The Tripod: CAMERA Links in Three Languages – August 29-30th edition

BBC R2 promotes and mainstreams anti-Israel Greenbelt Festival
A BBC live broadcast from the recent ‘Greenbelt Festival’ avoided all mention of its anti-Israel campaigning agenda. (BBC Watch)

BBC presentation of Israeli view on Syria intervention replete with inaccuracies
Saddam Hussein only attacked Tel Aviv; Israelis have to buy gas masks – just two of the inaccuracies in a three paragraph BBC presentation of Israel’s view of intervention in Syria. (BBC Watch)

EFE: impartiality, credibility and immediacy
The Spanish wire agency has difficulties offering a complete account of an event, devoid of opinion. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

Reflections on Interning with the CAMERA Campus Department
Life as an intern at CAMERA. (In Focus)

CAMERA Fellow Published in Tulane Paper
Ben Kravis writes that one can be a passionate pro-Israel activist and be pro-Palestinian. (In Focus)

Farewell to Journalism
Spanish news agency Europa Press bids farewell to journalism, and promotes pro-Palestinian activism. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

 

 

 

Toned down BBC reporting on Iranian, Syrian threats against Israel

An article by the BBC’s defence correspondent Jonathan Marcus which appeared on the BBC News website on August 28th is titled “Syria’s options in case of a US strike“.

Marcus article Syria options

Part two of the article presents “Syria’s retaliatory options” as Jonathan Marcus perceives them. [all emphasis added]

Widen the conflict

An alternative approach would be to seek to broaden the conflict by striking at Turkey, US forces in Jordan or perhaps even to fire ballistic missiles against Israel. The risks here for the Syrian regime are huge. Turkey is well capable of defending itself, as are US forces in Jordan. In both countries there are Patriot anti-missile defences.

An attack on Israel is also unlikely. The Syrian military is heavily committed in the civil war.

Lashing out against Israel might provoke a massive retaliation – opening up the possibility of a wider regional war involving Syria’s ally, Hezbollah in Lebanon. Israel too deploys capable anti-missile systems. Provoking a wider conflict may not be in the interests of either Damascus, or importantly Tehran.

Proxy war

Syria could seek to use a group like Hezbollah to carry out attacks against US or Western interests abroad. Here too though, the Iranian authorities may well have a view and with Iran seemingly intent on exploring a new opening with the West on its nuclear dossier, Tehran may be cautious about encouraging Hezbollah in this direction.

Hezbollah is also itself in a difficult position, having allied itself with President Assad. It may determine it has enough problems at the moment and that it is better to keep its powder dry.”

Contrast the above analysis with some of the rhetoric coming out of Damascus and Tehran in recent days – rhetoric which, in its very extensive coverage of the subject of potential military action against Syria – the BBC has largely chosen to ignore. For example:

 “A senior Syrian army source told Iran’s Fars News Agency on Tuesday that a full-scale US attack on Syria would justify an attack on the Jewish state.

“If Damascus comes under attack, Tel Aviv will be targeted too and a full-scale war against Syria will actually issue a license for attacking Israel,” the Syrian army source said.

“If Syria is attacked, Israel will also be set on fire and such an attack will, in turn, engage Syria’s neighbors,” he added. “Thus, a US attack on Syria will herald frequent strikes and attacks on Israel, not just by Damascus and its allies in retaliation, but by extremist groups.” “

And:

“Hossein Sheikholeslam, the director general of the Iranian parliament’s International Affairs bureau, claimed the United States would not dare attack Syria but said that if it does, “the Zionist regime will be the first victim.” “

And:

“Iran’s army chief of staff General Hassan Firouzabadi has claimed that any military action against Syria will have consequences beyond the region and “leave Israel in flames.”

“Any military action against Syria will drive the Zionists to the edge of fire,” Firouzabadi said in a statement carried by the official IRNA news agency.”

