BBC WS ‘The History Hour’ promotes equivalence between reactions to cartoons

The August 14th edition of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘The History Hour’ included an item (from 09:34 here) that was introduced by presenter Max Pearson using dubious linkage.

“While the last acts of the Cold War were being played out towards the end of the 1980s, the unavoidable consequence in the Middle East was renewed uncertainty and tension. And you couldn’t necessarily escape just by moving away from the region. In 1987 the acclaimed Palestinian cartoonist Naji al Ali was gunned down in London. His attackers have never been identified. Naji al Ali’s cartoons were famous across the Middle East. Through his images he criticised Israeli and US policy in the region but unlike many, he also lambasted Arab despotic regimes and the leadership of the PLO. Alex Last has been speaking to his son Khalid about his father’s life and death.”

Listeners then heard an item that had been broadcast the previous week in the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Witness’ and was discussed here. At the close of that interview, Pearson continued the item (from 18:52) as follows:

Pearson: “Khalid al Ali was talking to Alex Last about his father the cartoonist Naji al Ali whose murder in London thirty years ago serves to highlight the potential dangers of simply trying to portray the world how one sees it. Those dangers were more recently illustrated by attacks on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and the threats to Danish interests after the Jyllands-Posten newspaper published cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammed. I’m joined now by the cartoonist Martin Rowson whose work appears in, among other publications, the Guardian here in Britain. Ehm…Martin; is yours a dangerous profession?”

Rowson “It always has been and always will be because the whole purpose of satire is to tell truth to power while laughing at power at the same time. And actually the laughter is always more dangerous than the truth because they cannot stand the idea that we’re laughing at them in their grandeur and the rest of it.”

Rowson later went on to say:

Rowson: “I receive death threats on a regular basis but I always work on the basis they don’t count if they come by email. It’s just somebody who has been so utterly disgusted and shocked – on somebody else’s behalf invariably – so deeply offended that they want to do something far more offensive than laughing at somebody in power and kill me. And it’s bizarre that people get so incensed by this stuff.”

Pearson: “Well you use the phrase ‘speak truth to power’ but truth is very subjective. Is speaking truth to power what the cartoonist generally does or is it that he or she is simply being rude about people or ideas with which he or she does not agree?”

Rowson: “I think that’s part of it but mostly it’s the idea of mocking the powerful. That’s where the danger comes in because the powerful and their supporters cannot endure the idea of mockery because mockery is the most powerful weapon against them. […] So any despotism – be it secular or religious – will defy people not to laugh at the absurdities inherent in them. And if you do laugh at them, it’s unendurable but also powerful.”

Pearson: “But how, looking back over history, have the red lines – the lines in the sand, so to speak – shifted? […] today there certainly will be people who will think very carefully about depicting images of the prophet Mohammed in a mocking way because of the potential consequences.”

Rowson: “Well that’s certainly true. And after the Charlie Hebdo killings I proposed to the Guardian that I do a cartoon of the prophet Mohammed with his head in his hands, so you wouldn’t see his face, wearing a ‘not in my name’ T-shirt. And they decided that actually that was too dangerous for Guardian staff working in the Middle East. And I respect that decision. Actually it was too dangerous for me as well. I’d have had to go into hiding which is preposterous but it actually gets to the point where you’re not allowed to say anything about anything.”

Then, in the very next breath – and as though it were comparable to murders, terrorism, death threats and violence over cartoons deemed offensive by some Muslims – Rowson went straight on to the topic of entirely non-violent criticism from a particular group.

Rowson: “A few years ago I just stopped doing cartoons about Israel because I was fed up of every time I did a cartoon about Israel getting literally thousands of emails accusing me of being a worst anti-Semite than Hitler, which is just not true. But everybody will use this excuse of being offended to shut up the person they’re engaged in an argument with.”

While Martin Rowson is rightly protective of his own freedom to ‘speak truth to power’ (as long as it’s not Muslim power), he is obviously less keen on the idea of anyone else criticising the power that he holds as a widely published cartoonist influencing public opinion. In the past Rowson has accused “the Israel lobby” of using antisemitism (i.e. the Livingstone Formulation) to try to silence his “criticism of their brutally oppressive colonialism”.

