BBC’s Knell invents ‘settlements’, amplifies anti-Israel activist

On January 13th an article by the BBC Jerusalem Bureau’s Yolande Knell titled “Ariel Sharon death stirs conflicting emotions across political divide” appeared in the ‘Features & Analysis’ section of the BBC News website’s Middle East page. The article was also promoted on the same page as one of several ‘related articles’ among the extensive coverage of Ariel Sharon’s funeral.

Knell Sharon art 13 1

Excluding photo captions and sub-headings, Knell’s article is 657 words long. Two hundred and fifty-five of those words are used to present Israeli views – both positive and negative – of Sharon. Two hundred and seventy-nine words are devoted to the presentation of exclusively negative Palestinian views.

Knell states:

“During the 1990s, when he served as housing minister, Mr Sharon oversaw a massive building drive of settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories.”

Ariel Sharon served as Minister of Housing and Construction from June 11th 1990 to July 13th 1992, so according to Knell, there was a “massive” increase in the number of communities established in Judea & Samaria and Jerusalem during those 25 months. But is that actually the case?

Examination of the dates of establishment of neighbourhoods in Jerusalem and communities in the regional councils Gush Etzion, Har Hevron, Megilot, Matei Binyamin, Aravot HaYarden and Shomron shows that throughout the whole of the period between 1990 and 1992 a grand total of three communities were established. 

Avnei Hefetz was established in 1990. As of 12/2011 it had 350 1,545 residents. Rechelim was first established in 1991 in memory of two women named Rachel who were both murdered in terror attacks. However, civilians were not permitted to stay there and between 1992 -94 the site was held by the IDF’s Nahal brigade. In 2013 the sixty family-strong community’s status was recognized. Revava was established in 1991 on land which had been purchased in 1983 and as of 12/2011 had 1,395 residents. 

But perhaps – given the fact that planning and building procedures take time – that “massive building drive” of new communities which Knell claims Sharon “oversaw” came to fruition after his term as Minister of Housing and Construction? Well the answer to that is no: Revava – established in 1991 – was in fact the last official new community to be built for the next 21 years.

Of course what Knell might actually mean is that Sharon oversaw building in existing communities during his term as Minister of Housing, but that is not what she writes. She uses the phrase “Mr Sharon oversaw a massive building drive of settlements” – not ‘a massive building drive in settlements’ – which any reasonable reader will take to mean that Sharon was responsible for the building of a very large number of new communities. Hence, Knell’s inaccurate phrasing misleads BBC audiences.

Later on in the article Knell writes: 

“In a New Yorker blog post, the writer, Raja Shehadeh referred to his [Sharon’s] involvement in the 1982 massacres of Palestinians in Beirut refugee camps and his 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).

Mr Shehadeh believes that the unilateral pullout from Gaza was part of Mr Sharon’s attempt to strengthen Israel’s hold on as much territory as possible rather than a reach for peace.”

Knell of course does not bother to inform readers that the opinions of the “writer” she chooses to amplify should be viewed in the context of the fact that he is a former director of Al Haq and a regular participant in the BDS-supporting ‘PalFest’

Neither does Knell bother to clarify for readers that Sharon had no “involvement” (her word, by the way: Shehadeh does not use that term in his post) in the massacres at Sabra and Shatila which was carried out by Lebanese Christian Arabs or that the second Intifada was planned long before Sharon’s pre-coordinated visit to Temple Mount in September 2000. Likewise, although Shehadeh is perfectly entitled to “believe” whatever he wishes, the fact is that attempts were apparently made by Sharon to coordinate the Gaza Strip disengagement and Ehud Olmert – who took over leadership of Sharon’s Kadima party after his illness – made an offer to the Palestinian leadership which proves the very opposite of Shehadeh’s ‘beliefs’. 

The BBC tells its funding public that “BBC News aspires to remain the standard-setter for international journalism”. As this latest effort by Yolande Knell shows, the sad proof of the “standards” pudding which BBC News sets for itself (and “international journalism”, no less) is the distasteful one of misleading, inaccurate reporting, deliberate amplification of falsehoods and blind repetition of the politically motivated propaganda spouted by known anti-Israel activists. 

9 comments on “BBC’s Knell invents ‘settlements’, amplifies anti-Israel activist

  1. “…the sad proof of the “standards” pudding which BBC News sets for itself (and “international journalism”, no less) is the distasteful one of misleading, …”

    A verse from Duvidl:

    A propaganda pudding proof
    Is Yolande’s Isra-hate truth-spoof
    Of why her poison puddings taste
    Like Pal-press release cut-and-paste.