“Mohammad Ali Jafari, commander of Iran’s powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, said an attack on Syria “will mean the imminent destruction of Israel.” “

And:

“Iranian Army deputy chief of staff Masoud Jazayeri said:[…] “In the event of a military operation on the part of an anti-Syrian front, the Syrian people will resist, and the outcome of their resistance will be victory… and, with God’s help, the flames of this war will [end up] setting the Zionists on fire.” “

For some reason, that part of the story is largely being ignored by the BBC. One of the only brief references to it comes right at the end of an August 30th article titled “Q&A: Threatened strike on Syria“. Under the heading “What have Syria and its allies said?” the article links to the Jonathan Marcus article above, saying:

“Syria’s Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Miqdad said on 27 August that Syria would “defend itself against any international attack” and warned it would trigger “chaos in the entire world”.”

On Iran, the article links to a New York Times report and states in very toned-down language:

“Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has said an intervention would be a “disaster”. Other Iranian officials have in the past warned of consequences for the region and recently threatened Israel would be attacked in return. There has been speculation that Lebanese militant Shia movement Hezbollah, allied to Iran and which is fighting alongside government troops in Syria, might fire rockets against Israel in response to any Western strike.”

Whilst bellicose rhetoric of the type currently being bandied about by Iran and Syria is hardly a rare event in the Middle East, what it represents it is certainly a part of the ongoing story of which BBC audiences should be made aware if they are to be able to fully understand current events in the Middle East. Significantly, that aspect of it is being conspicuously toned down for BBC audiences.

 

 

 

BBC’s Simpson misleads on potential US targets in Syria

A filmed report from August 28th titled “Syria crisis: Military intervention cases explained” which appeared on BBC television news, as well as among the extensive Syria coverage on the BBC News website’s Middle East page, purports – according to its title – to clarify the opposing arguments for audiences. The BBC has even brought in the big guns in the form of its veteran World Affairs Editor John Simpson to do the job. 

Simpson filmed report

But if audiences were anticipating an impartial, accurate and informative presentation of the cases for and against Western military intervention in Syria, they would have been sorely disappointed by Simpson’s ill-disguised attempts to make parallels with the Iraq war, presented in facetious tones and with barely concealed disdain.

At 01:53, following a short interview with William Hague talking about the “responsibility on chemical weapons”, Simpson says:

“But does this responsibility involve lobbing missiles at President Assad’s chemical weapons?”

Modern Western armies of course do not “lob” missiles – that term deliberately implies a casual, imprecise and irresponsible approach.  Simpson continues:

“Well from what President Obama says, it sounds like it. We’re starting to hear all those phrases like ‘quick, clean, surgical action’ – just like before.”

Simpson’s attempt to persuade BBC audiences that the Syrian regime’s chemical weapons stockpiles are to be the target of missile strikes is obviously inaccurate and misleading. No such intention has been declared – quite the contrary in fact. 

An article published in the New York Times the day before Simpson’s report states:

“A wide range of [US administration] officials characterized the action under consideration as “limited,” perhaps lasting no more than one or two days. The attacks, which are expected to involve scores of Tomahawk cruise missiles launched from American destroyers in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, would not be focused on chemical weapons storage sites, which would risk an environmental and humanitarian catastrophe and could open up the sites to raids by militants, officials said.” [emphasis added]

The LA Times reports:

“With an estimated 50 storage sites, many situated in or near urban centers, any attempt to destroy or degrade the Assad government’s supply of poison gases and nerve agents would require a massive invasion of ground forces that no nation considered part of the emerging “coalition of the willing” would be likely to support.

Even if U.S. and allied intelligence have precisely located some of the stores of sarin, mustard or VX gas, analysts say, the likelihood of a successful airstrike is slim because of Assad’s powerful air defenses and the risk of bombed chemical stores unleashing their deadly gases.

As the United States and other nations weigh the appropriate response to Assad’s suspected use of chemical weapons in an attack last week that killed hundreds of Syrian civilians, Western military strategists have reportedly concluded there is no way to target the weapons of mass destruction with airstrikes.”

And as the Military Times reported on August 27th:

The Pentagon will probably avoid targeting stockpiles, which could send toxic gases into the air and cause civilian casualties.

“We don’t want to hit actual chemical weapons because of the dangers,” said Jeffrey White, an analyst at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and a former Defense Intelligence Agency official.”

