No BBC News follow-up on Golan paraglider story

Given the BBC’s longstanding – but recently intensified – preoccupation with ISIS and considering that on October 25th it published a report titled “‘Israeli Arab paraglider’ sparks Syria border operation“, it was surprising to see that BBC News chose to ignore the follow-up story to the incident portrayed in that article.Paraglider art

On November 18th the Israeli security services released a statement concerning the indictment of members of a cell of ISIS sympathisers from Jaljulia.

“Security forces services recently busted a group of six Israeli Arab men who planned to travel to Syria with the intention of fighting alongside the radical Islamic State group. A seventh member of the group succeeded in flying across the Israel-Syrian border on the Golan Heights on a hang glider last month.

In a statement Wednesday, the Shin Bet security service said the six suspects, all residents of the northern Israeli-Arab town of Jaljulia, had been planning for months to make their way to Syria. […]

The seventh member of the group, Nadal Hamad Salah Salah, 23, flew a hang glider across the border from the Golan Heights and into Syria on October 24, setting off an intensive investigation by security services.

As a result of the initial investigation, later the same evening two brothers were arrested, Jihad Nadal Yousef Hagala, 26 and Ahab Nadal Yousel Hagala, 22.

The brothers were known to police as supporters of the Islamic State group, the Shin Bet said. The elder brother, Jihad, spent six months in Syria in 2013 fighting with IS and was arrested after his return to Israel. He was tried, sentenced to prison, and released in November 2014.

During the investigation, it emerged that the brothers had helped Salah to make his exit to Syria to join IS, the indictment said. In recent months Salah had allegedly agreed with Jihad Nadal Yousef Hagala to use hang gliders to get to Syria. The pair planned to glide over the border because Hagala was concerned that, due to his history, he would be flagged and stopped by Israeli security if he tried flying out of Ben Gurion Airport on a commercial flight.”

Notably, the BBC also refrained from reporting on a previous story concerning an ISIS cell in northern Israel which came to light at the beginning of October.



More inaccuracies and political propaganda from the BBC’s Lyse Doucet

h/t: DK

In addition to the filmed report she recently produced in Beit Sahour, the BBC’s chief international correspondent Lyse Doucet also recorded an audio report on the same topic in the same location. That report – which includes different but no less egregious inaccuracies and political propaganda than the filmed version – was broadcast on the November 24th edition of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newshour” and can be found from 45:09 here.Doucet Newshour 24 11

Presenter James Coomarasamy introduced the item using a dose of the kind of equivalence seen all too frequently in BBC reporting:

“He is not promising a recipe for peace but, on his first visit to Israel and the West Bank in a year, the US Secretary of State John Kerry has said he is trying to find ways to restore calm. Today he condemned the recent wave of stabbing attacks by Palestinians on Israelis as ‘acts of terrorism’. Well, tensions remain high between Israelis and Palestinians and the lives of young people on both sides are being affected. Two and a half years ago two Danish activists and a Palestinian basketball player started a group of runners. What began as a Palestinian marathon has grown into a global event that’s as much about proclaiming rights as it is about athletic prowess. Newshour’s Lyse Doucet went to meet the co-founder of the Right to Movement in the West Bank city of Beit Sahour.” [emphasis added]

As was the case in her filmed report, Doucet interviews George Zeidan without making any attempt to conform to BBC editorial guidelines on impartiality by telling listeners of the political agenda behind the organization he represents.

Zeidan: “My name is George Zeidan and right now we’re walking on the place where we found[ed] the Right to Movement group.”

Doucet: “And we’re walking along a dirt road and it’s taking us through olive groves and some terraced fields: absolutely beautiful countryside here in the West Bank. And it…but it’s very much reflecting of the political situation. This is a Palestinian village…the city of Beit Jala – very close to Bethlehem. And here on this hilltop is a Jewish settlement.”

Zeidan: “The settlement of Har Gilo. It’s an old….quite an old settlement on the Palestinian territory.  It’s very important for us to emphasise on the importance of our right to movement on our own property. And we believe that this land’s our own property. This is what the United Nations and the international world has given us. So we’re not asking for anything else.”

