Revisiting a BBC News website report from December 2017

On December 15th 2017 the BBC News website published a report titled “Jerusalem: Palestinians killed in fresh clashes with Israel” in which audiences were told that:

“Three Palestinians have died in Gaza during clashes with Israeli troops near the border, Palestinian officials say. […]

Palestinian medical sources say the men were shot dead on the eastern and northern borders of the Gaza Strip.

The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) said they were investigating the reports.”

The findings of an investigation into one of those cases were published several days later but the BBC did not produce any follow-up reporting despite the fact that the IDF concluded that no live fire had been used in that case.

The same case was the subject of further investigation, the conclusions of which were published in late March.

“Findings of a Military Police investigation into the death of Ibrahim Abu Thuraya, a double amputee who was killed during a violent protest near the border fence in the northern Gaza Strip in mid December, reveal that the sniper fire had ended at least an hour before the time Abu Thuraya was hurt according to Palestinian reports, Ynet has learned.”

Once again, no BBC follow-up reporting appeared and the claim from unidentified “Palestinian medical sources” (actually Hamas) that three people were “shot dead” by Israeli forces on that day remains in situ on the BBC News website.

Our colleague Tal Raphael has been taking a closer look at the differing accounts of that incident:

THE DEATH OF ABU THURAYA: WHAT REALLY HAPPENED?

Related Articles:

Will media report on investigation’s conclusion that Ibrahim Abu Thuraya was NOT killed by IDF snipers?  UK Media Watch

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BBC’s ECU upholds ‘Andrew Marr Show’ complaint

Readers may recall that back in April the BBC’s Andrew Marr managed to shoehorn Israel into a discussion about the Syrian regime’s use of chemical weapons.

During the papers review in the April 8th edition of ‘The Andrew Marr Show’ show guest journalist Julia Hartley-Brewer spoke about a Guardian report on the previous evening’s chemical weapons attack on civilians in Douma in Syria, stating:

Hartley-Brewer: “We’ve got to stop the nonsense that they’re not using chemical weapons. They are using them. And of course I would say I do think we need to remember that it was our country that chose not to get involved even after chemical weapons attacks as a result of votes in Parliament led by former Labour leader Ed Miliband.”

The “light” Andrew Marr then chose to shine on the issue of international inaction despite repeated chemical weapons attacks in Syria was as follows:

Marr: “And the Middle East is aflame again. I mean there’s lots of Palestinian kids being killed further south as well by the Israeli forces.”

As the Daily Mail reports:

“Anti-semitism campaigner Jonathan Sacerdoti complained, writing: ‘When talking about a story on the use of chemical weapons in Syria, Andrew Marr for some reason decided to talk about Israel (which was unrelated anyway). He stated there’s a lot of Palestinian kids being killed further south by Israeli forces.

‘This is completely incorrect and is made up. This was irrelevant to the conversation on Syria… and also actually completely false.’

BBC producers initially tried to defend Marr’s comments by pointing to the fact that five ‘younger people’ had been killed between the beginning of the year and the date of the programme.

They also said several Palestinian children and younger people were killed in the week following the broadcast, but Mr Sacerdoti argued that later events could not be used to justify Mr Marr’s comments.

His complaint has been upheld.”

Mail on Sunday

The relevant part of the ECU’s response stated:

Note the BBC’s use of a WHO document (which is based on figures supplied by the same terror group that organised the violent rioting) as a source of information concerning “a large number of children injured” even though Marr’s comment referred to “Palestinian kids being killed”.

BBC continues to disregard developments in Gaza baby story

Last month we noted that the BBC had completely ignored the fact that Hamas had removed from its list of May 14th ‘Great Return March’ casualties a baby girl whom BBC audiences were told on numerous platforms had died as a result of Israeli actions.

BBC ignores removal of Gaza baby from casualty list

Even after Hamas had removed – on May 25th – Layla al-Ghandour’s name from its list of Palestinian casualties, the BBC continued to promote a filmed report by Jeremy Bowen in which viewers were given to understand that Israel was responsible for her death.

