More information on Gaza casualties ignored by the BBC

The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Centre recently published another report in the framework of its ongoing investigation into casualties in the Gaza Strip during Operation Protective Edge which can be found here.

ITIC photo

Photo: ITIC

The report sums up the Centre’s findings to date as follows:

“The project’s goal is to determine which of the fatalities were affiliated with terrorist organizations and which were non-involved citizens, and to examine the ratio between them. The findings of our investigation so far (based on an examination of approximately 61% of the names of the dead) suggest that fatalities affiliated with terrorist organizations constitute approximately 48.7% of the names that have been identified, and non-involved civilians constitute approximately 51.3%. This ratio may vary in the future.”

And:

“Weighting the findings of the current examination and the findings of the previous examinations, detailed in the ITIC’s previous documents, indicates the following distribution of the 1,314 fatalities examined to date:

553 of those killed were affiliated with terrorist organizations.

583 of those killed were non-involved civilians.

178 of those killed (approximately 13.5% of all the names that have been examined) are unidentified at this stage. Therefore, it is not possible to determine whether they were affiliated with terrorist organizations or non-involved civilians.”

Readers can find the previous reports below:

Part one, Part two, Part three, Part four, Part five, Part six, Part seven, Part eight, Part nine.

Needless to say, there is still nothing to suggest that the BBC has carried out any kind of independent verification of the UN supplied casualty figures it continues to quote and promote – including in response to complaints from the public – despite the obviously problematic sourcing of that data. 

BBC’s Sommerville showcases PIJ rearmament but refrains from asking who supplied the weapons

On February 26th the BBC’s Jerusalem Bureau’s Quentin Sommerville produced two reports – one written and one filmed – about the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip.

The filmed report – first shown on the BBC News television programme ‘Impact’ – appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page under the title “Palestinian Islamic Jihad have rearmed and replenished ranks“. Sommerville opens the report with the same message as that appearing in the title:Sommerville tunnels filmed

“The threat of war is looming again in Gaza. These are the men of Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Six months since their last battle, they’ve rearmed and replenished their ranks in expectation of their next confrontation with Israel.”

Notably, BBC audiences are not informed at this juncture or at any other point in this report (or in the written article) how the PIJ has been able to rearm or who has supplied those weapons.

Of course the likelihood of any future confrontation between terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip and Israel depends entirely upon the policies chosen by the former: for as long as they elect to refrain from attacking Israeli civilians, there will be no “next confrontation”. Sommerville, however, allows one of his masked interviewees to mislead viewers with the inference that Israel is the party initiating the recurrent bouts of conflict.

“We are prepared for any aggression on the Gaza Strip.”

 A short way into the report Sommerville tells audiences:

“….right by its [Israel’s] border…120 mm mortars. There’s an ample supply and there’s more inside.”

However, he refrains from commenting on the fact that the mortar marked ‘M48′ displayed by the PIJ terrorist he and his crew filmed bears a remarkable resemblance to the Iranian-made 120mm mortars intercepted by the IDF in 2009 aboard the ‘Francop and of course he makes no effort to inquire where and how his hosts obtained their “ample supply”.

Sommerville tunnels filmed M48

M48 Francop

Iranian-made 120 mm M48 mortar found on the Francop. Photo: MFA

Later on in the report viewers are shown an image of what Sommerville describes as:

“The aftermath of an explosion on Gaza’s western border …”

The Gaza Strip’s western border is of course the Mediterranean coastline. Apparently just as geographically challenged as his colleague who recently described the Golan Heights as being west of Haifa, Sommerville is actually referring to the southern border of the Gaza Strip – as can be determined from the commentary which follows.

“Egyptian soldiers are piling on the pressure. They’re tightening the border and wiping out smuggling tunnels that have been a lifeline to Gaza. Egypt blames militants from here for aiding attacks in the Sinai.”

No effort is made to explain to viewers why Egypt makes such statements.

Throughout this report the PIJ are predictably referred to as “militants” and Sommerville informs viewers that:

“They [the PIJ] and Hamas are regarded by the West as terrorists.”

Of course there are also non-Western countries which take the same approach – now including Egypt.

In the closing interview with a masked terrorist, viewers are told that the ‘achievement’ of the PIJ during last summer’s conflict was:

“…we challenged the occupier […] we are still able to say no to the occupation.”

