BBC shows footage of ‘apparent rocket attack’ on north Israel

h/t @Lsorang on Twitter

At around 16:30 on August 22nd four missiles were fired from the Tyre area in southern Lebanon at communities in northern Israel. One missile was intercepted by the Iron Dome defence system and two fell in populated areas. The BBC reported the incident in an article titled (latest version) “Rockets fired at northern Israel“.

Version 3 of the article:

Thurs rockets attacks

Version 4 of the article: 

missiles thurs version 4

A short sequence of film at the head of the article is curiously captioned:

“The aftermath of an apparent rocket attack is seen in northern Israel” [emphasis added]

Version 3 of the article stated:

“Sirens sounded across the area, but no casualties were reported. Footage showed some minor damage.”

The later version read:

“Sirens sounded across the area, but no casualties were reported. Footage showed some minor damage at a kibbutz near the coastal town of Nahariya.”

As details of the incident unfolded it was learned that in addition to the damage to vehicles and homes caused by the 122 mm rocket which landed in Kibbutz Gesher HaZiv – some of which is shown in the BBC’s footage – another missile hit an additional community in the area, landing near a complex which houses some 50 elderly Holocaust survivors and damaging several homes, but fortunately with no injuries sustained. 

Both versions of the BBC article state:

“Rockets have been fired into Israel intermittently by militant groups since the Israel-Hezbollah conflict in 2006.”

Readers unfamiliar with the region would be likely to understand that sentence as meaning that only since 2006 have missiles been “intermittently” fired into Israel. There have of course been some ten incidents in which missiles have been fired from southern Lebanon by assorted terrorist organisations in the seven years since the end of the Second Lebanon War – all of which were violations of UN SC resolution 1701 which ended the conflict, as is the presence of armed terrorist militias – including Hizballah – in southern Lebanon.

The BBC does not make those facts clear to its audiences and neither does it sufficiently clarify the fact that terrorist missile and artillery fire from southern Lebanon at civilian communities in northern Israel has been going on since the early 1980s.

The omission of that relevant context compromises the ability of BBC audiences to understand the full significance of the story. 

Update: 

An official from the Abdullah Azzam Brigades has claimed responsibility for the rocket attacks.

 

BBC describes known terror finance man as ‘activist’

On August 20th 2013, at 09:26 GMT, the BBC News website published an article titled “Palestinian killed in Israeli raid in West Bank” on its Middle East page. 

The backbone of the BBC report appears to have been gleaned from the Reuters and AFP news agencies.

Jenin incident Reuters BBC

That fact prompts the question of how the BBC is able to check the accuracy of information provided by an agency’s local reporter or stringer before publishing an article online only hours after the incident took place. 

For example, the Reuters report – and the BBC article – states that the man killed was 20 years old. Reports from other sources place his age anywhere between 16 and 22. The Reuters report claims that “doctors at a Jenin hospital said Majed Lahlouh, 20, was killed with a bullet to his heart” and that claim is repeated by the BBC in the caption to the photograph illustrating its report. However, the Times of Israel reports that:

“Military sources were quoted as saying that the Palestinian casualty could have possibly resulted from shrapnel or from wounds inflicted to the lower part of his body.”

The BBC report ends:

“Army spokesman Lt Col Peter Lerner says the wanted man was taken into custody.

Israeli army radio said the man was believed to be an Islamic Jihad activist, Bassam Saadi.”

The BBC’s choice of the term “activist” gives audiences no insight into the type of pursuits engaged in by Bassam Saadi (also a-Saadi or al Saadi) – which, contrary to the impression readers might receive, are not limited to folding flyers or licking envelopes. 

Bassam Saadi is a senior figure in the Jenin branch of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad who has been imprisoned due to his involvement in terrorist activity in the past. Palestinian Authority documents seized during ‘Operation Defensive Shield’ in 2002 named Saadi as part of the PIJ’s terror financing network.

“A document uncovered by the IDF also explains the mechanism for financial disbursement within PIJ. According to the document, Ramadan Shallah, the PIJ secretary-general in Damascus, transferred funds to Bassam al-Saadi, a senior PIJ activist in Jenin in charge of finances, who then distributed the funds to active terrorists and to the families of terrorists killed or arrested.”