Twelve days after the Hamas announcement, Bowen’s report was embedded into an article published on the BBC News website’s ‘UK politics’ page and that item – along with several others – continues to be available to the public.

Late last month a Palestinian from the Gaza Strip was apprehended while taking part in a border infiltration.

“On May 28, IDF forces arrested Mahmoud Omar along with another member of Fatah’s armed wing, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, after they attempted to infiltrate into Israel and torch an unmanned IDF post, the Southern District Attorney’s indictment against him said. […]

During his questioning, Omar told interrogators the details of the planned attack and detailed his involvement in other terror-related activities.

The suspect also disclosed that he was related to Layla Ghandour, the 8-month-old baby whose May 14 death was originally reported to have been caused by inhalation of tear gas sprayed by Israeli forces at Gaza border protesters. […]

…the suspect was told [by family members] that Layla had died of a blood disease similar to the one that took the life of the deceased infant’s brother, who succumbed to the condition at the same age in 2017.

However, Omar told authorities, Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar paid Layla’s parents, Miriam and Anwar Ghandour, NIS 8,000 ($2,206) to tell the media that the infant had died due to tear gas inhalation at the Gaza protests.”

Despite that development and notwithstanding the fact that Hamas removed the baby from its list of casualties nearly a month ago, BBC audiences can still find reports such as this one claiming that she died because of Israeli actions on May 14th and to date the BBC has failed to make any effort to clarify to its audiences that the claim it widely promoted on a variety of platforms has been called into question.  

Related Articles:

BBC ignores removal of Gaza baby from casualty list

BBC News plays down Hamas role in Gaza violence – part one

BBC website recycles article, ignores anti-Israel image

 

Weekend long read

1) At the JCPA Amb. Alan Baker discusses Palestinian violations of international law.

“On June 1, 2018, France, Russia, China, Sweden, and others supported a Kuwait-sponsored draft resolution in the Security Council deploring Israel’s use of “excessive, disproportionate and indiscriminate force” against Palestinian civilians, and condemning the use by Israel’s forces of live ammunition against civilian protesters. It sought to call upon the UN to act to “guarantee the safety and protection of the Palestinian civilian population, including recommendations for an international protection mechanism.”

The call in the opening provision of the draft resolution to respect international human rights law and international humanitarian law, would appear to be all the more cynical in light of the flagrant violations by the Palestinian leadership and Hamas of international humanitarian and human rights law. This is especially the case with their willful and deliberate use of women and children, pollution of the environment, and burning and destruction of crops and agricultural produce.”

2) The Middle East Forum has published a report on the charity ‘Islamic Relief’ – which the BBC told its audiences in 2014 had been ‘cleared’ of a “terror funding claim”.

“A new Middle East Forum report reveals that Islamic Relief, a “charity” supported by European and American governments, finances Hamas front organizations. […]

Founded in 1984 in Birmingham, England, Islamic Relief, with branches in over 20 countries, is the largest Islamic charity in the West. It has received at least $80 million over the past ten years from Western governments and international bodies, including the United Nations. It received more than $700,000 from U.S. taxpayers during the past two years. Its officials are members of government advisory panels, while Western cabinet ministers, European royalty, and Trump administration officials speak at its events.

Islamic Relief is, however, banned in both Israel and the United Arab Emirates because of links to terror. The MEF report, Islamic Relief: Charity, Extremism and Terror, confirms its ties to extremism in the West and to terrorism-linked groups in the Middle East.”

3) Emanuele Ottolenghi explains how “Lebanon Is Protecting Hezbollah’s Cocaine Trade in Latin America“.

“Paraguay hosts a significant and growing money laundering operation connected to Hezbollah in the Triple Frontier, where Paraguay intersects with Argentina and Brazil. Increasingly, Hezbollah’s local operatives are involved in the local boom of cocaine trafficking — and there is evidence that Hezbollah is sending senior officials to the Triple Frontier to coordinate these activities.