  2. Some people are prone to exaggeration. Tessa Jowel, Dame of the Realm, told Mark Longhurst of #skynews that she had recently returned for – wait for it – yes “Palesrine” to which Longhurst dressed her down by say there is no Palestine suggesting rather that its called the PA. Well she told him that it would not be long before there was such an Arab Palestinian state.

    • Ah; you mean this Dame Tessa Jowell, owner of the free £340k house, courtesy of Silivio Berlusconi:

      “The Tessa Jowell financial allegations are a series of allegations surrounding Tessa Jowell, the then United Kingdom Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. They arose when her husband David Mills came under investigation by Italian authorities who suspected him of corruptly receiving £340,000 from Silvio Berlusconi. Some newspapers have termed the accusations the ‘Jowellgate’ scandal.[1]
      The case has been cited as a further example of ‘sleaze’ which is commonly used to refer to inherent corruption when large sums of money come together with the world of politics and politicians.

      Tessa Jowell married international corporate lawyer David Mills in 1979. In the early 1990s, Mills acted for Silvio Berlusconi, then a high-profile businessman and former Prime Minister of Italy.[2] During his work for Berlusconi, Mills received $600,000 (£340,000);[3] the precise source of the money and the reason for its payment is under dispute, with Mills claiming that the money was part of a larger amount paid indirectly to him by another Italian client, Diego Attanasio, although Attanasio has denied this claim when found in London on 2 March (between custodial sentences for bribery and corruption).[4]
      The Italian state prosecutors believed that instead Mills was being paid for giving false or misleading evidence in court for Berlusconi in the early 1990s (an accusation denied by Mills). Mills wrote a letter to his accountants in February 2004 which appears to be describing a payment; he claims he was inventing a scenario to get tax advice, using the euphemism “Mr B”.
      Mills was investigated in Italy for money laundering and alleged tax fraud and on 10 March 2006 Italian prosecuting magistrates decided that they had sufficient evidence to ask a judge to indict Berlusconi and Mills.[5] On 17 February 2009, Mills was found guilty of accepting a bribe and sentenced to prison. It was not fully clarified who actually gave him the money until May when the court gave the reasoning behind its decision and implicated Berlusconi. However, by 2009 Berlusconi enjoyed immunity because of new legislation. His defence counsel said that the sentence went “against the logic and dynamic of the evidence presented.”

      The judgement was appealed by David Mills. On 27 October 2009, the Italian Appeal Court upheld his conviction and his sentence of 4½ years prison. He confirmed that he would initiate a second and final appeal to the Cassation Court[6]
      On 25 February 2010, the Italian Cassation Court (the second and last court of appeal under Italian law) ruled a sentence of not guilty because the statute of limitations expired.[7][8] The supreme court judges ruled that he received the money in 1999, and not 2000 as prosecutors had previously argued. He was ordered to pay €250,000 compensation to the office of the Italian prime minister for “damaging its reputation”.[9] Ms Jowell said “although we are separated I have never doubted his innocence.”[10]

      Jowell’s involvement comes under scrutiny
      Jowell was herself implicated when it was revealed that she had, in September 2000, co-signed a mortgage application on the house in North London which she and Mills jointly owned. In a statement on 2 March she said that Mills had wanted to make an investment and they took out a loan using their London home as security, and she had therefore signed the relevant papers. Mills had a number of investments and she knew there would be no difficulty in repaying the loan. She added that she knew nothing more about the nature of the investment. The loan was repaid shortly after it was taken out in September 2000. Jowell said that she was not aware of this redemption until the newspaper speculation surrounding this affair in early 2006.”

      • Oh. Beter not forget this scintillating morsel:

        After the financial allegations concerning Mills began to affect Jowell’s political career, it was announced that Jowell and Mills were to separate after their marriage was “put under strain”;[14] the timing prompted some commentators to suggest that it was a cynical case of Jowell laying down her marriage to save her political career. However, Jowell’s claim that she had not known about the circumstances of the financial payment has been cited by her political allies in her defence.
        Still claiming to be separated, it is known that Jowell and Mills spend most weekends together and Christmas holidays.”

  3. Pingback: Jeremy Bowen promotes Sabra & Shatila lies on BBC Radio 4′s ‘Broadcasting House’ | BBC Watch

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