A letter sent by the then Israeli permanent representative to the UN, Dan Gillerman, in October 2003 – just a few days after the suicide bombing at the Maxim restaurant in Haifa in which 21 people were killed and over sixty injured – states:   

“Evidence of this wholesale state-support for terrorism is a matter of public knowledge. For example, it is a well-known fact that the Secretary-General of the Islamic Jihad, Ramadan Abdallah Shallah, is one of several terrorist leaders who operate freely in Damascus and receive immunity and support from the Assad regime. On a number of occasions, Mr. Shallah is known to have transferred funds amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars from Damascus to the individual accounts of Islamic Jihad operatives, such as Bassam al-Saadi, who is responsible for financing the Islamic Jihad branch in Jenin, which carried out Friday’s attack in Haifa.”

The BBC’s habitual use of euphemisms such as “activist” of course raises questions with regard to its level of commitment to its stated purpose of keeping audiences fully informed, as this latest example shows. 

The Tripod: CAMERA Links in Three Languages – August 20th-21st edition

BBC provides platform for claim that Palestinian terrorists are ‘political prisoners’
BBC presenter makes no attempt to correct claim by Robin Wright of US Institute of Peace. (BBC Watch)

BBC’s ‘Israeli building threatens peace talks’ meme in numbers
How many times over the last week have readers of the BBC News website been told that Israeli building tenders in Jerusalem and Judea & Samaria threaten to “sabotage” peace talks? . (BBC Watch)

Maariv’s Double Error
Maariv not only mistranslated Jeffery Goldberg’s column, they made it factually incorrect. (Presspectiva)

Iran uses its embassies in Latin America to recruit young people
Different studies in Argentina, Mexico and the US point out that Iran has recruited young Latin Americans in order to promote its interests in the region. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

The forgotten incitement
Incitement to hatred, according to experts, creates an enabling atmosphere for violent criminal activities that may lead to genocide. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

Subtle dual coverage
Apparently, when Israel is part of the news, the word “terrorist” – applied to those who attack it, or threatens its citizens security – has no place in the Spanish newspaper elperiodico.com. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

Where’s the coverage?
While the peace talks continue its course, the Palestinian Authority official radio expressed its certainty that Israel – which is referred as “occupied Palestine” – will cease to exist. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

Former Fellow Speaks at CAMERA Student Conference
Former CAMERA Fellow and IDF Veteran Abir Gitlin shares his experiences and how he tackled challenges on campus with participants at the CAMERA Student Leadership and Training Conference. (In Focus)

Peace through martyrdom: Muslim Brotherhood leader poses as a liberal at ‘Comment is Free’
The Guardian provides a platform for an Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood leader with a record of advocating the virtues of jihad to pose as a champion of peace, democracy and non-violence. (CiF Watch)

 

 

BBC Arabic reports on Syrian patients in Israeli hospitals – but not in Arabic

Over the past few months we have noted here on numerous occasions the BBC’s failure to cover the stories of Syrians wounded in the civil war in their country receiving medical care in Israel – see here, here, here and here for example.  

Now a welcome step has been taken towards changing that with a short filmed report by BBC Arabic’s Sam Farah which appeared both on BBC television news and on the Middle East page of the BBC News website on August 20th

wounded Syrians Israel

Unfortunately though, Sam Farah’s report does not appear to have made it to the Middle East page, the video pageor any other page on the BBC Arabic website. Isn’t this exactly the kind of news which the BBC claims to be providing for people who are unlikely to hear it from the media in their own countries?

As a former BBC Director General once said:

“The BBC’s motto is ‘Nation Shall Speak Peace Unto Nation’ – the idea being that access to news, information and debate about different countries and cultures can ultimately help foster mutual understanding and tolerance.”

Inaccuracy corrected in one BBC Rouhani article, left standing in another

Readers may remember that earlier this month we noted here that the BBC News website had presented remarks made by Iran’s new president at an Al Quds Day march in such a way that audiences would understand Rouhani’s description of “an old wound on [the] Islamic world” to refer exclusively to areas which came under Israeli control after the 1967 war, rather than to Israel itself – as Rouhani in fact intended. 

Via ‘Elder of Ziyon we now learn that the article has been amended. The original headline read “Iran’s Rouhani calls Israel occupation ‘old wound’ on Islamic world” and the strap-line stated that:

“Iran’s President-elect Hassan Rouhani has denounced Israeli occupation of Palestinian areas as an “old wound on the body of the Islamic world”.”

The amended headline now reads “Iran’s Rouhani calls Israel ‘old wound’ on Islamic world” and the strap-line says:

“Iran’s President-elect Hassan Rouhani has called Israel an “old wound on the body of the Islamic world”.”

Rouhani article amended headline

At the bottom of the article appears the following footnote:

correction Rouhani article

However, another article which – as we noted at the same time – exhibits the same inaccuracy, has yet to be amended.

other Rouhani article not corrected

Of course the vast majority of people who read the original inaccurate version of this story will not search for it again over two weeks later to see if by any chance an amendment has been made.