After more than a decade when U.S. policymakers neglected the Triple Frontier, federal investigations are now finally unearthing multibillion-dollar criminal schemes run by Hezbollah. It was no surprise that Hezbollah would push back by leveraging local influence. It was less obvious that it would do so through the Lebanese Embassy, which is, technically speaking, an arm of the state institutions Washington wants to strengthen as a counterweight to Hezbollah.”

4) Ha’aretz has produced a video about the Palestinian arson attacks the BBC has been so reluctant to report.

The Palestinian protests the BBC preferred to ignore

On June 13th BBC Arabic reporter Nida Ibrahim sent the following tweet:

The story behind that tweet is as follows:

“Palestinian Authority Security Forces broke up protests in Ramallah on Wednesday night, after a week of rare public displays of opposition to the Palestinian leadership. Demonstrators called for an end to sanctions on the Gaza Strip, blaming PA President Mahmoud Abbas and the PA for its role in isolating the Hamas-run enclave.

PA Security Forces – which include numerous layers of police, plainclothes officers, riot police and more heavily armed units – sought to prevent a mass protest by Palestinians in central Ramallah. They erected “flying checkpoints” at entrances to Ramallah, according to tweets by activist Mariam Barghouti. A group of predominantly young men and women chanted “Freedom, freedom,” as police used stun grenades and physical force to remove them, Barghouti wrote. “Downtown Ramallah is like a war zone. All we’re asking is stop punishing our people by our leadership.””

The PA security forces were criticised by an NGO and by local and international press freedom organisations.

“The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) expresses its deep concern and condemnation of the Palestinian security services’ repression and widespread attacks on journalists and the media outlets and preventing them from covering the peaceful assembly that was organized in Ramallah to demand lifting all  sanctions imposed on Gaza Strip, MADA denounces these violations that targeted civilians including journalists who peacefully participated in the demonstration; such rights are guaranteed under the Palestinian Basic Law.”

Several days later, on June 18th, a demonstration in the Gaza Strip was also violently dispersed by security forces – this time those controlled by Hamas.

“Undercover Hamas operatives attacked Palestinian protesters on Monday during a march held in Saraya Square in the center of Gaza City.

The demonstration was part of the Prisoners Movement’s initiative to end the division between Hamas, the armed Islamic group that rules the Gaza Strip, and Fatah, the political party that dominates the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. […]

…Hamas members with long beards showed up,” a protester claimed to The Media Line. She added that most of them, armed with weapons, started pushing the protesters, including the females, assaulting them with rocks, sticks, and shoes.

“They kept pushing until they destroyed the whole stage and equipment,” the protester revealed. She said that the situation deteriorated when the armed assailants stopped protesters from filming the developments by stealing their phones. “I filmed part of the clashes and escaped by a car,” the protester told The Media Line, however, she qualified, Hamas members stopped her vehicle and forced her to delete videos and pictures. They purportedly threatened her, saying, “we will get back to you, just wait for us.””

For nearly three months the BBC has been reporting on what it has euphemistically portrayed as “demonstrations” along the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel. Despite the fact that people approaching that border – many of whom were linked to terror groups – have carried out shooting, firebomb, IED and arson attacks and have damaged the fence and tried to infiltrate Israeli territory, the BBC has insisted on blandly describing them as “protesters”

However, when some real demonstrations by Palestinian protesters take place, the BBC’s reporting on that topic is nowhere to be found.

BBC portrayal of US decision to leave UNHRC – part two

In part one of this post we saw how the BBC News website’s portrayal of the June 19th US announcement that it would leave the UN Human Rights Council failed to clarify to audiences that the decision – which had been on the cards for a year – came about because the UNHRC did not carry out what the US considers to be “essential reforms”.

The same story was the topic of an item aired in the June 19th edition of the BBC Radio 4 programme ‘The World Tonight’. Presenter Ritula Shah introduced it (from 22:35 here) as follows: [emphasis in italics in the original, emphasis in bold added]

Shah: “Well a body that might have been charged with examining Italy’s plans for the Roma is the United Nations Human Rights Council and in the last few minutes the United States has announced that it’s pulling out of that organisation. The US ambassador to the UN is Nikki Haley.”

