BBC writer suggests Israelis might eat locusts out of “revenge”

March 21st saw another (quite timely, given the Pessah holiday) BBC report on the subject of the swarms of locusts which recently arrived in Israel appearing in the Magazine section of the BBC News website. Much longer than the previous BBC report on the subject, this one was written by Cordelia Hebblethwaite of the BBC and PRI and is on the whole a balanced piece.  

However, one particular sentence promotes a decidedly bizarre notion:

“Call it revenge, or just a practical killing of two birds with one stone – whatever the motivation, many Israelis have decided to cook them up, and eat them.” [emphasis added]

The claim that “many Israelis” are now munching on locusts is clearly a rather wild exaggeration, and plainly neither is nibbling on locust snacks a “practical killing of two birds with one stone” method of pest control. But the suggestion that the motivation for eating locusts might be “revenge” rather than ordinary common or garden curiosity is obviously an inaccurate product of the writer’s over-active imagination alone – perhaps coupled with an attempt to be witty.

One wonders though how often a BBC writer has used the term “revenge” in connection with the eating of foods he or she finds unconventional in other countries?  

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The politics of BBC approved terminology on Israel’s security fence

A series of Tweets sent by the BBC Jerusalem Bureau’s Wyre Davies on the last day of the Obama visit to Israel provides an opportunity to take a closer look at a specific case of BBC approved terminology. 

Davies 'separation barrier' tweets

Davies’ use of the phrase “separation barrier” complies with the BBC’s “Key Terms” – established for use by its journalists covering subjects relating to “the Israeli-Palestinian conflict” in the wake of the Balen Report, but only partially made public in 2006 at the recommendation of the Thomas Report. 

The rationale for the use of the term “separation barrier” is described in the “Key Terms” as follows:

“BARRIER

BBC journalists should try to avoid using terminology favoured by one side or another in any dispute.

The BBC uses the terms “barrier”, “separation barrier” or “West Bank barrier” as acceptable generic descriptions to avoid the political connotations of “security fence” (preferred by the Israeli government) or “apartheid wall” (preferred by the Palestinians).

The United Nations also uses the term “barrier”.

Of course, a reporter standing in front of a concrete section of the barrier might choose to say “this wall” or use a more exact description in the light of what he or she is looking at.” [emphasis added]

Obviously, both the avoidance of use of the term “security fence” and the employment in its place of the phrase “separation barrier” have their own political connotations – which apparently escape the BBC.

The BBC’s decision to eschew the term “security fence” means that it consistently and deliberately conceals from its audiences the real reasons for the construction of that fence. Concurrently, its use of the phrase “separation barrier” implies that the fence was built for the purpose of dividing one thing from another and in no way reflects the fact that it actually came into being in order to protect Israeli civilians from Palestinian terror.

Things become even more clumsy when BBC reporters try to add ‘context’ to their use of the phrase “separation barrier”, as this recent example shows: 

“The motorcade’s route took Mr Obama through Israel’s controversial West Bank barrier, Israeli security sources said. Israel says the barrier is the only way to defend against militant attacks, but Palestinians view the structure as the prelude to the annexation of occupied land.” [emphasis added]

Here we see that not only is the security fence turned into a “barrier” in accordance with BBC guidelines, but it is also presented as “controversial”. It takes a special kind of perversity to describe a structure which has proven its ability as one of several (and not “the only” as stated above) counter-terrorism methods used to save lives as “controversial”, of course, but it is that same factor which apparently allows the BBC to ignore the hard evidence of the security fence’s efficacy, instead employing the much-used phrase “Israel says” in order to cast doubt upon those facts.

“A comparison of the above data shows a decrease of slightly more than 90% in the number of attacks: from an average of 26 attacks a year before the fence, to three attacks after erection of the anti-terrorist fence. This means a decrease of more than 70% in the number of Israelis murdered: from an average of 103 slain per year before the fence to 28 after erection of the fence. Similarly, this means a drop of more than 85% in the number of wounded: from an average of 688 a year before the fence to 83 wounded per year after it was built. “

Equally perverse are the standard BBC description of suicide bombers and other terrorists as “militants” and the attempt to juxtapose the proven evidence of the security fence’s role in saving lives with the politically motivated fantasy narrative of various Palestinian and anti-Israeli factions as though they were of equal factual value. In this case, the BBC’s boiler-plate attempt at impartiality just makes it look ridiculous. 

Interestingly, barriers constructed in order to thwart terrorism on British soil are allotted very different terminology by the BBC.

