BBC framing of Jerusalem embassy stories continues

On October 16th the BBC News website published a report titled “Australia considers following US on Jerusalem embassy” on its main homepage, its ‘World’ page and its ‘Australia’ and ‘Middle East’ pages.

The Australian prime minister’s statements were presented in its opening lines as follows:

“Australia will consider recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moving its embassy there from Tel Aviv, Prime Minister Scott Morrison says. […]

Mr Morrison said Australia remained committed to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Political opponents said Mr Morrison’s comments were a “deceitful” ploy for votes ahead of a crucial by-election.”

Readers were also told that:

“If acted upon, the move would follow a recent policy shift by the US that has drawn criticism internationally. […]

US President Donald Trump drew international criticism last year when he reversed decades of American foreign policy by recognising the ancient city as Israel’s capital. The US embassy was relocated from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May.” [emphasis added]

As has been the case in many previous BBC reports about the relocation of the US embassy to Jerusalem, in this article the fact that the US Congress actually voted to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital over two decades ago was yet again concealed from audience view.

Readers were told that “[t]he prime minister said one future scenario could involve Australia recognising [emphasis added] a Palestinian Authority capital in East Jerusalem and Israeli capital in West Jerusalem”. The statement actually said:

“…the Government will carefully examine the arguments put forward by Australia’s former Ambassador to Israel, Dave Sharma, that we should consider recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, without prejudice to its final boundaries, while acknowledging East Jerusalem as the expected capital of a future Palestinian state.” [emphasis added]

The BBC report went on to amplify comment from the Palestinian Authority’s Riyad al-Maliki but failed to explain to readers why the Palestinian response to a possible outcome that the PLO allegedly seeks should be negative.

Readers were told of announcements:

“Two other countries – Guatemala and Paraguay – announced they would also make the switch, but Paraguay later reversed the decision after a change of government.”

They were not however informed that the embassy of Guatemala has been located in Jerusalem since May 2018.

The article ended with a section headed “Why is the status of Jerusalem so contentious?” in which the BBC’s standard framing of related topics was to be found. As usual, BBC audiences were led to believe that nothing of relevance happened before 1967 and they heard nothing of Jordan’s 19-year occupation of parts of the city.  

“Israel regards Jerusalem as its “eternal and undivided” capital, while the Palestinians claim East Jerusalem – occupied by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war – as the capital of a future state.”

A problematic video by Yolande Knell dating from December 2017 was however recycled in this latest report.

Readers found the BBC’s usual partisan framing of ‘international law’ and ‘settlements’ with no mention of the fact that some of the Jerusalem neighbourhoods it chooses to define as such were inhabited by Jews until the Jordanian occupation.

“Since 1967, Israel has built a dozen settlements, home to about 200,000 Jews, in East Jerusalem. These are considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.”

Since late 2016 the BBC’s coverage of stories relating to the relocation of foreign embassies to Jerusalem has been characterised by very specific framing of such decisions as ‘controversial’ and the absence of key background information which would enhance audience understanding. As we see in this latest report, that unhelpful editorial policy continues.

Related Articles:

Mapping the BBC’s branding of declarations on Jerusalem as ‘controversial’

BBC omits key context in account of potential US embassy move

The BBC’s narrative on ‘East Jerusalem’ omits relevant context

Inaccuracy and omission in BBC backgrounder on Jerusalem

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CAMERA Arabic prompts BBC Arabic correction on US and Jerusalem

Last month the BBC Arabic website published a report about the relocation of the Paraguayan embassy from Jerusalem back to Tel Aviv (“Paraguay returns its embassy to Tel Aviv”, September 6th), which included the following phrase (translated):

 “the recognition of the United States in Jerusalem as Israel’s united capital”

original

However, the American administration has not in fact recognised Jerusalem as the united capital of Israel but rather considers the municipal borders of Jerusalem – as well as its permanent status – a matter dependent on the future results of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. This was made clear in a statement issued by the State Department on its official website. Notably, no similar phrase appeared in the corresponding report that was published on the English language BBC News website.

