יום הזכרון לשואה ולגבורה תשע”ז
יום הזכרון לשואה ולגבורה תשע”ז
As noted here earlier this month, OFCOM is now able to consider complaints concerning content on some of the BBC’s platforms.
Before a complaint concerning a BBC TV channel, radio station or BBC iPlayer can be considered by OFCOM, it should in most cases have first been made to the BBC itself: details and online form available here.
Note: it is important to keep the reference number of any complaint made to the BBC that you may wish to pursue further through OFCOM.
We have updated our ‘Resources’ section and the page titled ‘How to Complain to the BBC’ in the ‘Get Involved’ section of the menu bar above to include information concerning the new system.
1) NGO Monitor reports on ‘EU Funding to NGOs Active in Anti-Israel BDS Campaigns‘.
“The European Union (EU) is the single largest donor to non-governmental organizations (NGOs) active in the Arab-Israeli conflict, accounting for NIS 28.1 million in 2012-2014 to politicized Israeli NGOs alone.
Indeed, NGO funding is a central component of EU foreign policy, claiming to promote peace, cooperation, and human rights. In contrast to the stated objectives, the EU funds a number of highly biased and politicized NGOs that exploit the rhetoric of human rights to promote anti-Israel BDS (boycotts, divestment, and sanctions) and lawfare campaigns, inflammatory rhetoric, and activities that oppose a two-state framework.”
2) During the summer 2014 conflict between Israel and Hamas the BBC World Service broadcast a particularly egregious interview with an ISM activist called Joe Catron who also writes for an outfit called Mint Press News. As our colleagues at CAMERA recently noted, a document that purports to be a guide to help readers discern reliable and unreliable news sites and is promoted on the Harvard University Library website includes incorrect classification of Mint Press News.
“The lengthy document lists various websites, either news sites or sites designed to look like news sites, and rates each site using a combination of labels including (among others):
Fake News (tag fake): Sources that entirely fabricate information, disseminate deceptive content, or grossly distort actual news reports. …
Extreme Bias (tag bias): Sources that come from a particular point of view and may rely on propaganda, decontextualized information, and opinions distorted as facts. …
Proceed With Caution (tag unreliable): Sources that may be reliable but whose contents require further verification or to be read in conjunction with other sources.
Political (tag political): Sources that provide generally verifiable information in support of certain points of view or political orientations.
Credible (tag reliable): Sources that circulate news and information in a manner consistent with traditional and ethical practices in journalism (Remember: even credible sources sometimes rely on clickbait-style headlines or occasionally make mistakes. No news organization is perfect, which is why a healthy news diet consists of multiple sources of information). …
Two listings on the site stand out as mislabeled. Dr. Zimdars lists the Alternet site as “political” but “credible,” and MintPress as simply “political.” Both of these sites are extremely biased, and have published false assertions concerning Israel and the Middle East. MintPress, moreover, appears to have affiliations with hate sites.”
Read the whole report here.
3) Vimeo has an interesting video of a discussion between Dave Rich and Nick Cohen at Jewish Book Week.
“In his thought-provoking new work, The Left’s Jewish Problem: Jeremy Corbyn, Israel and Anti-Semitism, Dave Rich offers a judicious analysis of the Left’s increasingly controversial ‘Jewish problem’. He examines the widening gulf between British Jews and the anti-Israel left and, based on fresh academic research, demonstrates that while the election of Jeremy Corbyn may have thrown a harsher spotlight on the crisis, it is by no means a recent phenomenon. In conversation with journalist Nick Cohen.”
A video currently appearing on the BBC News website’s Middle East page includes the following statements:
“There are strict controls on the movement of goods and people going in and out of Gaza.
Israel and Egypt tightened their blockade after Hamas, a militant group, took control in 2007.”
Similar messaging – often with political overtones – is frequently seen in content provided to BBC audiences.
“Israel and Egypt maintain a blockade around Gaza aimed at preventing attacks by militants there, though the measure has been condemned by rights groups as a form of collective punishment.” BBC News website, February 13th 2017.
“…the stifling border closures the Israeli government says are for security, the people here say are for collective punishment.” BBC World Service radio, February 1st 2017.
“One of the reasons Gaza’s often described as the largest open-air prison in the world is the difficulty of getting across the border with Israel.” BBC World Service radio, May 19th 2015.