Doucet fails to relieve listeners of the inaccurate and materially misleading impression that the United Nations “has given” that particular portion of territory – or any other – to the Palestinians. She goes on to provide Zeidan with the cue for promotion of more political propaganda.

Doucet: “But you’ve stopped running here – why?”

Zeidan: “With the current…the current unstable situation…we don’t feel that it’s the best idea to take a risk and come here very close to a settlement. So we just try to stay away from this issue.”

Later on in the report Doucet promotes more political propaganda using a cue from another one of the people she describes as “running for exercise, running to make a statement about their right to move here”.

Woman: “My story is to destroy the wall.”

Doucet: “The wall that Israel erected to separate off Israeli…Israel from Palestinian areas – they say to stop suicide bombings.”

Apparently the BBC’s chief international correspondent has no qualms about deliberately misrepresenting the reason for the construction of the anti-terrorist fence.

Listeners later hear another woman claim that the Palestinian terrorists who have carried out the recent attacks against Israelis are “doing it because they’re seeing, like, their families being stabbed or killed or hurt by them”.

The item closes with George Zeidan saying:

“It will be better if we soon can run from Bethlehem to Jerusalem without being stopped on a checkpoint. So that’s what we look forward to.”

Doucet’s narrative has no room for clarification to BBC audiences of the fact that checkpoints did not exist anywhere in the area before the Palestinians decided to launch the terror war known as the second Intifada fifteen years ago.

Once again Lyse Doucet has produced a report which does nothing to contribute to the BBC’s public purpose remit of building “understanding of international issues” but which is a vehicle for the amplification of opportunistic political propaganda by both herself and members of an inadequately presented NGO.

It is precisely reports such as these which undermine the BBC’s reputation as an accurate and impartial broadcaster and it is especially disturbing to see such a senior BBC correspondent engaged in blatantly political reporting. 

Radio 4 showcases politicised soundbites in debate on Islamist terror

h/t JG

The BBC Radio 4 programme ‘The Moral Maze’ describes itself as providing listeners with “combative, provocative and engaging live debate examining the moral issues behind one of the week’s news stories”.

If, however, listeners assumed that serious debate of a moral issue would necessarily require getting beyond politicised clichés and soundbites to deal with the real issues at stake, the November 18th edition of that programme (available here for a limited period of time) showed that not to be the case.Moral Maze

The title of that edition was “Islamic Terrorism” and the programme’s synopsis explains:

“The Moral Maze has been following the issue of Islamic terrorism, fundamentalism and how we should react to it since 1994. Paris has now been added to the list that already includes London, Madrid and many others over those years. This week we’ll be inviting back witnesses who’ve appeared on our programme about this issue over the decades to take an historical perspective and to ask “where we go from here?” Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk with Matthew Taylor, Claire Fox, Michael Portillo and Anne McElvoy. Witnesses are Inayat Bunglawala, Simon Jenkins, Dr Taj Hargey and Edward Lucas.”

The inclusion of Inayat Bunglawala on that guest list meant that Radio 4 listeners were guaranteed to hear the kind of conspiracy theory based Islamist messaging which Bunglawala has been touting for years – and of course the programme’s producers must have been aware of that when they invited him to take part.

The result is that – rather than helping BBC audiences to make sense of the issue of Islamist terrorism – the programme ended up providing an ill-challenged platform for Bunglawala’s politicised messaging.

Michael Buerk: “Our first witness is Inayat Bunglawala […]. He’s been on The Moral Maze a couple of times before – most recently in July 2007 on the anniversary of the 7/7 bombings talking about this issue. Your view then – looking back at the transcripts – was that it wasn’t about Islam; that British foreign policy had enraged those that became terrorists and perhaps even poverty had played more of a part. Is that still your view?”

Inayat Bunglawala: “I still think that it’s largely politics which is acting as a driver to recruit young Muslim men to the cause of extremist groups like ISIS and…ehm…helping resolve important issues in the Middle East will go a long way to draining extremist groups of the support that they’re craving from young people.”

Michael Portillo: “If it’s a sort of revenge against Western foreign policy, what was it that had provoked them into the 9/11 event in 2001 which was before Iraq and before Afghanistan?”

