Another case of bizarre BBC use of term ‘pro-Palestinian’

Broadly speaking, BBC coverage of Israel-related issues which do not concern politics or the Arab-Israeli conflict is usually informative and objective. One sector which stands out for its generally accurate and impartial coverage is the BBC News Technology department.

Several reports from that department have recently appeared on the Middle East page of the BBC News website including an interesting set of diary reports by Technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones recording his impressions of a visit to Israel – see herehere and here.

Another report, dated January 27th, is titled “Israel defence computers hit by hack attack” and, like similar articles appearing at other outlets, appears to be largely based on a Reuters report on the same subject. The BBC’s version, however, has one notable addition.

Pro Palestinian hackers

“The attack left hackers temporarily in control of 15 computers that are part of Israel’s defence forces.

Pro-Palestinian hackers are believed to be behind the attack.” [emphasis added]

The BBC article also states:

“Mr Raff pointed the finger at Palestinian involvement because of the attack’s similarity to another incident that took place in 2012. That too involved booby-trapped messages sent to Israeli government staff.

The email messages sent in both attacks were written and formatted in a very similar style, said Mr Raff, adding that they also shared some technical commonalities.”

From other sources we learn that:

“Raff told Reuters that Palestinians were suspected to be behind the cyber attack, citing similarities to a cyber assault on Israeli computers waged more than a year ago from a server in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

While the latest attack was conducted from a server in the United States, experts noticed writing and composition similarities with the earlier attack, he said.”

As the BBC article correctly points out:

“One of the computers successfully penetrated using the booby-trapped email was at Israel’s Civil Administration agency, said Mr Raff. This defence agency issues entry permits for Palestinians who work in Israel and oversees the passage of goods between the country and the West Bank and Gaza Strip.”

It is not made clear in this article why the BBC chooses to define as “pro-Palestinian” those hackers perpetrating a cyber attack on a body which organises and facilitates the daily entry of supplies and aid into the Gaza Strip, the exit of locally produced exports and persons seeking medical care from that territory and the issuing of work permits to ordinary people from Palestinian Authority controlled areas seeking higher paid employment in Israel. If anything, any attempt to disrupt activities which contribute to improving the health, welfare and financial situation of ordinary Palestinians should surely be defined as anti-Palestinian. 

This is the third time in ten days that the BBC has made dubious use of the term “pro-Palestinian”. Apparently editors have not yet got round to having a serious think about what the term actually means or when its use is – and is not – appropriate.

Related Articles:

 How does the BBC define ‘pro-Palestinian’?

BBC News recycles second-hand SodaStream slur, fails to explain BDS

January 30th saw the appearance of an article titled “Scarlett Johansson quits Oxfam role over SodaStream row” on the BBC News website’s US & Canada and Middle East pages. 

SodaStream art

The article opens:

“Actress Scarlett Johansson has quit as an ambassador for Oxfam amid a row over her support for an Israeli company that operates in the occupied West Bank.

A spokesman for the actress said she had a “fundamental difference of opinion” with the humanitarian group.

She will remain a brand ambassador for SodaStream, which has a factory in the Jewish settlement of Maale Adumim.”

Actually, the SodaStream factory is located to the east of Ma’ale Adumim in the Mishor Adumim Industrial Park and in an area which, under any reasonable scenario of a peace agreement between Israel and the PLO, will remain under Israeli control. Notably, the BBC – as usual – does not bother to inform audiences of that aspect of the story. 

Mishor Adumim

The report continues:

“Oxfam opposes trade from settlements, considered illegal under international law – something Israel disputes.

About 500,000 Jews currently live in more than 100 settlements built since Israel’s 1967 occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem.”

As usual, no attempt is made to clarify to readers that contrasting legal opinions also exist outside Israel and the BBC presents selected views as indisputable fact. 

At no point in this report is any attempt made to inform readers of the context of Oxfam’s record of politically motivated campaigning against Israel. Likewise, at no point is any attempt made to explain to audiences that Oxfam’s stance is the result of its alignment with the BDS movement (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) and that the aim of that movement is the dismantling of Israel as the Jewish state through a campaign of delegitimisation.