CAMERA Arabic wrote to BBC Arabic in Arabic to point out the error but did not receive a reply. CAMERA Arabic then wrote a second letter in English – this time to the BBC World Service, which is responsible for the corporation’s foreign language content – informing them of the erroneous statement. This second attempt was successful: a quick response was received and the word “united” was deleted from the report.

However, no footnote has been added to advise audiences of the removal of that previously inaccurate and misleading statement.

Have your say: a public consultation on the BBC Editorial Guidelines

The BBC has launched a public consultation on the topic of its Editorial Guidelines.

“The BBC has opened a consultation on a revised draft of the Editorial Guidelines which set the content standards for the BBC’s programme makers and other content producers for BBC services.

The Guidelines cover impartiality, accuracy, fairness, privacy and harm and offence, and further sections deal with a range of topics such as religious programming, war, terror, conflicts of interest, competitions, votes, relationships with other organisations and commercial references.

The Guidelines evolve over time to take account of changes in BBC regulation as set out in the BBC’s Royal Charter and Agreement; changes in legislation, developments in editorial thinking and lessons learnt from editorial rulings as well as reflecting changes in public attitudes and technology. The BBC therefore periodically reviews the Guidelines to ensure they keep pace with both our legal requirements and with changing audience expectations.

Under the current Charter, the BBC Board is responsible for the Editorial Guidelines. The Agreement states that the BBC must: “set, publish, review periodically, and observe guidelines designed to secure appropriate standards in the context of the UK Public Services”. This is the first revision of the Editorial Guidelines under this new governance system.”

Background reading concerning the consultation – including details of where to send a submission – can be found here.

The BBC’s proposed draft of the revised guidelines can be found here. Of particular interest is Section 11 – commencing on page 122 – titled ‘War, Terror and Emergencies’. As regular readers will be aware, the BBC’s record of adhering to its existing guidance on ‘Language When Reporting Terrorism’ is inconsistent.

The existing editorial guidelines (published in 2010) can be found here.

Submissions must be made by November 12th 2018.

 

 

 

 

BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel – September 2018

The Israel Security Agency’s report on terror attacks (Hebrew) during September 2018 shows that throughout the month a total of 204 incidents took place: 70 in Judea & Samaria, 10 in Jerusalem and 124 in the Gaza Strip sector.

In Judea & Samaria and Jerusalem the agency recorded 61 attacks with petrol bombs, eight attacks using improvised explosive devices (IEDs), seven arson attacks, one shooting attack and three stabbing attacks.

Incidents recorded in the Gaza Strip sector included 66 attacks with petrol bombs, 35 attacks using IEDs and twenty-three grenade attacks. There were no cases of rocket or mortar fire during September.

One civilian was murdered and one member of the security forces was wounded in attacks that took place during September. The BBC News website did not produce any coverage at the time of the fatal stabbing in Gush Etzion on September 16th but mentioned it a week later in a subsequent report.

The ‘Great Return March’ violent rioting along the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip – including the incident in which a soldier was injured in a grenade attack along on September 21st – was not the topic of any dedicated BBC News website news reports throughout the month.

In summary, visitors to the BBC News website saw very belated coverage of just one (0.49%) of the 204 terror incidents which took place during September.

Since the beginning of 2018 the BBC has reported 19.9% of the terror attacks that have actually taken place and 88.9% of the resulting fatalities.

Related Articles:

BBC News website ignores fatal terror attack in Gush Etzion

BBC News website reports on terror attack one week later

BBC’s Hardtalk presenter claims Israel ‘slaughters civilian protesters’

BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel – August 2018

Indy ignores deadly Palestinian terror, but rushes to pronounce settlers guilty in lethal rock-attack

Cross posted from UK Media Watch

We recently noted that the Indy was one of three British media outlets which failed to cover the two recent Palestinian terror attacks that claimed the lives of three Israelis – Kim Levengrond Yehezkel, Ziv Hajbi, and Ari Fuld – but did find time to report on other Israel related stories.