Listeners then heard a recording of part of the statement made by the US Ambassador at the press conference at which the US decision was announced.

Haley: “…the United States is officially withdrawing from the UN Human Rights Council. In doing so, I want to make it crystal clear that this step is not a retreat from human rights commitments; on the contrary, we take this step because our commitment does not allow us to remain a part of a hypocritical and self-serving organization that makes a mockery of human rights.”

Shah: “The mission of the UNHRC is to promote and protect human rights around the world. But when it was founded in 2006 the Bush administration declined to join, complaining that it included repressive states. The US has also repeatedly accused the body of being anti-Israel. Washington relented under President Obama and the US has been among the 47 countries elected to the council three times with the last 3-year term beginning in 2016.”

Remarkably the person chosen by ‘The World Tonight’ to comment on that story was the head of a political NGO with a long-standing anti-Israel bias who himself is infamous for having something of an obsession – particularly visible on Twitter – with that country. ‘Human Rights Watch’ had put out a press release concerning the US decision prior to this programme going on air and some of its themes were recycled in the Radio 4 item.

Shah: “Well Kenneth Roth is the executive director of the international human rights organisation ‘Human Rights Watch’ and he joins me now. [….] Kenneth Roth; Nikki Haley says the US hasn’t retreated from its human rights commitments. What difference then will its departure make – from the council – make?”

Roth: “Well I mean I wish it were true that the US hadn’t retreated from its commitments. I don’t see a lot of effort to stop, you know, Syrian slaughter of civilians, to stop the Saudis from indiscriminately bombing and starving civilians in Yemen, to defend the Rohingya who were ethnically cleansed from Myanmar. So you know I would quarrel with her there but in terms of the UN Human Rights Council, you know the US seems to be making two points. One is that some abusive states sit on the council – which is true. And that’s really the fault of different regions of the world who nominate them and then don’t give the UN General Assembly members the choice. They basically say ‘here are the same number of candidates as openings: take ’em or leave ’em’. And you have no choice but to take them.”

Shah: “So among the current members: the DRC, Egypt, China – all of which could be criticized for their human rights record.”

Roth’s agenda then became apparent:

Roth: “Absolutely. But even given that, the Human Rights Council has done a lot of good. It has actually done very serious investigations and condemnations in places like Syria, Yemen, North Korea, Myanmar. The problem is, it also criticises Israel and what this is really about…”

Shah [interrupts]: “But it’s a bit more than just criticising Israel, isn’t it? Israel is the only country that actually has a permanent space on its [the UNHRC] agenda – so-called Agenda 7 – which stipulates that alleged Israeli human rights abuses in the Palestinian conflict should be reviewed every council meeting.”

Roth: “That’s true and that’s something that the US has complained about a lot. But the truth is the US votes against resolutions criticising Israel even under other agenda items that apply to everybody. So it’s a bit hypocritical. Yes, they can complain about Agenda Item 7 but it never criticises Israel’s human rights abuses under this administration.”

Shah: “But it is strange that in that sense the US isn’t the only country that’s pointed this out. Even Ban Ki Moon the former UN Secretary General and the EU have pointed out that singling out Israel when there are human rights abuses all over the world is strange and slightly undermines the council’s credibility.”

Roth: “Well you know ‘Human Rights Watch’ has pointed this out as well but the real issue is, you know, does the Human Rights Council do more good than harm and it does enormous good in many places around the world.

Roth’s claim that HRW “has pointed this out” is apparently based on previous statements the NGO’s staff such as this one last year from its Geneva director, John Fisher, in which he effectively compared Israel’s human rights record to those of two repressive dictators infamous for murdering their own people:

“Fisher said Israel’s human rights record did warrant Council scrutiny, but the special focus was “a reasonable concern”.

“It is an anomaly that there is a dedicated agenda item in a way that there isn’t for North Korea or Syria or anything else,” he said.”

