What have BBC audiences been told about the P5+1 deal with Iran?

Some of the groundwork for the prevalent themes used in the BBC’s later coverage of the news that the P5+1 had agreed the terms of an interim agreement with Iran was already laid down nearly two weeks prior to that agreement in a November 12th article titled “US challenge to convince Mid-East allies over Iran” by the BBC’s State Department correspondent Kim Ghattas which appeared on the BBC News website’s US & Canada page, as well as in the ‘Features & Analysis’ section of its Middle East page. 

Ghattas Iran deal

In that article, Ghattas used specific language in order to herd readers towards viewing some of the regional responses to the then still unsigned interim deal as reactions based purely on emotions – rather than on any concrete scientific or strategic factors with which audiences might need to familiarise themselves in order to fully understand the issue.

Ghattas opened: [all emphasis added]

“Negotiations in Geneva with Iran may have failed to produce an interim deal over the weekend, but Israel and Gulf countries are still alarmed about the potential for a nuclear deal with Tehran, finding themselves in the unusual position of being partners in angst.”

Of course any “alarm” was actually related to the specific terms of the deal – not to the prospect of a deal in itself – and we later saw Ghattas promoting that same misleading theme once again in a filmed report. 

She went on to wave aside the concerns of one country in the region, making no mention of the significance of its physical proximity to Iran or of the Shia – Sunni enmities at work.

“Saudi Arabia has long been worried about a deal between its traditional protector and regional rival, mainly due to its own insecurities.”

Then it was Israel’s turn to have concerns frivolously dismissed, with Ghattas apparently not interested in detailing for readers the practicalities of exactly how a country should “reach out” to multiple entities committed to its destruction:

“Surrounded by violent upheavals in a changing region, Israel’s instincts have been to retrench rather to reach out to traditional foes.”

She continued:

“During a meeting in Jerusalem on Wednesday, Mr Kerry found himself ambushed in front of the cameras by the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

Mr Netanyahu launched into a diatribe about the Palestinians, accusing them of incitement and of creating artificial crises and he called on Mr Kerry to set them straight. […]

Livid, looking like he had not slept all night, the Israeli prime minister said the West was getting “a bad deal, a very, very bad deal”, while Iran was getting the ”deal of the century” because “they got everything and paid nothing”. “

Later, Ghattas’ cod psychology and crystal ball gazing skills were extended to cover the subject of talks between Israel and the PLO.

“Mr Kerry has tried to convince Mr Netanyahu that a deal with Iran is good for Israel’s security, as is peace with the Palestinians. But Mr Netanyahu’s anger at the Iran negotiations means he will be even less eager on the peace talk front.”

Then it was back to the Gulf:

“In the Gulf too, monarchies are having a hard time coming to terms with the possibility of an Iran deal. […]

There is little that Gulf monarchies can do to torpedo the ongoing negotiations with Iran, but they will continue to hyperventilate in public about the prospects and lobby against them through other parties, like Congress.”

Despite the BBC’s obligation to build a global understanding of international issues, Ghattas made no effort to explain to her readers the very real issues surrounding the actual terms of the deal which cause Israel, Saudi Arabia and others to have serious doubts about its long-term efficacy in containing Iran’s progress towards the acquisition of nuclear weapons.

Instead, she reduced the entire issue to the level of a soap opera, projecting emotional reactions onto states, engaging in two-penny psychology of their leaders and herding her readers into simplistically viewing any country less than enthusiastic about what the BBC has consistently promoted as a ‘best thing since sliced bread’ deal as emotion-driven hysterical nay-sayers spoiling the rest of the world’s party. 

Toddler injured by stone-throwers in Jerusalem not news for the BBC

At around 5 p.m. on Thursday November 28th Shirin Ben Zion was driving with her three children along Asher Weiner street in the south Jerusalem area of Armon HaNetziv when her car was attacked by stone-throwers. Her daughter Avigail – aged two – was hit by a rock weighing some 1.5 kgs and had to be evacuated to hospital due to a fractured skull. 