Here is a cartoon Martin Rowson drew in April 2001, as the second Intifada raged:

This is a Martin Rowson cartoon from July 2006 relating to the second Lebanon war that began when Hizballah conducted a cross-border raid and fired missiles at Israeli civilian communities:

These are cartoons published by Rowson during Operation Cast Lead in 2009 after thousands of missile attacks had been launched against Israeli civilians by Hamas:

Here is Rowson’s take on the 2010 ‘Mavi Marmara’ incident.

This is a Rowson cartoon published three days after the commencement of Operation Protective Edge in response to 131 missile attacks on Israeli civilians in the preceding days.

Max Pearson, however, had nothing to tell listeners about Rowson’s trite, monochrome, one-sided Israel-related cartoons or why some people might find them objectionable. Instead – immediately after Rowson’s remarks about “getting…emails” he said:

Pearson: “So almost by definition – going back to my original point – the political cartoon is dangerous.”

Rowson: “Yeah. It’s meant to be dangerous. It’s a sort of point of licence to anarchy.”

Pearson closed by thanking the “esteemed cartoonist” and BBC World Service audiences went away with the impression that indignant e-mails carry the same weight and importance as the terrorist murders of cartoonists who drew Mohammed.

Related Articles:

More narrative-driven ‘history’ from the BBC World Service

Did CiF Watch “browbeat” Guardian cartoonist Martin Rowson into submission? (UK Media Watch)

Martin Rowson: Israel lobby uses antisemitism to silence critics of Zionist brutality  (UK Media Watch)

 

 

The BBC, the Gaza Strip and medical supplies

In the past BBC audiences have often been led to inaccurate conclusions concerning the reason for the chronic shortage of medical supplies in the Gaza Strip.

BBC gives one-dimensional view of shortages in Gaza hospitals

BBC’s Knell inaccurately attributes shortage of medical supplies in Gaza to Israel

BBC Radio 5 live broadcasts inaccurate claim on shortage of medicines in Gaza

BBC WS amplifies former ISM activist’s falsehoods about Gaza blockade

BBC News passes up the chance to set the record straight on Gaza shortages

BBC reporting on the ongoing dispute between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority that has resulted in reduced electricity supplies to Gaza residents has not informed audiences that the PA has also cut medical supplies to the Gaza Strip.

“According to information given to Physicians for Human Rights Israel (PHRI) by Gaza’s Hamas-run Health Ministry in June, “one-third of essential medicines and more than 270 medical equipment items for operating rooms and intensive care units can no longer be obtained in the Health Ministry’s storerooms and in Gaza hospitals.”

PHRI, quoting statistics from the Hamas-run ministry, said most cancer patients in Gaza are not able to receive proper treatment because of shortfalls.

One of the groups hardest hit by the medicine shortage is patients, mostly children, suffering from the chronic lung disease cystic fibrosis, who can’t get the pills and vitamins they need, PHRI said.”

On August 20th the Palestinian media outlet ‘Ma’an’ reported that – despite the worsening humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip – the PA president chose to donate medical supplies to Venezuela.

“The Palestinian Authority (PA) sent on Sunday three trucks loaded with medical supplies to be sent to Venezuela, following an order from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Palestinian Minister of Foreign Affairs Riad al-Malki told Ma’an the trucks were sent off on Sunday from warehouses in the northern occupied West Bank district of Nablus, adding that Abbas’ decision to donate the medications to Venezuela was made in response to requests made by the Venezuelan government.”

Although just last month BBC audiences were told that “life in Gaza is reaching its limits”, they have to date not seen any reporting on that donation of medical supplies or about the PA’s recent threats to cut off financial support to the Gaza Strip.

Related Articles:

BBC’s Knell paints a partial picture of Gaza woes

BBC audiences still not getting news of Palestinian politics

BBC bows out of coverage of 10 years of Hamas rule in Gaza 

 

 

In which BBC Monitoring contradicts the BBC World Service

As noted here earlier, on the afternoon of August 16th the BBC World Service inaccurately told its listeners that:

“While President Trump has come under a lot of flack from Jewish leaders and politicians in the US for his perceived hesitancy in condemning the groups, in Israel Prime Minister Netanyahu and most politicians have been rather more muted regarding what the president said.”