Regardless of one’s view of the merits – or lack of them – of a limited scope strike on the Syrian regime’s facilities, BBC audiences’ understanding of the issue is obviously not enhanced by invented factors.  John Simpson’s misleading promotion of the notion that Western forces intend to target “President Assad’s chemical weapons” clearly lacks supporting evidence and breaches BBC editorial guidelines on accuracy. The reasons behind the employment of that inaccurate claim should also raise questions about this report’s impartiality. 

BBC article on Palestinian prisoners amended

Despite there being to date no acknowledgement of the fact in the form of a footnote, an article dated August 13th which appears on the BBC News website has been amended.

The paragraph concerned in the article titled “Palestinian prisoners ‘moved’ before Israel release” now reads as follows: 

“The inmates, all convicted of murder or accessory to murder, were named by Israel’s prisons service shortly after midnight on Sunday, giving victims’ families 48 hours to submit legal challenges to the High Court.”

In the original version of the article the same paragraph referred to “The inmates, all convicted of attacks…” 

Mr Raymond Solomon from Manchester made a complaint to the BBC, requesting that the wording be changed to reflect the fact that all the prisoners concerned had been convicted of murder or accessory to murder. Initially, the reply received from the BBC News website’s Middle East desk was less than satisfactory:

“We have reviewed the article in question and have amended the following sentence to read: ” The inmates, all convicted of attacks – many of them deadly – carried out before 1993, were named by Israel’s prisons service shortly after midnight on Sunday, giving victims’ families 48 hours to submit legal challenges to the High Court.” “

Mr Solomon did not find this acceptable and wrote back to the BBC to demand that the language used accurately reflect the known facts. The BBC News website’s Middle East desk accepted Mr Solomon’s point, with the result that the wording was eventually amended again to read as above.

Having therefore acknowledged that its original wording in that article was not sufficiently accurate, it would of course be appropriate for the BBC to likewise amend other items appearing on its website in which the same wording appears – such as this one.

BBC ESC: ‘lack of due accuracy’ on Davies Tweet from Operation Pillar of Cloud

As long-time readers of BBC Watch know, we have frequently highlighted the fact that BBC Editorial Guidelines apply to all BBC content – including social media. Twitter – being fast-moving ‘instant’ messaging and cutting out the editorial ‘middle-man’ between the journalist and the public – is of course particularly susceptible to breaches of those guidelines. 

Last November Mr Stephen Franklin submitted a complaint to the BBC regarding two Tweets sent during ‘Operation Pillar of Cloud’. One of those Tweets originated from the BBC World News account and the outcome of the complaint was documented here. The other Tweet originated from the account of the then BBC Jerusalem Bureau correspondent Wyre Davies and the BBC’s Editorial Standards Committee published its findings with regard to Mr Franklin’s complaint of inaccuracy on August 29th 2013 – on page 21 here

Although Mr Franklin’s complaint related only to the accuracy of the Tweet – not its impartiality – the committee nevertheless saw fit to publish the following finding:

“Finding: Partially upheld with regard to Accuracy. Not in breach with regard to Impartiality.”

The committee’s report states:

“BBC News correspondent Wyre Davies reported from Gaza during the operation. On 15 November 2012 at 7.25am Mr Davies sent the following tweet from his Twitter account:

In this “limited operation” at least 13 Palestinians and 3 Israelis have been killed – nearly all civilians. #Gaza.

This message was re-tweeted by @BBCWorld at 7.54am.”

Here is a screenshot of the Tweet with its local time time-stamp rather than the GMT time-frame cited by the committee.

Davies casualties tweet

Whilst accepting that the Tweet breached BBC Editorial Guidelines on accuracy (the Palestinians killed at that point were not “nearly all civilians” as we pointed out at the time), the committee makes much in its findings of the circumstances in which it was written.

“The Committee noted that Mr Davies was tweeting about the situation while working as a BBC correspondent in Gaza..”

“The Committee considered that the lack of due accuracy in the tweet which was the subject of this complaint likely arose from the particular, fast-paced and chaotic circumstances in which the correspondent was reporting.”

