BBC’s Gaza journalist Tweets PA propaganda story

Here’s a tweet sent by Rushdi Abualouf of the BBC’s Gaza office on February 12th:

Aboualouf tweet Gaza patients

Abualouf’s tweet relates to a story put out the same morning by the AFP news-agency – apparently via its team in the Gaza Strip. The backbone of the story (which can be seen here) relies on statements made by anonymous Palestinian Authority officials.

” “The Israelis have prevented 70 sick people who need to go to Israeli hospitals from crossing Erez because it said ‘State of Palestine’ on their transfer request,” said a senior Palestinian official at the Gaza district coordination office.

“It was only this week that they informed me personally that Israel refuses to deal with this document,” he told AFP.

“This is a political decision from the Israelis to exert pressure in the negotiations,” he charged, referring to US-led peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. [….]

A senior official from the Ramallah-based health ministry, who is in charge of external treatment requests, confirmed it was the first time since mid-December that patients had been refused a permit on the basis of the logo on the medical transfer request.

“The Israeli side informed us that following a decision from COGAT, they won’t give any permits to any patients with that logo,” he said.”

The AFP article did not include an Israeli response to the claims. 

So what is the real background to the story? Blogger Elder of Ziyon contacted COGAT to find out.

“For several months, the Palestinian Authority has been sending requests on the new letterhead. Every single time, COGAT rejected it, and each time they were resubmitted with the Palestinian Authority letterhead – and approved. This was not new, and the PA knows very well that this was the case.

As recently as Sunday, several patients whose requests were on the new stationery were rejected, and then the PA re-faxed the request the old way and they were approved.

Today’s story is a propaganda ambush. Some 50-70 patients (apparently non-life threatening) were submitted on the new stationery at once, an unusually high number. As has been the case for months, they were rejected. But this time the story was leaked to the media. (There was a Haaretz story about this in January with only one patient, but it didn’t get much coverage. Much better to use 50 or 70 if you want Reuters and AFP to take notice.)

Existing agreements are between Israel and the PA, not the fictitious “State of Palestine.” It is obvious that the PA is trying to embarrass Israel and will happily use Gaza patients as a means to do so. It is equally obvious that the “State of Palestine” is a final status issue, and that Israel cannot act otherwise without jeopardizing its negotiating position.

As usual, instead of dealing with Israel directly, the PLO is passive aggressively using the media to demonize (and weaken) Israel on its behalf. And, as usual, the media is happy to play its part in this charade.”

And that seems to include a certain BBC journalist in Gaza. 

The BBC’s guidelines on the use of social media (which includes Twitter) state:

“However, when someone clearly identifies their association with the BBC and/or discusses their work, they are expected to behave appropriately when on the Internet, and in ways that are consistent with the BBC’s editorial values and policies.” [emphasis added] Rushdi Abualouf Google plus pics 2


“The BBC’s reputation for impartiality and objectivity is crucial. The public must be able to trust the integrity of BBC programmes and services. Our audiences need to be confident that the outside activities of our presenters, programme makers and other staff do not undermine the BBC’s impartiality or reputation and that editorial decisions are not perceived to be influenced by any commercial or personal interests.”


“Even if they are not identified as a BBC staff member, editorial staff and staff in politically sensitive areas should not be seen to support any political party or cause.”  Rushdi Abualouf Google plus pics 1


“Impartiality is a particular concern for those working in News and Current Affairs. Nothing should appear on their personal blogs or microblogs which undermines the integrity or impartiality of the BBC. “

The promotion of a half-story clearly intended solely to advance PA propaganda is obviously not in line with the criteria laid down in those guidelines.

By the way, the photographs on the right appear – with public viewing settings – on Rushdi Abualouf’s Google+ account. Those are of course Fatah flags and the pictures were taken on January 1st which – coincidentally or not – is ‘Fatah Day’: the anniversary of its first terror attack on Israel.  

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That renowned BBC accuracy and impartiality…



That renowned BBC accuracy and impartiality…

On November 19th this Tweet was sent by BBC Gaza office employee Rushdi Abualouf:

Tweet Abualouf explosion Gaza

However, no such “air raid” took place. The injuries cited by Abualouf – and one fatality - were caused by an accidental explosion and had nothing at all to do with Israel. 

maan explosions gaza 19 11

Related articles:

BBC ESC: ‘lack of due accuracy’ on Davies Tweet from Operation Pillar of Cloud


BBC report on building tenders presented in one-sided political terminology

Here are two Tweets sent from the BBC News (World) Twitter account on October 30th 2013:

BBC World tweet 1

BBC World tweet 2

Note the terminology used: “occupied East Jerusalem”, “obstacle to peace”, “new settlement building”.