Roth went on to promote more of the messaging found in his NGO’s press release, even using the same words:

Roth: “But the Trump administration basically has a one-dimensional human rights policy. Ahm…it wants to defend Israel from criticisms above all else. So even given this…ahm…this fault in the council that it has this idiosyncratic stand-alone item for Israel, none the less most governments say we’re gonna work with the council; we can try to amend that Agenda Item but it does a lot of good. But the Trump administration’s in essence saying that we want to undermine the council because it criticises Israel…”

Shah: “Well it is interesting though….”

Roth: “…and the rest of the good work it does can be damned.”

Shah: “Item 7 was inserted after the organisation was formed. Perhaps if some sort of reform of the council to make it more balanced, to take into account the points that you’ve made at the beginning that it also includes countries that actually could be accused of human rights abuses, when actually its formation, its purpose is supposed to defend human rights and demand of its members the highest standards in defending human rights – those issues could have been tackled, couldn’t they?”

Shah failed to inform listeners that the US had been trying for a year to introduce exactly such reforms. Neither was it clarified to audiences that the “reform process” subsequently referred to by Roth is not the same one that the US was promoting or that his organisation – along with others – had actively opposed the US’s proposed reforms.

Roth: “Yes, there’s actually an active reform process underway at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. And the US government was participating in that process until now. Now it’s walking away. So ironically it’s less likely to get any reforms by turning its back on the council but that’s why I don’t think this move is really about reform. This move is about trying to discredit the council because the council criticises Israel and that one-dimensional policy is just fortunately not where the rest of the world is. The rest of the world recognises there’s a need to address serious problems elsewhere in the world as well.”

Ritula Shah closed the item there. Listeners were not informed – as BBC editorial guidelines on impartiality require – of the “particular viewpoint” of Ken Roth and Human Rights Watch on Israel despite that being of obvious relevance since his messaging was given an almost unchallenged stage.

And so, listeners to BBC Radio 4 heard a person presented as the head of an authoritative sounding “international human rights organisation” telling them repeatedly that the US withdrawal from the UNHRC is actually “really about” Israel and – as was the case in his organisation’s press release – that because of Israel, human rights in the rest of the world will suffer.  

Related Articles:

BBC portrayal of US decision to leave UNHRC – part one

BBC News website amplifies the NGO echo-chamber

 

BBC portrayal of US decision to leave UNHRC – part one

When the US Secretary of State and the US Ambassador to the UN announced on June 19th that their country would be leaving the UN Human Rights Council, the reason for that decision was made perfectly clear by Ambassador Haley:

“One year ago, I traveled to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva. On that occasion, I outlined the U.S. priorities for advancing human rights and I declared our intent to remain a part of the Human Rights Council if essential reforms were achieved. These reforms were needed in order to make the council a serious advocate for human rights. For too long, the Human Rights Council has been a protector of human rights abusers and a cesspool of political bias.

Regrettably, it is now clear that our call for reform was not heeded. Human rights abusers continue to serve on and be elected to the council. The world’s most inhumane regimes continue to escape scrutiny, and the council continues politicizing and scapegoating of countries with positive human rights records in an attempt to distract from the abusers in their ranks.

Therefore, as we said we would do a year ago if we did not see any progress, the United States is officially withdrawing from the UN Human Rights Council. In doing so, I want to make it crystal clear that this step is not a retreat from human rights commitments; on the contrary, we take this step because our commitment does not allow us to remain a part of a hypocritical and self-serving organization that makes a mockery of human rights.”

In other words, the US decision – which had been on the cards for a year – came about because the UNHRC did not carry out what the US considers to be “essential reforms” within the stated time period.

The BBC News website reported that story on June 19th in an article with an interestingly punctuated headline: “US quits ‘biased’ UN human rights council“.

In a subsection that was added to later versions of the report with the title “Why has the US decided to quit?” BBC audiences were not told that the answer to that question is because reforms intended – as Ms Haley clearly stated – to “prevent the world’s worst human rights abusers from gaining Human Rights Council membership”, to “stop the council from protecting the world’s worst human rights abusers” and to end the “disproportionate focus and unending hostility towards Israel” did not receive sufficient public support from what the US Ambassador described as “like-minded countries”.