Peace walls 1

Peace walls 2 

The BBC’s choice of and adherence to the inaccurate term “separation barrier” completely airbrushes out of the picture the horrific Palestinian terrorism of the Second Intifada. That in turn distorts historic facts and results in diminished audience understanding of the conflict. The fact that the authors of the “Key Terms” (who include Middle East reporting ‘gate-keepers’ Jeremy Bowen and Malcolm Balen) actually state in writing that they consider the title of a structure designed to save human lives to have “political connotations” reveals volumes as regards their own adoption of a specific political narrative and raises severe doubts as to their capability for impartiality. 

Does the BBC’s Mardell think the language spoken in Israel is called “Israeli”?

One of the BBC journalists flown in to Israel especially for the occasion of the visit by President Obama was the North America Editor, Mark Mardell. On March 22nd Mardell produced an article entitled “Obama plays a Long Game in the Middle East” in which he gave his summing up of the presidential visit. 

Mardell art 1

Mardell spends a considerable part of the article advancing his own rather flowery interpretations – psychological and otherwise – of Obama’s words and actions during the trip, but one rather bizarre sentence stands out.

“Before the visit, several American commentators urged him to learn to speak Israeli – now his fluency is almost frightening.” [emphasis added]

Readers of the article can either choose to despair over the fact that a senior BBC journalist does not know the name of the language spoken in Israel or to wonder why – if Mardell was intending to say that Obama had been urged to learn to understand the Israeli viewpoint and how to communicate effectively with the Israeli people – he did not manage to make that clear either by better choice of wording or by means of appropriate punctuation.

Whichever interpretation of that sentence – literal or figurative – one elects to adopt, Obama’s “fluency” is obviously seriously over-exaggerated by Mardell, particularly in light of the fact that the President chose not to address the Israeli people as a whole through their elected representatives, but instead played safe by speaking to a carefully selected audience which excluded certain sectors of the public in advance.  

As for the rather bizarre – and unexplained – use of the words “almost frightening”, one can only speculate as to what would scare a BBC correspondent so much about the possibility of a US President being able to communicate with the people of another country. 

Mardell’s article – which appeared in both the Middle East and US & Canada sections of the BBC News website was opened for comments by the BBC. Once again, a lack of appropriate moderation on that thread meant that the BBC made itself complicit in the spread of antisemitic discourse. 

Mardell art comments 1

Mardell art. comments 2

A wave of propaganda: BBC revisits the 2010 flotilla

The BBC News website’s Middle East page on March 23rd 2013 was headed by no fewer than six items pertaining to what was described as an “Israeli apology for flotilla deaths”. 

flotilla articles 23 3

Those items include a written article entitled “Israel PM apologies for Gaza flotilla deaths” which also includes video footage and a filmed report under the same title by Wyre Davies which appeared on BBC television news. Curiously, the footage in both those reports comes with a disclaimer

flotilla art 2

Other items include a written report by Kevin Connolly entitled “Mavi Marmara: US extracts last-minute Israeli apology”, a written article titled “Obama ends Middle East trip with visit to Petra ruins” which also features video footage by Yolande Knell and Q&A piece going under the dramatic headline “Q&A: Israeli deadly raid on aid flotilla”. 

All of these reports contain a plethora of basic inaccuracies on the one hand and distinguish themselves through deliberate omissions of crucial information on the other. 

The widespread assertion made in the website heading, article titles and in the reports themselves that Israel apologized “for flotilla deaths” is both inaccurate and superficial. As Professor Barry Rubin points out here, this event did not come out of the blue and as explained on PM Netanyahu’s Facebook page, the apology was for “any mistakes that might have led to the loss of life or injury”. 

Netanyahu FB flotilla

Hence, the claim made by Wyre Davies in his filmed report that “Israel apologized for its role in the deaths of the nine activists” is inaccurate, as is the claim made by Yolande Knell that:

“He [Obama] got the Israeli Prime Minister on the phone apologizing to the Turkish Prime Minister for that deadly military raid on a Turkish ship heading to Gaza with activists on board three years ago.”

The fact that such inaccurate portrayals by Davies and Knell found their way into BBC television news reports is rendered even more egregious when one notes that the wording in the strap line of the main article appearing on the BBC News website indicates that the BBC is actually well aware of the real facts:

“Israel’s prime minister has apologised to Turkey for “any errors that could have led to loss of life” during the 2010 commando raid on an aid flotilla that tried to breach the Gaza blockade.” [emphasis added] 

Another serious inaccuracy which appears across the board in these reports is the portrayal of the Mavi Maramra as a ship transporting “aid” to Gaza and the description of its passengers as “activists”. Wyre Davies says in his filmed report:

Sheikh Mohammed al-Hazimi, a member of the Yemeni Parliament and of Al-Islah, aboard the Mavi Marmara

“….nine Turkish activists on a boat called the Mavi Marmara taking aid to Gaza. That boat was boarded by Israeli marines and nine of the activists were killed.”