The next day, however, the BBC suddenly changed its tune. An article published in the ‘features’ section of the BBC News website’s Middle East page on the evening of August 17th under the headline “Anger over Netanyahu silence on Trump and Charlottesville” told readers that:

Most Israeli politicians and press have decried US President Donald Trump’s remarks on the violent protests in Charlottesville – and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s lack of response – and are examining the implications for America’s Jewish community.” [emphasis added]

The article’s next four paragraphs detailed condemnation of the neo-Nazi march in Charlottesville from Israel’s president and some Israeli newspapers  – informing readers that while Yediot Aharonot, Ma’ariv and the “liberal daily” Ha’aretz slammed remarks made by the US president on their front pages:

“Newspaper Israel Hayom, reputed to be close to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, made no mention of the developments on its front page and offered factual coverage on page 24.”

Readers were also told that:

“Labour Party member of the Knesset Shelly Yachimovich took to Facebook to say that as the daughter of Holocaust survivors, she found the display of Nazi symbols “physically nauseating”.

She also took aim at Prime Minister Netanyahu who condemned the far-right protestors but not Trump’s words: “You, the prime minister of the Jewish people in their land, the man who warns us about a Holocaust every Monday and Thursday with fear mongering and bombastic oaths of ” never again”? What is the matter with you?””

The next seven paragraphs were devoted to portrayal of social media posts from Netanyahu and his son and the reactions of various politicians and a Ha’aretz columnist. The article’s last six paragraphs were devoted to another story in which the Israeli prime minister was criticised by various Ha’aretz writers.

This BBC article is credited to BBC Monitoring: the department that tracks and translates open source media around the world for the BBC as well as commercial clients. In 2015 its then newly appointed head said:

“Our ability to follow the world’s ever expanding traditional and digital media sources is unique and brings crucial insights to the BBC’s journalism as we seek to inform and explain incredibly complex stories of global impact.”

The BBC is certainly not the only media outlet to have devoted column space to amplification of criticism of the Israeli prime minister’s response to the incidents in Charlottesville  from rival politicians, politically partisan journalists and self-appointed pundits.

However, seeing as the information in this article is readily available to the general public in the online English language Israeli press (including the sources of the multiple promoted quotes from Ha’aretz), one can only wonder why BBC Monitoring spent time and resources on promoting a story that needed no translation, is not an “incredibly complex” issue “of global impact” and certainly does not provide “crucial insights” into anything – apart from how journalists quoting and amplifying other journalists manufacture media ‘buzz’.  

Related Articles:

Is a BBC WS claim about Israeli politicians true?

Guardian columnist compares white supremacism with ‘right-wing’ Zionism (UK Media Watch)

 

BBC ignores another Northern Islamic Movement story – in English

Last week the leader of the illegal Northern Islamic Movement, Raed Salah, was arrested at his home in Umm el Fahm.

“In a statement, police said Tuesday morning that they had arrested for questioning under caution “a central instigator” of the Islamic Movement on suspicion of incitement to violence and terror, as well as supporting and being active in a banned organization. The statement was apparently referring to the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement that split from the main organization.

“The investigation is being conducted together with the Shin Bet and was authorized by the State Attorney’s Office, as required in incitement cases, with the consent of the attorney general,” police said and added that the Haifa district state prosecutor is handling the case.

“On a number of occasions, all of them after the movement was made illegal [in 2015], the inciter made statements before an audience and saw his statements quoted in the media. These statement are linked to the movement’s worldview. An examination of the [statements] raise the suspicion that some of the things said [by Salah] meet the criteria for the stated crimes.” […]

Salah has spearheaded campaigns asserting that “Al-Aqsa is in danger,” focusing on the claim that Israel intends to change the status quo at the contested Temple Mount holy site in Jerusalem. The allegation, denied by Israel, was at the heart of last month’s violence and tensions surrounding the site.”

Salah’s detention was extended on August 17th.

BBC coverage of the two weeks of violence that followed the murder last month of two Israeli policemen by three terrorists from Umm el Fahm did not inform audiences that Salah conducted prayers for the attackers just hours later. Neither were BBC audiences told of the scenes at the terrorists’ funerals or of the incitement from the Northern Islamic Movement during that period of violence.

In November 2015 the BBC refrained from reporting in the English language on the banning of the Northern Islamic Movement and it has also serially ignored stories relating to that group’s networks of activists paid to disrupt visits by non-Muslims to Temple Mount. In 2013, Yolande Knell provided BBC audiences with a tepid portrayal of the Northern Islamic Movement as a “conservative” group.

While at least one BBC staff member has Tweeted about it, the BBC has not covered Raed Salah’s latest arrest for its English-speaking audiences. The story has, however, been the subject of a report on the BBC Arabic website, which also provided its readers with a profile of Salah.