Beyond the fact that the second Tweet misleads readers by suggesting that Israel announced the building of at least one “new settlement” (rather than the construction of apartments in an established suburb of its capital city, north of the city centre – not east), the adoption of the language of one party to the dispute is clearly visible in these Tweets and it continues in the article they promote, which appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page on the evening of October 30th. The article is titled “Israel approves new East Jerusalem settlement homes“.

Ramat Shlomo art

The caption to the photograph appearing at the top of the article reads:

Settlements in East Jerusalem are considered illegal under international law” [emphasis added]

That choice of wording fails to inform readers of the fact that there are differing legal opinions on the subject. It also adopts the politically loaded term “East Jerusalem” and uses the politically motivated terminology which describes suburbs of Jerusalem as “settlements”.

The article itself opens:

“Israel has announced plans to build new homes in a Jewish settlement in occupied East Jerusalem, hours after freeing 26 Palestinian prisoners.” [emphasis added]

Language does not get much more political than that.

It goes on:

“An estimated 200,000 settlers currently live in East Jerusalem, alongside 370,000 Palestinians.” [emphasis added]

Again, the BBC adopts the politically motivated stereotypical language of anti-Israel campaigners and the Palestinian Authority.

The article then informs readers that:

“Israel captured East Jerusalem from Jordan in the 1967 Middle East war and formally annexed the area in 1980. Settlements built there and elsewhere in the occupied West Bank are considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.

Israel regards Jerusalem as its eternal and undivided capital. However, Palestinians want East Jerusalem to be the capital of their future state.” [emphasis added]

Again, no attempt is made to inform audiences that many others besides Israel dispute that tendentious interpretation of Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention . Neither is any mention made (as usual) of the fact that Jordan’s 19-year occupation of parts of Jerusalem and Judea & Samaria was never recognized as legal by the international community and that before the Jordanian invasion those areas were part of the Mandate for Palestine established by the League of Nations for the purpose of the reconstitution of the Jewish National Home.  By eliminating those all important facts from the picture, the BBC dumbs down the issue and – in true totalitarian tradition – steers readers towards a very specific interpretation of the dispute which is based entirely on certain political views, closing down all other avenues of thought.

The article includes reactions from the PA: Ramat Shlomo

“The Palestinian Authority said the move was “destructive to peace efforts”.” […]

“The Palestinian Authority reacted angrily to Wednesday’s announcement, but it was not immediately clear if it would have any impact on the talks.

“We are worried and concerned that if Israel continues with the expansion of settlements, this might kill the two states vision which we would like to see on this land,” Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah said.

Nabil Abu Rudeina, a spokesman for the [Palestinian] president, told the AFP news agency that the move “destroys the peace process and is a message to the international community that Israel is a country that does not respect international law“.”

Naturally, the BBC does not encourage its audiences to consider how the official Palestinian Authority glorification of terrorism as seen in its lavish welcoming ceremonies for the murderers of Israeli and Palestinian civilians just hours beforehand might have an effect on “the peace process”.

Clearly, the BBC has fully embraced the politically motivated terminology used by the Palestinian Authority and fringe groups of radical anti-Israel campaigners, to the extent that parts of this article look more like a PA press release or an article from ‘Electronic Intifada’  than a report written by an organization committed to impartiality which states in its editorial guidelines “We should not adopt other people’s language as our own; our responsibility is to remain objective and report in ways that enable our audiences to make their own assessments…”.

BBC coverage of prisoner release amplifies narrative of ‘political prisoners’

The BBC’s coverage of the release of twenty-six convicted Palestinian murderers on the night of October 29th – 30th includes a filmed report by Yolande Knell – broadcast on BBC news programmes – and a written article. Both those reports appeared on the BBC News website’s home page as well as on its Middle East page.

pris rel HP

pris rel mep

In her filmed report from Ramallah Knell says:

“There’s a big fanfare as the Palestinian president has welcomed back twenty-one Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails to the West Bank, along with their families here and many supporters. They’re among twenty-six Palestinians that have been released tonight; the other five were sent back home to the Gaza Strip. All of these men were convicted of killing Israelis before or just after the 1993 Oslo peace accords were signed and they’re seen here as political prisoners.” [emphasis added]

In fact, not “all” of the released prisoners were convicted of “killing Israelis”: Fatah member Tsabbag Mohammed was convicted of the torture and murder of three Palestinians, but as usual the BBC does not appear to be overly interested in the subject of violence directed at Palestinians by fellow Palestinians.  