Sommerville fails to inform BBC audiences of the fact that the Gaza Strip has not been occupied by Israel since August 2005.

In the written version of his report  – appearing in the Features & Analysis section of the BBC News website’s Middle East page under the headline “Inside Gaza’s tunnels, militants get ready for the next war” – Sommerville promotes some of the same themes.Sommerville tunnels written

“Viewed as a terrorist group in the West, Islamic Jihad is committed to Israel’s destruction.”

And:

“Egypt’s soldiers move around in armoured vehicles. Border controls have been tightened and they are using explosives to destroy homes and smuggling tunnels that have been a lifeline to Gaza.

Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi blames Hamas and others for aiding attacks in the Sinai.”

He again makes no effort to correct the inaccurate impressions received by readers from statements made by his interviewees.

“Standing inside, his face hidden, is a fighter, with the nom de guerre, Abu Hamza.

“In the last war we noticed that every moving thing on the surface of the earth was bombed, whether it was ambulances, civilians or fighters walking on the street,” he said. [emphasis added]

And:

“Our biggest achievement is that we stood our ground, and we challenged the occupier,” said Abu Ibrahim, a commander of their Saraya al-Quds brigade.

“Unlike the whole world, we are still able to say ‘no’ to them, ‘no’ to the occupation. We are still able to resist.” [emphasis added]

Sommerville continues the practice of promoting casualty figures which have not been independently verified by the BBC.  

“The 50-day conflict in Gaza left at least 2,189 Palestinians dead, including more than 1,486 civilians, according to the UN, and 11,000 injured.”

His emotive descriptions of the Gaza Strip lack context and no effort is made to clarify to readers that the factor most hindering reconstruction in the Gaza Strip is infighting between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority.

“Large parts of neighbourhoods in Gaza are in ruins, and the Strip is in the midst of a humanitarian crisis which has left many thousands of families homeless.

Six months on, the rubble from the war lies mostly uncleared and there has been little rebuilding.” […]

“Gaza is being cornered, more isolated than ever before…”

Sommerville’s take-away message in both these reports is that the “next confrontation” between Israel and terrorist organisations in the Gaza Strip is just a matter of time. Whilst that supposition is entirely reasonable, he fails to present BBC audiences with the information they need in order to be able to properly understand why that is the case.

The fact that he refrains from accurately defining the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas as terrorist organisations, along with his overall failure to clarify to BBC audiences that any future hostilities depend entirely upon the choices made by those groups and his concurrent promotion of myths such as the non-existent “occupation”, means that readers and viewers remain none the wiser about the real causes of the war around the corner.

In addition, Sommerville’s avoidance of the issue of the PIJ’s Iranian backing and the sources of its rearmament mean that a crucial piece of the overall picture is concealed from BBC audiences and hence, what could have been informative journalism is instead disappointingly predictable and superficial, tapping into the same themes recycled by the BBC so many times before. 

 

BBC yet again fails to clarify the ‘particular viewpoint’ of Cage and Asim Qureshi

Consumers of BBC content on February 26th could not have failed to notice the story promoted as ‘exclusive’ (but also published on the same day by the Washington Post) in which the identity of the ISIS terrorist nicknamed ‘Jihadi John’ was revealed.Emwazi breaking

Among the plethora of reports appearing across all BBC platforms were several which included comment from the organization ‘Cage’ and its representative Asim Qureshi. As readers may recall, we have previously noted here that Qureshi’s appearances on the BBC have been remarkable for the fact that introductions and descriptions of the organization he represents have breached editorial guidelines by failing to comply with the clause which commits the BBC to “clearly summarising the standpoint of any interviewee where it is relevant”.

So did the BBC make efforts to rectify that problem in its latest batch of reports?

An article titled “‘Jihadi John’ named as Mohammed Emwazi from London” which appeared on the BBC News website on February 26th described ‘Cage’ as follows: [emphasis added]

“In a news conference, Asim Qureshi, the research director of the London-based lobby group Cage, which had been in contact with Emwazi over a number of years, explained how he had been approached by the Washington Post for the story and detailed the difficulties Emwazi had had with security services in the UK and overseas.”

The report goes on to state:Emwazi tweet Ed Husain

“Mr Qureshi said Emwazi, who is understood to be about 27, had been “extremely kind, gentle and soft-spoken, the most humble young person I knew”.”