English speakers interested in reading more about Raed Salah and the Northern Islamic Movement can find a useful backgrounder at the Times of Israel

 

BBC R4’s ‘Today’ fails to give full account of Western Wall story

Back in late June the BBC News website produced an article about a dispute concerning prayer arrangements at the Western Wall which failed to provide readers with a comprehensive view of its subject matter.

On August 18th, with no reason explained or apparent, the BBC Radio 4 news and current affairs programme ‘Today‘ revisited that story (from 01:21:30 here). Listeners were told by the programme’s presenter that:

“The Western Wall in Jerusalem is the holiest place that Jews can pray but it’s been the focus too of a very long-running controversy. Women must pray separately from men in a smaller place, barred from some religious rituals reserved for their male counterparts.”

Listeners unfamiliar with Jewish religious practices (in other words, the majority of this programme’s audience) were not informed that such arrangements are in effect at Orthodox synagogues around the world and not just at the Western Wall. The introduction continued:

“The issue came to a head earlier this year when Israel’s right-wing coalition shelved plans for an official egalitarian prayer space at the wall – a decision that’s strained relations with liberal Jewish diaspora groups, including in Britain and the US. Our Middle East correspondent Tom Bateman reports from Jerusalem.”

Clearly listeners would be likely to inaccurately conclude from that introduction that, with plans having been “shelved”, no “egalitarian prayer space” exists at the Western Wall.

Tom Bateman’s report included two interviewees, one of whom is a regular BBC contributor – although listeners were not informed of that fact.  

Bateman: “Laura Janner-Klausner – senior rabbi to Reform Judaism – is one of those who want the authorities to modernise the rules at the Kotel, as it is called in Hebrew: as site whose running has become a potent symbol for control over their faith.”

Janner-Klausner: “The place is administered by an ultra-Orthodox – strictly Orthodox – religious authority. A lot of the trigger points are around who can pray from a Torah scroll here. That’s the incendiary device: the bible as grenade.”

Later on listeners heard Bateman say:

“The ground skirmishes between progressives and the strictly Orthodox have given way to a broader battle. The Israeli government last year agreed officially to upgrade a temporary mixed-gender area by the wall; a so-called egalitarian prayer space championed by liberal Judaism. But this summer the deal fell apart, sparking outrage from many Jewish diaspora groups who felt shunned.”

Janner-Klausner: “Here you have one group – the Israeli government – who have, in order to get a very narrow win, sold out on the religious aspirations of millions of Jews internationally. This is corrosive for relationship.”

Although uninformed listeners would not know it, what Bateman describes as a “temporary […] egalitarian prayer space” has in fact existed for seventeen years and – despite the impression given in this report – it continues to be open to anyone wanting to use it.

As was explained here last time the BBC reported on this subject, the aspects of the ‘Kotel deal’ of January 2016 which were affected when it “fell apart” as Bateman puts it are plans for a communal entrance to all the various prayer areas at the Western Wall and plans for a joint committee to run the mixed gender prayer area.

This report did not inform audiences that even before the ‘Kotel deal’ fell apart, the issue had been taken to the High Court.

“Then there is the High Court petition, submitted by the Reform and Conservative Movements together with Women of the Wall, which demanded that the government either implement the compromise resolution of January 2016 or allocate them prayer space in the main plaza, splitting it into three sections – two separate areas for men and women and one for egalitarian prayer.

It is conceivable that the High Court will rule that by stymieing the compromise proposal for the southern Western Wall the government has created a situation of fundamental inequality in the ability of progressive Jews to pray at a government- mandated holy site at the Western Wall in accordance with their customs.

If it were to take this position, dividing the main plaza into three is a possible, and explosive, outcome.”

Listeners were also not informed that interviewee Laura Janner-Klausner has expressed public support for that High Court petition.

The High Court will hold a hearing on August 31st.

“The state’s position was outlined on Tuesday in its response to a petition from the progressive Jewish movements and the Women of the Wall organization, demanding that either the cabinet decision from January 2016 be implemented or that a section for progressive Jewish prayer be created at the main Western Wall site. […]

According to the state’s response to the High Court petition, the Prime Minister’s Office is investing NIS 19.2 million in upgrading and developing the current egalitarian prayer platform which will closely resemble the physical upgrades planned under the original resolution but without the shared entrance that was a key demand of the progressive Jewish movements and WoW [Women of the Wall].

