BBC Persian Service promotes antisemitic Holocaust denier Atzmon

h/t Adam Holland (via Twitter) & others  

You might think that an organisation which has as its motto the phrase “Nation shall speak peace unto Nation” would refrain from promoting the opinions of an antisemitic Holocaust denier, but that is not the case. 

We have previously documented here examples of the BBC’s vigorous groupie-style promotion of Gilad Atzmon, especially on the World Service – see here, here and here – but on July 30th 2013 the BBC reached a new low by broadcasting an interview with Atzmon on its Persian Service.

Atzmon BBC Persia

Atzmon is of course no stranger to the Iranian regime’s Press TV and yet for some reason best known to itself, the BBC – which prides itself upon being a source of “accuracy, impartiality, independence, seriousness” in parts of the world in which local media cannot be relied upon  to exhibit those qualities – apparently sees nothing problematic in promoting the vile opinions of a man securely in the pocket of the regime which so recently harassed its local employees and blocked its broadcasts.

It is bad enough that the BBC promotes Atzmon in English language broadcasts, especially given that anti-racists in Britain are trying to oppose the spread of his hate speech.  But it is even more reprehensible and irresponsible on the part of the BBC to go to the trouble of translating his racist opinions into Persian for promotion in a part of the world which has been spoon-fed with anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial for years by its own repressive regime. 

What are BBC audiences being told about ME talks?

The July 30th edition of BBC News website’s Middle East page promotes a filmed report entitled “Why Mid-East peace talks now?” in two of its sections. 


Bell MEPT filmed

Contrary to the impression viewers might receive, this report by Bethany Bell was not made for CBeebies, but was broadcast on BBC television news programmes aimed at adult audiences.

Bell informs her audiences that:

“The Americans are worried that time is running out for peace as more Jewish settlements are built on occupied Palestinian land in the West Bank.” [emphasis added]

The jaded chimera of “time running out for peace” is of course an empty cliché which has been repeatedly promoted by assorted actors for over two decades, but apparently that fact does not stop the BBC’s new Jerusalem correspondent from offering up her own particular contribution to the altar of that myth. 

Neither does it seem that Ms Bell is particularly interested in accurately reporting on the subject of the building of Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria. She obviously has difficulty in distinguishing between “Jewish” and Israeli – despite that subject having been addressed in the BBC’s recently updated version of its “Key Terms” guide.


Be careful over whether you mean ‘Israeli’ or ‘Jewish’: the latter might imply that the story is about race or religion, rather than the actions of the state or its citizens.”

Bell also misleads audiences with regard to the location of building itself, which of course takes place within the municipal boundaries of existing towns and villages and not – as Bell’s report clearly suggests – on new sites.

Bell’s use of the phrase “occupied Palestinian land” is obviously both inaccurate and partial as the land in question is subject to final status negotiations according to agreements signed by the Palestinians themselves and was never “Palestinian”, but previously under illegal Jordanian occupation for 19 years, before that part of the British-administered Mandate established by the League of Nations and prior to that, part of the Ottoman empire for four hundred years.

So that’s three politically motivated deliberate inaccuracies and a myth in one sentence from a journalist charged with ensuring that BBC audiences remain informed about the Middle East. And it does not get any better: next Bell tries to co-opt her viewers to the plainly ridiculous notion that an Israeli – Palestinian peace settlement is at the epicentre of the Middle East as a whole. Apparently without realizing the comedy value of her words, she begins by telling audiences:

“And they’re [the Americans] concerned that Israel is getting more and more isolated in an increasingly volatile and unstable Middle East.”

After showing footage of the civil war in Syria and the unrest in Egypt, Bell goes on to opine that:

“Progress on the Israeli – Palestinian issue would bring some welcome stability to the region.”

Later in the report Bell does a couple of ‘standing on a hill overlooking the subject matter’ shots. With the Gaza Strip in the background she  talks about the euphemistically-termed “Islamist group Hamas” and with Jerusalem as her backdrop she gives audiences a dumbed-down caricature laced with obviously politically motivated equivalence.