“Paramedic Raphael Herbest said that “when we arrived at the scene we saw the infant was bleeding at the head. She was lethargic… we were told she was hit with a large stone that hit her head while she was in a car.

“We immediately started treating her and evacuated her. During treatment, she started to regain consciousness.” “

Armon HaNetziv attack 1

Armon HaNetziv attack 2

It was later announced that four youths had been arrested in connection with the incident. The police spokesman noted that additional vehicles had been attacked in the same area on the same day.

The BBC’s Jerusalem Bureau is some eleven minutes’ drive from the location of the incident in which Avigail was injured. Twenty-four hours later, no report on the attack has appeared on the BBC News website. Readers of the website can, however, instead learn all about Orthodox beauty salons in Jerusalem. 

Related articles:

BBC fails to report on Route 5 terror attack

Nine year-old wounded in attack in Psagot: BBC silent

Patchy BBC reporting on security incidents compromises context and accuracy

BBC claims attacks on Israelis in Judea & Samaria are “rare”

BBC continues to ignore non-fatal terror attacks

BBC does a makeover on Hannukah

On November 27th the BBC News website’s Magazine section included an article titled “What happens when you cross Thanksgiving with Hanukkah?” by Aidan Lewis

Magazine Hanukkah

Readers celebrating Hanukkah may be rather surprised to learn that, according to that article, that they are in fact marking the rededication of the Temple after the “victory of the Maccabees against the Syrians”. 

BBC magazine Hannukah

Where did Lewis glean that curious piece of information? It appears to have been taken from the source to which he links in that section of his article: a page titled ‘Hanukkah’ on the BBC Schools website. There, teachers and students seeking information (presumably factual) from a site which is self-promoted as “educational resources from the BBC” are told that:

“The festival reminds Jews of a time over 2500 years ago when Antiochus, a Syrian king, tried to make the Jewish people worship Greek gods. A statue of Antiochus was erected in the Jewish temple and the Jews were ordered to bow down before him. The Ten Commandments forbid Jews to worship statues or idols and so they refused.

A small group of Jews called Maccabees rebelled, and after a three year war they recaptured Jerusalem from the Syrians. But the temple was all but destroyed.”

BBC schools Hanukkah

Whilst the Seleucid Empire – against which the Maccabean revolt was actually directed – did include Syria, Lewis’ description certainly does not reflect the tradition of Hanukkah as a victory over forced Hellenisation. One can only wonder what the Macedonian dynasty to which Antiochus IV Epiphanes belonged would have had to say about being dubbed ‘Syrians’ by the BBC.

Related articles:

BBC’s educational resource website describes Yom Kippur attack by Syria and Egypt as ‘pre-emptive’

 

BBC WS fails to disclose Iranian regime connections of ‘expert panel’ member

As we have had to point out here on numerous previous occasions, the BBC’s editorial guidelines on impartiality clearly state that the affiliations of interviewees should be made clear to audiences. 

“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.” [emphasis added]

In addition, the BBC’s previous ‘Key Terms’ guide stated:

“MIDDLE EAST EXPERT”
“Some “experts” may have a history of sympathising with one cause or another even if they have no overt affiliation. 

It is preferable, where time and space allow, to provide a lengthier indication of the contributor’s views on past issues so that the audience might calibrate his or her statements for themselves.

In all reporting we should avoid generalisations, bland descriptions and loose phrases which in fact tell us little about a contributor or event. The phrase “Middle East expert” implies the BBC thinks this person’s views have weight and independence. If we can defend that judgement – that’s fine. If not it may be better to avoid the phrase. 

Overall, we should seek a precise description – for example, what job does this person hold? Who employs them? Where do they stand in the debate?”

In other words, there are mechanisms in place to ensure that BBC audiences are not misled by partisan opinions disguised as impartial expertise, but those safeguards cannot be effective if the BBC ignores them – as it has done on numerous occasions.  

On November 25th 2013 the BBC World Service programme ‘Newsday’ hosted what its presenters termed a “panel of experts” in order to discuss the proposal that “the world is now a safer place” in the wake of the P5+1 deal signed with Iran. 