“The Committee did not regard this breach as reflecting anything other than the extreme pressure under which Mr Davies and other journalists in Gaza had been working, and it commended the overall quality and integrity of his reporting across various media during “Operation Pillar of Defence”.  “

“The Committee considered that readers would have been aware that Mr Davies was working in a conflict zone and would have understood that this was a chaotic, very fast-moving situation and that figures would be changing.”

However, at the time that Tweet was sent – some 18 hours or so after the beginning of the operation – Wyre Davies was not in Gaza, but in Israel – as one of his earlier Tweets shows and as documented at the time by BBC Watch.

Davies tweet israel border

According to his own Twitter timeline, Davies entered the Gaza Strip nearly an hour and a half after sending the Tweet concerned.

Davies no mans land tweet

The findings also state:

“In this case, the Committee noted that Mr Davies said his information had come from health officials in Gaza who had told him that “more than half” of the 13 Palestinian deaths were of civilians. This was clearly a source which it was appropriate for journalists to cite. However, there had been no attribution to the source in the tweet itself. The Committee noted the practical considerations specific to Twitter of including attributions within 140 characters.”

This is not the first time that the BBC’s reliance upon information obtained from “health officials in Gaza” has proved to be an issue and unfortunately, the BBC Trust does not appear to be sufficiently aware of the problematic aspects of that practice

The committee’s findings also include the following:

“The Committee recognised that, as in any fast-moving story of conflict, the true picture became apparent only over time with reports emerging piecemeal from different sources, and they noted Mr Davies’ comments that:

“It is not surprising that few agencies or broadcasters had exactly the same figures at exactly the same time, because the number of casualties rose quickly and some of us would have been aware of ‘new’ additions, simply because we either witnessed those deaths or were quickly on the scene. The ‘fog of war’ is also something that armchair critics at home rarely experience – we were not covering the State opening of Parliament but a brutal and confusing conflict at the end of which, by common consent, more civilians than combatants were killed on both sides.””

Of course Wyre Davies’ claim that “by common consent more civilians than combatants were killed on both sides” is also inaccurate and it is regrettable that the ESC chooses to repeat such an inaccuracy in an official document.  

Neither he nor the Editorial Standards Committee appears to have taken note of the fact that two of the Palestinian casualties included in the numbers Davies cited in his Tweet – one of them the son of a BBC employee – were later shown to have been killed by a short-falling terrorist rocket. In its uncalled-for ruling on the impartiality of that Tweet, the ESC has obviously not taken into consideration the fact that by the time it was sent, Davies’ colleagues had begun an extensive campaign of emotion-fuelled promotion of those deaths as having been caused by Israel – despite having no factual evidence for that claim – thus creating a climate of ‘group think’ which may well have influenced the composition of the Tweet, and with neither Davies nor any other members of the BBC team in Gaza at the time having shown any evidence of questioning that false narrative.  

Wyre Davies has since moved on to pastures new, leaving those whom he condescendingly belittles as “armchair critics at home” to continue living in the “fog of war” which is for some of us a permanent state of affairs rather than a mere temporary assignment.  He and his other colleagues who have likewise since relocated elsewhere also leave us to deal with the fall-out of unprofessional, inaccurate and partial reporting by correspondents who do not appear to appreciate the consequences of shoddy journalism. Unfortunately, the BBC Trust’s Editorial Standards Committee’s appreciation of those consequences appears to be little better. 

 

BBC defence correspondent: Al Kibar was a ‘suspected’ nuclear facility

The International Atomic Energy Agency says it was. US intelligence says it was. The BBC, however, is apparently not convinced.

If you happened to be watching BBC television news coverage on the subject of a potential Western attack in Syria on August 28th you could hardly have failed to miss the repeated broadcast of an item by BBC defence correspondent Jonathan Beale which also appears on the Middle East page of the BBC News website under the title “How would Syria respond to military action?“. 

Beale

Beale opens his report:

“Military strikes against Syria have been carried out before. In 2007 in Operation Orchard, Israeli jets targeted a suspected nuclear facility in the north of the country – successfully as these satellite photos show – before and then after.” [emphasis added]

More than two years ago the IAEA stated that the Al Kibar facility near Deir ez Zor was a nuclear reactor in the final stages of construction.