In this article the BBC claims that:

“Nine people were killed on board the Turkish aid ship, Mavi Marmara, when it was boarded by Israeli commandos while trying to transport aid supplies to Gaza in May 2010 in spite of an Israeli naval blockade.”

The Q&A article claims that:

“It [the flotilla] wanted to deliver aid to Gaza, breaking an Israeli and Egyptian blockade on the territory. The ships were carrying 10,000 tonnes of goods, including school supplies, building materials and two large electricity generators. The activists also said they wanted to make the point that, in their view, the blockade was illegal under international law.”

The blockade is not of course “illegal under international law”, as the UN’s Palmer Report made perfectly clear.

“The fundamental principle of the freedom of navigation on the high seas is subject to only certain limited exceptions under international law. Israel faces a real threat to its security from militant groups in Gaza. The naval blockade was imposed as a legitimate security measure in order to prevent weapons from entering Gaza by sea and its implementation complied with the requirements of international law.”

The fact that three years on, the BBC is still promoting that myth – albeit whilst apparently thinking it has itself covered by ostensibly quoting someone else – and that it does not make it clear that the “activists” have no legitimate basis for their “views”, represents a clear breach of BBC Editorial Guidelines on impartiality and accuracy.

As for the BBC’s various claims pertaining to “aid”, the Mavi Marmara was of course one of seven vessels which made up the flotilla, but the only one on board which any violence took place. The flotilla’s organisers were offered in advance by Israel the opportunity to dock at Ashdod port, have any cargo inspected for weapons and illegal goods and then have it transported into Gaza. Any legitimate aid organization would have taken advantage of that offer, but the flotilla organisers refused it. 

Further, beyond the personal effects of some 600 passengers aboard the Mavi Marmara – clearly a number far in excess of that required by any legitimate aid mission – no humanitarian goods were found on that specific ship or on two of the other vessels comprising the flotilla. 

The “aid” which was carried by the other four ships included expired medicines, second-hand used clothing and other goods – many of which were damaged due to improper packaging. The total amount of “aid” was later packed into 34 trucks for transport into Gaza (although Hamas refused to accept it initially). During the same week, 484 trucks of genuine aid passed into the Gaza Strip via the crossings on the border with Israel. 

As for the “activists” (as the BBC euphemistically terms them), we can get a good idea of the kind of received wisdom which lies behind the use of that phrasing by looking at the section under the sub-heading “Who organised it?” of the Q&A article.

Bulent Yidirim (IHH) and Ismail Haniyeh, January 2010

“A group called The Free Gaza Movement, an umbrella organisation for activists from numerous countries, and a Turkish group called the Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Aid (IHH).

The Israeli government says the IHH is closely linked to the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, which it views as a terrorist group, and is a member of another organisation, the Union of the Good, which supports suicide bombings. However, the Turkish government regards the IHH as a legitimate charity, and had urged Israel to let the flotilla through.”

The BBC’s anodyne description of the ‘Free Gaza Movement’ is nothing less than scandalous. It completely ignores the FGM’s connections to the International Solidarity Movement and the close links of both those groups to the terrorist organisation Hamas. It fails to mention the FGM’s dismal record of support for terror and antisemitism and its documented strategy of organizing flotillas as a PR exercise, as well as the involvement of many of its members and supporters in other anti-Israel campaigns. 

Members of the ‘Free Gaza Movement’ receive medals from Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza in 2008

No better is the BBC’s whitewashing of the IHH. As we see above, according to the BBC it is “the Israeli government” – and it alone – which “says” that the IHH is “closely linked” to Hamas. It is also the Israeli government which “views” Hamas as a “terrorist group”.

This warped version of reality ignores the fact that many other countries define Hamas as a terrorist organization besides Israel. It also downplays the nature of the ‘Union of Good’ – of which the IHH is a member – by describing it vaguely as an organization “which supports suicide bombings”. The Muslim Brotherhood’s Union of Good – headed by the antisemitic preacher Yusuf Qaradawi – which came into existence at the beginning of the Second Intifada as a way of raising and channelling funds to enable terror attacks by Hamas and its affiliates against Israeli civilians. It is designated by the US government as well as Israel

The BBC’s simplistic making do with the statement that the IHH is a “legitimate charity” in the eyes of the current Turkish government  does not even attempt to explain to readers the close ties between the two and the extent of the support provided by the Turkish government in the organization of the flotilla.  