“With pressure imposed by the international community through a BDS campaign a la anti-Apartheid campaign which brought Apartheid South Africa to an end, we believe that Israel itself can be transformed into a secular democratic state after the return of 6 million Palestinian refugees who were ethnically cleansed in 1948, a state for ALL of its citizens…therefore, we think that one of the major tools of the struggle towards a secular democratic state is BDS.” Haider Eid, 2009

“So BDS does mean the end of the Jewish state…I view the BDS movement as a long-term project with radically transformative potential… the success of the BDS movement is tied directly to our success in humanizing Palestinians and discrediting Zionism as a legitimate way of regarding the world.” Ahmed Moor, 2010

“BDS represents three words that will help bring about the defeat of Zionist Israel and victory for Palestine.” Ronnie Kasrils, 2009

The BBC’s report quotes from a statement issued by Oxfam:

“Oxfam believes that businesses, such as SodaStream, that operate in settlements further the ongoing poverty and denial of rights of the Palestinian communities that we work to support.”

Despite the obviously downright bizarre nature of that statement, the BBC makes no attempt to clarify to readers that the 500 or so Palestinians working at SodaStream enjoy the same rates of pay, benefits and rights as their Israeli colleagues or that unemployment in the PA controlled areas stood at 19.1% in the third quarter of 2013 according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics and that employees of SodaStream  earn several times the average wage of 88 shekels a day in PA controlled areas.

Towards the end of the report, the BBC once again stoops to quoting second-hand unverified hearsay from an unnamed source.

“However, away from the factory, Reuters quoted one unnamed Palestinian employee as saying “there’s a lot of racism” at work.

“Most of the managers are Israeli, and West Bank employees feel they can’t ask for pay rises or more benefits because they can be fired and easily replaced,” he added.”

In the film below, however, are some named SodaStream employees talking about their experiences and here readers can watch an interview with the factory’s manager and hear a conversation with production manager Mohamed Barhum conducted by our colleague Adam Levick of CiF Watch last year.

It takes about half an hour even in bad traffic to drive from Jerusalem to Mishor Adumim. Surely someone from the BBC’s Jerusalem Bureau could have popped down there to do some proper reporting instead of BBC News resorting once again to recycling unverified quotes from second-hand sources.

Had that been done, BBC journalists would have discovered that SodaStream is far from the only firm employing Palestinians at that industrial park and that some of the businesses operating in the Mishor Adumim complex are Arab-owned. They could then have approached Oxfam for a statement on whether those companies too are deemed worthy of boycott simply because of their physical location.

Such a statement might well have contributed to BBC audiences’ understanding of the real roots of Oxfam’s campaign and the true nature of the BDS movement. Unfortunately for BBC audiences however, it seems that once again the corporation is more interested in the amplification of a specific unquestioned narrative than in providing them with a range of information which will allow them to form their own views on the subject.

This report joins many others in raising the very obvious question of why the BBC’s funding public should be obliged to pay to read second-hand recycled quotes from sources they could have accessed for free themselves. It also raises an additional issue: sources such as Reuters (quoted in this article), AP and AFP (frequently quoted in other reports) are of course not bound by the same editorial standards as the BBC. That fact prompts the question of whether any sort of mechanism exists to ensure that information sourced by the BBC from other media outlets is checked for accuracy and impartiality before it is recycled to BBC audiences.



In which BBC News abandons all pretence of fact checking

On the morning of January 29th a Palestinian man named Mohammed Mubarak opened fire on an Israeli army position near the community of Ateret on route 465 in the Mateh Binyamin district. The soldiers returned fire and Mubarak was shot and killed. It incident Ateret alater emerged that he had earlier fired at passing civilian vehicles before attacking the army post. 

Later in the day, a report on the incident titled “Israeli troops kill Palestinian in West Bank” appeared on the Middle East page of the BBC News website. Readers of that headline are of course given no clue as to the fact that Mubarak shot at soldiers and civilians before he was killed.

The report itself opens in the usual ‘last-first’ BBC reporting style, with no less typical use of scare quotes around the word terrorist.

“A Palestinian man has been shot dead by Israeli troops in the West Bank.

Palestinian medics identified him as Mohammed Mubarak, 22, a labourer from the Jalazun refugee camp near Ramallah.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said its soldiers had opened fire on a “terrorist” after he attacked an army post near the settlement of Ofra.”

The article then moves on to the realms of second-hand rumour and hearsay.

“But Palestinian witnesses told the AFP news agency that Mubarak had not been armed, and had been harassed by the troops and made to remove his clothes.”

Obviously the BBC has not bothered to carry out any kind of fact checking before electing to repeat and promote unverified hearsay from unidentified passers-by. Over at the Israellycool blog is a photograph of Mubarak taken shortly after the incident and published by the Ma’an news agency in this article. As can clearly be seen, he is fully clothed and the weapon used lies beside him.