The site will be managed by the state-run Company for the Development of the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem, and a steering committee under the control of representatives from the Prime Minister’s Office will provide oversight to ensure that the relevant services are being provided to visitors.

An additional NIS 2.2m. per year will be provided by the PMO to fund various facilities and services required at the site.”

Unusually, after listeners had heard an opposing opinion from the second interviewee, Janner-Klausner was brought back in to have what some may view as an antagonistic last word.

Janner-Klausner: “What is pure Judaism, what is authentic Judaism is the fact that we have evolved. We’re no longer in the desert, we no longer sacrifice and we no longer run according to high priests. People become rabbis not because of who their parents are but because of their knowledge. That is pure, authentic, evolving Judaism and that is what has kept the Jewish people surviving for thousands of years. The innovation that you cannot innovate is not Jewish.”

Listeners to Bateman’s report did not hear from anyone representing the Israeli government and once again, audiences were not provided with the full range of information essential for complete understanding of the story and what the dispute is really about. Essentially, therefore, this item is an advocacy piece featuring a regular BBC contributor who supports a petition that will be the subject of a court hearing in just a few days’ time.

Related Articles:

BBC’s Western Wall report fails to provide adequate information

BBC WS fails to inform on political NGO links of interviewee on topic of PA’s UNSC bid

BBC bias on terrorism highlighted again in reports from Spain

As was the case when vehicular terror attacks took place in Stockholm, Nice, Berlin and London, despite its supposed policy of avoiding the word ‘terrorist’ without attribution in order to avoid “value judgements”, the BBC made appropriate use of that and related terminology when reporting on the terror attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils on August 17th and 18th.

As readers are no doubt aware, attacks on Israelis using the same or other methods are never described by the BBC as terror in its own words. The reason for that glaring double standard lies in the BBC’s failure to distinguish between method and aims, with the result being that when somebody deliberately drives a vehicle into a group of people, the corporation’s description of the attack as terror – or not – depends on the perceived aims and affiliations of the perpetrator.

Earlier this year the BBC came up with a new ‘explanation’ for the egregious double standard repeatedly seen in its reporting of terror in Israel and elsewhere – particularly Europe.

“Where there is an ongoing geopolitical conflict – as in the Middle East – to use the term “terror attack” or similar might be seen to be taking sides. There are those who might consider the actions of the Israeli government to be considered as terrorist acts.

In a situation where a country that is not involved in a direct physical combat comes under attack, it may be reasonable to construe that as a terrorist incident.

The use of such terminology is never an exact science but where a continuing conflict exists, it is reasonable that the BBC would not wish to appear to be taking sides.”

As was noted here at the time:

“The bottom falls out of that argument when we recall that the BBC did use the term ‘Jewish terrorists’ to describe the perpetrator/s of the arson attack in Duma, despite the existence of an “ongoing geopolitical conflict”.

The corporation’s complaints department also appears to have tried to find a way of dismissing the fact that UK forces are involved in the military campaign against jihadists in Iraq and Syria by means of use of the term “direct physical combat”. Notably, the BBC is apparently not inclined to promote the notion that those actions of a state fighting terrorism might be “considered as terrorist acts”.”

Like the UK, Spain is also a member of the international coalition “united in defeating Daesh” and the word terrorist has also been seen in a BBC report concerning another country involved in “direct physical combat” with ISIS.

The fact that the BBC does manage to report terror attacks in other parts of the world using appropriate language means that its long-standing editorial policy of eschewing accurate terminology in coverage of Palestinian attacks on Israelis becomes even more glaring and the redundancy of its inconsistently applied guidelines and guidance is highlighted all the more. Absurdly, the BBC will no doubt still claim that it produces ‘impartial’ and ‘unbiased’ reporting from Israel.

Related Articles:

Reviewing BBC reporting of vehicular attacks in France and Israel

BBC coverage of Berlin terror attack again highlights double standards

Absurdity of BBC’s ‘Language when Reporting Terrorism’ guidance on display again

BBC’s vehicular terrorism double standards on display again

BBC Complaints: terror attacks in Jerusalem and Tunisia are “very different”

 

 

 

 

 

Weekend long read

1) Back in April the BBC News website told audiences that the Israeli prime minister had ‘snubbed’ the German foreign minister over the latter’s insistence on meeting what the BBC described as “human rights activists”. At the Fathom Journal, Gadi Taub takes a closer look at that story.