“The issues at stake have eluded solution for years. One of the most difficult is this place – the Old City of Jerusalem with its holy sites – claimed by both sides.”

The renewal of talks provides ample opportunities for journalists to offer serious, in-depth information and analysis on the subject of the Arab-Israeli conflict and the peace process for audiences in the United Kingdom and around the world. Sadly, it seems that the BBC is not interested in making the most of those opportunities in order to meet its designated public purpose of providing it funders with “high-quality coverage of global issues in its news and current affairs and other output for the UK”.

 Instead, the best the BBC can do is to resurrect a standard set of dumbed-down, tired narratives which are so transparently politically motivated as to border on the cartoonish and which fail to conform to its own editorial guidelines on accuracy and impartiality, making a mockery out of its professed aspiration “to remain the standard-setter for international journalism”.


Tenacity brings results in complaint about BBC Ward article

Readers no doubt remember that in January of this year the BBC published two articles on consecutive days on the UK Politics page of its website relating to remarks made by David Ward MP. The second article, dated January 27th, was headlined “David Ward MP ‘sorry’ over Israel criticism” and its opening paragraph read:

“A Liberal Democrat MP who accused “the Jews” in Israel of “inflicting atrocities on Palestinians… on a daily basis” has apologised for the “unintended offence”.”

Reader @Lsorang submitted a complaint to the BBC News website regarding the inaccuracy of the language used in that article, but that complaint was dismissed. The reader then took his complaint to the BBC’s Editorial Complaints Unit (ECU) which also refused to uphold it on the grounds that: 

“It would, we felt, be a stretch of the imagination to assume that he [Ward] was suggesting that Jews in other parts of the world had the capacity to inflict atrocities on the Palestinians “in the new State of Israel”. That being the case, we didn’t consider that in paraphrasing the comment in the way it did, the website article materially altered the intended meaning of Mr Ward’s words.”

The complainant next took the issue to the BBC Trust, and was recently informed that it has partially upheld his complaint, accepting that there was a breach of BBC guidelines on accuracy, but not on impartiality. 

One interesting part of the Trust’s response – which will be published here on July 30th at 11 a.m. GMT (see page 31 in the document titled “June”) – is the following.

“The Committee agreed with the ECU and BBC News that David Ward’s words might not necessarily be interpreted to mean what the complainant said they meant, i.e. that it was a collective criticism of Jews worldwide. The Committee concluded, however, that this was not a relevant consideration in this context. It noted the purpose of the article was to report the ongoing row over David Ward’s comments and the fact that they had been interpreted in some quarters as criticism of Jews as a whole rather than confined to Jews living in Israel.

The Committee therefore agreed with the complainant that an accurate conveyance of what the MP actually said, and the nature of the row his comments had provoked, was required in order for the article to achieve due accuracy, as required by the Editorial Guidelines. In the Committee’s view the formulation in the headline and opening sentence of the article did not do this.”

Another particularly notable observation by the BBC Trust is that:

“The Committee noted the requirements for due accuracy set out in the Editorial Guidelines. The Committee noted too that due accuracy is not simply a matter of getting facts right. Given the sensitivities, the Committee considered the article concerned a controversial issue and it was incumbent on the BBC to consider all relevant facts, information and opinions to achieve due accuracy. Whilst the Committee acknowledged there are constraints in writing a headline, it considered that in this instance the headline had summarised the nature of the apology incorrectly and the inaccuracy was reinforced by the inaccurate paraphrasing of what Mr Ward said in the opening sentence of the article itself. The Committee agreed with the complainant that it would have been straightforward to correct the errors when they were first brought to the BBC’s attention, and that this could have been done without necessarily increasing the length of the headline. The Committee agreed the effect of the inaccuracy in the headline and opening sentence would have been to mislead the audience on the nature of the row the MP’s comments had provoked. While the Committee accepted that the precise wording of Mr Ward’s website posting and his apology were reported verbatim later in the article, this was not in the Committee’s view sufficient to mitigate the inaccuracies in the headline and opening sentence.” [emphasis added]

Despite the complaint made by @Lsorang having been partially upheld by the BBC Trust, sadly, at the time of writing, no amendment has been made to the still available online article to reflect that fact. 