As she once again repeats and amplifies the politically motivated Palestinian narrative of convicted murderers as “political prisoners”, Knell makes no attempt to inform her audiences why that claim is invalid by clarifying that these prisoners were imprisoned for violent crimes – not because of their political opinions – or that the Council of Europe’s  definition of political prisoners specifically excludes those convicted of terrorist acts from that category.

“Those deprived of their personal liberty for terrorist crimes shall not be considered political prisoners for having been prosecuted and sentenced for such crimes according to national legislation and the European Convention on Human Rights.”

Knell continues:

“Israel agreed to release a total of 104 long-term detainees in July as part of a deal with the Palestinians to get peace talks restarted and this is the second batch. But the decision to release these men has proved very unpopular with the Israeli public, who see them as terrorists and there have been large protests too against these releases, including protests by relatives of their victims.”

Ironically, just as Knell is informing audiences that Israelis “see” the murders of civilians by members of terrorist organisations as terrorists, the filmed footage shows a plethora of flags belonging to the PFLP – a terrorist organization proscribed by the US, Canada, the EU and Israel – in the welcoming crowd.  

Knell filmed pris

In the written article (titled “Israel frees new batch of 26 Palestinian inmates“) it is erroneously stated that:

“All but one of those released on Thursday were imprisoned for murders committed before the signing of the 1993 Oslo Peace Accords.”

In fact, two of the prisoners committed murders after the signing of the Oslo Accords on September 13th 1993: Amawi Halmi murdered 22 year-old Yigal Vaknin on September 24th 1993 and Shabir Hazam murdered 67 year-old Holocaust survivor Isaac Rotenberg with an axe in March 1994.

The report also repeats Knell’s promotion of the notion of terrorists as “political prisoners” and “heroes of the Palestinian cause”:

“The BBC’s Yolande Knell reports from the West Bank that those who have been freed are seen there as political prisoners and heroes of the Palestinian cause – but that the decision has been hugely unpopular with the Israeli public.”

Neither in the article itself nor in the ‘on the scene’ side box written by Knell is any analysis offered to audiences with regard to the Ramat Shlomopotential effects on the peace process of the public displays of glorification of terrorism by the Palestinian Authority. In contrast, the report implies that the announcement of the construction of apartments in the Jerusalem suburb of Ramat Shlomo (described in political terms by the BBC as a “settlement”) could endanger the future of talks and repeats its now habitual misrepresentation of the reason for the cessation of the last round of talks in 2010.

“Shortly after the prisoners were freed, Israeli media reported that the government had announced that it would build 1,500 new homes in the east Jerusalem settlement of Ramat Shlomo.

The move was seen as an effort to mollify government hardliners. Talks between Israel and the Palestinians were suspended in 2010 after an Israeli freeze on settlement construction expired.”

Notably, the BBC once again fails to inform its audiences that before that ten month-long building freeze expired, the Palestinians refused to come to the negotiating table for 90% of its duration. 

Throughout this report just one brief mention is made of the actual crimes committed by the men released.

“The longest serving prisoner, Isa Abed Rabbo, was convicted of murdering two students while they were hiking south of Jerusalem in October 1984.”

In the side box, Knell describes and quotes the murderer’s mother, whom she also promoted in one of her Tweets.

“A prisoner’s elderly mother, Amuna Abed Rabbo, had come from Bethlehem in a wheelchair wearing her traditional embroidered dress. “Thank God my son returned back to me before I die. I have all the happiness in the world,” she said.”

Knell Ramallah

Apparently in an attempt to present impartiality, Knell’s side box continues with a short second-hand quote from the wife of one of the murdered Israelis – although in this case BBC audiences learn no engaging details about her age, dress, medical condition or place of residence.