Maan photo

Later in the day, a Facebook posting from an advisor to the PA president described Mubarak as “a Martyr in the battlefield”:

“With the most exalted expressions of honor and pride and with symbols of Jihad and resistance, we part with piety from our heroic Martyr (Shahid) Muhammad Mahmoud Mubarak from the resolute Jalazone refugee camp, who ascended to Heaven as a Martyr in the battlefield while challenging the Zionist enemy.”

Here are some of the photographs previously posted by Mohammed Mubarak on his Facebook account:

Mubarak Facebook

The BBC’s purpose remit of building a “global understanding of international issues” and “enhancing UK audiences’ awareness and understanding of international issues” is not served by the uncritical repetition of inaccurate rumour and hearsay from any and every random passer-by. Neither can such a lazy practice be justified under the heading of a supposed commitment to impartiality.

It is the BBC’s task to provide its audiences with the facts and those cannot be established without proper fact-checking. As this report sadly shows, BBC News apparently can no longer be bothered with that most basic of journalistic tasks.

Revealed: BBC’s Kevin Connolly knows how to use Wikipedia

Our colleague Gidon Shaviv over at Presspectiva has been investigating the claim made by several Western journalists recently that Ariel Sharon was nicknamed ‘Lion of God’. Among those who made that claim – in an article titled “Ariel Sharon’s mark on history” which appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page on January 11th – is the BBC Jerusalem Bureau’s Kevin Connolly.

“Such was his [Sharon’s] reputation as a military commander that some accounts of his army career say he was nicknamed the Lion of God after a particularly daring tactical parachute operation against Egypt in 1967 in the Sinai desert.” [emphasis added]

Lion of God

As Gidon notes:

“Lion of God is an unlikely nickname for a man whose Hebrew first name is Ariel. The name Ariel could and has been interpreted as meaning lion of God, (Ari=Lion El=God) though it is more commonly associated with Jerusalem. In other words, in Hebrew, Sharon’s given name is indistinguishable from the supposed “Lion of God” nickname.

Moreover, comprehensive searches for historic references to Sharon as “Lion of God” did not turn up any results prior to 2012. Exhaustive online searches in Hebrew and English and in various biographies did not yield a single example of anyone ever having referred to him as the “Lion of God.” Likewise, the head of Israel’s state archives, a historian in his own right, had never heard of this moniker for Sharon.”

So where did that claim made by Connolly and others come from?

“The earliest known reference to “Lion of God” as a nickname for the late prime minister is Wikipedia’s entry for “Ariel Sharon“.”

Lion of God Wiki

Oops! And where did Wikipedia source that information? Read more on that in Gidon Shaviv’s post here.

 “BBC News aspires to remain the standard-setter for international journalism“, its funding public is reassured by the BBC Trust. One of course rather doubts that those obliged to pay £145.50 a year to fund the BBC would expect the use of dubious, unverified information sourced from Wikipedia to be part of that “standard”.

BBC ties itself in Neturei Karta knots

As was noted by a commenter on this thread, a BBC News website UK page report from January 26th concerning the visit to London by the leader of the far-Right, openly antisemitic Hungarian party Jobbik included a photograph of several individuals belonging to the extremist Neturei Karta sect and the statement “Members of the Jewish community also joined the protest against Jobbik”. The original wording of the article can be seen here and the photograph here.

On January 28th the photograph was removed and a footnote was added to the amended article.

footnote Jobbik art

That amendment was apparently prompted by Neturei Karta itself, which took pains to explain on its Facebook account that in fact the protesters were demonstrating in support of Jobbik rather than against. NK facebook

“Members of Neturei Karta were demonstrating against the strident and aggressive actions of the Zionists against Jobbick [sic]and Mr. Vona, The Rabbis of NK were carrying a banner with a clear message: ”Authentic Jewry is Against Zionist Aggression”. 

The BBC ignored the banner and totally distorting our message. They stated that the Rabbis were there to demonstrate against Mr. Vona and Jobbick. That is totally false.

I have lodged a complaint with the BBC and await the outcome.”

Those familiar with the activities of Neturei Karta will of course not be surprised by this latest display of support for yet another antisemitic cause.

Also on January 28th an article titled “Israel jails anti-Zionist for offering to spy for Iran” appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page. 

In that article a reasonable short description is given of the Neturei Karta sect to which the convicted man belongs.

“Bergel belongs to the anti-Zionist Neturei Karta, an ultra-Orthodox Jewish sect which is vehemently opposed to the State of Israel’s existence.”