Inayat Bunglawala: “Well we only need to look at the statements Al Qaeda was issuing in the run-up to those attacks…ahm…on 9/11. I mean Al Qaeda believed that the United States was the main funder and armor of Israel and the dispossession of the Palestinian people has always been a massive rallying cry for extremist groups which is why seeking an urgent solution to the problem of the dispossession of the Palestinian people – they have been now occupied for 49 years now and there’s not been any sanctions applied to Israel. So seeking a resolution to that central, key Middle East dispute must be seen as a key part…a key part of defeating extremism.”

Notably, whilst other contributors did later question Bunglawala’s basic theory that Western foreign policy is the root cause of Islamist extremism, not one of them adequately challenged his very selective and redundant portrayal of the Arab-Israeli conflict as the prime factor on the Islamist terrorists’ grievance list or his subsequent conclusions. Moreover, none of them raised the very pertinent point that the ‘occupation’ described by Bunglawala came about due to the belligerent invasion of Israel by Arab states which – in a manner eerily resonant today – had long refused to countenance the sovereignty of a different ethnic and religious minority in the region, even before their attempt to erase it in 1967.  

The fact that the no less relevant issue of the part played by the Sunni-Shia dispute in the rise of Islamist extremism was completely absent from this debate was yet another factor which limited its ability to enhance audience understanding of the topic supposedly under discussion.

It is not unreasonable to assume that in the wake of the latest attacks in Paris, BBC audiences are more than ever in need of clear, sensible and informative discussion on the issue of Islamist terror. The UK has plenty of experts with a real, objective contribution to make to discussion of that subject. Unfortunately for Radio 4 audiences, Inayat Bungawala is not one of them.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The synopsis of that report reads:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Doucet also adds her own inaccuracies to the cocktail:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Doucet’s conclusion to the report is as follows:

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

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

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

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BBC News promotes equivalence between terrorists and victims

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

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

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

ME pge after Sun attacks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Israel has repeatedly denied such claims.”

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

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

BBC One fails to correct George Galloway’s lie about Israeli policy

h/t LV

Among the promoted segments on the webpage of the BBC One programme ‘This Week’ one finds a clip from the November 19th edition featuring former MP George Galloway. 

This Week Galloway on HP

About six and a half minutes into that clip, host Andrew Neil asks Galloway for his reaction to the UK Labour party’s response to the recent terror attacks in Paris.

Galloway: “One has to say if anyone comes here with guns and bombs, our police will shoot them down and stop them. There’s no room for equivocation about that at all. Err…of course a shoot to kill policy in general…”

Neil: [interrupts] “That’s a different thing of course. That could give back thoughts of Northern Ireland.”

Galloway: “Indeed – Northern Ireland or what Israel does in the occupied territories and so on. Apart from being wrong, they don’t work. They make more terrorists.” [emphasis added]

Along with his guests Michael Portillo and Labour’s Liz Kendall, Andrew Neil sat in total silence as veteran anti-Israel activist Galloway opportunistically promoted the blatant lie that Israel employs a ‘shoot to kill’ policy to BBC audiences.

In addition to Neil’s failure to comply with BBC editorial guidelines on accuracy – which state “We should normally acknowledge serious factual errors and correct them quickly, clearly and appropriately” – by correcting the materially misleading claim from Galloway immediately after it was made, the BBC has further promoted that uncorrected clip for view by audiences who did not see the programme’s original broadcast. 

Compare and contrast: BBC News personalisation of victims of terror

Whilst stuck in early morning traffic on the way to Manchester airport last Monday I found myself listening to BBC Radio 5 live’s morning broadcast. The programme understandably focused mostly on the weekend’s terror attacks in Paris and one feature particularly notable to Israeli ears was the effort made to personalise and humanise the victims. 

Listeners were given a range of information which typically included names, ages, occupations, family statuses, places of birth and education and in some cases also heard of the reactions of loved ones. Such information of course enables the listener to get beyond mere casualty figures and goes some way towards helping audiences appreciate the individual personal tragedies of victims and their families.

A week on from the attacks, that trend continues to be a feature of BBC content, with an article titled “Paris attacks: Who were the victims?” appearing on the homepage and World page of the BBC News website on November 20th and the BBC News Twitter account promoting a Facebook post devoted to tributes to the victims.