All these BBC reports totally ignore the clear evidence of incitement to and preparations for violence on board the Mavi Marmara well  in advance of any meeting with the IDF, as shown for example in an Al Jazeera report aired two days before the incident. 

Almost three years after the Mavi Marmara incident, the BBC’s reporting on the subject reads like a press release of which the ‘Free Gaza Movement’ itself would be proud. The blatant omission of crucial information concerning the flotilla’s organisers and participants, as well as of the circumstances of the incident itself, can only be regarded as an attempt to dictate a very specific, dumbed-down narrative about the event to BBC audiences in order to shape perceptions. That clearly compromises the BBC’s obligations to both accuracy and impartiality – as well as insulting audiences’ intelligence. 

Anti-Israel campaigners seek Balen 2 from the BBC

As if enough public money had not already been wasted by the BBC in order to prevent the publication of the 2004 Balen Report, a petition is now doing the rounds to try to persuade the BBC to repeat the exercise. 

“This petition calls upon the Trustees of the BBC Trust to initiate a full, impartial and public inquiry into the way that the BBC reports on matters relating to Israel in relation to events in the Middle East, with the objective of establishing whether such bias exists and if so how this should be remedied on an enduring basis in the short and long term.”

Although it would undoubtedly be simpler – and cheaper – to petition the BBC to release the report it already has, that of course would not achieve the same PR effects that the initiator of this petition apparently seeks. Read all about it over at The Commentator.  

Yolande Knell ties one-state banner to BBC mast

Under the very broad umbrella of BBC coverage of Barack Obama’s visit to Israel (my count at the time of writing is up to twenty-one articles and a dedicated Twitter feed in less than 48 hours), the BBC News website slipped in an item entitled “Reconsidering the two-state solution” by the Jerusalem Bureau’s Yolande Knell on March 21st.  Knell 1 ss article

So numerous are the inaccuracies, mistakes and distortions in Knell’s piece that they will have to be unravelled one by one. Knell begins:

“A “two-state solution” to the decades-old conflict between Israelis and Palestinians is the declared goal of their leaders and many international diplomats and politicians.

It is the snappy shorthand for a final settlement that would see the creation of an independent state of Palestine on pre-1967 borders in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem living peacefully alongside Israel.” [emphasis added]

This is far from the first time that the BBC has erroneously presented the 1949 Armistice Lines as “borders”, despite the fact that the Armistice Agreement specifically states that they are not. 

“Article II

With a specific view to the implementation of the resolution of the Security Council of 16 November 1948, the following principles and purposes are affirmed:

1. The principle that no military or political advantage should be gained under the truce ordered by the Security Council is recognised;

2. It is also recognised that no provision of this Agreement shall in any way prejudice the rights, claims and positions of either Party hereto in the ultimate peaceful settlement of the Palestine question, the provisions of this Agreement being dictated exclusively by military considerations.

Article VI

9. The Armistice Demarcation Lines defined in articles V and VI of this Agreement are agreed upon by the Parties without prejudice to future territorial settlements or boundary lines or to claims of either Party relating thereto.”

In making the claim that the Armistice Lines are borders and in using the term “East Jerusalem” (also repeated in this BBC article relating to the Obama visit), Knell is opening her article with an unquestioning adoption of the Palestinian narrative which compromises her report’s impartiality from its very beginning. Knell’s equally erroneous claim that the concept of the two-state solution relates to the creation of a Palestinian state on an area of land pre-determined by what she mistakenly terms “pre-1967 borders” ignores the fact that under the Oslo Accords, the subject of borders was left to final status negotiations, along with the subject of Jerusalem (and others) and is another unquestioning adoption of the Palestinian narrative – also in clear breach of BBC editorial guidelines on both accuracy and impartiality. 

Knell continues:

“But many experts, as well as ordinary Israelis and Palestinians, now believe the two-state option should be abandoned or at least reconsidered.”

Who or how many make up Knell’s “many experts”, audiences are not told and neither are they informed of the nature of those experts’ credentials. Particularly in light of the fact that Yolande Knell saw fit to showcase the ‘one-stater’ anti-Israel activist Ali Abunimah less than a month ago, it is vital that BBC audiences be afforded the opportunity to judge for themselves whether the “expert” opinions Knell uses as a basis for her suspect claims are indeed such, or just mere common or garden anti-Israel campaigners – as is very often the case with proponents of the one-state ‘solution’. 

