BBC stays mum on new PA restrictions on foreign journalists

Almost a week after their announcement, there has so far been no report published by the BBC regarding the new restrictions on foreign journalists introduced by the Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Information and the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Journalist’s Syndicate.

Khaled Abu Toameh explains:

“Foreign journalists who ignore the latest restriction face arrest by Palestinian Authority security forces, said Jihad Qawassmeh, member of the Palestinian Journalist’s’ Syndicate.

He warned that any Palestinian journalist who helps international media representatives enter the Palestinian Authority-controlled territories without permission would face punitive measures.” […]

“The Palestinian Authority, which has often displayed a large degree of intolerance toward journalists who refuse to serve as a mouthpiece for its leaders, wants to work only with sympathetic reporters.

The timing of the ban is no coincidence. It came in the aftermath of US President Barack Obama’s visit to Ramallah and Bethlehem, where Palestinian protesters set fire to and trampled on his pictures. The protests seriously embarrassed the Palestinian Authority, especially because they underscored the large gap between its leaders and the street.”

As anyone who has read Stephanie Gutmann’sThe Other War” (a riveting account of the reality behind the foreign media’s reporting of the Second Intifada) will be aware, information coming out of the PA-controlled territories via foreign correspondents already passes through a series of ‘sieves’ including fixers and local editors before it reaches the general public. This new dictate by the PA will clearly exacerbate the filtering of the news which reaches audiences worldwide. 

Khaled Abu Toameh adds:

“Particularly disturbing is that representatives of the international media have not protested against the Palestinian Authority’s threat to restrict the journalists’ work and even arrest them. One can only imagine the response of the international media had the Israeli authorities issued a similar ban or threat.

It also remains to be seen whether human rights organizations and groups that claim to defend freedom of press will react.

Once the ban goes into effect, officials of the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Information will find themselves serving as censors and editors of all news items concerning the Palestinians. Unless, of course, foreign journalists raise their voices and insist on their right to write their own stories from Ramallah.”

So far at least, the BBC appears to be avoiding informing its audiences of these new measures which will affect both the accuracy and impartiality of its reporting. Similarly, the Foreign Press Association – chaired by the BBC Jerusalem Bureau’s Paul Danahar – has yet to release a statement on the subject.

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22 comments on “BBC stays mum on new PA restrictions on foreign journalists

  1. Ah, omission, that key weapon in the BBC’s Isra-hate propaganda war, again.

    https://bbcwatch.org/2013/03/28/bbcs-davies-crafts-a-narrative-by-omission/

    “…the Foreign Press Association – chaired by the BBC Jerusalem Bureau’s Paul Danahar – has yet to release a statement on the subject.”

    BBC Watchers should always remember that Paul, despite his title, is not a member of the foreign press, but a foreign Isra-hate propagandist reporting to propagandist-in-chief back in the comfort of BBC TV Centre in London, Jeremy Bowen. By the way, how are both their Hebrew and Arabic lessons coming along?

  2. Duvid,
    This reminds me of the acerbic debates we used to have on the old Biased BBC site with a senior BBC hack who called himself ‘John Reith’ and was, of course, implacably biased against Israel.

    I don’t recall the exact exchange but I asked him once, since the BBC has an Arabic Service when it was going to introduce a Hebrew Service or train its journalists up in the Hebrew language.

    His response was the Internet equivalent of a stunned silence.

    Evidently the idea was utterly repugnant to him.

  3. Could it be, and I’m not usually a conspiracy theorist, that the BBC has managed to convince the PA to introduce this new policy, so they, the BBC, can broadcast ‘news’, and when questioned here on BBC Watch or elsewhere, can hold up their hands and point to the new PA restrictions and claim they have no alternative?

    It’s about as likely as much of the stuff Donnison, Danahar, Davies and Bowen put out.

    Having just written the above sentence, I am struck by the fact that, off the top of my head, I can name 4 ‘journalists’, covering an area the size of Wales. Looking to the Tags at right, I can add Sackur, Knell and Connolly too.

    Is that not overkill for an organisation that gets most of its output supplied by Palestinian stringers, fixers and pr people, not to mention stories gleaned from HaAretz?

  4. Restriction on journalists by the Palestinians is an old story. And has never gotten much attention. I still remember the Italian news crews footage of Palestinians dancing in the streets and giving out candy on hearing of the 9/11 attacks. If you haven’t seen it, it’s because the Italian’s bowed to the Palestinian threats made over the footage.

  5. “The protests seriously embarrassed the Palestinian Authority, especially because they underscored the large gap between its leaders and the street.””