As we have remarked here before, it really is time that the BBC News website – like many quality newspapers – included a dedicated page of daily updates of corrections so that members of the public can easily make themselves aware of errors and inaccuracies previously read on that website. 

BBC documentary on Tel Aviv gay pride fails to keep up with the news

Last week a message dropped into the BBC Watch mailbox promoting a BBC radio documentary. The e-mail came from the programme’s presenter – Tim Samuels – who also informed us that a television version of the documentary is scheduled for broadcast later in the year. 

The radio version – titled “Tel Aviv Comes Out” – was broadcast on August 11th on the BBC World Service in the series “The Documentary“. Samuels recorded the programme in June 2013 and that fact seems to have contributed to issues regarding the accuracy of the synopsis which appears on the BBC website and in the documentary itself. 

WS documentary TA comes out

The synopsis states:

“Tel Aviv’s march to gay epicentre hasn’t always been smooth – or organic. In 2009, the Mayor embarked on a multi-million dollar mission to rebrand the city as the ultimate gay destination. In that same year, a gunman – who has never been caught – opened fire on a gay youth club killing two people. Hostility is never far away.”

The trouble with that statement is of course that a suspect in the Bar Noar shootings has been caught (in fact he was arrested during the time that Samuels was in Tel Aviv making the programme) and was charged with two counts of murder and attempted murder on July 8th 2013. The implication that the shootings were purely an anti-gay hate crime is also problematic given the information which emerged after the arrests.  

That means that whoever wrote that synopsis has either not bothered to keep up with the facts of the case – and hence misleads audiences by making inaccurate statements – or that the facts of the case do not tailor themselves to the message he or she is trying to get across. Clearly, that synopsis needs to be corrected. 

Tim Samuels’ programme itself is in parts very good, including interesting interviews with Professor Uzi Even, former MK Yael Dayan and others. Unfortunately, he – or his producers at Tonic Productions – also do not appear to have kept up with progress in the Bar Noar case – despite obviously being aware of the fact that arrests had been made. From around 31:35, Samuels can be heard saying:

“…Tel Aviv’s self-confident tolerance was suddenly shattered in 2009 right in the heart of the city… […] A gunman walked into the gay youth centre and opened fire, killing two and wounding fifteen. An unexpected and incongruous attack that brought about some serious national soul-searching. […] Today’s papers are reporting some extra news about the shooting in 2009 at the gay youth centre. They’re saying that finally – nearly four years later – arrests have been made in connection to the shooting…”

It should be pretty standard practice for a documentary maker involved in a project which includes reporting on a criminal investigation to keep up with developments in that investigation and update and amend the programme accordingly – rather than going ahead with the broadcast of inaccurate and misleading information which is two months out of date.  That should clearly apply even more so when the programme is to be broadcast by the BBC, which purports to demand the same editorial standards of accuracy and impartiality from commissioned work as it does in its own content. 

The other problem with this documentary is its mainstreaming of the language of delegitimisation of Israel through its focus on – and promotion of – accusations of alleged “pinkwashing”.  Samuels opens his documentary by asking:

“But has the city’s [Tel Aviv] gay and lesbian cause been co-opted and used as a public relations tool by Israel?”

At 19:45 he says:

“What concerns some is that all this talk of tolerance – and the mayor’s money – is being used to deflect attention from the Palestinians and that gay rights have become a Public Relations tool.”

The trouble is that Samuels does not bother to properly inform his listeners who those “some” are and what their fringe agenda is. Audiences then hear an unidentified woman telling Samuels that “when tourists come here they see all this pinkwashing” and claiming that Israel is to blame for the fact that Palestinians cannot lead openly LGBT lives. Samuels then interviews Eyal (sometimes spelt Aeyal) Gross, whom he introduces merely as “associate professor of law at Tel Aviv university” – failing to inform audiences that Gross is a seasoned activist not only on the LGBT scene, but has also sat on the boards of ‘ACRI and ‘Gisha.

Whilst the opposite point of view to the two interviewees promoting the notion of “pinkwashing” is put by Tel Aviv council member and mayoral advisor on LGBT rights Yaniv Weizman, Samuels fails to adequately inform his audiences that the “pinkwashing” claim is just one tactic used within the wider context of political activism aimed at the delegitimisation of Israel. As we have noted here many times before, the BBC’s editorial guidelines on impartiality clearly state that:

“We should not automatically assume that contributors from other organisations (such as academics, journalists, researchers and representatives of charities) are unbiased and 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.”