“Esther Caspi, the widow of an Israeli taxi driver murdered by a Palestinian man who was set free, told Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper: “We shouldn’t release prisoners who have committed murder because they will do it again.” “

An additional BBC article included in the coverage of this event is titled “Profiles: Palestinian prisoners released by Israel” produced by BBC Monitoring on October 29th.

article profiles pris

There, as was the case in a previous similarly themed article published in August, short profiles of a few (nine out of twenty-six) of what are bizarrely termed “the better known prisoners” are provided.

The article repeats the inaccurate claim that:

“All but one were imprisoned for murders committed before the signing of the 1993 Oslo Peace Accords. This is the second of four batches to be freed.”

Whilst the inclusion of references – albeit sparse and partial ones – to the crimes committed by the released prisoners is an improvement on previous BBC coverage of the subject of Palestinian prisoners, the lack of balance in coverage is still very apparent, with no BBC reporter on the spot to cover the demonstrations against the release and the reactions of the victims’ families. 

BBC takes a stroll down the tabloid journalism side of the street

In between feverishly promoting his own book via his Twitter account, former BBC Jerusalem Bureau chief Paul Danahar (now based in Washington) found time on October 6th to make his thoughts known on an issue of dire international importance – at least for people who don’t do metaphors.

Danahar tweet jeans

Danahar tweet jeans 2

The following day, October 7th, the BBC News website saw fit to produce an entire article on the subject of what some people were posting on Twitter. 

Jeans art

Not to be outdone, on October 13th BBC Middle East Editor (and no less prolific book promoter) Jeremy Bowen Tweeted his own second-hand scoop.

Tweet 2 Iran porn

The following day the BBC News website published on its Middle East page a non-event of an article – cribbed from another media source – titled “Israel PM Netanyahu Twitter account ‘in erotica gaffe’ “.

article twitter iran porn

Tweet 1 Iran porn

Whilst visitors to the BBC News website remain in the dark with regard to issues such as missile attacks and terror attacks on Israeli civilians, Palestinian Authority incitement and glorification of terror and the phenomenon of billions of unaccounted-for Euros, they can at least rest assured that they are au fait with the latest earth-stopping developments as far as who wrote what and who followed or unfollowed whom on Twitter is concerned – just as long as it can somehow be linked to Israel’s prime minister. 

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What makes a story newsworthy for the BBC?

New BBC Newsnight editor’s Twitter fiasco raises concerns on impartiality

Less than two weeks into his new job, the editor of BBC Two’s already scandal-ridden flagship current affairs programme ‘Newsnight‘ has drawn accusations regarding the programme’s lack of impartiality and once again resulted in the BBC having to report on its own controversies.  

Former Guardian deputy editor Ian Katz – who is apparently not yet up to speed with the BBC’s guidelines on the use of Twitter – inadvertently sent a Tweet to more than 26,000 followers describing one of the programme’s interviewees as “boring snoring”.

Katz apologised on Twitter to interviewee Rachel Reeves MP, but Ms Reeves’ party was not impressed. 

“But Labour sent Katz an email demanding a full public apology for the “completely unacceptable” comment.

The message sent by the party said: “We would like to express our anger and disappointment at your tweet following Newsnight’s interview with Rachel Reeves.

“It is completely unacceptable for a senior BBC editor to have expressed this view, whether or not you intended for it to be made public.

“It is vitally important that the Labour party, our shadow cabinet and Newsnight viewers have confidence in the impartiality and fairness of your programme, and the criteria on which guests and interviews are judged.

“This incident undermines that confidence and it is important that this is redressed. Although a tweet of apology has been made, a full written public apology should be made by the end of the day.” “

Katz’s reply to that e-mail does not do himself or the organisation he represents any favours:

“I don’t accept your implication that my tweet reflects in any way on the impartiality of Newsnight..”

Apparently Mr Katz has not yet caught on to the fact that he no longer works for a private media organization but is now part of a publicly funded body bound by editorial guidelines. The issue of subjective interpretations of those guidelines by BBC editors tasked with implementing them is of course a matter of wider concern for BBC audiences than that raised by this incident alone.  

