website?  

It would be very interesting to hear what Steve Herrmann – Editor of the BBC News website – has to say. He surely would not invoke the wriggle-out clause ” The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites“. 

Ofcom Broadcasting Code – Section 2 – Harm and Offence.

BBC Editorial Guidelines – Section 5 - Harm and Offence.

 steve.herrmann@bbc.co.uk