“Gabriel, on the occasion of an official visit for Holocaust Memorial Day, announced that he would meet the representatives of two radical left-wing civil society organisations – Breaking the Silence and B’Tselem. When Netanyahu said that if those meetings went ahead he would boycott the visit and refuse to meet Gabriel, many thought he was overreacting. Few, however, expected Gabriel to choose those two organisations over Israel’s prime minster (and acting foreign minister). And when he did, things began to appear in a new light. It no longer seemed that the German foreign minister made an honest mistake, not knowing how controversial these organisations were among Israelis. It appeared, instead, that he knew exactly what he was doing and that it was us, the Israeli public, who had made a mistake in our assumptions about German-Israeli relations.”

2) At the JCPA, Ambassador Alan Baker examines the issue of Palestinian refugees and UNRWA.  

“Unlike its sister organization, the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), mandated since 1950 to coordinate the handling of all refugee communities worldwide, UNRWA was established in that same year to deal exclusively with Palestinian refugees, thereby excluding them from the protection of the UNHCR.

While the aims and operations of the UNHCR are based on international instruments – mainly the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees – UNRWA was never provided with a specific statute or charter. It has operated since its inception under a general mandate, renewed every three years by the General Assembly.

The major distinction and main reason for the establishment of a separate agency to deal with Palestinian refugees, was to crystallize their sole aim – not rehabilitation and resettlement, as was the aim of UNHCR – but solely “return.” Inclusion of Palestinian refugees under the general UNHCR definition of “refugees” would have been interpreted as a waiver of their claim that “return” was the sole solution.”

3) The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center has a new report on a topic habitually absent from BBC coverage of the Middle East: Hamas’ indoctrination of children in summer camps.

“This year, as in previous years, summer camps were held throughout the Gaza Strip, attended by tens of thousands of Gazan children and adolescents. Most of the camps were organized by Hamas, some by other terrorist organizations and institutions. The camps provide a wide range of activities, from ordinary summer pastimes (sports, arts and crafts, computers, day trips, etc.) to military training and ideological indoctrination. Hamas attributes great importance to the summer camps, considering them an effective means for influencing the younger generation and training a cadre of operatives and supporters for its military wing and movement institutions.

An examination of some of the closing ceremonies of the 2017 summer camps shows they emphasized military topics coordinated to the age of the participants. The older the campers were, the more and varied military training they received. The adolescents, some of them who would join Hamas military wing in the near future, wore uniforms and learned how to dismantle and reassemble weapons. They also practiced simulating infiltrating Israel through tunnels, attacking IDF posts, taking control of tank positions, and capturing IDF soldiers and abducting them to the Gaza Strip. They trained with real weapons, mostly light arms and RPG launchers.”

4) At the FDD, Grant Rumley takes a look at Mahmoud Abbas’ handling of last month’s violence in Jerusalem and elsewhere following the murder of two Israeli policemen in a terror attack on July 14th.

“The closest the Israeli-Palestinian conflict got to an actual third intifada, or uprising, happened late this past month when Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas mobilized the shadowy militia elements of his party for widespread Friday protests. What the lone-wolf stabbing attacks that have plagued Israel for the past several years lacked—and what both the first and second intifadas had—was political leadership and support. In activating the Tanzim, a faction of his own party that Abbas has struggled to control, the Palestinian President was sanctioning his people’s unrest.”

An illustration of BBC under-reporting of terrorism against Israelis

As regular readers know, the vast majority of non-fatal terror attacks against Israelis do not receive any BBC coverage and in 2016 that meant that just 2.8% of the total attacks were reported.

One of those unreported attacks took place in on September 19th 2016 when two police officers were wounded in a stabbing attack in Jerusalem.

“Two police officers were wounded in a stabbing attack outside Herod’s Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City on Monday morning, police said, as a fresh wave of attacks in Jerusalem and the West Bank persisted for a fourth straight day.

A female officer, 38, was seriously wounded in the assault. A male officer, 45, was moderately wounded, according to the Magen David Adom ambulance service.”

The female officer – a mother of two – was left partly paralysed by the attack.

“Border policewoman Tsippi Yacovian, who was critically wounded and partially paralyzed after her spinal cord was severed during a September terrorist attack near the Old City’s Herod’s Gate, testified this week against the man accused of repeatedly stabbing her.