BBC’s Bell suggests Maccabiah Games are racist

Participation in some international sporting events is conditioned on geography – for example the Pan-American Games, the All-African Games or the Pacific Games. The right to take part in the Commonwealth Games depends on historical and cultural alliances and in the Youth Olympic Games participation is limited by age. The Pan-Arab Games are open to athletes from predominantly Muslim Arab countries.  

As far as this writer is aware, it has not occurred to the BBC to imply to its audiences that controversy surrounds – or should surround – any of those sporting events due to the non-inclusion of participants who do not meet their specific criteria. 

So consider the following passage from a July 27th article about the Maccabiah Games by Bethany Bell which appeared in the ‘Features & Analysis’ section of the BBC News website’s Middle East page. 

“While a handful of Israeli Arabs take part in the games, this is an overwhelmingly Jewish event, something that the Israeli sports commentator Ron Kofman has criticised.

“If there is a sports event, everyone who wants to come should come, from Morocco, from Tunisia, from Kuwait, from Iran, from Iraq,” Mr Kofman says. “It’s sport. There’s no room for religion or race in sports.” “

Whether or not Bell is familiar with the ‘colourful’ reputation of the one sports journalist she elected to showcase and quote in this article is unclear, but certainly she appears to be treading a path already well-worn by other BBC journalists by using the subject of sport as a springboard from which to try to influence audience perceptions of Israel.

New BBC Hizballah profile reveals SEO fail

As we have noted here on several occasions – and most recently on July 18th 2013 – the three year-old profile of Hizballah appearing on the BBC website is sorely lacking up to date information and thus misleads audience members seeking background information to enhance their understanding of news stories. 

“Last December we pointed out here that the BBC’s profile of Hizballah has not been updated since July 2010 and therefore includes no information about that terror organisation’s involvement in the Syrian civil war, the murder of Rafik Hariri, its terror attacks and activities in Europe or its involvement in drug trafficking, among other things.”

We are very happy to be able to report that the BBC has taken steps to rectify that problem, with a new article of the same title (“Who are Hezbollah?”) having been published on the BBC News website on July 22nd 2013. 

H old new

Although it still describes Hizballah as a “militant group” and perpetuates the false notion of a separate “military wing”, the new profile does go some way towards correcting the important omissions which plagued the old one by, for example, mentioning Hizballah’s involvement in the Syrian civil war.

“Its intervention in the conflict in neighbouring Syria on the side of the regime of President Bashar al-Assad has also been highly controversial, condemned within Lebanon and also internationally.”

“Since the Syrian conflict began in 2011, Hezbollah has consistently pledged its backing for President Bashar al-Assad and members of its military wing have crossed the border to fight against rebels. It has also provided training and logistical support to Syrian forces.

Fighters from the militant group were instrumental in a strategic victory by Syrian government forces in Qusair, close to the border with Lebanon, in early June 2013.”

Hizballah’s involvement in the Hariri murder is also briefly noted:

“It has several seats in parliament and had ministers in a national unity government formed in late 2009. However, in January 2011, Hezbollah and its allies brought about that government’s collapse by resigning.

This was in protest against the UN tribunal investigating former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri’s murder. The tribunal was about to issue indictments against members of Hezbollah.”

And its recent designation by the EU and involvement in terrorism in Europe has been added, although the suggestion that only “Western states” have proscribed Hizballah is inaccurate.

“Hezbollah has been blacklisted by the United States, the UK and several other Western states and, in July 2013, the EU also designated the organisation’s military wing as a terrorist organisation.

Bulgaria, an EU member state, says there is compelling evidence that Hezbollah was responsible for a bomb attack against Israeli tourists in Bulgaria in 2012 in which six people died. The group denies any involvement.

In March 2013, a court in Cyprus jailed a Hezbollah member for three years for plotting to attack Israeli targets on the island.”