The failure to make Gross’ political associations clear and the resulting lack of context to his politically motivated comments clearly breach that guideline.

Let’s hope that these issues are dealt with before the television version of this documentary is broadcast so that what otherwise could be an interesting programme is not marred by failures of accuracy and impartiality.

 

The Tripod: CAMERA Links in Three Languages – August 16-19th edition

BBC’s Knell reports on prisoner release without mentioning their crimes
What are the millions of viewers of BBC television news being told about the recent early release of 26 Palestinian prisoners? . (BBC Watch)

BBC report on prisoner release is mostly about something else
Once again, the BBC shoehorns the subject of building tenders into a report ostensibly about another subject altogether . (BBC Watch)

Magic Carpet Ride: Yemen to Israel
Jews from Yemen continue to seek refuge in Israel. (In Focus)

The unbearable lightness of journalism
The Spanish news agency, Europa Press, has decided that the Israeli version is unnecessary. Even when reporting about the peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

Collection of Corrections From Around The World
A Hebrew collection of worldwide newspaper corrections from the previous week. (Presspectiva)

Indy’s Matt Hill engages in cynical smear about Netanyahu and the Rabin murder
The Independent published a commentary by Matt Hill which included a completely baseless accusation against Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. (CiF Watch)

Middle East headlines in the Spanish speaking press
UN’s opinion about the peace talks and turmoil in the Sinai, Egypt, centered the attention of the press. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

 

 

BBC accuracy error disappeared from view

At the beginning of this month we noted that the synopsis of an edition of ‘From Our Own Correspondent’ featuring an item by Jake Wallis Simons erroneously claimed that:

 ”Jake Wallis Simons drinks beer with an Israeli settler who tells him that whatever the outcome of the current John Kerry peace initiative, he and others like him, won’t be leaving their settlements.”

In fact, the man interviewed said nothing of the sort.

Mr Stephen Franklin contacted the BBC about the inaccuracy of that synopsis – which appeared at two locations on the BBC website. The answer he received reads as follows: [emphasis added]

“Thanks for contacting us regarding ‘From Our Own Correspondent’ on BBC Radio 4.

We note you believe the programme’s webpage incorrectly described what was actually heard on the 3 August edition.

You say it stated “Jake Wallis Simons drinks beer with an Israeli settler who tells him that whatever the outcome of the current John Kerry peace initiative, he and others like him, won’t be leaving their settlements.”

However, I’ve had a look and this is what it says:

“Jake Wallis Simons drinks beer with an Israeli settler who tells him that whatever the outcome of the current John Kerry peace initiative, he and others like him still believe in their rights to the land.”

This is in line with Jake’s recollection of his conversation with the settler, who he states said:

“I base my claim on (the land) on 3,000 years of history.”

“This place is ours.”

“This is our land.”

We hope this allays your concerns about the accuracy of the content of the webpage.

We’d nonetheless assure you your concerns have been registered on our audience log, which is a daily report of audience feedback that’s made available to many BBC staff, including members of the BBC Executive Board, channel controllers and other senior managers.

The audience logs are seen as important documents that can help shape decisions about future programming and content.

Thanks again for taking the trouble to contact us.”

But Mr Franklin was not – as this letter suggests – mistaken about the wording of the webpages concerned and the lack of accuracy in that content at all – they have simply been altered in the meantime without any addition of notification of that fact.

Here is a screenshot of the original version of one page:

FOOC AUG 3 2

Here is the amended version:

FOOC JWS amended

Here is the a screenshot of the original version of the other webpage:

FOOC Aug 3

Here is the amended version:

FOOC JWS podcast amended

This of course means that there is no acknowledgement on the part of the BBC that a mistake was made in the first place and hence no record of the failure to comply with BBC editorial guidelines on accuracy. 

BBC’s ‘Israeli building threatens peace talks’ meme in numbers

How many times over the last week have readers of the BBC News website been told that Israeli building tenders in Jerusalem and Judea & Samaria threaten to “sabotage” peace talks?  

On Sunday, August 11th they were told so in no fewer than three separate reports: “Israel backs new Jewish settlement homes, “New West Bank settlement homes anger Palestinians and the filmed report by Kevin Connolly which also appeared on BBC television news “New Israeli settlement homes anger Palestinians– which stayed up on the website for an additional four days. 

August 12th saw the appearance of an article titled “Israel names 26 Palestinian prisoners for release in which the same meme was also promoted, as well as an item by Jonathan Marcus entitled “Does Middle-East peace process matter? in which he misleadingly suggests that a construction freeze was part of the “understanding” reached in order to resume the latest round of talks. That article has been featured on the website for eight days – and counting.