The report ends:NK art ME pge

“Neturei Karta members have travelled to Iran in the past. In 2006, there was outrage in Israel when a delegation hugged then President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at a conference questioning the historical truth of Holocaust.”

That anaemic and misleading description of course hinders BBC audience understanding of the fact that criticism of Iran’s Holocaust denying ‘conference‘ and Neturei Karta’s participation in it (rather than merely of hugs with the Iranian president) was expressed by many others besides Israel, including the US State Department and the president of the German parliament – as reported by the BBC itself at the time.

When this article originally appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page it was accompanied by two links to ‘related articles’. One of those links was to a 2009 BBC report about a visit by members of Neturei Karta to the Gaza Strip in which Hamas’ antisemitism is downplayed .

“Mr Haniya welcomed them, saying Hamas rejects Zionist ideology, not Jews.

“We feel your suffering, we cry your cry,” the Associated Press quoted Rabbi Yisroel Weiss as saying.

“It is your land, it is occupied, illegitimately and unjustly by people who stole it, kidnapped the name of Judaism and our identity.” ” [..]

“Mr Haniya described the men as “heroes”, according to Palestinian media reports.

“Our problem is with the occupation, that stems from the Zionist ideology and its desire to disperse all the Palestinians,” he said.

“Those religious figures that express their objection to the siege, the aggression and the crimes – we can’t help but respect them and for their beliefs and their culture.” “

The other link was to a BBC article from December 2006 concerning Neturei Karta’s participation in the Iranian Holocaust denial event. NK GMJ b

“A handful of Orthodox Jews have attended Iran’s controversial conference questioning the Nazi genocide of the Jews – not because they deny the Holocaust but because they object to using it as justification for the existence of Israel.” […]

“Rabbi Friedman told BBC Radio 4’s PM programme that he was not in Tehran to debate whether the Holocaust happened or not, but to look at its lessons.

He says the Holocaust was being used to legitimise the suffering of other peoples and he wanted to break what he called a taboo on discussing it.

The main thing, he argued, was not Jewish suffering in the past but the use of the Holocaust as a “tool of commercial, military and media power”.”

In addition to promoting and amplifying the views of a miniscule extremist sect dedicated to the destruction of a UN member state (and affording the title of Rabbi to a man whose rabbinical qualifications are at best unclear), that article also includes reader comments; some in the style shown below.  

comment d NK Iran art

comment a NK Iran art

 Several hours later those two ‘related articles’ links were removed from the Middle East page and the report now stands alone.Neturei Karta visiting the tomb of Imad Mughniyeh, Beirut March 2012

It would appear that Neturei Karta presents something of a conundrum for the BBC. Its description of the London demonstrators as “members of the Jewish community” clearly indicates that it does not adequately comprehend the fact that Neturei Karta has a negligible number of followers who have no contact with mainstream Jewish communities. On the other hand, the temptation to amplify the views of a handful of anti-Zionist Jews – and thereby downplay the antisemitic aspects of many an anti-Israel demonstration, meeting or conference – is apparently irresistible.

Now that members of Neturei Karta have made their support for European fascists (rather than ‘just’ Middle East ones) known directly to the BBC, perhaps the penny will finally drop.

Related Articles:

Global March to Jerusalem: Neturei Karta reaches a new low

The Tripod: CAMERA Links in 3 Languages – January 10th-27th edition

English Posts:

AFP Gives New Life to Old Settlements (& Neighborhoods)
In the alternate reality in which Agence France Presse lives, Tel Aviv advocates settlement expansion, Israel approved the “new” Tripod logosettlements of Pisgat Zeev, Ariel, Har Homa, Efrat, Gilo, Beitar Illit and Ramat Shlomo. (Snapshots)

CAMERA Wins Hasby Award
CAMERA is delighted that popular blogger Elder of Ziyon has selected CAMERA has the 2014 winner of the Hasby Award in the category of Best Mainstream Media Watchdog. (Snapshots)

On Op-Ed Corrections, NY Times is 1 For 3
The Times corrects Ali Jarbawi’s claim that Sharon entered the Al Aqsa mosque, but has yet to correct the assertion that Israel controls all of Gaza’s borders and “built a wall around Palestine.” (CAMERA)

Where’s the Coverage? Fatah Official Calls for Resistance
Western media, which have demonstrated a keen interest when Israeli officials have criticized American efforts to advance a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, have reacted to a Palestinian official’s rejection of Secretary of State John Kerry’s efforts with . . . . resounding silence. (Snapshots)