Unfortunately, however, a member of the public carrying out a simple internet search for information about Hizballah appearing on the BBC website will not arrive at this new updated profile because the first result which appears is still the old outdated article from 2010.

search bbc hizb

Logic would suggest that an out of date article which has been replaced by one more suited to the needs of BBC audiences should be removed from the BBC website – especially if, as in this case, they appear under the same title. Surely the BBC’s Search Engine Optimisation team could make sure that the up to date item appears instead of the outdated one.

Related posts:

New resource on Hizballah gives information not supplied by BBC

BBC downplays Palestinian terrorists’ crimes yet again

Originally running under the headline “Israeli cabinet backs referendum bill”, an article appearing on the Middle East page of the BBC News website on July 28th 2013 underwent multiple changes to both its body and title as the day went on until its heading read “Israeli cabinet backs release of Palestinian prisoners“.

On the Middle East homepage, the same article was displayed under the heading “Israel cabinet backs inmate release”. 

'Inmate release'

The article’s penultimate paragraph once again promotes the distorted version of the breakdown of the previous round of talks in 2010 which the BBC has been hawking to its audiences intensively for the past few months.

“The issue of settlement-building halted the last direct talks in September 2010.”

As we have remarked here before on numerous occasions:

“In fact, what actually “halted the last direct talks” was Mahmoud Abbas’ refusal to continue them when a ten month building freeze which he had ignored for 90% of its duration came to an end on September 26th 2010.”

With regard to the issue of over a hundred convicted terrorists (described by the BBC as “dozens”, for some reason) scheduled for early release by Israel as a ‘goodwill gesture’ to prompt Palestinian arrival at the negotiating table, the BBC’s choice of wording to describe the men themselves is predictably euphemistic, ranging from “inmates” to “prisoners”.

Their crimes are also severely downplayed once again in this article:

“Some of the prisoners have carried out militant attacks that claimed Israeli lives and were jailed for up to 30 years.”

'militant attacks'

In fact, as shown in the translated list of those potentially scheduled for release which we published here in June, the vast majority of these prisoners carried out heinous acts of terrorism.

The BBC is apparently afraid to tell its audiences the truth about these men. It whitewashes their crimes with euphemisms such as “militant attacks”, never mentioning their victims or details of their crimes and never informing its audiences of the effect that their release will have upon family members of those victims. 

 Clearly, to tell BBC audiences the accurate and impartial truth about these terrorists and the full meaning of their release would undermine the existing narrative on the subject of the Arab-Israeli conflict which the BBC has long gone out of its way to promote.

However, in blatant breach of the  ‘Public Purposes’ defined in the BBC’s charter, audiences will not be able to comprehend the gravity of the proposed release of over a hundred violent terrorists, and the real meaning of that step within the framework of renewed talks, if they continue to be provided only with censored information. 

BBC misrepresentation of Resolution 242

With the renewal of talks between Israel and the Palestinians apparently due to commence this coming week, it is worth taking a look at some of the material available on the BBC News website for audiences looking to inform themselves on the background to news stories. After all, in response to criticism of its Middle East coverage, BBC news editors have stated that:

 “…our strategy is to supplement our news coverage by providing detailed background on BBC News Online. It has the space to carry more information than broadcast news programmes, helping readers to understand the political, historical or economic background to an event.”

Via the country profile of Israel on the Middle East page of the BBC News website, readers can reach an interestingly illustrated page entitled “History of Mid-East peace talks” compiled by Paul Reynolds in August 2010. 

History of ME peace talks

The first entry on that page relates to the subject of UN SC resolution 242.

“Resolution 242 was passed on 22 November 1967 and embodies the principle that has guided most of the subsequent peace plans – the exchange of land for peace.

The resolution called for the “withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict”, and “respect for and acknowledgement of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every state in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognised boundaries free from threats or acts of force”.

The resolution is famous for the imprecision, in English, of its central phase concerning an Israeli withdrawal – it says simply “from territories”. The Israelis said this did not necessarily mean all territories, but Arab negotiators argued that it did.