And:

“He [Qureshi] said he did not know what had happened to Emwazi, adding: “When we treat people as if they are outsiders they will inevitably feel like outsiders – our entire national security strategy for the last 13 years has only increased alienation. A narrative of injustice has taken root.” “

An additional report also published on the BBC news website on the same day under the title “Islamic State: Profile of Mohammed Emwazi aka ‘Jihadi John’” described ‘Cage’ as follows: [emphasis added]

“They were interrogated and Emwazi later claimed to Cage, a campaign group in London, that they had been subject to harassment and abuse.”

Yet another article from the same day  – headlined “‘Jihadi John’ UK harassment claims revealed in emails” – informs readers that: [emphasis added]

British advocacy group Cage has disclosed an exchange of emails it says it has had with Mohammed Emwazi, the Islamic State militant known as “Jihadi John”.

Cage campaigns against “state policies developed as part of the War on Terror” and says Emwazi first contacted it in 2009 to complain about being interrogated by a British official at Schipol Airport after trying to visit Tanzania.”Emwazi filmed Qureshi

A filmed report appearing on the BBC News website (as well as on BBC television news) under the title “IS ‘Jihadi John’ suspect ‘a beautiful young man’ – Cage” states in its synopsis:

“The man who has been named as Islamic State militant “Jihadi John” was a “beautiful young man” according to Asim Qureshi, the research director of the London-based campaign group Cage.” [emphasis added]

As we see, despite its extensive promotion of ‘Cage’ and amplification of the bizarre statements from Asim Qureshi, the BBC once again failed its audiences by neglecting to enable them to put that organization and the allegations of its representative into their correct context by means of clarification – as demanded in its own editorial guidelines – of the “particular viewpoint” they represent. 

BBC’s Lyse Doucet does ‘reporter in the rubble’ redux – part two

On February 25th viewers of BBC television news saw two filmed reports from Shuja’iya in the Gaza Strip by the corporation’s chief international correspondent Lyse Doucet. One of Doucet’s other reports produced during the same visit was previously discussed here.

Both filmed reports also appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page, with the earlier one going under the title “Gaza resident: ‘Everyone has forgotten us’“. In Doucet’s dramatic introduction to that report we learn that she does not understand the difference between smoke and dust.Doucet filmed Gaza 1

“War pulled life from the heart of Gaza. It left a wasteland. Smoke still rises. Today it’s only a digger clearing some of the rubble. Gazans put up signs to describe what stood here, which family lost it, what number to call to deliver help. But almost none has arrived.”

Offering no factual evidence for her claim that a house in a neighbourhood riddled with missile launching sites, booby-trapped Hamas command centres and weapons stores was destroyed by “Israeli artillery fire” and failing to clarify that the cause of death she cites has not been confirmed by medical professionals, Doucet continues:

“The Khesi family’s home was destroyed in Israeli artillery fire. Just before the ceasefire six months ago, their first son, Wadie, was born. Last month he froze to death in what is now another battle just to survive.”

She goes on:

“His grandmother Fati’a [phonetic] points an accusing finger at all Arab countries, saying they haven’t helped Gaza. Wadie’s mother says nobody did.”

Voiceover mother: “All countries take care of their children and people. All countries except here. Here the people in charge just sit on their chair. They care only for their own children. They forget about us.”

Doucet: “Now they just want to rebuild their home so that their two girls will survive.”

This would obviously have been an appropriate juncture to explore the subject of the performance of both Gaza’s de facto Hamas government and the Palestinian Unity government (which supposedly has been in charge of the Gaza Strip since last June) in helping the local population to get back on its feet after the summer war initiated by Hamas. Doucet’s treatment of that topic is exceptionally superficial. She continues:

“Everyone talks about rebuilding Gaza but nobody’s doing it. And as always here, there’s more than one reason. Israeli restrictions, Palestinian infighting, the failure of donors to keep their promises. And why would there be much rebuilding when everyone fears there’ll be another war?”

Doucet then interviews UNRWA’s deputy director of Gaza operations, Scott Anderson.

Doucet: “Ten thousand Gazans still live in UN schools and that number may rise when families’ money runs out.”

Anderson: “You think conflict’s inevitable, whether it’s internal conflict or another conflict between Gaza and Israel. Unless the situation on the ground changes there will be no other action for people to take other than the resumption of violence.”