Newsday

Of the three panel members, only one – Chris Doyle – was introduced together with the name of his organization CAABU. Michael Goldfarb was described as an “American commentator in London”, with no mention made of the fact that he works for the Global Post and for BBC radio. Most egregiously, the founder of CASMII – Abbas Edalat – was introduced merely as someone who “campaigns against Iranian sanctions”.

CASMII (established in the UK in 2005 and in the US in 2006) is of course known for its connections to the Iranian regime and its lobbying activities on behalf of that regime. 

The ‘Newsday’ panel discussion is spread throughout the first hour of the programme (available here for a limited period of time), with Doyle and Goldfarb very much taking a back seat and Edalat dominating the discussion and exploiting in full the platform provided by the BBC for the amplification of undiluted Iranian propaganda both on the subject of the recent agreement and on wider regional issues. 

From 08:33 Edalat says: 

“Yes, the.. ah.. Iranian people see this as a historic victory for them, for their struggle, for their inalienable rights of …em…em…mastering the fuel cycle and having a home-based enrichment programme. And it reverses the 1953 coup [in] which the Iranian people struggled to nationalize their oil industry and it led to this coup. Now this whole thing is reversed and the West, headed by the US, has recognized Iran’s right under the NPT, including the home enrichment of uranium.”

When asked by presenter Shaimaa Khalil if it is “too soon to celebrate” Edalat answers:

“I don’t think so. I think the United States has had a lot of failed interventions – military interventions – in the region. It’s reached complete impasse. Until now it’s been listening to Israel and it’s now decided that it’s no longer in its interests to listen to Israel, so it’s seeking a rapprochement with Iran so that to get the support of Iran, to stabilize the region, to have a stable Afghanistan, to have a stable Iraq, to have a stable Syria and do away with terrorism and all these war zones in the region.”

The notion of a theocratic terror-financing regime which persecutes its own citizens as a ‘stabilising’ regional element is not challenged by Khalil.

From 24:30 Edalat really gets into his stride:

“There are actually two distinct points in that document [the Geneva P5+1 agreement] which assert that Iran can continue and will continue to enrich uranium. Both are for producing fuel rods for energy production, but also the important point here is that…emm…the world is a safer place now not because of any danger that at any time Iran had the desire to develop nuclear weapons. Iran never had that desire – Iran had never had a weapons – nuclear weapons – programme and there’s been a fatwa reiterated many times by Ayatollah Khamenei.”

As we have noted here before:

“There is of course much debate surrounding that unwritten fatwa […]. Readers may find this essay by a former BBC Persian analyst helpful in understanding the significance – or lack of it – of such a fatwa.”

In rising – almost hysterical – tones, Edalat goes on:

“The world is now a safer place because the deal on Sunday is a historic defeat for the war-mongers. It is a historic defeat for Israel, is a historic defeat for Saudi Arabia, a historic defeat for the neo-conservatives whose strategy was to use the Iranian nuclear programme as a pretext in a fabricated crisis that Israel prodded the West to put sanctions on Iran in the hope of a regime change in Iran. They wanted to duplicate, to have a repetition of the Iraqi scenario in Iran – a regime change – and that failed.”

Again, Edalat’s conspiracy theories are broadcast unchallenged by the BBC World Service presenter. 

At 36:23 listeners get an interesting glimpse into the Iranian regime’s view of the whole issue via Edalat’s words:

“Well actually Iran’s position has really never changed. I mean since 2003 Iran has repeatedly said that it wants its nuclear rights to be recognised and in return for the right to have a home-based enrichment [of] uranium it’s prepared to go well beyond its obligations to be transparent, to allow inspections of the IAEA – intrusive visits. So Iran’s position has not changed in the last ten years at all and I think this is what’s going to continue. It’s the US and its allies who have retreated from their 2005 position because in 2005 Iran, which only had 164 centrifuges, offered to keep these for research and development and implement and ratify the additional protocols that the EU3 under the pressure of the United States just rejected. So now Iran has got a thousand times more centrifuges. It has mastered the fuel cycle and therefore it’s won the game. I mean and it will continue to fight against these sanctions. The sanctions have been cracked and they will continue to crack and eventually I think there will be a complete rapprochement between the United States – a renormalization of relations.”