“The UN nuclear agency on Thursday said for the first time that a target destroyed by Israeli warplanes in the Syrian desert five yearsBefore and after satellite images of the Syrian nuclear reactor at al-Kibar, which was reportedly struck by Israel in 2007 (AP/DigitalGlobe)  ago was a covertly built nuclear reactor, countering assertions by Syria that it had no atomic secrets to hide.

Previous reports by the International Atomic Energy Agency have suggested that the structure hit could have been a nuclear reactor. Thursday’s comments by IAEA chief Yukiya Amano were the first time the agency has said so unequivocally. […]

“The facility that was … destroyed by Israel was a nuclear reactor under construction,” he asked in response to a question from The Associated Press, repeating to the AP afterward: “It was a reactor under construction.” “

More than five years ago American national security officials briefed Congress on the issue.

“It was constructed by the Syrians in the eastern desert of Syria along the Euphrates River on the east side. The Syrians constructed this reactor for the production of plutonium with the assistance of the North Koreans.”

The US administration at the time knew exactly what Al Kibar was even before the strike took place.

“The facts about al-Kibar were soon clear, and about those facts there was no debate: It was a nuclear reactor that was almost an exact copy of the Yongbyon reactor in North Korea, and North Koreans had been involved with Syria’s development of the site. Given its location and its lack of connection to any electrical grid, this reactor was part of a nuclear-weapons program rather than intended to produce electric power.”

By unnecessarily inserting the word ‘suspected’ when describing what the top authority on the subject says unequivocally was a nuclear facility Jonathan Beale is clearly both misleading BBC audiences and in breach of BBC editorial guidelines on accuracy. 

The Tripod: CAMERA Links in Three Languages – August 27-28th edition

Not Boycotting. Terrified.
Ynet was quick to report on another cultural boycott. However the artist himself declared that he’s not boycotting – he’s terrified of BDS bullying (Presspectiva)

The Line That Turned Into A Border
Another instance of Ha’aretz “lost in translation” (Presspectiva)

BBC backgrounder on peace process erases twenty years of terror
A BBC Q&A article charts the Middle East peace process – without any mention of Palestinian terrorism. (BBC Watch)

BBC’s Knell amplifies Hamas propaganda, downplays its terror designation
The BBC reverts to form by presenting Hamas as a terrorist organization designated only by Israel. (BBC Watch)

Indy legitimises ludicrous charge that Israel is ‘ethnically cleansing’ Jerusalem
Population statistics in Jerusalem alone easily disprove the hyperbolic charge by pro-Palestinian propagandists that Israel is ‘ethnically cleansing’ Arabs from Jerusalem. (CiF Watch)

Jeff Jacoby at CAMERA Conference
Why be a proud Zionist? (in Focus)

The “bureaucracy” of media activism
The Spanish news agency Europa Press has come up with a formula to help it comply with its journalistic obligation to present balanced, impartial information. At least it seems to think so. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

Middle East headlines in the Spanish speaking press
Headlines focus on Israel’s display of the Iron Dome and the threat of a Western attack in Syria. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

Where’s the coverage?
Spanish media reported on the death of three Palestinians during a raid by Israeli border police in Qalandia checkpoint; but did not bother to report on the death of another man killed by Palestinian security forces. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

Looking Forward to Advocate for Israel; 2013-2014 Academic Year
Reflections from a student on CAMERA and the student conference. (In Focus)

 

 

BBC presentation of Israeli view on Syria intervention replete with inaccuracies

Among the reams of coverage of the subject of possible Western military action in Syria appearing on the BBC News website’s Middle East page we find an article titled “Syria crisis: Where key countries stand” dating from August 27th.

The article opens:

“The US and its allies are said to be considering military action against sites in Syria. But what do countries in the region and beyond think about any possible action?”

Countries of course do not “think”; in fact the article purports to condense the stances of various governments in the Middle East and elsewhere on the subject of potential Western action into a few bite-sized sentences.

Here is what it says about Israel.

'sale of gas masks'

“Despite initially avoiding becoming involved in the conflict, Israel has carried out three strikes on targets in Syria this year, reportedly to prevent weapons shipments reaching the Lebanese Hezbollah militia. Shelling and gunfire from Syria has also hit the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, drawing return Israeli fire.”