Doucet apparently has no comment to make regarding the promotion by a UN representative of that very thinly veiled threat of violence in the absence of cash handouts which comes straight out of the Hamas handbook. She goes on:

“And Hamas fighters are ready: they don’t hide it. I’ve seen marches like this on almost every visit in recent months.”

The question BBC audiences will no doubt be asking themselves at this juncture is why, if that is the case, it has taken Doucet six months to get around to mentioning those marches organized by a terrorist organization she declines to name as such. Doucet then gets Hamas’ Ghazi Hamad on camera but, instead of posing any incisive questions about his organisation’s responsibility for the conflict and its aftermath, she merely provides him with a stage from which to promote the usual propaganda unhindered.

Hamad: “Main reason for all this catastrophe is the occupation. Now Gaza’s turned to be like a big prison. There’s no exit, no import, no export.”

Not only does Doucet fail to clarify to viewers that the Gaza Strip has not been under “occupation” since August 2005, she makes no effort to correct the inaccurate impression received by audiences as a result of Hamad’s lies.

In January 2015 alone, 15,205 tons of construction materials were imported into the Gaza Strip. Since the end of the conflict, 50,000 tons of building materials have entered the Strip and more than 42,000 residents have purchased them. 804 tons of agricultural produce were exported from the Gaza Strip to the PA controlled areas in January, bringing the total tonnage of merchandise exported to that destination since September 2014 to 2,130. 11,826 people crossed into Israel from the Gaza Strip in January alone – 2,038 of them for humanitarian reasons. 3,054 tons of gas entered the Gaza Strip during January, along with 1.8 million litres of fuel, 6.8 million litres of gasoline and 76,000 litres of oil.

Doucet continues:

“But there are reports – credible reports – that Hamas is again digging tunnels, that Hamas has been test-firing missiles in preparation for the next war.”

Hamad: “Look, I think this time – that’s right – but I think that Hamas is doing this in order to protect our people here. We don’t want to be surprised with a new war – a new aggression against us.”

In addition to displaying no interest whatsoever in questioning Hamad about where the money and materials for rehabilitation of Hamas’ military capabilities are coming from and why Hamas is doing nothing to improve the lives of the ordinary people it holds hostage, Doucet also makes no attempt to enlighten viewers with regard to the fact that Hamad’s faux victimhood is mere propaganda. Instead of pointing out that Hamas initiated last summer’s conflict she closes with yet more drama and unsupported speculations.

“In the ruins of Gaza young men train in Parkour – the sport of overcoming obstacles. Resilient Gazans are good at that. But after three wars in six years, even the strongest are starting to break.

Clearly BBC audiences learned nothing new from this superficial and mediocre reporting which merely regurgitates the same themes promoted by the BBC time and time again. Moreover, in addition to failing to provide viewers with the real facts and background to the issue of reconstruction in the Gaza Strip, Doucet once again self-conscripted to the cause of promotion of Hamas propaganda. The BBC’s funding public which paid for Lyse Doucet’s trip to Gaza must surely be asking themselves how her reporting can possibly be termed value for money.

Doucet’s second filmed report will be discussed in an upcoming post. 

BBC’s Lyse Doucet does ‘reporter in the rubble’ redux – part one

Under no circumstances would it be accurate to say that BBC audiences have been deprived of information relating to the topic of structural damage and reconstruction in the Gaza Strip either during or after last summer’s conflict between Hamas and Israel. In fact, since the ceasefire came into effect at the end of August 2014, not a month has gone by without at least one BBC report on the topic.

Nevertheless, the BBC obviously found it necessary to revisit the same theme yet again and sent Lyse Doucet off to the Gaza Strip to mark the occasion of the passing of six months since the ceasefire. Thus, BBC audiences were once again exposed to context-free pictures of rubble and ruin on a variety of BBC social media platforms.

Doucet Gaza FB

Doucet Gaza twitter 1

Doucet Gaza twitter 2

The BBC World Service radio Twitter account also promoted an audio report by Doucet broadcast on an unidentified programme under the title “Gaza – the struggle to survive“. Doucet introduced the item as follows:Doucet Gaza audio on Twitter

“You reach the top step of this four-storey building that’s still standing and you look in front of you and for street after street all you can see is rubble. Cement blocks, trees torn from their roots, bits of clothing and plastic: all of it still strewn across this wasteland. It looks like the scene of a natural disaster: the immediate aftermath. But this is Gaza six months on. There isn’t the cement to rebuild, there isn’t the money and for many people, not even the will because everyone fears there’s going to be another war sometime soon.”

