Why was the Jordanian occupation of Jerusalem disappeared from a BBC website article?

Last week we noted that a BBC report from February 5th titled “Israel approves 558 East Jerusalem settlement homes” failed to inform audiences of the fact that some residents of the Jerusalem neighbourhoods which the BBC chooses to define as “Jewish settlements” are Arabs – either with or without Israeli citizenship, according to their own personal choice  – and that even so, the advice given to journalists in the BBC style guide stipulates:

“It is normally best to talk about “Jewish settlers” rather than “Israeli settlers”…”

Clearly the BBC is not keen on the idea of audiences losing focus on the message it goes to great lengths to communicate and so it simply disappears away the thousands of Arabs living in neighbourhoods such as Gilo and French Hill. 

But that was not the only thing disappeared from that article, which underwent two revisions until it reached the final version as stands on the website today. In the report’s first two versions it was stated:

“Israel captured East Jerusalem from Jordan in the 1967 Middle East war, and formally annexed the area in 1980.”

Some five hours after the article’s initial publication, that sentence was removed.

The Basic Law pertaining to Jerusalem – passed on July 30th 1980 – does not include the terms ‘annexation’ or ‘sovereignty’.

Basic Law Jerusalem

So was that sentence removed because of the inaccurate use of the word “annexed”? Apparently not, because the same claim appeared earlier on in the article’s first two versions and the third and final version still makes the same assertion:

“The units are to be erected on land Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war and later annexed, a move not recognised internationally.”

What has been removed from the final version of the report is the brief reference to Jordan’s occupation of parts of Jerusalem between 1948 and 1967. Of course accurate and impartial portrayal of that historic event would have had to include information on the fact that Jordan did annex parts of Jerusalem in 1950 and that the move was not recognised by the international community, with the exception of Pakistan. The fact that Jordanian sovereignty over parts of Jerusalem was not internationally recognized of course means that the implications of the sentence “Israel captured East Jerusalem from Jordan in the 1967 Middle East war” are not as they first appear to readers and it would then be necessary to explain what the legal status of the region was before the Jordanian invasion and occupation. Mandate for the Jewish National Home

That, of course would mean having to provide BBC audiences with information on the subject of the territory assigned by the League of Nations to the creation of a Jewish National Home in 1922 – which included Jerusalem. 

Of course by now, things are getting complicated and it is much more difficult to promote the political narrative selected by the BBC if one has to take into account that the only relevant legal document in existence with regard to that territory is the one which came out of the San Remo conference.

So instead the BBC elects to begin history in 1967, ignoring what went before just as it ignores those ‘inconvenient’ Arab residents of specific Jerusalem neighbourhoods, so as not to complicate the selected narrative and distract audiences from the chosen focus for their attentions.

Yet again, this practice of pretending that nothing relevant to the subject of Jerusalem happened before June 1967 flies in the face of the BBC’s commitment – as defined in its charter -to “[e]nable individuals to participate in the global debate on significant international issues”.

Related Articles:

EAST JERUSALEM: Setting the Record Straight  (CAMERA)

24 comments on “Why was the Jordanian occupation of Jerusalem disappeared from a BBC website article?

  1. Well fisked.
    This is as good an analysis as the ones we had become accustomed to see frrom Grief (and before him, Eban).

  2. Good job. Yes, when you have to tell the history as it is it makes things quite inconvenient to promote the idea that Jerusalem belongs to a State of “Palestine.”

  3. ‘When was there an independent Palestinian people with a Palestinian state?
    They did not exist.’



    As Martin Bunton notes, comments like this are disingenuous for the fact that they ignore the reality that the term ‘Palestine’ , while not referring to a political unit before the First World War, did refer to a geographical area and ‘consisted of the districts of Jerusalem, Nablus and Acre, all of which were defined according to the Ottoman administration’.

    Of course, within this ‘area’ referred to as Palestine, pre-WW1, there was a population of native inhabitants occupying the land and it was not ‘free for the taking’ by Zionist colonialists.