By contrast, the Indy on Saturday night was quick to publish a story about a rock-throwing attack in the West Bank that claimed the life of a Palestinian woman – an attack, relatives claim, was carried out by settlers.  However, not only did the Indy jump on the story, but immediately pronounced the settlers guilty, despite the fact that the incident is still under investigation and there aren’t any suspects.

Here’s our tweet to the Indy journalist, Samuel Osborne.

Here’s the opening sentence of the Oct. 14th article:

Palestinian woman has been killed after being struck in the head by a stone thrown by Israeli settlers.

However, as other media outlets made clear, claims are based on testimony by the victim’s relatives who  didn’t actually see the perpetrators. 

Note Reuters’ far more careful and accurate headline on the incident:

Here’s Reuters’ equally cautious opening sentence:

Israeli police said on Saturday they were investigating the death of a Palestinian woman in the occupied West Bank, after her husband said he suspected Israeli settlers had pelted their car with rocks.

Though the Shin Bet has opened an investigation into the incident, and the accusations may ultimately turn out to be true, to report that the settlers are guilty as if it’s an established fact is inconsistent with the accuracy clause of the Editors’ Code, which requires that media outlets “distinguish clearly between…conjecture and fact”.

We’ve filed a complaint with Indy editors.

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UKMW prompts Guardian to acknowledge there’s no ‘settler-only’ roads in the West Bank

Cross posted fromUK Media Watch

The myth that there are ‘Jews-only’ or ‘settler-only’ roads in the West Bank has been debunked numerous times over the years by CAMERA and its affiliates – prompting corrections at media outlets such as CNNAssociated PressWashington PostThe EconomistFinancial Times and The Telegraph.

As we’ve explained on numerous occasions, there are, for security reasons, a very small percentage of roads in the West Bank restricted to Palestinians.  However, all roads are open to Israeli citizens of all religious backgrounds and foreign nationals of all religious backgrounds.  There is not, nor have there ever been, religiously based restrictions on roads in Israel or the West Bank – nor roads only for settlers.

The latest publication to publish a version of this lie is the Guardian, in an Oct. 11th op-ed by Nkosi Zwelivelile (the grandson of Nelson Mandela) attempting to use this ‘fact’ to support the larger lie that Israel is an apartheid state.

Here’s our tweet pointing out the erroneous claim – one of several in the paragraph, but, we concluded, the one most egregiously inconsistent with the accuracy clause of the Editors’ Code.

We followed up our tweet with an email editors, who upheld our complaint and amended the text in the sentence to the still misleading but improved “roads built for settlers which are not accessible to Palestinians”, and, more importantly, included the following addendum at the bottom of the op-ed:

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BBC perpetuates the narrative of perpetual Palestinian refugees

On Oct. 8th, the BBC published video segment by Paul Adams titled “After 70 years, who are the Palestinian refugees?”, filmed at the Burg Al-Barajneh “refugee” camp in Beirut, which focused on Palestinian fears that, under the new US peace plan, they’ll never be allowed to return “home”.

Here’s the six-minute segment:

Though the official UNRWA figure counts over 5 million Palestinian refugees, the overwhelming majority of these “refugees” – as we’ve noted repeatedly – are merely Palestinians descendants (children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, etc.) of the original 711,000 actual refugees from 1948 who, unlike every other refugee population, are automatically granted refugee status, even those who have citizenship in other countries.

As Einat Wilf, co-author of the book ‘The War of Return’ observed about the fiction that there are millions of Palestinian refugees.

almost all [Palestinian refugees] (upward of 80 per cent) are either citizens of a third country, such as Jordan, or they live in [Palestinian territories] where they were born and expect to have a future…

….The remaining 20 per cent of the descendantsare inhabitants of Syria and Lebanon who are by law denied the right to citizenship granted to all other Syrians and Lebanese.

The number of actual refugees from 1948 is believed to be closer to 20,000.