None of the other contributors make any effort to balance Edalat’s claim to the “right” to enrich uranium, thus leaving audiences with the distinct impression that such an undisputed right exists under the terms of the NPT.

At 51:00, in reply to the question of whether the Iranian nuclear programme can “come back on track” despite the Geneva agreement, Edalat says:

“Well there’s a fatwa in place in Iran against the production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons and all weapons of mass destruction. When Iraq, with support from the West, used chemical weapons against Iran, Iran – although it had the capacity to develop chemical weapons and retaliate in kind – it refused to do so. So the track record of Iran is very clear. Iran is not going to go in that path. But I think there is a real fact that there is a nuclear threat against Israel and that nuclear threat against Israel comes from Israel’s own nuclear arsenal. Because Israel, backed by its nuclear arsenal, has made – waged – aggression against its neighbours in a brutal way, treated Palestinians…and because of that nuclear arsenal has gone away with impunity, this aggression….”

At that point Edalat is finally interrupted by Goldfarb who says:

“Wait a second, that’s just ridiculous. I mean Israel and its neighbours have engaged in many wars. Its neighbours in the last twenty years have been propped up by Iran – long after the Arab armies had stood back and engaged in a diplomatic process, so that’s not entirely true.”

That, however, is the only counter to Edalat’s flow of regime propaganda.  

Edalat rounds off with yet another ‘gem’ in response to a question about the wider tensions in the Middle East:

“Well I think the sectarian tensions and conflict in the region has been promoted by Saudis in an unholy alliance with Israel actually. And this fact was only created – produced – because of the intervention of the United States in the region. Before that this [Sunni – Shiia] division did not exist at all. I think Iran can play a very constructive role because Iran has never taken an anti-Sunni position. Never.”

So there we have it: undiluted Iranian regime propaganda broadcast to tens of millions of listeners around the world by the ‘reputable’ BBC World Service in the guise of an “expert” opinion, and with complete abandonment of the editorial obligation to make the connections of that “expert” known to audiences.

Related articles:

The fast-tracking of a complaint to the BBC

The unstated connections of a BBC R4 Middle East ‘expert’

Why does the Guardian get Middle East analysis wrong?

 

 

 

 

The Tripod: CAMERA Links in 3 Languages – November 20th -26th edition

Brooklyn College Hosts Ben White’s Lecture on ‘Israeli Apartheid’
Anti-Israel activist Ben White was invited to speak at Brooklyn College by the college’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine. Event is co-sponsored by two college departments. (in Focus) Tripod logo

SFSU President Condemns Campus Event With Slogan “My Heroes Have Always Killed Colonizers”
San Francisco State University President Les Wong publicly condemned this week an event held on campus in which students created posters that read, “My heroes have always killed colonizers.” The posters were displayed in the campus square, and were created as part of a larger event celebrating Edward Said, according to AMCHA. The event was organized by the General Union of Palestinian Students. (in Focus)

Where’s the coverage? 
With the exception of two media, Spanish press did not cover the murder of the young Israeli Eden Atias at the hands of a Palestinian. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

The order of the factors alters the product 
Europa Press not only ignored the murder of Eden Atias, but used the incident as a pretext to insist portraying once again the Palestinians as “victims”. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

Impartiality 
Europa Press offers 367 words to the Palestinian version and only 27 to the Israeli. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

Pattern
A brief review of the coverage of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict of Europe Press shows a very striking pattern: the agency appears to officiate as a spokesman for Hamas. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

A Return to Bias

Our CAMERA Fellow at Concordia writes in her Op-Ed that “Israel was the only specific country on the agenda when the United Nations met on September 10, 2013. At this time the world was praying for the victims of chemical weaponry in Syria. The UN made no specific or emergency condemnation of Syria at the time. It took a backseat to the permanent agenda article against the Jewish State. The executive director of UN Watch, Hillel Neuer noted that day that the same amount of time was allotted to Israel as was committed to the rest of the world. (in Focus)