Doucet refrains from providing any explanation to listeners as to why there “isn’t the money”, failing to clarify that the donor pledges made at last October’s Cairo conference so enthusiastically reported by the BBC have largely failed to materialise because of internal Palestinian politics. Neither does she address the issue of the already evident failures of the mechanism adopted by the UN to ensure that construction materials were not diverted to Hamas or the fact that residents’ fears that “there’s going to be another war” may have something to do with the fact that there is obviously no shortage of funds available for the rehabilitation of Hamas’ military capabilities.  

Accompanied by a person she describes as “Gazan journalist Jihad Rustam [phonetic]”, Doucet talks to a resident of Shuja’iya neighbourhood.

“Can we talk to these people? They’ve got…put a bit of cloth and they’ve put some wooden planks together and it almost looks like a bus stop but actually it’s a very makeshift…a little wooden cabin in front with some signs inside.”

Her companion says:

“Yeah; this is also a photo of one of the guys who died in this house during the war. His name is Mohammed Tsukur [phonetic] – he’s a martyr. They hang his picture inside this little tent with a picture of Abu Amar – Yasser Arafat….”

Via her companion and translator Doucet asks the man in the cabin to tell her “what happened here?” and the translated response is as follows:

“It was during the dawn of the massacre on Shuja’iya when missiles and bombs were falling everywhere. We had to run out of the house. We didn’t get a chance to grab anything. My brother died instantly while we were running and we kept heading west. A couple of days later we came back and we found this: just rubble, just a bunch of rubble. No house, no store, no nothing.”

Neglecting to inform listeners that in fact the residents of Shuja’iya were given a four-day advance warning to evacuate the neighbourhood before military activity began there, Doucet observes (and it is worth noting her tone of voice as she does):Shuja'iya map sites

“Yes, it’s interesting they use the word ‘massacre’ because Israel calls it a targeting of military sites. But for the people here; so many died they do call it a massacre.”

Doucet cannot fail to be aware of the fact that over 140 missiles were fired from the Shuja’iya area into Israel between July 8th and July 20th. She must also know that the entrances to no fewer than ten cross-border attack tunnels, numerous weapons caches and Hamas command posts were to be found in that neighbourhood. Her failure to clarify those facts to listeners and her defence of the use of the inaccurate and loaded term ‘massacre’ hence shows a blatant disregard for supposed BBC editorial standards of accuracy and impartiality.

Later on Doucet asks the man “who do you blame?” and the answer she gets via her translator is:

“We blame the Arab countries. We blame the donor countries who are supposed to be our brothers and just stood there while we were under attack and under the siege and contributed to the siege. Before we blame Israel we blame the Arab countries – especially Egypt – and then we blame Israel and the occupation and what they’re doing to us.”

Doucet makes no attempt to clarify to listeners that the Gaza Strip has not been under ‘occupation’ for almost a decade or why the term “siege” is not an accurate description of the restrictions on the entry of weapons and dual-use goods imposed by Israel in order to curb Hamas’ procurement of arms. She again fails to point out the factor of internal Palestinian politics which has caused the donor countries to hold back on their pledges.

Instead, she simply ends her pathos rich but fact lacking report there.

Back in July 2014 Doucet was one of the BBC’s reporters on the ground in Shuja’iya. Then too she amplified false claims of a ‘massacre’ and avoided giving BBC audiences a realistic picture of the terrorist infrastructure in that neighbourhood.

Over six months on, BBC audiences have still not been told what really happened in Shuja’iya and it is clear from this report that the BBC has no intention of rectifying that. The political agenda which underpinned the vast quantities of one-sided reporting produced by Lyse Doucet and her colleagues in the Gaza Strip last summer is still all too apparent.

Part two of this post will deal with additional reports produced by Doucet on her latest trip to the Gaza Strip.

 

 

Why did BBC News cut the word terror from the headline of an article about a terrorism trial?

