BBC’s Jon Donnison does another make-over on Arafat

Remember Jon Donnison’s October 26th puff piece on Yasser Arafat’s ‘legacy (and look-alike) which appeared in the Magazine section of the BBC News website?  

Well here is Donnison flogging a dead terrorist yet again:

Yes – somebody at BBC TV News apparently thought that Donnison’s discovery of an Arafat look-alike was news-worthy, and so on November 13th another report on the subject appeared. 

There is little in this latest TV item which did not appear in Donnison’s previous written article (apart from a rather dismal attempt at stand-up comedy), and no significant analysis of Arafat’s real ‘legacy’ – the proliferation of terrorism and failure to make peace. Once again Donnison runs with the line “For many Israelis he was a terrorist”, as though that were a matter of mere opinion.

But Donnison also states that: 

“From his early days as a guerrilla fighter, the actual Arafat was rarely out of the headlines.”

A guerrilla fighter, by definition, “acts a member of an irregular usually politically motivated armed force that combats stronger regular forces, such as the army or police”.

In other words, guerrilla fighters act against official security forces – not against civilians.

If Arafat’s PLO – founded of course in 1964; long before any ‘occupation’ existed – was “rarely out of the headlines” as Donnison claims, that was because of its attacks on non-military targets. 

Yehuda Ohayon (aged 10), Yafa Batito (8), Mimon Biton (7), Haviva Biton (7), Chana Biton (8), Shimon Biton (9), Shulamit Biton (9) and Aliza Petretz (14) were not soldiers or policemen. They were pupils on their way to school on May 22nd 1970 when two bazooka shells were fired at their school bus by the PLO – under Yasser Arafat’s command.

Neither were the eleven Israeli athletes murdered by the PLO’s ‘Black September’ group at the Munich Olympic Games in 1972 a military target.

The 25 Israelis killed in the Ma’alot massacre – 22 of them children – in 1974 were not soldiers or policemen either. The 38 Israelis – including 13 children – murdered in the 1978 Coastal Road Massacre carried out by the PLO under Arafat were also not a military target. 

The list of Israeli civilians murdered by the various factions of the PLO with Arafat at its head goes on and on. The difference between guerrilla warfare and terrorism is of course that the latter is the intentional use of, or threat to use, violence against civilians or against civilian targets, in order to attain political aims.

Terror is precisely what Arafat was engaged in for fifty years: from his “early days” right up until his death.  And so for Donnison to re-frame Yasser Arafat as some sort of ‘guerrilla fighter’ is not only a clear attempt to distort history, but it is also plain inaccurate and obviously contradicts the BBC’s obligation to inform its audiences. 

Yet again – and despite clear BBC guidelines to the contrary – we get a glimpse from this report of Donnison’s political stance on the subject of the Arab-Israeli conflict.  

“Our audiences should not be able to tell from BBC output the personal prejudices of our journalists or news and current affairs presenters on matters of public policy, political or industrial controversy, or on ‘controversial subjects’ in any other area.”

But of course, given Jon Donnison’s publicly displayed penchant for reading (and promoting) material from less than objective sources, we should probably not be surprised that the end result is inaccuracy and partiality. 

12 comments on “BBC’s Jon Donnison does another make-over on Arafat

  1. Donnison tweets about the ‘amount of abusive and defamatory stuff that shows up on my timelines’. I sense a lot of discomfort with the views others hold about him there.

    Interesting that his sensitivity to what is tweeted to him doesn’t generalise to include a concern with what he writes about others or to a more rigorous approach to a sourcing of material.

      • If writing about Yasser Arafat, surely Mr Levick can be expected to also write about Yitzhak Shamir, a former Israeli Prime Minister and a member of paramilitary groups Lehi and Irgun, famous for orgaizing terrorist attacks in the 40s.

        Didn’t Shamir plot the assassinations of both Lord Moyne, British minister for Middle East affairs, and of the UN negotiator Count Folke Bernadotte? The Israeli provisional government even drafted an ordinance for the prevention of terrorism and then invoked it to declare Lehi a terrorist organisation, of which Shamir was a member.

        Irgun was also resposible for putting a bomb at the King David hotel, causing the of 41 Arabs, 28 British citizens, 17 Palestinian Jews, 2 Armenians, 1 Russian, 1 Greek and 1 Egyptian, and injuring 46 people. The casualties included empoloyees of the hotel and member sof the public.

        When will we read about this?

        • Nat, your darling Arafat was the pioneer of modern terrorism, including such great advancements in humanity as the airline hijacking (which led directly to 9/11). In addition, he ordered the massacres of Israeli civilians on several bloodthirsty occasions, whilst he did nothing to advance peace, launching the second intifada as soon as his bluff was called at Camp david in 2000 and he was offered a Palestinian state (again). He extolled the virtues of Jihad, and oversaw a corrupt Palestinian Authority which did not engage in nation building, but rather nation destruction.

          YOU should read more – or rather, you should try a different source than the BBC or Guardian.

  2. I think that Arafat’s lasting legacy is to realise that even a pathological liar can be a Palestinian hero.

    • “I think that Arafat’s lasting legacy is to realise that even a pathological liar can be a Palestinian hero.”
      A lesson not lost on Nat the troll.

  3. Compare with Yitzhak Shamir’s obituary:

    But in 1935, when he was 20, he came under the influence of a militant Zionist, gave up his studies and emigrated to Palestine, then under the British mandate.


    But Irgun was not militant enough for Shamir, who believed that violence was the way to get results, and in 1940 he joined – and later led – the more extreme Stern Gang.

    The British Foreign Office in the 1940s described him as “among the most fanatical terrorist leaders”.


    Shamir was determined that there should never be a Palestinian state, and he was not prepared to hand back land. Though he wanted peace, he was not afraid of war.

  4. I hope they put some protection around this French doctor

    PARIS — A leading French doctor who teaches at the Paris hospital where Yasser Arafat died in 2004 has broken the official French medical silence surrounding the case to tell The Times of Israel, based on Arafat’s medical report, that there is “absolutely no way” the Palestinian leader was poisoned.

    I am eagerly awaiting the results of exhumation, assuming that, like unlike Jesus, he has not ascended to heaven. Unless they find enough polonium there to resemble a small Chernobyl, I imagine we will hear cries claiming a Jewish Doctors’ plot to hide “the haq” – the truth.

    After all, they have their “unproven fact” that Israel killed him.

  5. Thank you BBC Watch for bring us the truth . It is shaming the BBC up for what they are . Anti-Semitic and Anti-Christ too . And what really gets to me is I have no choice to pay them if I want a TV set at home . And they call it Democracy !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Got to go now , back to my prayer room . The LORD is answering prayers by exposing the BBC to the disgusting cover ups of paedophilia that has ran amok under their wings . Hallelujah .

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