However, beyond the ‘Israel says’ mantra, BBC audiences rarely hear about the reasons why restrictions placed on the border with the Gaza Strip are necessary because Hamas terrorism is consistently ignored, downplayed or erased.
“Israeli authorities on Wednesday morning intercepted material used to manufacture explosive devices hidden inside spools of medical material at the Erez Crossing, the Shin Bet announced in a statement.
According to the statement, the material was located during the security check at the crossing in the luggage of two sisters who are residents of the Gaza Strip. The two women had been approved to enter Israel for the purpose of receiving medical treatment for cancer, which one of the two sisters suffers from.
An initial Shin Bet investigation indicated that the explosives were sent by Hamas and that the group was planning to carry out terror attacks in Israel in the near future, the statement read, adding that the material was destroyed by a sapper of the Southern District police force.
“The terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip, including Hamas, continue to exploit the humanitarian and medical assistance provided by Israel to the residents of the Gaza Strip in order to perpetrate terrorist attacks in Israel.””
Predictably, the BBC has not found that story newsworthy.
As long as it continues to avoid reporting such stories and the broader context behind them, the BBC’s omission of vital information continues to shape audience views of Israeli counter-terrorism measures in a manner clearly incompatible with its supposed commitment to accurate and impartial reporting.
Since the commencement on April 17th of a hunger strike by some of the Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons led by Marwan Barghouti, the BBC News website’s Middle East page has published no fewer than three reports on the subject.
April 17th: “Palestinians in Israeli jails hold mass hunger strike”
However, in that remarkable display of conscription to the cause of publicising that story, the BBC has refrained from providing its audiences with background information crucial to their understanding of the topic.
In all three of those articles readers are told that the strike:
“…is being led by Marwan Barghouti, a Palestinian leader jailed by Israel for life for five murders.”
They are not, however, informed of the full background of Barghouti’s role in instigating the second Intifada or his involvement in additional acts of terror. Predictably, his victims do not even get a mention from the BBC.
BBC audiences are also told in all three reports that:
“Barghouti has been touted as a possible future successor to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.”
Readers of those three reports are told that the hunger strikers are protesting “detention conditions” and “conditions in Israeli jails”. They are not told what those conditions are or what the strikers are demanding.
“Among the demands from Barghouti and the prisoners are the resumption of a second monthly visit by family members (a benefit that was cancelled by the International Committee of the Red Cross due to budget cuts), the prevention of family meetings being cancelled for security reasons, and the restoration of academic studies and matriculation exams to prisoners. Other demands include more television channels being available in cells and cell phones in security wings.”
Significantly, in all three of the reports, readers find (not for the first time) amplification of the PLO’s narrative concerning Palestinian prisoners – as promoted, for example, in a PLO ‘media brief’ from June 2015. [emphasis added]
Report 1: “Palestinians regard the detainees as political prisoners. Many have been convicted of attacks against Israelis and other offences.”
Report 2: “Palestinians say the detainees are political prisoners, while Israel describes them as “terrorists”” (photo caption)
“Palestinians regard the detainees as political prisoners. Many have been convicted of attacks against Israelis and other offences.”
Report 3: “Palestinians regard the detainees as political prisoners. Many have been convicted of attacks against Israelis.”
The idea that people who have been convicted of perpetrating acts of terrorism are ‘political prisoners’ is rejected in Europe and we certainly do not see the BBC promoting the notion that people imprisoned in the UK for terror related offences may be defined in such terms.
There is of course nothing novel about BBC compliance with the PLO’s ‘advice’ to the media. However, the repeated promotion of the narrative according to which convicted terrorists are ‘political prisoners’ in this over-generously covered story obviously calls BBC impartiality into question.
As noted in part one of this post, between January 1st and March 31st 2017, ninety-one reports relating to Israel and/or the Palestinians appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page, some of which were cross posted from other sections of the site and seven of which were carried over from 2016. 12.09% of those reports covered stories relating to security/terrorism.
The remaining 87.91% of those articles can be grouped into a number of categories. (The dates in brackets represent the period of time in which each report was available to visitors to the website’s Middle East page.)