On February 23rd the BBC News website published a report on both its US & Canada and Middle East pages about the verdict issued by a New York court finding the Palestinian Authority and the PLO liable for a number of terror attacks which took place during the second Intifada.

That decidedly minimalist BBC report was originally headlined “Palestinian groups face $218m Israel terror fine in US”. By the time its third version was published some three hours later, the word terror had been removed from the headline and the article now appears under the title “Palestinian groups face $218m Israel attacks fine in US“.PA PLO trial art

Remarkably, in a report about the outcome of a court case entirely about terrorism, that word does not appear at all.

The first two versions of the article failed to inform readers that the damages awarded would be tripled according to US law, as explained by the NYT:

“The damages are to be $655.5 million, under a special terrorism law that provides for tripling the $218.5 million awarded by the jury in Federal District Court.”

From version three onwards the words “The US Anti-Terrorism Act could yet allow for the fine to be tripled” were added to the BBC’s report but no further clarification was offered to readers unfamiliar with US legislation.

Critically, the article fails to clarify to readers what the Palestinian Authority and the PLO actually are; instead repeating the use of the ambiguous phrase “Palestinian groups” seen in the headline.

“A US court in New York has found the Palestine Liberation Organisation and the Palestinian Authority liable for attacks in Israel over 10 years ago.

Six attacks in and around Jerusalem killed 33 people and wounded hundreds more during the second Palestinian intifada between 2002 and 2004.

The jury awarded victims of the attacks more than $218m.

The Palestinian groups expressed dismay at the court’s decision and vowed they would appeal.”

Hence, the significance of the fact that the de facto Palestinian government (the PA) and the PLO (the body which is recognised as the ‘sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people’ by over a hundred countries worldwide and the UN and which officially represents the Palestinians in negotiations with Israel) have been found liable in a court of law for terror attacks against civilians is obscured from the view of BBC audiences.

The article also uses the tactic of ‘false balance‘, presenting highly edited versions of statements made by the defendants and claims made by their representatives on an equal platform with what had at the time of writing already been accepted by the court.

“A joint statement by the PLO and the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) described the charges as “baseless” and said they were disappointed by the ruling.

The victims’ families allege that internal documents show the attacks were approved by the Palestinian authorities.

“Those involved in the attacks still receive salaries from the Palestinian Authority and still get promoted in rank while in jail,” said Nitsana Darshan-Leitner of the Israel-based Shurat HaDin Law Center, a lawyer who is representing the victims’ families.

But defence lawyer Mark Rochon told jurors that the PA and PLO did not have knowledge of the attacks before they took place.

And he said the organisations could not be held liable for the actions of suicide bombers and gunmen, whom he argued acted alone.”

Of course the BBC has consistently refrained from carrying out any serious reporting on the topic of the Palestinian Authority’s past and current provision of funding to terrorists and their families past and present. Likewise, the subject of the PA’s glorification of terrorism is a no-go area for BBC journalists and BBC content typically avoids the issue of Yasser Arafat’s role in instigating and financing the second Intifada.

Had BBC audiences been accurately and impartially informed of those issues over the years, they would clearly be in a better position to understand the outcome of this court case and to place the quoted claims from the defence lawyer in their correct context. Significantly, no effort is made in this BBC report to rectify that situation. 

 

On and off the BBC radar: terrorism in Jerusalem and Hebron

As we have often noted on these pages the BBC usually refrains from reporting on non-fatal terror attacks against Israelis and so when an illegal Palestinian infiltrator from the Ramallah area stabbed an Israeli father of four in central Jerusalem on the afternoon of February 22nd it came as something of a surprise to see that the BBC News website did get round to producing an article on the subject a day later.Nir Barkat  

The factor which prompted this exception to the rule can be determined from the title of the BBC report: “Jerusalem mayor overpowers attacker after man stabbed“. Indeed, the mayor of a city overcoming a terrorist with a rugby-style tackle is not an everyday occurrence, but terror attacks of various types on Israeli citizens are, and it is a pity that the BBC is apparently in need of some ‘celebrity interest’ in order to deem such attacks newsworthy. 

Whilst for most people the random stabbing of an identifiably Jewish man in the street by a Palestinian would not leave much room for doubt about the background to the incident, readers of the BBC’s report were informed that:

“The exact motive for the stabbing is not clear, but it is the latest in a series of attacks by Palestinians on Israelis in recent months.”