Instead, BBC audiences found an unclear and unhelpful narrative which makes no mention of the US reform plan – or the countries that declined to support it.

In another sub-section titled “What’s been the reaction?” readers were told that:

“UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said the decision was “regrettable”, arguing that while reforms are needed, the UNHRC is “crucial to holding states to account”.”

Interestingly, BBC audiences were not told that just one day before the US announcement, the UK Foreign Secretary had criticised the UNHRC’s treatment of Israel.

“Britain on Monday urged the UN Human Rights Council to reform its treatment of Israel, joining the United States in demanding an end to what has been described as the body’s bias against the Jewish state.

Addressing the opening of the 38th council session, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson criticized the council’s controversial Agenda Item 7, a permanent fixture on the schedule exclusively devoted to discussing rights abuses in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

“We share the view that the dedicated Agenda Item 7 focused solely on Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories is disproportionate and damaging to the cause of peace, and unless things change we shall vote next year against all resolutions introduced under Item 7,” Johnson said.”

Readers may recall that the British government made a similar statement in March 2017:

“We are putting the Human Rights Council on notice,” Britain warned in a statement. “If things do not change, in the future we will adopt a policy of voting against all resolutions concerning Israel’s conduct in the Occupied Syrian and Palestinian Territories.””

However, the BBC failed to report that story at the time and continues to present criticisms of the UNHRC’s infamous anti-Israel bias as coming solely from the United States while sidelining the bigger question of why democratic states did not join America’s efforts to bring about reform at the UN body. 

In part two of this post we will look at how the US announcement was presented on BBC radio.

Related Articles:

BBC article on Israel & UN HRC omits important context

BBC fails (again) to give audiences the full story in UN HRC article

UK government’s UNHRC statement not newsworthy for the BBC

BBC does free PR for UN HRC

What BBC audiences aren’t told about the UNHRC

How did BBC News report the latest Gaza missile attacks?

Visitors to the BBC News website’s main homepage, its ‘World’ page or its ‘Middle East’ page on the morning of June 20th were all informed that the people who had fired forty-five military grade projectiles at Israeli civilian communities in the space of some five hours during the previous night are ‘militants’ rather than terrorists.

In typical ‘last-first’ style, the headline to the BBC News website’s report on that story read “Israeli jets strike Gaza after rocket and mortar fire” and the euphemism ‘militants’ was seen again.

“Israeli jets have hit militant positions in Gaza after Palestinians fired rockets and mortars into Israeli territory, the Israeli military said.

The military said 25 targets linked to the militant Hamas movement were hit, in response to a barrage of about 45 rockets and mortar shells.”

Quoting “Gaza’s health ministry” without informing readers that it is run by the same terror organisation which co-organises, funds and facilitates the ‘Great Return March’ agitprop, the report went on:

“The strikes follow weeks of confrontation along the Gaza border.

More than 120 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces and thousands more wounded since a protest campaign began on 30 March, Gaza’s health ministry says.”

Readers were not informed that over 80% of those killed during the violent riots have been shown to be linked to assorted terror groups or that Hamas itself admitted that the vast majority of those killed on May 14th belonged to its organisation.

The report went on to give a context-free portrayal of the Palestinian demand for ‘right of return’ with no effort made by the BBC to explain to readers what Hamas freely admits: that the aim of that demand is the eradication of the Jewish state.

“The demonstrations have seen thousands of Palestinians mass on the border in support of the declared right of Palestinian refugees to return to their ancestral homes in what is now Israel.”

Despite the fact that the BBC is fully aware of the fact that attacks with petrol bombs, IEDs and guns have taken place in addition to attempts to damage the fence and infiltrate Israeli territory, it continues to avoid presenting such information in its own words.

“Human rights groups have accused Israeli troops of using excessive force. Israel has said they have only opened fire in self-defence or on people trying to infiltrate its territory under the cover of the protests.”

Although the June 20th attacks began at around 01:15 and continued until just before 6 a.m., the BBC claimed a more limited time-frame.