The Scary World of Uri Misgav 
Uri Misgav’s column is analysed applying the same psychoanalytic method he applies to others. (Presspectiva)

The New York Times Admits Its Error
The New York Times publishes an apology for illustrating a shocking terror attack, with a picture of the terrorist’s mother (Presspectiva)

That renowned BBC accuracy and impartiality… 
BBC’s man in Gaza invents an Israeli air raid. (BBC Watch)

BBC misrepresentation of Israel’s stance on Iran talks continues in Kim Ghattas report 
The BBC’s State Department correspondent was the latest to misinform audiences about Israel’s stance on P5+1 deal. (BBC Watch)

Arab Israeli Citizen Shares Minority Experience with SF State 
CAMERA on Campus Is In the News! This article was written by Guadalupe González and was printed in the Golden Gate Xpress on October 29, 2013. (in Focus)

Napoleon, Ben Gurion and the Jewish State
Was Napoleon a harbinger of Zionism? (Presspectiva)

Tel Aviv, Israel’s Eternal Capital 
Why the foreign media keeps claiming that Tel Aviv is the capital city of Israel. (Presspectiva)

We Must Take Ownership of Our Own Humanity 
Eliot Hamilton of our CCAP group Claremont Colleges for Israel: “I have found that if I mention of the State of Israel, someone will not respectfully disagree with me, but will get angry with me personally for supporting something that they see as flawed. I did not expect to be disrespected so vehemently, or to experience such hatred. . .” (in Focus)

 

 

 

 

 

Unnoted corrections to BBC report on Salafist terror cell

A headline appearing on the Middle East page of the BBC News website on the evening of November 26th informed readers of “Palestinians killed in Israeli raid”.

Yatta headline MEp

The link leads to a short article titled “Suspected Palestinian militants killed in Israeli raid“, the second version of which is shown below. 

Yatta

That 121 word article contained very sparse information and was amended after its initial publication to include two additional uses of the phrase “suspected militants” in addition to the two already included in its initial version. 

amended Yatta article

The incidents to which the report refers took place on the evening of November 26th in Yatta, south of Hebron. As Israeli security forces operated to arrest members of a Salafist group (in addition to others already arrested earlier) planning to execute terror attacks in the coming days, two members of the group were intercepted whilst travelling in a car. The two initial BBC reports failed to mention that the occupants of the vehicle fired at the security forces when the latter tried to stop them, stating only that:

“Two of the suspected militants were killed in their vehicle near the city of Hebron, Israeli officials said.” 

According to more detailed reports:

“The Palestinian terror suspects were in a car that had explosives and firearms in it, when they were met by the counterterrorism unit and additional special forces, who were sent to intercept the vehicle, a senior IDF source said.

Israeli forces opened fire at the car’s wheels, and the suspects fired back. Following an exchange of fire, the two suspects were killed, the source said.”

On the morning of November 27th, the BBC report underwent significant changes and the later version now reflects the fact that an exchange of fire took place.  

“Two of the militants were killed in a shoot-out when security forces tried to arrest them, near Hebron, a domestic intelligence official said.”

yatta later version Weds am

The link to the article on the Middle East page was also amended to better reflect the actual events:

Yatta headline ME p version 2

The original BBC report stated:

“According to security agents, the network was planning attacks on Israel in the coming days.”

It neglected to mention that the cell was also planning attacks against the Palestinian Authority.

“The IDF said the organization to which the two belonged had over the past months attempted to set up an extensive military infrastructure across the West Bank. The organization had planned to target Palestinian Authority structures and personnel, in addition to Israeli soldiers and settlers, the statement said.”

That omission was rectified in the later version of the report:

“Officials said the cell had planned a series of attacks in the coming days.

Both Israel and the Palestinian Authority were among their targets, Israel’s Shin Bet intelligence service said, according to the AFP news agency.”