As you saw in the clip, a Palestinian professor in Lebanon was interviewed who explained that Palestinian “refugees” in Lebanon – many of whom have lived in the country for generations – are truly second class citizens and are denied basic employment and property rights.  Yet, note how Adams failed to draw the most intuitive conclusion from this fact: that the refugee issue – and the fact that so many Arabs of Palestinian descent identify as “refugees” – is perpetuated by Arab states (and UNRWA) who refuse to encourage the full integration of Palestinians into their countries.  Nor, did Adams ask why such “refugee camps”, run by UNRWA, in Lebanon, Jordan, and within the Palestinian Authority have never been converted to ordinary cities. 

Adams’ other Palestinian interviewee – a young woman also several generations removed from the actual refugees of ’48 – insisted on her inalienable “right of return” to Israel.  But, BBC viewers were not reminded that such descendants of refugees don’t in fact have such a legal right to “return”, and that Israel would of course never engage in an act of national self-immolation by allowing millions of Palestinians to become citizens of the state.

Adams, in his final thoughts on the problem, opines that for such Palestinians, living in camps in Lebanon and Jordan, their refugee status is the only thing they possess.  However, hope based on a right (of return) they don’t have, and on a future vision of life (in Israel) that will never be brought to fruition, is not a possession. It’s a handicap, and a cynical formula for perpetuating Palestinian victimhood that continues to be amplified and legitimized by media outlets like the BBC.

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For 2nd time in 3 weeks, major UK media outlets ignore deadly Palestinian terror attack

Cross posted from UK Media Watch

Times of London

Since the Palestinian terror attack at the Barkan Industrial Park on Sunday that killed two Israelis, Kim Levengrond Yehezkel, the mother of an infant, and Ziv Hajbi, a father of three, Times of London’s Jerusalem correspondent Anshel Pfeffer published two articles: both concerning fraud charges against Sara Netanyahu. 

Times of London articles by Anshel Pfeffer, Oct. 7th and Oct. 8th.

But, neither Pfeffer nor any of the paper’s other regional correspondents published anything on the deadly West Bank terror attack.

Barkan terror attack victims: Kim Levengrond Yehezkel and Ziv Hagbi

The Telegraph

The Telegraph’s Jerusalem correspondent, Raf Sanchez, published an article this morning on the row between Turkey and Saudi Arabia over the missing Saudi journalist, and another regional correspondent published an Israel related story – regarding Netanyahu’s scheduled meeting with Vladimir Putin.  

However, as with Times of London, nothing has been published by any of the Telegraph’s reporters about the Barkan terror attack.

The Independent

The Independent published an article on the day of the attack about new Israeli restrictions on Gaza’s fishing zone, but nothing on the Palestinian terror attack, despite the fact that the Indy has a Middle East correspondent, Bel Trew, who covers Israel and the Palestinian territories quite extensively.

Independent, Oct. 9

In addition to ignoring Sunday’s deadly attack, by 23-year-old Walid Suleiman Na’alowa, a colleague of the victims at the Barkan plant, Times of London, The Telegraph and Independent have something else in common: they all similarly ignored the Palestinian terror attack on Sept. 16th at Gush Etzion Junction that killed Ari Fuld, a father of four from Efrat.

Other major outlets:

The Guardian published an AFP article on Sunday about the Barkan Industrial Park attack – though nothing on the murder of Ari Fuld.  In contrast, the Daily Mail – as with the BBC – eventually covered both terror attacks.

Beyond the question of journalistic priorities on the day of, and first few days following, the attack, it’s telling that all of the media outlets cited have, over the course of the past six months, more often than not, devoted coverage to Palestinian injuries and deaths related to the weekly violent border riots – many which included highly evocative photos from the scene.

Times of London

Independent

The Telegraph

The journalistic axiom ‘if it bleeds it leads’ isn’t entirely true when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, where selective concern for the suffering of one side is the norm – indicative of a broader pattern of double standards which continues to compromise British media coverage of the region.

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BBC Two presenter Victoria Derbyshire should read this A-Z thread on Labour antisemitism

As followers of BBC Watch no doubt recall, on Aug. 15th, BBC Two presenter Victoria Derbyshire interviewed two British Jews, Mark Lewis and his partner Mandy Blumenthal, to discuss their view that antisemitism in the UK has become so bad that they no longer felt safe living there, and had decided to emigrate to Israel.