Five reports (5.49% of the total) related to historical subject matter:
‘Anne Frank link’ unearthed at Sobibor camp (16/1/17 to 17/1/17)
‘Yolocaust’: How should you behave at a Holocaust memorial? (20/1/17 to 29/1/17)
New Dead Sea Scrolls cave discovered (9/2/17 to 12/2/17)
British WWI alcohol stash unearthed in Israel (22/3/317 to 23/3/17)
Holy Sepulchre Church: Discovery at ‘Jesus’s tomb’ in Jerusalem (22/3/17 to 26/3/17)
Four reports (4.4%) can be categorised as miscellaneous:
Hilarion Capucci: Arms-smuggling archbishop dies aged 94 (2/1/17 to 4/1/17)
Jordan releases soldier who shot Israeli schoolgirls (12/3/17 to 13/3/17) discussed here
Israel: Hezbollah commander Mustafa Badreddine ‘killed by own men’ (21/3/17 to 23/3/17) discussed here
One report related to the US administration:
Pro-settlement hardliner Friedman confirmed as US envoy to Israel (23/3/17 to 26/3/17) discussed here
35 reports (38.46%) related to Israeli diplomatic/international relations and/or political aspects of the Arab-Israeli conflict:
Israel and the Palestinians: Can settlement issue be solved? (29/12/16 to 3/1/17 – date stamp later changed) discussed here and here
Trump and the Middle East: an impossible disengagement? Jonathan Marcus (30/12/16 to 7/1/17)
Obama and the Middle East – too little, too late? Paul Adams (29/12/16 to 7/1/17)
Five issues which shaped the Middle East in 2016 Jeremy Bowen (31/12/16 to 8/1/17)
Downing Street criticises US comments on Israel (30/12/16 to 2/1/17)
Israel’s ambassador sorry over ‘take down’ Sir Alan Duncan comment (8/1/17 to 9/1/17) discussed here
Mahmoud Abbas: US embassy move to Jerusalem would hurt peace (14/1/17 to 16/1/17) discussed here and here
Israel-Palestinian conflict: Summit warns against unilateral actions (15/1/17 to 17/1/17) discussed here
Obama fears moment ‘may be passing’ for two-state solution (19/1/17 to 20/1/17)
Israel approves settlement homes following Trump inauguration (22/1/17 to 24/1/17) discussed here
Netanyahu: Iran missile test must not go unanswered (31/1/17 to 1/2/17)
New Israel settlements ‘may not be helpful’ to peace, says US (3/2/17 to 6/2/17) discussed here
What will the Trump presidency mean for Israel? Jonathan Marcus (3/2/17 to 8/2/17)
Benjamin Netanyahu discusses Iran threat with Theresa May (6/2/17 to 8/2/17)
Trump urges Israel to ‘act reasonably’ on settlements (10/2/17 to 12/2/17)
Do Trump and Netanyahu see eye to eye? Barbara Plett Usher (14/2/17 to 20/2/17)
Israel-Palestinian conflict: Two-state solution not only option, US says (15/2/17) discussed here
Trump relaxes US policy on Middle East two-state solution (15/2/17 to 16/2/17) discussed here
Trump and Netanyahu – in 90 seconds (15/2/17 to 16/2/17)
Trump: ‘Mideast peace up to them’ (15/2/17 to 16/2/17)
PJ Crowley: Trump unveils a subtle but vital shift in US policy (16/2/17 to 24/2/17) discussed here
Israel-Palestinian conflict: US ‘thinking outside box’ (16/2/17 to 19/2/17)
Israel and the Palestinians: What are alternatives to a two-state solution? Colin Shindler (17/2/17 to 24/2/17)
Israeli PM criticises UN ‘hypocrisy’ on historic Australia visit (22/2/17) discussed here
Australian ex-PM Kevin Rudd berates Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu (23/2/17 to 25/2/17) discussed here
Banksy decorates West Bank hotel with views of Israel’s wall (3/3/17 to 6/3/17) discussed here
Putin and Netanyahu: A complex diplomatic dance Jonathan Marcus (9/3/17 to 20/3/17)
UN’s Rima Khalaf quits over report accusing Israel of apartheid (17/3/17 to 20/3/17) discussed here
Israel approves first new West Bank settlement in 20 years (30/3/17 to 3/4/17 – date stamp changed) discussed here
Four reports (4.4%) related to Palestinian affairs:
Angry protests in Gaza over crippling power shortages Rushdi Abu Alouf (14/1/17 to 21/1/17) discussed here
Hamas hardliner Yehiya Sinwar elected as Gaza leader (13/2/17 to 16/2/17) discussed here