BBC News Twitter paris Victims 1

BBC News Twitter Paris victims 2

BBC News FB Paris victims

By way of contrast, the BBC’s descriptions of five victims of terror murdered in two separate attacks on November 19th in Tel Aviv and Gush Etzion are notable for the paucity of personal details. TA & Gush attacks 19 11

“Five people have been killed in two attacks in Israel and the occupied West Bank, officials say.

In the first attack, two Israelis were stabbed to death by a Palestinian man at the entrance of a shop that serves as a synagogue in the city of Tel Aviv.

Later, a third Israeli, a Jewish American and a Palestinian were killed in an attack near a Jewish settlement.” […]

“One of the victims, a man in his 20s, was declared dead at the scene by the Magen David Adom ambulance service. The second was rushed to Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Hospital, but was pronounced dead on arrival.” […]

“Hours later, an attacker in a car opened fire at a busy junction and then crashed into a group of pedestrians, killing three people and injuring several others, the Israeli military said.

Two of the dead were identified as Jewish – an 18-year-old American tourist and a 50-year-old Israeli. The third was a Palestinian.”

Rabbi Aharon Yesayev, 32, from Tel Aviv, Reuven Aviram, 51, from Ramle, Ezra Schwartz, 18, of Sharon, Massachusetts, Yaakov Don, 49, from Alon Shvut, and Shadi Arafa, 40, from Hebron were not even named by the BBC in its report on the two incidents – even though that information was in the public domain by the time its final version was updated. Their photographs and personal stories are not featured in any dedicated BBC article or Facebook post.

Predictably, the BBC article on the attacks in Tel Aviv and Gush Etzion does not mention the word ‘terror’ whilst the article about the victims murdered in Paris opens with the words “Tributes have been paid to the 130 people who lost their lives in the Paris terror attacks”. Evidently the BBC’s two-tier system of reporting terror attacks is not only confined to the use of language.

BBC removes the word ‘terror’ from follow-up report about Kuwait attacks

Whilst discussing the BBC’s employment of geographically selective double standards in its reporting on terrorism we recently noted here that the corporation’s coverage of the terror attack on a mosque in Kuwait in June 2015 had rightly included the use of the word terror.

On November 20th a short follow-up report on that story was published on the BBC News website’s Middle East page under the title “Kuwait crackdown on ‘IS-supporting extremist cell’“.Kuwait report

The version of that article appearing on the BBC News website at the time of writing opens:

“Kuwait has arrested members of an alleged cell accused of supplying funds and weapons to the so-called Islamic State (IS), reports say.”

Later on, readers are told that:

“In June, 27 people died after an attack on one of Kuwait’s oldest Shia mosques.

It was the deadliest bombing in decades in the predominantly Sunni Muslim country. An affiliate group of IS calling itself Najd Province said it carried out the attack.”

However, those paragraphs underwent amendment about three hours after the article’s initial publication. The first paragraph originally read:

“Kuwait has arrested members of an alleged terror cell accused of supplying funds and weapons to the so-called Islamic State (IS), say reports.” [emphasis added]

The other paragraphs highlighted above originally read:

“In June, 27 people died after an attack on one of Kuwait’s oldest Shia mosques.

It was the worst terror attack in decades in the predominantly Sunni Muslim country. An affiliate group of IS calling itself Najd Province claimed responsibility the attack.” [emphasis added]

Oddly, the phrase “terror attack” remained in place in the caption to the photograph illustrating the report.

Readers will no doubt recall that it is not long since the BBC complaints department ‘explained’ the corporation’s use of the word terror in reporting on the June attack in Kuwait by telling BBC Watch that “We don’t believe the Har Nof murders [in Jerusalem, November 2014] are comparable to the recent attacks in Tunisia and Kuwait” and “We don’t believe it is unreasonable to say that the Har Nof attacks were very different to the events in Tunisia and Kuwait…”.

As the BBC ridiculously continues to tie itself in ever more embarrassing knots over the issue of the language used when reporting acts of terror, Kuwaitis may be interested to know that they too are apparently now subject to the BBC’s two-tier system of reporting which censors the use of the word terror and its derivatives in certain geographical locations.