Next – once again faithfully reproducing the Palestinian narrative – Knell informs readers that:

“Twenty years after the breakthrough Oslo Accords there is no sign of a final agreement.

Meanwhile, the construction of Israel’s barrier in and around the West Bank and the expansion of settlements on occupied land make a Palestinian state less possible.”

Let us remind ourselves of just what Knell had to ignore in order to make that statement. Seven years of terror between the 1993 Declaration of Principles and September 2000 followed by the Second Intifada. The 2007 violent Hamas coup in the Gaza Strip – meaning that the Palestinian Authority has no control over either part of the Palestinian population or a significant part of the territory designated for a Palestinian state.  A Palestinian president whose mandate to sign anything on behalf of the Palestinian people expired years ago and an unelected prime minister – both of whom are well aware that the next elections could well bring a Hamas take over of the Palestinian Authority.

And yet Knell feeds her audience the dumbed-down notion that it is the anti-terrorist fence and Israeli building plans which are making the creation of a Palestinian state “less possible”, and does so without making it clear to her readers that neither the Declaration of Principles nor the Interim Agreement (‘Oslo II’) prohibits or restricts building in towns and villages in Area C, and that Israel has proven track record of settlement evacuation when peace really was on the cards. Knell also neglects to mention that, as Israelis saw after they removed all Jewish inhabitants from the Gaza Strip in 2005, doing so is no guarantee of peace or an end to the conflict. 

Knell goes on to say:

“On Israel’s left and far right in particular, as well as among Palestinian activists, there is renewed talk of a one-state solution.

The Palestinian Islamist movement, Hamas has never officially dropped its claim to a single state in all of historic Palestine.”

That first sentence should of course actually read “on Israel’s far left”. Except for a handful of far-Left extremists, the Israeli Left – in line with mainstream Israeli opinion as a whole – remains committed to the two-state solution and Jewish self-determination. With regard to Knell’s curious use of the word “officially” in the second sentence, she apparently missed the publication of a Hamas policy paper the day before her own article went live in which some of the 19 official Hamas positions presented include:

“1. Palestine from the river to the sea, and from north to south, is a land of the Palestinian people and its homeland and its legitimate right, we may not a waiver an inch or any part thereof, no matter what the reasons and circumstances and pressures. 

2. Palestine – all of Palestine – is a land of Islamic and Arab affiliation, a blessed sacred land, that has a major portion in the heart of every Arab and Muslim

3. No recognition of the legitimacy of the occupation whatever; this is a principled position, political and moral, and therefore do not recognize the legitimacy of the Israeli occupation of Palestine, and recognition of “Israel” and the legitimacy of its presence on any part of Palestine no matter how long; and it will not be long, God willing.

4. Liberation of Palestine is a national duty; it is the responsibility of the Palestinian people and the Arab and Islamic nation, it is also a humanitarian responsibility in accordance with the requirements of truth and justice. 

5. Jihad and the armed resistance is the right and real method for the liberation of Palestine, and the restoration of all the rights, together with, of course, all forms of political and diplomatic struggle including in the media, public and legal [spheres]; with the need to mobilize all the energies of the nation in the battle.”

Knell then goes on to state:

“Under heavy US pressure, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a speech in 2009, in which he first committed to a “demilitarised Palestinian state”.”

One presumes Knell is referring to the June 14th 2009 Bar Ilan speech  (in which a lot more was actually said than that) made some ten days after, and partly in response to, Barack Obama’s Cairo speech. As for her claim of “heavy US pressure”; Knell provides no evidence for that assertion. 

She continues:

 “A year later, peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians were revived but then quickly derailed with the end of a partial freeze on Jewish settlement building.”

Here, Knell of course neglects to mention that for nine months of the ten-month building freeze, the Palestinian Authority wasted time by refusing to come to the negotiating table and that the new precondition of a construction freeze (which the PA had never ‘needed’ before in order to negotiate) was the suggestion of the rookie Obama administration.

Next Knell states:

“In recent months, Mr Netanyahu’s government has announced plans to construct thousands of new settler homes, including in the sensitive “E1” area that would separate East Jerusalem from the West Bank.

If these go ahead, even the UN has said they would represent “an almost fatal blow” to the chance of a two-state solution.”

Again, this is far from the first time that the BBC has uncritically parroted the unfounded Palestinian narrative according to which construction in E1 would prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state – with obvious disregard for both the geographical facts and BBC Editorial Guidelines on accuracy and impartiality. 

Knell then resorts to quoting the notoriously partisan Avi Shlaim, whom she describes merely as a “historian”, with no mention of his political activity.