BBC continues to portray a ‘moderate’ Iranian regime

Back in June we filed the BBC’s eager presentation of Iran’s then newly elected president Hassan Rouhani as a ‘moderate’ and a ‘reformer’ under the heading “A BBC theme to watch“. Since then we have seen the BBC obliged to correct the erroneous claim that remarks made by Rouhani at an Al Quds Day parade alluded only to territories gained by Israel during the Six Day War, with that claim previously having been defended on air by the BBC Persian Service’s Rana Rahimpour

An article appearing on the BBC News website’s Middle East page on September 6th – titled “Iran foreign minister Zarif tweets happy Jewish new year” – once again promotes the notion of a moderate, accommodating new Iranian regime, using the ‘evidence’ of a couple of Tweets sent by the Iranian Foreign Minister as the base for that claim. To underscore that theme, the report includes a side box of ‘analysis’ by Rana Rahimpour which includes the decidedly far-fetched claim that:

“Furthermore, this rare instance of Iran’s foreign minister using Twitter to respond to the daughter of a senior politician in the US, a country with which Tehran has had no diplomatic relations for three decades, means Iran is attempting to distance itself from the radical views of the last president.”

analysis Rahimpour

The day prior to the appearance of this article, the BBC published another report on the subject of purported Rosh HaShana greetings in Tweets from the Iranian leadership in which it bizarrely claimed that between 25,000 and 80,000 Jews currently live in Iran. This latest report repeats the same claim.

Zarif article

The BBC’s September 6th article states:

“Mohammad Javad Zarif told Tasnim news agency that he sent a tweet saying: “Happy Rosh Hashana”.

In a Twitter exchange that followed, he also distanced himself from the Holocaust denials of former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.”

It goes on to say:

“But in an interview given to Tasnim and published on Mr Zarif’s Facebook page, the foreign minister confirmed he sent the “Happy Rosh Hashana” message because of Iran’s Jewish community.

He then had a response from Christine Pelosi, the daughter of Nancy Pelosi, Minority Leader of the US House of Representatives, who said: “Thanks. The new year would be even sweeter if you would end Iran’s Holocaust denial, sir”.

He replied: “Iran never denied it. The man who was perceived to be denying it is now gone. Happy New Year.”

He was referring to Mr Ahmadinejad who, during his presidency, frequently claimed the Holocaust was a lie.

“We have condemned the killing of Jews by Nazis as we condemn [the] killing and crackdown on Palestinians by Zionists,” Mr Zarif told Tasnim.

Mr Ahmadinejad’s anti-Israel comments and Tehran’s controversial nuclear programme helped contribute to Iran’s increased isolation in recent years.”

Zarif’s attempt to place the onus of what he revealingly terms “perceived” Holocaust denial solely upon the shoulders of Ahmadinejad is of course tactical and cynical, but interestingly this BBC article fails to inform readers of that fact – and not for the first time. Readers may remember that a recent backgrounder on the subject of Al Quds day written by another staff member at the BBC Persian Service similarly attempted to downplay the Iranian regime’s propagation of Holocaust denial right from its apex

“When a person expresses his objection to the myth of Holocaust and announced that he does not believe it, they throw him into prison. They sentence him to prison for denying a fictitious event. Even if we assume that the event is not fictitious, even if we assume that it is a true story, is it a crime to deny a true historical event? If a person is not convinced of the truth of the Holocaust and he denies the story or expresses doubt about it, he is thrown into prison. This is what they are doing in the European countries that claim to be civilized.”

Moreover, the BBC appears to have no qualms about repeating Zarif’s comparison of the actions of the Nazis to “[the] killing and crackdown on Palestinians by Zionists” without pointing out to audiences the antisemitic nature of that comment. 

Courtesy of a video from 2006 posted by Ha’aretz, we see that Zarif is no stranger to using the Holocaust to advance his all too apparent agenda. 

The BBC’s presentation to its audiences of tactical moves by the Iranian regime as a sign of its “seeking warmer ties with the West and Israel” would be naive and puerile enough at any time, but whilst that same regime continues to imprison and execute political dissidents, to provide backing for Bashar Assad and assorted terrorist organisations and whilst the BBC tones down Iranian rhetoric threatening Israel  and the US in the event of Western action in Syria, such ‘analysis’ can only be seen as either dire ineptitude or politically motivated design. 

Related articles:

BBC Persian Service promotes antisemitic Holocaust denier Atzmon

BBC ESC: ‘lack of due accuracy’ on Davies Tweet from Operation Pillar of Cloud

As long-time readers of BBC Watch know, we have frequently highlighted the fact that BBC Editorial Guidelines apply to all BBC content – including social media. Twitter – being fast-moving ‘instant’ messaging and cutting out the editorial ‘middle-man’ between the journalist and the public – is of course particularly susceptible to breaches of those guidelines. 