Despite efforts from a team of doctors, the attack left her paralyzed below the waist and elsewhere.

“I have no feeling in my legs, back or rib cage, and my hands are very weak,” she testified. “I now can’t do basic things and will be dependent on others for most of my life.””

Yacovian is confined to a wheelchair and requires 24 hour care. After months of treatment in hospital came to an end, she was unable to go home because her house does not meet her needs. A crowd-funding campaign was launched in July to help her and her family relocate to a suitable house.

“Because of her medical condition, Yacobian’s house in Almon (also known as Anatot), north of Jerusalem, is no longer suitable. She needs complete wheelchair accessibility, specialized equipment and 24-hour assistance. She can’t live in a house with an elevator because she is not strong enough to press the button. […]

Additionally, Yacobian’s life is at risk every time she travels for a lengthy period. She needs to live in Jerusalem, near Hadassah Medical Center and Beit Halochem (Soldier’s House), where she will continue her rehabilitation.”

This week the crowd-funding campaign reached its goal of a million shekels.

While BBC audiences have seen follow-up reporting on victims and survivors of terror in other locations, this story is just one of hundreds deemed not newsworthy by the BBC.  

Related Articles:

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

Compare and contrast: BBC News personalisation of victims of terror

Comparing BBC personalisation of victims of terror in Paris, Brussels and Israel

BBC Complaints: terror attacks in Jerusalem and Tunisia are “very different”

BBC’s double standards on terrorism highlighted again 

 

Is a BBC WS claim about Israeli politicians true?

The August 16th edition of the BBC World Service programme ‘Newshour‘ included an item (from 48:53 here) in which the BBC managed to shoehorn Israel into its coverage of last weekend’s shocking incidents in Virginia, USA.

Presenter Owen Bennett-Jones told worldwide listeners that:

“Video of the white supremacists in Charlottesville clearly shows them chanting openly antisemitic slogans, with organisers amongst other things complaining that President Trump allowed his daughter to marry a Jewish man.

While President Trump has come under a lot of flack from Jewish leaders and politicians in the US for his perceived hesitancy in condemning the groups, in Israel Prime Minister Netanyahu and most politicians have been rather more muted regarding what the president said. So why is that?”

The issue of whether or not it is appropriate for politicians from any country to comment on the internal affairs of another state is not discussed in this item and listeners are not given an answer to the question of why Bennett-Jones singled out Israeli politicians rather than those in any other nation. But is the claim regarding Israeli politicians made by Bennett-Jones accurate?

Earlier on the same day that this item was broadcast, the Times of Israel published an article titled “Israeli politicians reject Trump claim of two sides to Virginia hate march“.

““There aren’t two sides,” Yair Lapid, head of the centrist Yesh Atid party, said in a Wednesday statement.

“When neo-Nazis march in Charlottesville and scream slogans against Jews and in support of white supremacy, the condemnation has to be unambiguous. They represent hate and evil. Anyone who believes in the human spirit must stand against them without fear.” […]

Tzipi Livni, a former justice minister and No. 2 in the opposition Zionist Union faction, also rejected Trump’s assertion.

“When it comes to racism, anti-Semitism and Nazism, there are never two equal sides. There’s good and there’s evil. Period,” she said in a Wednesday statement. […]

…Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked […] urged that the neo-Nazis face prosecution.

“The neo-Nazis in the United States should be prosecuted,” she said Tuesday. Allowing them to march violently through American streets “was not the intention of the American Constitution. A democratic state does not have to tolerate such phenomena.”

On Sunday [Naftali] Bennett, who heads the Jewish Home party, condemned the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville and called on US leaders to denounce its “displays of anti-Semitism.”

“The unhindered waving of Nazi flags and symbols in the US is not only offensive towards the Jewish community and other minorities, it also disrespects the millions of American soldiers who sacrificed their lives in order to protect the US and entire world from the Nazis,” he said in a statement

“The leaders of the US must condemn and denounce the displays of anti-Semitism seen over the past few days,” he added.”

In addition to those decidedly not “muted” statements, the Israeli prime minister put out a tweet condemning the racism and, despite members of the Knesset currently being on holiday, a number of other politicians from a range of parties likewise made their views on the matter clear – including Michael Oren, Zahava Galon, Revital Swid, Ksenia Svetlova, Manuel Trachtenburg, Avi Gabbai, Yehuda Glick, Yitzhak Herzog, Dov Hanin, Shelly Yechimovich, Amir Peretz, Meirav Michaeli, Ayelet Nachmias-Verbin, Miki Rosental, Nachman Shai, Itzik Shmuli and Tamar Zandberg – who even went on American TV two days before this ‘Newshour’ programme was aired to talk about the issue.