It was written under Chapter VI of the UN Charter, under which Security Council resolutions are recommendations, not under Chapter VII, which means they are orders. Many peace proposals refer to 242. Resolution 338 is usually linked to it. This called for a ceasefire in the war of October 1973 and urged the implementation of 242 “in all its parts”. “

The third paragraph of this entry severely misleads BBC audiences. The wording of resolution 242 is not imprecise: it was deliberately phrased in that specific manner by those who drafted it. But by presenting that wording as some sort of typographical oversight, and by concealing the fact that many others besides “the Israelis” have, over the years, clarified that the lack of definite article in the sentence is deliberate, the BBC lays the groundwork for the presentation of attempts to distort the resolution’s intent as though they were of equal validity.

The background to resolution 242 provides some insight into its choice of wording, as explained by Professor Ruth Lapidot:

“The Six-Day War of June 1967 ended with cease-fire resolutions adopted by the Security Council. However, neither the Security Council nor the General Assembly, which met in an Emergency Special Session, called upon Israel to withdraw to the armistice lines established in 1949. Most likely, the reason for this was the conviction that a return to those lines would not guarantee peace in the area, as the 1957 precedent had proven.

In November 1967 the United Arab Republic (i.e., Egypt) urgently requested an early meeting of the Security Council “to consider the dangerous situation prevailing in the Middle East as a result of the persistence of Israel not to withdraw its armed forces from all the territories which it occupied as a result of the Israeli aggression committed on 5 June 1967 against the United Arab Republic, Jordan and Syria.”

 In answer to this request, the Security Council was duly convened and debated the crisis in its meetings of November 9, 13, 15, 16, 20 and 22.

 In its deliberations, two draft resolutions were presented: one was jointly submitted by India, Mali, and Nigeria, the other by the U.S. In the course of the deliberations, two further draft resolutions were submitted, one by Great Britain (November 16) and another by the U.S.S.R. (November 20). Only the British draft was put to a vote and it was carried unanimously.”

The clause to which the BBC refers above is worded:

“Affirms that the fulfillment of Charter principles requires the establishment of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East which should include the application of both the following principles:

i) Withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict;

ii) Termination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgement of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force;”

So let’s take a look at what some of the people who actually composed the wording of the resolution have had to say about it.

 Lord Caradon, who was Britain’s representative to the UN at the time, said: 

“Much play has been made of the fact that we didn’t say “the” territories or “all the” territories. But that was deliberate. I myself knew very well the 1967 boundaries and if we had put in the “the” or “all the” that could only have meant that we wished to see the 1967 boundaries perpetuated in the form of a permanent frontier. This I was certainly not prepared to recommend.”


“We could have said: well, you go back to the 1967 line. But I know the 1967 line, and it’s a rotten line. You couldn’t have a worse line for a permanent international boundary. It’s where the troops happened to be on a certain night in 1948. It’s got no relation to the needs of the situation.

Had we said that you must go back to the 1967 line, which would have resulted if we had specified a retreat from all the occupied territories, we would have been wrong. [….] but we deliberately did not say that the old line, where the troops happened to be on that particular night many years ago, was an ideal demarcation line.”


“We didn’t say there should be a withdrawal to the ’67 line; we did not put the “the” in, we did not say “all the territories” deliberately. We all knew that the boundaries of ’67 were not drawn as permanent frontiers, they were a cease-fire line of a couple of decades earlier… . We did not say that the ’67 boundaries must be forever.”