    They also “underscored the large gap between ” the way America is perceived by and perceives Israel, and the way America perceives and is perceived by the Palestinians. As did Obama’s very brief time in Ramallah, and his tough message to Abbas.

  6. And I believe it was an Italian film crew that filmed the horrific murder of two Israeli reserve soldiers at the hands of a mob in a Palestinian “police station.”

    That crew had to flee Israel in fear of their lives.

    David Horowitz described the indident while berating a CNN anchor for media bias against Israel:

    • That CCN anchor’s bluster was a joy to behold. At least he had the grace to grasp he was facing facts and could not argue, unlike the BBC which seems to have perfected censorship in support of propaganda. This footage would be redacted from iPlayer before Lord Patten could see ‘only we hold others to account!’.

      “Almost a week after their announcement, there has so far been no report published by the BBC ”

      Has it yet? Usually claims of BBC failing to cover something relevant (and this does fall under that category) are followed up when they eventually get their finger out and stick a paragraph in Ceebeebies.

      • The CNN anchor? Yes, it was an extremely rare and honest response from someone in that position. He started to say something and then realised there was no way to rebut Horowitz’s passionate argument and so simply acknowledged it.

        Couldn’t have made him too popular with his bosses at CNN.

  7. This puts me in mind of what happened in the Iraq war.
    Following the deposition of Saddam Hussein’s regime, the then president of CNN, Eason Jordan, publicly admitted to bias in their coverage of events in Iraq before the war. He had continually denied this allegation when made to him previously. Now he claimed that there had been severe and serious threats, physically to CNN staff based in Baghdad, as well as closure of their offices, if they did not follow the guidelines laid out by Saddam.

    The ethics of their decision to remain as part of Saddam’s propaganda machine instead of pulling out and revealing the truth to their public is questionable, but they justified their decision based on maintaining presence there.

    It is inconceivable that the BBC would not have been subject to the same restrictions. With the BBC as the world’s largest news agency, and wishing to remain that way, they have a clear motive in not antagonising any of the countries they maintain offices and cable and radio contracts with. Letters discovered by our troops from the BBC correspondent Rageh Omaar, showed him ingratiating himself to Saddam’s son Uday, one of the most despicable characters in history along with his father.

    But to this day there has been no admission from the BBC admitting bias because of force – they prefer instead to continue their propaganda of their own free will, and pretend it is impartial.

    I too put this point to Paul Reynolds at Biased BBC Blogspot, who was World Affairs Correspondent at the time. His reply was to try and dismiss it the same way the BBC are used to doing to the general public:
    “To Teddy Bear: like all Western journalists, BBC reporters are at risk in Iraq and have to tread carefully physically but this does not affect what they say.

    They seek simply to describe the situation for better or for worse. That was the principle established in the Second World War when truth was felt to be superior to propaganda and that the public could take the worst news in its stride. The same holds today.”

    My response to him on this answer was to write:
    Paul, thank you for taking the time to reply, but I’m very disappointed that you take us for fools. The BBC did not maintain offices in Germany during the war, otherwise they would have been subject to severe restrictions to continue there. The same that Saddam did with CNN, and without a doubt with the BBC too. So your analogy doesn’t hold water. You failed to acknowledge if restrictions were placed on the BBC by Saddam, and if not, why not? If so, why hasn’t the BBC come clean instead of STILL trying to have us believe that you’re a shining beacon of integrity.
    You (The BBC) did the same recently over the T word, first claiming that your avoidance of using it was “not to be a barrier to understanding” until Helen Boaden finally admitted it was to avoid offending your world service listeners, and we know how many of a particular persuasion that make up the majority that you are referring to. I think all of us would have a lot more respect for the BBC if you did not take us for fools.

    • Teddy; During WW2, American journalists never forgot they were Americans. They may have exposed errors and stupidity but NEVER pushed for the Axis. In the two Gulf Wars western journalists NEVER remembered they represented those seeking to bring freedom to the oppressed and destruction of a tyrrant who considered Stalin his model. One could be forgiven if one thinks that BBC, CNN, et. al. were working for enemies of the USA and the West.

    • Yes, I remember that Jordan made that mealy-mouthed justification for CNN misleading its viewers. Incidentally, he also proved his bias against Israel.

      And whatshername, who did a lot of the misleading reporting, was rewarded by being promoted to CNN’s Baghdad Bureau chief – a bit like a banker getting a fat cheque for losing billions of his clients’ money.

  8. Toameh is a respected journalist, but he provides no original link to the decision he reports (or attribution for his opening quotation) and all other web reports link back to Toameh at Gatestone. The last time I relied on a Gatestone report, about Anna Balzer, the reporting was faulty. Anyone have a link to a verified original source.