AFP: Tel Aviv Pushes Settlement Expansion
Is the secular, liberal city of Tel Aviv, and Mayor Ron Huldai of the leftist Labor Party, secretly advocating settlement expansion? If so, Agence France Presse has a scoop! (Snapshots)

The NY Times and the Facts on the Wall
We were still waiting for The New York Times to correct factual errors in the Jan. 22 Op-Ed about Ariel Sharon by former Palestinian Authority official Ali Jarbawi, when we spotted yet another Times Op-Ed which botched the facts on Israel. (Snapshots)

Latest NY Times Anti-Israel Hit Piece Requires Corrections
Writing in the Times of Israel, CAMERA’s Tamar Sternthal,examines Ali Jarbawi’s falsehoods along with many other media falsehoods about Ariel Sharon. (CAMERA)

CAMERA Prompts NY Magazine Correction on Sabra, Shatilla
CAMERA elicits a correction on an obituary for Ariel Sharon in New York Magazine which erroneously stated that Israeli soldiers carried out the killings in Sabra and Shatilla. (CAMERA)

Predictably, Sharon-Related Falsehoods Under Way
In New York Magazine, Caroline Bankoff claims that Israeli soldiers, not the Phalange militia, killed hundreds of Palestinian refugees in Sabra and Shatilla. (Snapshots)

With Ariel Sharon’s Death, Expect the Usual Falsehoods
With Sharon’s death the usual media falsehoods about him, for example regarding Sabra and Shatilla, or the sparking of the second intifada, will no doubt once again need to be debunked. (CAMERA)

CAMERA Clarifies About Reuters, Shuafat
CAMERA rescinds a correction request given that Reuters was referring to building plans in the Shuafat refugee camp and not in a separate Jerusalem neighborhood of the same name. (CAMERA)

In Sharon Coverage, NPR Skews
NPR’s Mike Shuster whitewashes Palestinian terrorism that emanated from Lebanon, and Emily Harris misleads on the Temple Mount and Sabra and Shatila. (Snapshots)

PBS, ‘Resistance Fighters,’ Women and Children
In an otherwise fair report, PBS whitewashes the Palestinian terrorist attacks against Israel during the 1950s which led to the formation of Ariel Sharon’s Unit 101. (Snapshots)

5 Things to Fix in CNN’s ’5 Things to Know’ on Sharon
In “Five Things to Know” about Ariel Sharon, CNN gets five things wrong, including his visit to the Temple Mount, the chronology of the 1967 war, Gaza’s history, and more. (CAMERA)

Clyde Haberman and the Siege Mentality
Departing New York Times Clyde Haberman harbors an intensive sense of personal siege, alongside his indignation at Israel ‘s siege mentality. Also, CAMERA offers a parting gift. (Snapshots)

The New York Times Guide to Peace Negotiations
A CAMERA column in American Thinker and Times of Israel provides examples demonstrating how the New York Times routinely casts Israel, but not Palestinians, as the obstacle to peace. (CAMERA)

Review of Fall Semester 2013: Sgt. Benjamin Anthony at the University of Delaware

Read on to learn about Sgt. Benjamin Anthony’s Lecture at the University of Delaware. (in Focus)

Brooke Goldstein at CUNY Baruch College
Read on to learn about Brooke Goldstein’s Lecture at CUNY Baruch College. She is a human rights lawyer committed to raising awareness about and combating the indoctrination and recruitment of children for suicide terror operations, as well as other violent activities. Brooke also produced an award-winning movie entitled Martyr, which investigates juvenile suicide terror. (in Focus)

Building Peace at USF
A piece by the CAMERA Fellow at the University of South Florida, Danielle Haberer. (in Focus)

United Nations Human Rights Council: Is it legitimate?
The United Nations Human Rights Council doesn’t seem to care too much about the plight of the Syrians. Our CAMERA Fellow at UMass-Amherst writes about the legitimacy of this branch of the UN. (in Focus)

BBC exploits Sharon’s death for more promotion of second Intifada falsehood
BBC coverage both before and after the death of Ariel Sharon showed intensive promotion of the myth that his Temple Mount visit started the second Intifada. (BBC Watch)

Breaches of editorial guidelines in BBC WS ‘Newshour’ special Sharon broadcast
Just one hour after the announcement of the death of Ariel Sharon, the BBC World Service opened its coverage with defamatory remarks from Mustafa Barghouti. (BBC Watch)

Goodbye, Harriet Sherwood: Three years covering Gaza and no lessons learned
Harriet Sherwood’s latest ‘love letter’ to Gaza perfectly illustrates the egregious pro-Palestinian bias in her coverage of the region during her three years as the Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent. (CiF Watch)