    He continues:

    ‘while it is true that Palestinian national identity would not arise until the British invasion and occupation of Ottoman land, and only consolidated itself as a result of the desire to both throw off the yoke of British imperial rule and Zionist immigration and settlement, the more important point to note is that all nationalisms arise and gather strength from specific historical circumstances. This includes Zionism, as constructed by the small but fractious minority of Jews who chose it as their national identity. As a national movement, Zionism rose to prominence in the late 19th century in opposition to the consistent persecution of Jews by newly emergent nationalist movements across Europe. This does not make it any less invented, or any more valid, than other nationalisms.’

    Palestinians are very much a ‘real people’, with a right to self-determination, free from Israeli occupation.

    • OK Mike, now it’s clear where you’re coming from!

      Palestinians are very much a ‘real people’, with a right to self-determination, free from Israeli occupation.

      Respond to this, directly from the horse’s mouth, then tell me about hopes for peace with people who talk like this:

      “The Palestinian people does not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel for our Arab unity. In reality today there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people, since Arab national interests demand that we posit the existence of a distinct “Palestinian people” to oppose Zionism. For tactical reasons, Jordan, which is a sovereign state with defined borders, cannot raise claims to Haifa and Jaffa. While as a Palestinian, I can undoubtedly demand Haifa, Jaffa, Beer-Sheva and Jerusalem. However, the moment we reclaim our right to all of Palestine, we will not wait even a minute to unite Palestine and Jordan.”

      (PLO executive committee member Zahir Muhsein, March 31, 1977, interview with the Dutch newspaper Trouw.)

      • they don’t ‘need to identify’ themselves. As a people, it’s their inalienable right to self determine what they do.

        Do you get that?

        • 1. It has been scientifically determined that most Jews descend from the same ancestors. As inconvenient as that may be for you, most Jews share the same genetic markers. Arabs are actually less a homogeneous term. Nevertheless, you may have heard of the “Arab-Israeli conflict.” If not, brush up on your reading.

          There was a Kingdom of Israel, which consisted mostly of Jews before the rise of Arabic as a language and culture. That what that means. Jews are also the majority in this country, so your comment is a non-sequitur. And by the way, have you complained about the Alawites ruling in Syria or the Turks ruling in Kurdistan?

          Your comment about the British is also non-sequitur. I question what makes Arabs the heirs to that mandate more than Jews.

          Furthermore, 70.3% of the Jews in this country were born in this country. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_Israel. Check your facts before you carp your nonsense.

          If you have a problem with Obama making or not making international law, then I suggest that your complaint to Mike in Boston who brought the subject up.

          And by the way, UNGA doesn’t make law either. It’s not in their charter.

          • REALLY?! Social Darwinism is your new method for determining who lives somewhere?!

            Let’s round up all those people who look like Jews or blacks and dispose of them?

            My god, you people are sick. Where is you respect for the law? Where is your love of humanity?

            You’re a real jew hater of the worst kind – a true follower of the Jewish tradition is stooped in law, fairness and compassion. What’s wrong with you munch-bunch?!

          • How you have come up with that interpretation of what I’ve said is something only you know and maybe your therapist can possibly figure out. I’m not even going to try.

          • If enough Klingons lived in DC for over 2500 years then they would have a right to self-determination. Yes, sir.

            So on that basis, put a cake in it and shut up.

          • Jews have lived here for longer than 2500 years. And what country does your user ID refer to? If it’s Israel, you’re just an ignorant troll.

  4. Dear Bio,

    I’m afraid that I am confused.

    Logically and legally speaking, this gentleman’s comments do not undermine the position of the international community vis-a-vis the status of the pre-1967 border and the historical fact of the existence of a native population in the area of Palestine pre-1948.

    Would you care to elaborate?

    • You are indeed confused. May I suggest you read the Charters of both Hamas and Fatah (the PLO) and then answer my question above.