“It would have been wrong to demand that Israel return to its positions of 4 June 1967 because those positions were undesirable and artificial. After all, they were just the places the soldiers of each side happened to be the day the fighting stopped in 1948. They were just armistice lines. That’s why we didn’t demand that the Israelis return to them and I think we were right not to …”

And :

“The purposes are perfectly clear, the principle is stated in the preamble, the necessity for withdrawal is stated in the operative section. And then the essential phrase which is not sufficiently recognized is that withdrawal should take place to secure and recognized boundaries, and these words were very carefully chosen: they have to be secure and they have to be recognized. They will not be secure unless they are recognized. And that is why one has to work for agreement. This is essential. I would defend absolutely what we did. It was not for us to lay down exactly where the border should be. I know the 1967 border very well. It is not a satisfactory border, it is where troops had to stop in 1947, just where they happened to be that night, that is not a permanent boundary…”

Another person involved in drafting the wording of the resolution was Eugene Rostow – at the time US Under-secretary of State for Political Affairs – who said: 

“… the question remained, “To what boundaries should Israel withdraw?” On this issue, the American position was sharply drawn, and rested on a critical provision of the Armistice Agreements of 1949. Those agreements provided in each case that the Armistice Demarcation Line “is not to be construed in any sense as a political or territorial boundary, and is delineated without prejudice to rights, claims or positions of either party to the Armistice as regards ultimate settlement of the Palestine question.” … These paragraphs, which were put into the agreements at Arab insistence, were the legal foundation for the controversies over the wording of paragraphs 1 and 3 of Security Council Resolution 242, of November 22, 1967. …

The agreement required by paragraph 3 of the resolution, the Security Council said, should establish “secure and recognized boundaries” between Israel and its neighbors “free from threats or acts of force,” to replace the Armistice Demarcation Lines established in 1949, and the cease-fire lines of June, 1967. The Israeli armed forces should withdraw to such lines, as part of a comprehensive agreement, settling all the issues mentioned in the resolution, and in a condition of peace.

On this point, the American position has been the same under both the Johnson and the Nixon Administrations. The new and definitive political boundaries should not represent “the weight of conquest,” both Administrations have said; on the other hand, under the policy and language of the Armistice Agreements of 1949, and of the Security Council Resolution of November 22, 1967, they need not be the same as the Armistice Demarcation Lines. …

This is the legal significance of the omission of the word “the” from paragraph 1 (I) of the resolution, which calls for the withdrawal of Israeli armed forces “from territories occupied in the recent conflict,” and not “from the territories occupied in the recent conflict.” Repeated attempts to amend this sentence by inserting the word “the” failed in the Security Council. It is therefore not legally possible to assert that the provision requires Israeli withdrawal from all the territories now occupied under the Cease-Fire Resolutions to the Armistice Demarcation Lines.”


“Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 … rest on two principles, Israel may administer the territory until its Arab neighbors make peace; and when peace is made, Israel should withdraw to “secure and recognized borders,” which need not be the same as the Armistice Demarcation Lines of 1949. …

The omission of the word “the” from the territorial clause of the Resolution was one of its most hotly-debated and fundamental features. The U.S., Great Britain, the Netherlands, and many other countries worked hard for five and a half months in 1967 to keep the word “the” and the idea it represents out of the resolution. Motions to require the withdrawal of Israel from “the” territories or “all the territories” occupied in the course of the Six Day War were put forward many times with great linguistic ingenuity. They were all defeated both in the General Assembly and in the Security Council. …

Those who claim that Resolution 242 is ambiguous on the point are either ignorant of the history of its negotiation or simply taking a convenient tactical position.”


“Five-and-a-half months of vehement public diplomacy in 1967 made it perfectly clear what the missing definite article in Resolution 242 means. Ingeniously drafted resolutions calling for withdrawals from “all” the territories were defeated in the Security Council and the General Assembly. Speaker after speaker made it explicit that Israel was not to be forced back to the “fragile” and “vulnerable” Armistice Demarcation Lines, but should retire once peace was made to what Resolution 242 called “secure and recognized” boundaries, agreed to by the parties. In negotiating such agreements, the parties should take into account, among other factors, security considerations, access to the international waterways of the region, and, of course, their respective legal claims.”