The first two versions of the BBC report also stated:

“Members of the [Salafi jihadist] movement are thought to operate in both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.”

In fact, the operation of Salafist groups in both those areas (as well as in the neighbouring Sinai Peninsula and in Syria) is well-known – rather than merely “thought” to exist – with the BBC itself having reported on Salafists in the Gaza Strip and a Hizb ut Tahrir rally (not reported by the BBC) having taken place in Ramallah last July. Amos Harel writes in Ha’aretz:

“The presence of the Salafis, most of whom are not violent, is now being felt in the West Bank, nearly a decade after they established themselves in the Gaza Strip. Last year, saw a rise in their organized operations, most of which are not political and do not involve terror activity. In East Jerusalem, in particular, one stream called Hizb a-Tahrir stands out, though its activities aren’t violent. Still, there have recently been large assemblies of Salafist groups at several locations in the West Bank, including in the Hebron area. “Suddenly, from nowhere, you hear that 30,000 people are attending a gathering at the stadium in the South Hebron Hills,” a senior military official told Haaretz.

[…] On the margins of the Salafist movements, there is a violent jihadist arm under the influence of al-Qaida’s violent ideology, which has already manifested itself in cells in the Gaza Strip. One can assume that the increased activity of factions with similar ideologies, both in the Sinai Peninsula and especially in the murderous Syrian civil war, strengthens support for them in the West Bank.”

Again, the later version of the report corrected that inaccuracy:

“Salafist jihadists – ultra-conservative Islamists who espouse violence to realise their political objectives – are active in the Gaza Strip and to a lesser extent in the West Bank.”

Whilst it is good to see the BBC News website correcting its own mistakes, no notification of the changes made is provided to those visitors to the site who read the earlier – inaccurate – versions of the article during the eleven or so hours that they were left up on the website. Having already read the report, those readers are unlikely to bother revisiting it just to check if the BBC has made any amendments. Once again, this underlines the need for a dedicated page showing corrections and amendments on the BBC News Ashkelonwebsite.   

Also on November 26th, a Palestinian from the Gaza Strip carrying a grenade was apprehended near Kibbutz Kfar ‘Aza after managing to infiltrate the border fence. On the same evening, residents of Ashkelon had to rush to their air-raid shelters as the siren warning of incoming missiles from the Gaza Strip sounded. The missile fell short, landing in the Gaza Strip and endangering the local population there. Neither of those incidents was reported by the BBC. 

BBC predictably silent on Fatah incitement

On November 24th we noted the BBC’s consistent under-reporting of news from Palestinian Authority controlled areas, including the lack of coverage of a military parade and a recently launched video by Fatah’s Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.

Palestinian Media Watch has now translated parts of that video, noting that it has been posted on Fatah’s official Facebook page

The various articles and backgrounders on the subjects of Fatah and the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades appearing on the BBC website are notable for the fact that the more recent the article, the more the connection between the political and military wings of Fatah is downplayed.

In November 2003 a BBC investigation revealed the transfer of funds from the Palestinian Authority to the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and noted the “close links” between that proscribed terror organization and Fatah. 

“Close links between Mr Arafat’s political faction Fatah and al-Aqsa are also discovered by the programme. One local Fatah leader in the West Bank town of Jenin says that the al-Aqsa group is the military wing of his organisation and that Mr Arafat is the overall leader of both the political and military arms.

“Fatah has two sections: a military wing, led by the military and a political wing, led by politicians. But there is no difference between Fatah and the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades,” a leader of Fatah in the Jenin refugee camp tells Correspondent.”

By 2007 the BBC was describing the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades as being “affiliated” to Fatah.

“The Fatah-affiliated al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades has participated, along with Hamas, in an informal militant ceasefire since 2005, but conducts what it calls retaliatory attacks against Israel.”

By 2009, the connection was further downplayed:

“The second intifada saw a number of armed groups associated with Fatah and Tanzim emerge, most notably the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades.

The brigades are neither officially recognised nor openly backed by Fatah, though members often belong to the political faction.”