CAMERA Partners with Drexel Hillel on Birthright Trip
CAMERA partners with Drexel Hillel to encourage Birthright students to get involved with Israel activity on campus. (in Focus)

Who is Edward Said and why is his picture on a mural at Cesar Chavez Center?
Kayla Wold, our Fellow at San Francisco State University, writes about the mural on her campus devoted to a man who wanted Israel destroyed. (in Focus)

Spanish Posts:

Journalistic reaction: voluntary or involuntary?
A chain of events becomes news whenever Israel is involved. Israel’s involvement seems to spur journalists into action. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

Based on reality
Taking off from an actual event, Euronews created a story that was more fictional than true. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

The importance of a headline
The Mexican newspaper El Informador apparently tried to create an alternative reality regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with the use of a biased headline. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

Who does not want to negotiate?
The Spanish-speaking media seems to prefer to present a false scenario in which Israel, a priori, is the very “cause” of the conflict and, therefore, the “obstacle” to peace. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

How to write an inaccurate text in a few steps

The headline of a report by the Argentinean news agency Télam presented as fact an allegation by the partisan NGO Peace Now that was refuted by official sources. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

Middle East headlines in the Spanish speaking press
Read the headlines of the week in papers from Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Spain, Venezuela and others. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

Palestinian terrorists receive monthly salaries from Palestinian Authority, while the press remains silent
Palestinian terrorists with “blood in their hands” imprisoned in Israel receive a higher monthly income than Palestinian civil servants, but this doesn’t seem to be an interesting subject for any of the Spanish speaking media when they talk about Palestinian prisioners. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

Definition and verdict

The Spanish speaking media, self-appointed judges, designate the disputed territories as “Palestinian territories”, feigning ignorance of the historical and legal facts. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

The Trial
The media coverage of Ariel Sharon’s death reveals that Israel, and its leaders, can always be blamed – even when the accusations are completely false, as in Kafka’s novel. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

A journalist must tell readers what has actually happened, not what he believes should happen. But the latter is precisely the case in the Spanish newspaper El País, reporting on the death of former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

So what does Mahmoud Abbas want to discuss with Israeli Leaders?
In recent statements, PA President Mahmoud Abbas has made it clear that he has no authority to negotiate peace with Israel. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

Rewriting History
Spanish News Agency Europa Press shapes the facts surrounding the Arab-Israeli Conflict according to the Palestinian narrative. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

Simplification and misrepresentation
Argentinean news agency Télam whitewashes the actions of Palestinian terrorist groups, while simultaneously labeling the State of Israel as having “aggressive policies of reprisal”. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

Where’s the coverage?
Spanish speaking journalists have had enough time to notice the constant incitement against Israel by the Palestinians. This contradicts the notion that they are seeking peace with their neighbor. But the media prefers not to hear. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

Taking sides
The Argentine news agency Télam has endorsed the Palestinian speech on the disputed territories, leaving aside the journalistic professionalism. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

For Europa Press, the Israeli version is unnecessary
The Spanish news agency reproduced as an unquestionable fact the statements of a Jordanian official regarding the rejection of Israel’s plans to build an airport in Israeli territory, while obviating the version of the Jewish State. (ReVista de Medio Oriente)

Hebrew Posts:

Ma’ariv’s Archaeological Discovery
Ma’ariv publishes a story on a newly found water tunnel. They apparently forgot that they already “just found” the same tunnel nine months ago. (Presspectiva)

Every Paper Has Their Own “Nazi”
The pictures used to illustrate the coverage of a suggested bill to prohibit some uses of the word “Nazi” reveal each paper’s own bias (Presspectiva)

Israeli Demography 101
What are the actual statistics about the Israeli birthrate? (Presspectiva)

Did Ariel Sharon Ignite the Second Intifada?
Examining the claim that Sharon’s visit to the Temple Mount is to blame for the Second Intifada (Presspectiva)

Ha’aretz Buys Into Palestinian Double Speak
Is a Ha’aretz editorial correct in claiming that no senior member of the Palestinian Authority has called for the destruction of Israel? (Presspectiva)

Did Netanyahu invent the demand that Israel be recognized as a Jewish state?
The short answer is no. The longer answer is still no. (Presspectiva)

What was the update to the Canadian policy paper regarding Israel?
Ha’aretz stresses the fact that Canada had just updated their policy paper on Israel. We checked what the changes were. The result may surprise you. (Presspectiva)

Why did President Truman cross out the words “Jewish State” from the USA recognition of Israel
The Palestinian Authority claims President Truman intentionally removed the words “Jewish State” from the US recognition of Israel. An Israeli paper repeated the lie without any fact-checking. The truth is a charming story from the first minutes of the new Israeli state. (Presspectiva)





Congratulations! CAMERA wins Hasby Award

Over at the Elder of Ziyon blogspot it is Hasby Awards season and the results of the winners of various categories are being announced this week.