As we noted at the time, the interview was so biased – and at times hostile – that the BBC presenter could have been mistaken for a Jeremy Corbyn spokesperson, as she spouted off meaningless Labour talking points, used misleading statistics attempting to downplay antisemitism and seemed convinced that the couple was grossly exaggerating their concerns – despite death threats and other forms of abuse they’ve experienced.  

Derbyshire even at one point – in an attempt to discredit their claims – accused Lewis and Blumenthal of belonging to a non-existent Zionist political party in the UK.

Yesterday, @GasherJew, a twitter account that’s been doing extremely important work exposing antisemitism in Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party, tweeted the following thread containing an A-Z of examples of Labour antisemitism.

The list is especially useful for journalists and pro-Corbyn activists who deny that antisemitism is a serious issue in the party, or suggest that the problem has been greatly exaggerated by the British Jewish community. (See web version of the twitter thread here)

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Guardian quotes Gaza ‘protester’ claiming new night time riots are meant to save lives

Cross posted from UK Media Watch

You don’t need to be a journalist, Mid-East analyst or expert of any kind to come up with a list of practical steps ‘protesters’ participating in the Hamas organised Great Return March can take to save Palestinian lives.

Here are just a few: 

  1. Stop firing at soldiers on the border.
  2. Stop throwing grenades and other explosive devices at soldiers on the border.
  3. Stop attempting to damage the security fence and infiltrate into Israel in order to kill Jews.

We don’t mean to be cheeky, but to introduce a larger point: that the Guardian’s coverage of the region is defined, as much as any other factor, by the denial of Palestinian agency, with reports invariably attributing Gaza’s woes to some sort of act of nature or, much more often, Israeli malevolence. 

Reports on Palestinian deaths and injuries during the Gaza border riots which have taken place since March 31st are a case in point, with their correspondents at pains to obfuscate Palestinian responsibility for initiating the deadly confrontations with Israeli soldiers.

A recent article (Two children among seven people shot dead by Israel, say officials, Sept. 29) by the Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent, Oliver Holmes, on the most recent border riots, noted an alternative idea for saving lives, one that doesn’t rely our ‘conventional wisdom’.

Here’s the relevant sentence:

During the past two weeks, the Hamas-led Friday rallies have grown in size and also moved to evenings and night-time, a move protesters say is to save lives as people can move under the cover of darkness. Piles of tyres have also been burnt to obscure the snipers’s vision.

Reports elsewhere note that Palestinians have called this new strategy – which involves the usual riot tactics, such as throwing incendiary devices towards soldiers (and sound bombs that can be heard in nearby Israeli communities), but doing them when it’s dark, “night confusion units”. 

By “saving lives”, the ‘protester’ of course was referring to the hope that, by operating under the cover of darkness, they could engage in violent actions on the border with greater impunity.

However, a report in The National included a quote by a Israeli military official who said “the night protests do not pose a new challenge” given the night vision equipment used by soldiers.  So, it seems, despite the Palestinian claim uncritically cited in the Guardian, the new tactic of engaging in violence against soldiers or attempting to infiltrate the border at night will not “save lives”.

But, beyond the narrow claim regarding whether such new tactics will save lives, it’s remarkable that reporters like Holmes never seem interested in exploring the more vital questions concerning the impact of a Palestinian culture which encourages civilians – including young children – into situations likely to result in serious injury or death. 

As former AP Jerusalem correspondent Matti Friedman wrote in his landmark 2014 expose on institutional anti-Israel media bias and the liberal racism of low expectations, “Palestinians are not taken seriously as agents of their own fate.”  “The story mandates”, Friedman added, “that they exist as passive victims” of Israel, the only party that matters.

This failure of media outlets such as the Guardian to recognize that Palestinians are more than just victims, and have the capacity to resist such destructive behavior, continues to deny news consumers an accurate understanding of the factors driving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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