And yet, the BBC apparently came to the bizarre conclusion that it was accurate to describe the responses from those Israeli politicians and others as “muted”.

Another interesting aspect of this item comes in Bennett-Jones’ introduction of his interviewee. [emphasis added]

“Ruthie Blum is a Trump voter living in Tel Aviv and a conservative commentator too with a number of publications including the Jerusalem Post.”

Seeing as in the past the BBC has on countless occasions failed to comply with its own editorial guidelines on impartiality by refraining from clarifying the “particular viewpoint” of interviewees,  that detailed introduction is noteworthy.

What does the BBC tell audiences about the first Zionist Congress?

August 29th will mark the 120th anniversary of the first Zionist Congress in Basel. So what information can BBC audiences find online concerning that historic event and its background? The answer to that question is very little.

Still available online is an undated page in a backgrounder called “A History of Conflict” that appears to have been published over a decade ago. Titled “First Zionist Congress“, that backgrounder (a version of which also appears in Turkish) provides the following information:

“The First Zionist Congress met in Basle [sic], Switzerland, to discuss the ideas set out in Theodor Herzl’s 1896 book Der Judenstaat (The Jewish State). Herzl, a Jewish journalist and writer living in Vienna, wanted Jews to have their own state – primarily as a response to European anti-Semitism.

The Congress issued the Basle [sic] Programme to establish a “home for the Jewish people in Palestine secured by public law” and set up the World Zionist Organisation to work for that end.

A few Zionist immigrants had already started arriving in the area before 1897. By 1903 there were some 25,000 of them, mostly from Eastern Europe. They lived alongside about half a million Arab residents in what was then part of the Turkish Ottoman Empire. A second wave of about 40,000 immigrants arrived in the region between 1904 and 1914.”

Another piece of BBC content still available to audiences is an item in the BBC World Service archive dating from 1997 which is titled “Theodor Herzl and the Jewish State“.

“Basel, Switzerland was the venue for the first Zionist Congress in 1897. It was called to campaign for a land which Jews could call their own, and where they could be safe from persecution.”

The unidentified presenter of that programme rightly tells listeners that:

“What spurred Herzl on was antisemitism. The Jewish State was to be a refuge from it.”

Bernard Wasserstein is then heard saying:

“He tried to find the most realistic solution and the most realistic solution as he saw it was not integration in states which did not want to have Jews as integrated elements. It was not the dissolution of Jews in an international socialist revolutionary movement. No; he saw the separating out of the Jews in a state of their own through which they could become part of the modern world.”

Presenter: “They weren’t part of the modern world where antisemitism was worst; in eastern Europe.”

The next contributor is Noah Lucas.

“The Jews had been impoverished and viciously persecuted. The persecution of the Jews was pretty endemic in eastern Europe. Of course in today’s terms, following the Holocaust, the extent of persecution and its severity was really almost trivial. I mean you’re talking about scores – sometimes at most hundreds – of Jews perhaps being killed in the entire continent. But nevertheless; persecution and impoverishment and cruel official antisemitism very often in the case of Russia.”

Presenter: “In western Europe, by contrast, the spread of liberal ideas had enabled Jews to advance in society as never before. But this inspired antisemitism in those who saw them as rivals or just too pushy.”

Later on (10:46) the presenter tells listeners:

“And it didn’t seem to occur to Herzl that the Arabs living in Palestine could possibly object to his plans.”

Lucas: “He saw the Jews as people who would bring beauty and light to the country. They would build and there would be an economy in which everybody there would thrive and everybody would be brothers and there was no sense of an impending conflict with the indigenous population of the country. This was a very typical attitude of course. The Palestinians living there were some half a million perhaps in number. They had no national consciousness at that time. They didn’t themselves exert a claim to statehood in Palestine as it was. Palestine was a political vacuum in that sense.”

Other than those two items, members of the BBC’s audience would have difficulty finding any available information concerning the birth of political Zionism and its context. Given the way in which Zionism and the birth of Israel are often presented in contemporary BBC coverage, accurate and impartial information on that topic is clearly lacking.