Trump Middle East: Palestinian leader invited to White House (10/3/17 to 13/3/17) discussed here
The thirty-one reports (34.07% of the total) concerning Israeli affairs can be divided into sub categories including:
a) reports relating to legal and/or criminal issues:
Israel’s Netanyahu denies wrongdoing ahead of investigation (30/12/16 to 2/1/17)
Israeli police question PM Netanyahu in corruption probe (2/1/17 to 4/1/17)
Israeli soldier Elor Azaria convicted over Hebron death (4/1/17) discussed here
Israeli PM Netanyahu backs pardon for manslaughter soldier (4/1/17 to 5/1/17)
Israel police arrest two over threats to judges in Elor Azaria case (5/1/17 to 6/1/17)
Israel PM Netanyahu questioned again in corruption probe (5/1/17 to 8/1/17)
Israel bribery inquiry: ‘Audiotape’ adds to pressure on PM Netanyahu (8/1/17 to 9/1/17)
Israeli soldier gets 18 months for killing wounded Palestinian attacker (21/2/17 to 22/2/17) discussed here
Israeli policeman filmed beating Palestinian driver (23/3/17 to 26/3/17)
Video of Israeli policeman hitting Palestinian driver draws anger (23/3/17 to 24/3/17)
Israel holds 19-year-old over threats against Jewish centres (23/3/17 to 26/3/17) discussed here
Israel’s Mossad spy agency on the hunt for women agents (5/1/17 to 7/1/17)
The female soldiers serving in Israel’s army (11/2/17 to 14/2/17)
Israeli army sets sights on recruits with autism (1/3/17 to 8/3/17)
c) domestic news/politics:
Israeli policeman and Bedouin killed during clashes over demolitions (18/1/17 to 19/1/17) discussed here
Israel approves 3,000 new settler homes as Amona evacuation begins (1/2/17) discussed here
Amona settlers dragged from homes by Israeli police (1/2/17 to 3/2/17)
Israeli police move in on unauthorised Amona outpost (1/2/17 to 2/2/17)
Amona: Israel police clear last protesters from settler outpost (2/2/17 to 3/2/17)
Israel passes controversial law on West Bank settlements (6/2/17 to 8/2/17 – date stamp changed)
Rights groups challenge Israel settlements law in court (8/2/17 to 10/2/17)
Jesus miracle church in Israel reopens after arson attack (12/2/17 to 14/2/17)
Israel’s Netanyahu criticised over 2014 Gaza war preparations (28/2/17 to 2/3/17) discussed here
Israel marijuana: Users to face fine rather than criminal charge (5/3/17 to 7/3/17)
Israel Arafat street sign dropped after Netanyahu anger (6/3/17 to 7/3/17) discussed here
Israeli Arab anger as parliament backs ‘muezzin bill’ (8/3/17 to 10/3/17) discussed here
Israeli nurse dies after being set alight by patient (14/3/17 to 17/3/17)
Netanyahu denies claim he was ejected from convoy by wife (14/3/17 to 16/3/17)
Intel buys driverless car technology firm Mobileye (13/3/17 to 15/3/17)
As was the case throughout 2016 (see ‘related articles’ below) Israeli domestic affairs once again received considerably greater coverage (34.07%) than did Palestinian affairs (4.4%) in the first quarter of 2017. Remarkably, 16.48% of the headlines of the 91 reports published included the name Netanyahu while Mahmoud Abbas’ name was present in just one headline.
Reviewing BBC News website portrayal of Israel and the Palestinians in Q4 2016 – part two (includes links to previous reports)
Between January 1st and March 31st 2017, a total of ninety-one reports with content relating to Israel and/or the Palestinians appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page. Seven of those reports were carried over from December 2016.
Some of the reports were produced by other departments (e.g. BBC Business) or appeared on other pages of the website (e.g. ‘Europe’ or ‘US & Canada’) but were also posted on the Middle East page.
Although the Israeli security services recorded 321 terror attacks during the first quarter of 2017 (see ‘related articles’ below), just one of those attacks received coverage on the BBC News website.