Last November Mr Stephen Franklin submitted a complaint to the BBC regarding two Tweets sent during ‘Operation Pillar of Cloud’. One of those Tweets originated from the BBC World News account and the outcome of the complaint was documented here. The other Tweet originated from the account of the then BBC Jerusalem Bureau correspondent Wyre Davies and the BBC’s Editorial Standards Committee published its findings with regard to Mr Franklin’s complaint of inaccuracy on August 29th 2013 – on page 21 here

Although Mr Franklin’s complaint related only to the accuracy of the Tweet – not its impartiality – the committee nevertheless saw fit to publish the following finding:

“Finding: Partially upheld with regard to Accuracy. Not in breach with regard to Impartiality.”

The committee’s report states:

“BBC News correspondent Wyre Davies reported from Gaza during the operation. On 15 November 2012 at 7.25am Mr Davies sent the following tweet from his Twitter account:

In this “limited operation” at least 13 Palestinians and 3 Israelis have been killed – nearly all civilians. #Gaza.

This message was re-tweeted by @BBCWorld at 7.54am.”

Here is a screenshot of the Tweet with its local time time-stamp rather than the GMT time-frame cited by the committee.

Davies casualties tweet

Whilst accepting that the Tweet breached BBC Editorial Guidelines on accuracy (the Palestinians killed at that point were not “nearly all civilians” as we pointed out at the time), the committee makes much in its findings of the circumstances in which it was written.

“The Committee noted that Mr Davies was tweeting about the situation while working as a BBC correspondent in Gaza..”

“The Committee considered that the lack of due accuracy in the tweet which was the subject of this complaint likely arose from the particular, fast-paced and chaotic circumstances in which the correspondent was reporting.”

“The Committee did not regard this breach as reflecting anything other than the extreme pressure under which Mr Davies and other journalists in Gaza had been working, and it commended the overall quality and integrity of his reporting across various media during “Operation Pillar of Defence”.  “

“The Committee considered that readers would have been aware that Mr Davies was working in a conflict zone and would have understood that this was a chaotic, very fast-moving situation and that figures would be changing.”

However, at the time that Tweet was sent – some 18 hours or so after the beginning of the operation – Wyre Davies was not in Gaza, but in Israel – as one of his earlier Tweets shows and as documented at the time by BBC Watch.

Davies tweet israel border

According to his own Twitter timeline, Davies entered the Gaza Strip nearly an hour and a half after sending the Tweet concerned.

Davies no mans land tweet

The findings also state:

“In this case, the Committee noted that Mr Davies said his information had come from health officials in Gaza who had told him that “more than half” of the 13 Palestinian deaths were of civilians. This was clearly a source which it was appropriate for journalists to cite. However, there had been no attribution to the source in the tweet itself. The Committee noted the practical considerations specific to Twitter of including attributions within 140 characters.”

This is not the first time that the BBC’s reliance upon information obtained from “health officials in Gaza” has proved to be an issue and unfortunately, the BBC Trust does not appear to be sufficiently aware of the problematic aspects of that practice

The committee’s findings also include the following:

“The Committee recognised that, as in any fast-moving story of conflict, the true picture became apparent only over time with reports emerging piecemeal from different sources, and they noted Mr Davies’ comments that:

“It is not surprising that few agencies or broadcasters had exactly the same figures at exactly the same time, because the number of casualties rose quickly and some of us would have been aware of ‘new’ additions, simply because we either witnessed those deaths or were quickly on the scene. The ‘fog of war’ is also something that armchair critics at home rarely experience – we were not covering the State opening of Parliament but a brutal and confusing conflict at the end of which, by common consent, more civilians than combatants were killed on both sides.””

Of course Wyre Davies’ claim that “by common consent more civilians than combatants were killed on both sides” is also inaccurate and it is regrettable that the ESC chooses to repeat such an inaccuracy in an official document.  

