Like several other media outlets including the Guardian, the BBC has made use of the latest example of Israel-related animal conspiracy theories as an opportunity to produce a light-hearted piece apparently intended to amuse rather than inform audiences.
An article appearing in the BBC News website’s Magazine Monitor section on September 5th titled “The animals mistaken for spies” opens with the recent story of a migratory stork detained by police in Egypt on suspicion of spying which apparently later came to an unfortunate end.
The BBC article states:
“And a spate of shark attacks near the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh in 2010 was blamed by one TV station on GPS-controlled predators planted by Israel in order to harm the Egyptian tourism industry.”
In fact the shark-related accusations were also promoted by the governor of the South Sinai, Muhammad Abdel Fadil Shousha, and broadcast by the Egyptian state media rather than just “one TV station” – as was reported by the BBC at the time.
Whilst one can understand the temptation to turn such stories into a whimsical space-filler, it would surely be of more benefit to BBC audiences’ understanding of the Middle East were some attempt made to offer serious explanation and analysis of the kind of environment which allows such conspiracy theories to prosper –especially as the BBC frequently uncritically repeats statements and claims on other issues made by officials from regimes which subscribe to such theories.