On the same day that the BBC published the above report the Israeli security services announced that members of a Hamas terror cell in Hebron had been apprehended last month.

“The Shin Bet said it arrested 11 members of the cell in January, and that the group had carried out a failed bomb attack on Israeli troops in the West Bank.

Along with the arrests, security forces seized two sub-machine guns and explosives the cell allegedly planned on using to target Israelis, the Shin Bet said.

The main suspects in the case were named as Suhaib Mamoun Saltan, 20, from Hebron, and his cousin Salam Abbas Saltan, 28, a Hamas operative, who had been convicted and imprisoned by Israel in the past and was also at one time held under administrative detention.”

The BBC – which of course has made no real attempt to enhance its audiences’ knowledge and understanding of the issue of Hamas’ terrorist infrastructure in Palestinian Authority controlled areas since the issue came to the fore last summer with the kidnapping and murders of three Israeli teenagers – refrained from reporting that story.

Related Articles:

BBC WS promotes Hamas claim of “normal right” to carry out terror attacks

BBC sticks to inaccurate narrative despite Hamas claim of June kidnappings

BBC News report on kidnapping suspects downplays Hamas connections

 

 

 

BBC ‘analysis’ of Copenhagen terror promotes faux linkage to Israel but erases attacks on Jews

On February 18th the ‘Features & Analysis’ section of the BBC News website’s Europe page included an item promoted as follows:Denmark security chief art

“Ex-security chief looks at how Denmark terror threat was handled”.

The article – titled “Viewpoint: Denmark prepared for attack but nowhere is safe” – was written by the former head of the Danish intelligence services, Hans Jørgen Bonnichsen, but will obviously have been subject to BBC editorial review before publication.

Readers are informed that:

“The two attacks [in Copenhagen] replicated the terror directed at the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris.”

Of course the terror attacks in Paris were not only “directed at the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo”, but also at shoppers and staff in a kosher supermarket. That missing information is crucial in light of the reference to “symbolic targets” which appears in the next paragraph.

“The Danish copycat gunman, named locally as Omar El-Hussein, followed the same modus operandi and aimed his desire for revenge against the exact same symbolic targets as the French gunmen.”

The writer then goes on to claim:

“The attackers all sought revenge for the insulting depiction of the Prophet Muhammad, the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories and the actions of police, who represent what they see as the state oppression of Islam.”

Let’s break that sentence down in order to appreciate what BBC audiences are actually being told.

In both Paris and Copenhagen the first target to be attacked was connected to cartoonists who had drawn images which some chose to regard as insulting to their religion: the Charlie Hebdo offices and a venue hosting a discussion on free speech with Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks. In other words, there at least exists some sort of connection between the claim that “[t]he attackers all sought revenge for the insulting depiction of the Prophet Muhammad” and those “symbolic targets” selected by the terrorists.

Regarding the claim that the terrorists “sought revenge for […] the actions of police”, the writer makes sure to include the qualifying phrase “who represent what they see as…” in order to indicate to readers that the grievance he attributes to the attackers is not established fact but a matter of perception.

However, no such signposting qualifier is applied to the claim that the terrorists “sought revenge for […] the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories” and, crucially, at no point in his entire article does Bonnichsen clarify to readers that half of the targets of the terror attacks in Paris and Copenhagen were identifiably Jewish locations – a kosher supermarket and a synagogue – with no connection whatsoever to Israel. 

The writer’s unqualified claim that the terrorists in Paris and Copenhagen attacked “symbolic targets” because of “Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories” would have been egregious enough had he actually bothered to inform readers that European Jews were targeted in those attacks. The notion that French and Danish Jews are “symbolic targets” of revenge for something entirely unconnected to them taps into the exact same theme used by Tim Willcox following the Paris attacks and promotion of that theme without adequate qualification and clarification not only erases the antisemitic motives of the terrorists themselves from audience view, but also helps propagate and mainstream the antisemitism which lies behind that faux linkage.

However, the absence of any mention of the fact that Jews were targeted in Paris and Copenhagen makes Bonnichsen’s promotion of the dumbed-down cliché “the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories” as a motive for the terror attacks even more problematic because, in addition to concealment of the antisemitic ideologies of the attackers, the uninformed reader seeking to understand Islamist terrorism in Europe is being encouraged to believe that it can be blamed on Israel. 