Neither he nor the Editorial Standards Committee appears to have taken note of the fact that two of the Palestinian casualties included in the numbers Davies cited in his Tweet – one of them the son of a BBC employee – were later shown to have been killed by a short-falling terrorist rocket. In its uncalled-for ruling on the impartiality of that Tweet, the ESC has obviously not taken into consideration the fact that by the time it was sent, Davies’ colleagues had begun an extensive campaign of emotion-fuelled promotion of those deaths as having been caused by Israel – despite having no factual evidence for that claim – thus creating a climate of ‘group think’ which may well have influenced the composition of the Tweet, and with neither Davies nor any other members of the BBC team in Gaza at the time having shown any evidence of questioning that false narrative.  

Wyre Davies has since moved on to pastures new, leaving those whom he condescendingly belittles as “armchair critics at home” to continue living in the “fog of war” which is for some of us a permanent state of affairs rather than a mere temporary assignment.  He and his other colleagues who have likewise since relocated elsewhere also leave us to deal with the fall-out of unprofessional, inaccurate and partial reporting by correspondents who do not appear to appreciate the consequences of shoddy journalism. Unfortunately, the BBC Trust’s Editorial Standards Committee’s appreciation of those consequences appears to be little better. 


BBC avoids Egyptian social media trap

An article concerning the unrest in Egypt which appeared on the Middle East page of the BBC News website on July 8th informs readers that:

“There were conflicting reports over what happened outside the Presidential Guard barracks in Cairo on Monday morning.

The Muslim Brotherhood put the number of dead at 53, and said children were among the victims. [….]

Col Ali also disputed claims that children had died, saying pictures of dead children posted on the internet were in fact images taken in Syria in March.”

The reference to “pictures of dead children posted on the internet” relates to an image posted on the Muslim Brotherhood’s ‘Freedom & Justice Party’ Facebook account on July 8th, with some Egyptian sources claiming that this was not an isolated incident. The fraud was quickly picked up on the social media.


How fortunate that no BBC reporter in Cairo succumbed to the temptation to retweet the Muslim Brotherhood’s propaganda. One has a hunch that such a scenario might have ended with rather more than a verbal ‘yellow card’

BBC’s Knell promotes political church campaign supported by BBC funder

Here is a Tweet dated April 26th 2013 from the BBC Jerusalem Bureau’s Yolande Knell.

Knell St Yves tweet

The link promoted by Knell leads to a press release on the website of the Society of St. Yves (also known as the Catholic Centre for Human Rights) and relates to the result of an appeal against the proposed route of the anti-terrorist fence in the Cremisan Valley between Beit Jala and Jerusalem – a subject which Knell wrote about just over a year ago. 

If BBC licence fee payers had perhaps assumed that information regarding the appeal promoted by Yolande Knell to her Twitter followers would come – according to BBC standards – from an objective source, they would be sadly mistaken. In fact, the Society of St. Yves has provided the legal representation for some of those appealing the route of the fence. 

Founded in 1991 by the former Latin Patriarch Michel Sabbah, the Society of St. Yves partners a plethora of politically motivated NGOs  active within the sphere of the Arab-Israeli conflict, including  ‘Stop the Wall’. The involvement of a church organization in such political activities will come as no surprise to those familiar with political campaigns in the region, especially given the fact that Michel Sabbah was one of the initiators (along with Naim Ateek of Sabeel and Atallah Hanna) of the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions promoting Kairos Document launched in Bethlehem in 2009 and is also the international president of Pax Christi

But there is another interesting twist to this story. Writing in the Guardian last October, Harriet Sherwood reported that the legal campaign mounted by the Society of St. Yves with regard to the anti-terrorist fence was funded in part by the British government and that the campaign was being supported (rather undiplomatically, some might consider) by the British Consulate in Jerusalem and the British Foreign Secretary.

“The British foreign secretary and the Archbishop of Westminster have joined forces in opposing the route of Israel’s vast barrier along the West Bank, which adversely affects a community of monks, nuns and Christian families near Bethlehem.[…]

In addition to Hague’s personal intervention, the British consulate in East Jerusalem is supporting the community and the Department for International Development (Dfid) is providing indirect funding for the legal challenge. […]

Dfid has given a two-year grant of £2.9m to the Norwegian Refugee Council, which in turn is funding the Society of St Yves, a Jerusalem-based Catholic human rights organisation, which is assisting the Beit Jala community with its case.”

What a coincidence then that a correspondent for the (still) Foreign and Commonwealth Office funded BBC tweets a link to an organization running a campaign supported by the FCO and funded by another UK government department.