“I’ve always been a supporter of the two-state solution, but we’ve reached a point where it is no longer a viable solution,” he says. “Now I’m a supporter of a one-state solution, not as my first choice, but as a default solution in the light of Israeli actions.”

Having also invoked the former Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin and the former PA prime minister Ahmed Qurei in support of her promotion of the ‘one-state solution’, Knell goes on to advance the baseless ‘apartheid’ trope in support of her campaign.

“Aware that a one-state solution would undermine the Jewish identity of Israel, frustrated Palestinian officials increasingly warn that they may abandon their quest for statehood and push for that instead.

President Mahmoud Abbas has said there is a danger of “an apartheid-style state” being created.

The argument goes that Muslim and Christian Palestinians – with their growing populations – would quickly outnumber Jewish Israelis. If it acted to raise the status of Jews, Israel would be undermined as a democracy and could end up with an apartheid system. Some claim this exists already.”

What Knell fails to make clear to her readers is that in many cases, so-called “frustrated” parties and their supporters actively seek the demise of the Jewish state by means of promotion of the one-state ‘solution’, garnishing that aspiration with buzz words such as ‘justice’ and ‘democracy’ in order to conceal the inherently antisemitic nature of a proposal to deny self-determination to one ethnic group. 

Knell does not inform her readers of the crucial differences between the concept of a one-state ‘solution’ as proposed by anti-Israel campaigners – according to which the ‘right of return’ would be granted to millions of descendants of Palestinian refugees from 1948, thus resulting in the rapid elimination of Israel as a Jewish state – and the proposal made by some on the Right of the Israeli political map to annex Area C alone and grant Israeli citizenship to the Palestinians living there, who comprise less than 5% of the Palestinian population. Whether or not she is genuinely incapable of understanding the difference between the two or whether this is deliberate obfuscation in order to create the impression of a wider support base for a ‘one-state solution’ is unclear, but certainly throughout her entire presentation of various differing suggestions for ways to solve the conflict, Knell fails to make sufficiently clear to her readers the fact that the ‘one-state solution’, as most anti-Israel campaigners envisage it, is merely a code word for an end to Israel.

The BBC’s regular portrayal of settlements as the obstacle to peace, its unfounded mantra that time is running out for the two-state solution, its frequent distortion of historical facts and its habitual whitewashing and under-reporting of Palestinian terror mean that it consistently fails in meeting its obligation to inform its readers of the real factors at work in the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Having already recently floated the concept of a world without Israel, the BBC has now apparently elected to voluntarily advance the PR campaign of those fringe extremists who wish to deny Jews self-determination in their own state, by mainstreaming the notion of the ‘one-state solution’ as a panacea to the lack of progress in the peace process and with across the board adoption of the Palestinian narrative regarding the reasons for that lack of progress. Knell’s article makes absolutely no attempt to explain to readers what the consequences of the ‘one-state solution’ she promotes would be for Israeli Jews. 

The BBC of course does not don its campaigning hat in order to promote the denial of the right to self-determination to any other  nation. Neither does it blithely depict the proposed destruction of any other sovereign country as a ‘solution’ to a conflict – no matter how protracted or complicated. It is little wonder then  that the BBC’s reputation for impartiality on the subject of Israel is called into question almost daily. 

Selective BBC reporting on hacking of its own Twitter account

h/t JK

As our eagle-eyed friends at The Commentator noticed yesterday, the BBC Twitter account running under the banner “never get caught out by the weather” was itself caught out when it was hacked by a pro-Assad group calling itself ‘The Syrian Electronic Army’. 

The BBC News website later ran an article on the subject on its technology page in which it was revealed that other BBC Twitter accounts were also hacked. The BBC reported:

“A series of tweets about fake weather conditions in Middle Eastern countries began appearing on Thursday afternoon.”

“Alongside the standard tweets from the weather feed such as “‘last night was chilly” some more bizarre comments began emerging.

They included: “Saudi weather station down due to head-on collision with camel.”

Another read: “Chaotic weather forecast for Lebanon as the government decides to distance itself from the Milky Way.” “

The article also quotes an internet security consultant as stating:

“The good news is that the hack doesn’t appear to have been done with the intention of spreading malicious links or scams. Instead, it appears that the Syrian Electronic Army are trying to spread political messages about Syria instead.”

In actual fact, some of the Tweets were considerably less benign than the BBC tries to make out in this article, with one making a Helen Thomas-style suggestion that residents of Haifa should “return to Poland” and another portraying a nuclear attack on Tel Aviv. 