“Air raid sirens and phone warning systems sounded before dawn in Israel.

The military said Iron Dome missile defence system intercepted seven rockets fired by militants. Kites carrying containers of burning fuel were also sent into Israel, the military said.”

With the BBC having refrained from producing any serious reporting on the topic of the hundreds of deliberate arson attacks perpetrated over the last two months, it is unlikely that BBC audiences would be able to fill in the blanks left by the BBC’s tepid description of “kites….sent into Israel”.

The later part of the report purports to provide background information (including a map sourced from a partisan UN agency) but avoids informing readers of the highly relevant fact that the blockade on the Gaza Strip was implemented in response to Hamas terror attacks and not – as implied by the BBC – because Hamas “ousted” the Palestinian Authority.

“Gaza, an impoverished enclave of some two million residents, has long been blockaded by Israel and Egypt.

The blockade was tightened after Hamas, an Islamist group that won Palestinian elections in 2006, ousted its secular Fatah rivals from Gaza a year later.”

Two days before this report was published terror groups had launched rockets at the Ashkelon area. That attack went unreported by the BBC at the time and was not mentioned in this report.

Although Israeli civilians residing in the Western Negev region have been the target of eleven separate incidents of missile attack from the Gaza Strip since the beginning of this year, BBC audiences have not seen or heard even one interview with any of the thousands of the ordinary people affected by that terrorism. This report continued that editorial policy.

 

 

 

A ‘BBC Minute’ backgrounder misleads on Palestinian refugees

Yesterday we saw how a backgrounder on Jerusalem produced by the BBC World Service’s ‘BBC Minute’ misled its target audience of “young people” with regard to the 1949 armistice lines.

Last month BBC Minute produced two more of the items that it portrays as “making sense of the news” – this time relating to the Gaza Strip.  In those two items – still available online – once again a BBC Arabic journalist misled audiences with inaccurate information and presented context-free portrayals.

The first item is titled “BBC Minute: On Gaza clashes” and was published on May 16th.

“Gaza witnessed what’s described as the deadliest day of violence since 2014. Some 58 Palestinians were killed and Palestinian officials say around 2,700 were wounded during clashes with Israeli troops. It comes amid weeks of rising tension. We hear from the BBC’s Nida Ibrahim, who is in Gaza.”

BBC audiences around the world hear the following:

Ibrahim: “I’m Nida Ibrahim from BBC Arabic reporting from Gaza.”

Presenter: “This is BBC Minute on Gaza. For the last few weeks Palestinians have been protesting at Gaza’s border with Israel. It’s seen some of the deadliest clashes since the 2014 war.”

Ibrahim: “We’re talking about 60 people who were shot dead and 2,000 people who were injured. Some people are saying that the authorities here are not interested in any more protests. Things were supposed to culminate because it is considered Nakba or catastrophe which is the day Palestinians commemorate as the 70th anniversary for the creation of Israel and their being forced off their lands in 1948.” [emphasis added]

Presenter: “Gaza has been one of the key issues in the conflict between Israel and Palestinians. Israel accuses Hamas, that controls Gaza, of perpetrating attacks on its soil and have imposed barriers to reduce infiltration from the region.”

Ibrahim: “So I’ll say what one protester said to me the other day: he said life in Gaza equals death. One of the biggest barriers is actually having no future.”

Obviously that account does nothing to explain the real background to the pre-planned violence that has been taking place along the Gaza Strip-Israel border since the end of March. Neither does it contribute anything to audience understanding of the context to the situation in the Gaza Strip. But in that one-minute item Nida Ibrahim did find the time to misinform the BBC’s young audiences by inaccurately claiming that the sole reason Palestinians left their homes was because they were “forced off their lands”.

On May 17th ‘BBC Minute On’ produced another backgrounder featuring BBC Arabic’s Nida Ibrahim, titled “BBC Minute: On life in Gaza“.

“About 75% of Gaza’s population is under the age of 25. They live in what Unicef says is one of the most densely populated areas in the world. Israel says a boundary is needed for national security and the violence there is as a result of them defending its sovereignty and citizens. The BBC’s Nida Ibrahim in is Gaza and speaks to us about what’s life like for young people there.”