(The dates in brackets represent the period of time in which a report was available to visitors to the website’s Middle East page.)
Jerusalem lorry attack: Four Israeli soldiers killed (8/1/17 to 9/1/17)
Jerusalem attack: Uncle of the lorry driver speaks out (8/1/17 to 12/1/17)
Jerusalem attack eyewitness: ‘I saw the truck hitting the soldiers’ (8/1/17 to 17/1/17)
Jerusalem lorry attack: ‘I fired until my magazine was empty’ (9/1/17 to 18/1/17)
Jerusalem lorry attacker ‘was IS supporter’ (9/1/17 to 10/1/17)
One article (carried over from December) related to a terror warning issued by the Israeli security services:
Two articles related to Hamas:
Israel will no longer return bodies of Palestinian Hamas militants (1/1/17 to 2/1/17) discussed here
Israeli soldiers ‘caught in Hamas online honey trap’ (12/1/17 to 13/1/17)
Two articles related to Syria:
In all, 12.09% of the BBC News website’s reports in Q1 covered stories relating to security/terrorism. The additional topics found in the BBC’s coverage of Israel and the Palestinians during the first quarter of 2017 will be discussed in part two of this post.
Reviewing BBC News website portrayal of Israel and the Palestinians in Q4 2016 – part two (includes links to previous reports)
As noted in a recent post, the April 17th edition of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newsday’ included a monologue from a person described as “the mother of a Palestinian inmate”. The monologue was also promoted to the BBC World Service Twitter account’s 303,000 followers and those who listened to the clip heard the following in a voice-over:
“I haven’t seen or visited my son for around maybe ten months. Israeli security won’t let me see him. When I used to visit Diya I felt as if I owned the world. Every visit request I put in only comes back with rejection, rejection, rejection. I’m 67 years old. What risk am I to Israel’s security? I am of no danger. All I want is to see my son, to check on him and he can check on me. This is all I want but they deprive even a mother from seeing her son and a son from seeing his mother.”
While BBC audiences are no strangers to the promotion of pathos-rich stories from the elderly mothers of convicted terrorists, the fact that listeners were not told who the speaker is or why her son is in prison and did not hear any response to her allegations from the Israeli authorities obviously does not inspire confidence in the BBC’s commitment to impartial reporting of this story.
So who is this “mother of a Palestinian inmate”? A clue to that question comes in a video that appears on the BBC Arabic website and is also embedded in an Arabic language article titled “More than a thousand Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails begin hunger strike” that, like its English language equivalent, promotes the notion that Palestinian “detainees” might be seen as “political prisoners”.
The woman extensively profiled in that BBC Arabic video is called Najat al Agha and she lives in Khan Younis in the Gaza Strip. Mrs al Agha is by no means publicity shy: she recently told a very similar story to the one promoted by ‘Newsday’ to ‘Amnesty International’ which, predictably, is supplying publicity for the current Fatah hunger strike.
“Najat al-Agha, a 67-year-old woman from Khan Younis in the Gaza Strip, told Amnesty International that her son, Dia al-Agha, 43, has been imprisoned in Israel for the past 25 years. At the age of 19 he was sentenced to life in prison after being convicted on murder charges. He is being held in Nafha prison in Mitzpe Ramon in the south.
“I don’t know why I get rejected. I am 67 years old. What security threat am I to Israel? All I want is to see him and make sure he is well. I don’t know how long I will live, any visit can be my last. I am scared of dying without seeing him,” his mother said.
“Every time I apply for a permit I get rejected. It is almost a year that I haven’t seen my son, it is devastating. They are punishing us, they are trying to break us.””
Moreover, Najat al Agha – who actually has had two sons serve time in prison in Israel – appears to come forward to tell her story quite frequently and – perhaps not unrelatedly – has been the recipient of ‘honorary gifts’ from the Palestinian Authority and the PLO.
The son she names in the ‘Newsday’ clip is Diya Zakariya Shaker Al-Agha “Al-Faluji”. He was convicted of the murder of Amatzia Ben Haim from Kibbutz Yad Mordechai in a greenhouse in Ganei Tal in October 1992.
“…Amatzia worked as an engineer in the fledgling electronics factory of the kibbutz. The final product was a computer controlled irrigation and liquid fertilization system sold to farmers who owned greenhouses, small plots of land, who grew tomatoes, peppers, strawberries, and flowers.