Weekend long read

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

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

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

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

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

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

At the Times of Israel, Sharon Klaff notes that:

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

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

Read the rest of that article here



Radio 4 gives insight into BBC avoidance of the use of the term ‘terror’ in Israel

h/t DL

As regular readers know, one topic frequently discussed on these pages is the double standard employed by the BBC when reporting terrorism in Israel and terrorism in other locations.The Media Show

The November 18th edition of the BBC Radio 4 programme ‘The Media Show’ was devoted in part to the subject of media coverage of last weekend’s terror attacks in Paris and one of the topics discussed by host Steve Hewlett and his guests was described as follows in the introduction:

“… should journalists and presenters use the words terrorist and terrorism, as many did without attribution?”

From around 16:30 here, that topic was discussed quite extensively, with contributions from former OFCOM official Stewart Purvis and the BBC’s Controller of Daily News Programmes Gavin Allen providing some interesting insight into the background to the corporation’s lack of consistency in the use of language when reporting terror attacks – despite its apparently recently altered guidelines on the topic stressing the importance of consistency in reporting.

Steve Hewlett: “…the BBC says ‘since there is no agreed consensus on what constitutes a terrorist or a terrorist act, the use of the word will frequently involve value judgements. As such we should not change the word terrorist when quoting someone else but we should avoid using it ourselves. We try to avoid using the term terrorist without attribution’. So, Stewart, where do you think people should be on this question?”

Stewart Purvis: “Well I think the origin of this problem arises from the difference between broadcasting just for the UK and broadcasting out [side] the UK. I think there are very few people who would say that for instance the bombs that the IRA planted in London – or what happened in Paris, to be blunt – was anything other than terrorism. It was a tactic to shock and terrorise people in a city. But what happens when you talk about what might happen in the middle of Israel or in the Palestinian territories? If a bomb goes off there or they’ve stabbed someone to death, what is the language to describe that? And I think that’s partly why the BBC has taken against this word terrorism because it actually – on its international services – does not want to have to make a judgement in these particular countries. The result is that it doesn’t use it so much in the UK which actually annoys some people who say ‘well how else would you describe what’s going on?’.”

Steve Hewlett: “Gavin; I heard some BBC correspondents use the word unattributed [in reporting on the Paris attacks] …ah….and your guidelines sort of say you shouldn’t.”

Gavin Allen: “They don’t really say that. […] But it doesn’t say don’t use it. It’s quite an important distinction. I mean Stewart’s absolutely right; there are complications about using it when you’re broadcasting on the World Service etc. But actually it’s not that we don’t use the word. I think invariably it’s about how much does it clarify and how much does it cloud.”

This discussion yet again highlights the fact that the BBC’s approach to the use of the word terror and its derivatives when reporting on events in Israel is not rooted solely in the objective of informing audiences of the nature of the events which have taken place. After all, shooting and stabbing passengers on a city bus in Jerusalem is obviously intended to “shock and terrorise people in a city” in exactly the same way as planting a bomb in London or gunning down concert-goers in Paris.

It has been clear for a long time that the BBC employs differing approaches to such obviously similar acts of terrorism because its handling of the topic does not distinguish between method and aims, means and ends. The result is that even though the acts may be identical or similar, the BBC’s use – or not – of the word terrorism hinges on its political judgement of the aims of the perpetrators and the description of the means is adjusted accordingly.

In this discussion, however, we also gain insight into an additional factor which apparently prevents the BBC from reporting terrorism against Israelis consistently and accurately: second-guessing of how the description of, say, the brutal murders of early morning worshippers at a Jerusalem synagogue as an act of terror would be received by specific audience groups – and the adjustment of language accordingly. Interestingly, the incident at a mosque in Kuwait in June was described by the BBC as a terror attack on its international services and on social media. 

That bizarre approach clearly not only patronizes and stereotypes BBC audiences worldwide (does the BBC really think that its Middle East audiences for example are too delicate to hear the politically motivated murders of Israelis described as terror?) but obviously also seriously undermines the corporation’s claim that it strives to achieve consistency “across all our services” when reporting terrorism.

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