That description is repeated in a 2011 profile of Fatah which currently appears on the BBC website.

However, Fatah and PA officials have consistently been considerably less coy than the BBC on this subject, with former PM Ahmed Qurei saying in 2004:

“We have clearly declared that the Aksa Martyrs Brigades are part of Fatah,” Qurei said in an interview with the London-based Asharq al-Awsat newspaper. “We are committed to them and Fatah bears full responsibility for the group.”

In February 2013 AFP quoted the following statement from the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades:

” “Al Aqsa brigades, the armed wing of the Fatah national liberation movement, mourns with all pride its hero, the martyr of freedom, the prisoner Arafat Jaradat,” the statement said, in reference to Jaradat’s membership of the group.” [emphasis added]

And, as PMW points out: [emphasis added]

“The Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades is listed as a terror organization by the US and the EU. Recently, the official Palestinian Authority daily reiterated that the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades is Fatah’s military wing:

“The Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, Fatah’s military wing, also denounced the explosion that occurred yesterday in Beirut’s suburb…” [Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Aug. 17, 2013] 

Of course any media organization truly committed to keeping its audiences informed in order to “[e]nable individuals to participate in the global debate on significant international issues” (such as the Middle East peace process) would ensure that they had a realistic picture of the nature of the connections between the largest faction comprising the body currently conducting negotiations with Israel and a proscribed terrorist organization which has received operative support from Hizballah, as well as of that faction’s continued incitement and glorification of terrorism as shown, yet again, in this example.  

Related articles:

BBC backgrounder claims Palestinian leadership renounced terror twenty five years ago

BBC ‘tidies up’ Fatah celebrations

 

BBC’s Knell continues the downplaying of terror from the Gaza Strip

On November 21st we noted here that – despite the presence of BBC staff in the Gaza Strip at the time – no report had appeared on the subject of the military parades which took place there on and around November 14th

On November 22nd an article by Yolande Knell titled “Tensions high between Israel and Gaza a year after truce” appeared in the ‘Features & Analysis’ section of the BBC News website’s Middle East page.

Knell Gaza parades

Knell opens her article with descriptions of those military parades. She notes that “[m]ore than 170 Palestinians and six Israelis were killed in last November’s clashes” but fails to make it clear to her readers that some 60% of casualties in the Gaza Strip were members of various terrorist organisations, including 71 from Hamas, 17 from the PIJ, six from the PRC and three from Fatah.

In copy-paste style, Knell then repeats the claim made in a previous BBC article on the subject of the anniversary of Operation Pillar of Cloud:

“Israel launched Operation Pillar of Defence, which it said was aimed at ending rocket fire from Gaza, with the assassination of the head of the Qassam Brigades, Ahmed Jabari, on 14 November 2012.” [emphasis added]

Once again, this version of events fails to provide BBC audiences with any of the important context behind the reasons for the operation. The use of the phrase “which it said was aimed at ending rocket fire from Gaza” implies that the BBC is not convinced that the fact that between January 1st and November 13th 2012 (the day before the operation began), 797 missiles had been fired from the Gaza Strip at civilian targets in Israel – one hundred and twenty-three of them between November 10th and 13th alone – was reason enough for Israel to take action to stop those terror attacks.

Knell continues:

“While its strong rhetoric against Israel continues, Hamas has largely kept to its pledge to prevent rocket fire.”

Her next sentence, however, indicates that “to prevent rocket fire” – a la BBC – means the launching from territory controlled by Hamas of over fifty missiles at civilian targets: in other words, an average of one terror attack a week.

“The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) says that since Operation Pillar of Defence about 50 rockets have been launched from Gaza, compared with 1,500 the previous year.”

Knell then goes on to inform her audience that those missile attacks are not so bad:

“Those fired have caused little damage, landing in open areas or being intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome missile defence system. However, civilians in their range are still forced to run for cover whenever the “red alert” siren sounds.”