On August 13th the BBC published an article called “Kerry: Israeli settlements move was expected which also promoted the notion that Israeli building would “sabotage” the talks. The same day also saw the appearance of a report by Kevin Connolly titled “Little hope for talks among Israelis and Palestinians in which the same meme was advanced. That report stayed on the website for three days in all. Another article titled “Palestinian prisoners ‘moved’ before Israel release devoted over half its word count to the subject of Israeli building. 

August 14th saw the appearance of three reports – one written (“Israel releases 26 Palestinian prisoners ahead of talks) and two filmed – both titled “Israel frees Palestinian prisoners“, both by Yolande Knell (see here and here) and both of which also appeared on BBC television news as well as on the website again the following day.  All of those reports purported to report on the release of Palestinian prisoners, but all of them also promoted the ‘building sabotages peace talks’ meme. Also on the same day an article by BBC Monitoring entitled Q&A: Israeli-Palestinian talks in Jerusalem was published in which the subject of building tenders was reported to have caused “dismay” to Palestinians. 

On August 15th (and for three additional days afterwards) the BBC News website carried a report titled Israel-Palestinian peace talks resume in Jerusalem  which promotes the claim that: 

“Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem have continued to overshadow the resumption.

The issue halted the last direct talks in September 2010 and Palestinian representatives have accused Israel of trying to sabotage the latest negotiations.

In recent days Israel has announced plans for more than 2,000 new settlement homes.

Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) official Yasser Abed Rabbo said the settlement expansion was “unprecedented”.

“The talks might collapse any time because of the Israeli practices,” he told Voice of Palestine radio.”

As we see, a regular reader of the BBC News website would have been exposed to the meme that Israel announced the issuing of building tenders on August 11th as a means of “sabotaging” the renewed talks – and hence a threat to peace in general – in no fewer than thirteen reports published on the website in the period August 11th to August 15th inclusive. Naturally, the promotion of that meme was often accompanied by now standard misleading BBC slogans such as:

“Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem are considered illegal under international law, although Israel disputes this.”

And:

“The issue of settlement-building halted the last direct talks.

These collapsed in September 2010.”

During the same week, Israel released twenty-six convicted terrorists and murderers as a ‘goodwill gesture’ aimed at encouraging the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table. As was widely documented by the BBC itself, those prisoners were received at official Palestinian Authority organized celebrations in which the man holding the highest office in the PA – Mahmoud Abbas – literally and figuratively embraced the men as heroes, glamourising and glorifying their acts of terrorism.

The BBC, however, does not appear to consider the Palestinian Authority’s public glorification of terror just hours before renewed talks were set to commence as an attempt to “sabotage” those talks or a threat to ‘Middle East peace’ and so the number of articles exploring that angle which visitors to the BBC News website would have read in the same period of August 11th to 15th is zero.

Were the BBC’s coverage of these renewed talks truly accurate and impartial it would not refrain from informing its audiences of the fact that, even whilst sitting at the negotiating table, the Palestinian Authority continues to incite its people against Israel, to glorify terror and to spend 6% of its budget on salaries for convicted terrorists. As it is, BBC audiences have so far read no analysis on the subject of how those factors might influence the talks, but they have been spoon-fed a meme on Israeli building which bears uncanny resemblance to the campaign currently being run by the PLO.  

 

BBC ‘In Pictures’ on prisoner release: no mention of crimes

Among the extensive coverage of last week’s release of 26 convicted terrorists which appeared on the BBC News website was an item titled “In pictures: Palestinian prisoners released” dating from August 14th.

The pictorial feature includes seven pictures – five of which show the released prisoners being received by family and crowds. None of the captions to those pictures make any mention whatsoever of the crimes they committed. In the pictures, the subjects are seen to be happy and smiling, sometimes making triumphal gestures, and with their faces well-lit. 

In pictures prisoners 1

In pictures prisoners 2

In pictures prisoners 3

In pictures prisoners 4

In pictures prisoners 5

The last two images show the ‘Israeli side’ of the story. Picture number six shows Israeli police and prison service vehicles at the entrance to Ayalon prison. The only people in the photograph are uniformed officers whose faces cannot be seen.

In pictures prisoners 6

The final picture shows Israelis – mostly male – protesting against the prisoner release. Notably, we do not see their faces except for one small child and a blurred side-view of a woman’s face half hidden behind a sign and so their protest – unlike the celebrations of the prisoners and their families – does not take on a human face with which audiences can connect.

In pictures prisoners 7

Here are some examples of other pictures of Israelis protesting the prisoner release which were not selected for this ‘In Pictures’ feature.