      You say that “an independent Palestinian people with a Palestinian state” did in fact exist. That being the case please answer the following questions:

      When was it founded and by whom?
      What were its borders?
      What was its capital?
      What were its major cities?
      What constituted the basis of its economy?
      What was its form of government?
      Can you name at least one Palestinian leader before Arafat?
      Was Palestine ever recognized by a country whose existence, at that time or now, leaves no room for interpretation?
      What was the language of the country of Palestine?
      What was the prevalent religion of the country of Palestine?
      What was the name of its currency?
      Choose any date in history and tell what was the approximate exchange rate of the Palestinian monetary unit against the US dollar, German mark, GB pound, Japanese yen, or Chinese Yuan on that date.
      And, finally, since there is no such country today, what caused its demise and when did it occur?

      If you are lamenting the low sinking of a once proud nation. Please tell me, when exactly was that nation proud and what was it so proud of?

      End of.

  5. Dear Biodegradable,

    Please re-read my original post. You will see that I never asserted that the political entity existed pre-2012 when the UN granted them ‘non-member observer state’.

    All people have a right to self determination, as per the UN charter. The same charter that you would cite in justification of the creation of the state of Israel. Why would you withhold this same right from the 4.5 million Palestinians in Palestine?

    If you do not grant them this right, what do you propose to do with them?

    Do you have a suggestion for their final-solution?

    best wishes

    • What you imply is that Palestinians do not have self-determination because they’re not the ones in charge of the land (even that’s not true since the PA administers Areas A and B)/ Since determining who is in charge of what is subject to negotiation, they don’t have self-determination by definition, at least not yet. Since they refuse to negotiate except under their terms, they put themselves into the position of not having self-determination.

      • Dear Michael.

        It is an interesting point that you raise and a common misconception that ANY peoples of the world have to ‘negotiate’ for their UN Charter recognised right to self determination -they do not.

        This is not something that ‘only’ the Palestinians should have to do – no collective of people has to explain or justify their collective desire for self-determination. The ability to self-organise, and self-determine their future is a right, in UN Charter and International Law, that all peoples are able to do without requiring ‘permission’ or ‘acceptance’ from any sovereign state power.

        Palestinians are legally and morally within their right to refuse to negotiate, as to do so would be to legitimise the occupying power, which perversely has no right to place them under occupation. As Woodrow Wilson recognised over over 90 years ago, the Arab people neither wanted British or French colonial rule, nor Zionist colonisation. They had a right, and still do today, to form their own state if they wish – the political entity of Palestine.

        And once they do, which they’re not far away from, the will have full recourse to the ICJ and other interstate dispute resolution mechanisms that will force Israel back behind her 1967 borders.

        Israel can not decide where they will live, as no one in the international community recognises Israelis right to the land outside the 1967 borders.

        Why not just give them the land peacefully now?

        • Dear Mike in Boston,

          The flaw in your argument is your assumption that Arabs are the rightful heirs to this land. What makes that so? There has been a continuous Jewish presence on this land since the time before there were any Arabs whatsoever. Furthermore, there has never been a state of “Palestine.” The British took this land from the Ottoman Turks, neither of whom are Arabs.

          And you are wrong that no one in the international community recognizes Israel’s right to the land outside of 1967 borders. Obama has never explicitly said that and previous American administrations have supported negotiations, it is also not the position of Canada, nor Australia.

          • I think we need to unpack your coarse use of terminology here.

            Jewish is a religious term. Arab is a ethnocentric term. You can have a Jewish Arab, you know?

            There has been a Jewish presence on the land before there were any Arabs? What on earth does that mean, really? And why should a minority claim statehood over a majority? That is not the right to self-determination – as recognised by the UN charter.

            The British did indeed obtain a self-declared mandate from the Ottoman Turks – but not in a moral sense, nor a just one. They had no ‘right’ to this land, nor to rule over the inhabitants. Do you not see this?

            There does not need to have been a ‘state’ of Palestine for the people to have been real, living there, and of non-Jewish heritage. Do you not see, 99% of all the Jews in Israel now are not form the region – they have no ‘right’ to be there at all, certainly not under International Law (the transfer of peoples into enemy territory is prohibited)

            And Obama does not make international law. Would you agree with him if he changed his mind? (I think not , undermining your reliance on Obama as a yard stick for international law creations.)

Comments are closed.