Amatzia would go to these farms, install the systems, and often go back to maintain them or to troubleshoot them if needed. Some of these farms were in the Gaza Strip, prior to the Israeli evacuation of all farms and settlements in Gaza.
It was on one of these trips that Amatzia was helping one such farmer in the Gaza strip, focused entirely on an irrigation line that may have been clogged, or a computer lead that may have malfunctioned. He did not pay attention to the young teen working nearby with a hoe, weeding the furrows. It was to be Amatzia’s last day on earth, as the teen brought the hoe down on Amatzia’s head, killing him instantly, widowing Amatzia’s wife, and orphaning his children.”
A media organisation truly committed to accurate and impartial journalism would of course have provided its audiences with information concerning the “Palestinian inmate” and the act of terror he committed. The BBC World Service, however, chose to give completely context-free amplification to his mother’s claim that Israel is ‘depriving’ her of seeing her son, without any mention of the fact that her son deprived three children – the youngest of whom was only five years old at the time – from ever seeing their father again.
That, of course, is not accurate and impartial journalism but self-conscription to a political campaign.
The chronic shortage of electricity in the Gaza Strip is – as frequently documented on these pages – a story that is consistently badly reported by the BBC. Rather than informing its audiences of the real reasons behind that permanent crisis, the corporation’s journalists regularly promote the entirely inaccurate notion that it is connected to the restrictions on entry of certain dual-use goods to the Gaza Strip that are part of Israel’s counter-terrorism measures.
In recent days the crisis was further exacerbated.
“The Gaza Strip’s only functioning power plant was not functioning Sunday after running out of fuel, the head of the Hamas-run Palestinian enclave’s electricity provider told AFP.
Samir Metir said that all the plant’s fuel, purchased with funding from Qatar and Turkey, had been used up.
He said it was not clear when the Palestinian territory would receive more, owing to a “dispute” between the electricity authority in Gaza and Palestinian authorities in the West Bank.
The Gaza Health Ministry warned of a humanitarian crisis as a result.”
As the Jerusalem Post notes, this is yet another chapter in a long-running dispute between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority.
“Hamas appealed to Ramallah on Monday to lift an onerous fuel tax which it said would force the Gaza power plant to shut down on Tuesday for the third day in a row.[…]
“We were surprised by the decision of the government [in Ramallah] to fully reimpose the taxes on the price of fuel used for operating the power plant,” the Gaza Energy Authority said on its web page.
The authority added that it “appealed” to Ramallah to waive the taxes. It further charged that Ramallah had delayed projects that would help resolve the electricity problem in Gaza.
A similar electricity crisis in December was resolved by tax-free donations from Qatar and Turkey that ran out last week. The Palestinian Authority in Ramallah is no longer willing to allow the plant to operate on tax-free fuel.”
On April 18th the BBC News website posted a filmed report – apparently also shown on BBC television news programmes – titled “Gaza power cuts: Man shares his tricks“. The report profiles an engineer from Gaza who has developed alternatives to mains electricity and the background to that story is described as follows:
“Power cuts in Gaza typically last 8 to 12 hours a day – sometimes longer. […]
There are strict controls on the movement of goods and people going in and out of Gaza.
Israel and Egypt tightened their blockade after Hamas, a militant group, took control in 2007.
Electricity is imported from both countries and there’s only one power plant.
Demand far outstrips supply.”
Leaving aside the predictable whitewashing of Hamas’ terrorism, obviously BBC audiences would understand – wrongly – that the electricity crisis in Gaza has something to do with the “strict controls” imposed by Israel and Egypt.
Not only is that not the case but the BBC has once again erased the real reason for the crisis from audience view.
As regular readers are aware, despite having offices in Jerusalem, Ramallah and Gaza the BBC does not devote much coverage to the topic of internal Palestinian politics. In particular, the story of internal Fatah power struggles is one that has been serially under-reported in recent months.
That chronic lack of coverage means that BBC audiences are not well placed to understand the developing story of a pre-planned hunger strike by Fatah prisoners serving time in Israeli prisons.
As analyst Avi Issacharoff pointed out when it was announced earlier this month, while ostensibly about prison conditions, the hunger strike – led by convicted terrorist Marwan Barghouti – is actually rooted in the Fatah power struggle.