The breathtaking banality of Knell’s downplaying of the effects of regular terror attacks on civilians is enabled by the fact that since the end of last November’s hostilities (and likewise before their ‘official’ commencement on November 14th 2012) no BBC reporter has made the 90 minute journey from Jerusalem to Sderot or Ashkelon in order to bring to BBC audiences the experiences and viewpoints of residents of those areas still subject to regular missile attacks. 

Whilst the number of missile attacks (most of which have been ignored by the BBC) has indeed decreased since the end of last November’s operation, past experience of the similar situation after Operation Cast Lead in 2008/9 shows that trite reporting of mere numbers conceals a much more complex picture.  

“Hila Barzilai, the director of the Sderot Resilience Center (Merkaz Hosen) recently told Sderot Media Center that in the past six months following Operation Cast Lead, hundreds of Sderot children have turned to the resilience center for therapy treatment. 

“These kids come to us with their parents to seek therapy for the trauma built up from years of rocket attacks,” says Barzilai. “These problems did not just begin post-Operation Cast Lead. We are talking about eight years of constant rocket attacks whose psychological effects are now emerging during this period of calm.” […]

The average recovery period for a child can take up to eight months or more, said Barzilai. One of the challenges of trauma patients face in the recovery process are the sporadic rocket attacks that still continue to hit Sderot and the western Negev region.  

Barzilai notes in frustration that “it takes one rocket attack to destroy any progress in the patient’s therapy. The siren alert will trigger the flashbacks of terror and fear in the child or adult, which means that the therapy process has to begin anew.” […]

Orna Hurwitz, the director of the Sderot Bon Tone Hearing Institute, told Sderot Media Center on Monday that hearing loss has become an ailment unique to Sderot and Gaza-border residents.

“The hearing impairments suffered by residents of Sderot are akin to the hearing loss that soldiers experience during war. The repeated blasts of the rocket explosions harm the ear drum to the point that many residents have to be treated for hearing loss, dizziness, tinnitus, and/or central auditory processing disorders,” says Hurwitz.”

And yet, the BBC continues to avoid telling this story in full, thus compromising its obligation to “[e]nable individuals to participate in the global debate on significant international issues”. 

Related articles:

Compare and contrast: BBC reporting on cross-border missile fire

Patchy BBC reporting on security incidents compromises context and accuracy

Missile attack on Israeli civilians not a ‘flare-up’ for the BBC

Another missile attack on Israeli civilians ignored by the BBC

Missiles fired into Israel not news for the BBC

Not news for the BBC

BBC ignores missile fire from Gaza Strip

Missiles fired at Southern Israel communities – BBC silent

BBC scepticism on terror attack proved wrong

Readers may remember that the BBC News website’s October 11th report on the murder of Col. (res) Sariya Ofer at his home in Brosh HaBika’a included the following statement: 

“The dead man is the third Israeli to be killed in what Israel characterises as “terror attacks” in the last month in the West Bank. Two serving soldiers have also died.” [emphasis added]

Similar phrasing was again used in an additional article dating from October 28th.

Details of the investigation into the murder of Col. Ofer indicate that the characterisation of the incident  as a terror attack – which the BBC implied through its choice of wording and punctuation should be viewed with scepticism by its audiences – was in fact entirely justified. 

“Two men arrested by security forces for the slaying, 18-year-old Uda Harub, and 21-year-old Bashir Harub, of the West Bank village of Deir Samat near Hebron, had already confessed to killing Ofer, and during subsequent questioning, shed light on the their motives, saying they originally planned a robbery, and then decided on a terrorist plot.

Two weeks before the attack, the murder suspects arrived at Ofer’s home in the vacation resort of Barush [Brosh] to surveillance the area ahead of a violent robbery they were planning, according to their testimony.

“After learning that a senior army officer lived there, who might be armed, they decided to carry out a murder ‘as a gift to the Palestinian people and to Hamas prisoners for the festival of sacrifice [Id al- Adha],’” the suspects said during questioning, according to the Shin Bet.”

To date, visitors to the BBC website have not been informed that the scepticism they were encouraged to employ with regard to the motives for this attack – and others – was redundant.