BBC weather 1

bbc weather 3

Why would the BBC apparently find it necessary to tone down the hackers’ attitudes by ignoring those two offensive Tweets in its report on the incident? 

Donnison’s ‘woman in the Ramallah street’: professional anti-Israel campaigner

Among the BBC’s Obama visit coverage we find a filmed report from March 21st by Jon Donnison entitled “Palestinian views on President Obama’s visit“, which appeared on BBC television news as well as being featured on the BBC News website. 

Palestinian views Obama

The report begins in the Friends School in Ramallah, with the footage edited so that viewers hear a teacher saying “so Israel triples its size” as the BBC film crew enters a classroom. Two pupils are interviewed, with the second one stating:

“It’s been more than four years and nothing has changed and you saw massacres happening, especially the one in Gaza, and there was no reaction. I mean, we’re still dying here and there’s no reaction from the president of the free world.”

The Friends School in Ramallah is of course associated with the Ramallah Quakers: significant players in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign and other operations designed to delegitimize Israel, and with close connections to Sabeel and PACBI among others. Predictably, Jon Donnison does not trouble his viewers with that information, just as he does not bother to correct or edit the hyperbolic claims made by his interviewee.

At 01:30 minutes into the two-minute and thirty-six second report, the BBC hauls out its old and much-used footage of Gaza in order to show seven seconds of one-sided images of explosions, with Donnison saying in the voice-over:

“They [the Palestinians] were unhappy at US support for Israel in the war in Gaza last year.”

Interestingly, whenever the BBC refers back to Operation Pillar of Cloud, it almost inevitably seems to use that same footage, without balancing it with images from the other side of the border. Donnison goes on to say:

“Palestinians say President Obama has failed to stop Israel expanding Jewish settlements. At the same time Israel has continued to demolish Palestinian property. Israel’s occupation looks no closer to ending.”

That particular parroting of undiluted PA propaganda is done against a background of context-free footage of unidentified bulldozers demolishing unidentified buildings. In a clear breach of BBC editorial guidelines on accuracy and impartiality, there is no mention of illegal construction; no explanation of the significance of Areas A, B and C. 

Randa Wahbe promoting BDS, 2011

Donnison then goes to sit in a Ramallah café with Randa Wahbe, who he describes as being “part of a group that’s been organising protests against President Obama’s visit”. The text on the screen under Wahbe’s name says “Palestinians for Dignity”, but Donnison makes no effort to explain to viewers that the organisation, which came into existence at the beginning of last year, is composed of groups which reject the idea of the Palestinian Authority negotiating with Israel and call for a boycott of Israel.  

Neither does Donnison bother to disclose to BBC audiences that Randa Wahbe works for the highly politicised NGO Addameer as its advocacy officer and that her organisation is a major player in the ongoing campaign to use the subject of Palestinian prisoners for the leverage of international pressure upon Israel.

Donnison also neglects to inform viewers that Wahbe was a founding member of Students for Justice for Palestine at UCLA and Colombia and that she was involved with Adalah-NY before moving to Ramallah. Full disclosure of Ms Wahbe’s various contributions to ‘Israel Apartheid Week’ and her articles describing Israel as an ‘apartheid’ state may of course have detracted from the impression Donnison seeks to create with this interview, but nevertheless, the BBC Editorial Guidelines do stipulate that audiences must be made aware of a contributor’s affiliations. 

“.. we may need to make it clear to the audience when contributors are associated with a particular viewpoint, if it is not apparent from their contribution or from the context in which their contribution is made.”

There is also a written version of Donnison’s report on the BBC News website. There, he quotes Randa Wahbe at further length, but yet again no mention is made of her political and professional affiliations.

BBC audiences are entitled to be made aware of the kind of ideologies which lie behind the opinions presented to them by the BBC in the wrapping of ‘the Palestinian street’ – not least when those opinions come from professional anti-Israel campaigners.

 

BBC glosses over terrorism yet again in Donnison ‘human interest’ puff piece

The timing of the editorial decision taken by the BBC to heavily promote Jon Donnison’s latest report relating to the subject of Palestinian prisoners is very interesting. The event around which the story is based actually took place last August, but was not reported by the BBC at the time. Now, when a Palestinian publicity campaign to raise the profile of the subject of prisoners is in full swing, the BBC suddenly sends Donnison off to resurrect the story, with the result being a distinct whiff of activist journalism – or ‘journavism’ as it is known. 

Ben Yehuda street bombing 1997, in which Ammar a-Ziben was also involved.