“Security Council Resolution 242, approved after the 1967 war, stipulates not only that Israel and its neighboring states should make peace with each other but should establish “a just and lasting peace in the Middle East.” Until that condition is met, Israel is entitled to administer the territories it captured – the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip – and then withdraw from some but not necessarily all of the land to “secure and recognized boundaries free of threats or acts of force.” “

The American representative to the UN at the time was Arthur J Goldberg, who is on record as saying: Arthur Goldberg

“The resolution does not explicitly require that Israel withdraw to the lines that it occupied on June 5, 1967, before the outbreak of the war. The Arab states urged such language; the Soviet Union proposed such a resolution to the Security Council in June 1967, and Yugoslavia and other nations made a similar proposal to the special session of the General Assembly that followed the adjournment of the Security Council. But those views were rejected. Instead, Resolution 242 endorses the principle of the “withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict” and juxtaposes the principle that every state in the area is entitled to live in peace within “secure and recognized boundaries.” …

The notable omissions in language used to refer to withdrawal are the words the, all, and the June 5, 1967, lines. I refer to the English text of the resolution. The French and Soviet texts differ from the English in this respect, but the English text was voted on by the Security Council, and thus it is determinative. In other words, there is lacking a declaration requiring Israel to withdraw from the (or all the) territories occupied by it on and after June 5, 1967. Instead, the resolution stipulates withdrawal from occupied territories without defining the extent of withdrawal. And it can be inferred from the incorporation of the words secure and recognized boundaries that the territorial adjustments to be made by the parties in their peace settlements could encompass less than a complete withdrawal of Israeli forces from occupied territories.”

Former British Foreign Secretary George Brown, who also helped draft the resolution, said: Baron George-Brown

“[Resolution 242] does not call for Israeli withdrawal from “the” territories recently occupied, nor does it use the word “all”. It would have been impossible to get the resolution through if either of these words had been included, but it does set out the lines on which negotiations for a settlement must take place. Each side must be prepared to give up something: the resolution doesn’t attempt to say precisely what, because that is what negotiations for a peace-treaty must be about.”


“I have been asked over and over again to clarify, modify or improve the wording, but I do not intend to do that. The phrasing of the Resolution was very carefully worked out, and it was a difficult and complicated exercise to get it accepted by the UN Security Council.

I formulated the Security Council Resolution. Before we submitted it to the Council, we showed it to Arab leaders. The proposal said “Israel will withdraw from territories that were occupied,” and not from “the” territories, which means that Israel will not withdraw from all the territories.”

(All sources in the link above, all emphasis added.)

There are many other examples which also clarify the fact that the wording of resolution 242 was in fact deliberately very precise and intended. It is therefore unfitting that the BBC should chose to misrepresent it in this disingenuous manner and the fact that it does so clearly contravenes BBC guidelines on accuracy and impartiality as well as deliberately misleading BBC audiences.

Majority of missile fire from Gaza Strip ignored by BBC

At around 10 p.m. on Sunday, July 21st a missile fired from the Gaza Strip hit the Eshkol region of southern Israel. On the morning of July 24th, two mortars were fired at the same area, but fell short.

These latest incidents bring the total number of missiles targeting Israeli civilians fired from the Gaza Strip since the ceasefire which brought Operation Pillar of Cloud to an end last November to twenty-six (February – 1, March – 2, April – 10, May – 2, June – 5, July – 6). Three additional missiles have been fired at Eilat from the Sinai Peninsula during that time. 

Of those 26 attacks originating in the Gaza Strip, the BBC has reported on the incidents on February 26th 2013 – the first attack after the ceasefire – and those of April 2nd, and April 30th, to which Israel responded. Of the attacks on Eilat, the BBC only reported the incident of April 17th 2013.

In other words, the majority of missile attacks targeting Israeli civilians continue to be ignored by the BBC, as was the case in the months before Operation Pillar of Cloud. It is of course difficult to imagine such patchy BBC reporting were those missiles directed at British citizens.

If and when Israel is forced to respond to the renewed attacks, BBC audiences will yet again lack the background information which would enable them to put the news into context. 