In spite of the BBC’s suggestion to the contrary, Israel is not “involved in the conflict” in Syria. That conflict is a civil war between Assad loyalists (and their foreign allies) and anti-Assad rebels (and theirs) and Israel does not support one side or the other. Any actions which may have been taken by Israel are exclusively linked to the protection of its citizens. 

The link appearing in this paragraph leads to a Q&A article published by the BBC on May 5th of this year which also tried to imply Israeli ‘involvement’ in the Syrian conflict. The use of the phrase “reportedly to prevent weapons shipments..” is clearly meant to signal to BBC audiences that the writer of this report is not convinced that is the case – a theme which has also been promoted by the BBC on previous occasions, not least by its Middle East Editor

In the interests of the BBC’s supposed commitment to accuracy, the final sentence of that paragraph should of course have made clear the fact that Syrian shelling and gunfire into the Golan Heights has sometimes drawn return Israeli fire – but in the majority of cases it has not.

The article goes on:

“In recent days, Israeli officials have condemned the alleged use of chemical weapons by Syrian forces and hinted at support for military action. “Our finger must always be on the pulse. Ours is a responsible finger and if necessary, it will also be on the trigger,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday.”

The juxtaposition of those two particular sentences is clearly intended to suggest to BBC audiences that any Western military action in Syria is likely to include Israel. However, the partial quote from PM Netanyahu used to suggest that is taken out of context.

Netanyahu’s words were said during a meeting of the Israeli cabinet on August 25th and in fact related to the subject of Israeli self-defence in the event of attacks on Israel by the Assad regime or any of its allies rather than in the context of Israel’s joining a Western coalition to take action in Syria.

” “From this we draw three conclusions,” Netanyahu continued, “One, this situation must not be allowed to continue. Two, the most dangerous regimes in the world must not be allowed to possess the most dangerous weapons in the world. And three, we expect that this will stop, of course, but we must always remember our sages’ ancient principle: ‘If we are not for ourselves, who will be for us?’”

“That is to say, our finger must always be on the pulse. Ours is a responsible finger and if necessary, it will also be on the trigger. We will always know to defend our people and our state against whoever attacks us, tries to attack us or has attacked us. This is the principle that has consistently, constantly and responsibly guided this government, and thus it will continue,” he concluded.”

The BBC article goes on:

“However, Israeli officials will be aware that any Western action against Syria risks a repeat of events in the first Gulf War in 1991, when Iraq attacked Tel Aviv with Scud missiles in attempt to draw Israel into the conflict and prompt the withdrawal of Arab countries from the war. Reports say sales of gas masks in Israel have gone up in response to speculation over military action.”

The statement that “Iraq attacked Tel Aviv with Scud missiles” is of course inaccurate. As was reported by the BBC itself at the time, Scud missiles were also fired by Iraqi forces at Haifa and other locations in Israel, including the Dimona region in the Negev.

The statement “sales of gas masks in Israel have gone up..” is also inaccurate. Gas Masks are not sold to the Israeli public, but distributed by the Home Front Command, in part via the Postal Services.

Interestingly, in the section titled “Lebanon”, this BBC article does not make any reference to Lebanon being “involved” in the conflict in Syria, despite the fact that Hizballah – which holds seats in the Lebanese parliament and government – is actively fighting there.

 

New BBC Jerusalem Bureau Chief

As readers may have already noticed, Paul Danahar moved on from his position as head of the BBC’s Middle East Bureau in Jerusalem last month and is now in Washington.

His replacement is Richard Colebourn who was formerly based in Beirut.

Colebourn twitter

Related posts:

BBC Jerusalem Bureau Editor

BBC Jerusalem Bureau personnel changes

BBC R2 promotes and mainstreams anti-Israel Greenbelt Festival

The Sunday August 25th edition of the BBC Radio 2 programme ‘Good Morning Sunday’ hosted by Clare Balding featured a two-hour live broadcast from Cheltenham Racecourse where the Greenbelt Festival was being held over the bank holiday weekend. The programme can be heard here for a limited period of time.