BBC Watch is very proud to have been nominated in the “Best Mainstream Media Watchdog” category – especially as the ‘youngest’ of all the nominees – and thanks all those who nominated and cast votes. Hasby

The category was won by our colleagues at CAMERA.

“Besides having a stellar year with dozens of articles showing bias in the New York Times alone (and forcing many corrections), CAMERA also freely released its monograph on that paper detailing its bias during 2011. They were in the forefront of identifying systemic Christian anti-Zionist trends. And they also oversee their fellow nominees, the excellent CiFWatch and BBCWatch, as well as Presspectiva and a couple of other specific sites for Spanish speakers and college students.”

Congratulations to all at CAMERA on a very well-deserved win. 

Adding more second Intifada falsehoods to the BBC’s ‘permanently accessible archive’

On January 12th we noted here that just hours after the death of Ariel Sharon, the BBC News website continued to promote the myth that his September 28th 2000 visit to Temple Mount was the cause of the second Intifada. After that article was written, three additional items appeared on the website promoting the same falsehood.

In an item titled “In quotes: Ariel Sharon” a note was added to one of several Sharon quotes selected by BBC staff for that feature.

Sharon in quotes article

Also appearing on the website on January 12th was a filmed report dedicated to a telephone interview with Mustafa Barghouti in which – with his inaccuracies unchallenged by the BBC – he claimed:

“The worst memory is that he [Sharon] practically undermined and destroyed the peace process – the Oslo process – when he visited the Al Aqsa mosque and launched a campaign against the implementation of the peace process…”

In an article dated January 13th Yolande Knell wrote:

“…his [Sharon’s] controversial visit in 2000 to Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa Mosque Compound, known to Jews as Temple Mount. The walkabout on the contested site infuriated Palestinians, who launched the second intifada (or uprising).”

To sum up, we see that on January 1st the BBC News website had produced a new profile of Sharon which included the second intifada myth and that in the subsequent ten days no fewer than fourteen links to that profile were promoted in five separate articles. In addition, over the following three days, the same myth appeared in the BBC News website’s obituary, in an “In Pictures” feature, in an article by Kevin Connolly and in another by Yolande Knell, in the above-mentioned “In Quotes” feature, in a filmed report by Jeremy Bowen and in the interview with Barghouti.

In other words, BBC audiences were provided with versions of the same inaccurate and misleading information on at least eight separate occasions on the website alone. With Bowen’s report also having appeared on BBC television news programmes and the interview with Barghouti having been broadcast on BBC radio stations, clearly the extent of the promotion of this falsehood is considerably wider.

But why? Why should the BBC have adopted hook, line and sinker a narrative which has been shown to be incorrect on countless occasions – ironically primarily by Palestinian leaders and personalities? And why does an organization which claims to aspire to be the “standard-setter for international journalism” and is supposedly committed to rigorous standards of accuracy continue to widely and deliberately promote a clear falsehood?

We can of course only guess the answers to those questions, but certainly the embalming of this simplistic myth is the easy option for journalists. The alternative would involve detailing for audiences the long list of terror attacks against Israeli citizens which took place between the signing of the Declaration of Principles in September 1993 and the start of the second Intifada seven years later and in which some 269 Israelis were killed and many hundreds more injured. Significantly, that turbulent period – which remains etched in the memories of Israelis – does not even appear on the BBC News website’s timeline of Israeli history,which jumps straight from the Oslo Accords of Timeline1993 to the second Intifada of 2000 as though nothing of importance happened in between. 

Likewise, any honest appraisal of the factors which brought about the second Intifada would have to include Yasser Arafat’s failure to rein in the terror activities of rejectionist factions and to prepare the Palestinian leadership and people for peace with their neighbours during those seven years, as well as a frank account of his performance at Camp David in July 2000.

“Immediately after the failure of the Camp David [negotiations], I met him [Arafat] in Paris upon his return…. Camp David had failed, and he said to me, ‘You should remain in Paris.’ I asked him why, and he said, ‘Because I am going to start an intifada. They want me to betray the Palestinian cause. They want me to give up on our principles, and I will not do so.” Suha Arafat speaking to Dubai TV, December 2012.