Where’s the BBC coverage? Palestinians in Israel for Ramadan

As was also the case last year, Israel’s Civil Coordination Department has relaxed the requirements for permits to enable residents of the Palestinian Authority-controlled areas to enter Israel during the month of Ramadan. On the first Friday of Ramadan, over 90,000 Palestinians entered Israel for prayer services or family visits and by the end of the holiday over a million people are expected to have taken advantage of the opportunity to visit Israel.  

But if you get your news from the BBC, you would know nothing about this rather special Middle East event at all.

Palestinians and Israeli Arabs cooling off on a Tel Aviv beach

Palestinians and Israelis at the beach in Tel Aviv, Ramadan 2012. Photo: Alex Levac

The Dome of Rock is seen in the background as Palestinian men pray at the Temple Mount on the first Friday of Ramadan on July 12. Photo by Ammar Awad/Reuters

Jerusalem, July 12th, 2013. Photo Ammar Awad

BBC’s Brook misleads on Israeli film

On July 25th a filmed item headlined “Home movies tell Israel’s story” appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East and Arts & Entertainment pages. The clip is from Tom Brook’s ‘Talking Movies’ film news and review programme which is broadcast on BBC World News. 

Talking Movies - kach rainu

The report relates to a film called Kach Rainu (‘This is how we saw it’) in Hebrew and ‘Israel: A Home Movie’ in English, which was made by Israeli film-makers Arik Bernstein and Eliav Lilti and which is composed exclusively of footage from home movies filmed in Israel between the 1930s and 1970s. As one reviewer of the film wrote:

“A prismatic meditation on an entire nation, Israel: A Home Movie is history as abstraction. Culled from hours of 8mm, 16mm, and Super 8 film from the 1930s to ’70s, the film chronicles the Israel timeline not as objective documentation, but as a living memory, with scenes so fleeting as to emulate the transitory nature in which we witness real-life events and how they’re stored.”

And as another reviewer noted:

” “Israel: A Home Movie” is neither a newsreel or documentary film, but a tapestry of images woven together by a group of master film weavers under Eliav Lilti’s direction. It offers no political message, but instead wishes to convey visually the story of a people and its unique connection with a land.”

Brook and the BBC, however, insist upon categorising the film as a documentary, with Brook saying in his summing up at the end of the report:

“To appreciate this documentary you need to have a good knowledge of Israeli history. Sometimes you can’t fully understand what’s going on because even with the voice-over narration, insufficient context has been given.”

Most of the excerpts from the film which Brook elects to show his own audiences are not accompanied by explanation on his part, with the notable exception of images of an Egyptian plane in Sinai on the opening day of the Yom Kippur war and footage of Palestinian refugees, with Brook saying in the voice-over:

“There are images that have rarely been seen: Palestinian refugees fleeing a small town in 1948 with their possessions, thought to be heading for Jordan.”

But as other reviews of the film – along with its trailer – indicate, the footage which Brook elected to overlook is no less significant.

“Even more powerful is the section of the film that draws on footage from the early ’60s, juxtaposed with a soundtrack of poet Ronny Someck recounting his introduction as an Iraqi Jewish schoolboy, growing up in Israel, to the Holocaust. A neighbor’s wife commits suicide and when Someck innocently asks what she died of, the widower replies, “She died of Buchenwald.” This cryptic remark sends the kid back to his mother who explains with startling immediacy, triggering a lifelong concern for Someck.”

That particular section of the film can be seen in Hebrew here and footage of the ‘marbarot’  (temporary camps for the new immigrants, including many who had fled Arab lands) in the harsh winter of 1951 can be seen here. It is not unreasonable to assume that images such as those “have rarely been seen” by BBC audiences either – and perhaps even less than they have seen footage of Palestinian refugees.

Despite having been told in the interview with Arik Bernstein that the raw material for the film was gathered from members of the public by means of adverts in the papers, word of mouth and appeals on radio shows, in his final summing up of the film – on the back of his misleading categorization of it as a documentary – Brook opines:

“Also missing are home movies shot by Israeli Arabs…”

Israelis, it seems, will not be allowed to have their own intimate moments of recollection without the BBC demanding that they be more objective about it than any other nation remembering its history. Some might call that double standards.