“Officially, the Barghouti-led prisoners’ move is in protest of what they see as the Israel Prison Service’s failure to meet their demands regarding an improvement of conditions in the detention centers.
The strike will be Barghouti’s most significant test since he entered prison some 15 years ago. […]
In the Fatah Central Committee’s leadership elections (the party’s most senior institution) in December, he won first place. His wife, Fadwa, took the top place in the movement’s Revolutionary Council elections (the party’s second most senior institution). He is ostensibly the movement’s undisputed leader, despite being behind bars.
However, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his loyalists in the Fatah leadership have carried a series of steps to isolate and weaken him. Abbas did not appoint him as deputy chairman of Fatah, as Barghouti had expected, and other senior positions were divided between rivals Jibril Rajoub and Mahmoud al-Mottak.
Barghouti’s backers also failed to be elected to other spots in the Central Committee, and he’s realized that he has been slowly pushed out of the picture.
Forced from the halls of power, Barghouti is using the strike to signal to the PA with that he can still wield considerable power in the Palestinian street.”
“The hunger strike initiated by jailed Fatah official Marwan Barghouti is expected to start Monday – to coincide with Palestinian “Prisoners Day,” an annual event held in solidarity with the more than 6,000 Palestinian security prisoners incarcerated in Israeli jails. Barghouti is currently serving five life sentences for his role in murderous terror attacks during the Second Intifada in the early 2000s.
With the annual event comes the concern of increased tensions in the prisons, and in the West Bank with Israeli security forces. Hamas, Fatah’s main rival, announced Sunday that its members will also join the strike, as did the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), another Palestinian faction. […]
Barghouti began to call for a strike after talks between prisoners’ representatives and the Israel Prison Service on improving prison conditions reached an impasse. Those talks began more than a year and a half ago. […]
Among the demands from Barghouti and the prisoners are the resumption of a second monthly visit by family members (a benefit that was cancelled by the International Committee of the Red Cross due to budget cuts), the prevention of family meetings being cancelled for security reasons, and the restoration of academic studies and matriculation exams to prisoners. Other demands include more television channels being available in cells and cell phones in security wings.
According to sources close to Barghouti, the gradual increase in prisoners joining the strike is a planned step intended to prevent it from breaking early. But some have said that the fact that only about half of the Fatah prisoners announced that they would join points to a disagreement over Barghouti’s measure.
Barghouti supporters are also planning parades and demonstrations in the West Bank in support of the strike.”
On April 17th the BBC produced coverage of the strike on various platforms.
Listeners to the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newsday’ heard from the anonymous mother of an anonymous prisoner. A context-free clip from that programme was circulated on BBC social media accounts under the title “A mother’s plea for prison visitations” with the following synopsis:
“More than a thousand Palestinians held in Israeli prisons have begun a mass hunger strike against detention conditions. Rallies in support of the prisoners have been held in the occupied West Bank, and led to clashes with the Israeli security forces in the city of Bethlehem. The BBC spoke to the mother of a Palestinian inmate.”
Viewers of BBC television news programmes saw a short filmed report which was also posted on the BBC News website under the title “Palestinians clash with Israeli forces in support of prisoners“. The background to the story was described as follows in that report:
“Palestinian youths are clashing with Israeli forces in the West Bank. They are out in support of more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners who are on mass hunger strike against their detention conditions. There are fears that the protests could fuel tensions in the region.”
Visitors to the BBC News website’s Middle East page found an article titled “Palestinians in Israeli jails hold mass hunger strike” which informs them that:
“More than 1,000 Palestinians held in Israeli jails have begun a mass hunger strike against detention conditions.”
The report does clarify that the hunger strike is led by Marwan Barghouti:
“The action is being led by Marwan Barghouti, a Palestinian leader jailed by Israel for life for five murders.
Barghouti has been touted as a possible future successor to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.”
However, like the other reports, the strike’s political background is entirely erased from this account of the story and instead audience attentions are focused on “detention conditions” without clarification of the specific demands.
Securing amplification from international media organisations is of course part of the strategy of the organisers behind this pre-planned action. If the BBC is going to collaborate with that strategy, it should at least be telling its audiences the whole story behind the motives for the strike.
The Myth of the Palestinian Mandela (The Tower)