All that, however, is completely erased from the BBC’s narrative, according to which hitherto peace-loving Palestinians were simply unable to resist being provoked into starting a campaign of violence and terror when the leader of an opposition party in Israel paid a thirty-four minute visit to the most important Jewish holy site during normal visitor opening hours which was pre-coordinated days beforehand with the PA security forces.

Whilst the promotion of that simplistic narrative might save a lot of writing hours, it does nothing for the BBC’s reputation as an organisation committed to accuracy. Neither does it indicate that BBC journalists regard the Palestinian people and their leadership as having any sort of agency or responsibility and such an obvious display of the bigotry of low expectations may well be seen as compromising the BBC’s impartiality.

Unlike most BBC radio or television broadcasts, material published on its website remains in the public domain for many years to come. That website already includes significant amounts of inaccurate and misleading information on the subject of the second Intifada. Now, over a decade on, instead of rectifying that situation the BBC is adding yet more of the same to what it describes as its “permanently accessible archive“.  

Related Articles:

BBC exploits Sharon’s death for more promotion of second Intifada falsehood

BBC second Intifada backgrounders: ‘Sharon started it’

As Sharon’s health deteriorates, BBC updates profile claiming he sparked second intifada

Eleven links in four BBC articles promote baseless second Intifada myth

With Ariel Sharon’s Death, Expect the Usual Falsehoods  (CAMERA)

Hamas in Jenin: pictures the BBC will not show

On December 18th 2013 the BBC News website published an article pertaining to a counter-terrorism operation in Jenin during which Nafe a-Sa’adi was killed when Israeli soldiers trying to make an arrest were attacked by a mob.

At the time we noted here that the BBC chose to place the term counter-terrorism in scare quotes both in the sub-heading and in the body of the report, suggesting to audiences that there was room for scepticism with regard to the nature and definition of the operation.

“A Palestinian man is killed and at least four wounded after Israeli troops launch a “counter terrorism” operation in the West Bank.”

“Israel said its forces opened fire after being attacked during “counter terrorism activity” in the camp.”

On January 26th a memorial event for Sa’adi was held in the Jenin refugee camp, with armed members of Hamas’ al Qassam brigades making a rare centre-stage appearance. Photographs from the event can be seen here and here.

Jenin 26 1 14

Jenin b 26 1 14

BBC audiences are of course highly unlikely to be shown such photographs or to be informed of the significance of publicJenin appearances by armed members of a terrorist organisation in a Palestinian Authority controlled region which lies within walking distance of the nearest Israeli communities.  

Instead, their ability to form an understanding of the security issues facing Israel – and hence also of any preventative actions taken – is shaped by an editorial policy based upon the patchy reporting of selected incidents (more often than not those involving fatalities) in isolation from the picture as a whole, the omission of any reporting on numerous other incidents and the promotion of a narrative which plays down the existence and scale of terrorism even through choice of language and punctuation.


BBC Q&A backgrounder on ME talks includes inaccurate information

As readers may have already noticed, many of the Israel-related articles appearing on the BBC News website in recent months have carried an appendage of links to past articles under the heading “Mid-East crisis”, usually at the side of the report fairly near the top and again below it. Here are just a few recent examples:

ME crisis

Curiously, that set of links appears to be a default appendage even in the cases of reports pertaining to the Gaza Strip, which is of course ruled by a regime not taking part in the current talks between Israel and the PLO as Hamas is not a member of the latter body and rejects any negotiations outright.

The first of the links appearing under that “Mid-East crisis” heading is titled “Q&A: Israeli-Palestinian talks” and it leads to a backgrounder from August 2013. There, BBC audiences are informed that:

“In Jerusalem, the Palestinians will be represented by senior negotiator Saeb Erekat and senior Fatah official Muhammed Shtayyeh. Israeli Minister of Justice Tzipi Livni and prime ministerial aide Isaac Molcho will represent the Israeli side.”

Q&A art

Other recent articles (such as this one dated January 15th and this one from January 14th) have included the following side-box which also includes a link to that Q&A article from August 2013:

I P talks sidebox

However, according to numerous sources in the Israeli, Palestinian and international media, Muhammed Shtayyeh resigned from his role on the PLO negotiating team in early November 2013 and his resignation was accepted by Mahmoud Abbas on November 21st.  

Clearly, over two months on, that out of date and now inaccurate information should not be part of current articles and needs to be removed from backgrounders still being promoted to BBC audiences.