The BBC ‘explains’ Zionism

The BBC Editorial Guidelines on the subject of impartiality state that:


When dealing with ‘controversial subjects’, we must ensure a wide range of significant views and perspectives are given due weight and prominence, particularly when the controversy is active.  Opinion should be clearly distinguished from fact.


News in whatever form must be treated with due impartiality, giving due weight to events, opinion and main strands of argument.  The approach and tone of news stories must always reflect our editorial values, including our commitment to impartiality.


Presenters, reporters and correspondents are the public face and voice of the BBC – they can have a significant impact on perceptions of whether due impartiality has been achieved.  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.  They may provide professional judgements, rooted in evidence, but may not express personal views in BBC output, including online, on such matters.

[All emphasis added]

An anonymously written article from March 1st 2013, which appeared on the Europe and Middle East pages of the BBC News website, related to the subject of reactions to the recent statements made by the Turkish Prime Minister during the keynote address at the UN sponsored ‘Alliance of Civilisations’ conference in Vienna in which he described Zionism as “a crime against humanity”. Erdogan article

Interestingly, the BBC chose not to relate to the offensive nature of Erdogan’s remark itself, but focused on the American and Israeli reactions to the slur.

The BBC article presented a one-sided picture of the 2010 events aboard the IHH ship the Mavi Marmara, describing the Islamists who initiated the violence as “activists” and neglecting to mention either their actions or to give any context regarding the reasons for the naval  blockade’s initiation.  

“At a news conference in the Turkish capital, Mr Kerry said he had already raised the issue with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and would also discuss it with Mr Erdogan himself.

Mr Davutoglu defended Mr Erdogan’s comments.

The foreign minister again criticised Israeli troops for killing nine Turkish activists in 2010. The activists were aboard a flotilla of aid ships trying to break Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza.

“If some countries acted in a hostile way against our citizens’ right to life, allow us to reserve our right to make a statement,” Mr Davutoglu said.”

But most egregiously, whoever wrote this article (and is it not high time that the BBC began identifying the writers of online articles?) then decided to take it upon himself to ‘explain’ Zionism to BBC audiences. 

“Zionism is an ideology or movement that asserts that the Jewish people have a right to a national home or state in what was the Biblical “Land of Israel”.

There is no consensus among Zionists as to where the borders of the state should be.”

The obvious attempt to portray Zionism as a religiously based belief (with implied mythical connotations), rather than a political movement for Jewish self-determination, is as mistaken as the implied territorial expansionism in this ‘explanation’. That description of Zionism is neither accurate nor impartial, but clearly communicates the political views of the writer. 

The sentence which follows leaves no doubt as to the writer’s prejudices:

“For Palestinians, the success of Zionism has meant the frustration of their national aspirations and life under occupation.” [emphasis added]

The amount of history ignored in this one sentence is staggering. No mention is made of the Arab refusal to accept the 1947 Partition Plan, thereby preventing the establishment of a Palestinian state which by now could have been almost 65 years old. Neither does the writer acknowledge the 19 year-long Jordanian and Egyptian occupations – beginning in 1948 – of Judea & Samaria and the Gaza Strip, during which no attempt whatsoever was made either by the Palestinians themselves or the occupying powers to meet any kind of “national aspirations”. And of course the fact that there would have been no “life under occupation” whatsoever had Arab nations not chosen to take another shot at wiping Israel off the map in 1967 is also completely ignored. 

Instead, the writer absolves the Arab nations in general and the Palestinians in particular of all responsibility and agency for their fate, blaming Zionism for all ills. One might even wonder if this particular BBC journalist moonlights as a speech writer for Erdogan. 

Clearly, this article contravenes BBC Editorial Guidelines on impartiality: a correction and an apology should be issued urgently. 


11 comments on “The BBC ‘explains’ Zionism

  1. I’ve always been amazed at the ease despots find in rewriting history. But the speed and completeness of the rewriting of Palestinian/Israeli history tells me people want to believe the lies. The bigger, more false they are, the more they seem to be believed.

  2. The BBC quotes a Turkish minister, “If some countries acted in a hostile way against our citizens’ right to life, allow us to reserve our right to make a statement,” Mr Davutoglu said.”

    But is silent about this:
    Ailing Turkish Politician Treated in Israel

    [O]ur citizens’ right to life…


  3. The history of the Jews in Israel is long and complex, but there has always been a Jewish presence in the Land and that of other peoples but usually limited to isolated mountain villages and Jerusalem. There were too many brigands and treacherous, nomadic peoples to allow civilized communities beyond Acco and Jaffa. The coastal plain was swampy and malarial or useless wasteland until 1880 brought tides of Ashkenzi Jews joining the long resident Sephardic Jews. The Arab leadership sought to thwart Herzl’s plans for a Jewish homeland by luring fellahin from Syria and Egypt to occupy useless, absentee Arab lands. My mother’s family were driven from Ukraine in pogroms and blood libel trials to settle in Palestine. Many Arabs have a curious notion that every place they conquer belongs to them forever as the currently contemplated reconquest of Spain and even larger schemes of conquest.

    • It’s not an Arab thing, Manuel. It’s a Muslim thing. Any ground or building, once Muslim is Muslim forever.

  4. I stand corrected: Muslim. I know so few Arab Christians other than owners of the marvelous little restaurant in Lydda and a few gloomy merchants in the Old City.

  5. …There is no consensus among Zionists where the borders of the state should be…

    I would like the BBC to give a credible explanation as to how they arrived at this statement.

    The Jews accepted the land allocated to them by the UN. It was the Arabs that didn’t accept the international recognition that those borders would give the Jews, and tried to wipe them out. They have tried on successive occasions to do the same, and thankfully so far without success.

    Whenever an Arab nation has made a sincere peace with Israel, then any lands lost by them in their aggressive wars was returned to them, and what was first allocated as the borders were upheld.

    In the absence of any peace agreement with Syria and the Palestinians, Israel is under no obligation to uphold borders that the Arabs themselves have not honoured.

    Only militant Islamists and the likes of the BBC could see it any other way.

  6. The Writer said :For Palestinians, the success of Zionism has meant the frustration of their national aspirations and life under occupation.

    Not really. The success of zionism meant better life condition for arabs which resulted with mass immigration of arabs to Palestine under Turkish occupation and later British Mandate.
    As Feisal Hussein, King of Iraq and Syria wrote.
    “The resources of the country are still virgin soil and will be developed by the Jewish immigrants. One of the most amazing things until recent times was that the Palestinian used to leave his country, wandering over the high seas in every direction. His native soil could not retain a hold on him…. At the same time, we have seen the Jews from foreign countries streaming to Palestine from Russia, Germany, Austria, Spain, and America. The cause of causes could not escape those who had a gift of deeper insight. They knew that the country was for its original sons [abna’ihi-l-asliyin], for all their differences, a sacred and beloved homeland. The return of these exiles [jaliya] to their homeland will prove materially and spiritually an experimental school for their brethren who are with them in the fields, factories, trades and all things connected to the land.” 3

    • Unfortunately, such sentiments are forgotten in the rewritten “history” of Palestine in the last 60+ years. I expect the “trolls” to be upset with you Alexa>

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