    • Clicking and following the link within Khaled Abu Toameh’s article brought me to this Arabic page. I did a google translate but Abu Toameh is reliable and trustworthy enough to believe.

      Journalists الاسرائيلون barred from entering Hebron

      Khalil – report together – issued by the Executive Board of the Hebron Governorate and the Ministry of Information and the Press Syndicate decision to prevent the entry of journalists Israelis Hebron without prior agreement by the Palestinian Ministry of Information, application of the principle of reciprocity, this step represents the sovereignty of the land and ensure the right of Palestinian journalists and re-mind for them and their dignity.

      In that context, said Governor of Hebron Kamel Hamid, said there were three decisions issued by the Ministry of Information and the Press Syndicate and members of the Executive Board of Hebron to prevent Israeli journalists from exercising their duties on the territory of a Palestinian state, but a statement from the Ministry of Palestinian flags according to the principle of reciprocity, which is followed by the Israeli occupation to preventPalestinian journalists from exercising their functions only with permission from the Information Office Israeli government, and has referred the decision to the Executive Board and discussed and which recommended in turn implemented and applied on the ground and that this decision was made unanimously by the competent authorities domain media, namely the Ministry of Information and the Press Syndicate.

      He Hamid said there measures to be taken against those who will breach this decision and not to apply it, so if there is a lack of commitment by the journalists will be resorting to the Press Syndicate to take necessary legal action against them, but if there is a breach of the ministries will be used to minister to prevent any breaches of thisresolution, and it will be dealt with firmly.

      For his part, Mahmoud Khalifa, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Information, in his interview with our correspondent, that Israel practiced long aggression frequent on the Palestinian media and international organizations working in the territory of the Palestinian state, which means clearly that Israel does not respect international laws and norms, which called for the protection of journalists inyear Palestinian media in particular after accepting Palestine at the United Nations we went in the Ministry of Information to organize work in the media in the State of Palestine and apply this matter to all media operating in the Palestinian territories, whether foreign or Israeli, and this decision will include the Israeli media, which he used to enter the territory of the StatePalestinian without permission or address of the competent official authorities that continuously address the Israeli media and invites him to respect the laws, but that the Israeli media is disciplined believing that the laws of the right to enter the territory of a Palestinian state.

      The Khalifa said there must be a clear indication of the commitment systems and laws in force in the territory of the Palestinian state, and respect for foreign journalists to this legal system facilitates their work and leaves no room for any disabilities often be caused by lack of commitment laws.

      Khalifa said if Israeli or foreign journalist on the territory of a Palestinian state without prior permission and in coordination with the competent authorities will be referred to the police and Palestinian military liaison to deal with him according to the laws and regulations in force.

      Khalifa called for Palestinian journalists working with foreign media to abide by the decisions issued because it would protect the interests and rights and their work.

      Turn Jihad al-Qawasmi, a member of journalists’ union, said the decision was based on pressure from the Ministry of Information and the Press Syndicate, especially after the entry of Israeli journalists continuously and lasting peace to the territory of the Palestinian state without permission and knowledge of the Palestinian Ministry of Information.

      He added, under the Oslo Accords signed between the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the Israeli occupation, by preventing the Israelis from entering Palestinian cities, and we aim of this resolution to protect Palestinian journalists and rehabilitate them in the light of attacks on them and depriving them of the exercise of their freedom.

      And increased Qawasmi in his interview with our correspondent in Hebron, if Ward Israeli journalist entering Hebron must get prior permission from the Palestinian Ministry of Information in accordance with the principle of reciprocity, which prohibits the right of Palestinian journalists from exercising their occupied territories in 48 and Jerusalem, except with the permission of the Government Office Israeli media, and journalists union is not against the entry of Israeli journalists to the territory of a Palestinian state, but they respect the laws and the Ministry of information and this applies also not on Israeli journalists, but to foreign journalists as well.

      Qawasmi said he right of the Palestinian security arrest anyone without a permit if his presence on the territory of the Palestinian state and the application of the legal proceedings against him.

      Qawasmi called Palestinian journalists not to enter any Israeli or foreign journalist to Palestinian cities, it would expose him to the issue of legal and dissuasive right decisions, stressing that the Journalists Syndicate calls for journalists to be bound by this resolution, which in turn will ensure the protection of the rights of the Palestinian journalist.

      Qawasmi called foreign agencies and international media organizations operating in the Palestinian territories, the need to obtain work permits from the Palestinian Ministry of Information, and had obtained licenses from the Israeli side, it does not allow her to work in the Palestinian territories.

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