Good Morning Sunday Greenbelt

In the above synopsis the event is described as “an arts, faith and justice festival” – with that portrayal having come straight from the festival’s own tin – but as many readers probably know, there is a lot more to the Greenbelt Festival than just happy clappy music gigs and some of the event’s other strata raise the very serious question of why the BBC spent two hours putting lipstick on this event.

Near the beginning of the programme Clare Balding remarks on the “lovely feel” to the festival and her interviewee, the festival’s creative director Paul Northup, describes the event as “inclusive” and engaging”. However, any stray Israelis who happened to stumble upon it would probably find the event decidedly less than inclusive.

Balding makes no mention of the fact that one of the festival’s ‘attractions’ was a “giant interactive floor game for all ages” titled “Occupation”.

“Our installation in the Centaur foyer aims to give a glimpse of the challenges faced by ordinary Palestinians living under Israeli occupation. There’ll be a giant, interactive floor game – Occupation! – for all ages. Roll the dice and make your way through checkpoints and challenges, permit denials and poverty. On your journey, you’ll learn about the issues affecting the West Bank and Gaza and find out how you can help Embrace the Middle East to make a positive difference to the lives of marginalised people.

Occupation! is just a game, and you can walk freely away whenever you want, but the message behind it is a serious one. In the West Bank and Gaza, injustice continues to weave through the fabric of Palestinian life. Join us as we embrace the work of our Palestinian Christian brothers and sisters in their determination to be agents of change.”

The organizer of that exercise in the indoctrination of the hundreds of children who attended the festival is ‘Embrace the Middle East – a Greenbelt associate partner – which might be better known to some readers under its former name of ‘Bible Lands’ and which continues to be headed by anti-Israel campaigner Jeremy Moodey

An additional Greenbelt event organized by ‘Embrace the Middle East’ was the official launch of a document titled ‘Kairos Britain: A Time for Action’, which purports to be a ‘response’ to the 2009 ‘Kairos Palestine’ document.

The ‘Kairos Britain’ document is replete with far too many distortions and downright lies to mention in this brief article, as readers can see for themselves here. Those familiar with the Christian anti-Israel scene in the UK will recognize many of the names endorsing it (see the ‘related articles’ section below) and this screenshot of the document’s first page – illustrated with the infamous ‘maps’ which would be avoided like the plague by anyone with an honest agenda – gives some idea of how this document makes a mockery of the commandment “thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour” to which its authors presumably supposedly adhere. 

Kairos Britain

Clare Balding refrains from asking Paul Northup about his signature’s appearance on that decidedly non-inclusive ‘Boycott Divestment and Sanctions’ promoting document. She also ‘forgets’ to tell audiences that her musical guest Garth Hewitt is another signatory or that he is a patron of the Hamas-supporting Palestine Solidarity Campaign and heads the anti-Israel campaigning ‘charity’ ‘Amos Trust’ which even exploits Christmas to spread anti-Israel propaganda. 

Amos Trust 1

Amos Trust 2

Balding’s main guest is Jim Wallis, but again she neglects to mention his anti-Israel agenda and his organisation’s magazine’s repeatedly problematic portrayal of Christianity in the Middle East. 

Of course the vast majority of Christians in the UK have no time for the type of anti-Israel agenda promoted by the organisers of the Greenbelt Festival, but nevertheless BBC Radio 2 not only saw fit to devote an entire programme to this fringe event, but also completely whitewashed its anti-Israel campaigning with astounding efficiency, with the result that listeners would get the impression that this is no more than a cuddly extended church coffee morning with live music.

Beyond the obvious issues of accuracy and impartiality, it will clearly be of concern to many a licence fee payer to discover that the BBC is complicit in promoting and sanitising an event which stigmatises an entire nation, hence mainstreaming that delegitimisation.

Related articles:

Beyond Belief: Political Propaganda in the Anglican Church

‘Friends of Sabeel UK’ : promoting BDS and harming interfaith relations

The Great Methodist BDS Hijack

Lessons from the York Pogrom of 1190

Pacifist Aggressive: the Quaker echo chamber which empowers terrorism

The ‘flytilla’ – a cameo appearance by bigots and extremists within the anti-Israel campaign in the UK