Donnison’s tale of a baby boy born – supposedly as the result of IVF treatment using smuggled sperm –  to the wife of a Hamas terrorist jailed in Israel after having been sentenced to multiple life sentences, was featured on the BBC News website, on BBC television news programmes, on BBC World Service radio and some BBC Watch readers also heard the item on the BBC Radio 4 programme ‘PM’. 

The various versions of Donnison’s report all severely play down the father’s crimes, instead focusing on what one can only presume the BBC thinks is the ‘human interest’ side of the story. Donnison even goes so far as to inject some scepticism into his reports regarding the imprisonment of Ammar a-Ziben and other terrorists: apparently he is not convinced by Israel’s definition of the blowing up of human beings as a security offence. 

“Unlike some Israeli prisoners, Palestinians who are jailed for what Israel calls security offences are not allowed conjugal visits where they can be intimate with their partners.”

Donnison’s only mention of a-Ziben’s crimes is concentrated in one very vague sentence:

“Ammar Ziben is serving 32 life sentences in an Israeli prison for his involvement in bomb attacks in Jerusalem in 1997.”

So let’s have a look at what a-Ziben’s organization, Hamas, says about him.

“Ammar played an important role in resisting the occupation forces, at a time when most people were disenchanted with the occupation’s false promises of peace. Before his arrest, Ammar worked with Mohannad El-Taher, Ayman Halawa, and Mahmoud Abu Hannood.  This was the group of Al-Qassam leaders who carried the burden of maintaining the resistance before Al-Aqsa Intifada, and escalated the resistance during the first 2 years of the Intifada.

In 1997, five martyrdom operations resulted 27 Israelis killed and 300 injured as a reaction against the Zionist daily arrest and crimes against the Palestinian people. The operations were also a price paid by the occupation for the imprisonment of thousands of Palestinians in occupation jails.  Ammar was in the operation room that oversaw the operations.” [emphasis added]

Ben Yehuda street bombing 1997

In other words, what Donnison euphemistically calls “involvement” in “bomb attacks” is actually the organization and overseeing of suicide bombings in which Israeli civilians were brutally murdered during the turbulent seven-year period between the signing of the Oslo Accords and the commencement of the Second Intifada, when rejectionist terror organisations including Hamas tried to derail the peace process. 

One of several terror attacks which Ammar a-Ziben oversaw took place on July 30th 1997 in Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem. Sixteen people were killed and 178 injured by two suicide bombers. Here is archive footage from a news report following the attack.

Donnison’s ‘human interest’ story shows absolutely no interest in the human beings murdered and maimed in that attack. BBC audiences are unsubtly steered by Donnison in the direction of empathy for the a-Ziben family, with the IVF treatment described as being carried out for “humanitarian reasons” and the child’s mother quoted as saying:

“Muhannad is a gift from God,” Dallal told the BBC at the time. “But my happiness is not complete without my husband here beside me.”

Donnison and his editors devote no attention to the fact that for the past sixteen years, life has most probably not been complete either for the relatives of Lev Desyatnik, Regina Giber, Valentina Kovalenko, Shmuel Malka, David Nasco,  Muhi A-din Othman, Simha Fremd, Grisha Paskhovitz, Leah Stern, Rachel Tejgatrio,  Liliya Zelezniak, Shalom (Golan) Zevulun, Mark Rabinowitz, Eli Adourian, Ilia Gazrach and Baruch Ostrovsky –  all of whom Ammar a-Ziben was complicit in murdering, along with many others in additional attacks. 

Memorial to victims of the 1997 Mahane Yehuda bombing

Donnison also refrains from revealing to his audiences the reason for the choice of name that Ammar a-Ziben elected to give his son. According to a Channel 2 report from last August, the baby was named Muhannad after Ammar a-Ziben’s good friend Muhannad Taher – known as ‘the fourth engineer’ – head of Hamas’ military wing in Samaria and an explosives expert. Taher was responsible for the deaths of 121 Israelis, having supplied the explosive devices which were used in the Park Hotel terror attack in 2002, the Dolphinarium attack in 2001, the Patt Junction bus bombing in 2002 and been involved in the organization of many other attacks, including those for which a-Ziben was convicted. Wanted since 1999, Taher was killed in a firefight in July 2002 whilst the IDF attempted to arrest him. 

Having already put out in recent weeks numerous reports whitewashing the terror connections of Palestinian hunger-strikers in Israeli prisons and portraying the organized rioting campaign aimed at stirring up international condemnation of Israel as ‘spontaneous’ protests, the BBC has now reached a new low with this ‘human face of terror’ puff piece from Donnison, in what is increasingly looking like a BBC publicity campaign on behalf of imprisoned terrorists.