BBC audiences first hear a recycled version of the story that closed the previous edition.

Presenter: “BBC Minute on life in Gaza. Nida Ibrahim has been speaking to us about the deadly protests in the Hamas-controlled Palestinian territory. Here’s what one protester told her.”

Ibrahim: “He says life in Gaza equals death so it doesn’t really matter if we go on the front lines.”

Presenter: “About 75% of its population is under the age of 25.”

Ibrahim: “You don’t have electricity but for four hours. You don’t have hope. You don’t have jobs. So apart from the physical barriers that they might face they’re not allowed to travel: the borders are closed most of the time. Even the sea is contaminated by sewage water that have nowhere else to be released.”

Presenter: “The World Bank says a lack of progress towards peace and reconciliation has created an unsustainable economic situation.”

Ibrahim: “So if you are a 20-year-old you would want to know what kind of future you have here and this is the hardest to answer.”

Presenter: “Israel says the boundary is needed for national security.”

Ibrahim: “I heard somebody saying the other day that if they open the border you won’t find anybody else left in Gaza.”

Obviously that superficial portrayal again contributes nothing whatsoever to audience understanding of the factual background to the situation in the Gaza Strip – including the Hamas-Fatah rift that has exacerbated the electricity shortages and sewage treatment crisis. Listeners hear nothing at all about Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip 13 years ago and the crucially relevant topic of Hamas terrorism is not seriously addressed. Moreover, listeners are steered towards the understanding that “a lack of progress towards peace” is behind Gaza’s dire economic situation but no mention is made of the fact that it is Hamas that completely rejects “peace” and continues to aspire to destroy Israel.

These particular ‘BBC Minute’ backgrounders clearly go no way at all towards meeting the corporation’s public purpose of providing “accurate and impartial news, current affairs and factual programming of the highest editorial standards so that all audiences can engage fully with issues across the UK and the world”. 

Readers can judge for themselves whether BBC World Service funding (supplied by the British public both directly to the BBC and via the Foreign Office) could in fact be better employed to provide young people with news of the standard that they actually deserve, rather than content that is superficial, serially inaccurate, politically partial and dumbed down to the point of being irrelevant.

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A BBC Radio 4 presenter, a misquote and a ‘list of bad people’

h/t RF

A BBC radio show called ‘Last Word’ is described as “Radio 4’s weekly obituary programme, telling the life stories of those who have died recently”.

The June 15th edition of that programme (repeated two days later) included an item – from 13:27 here – in which presenter Tina Daheley spoke with food critic Tim Hayward about Anthony Bourdain.

During that conversation listeners heard the following: [emphasis added]

Hayward: “Like many people in that sector he was involved with pretty heavy drugs. The Manhattan restaurant industry was very much under sort of mob control as well so he was meeting unsavoury characters. Oddly enough, before he wrote the kitchen book he wrote a couple of really quite credible crime novels set in those environments.”

Daheley: “But he…he’s also talked about breaking bread with some…let’s say pretty interesting characters: ah…Hizballah supporters, communists, anti-Putin activists, cowboys, stoners, Christian militia leaders, feminists and Israelis.”

Hayward: “Yeah; I don’t know how the feminists got included in that list of bad people. [both laugh] That’s pretty odd.”

Presumably Daheley was not reciting that list from memory but had a script in front of her at the time which included the original version of the quote from Bourdain – which she ‘adapted’:

“I’m proud of the fact that I’ve had as dining companions over the years everybody from Hezbollah supporters, communist functionaries, anti-Putin activists, cowboys, stoners, Christian militia leaders, feminists, Palestinians and Israeli settlers, to Ted Nugent.”

While just last week the BBC found “racist stereotypes” in a private diary written by a person born nearly 140 years ago to be newsworthy enough to justify at least two reports, apparently BBC Radio 4 is quite at ease with its own distortion of a quote and stereotypical placement of an entire nation on a “list of bad people”.