The BBC claims that it meets its public purpose remits by ensuring that its output is focused upon:

“Providing in-depth explanation of the most significant issues facing the UK and the world (such as the Middle East, global terrorism, climate change, public service reform, crime and immigration), all of which will help to support citizenship around a serious news agenda. The BBC will offer in-depth, multi-platform seasons as a means of engaging audiences in these big issues and helping them make sense of the world.”

If the BBC really does aspire to meet the above public purpose remit, its editors need to acknowledge that the amplification of facile sound-bites such as that promoted by Bonnichsen is no substitute for honest presentation of the ideologies which inspire Islamist terrorism. Relatedly, they also need to urgently ask themselves why ‘analysis’ of specific incidents of terrorism in two European capitals – which from the BBC’s point of view was presumably intended to augment audience understanding of the issue – erases from view the fact that the victims of half those attacks were targeted for no other reason than their being Jews.   

 

 

BBC’s Kesby questions whether Copenhagen attacks were in fact terrorism

The February 16th afternoon edition of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newshour’ was in part devoted to coverage of the previous weekend’s two terror attacks in Copenhagen. The relevant segment can be found from 00:30:00 here.Kesby Newshour 16 2

From 32:36 presenter Rebecca Kesby interviewed Thomas Hegghammer – director of terrorism research at the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment – and after Hegghammer had noted (from 35:57) that “it’s too early to say whether this was a solo terrorist attack or a conspiracy” in light of the fact that two additional suspects had been arrested in Denmark, Kesby said:

“I mean this is something that you look at closely and what motivates people to carry this kind of thing out. I mean, people are referring to this as a terrorist attack or that…you know…that…including people from the…ehm….Danish government. Ehm…but from what you’ve seen – I mean – is that…would you say that was an accurate description of what’s happened? It could…is there any chance that this could be a lone wolf-style attack: just one person with a grievance?”

Fortunately, Mr Hegghammer clarified to Kesby that “a solo attacker can still perpetrate a terrorist act” but nevertheless, the fact that Kesby even raised the possibility of redefining two politically motivated murders at locations obviously selected in advance is revealing.

As we have known for a long time, the BBC chooses to direct its own staff to avoid the use of the word terrorism and its derivatives in content they produce on the grounds that it considers the word to be too “loaded” and “a value judgement” – although as we have documented here, that policy is not applied uniformly.

But Rebecca Kesby’s attempt to suggest to BBC World Service listeners that there is room to question the Danish authorities’ description of the attacks in Copenhagen clearly goes way beyond the BBC’s editorial guidance on “Language when Reporting Terrorism“. Not only is her proposed redefinition obviously not based on informed understanding of either the subject of terrorism or of the events themselves, but it indicates a “value judgement” with “significant political overtones” of its own.

Perhaps if BBC journalists were required to use accurate language when reporting on terrorism, they would also be better able to understand the issue. 

A part of the Israeli story consistently ignored by the BBC

Nearly two years ago we wrote about a terror attack which took place on Route 5 but – like so many others – was not reported by the BBC.Adele Bitton

Adele Bitton, who was three years old at the time, was badly injured when Palestinian stone-throwers (later arrested and currently standing trial) attacked passing vehicles. She suffered serious neurological damage and spent the next eighteen months in hospital and rehabilitation. Earlier this week Adele, who never fully recovered from her injuries, was hospitalized again after having contracted pneumonia and yesterday afternoon she died.

In the year in which Adele was injured (2013) an additional 115 people suffered injuries as a result of stone-throwing attacks on civilian vehicles but BBC audiences remain unaware of the scale of everyday terrorism in Israel because the vast majority of non-fatal terror attacks are simply not reported.

That policy does not only mean that the BBC fails to meet its commitment to enhance its funding public’s “awareness and understanding of international issues“: it also means that BBC reporters are able to misleadingly frame the incidents it does chose to report as “sporadic” or “rare“.

Whilst the BBC is not expected to report every single instance of rock or fire-bomb throwing in real-time like the local media, it is obvious that untold stories such as that of Adele Bitton and her family are no less important than the fatal attacks which do get headlines in helping audiences to understand Israel’s policies, counter-terrorism measures and the concerns of the Israeli people. Any media organization genuinely committed to fully informing its audiences would make efforts to periodically report that essential context.