Disingenuous report from BBC Trending promotes Palestinian agitprop

On May 2nd an article was published in the Features & Analysis section of the BBC News website’s Middle East page under the heading “Many ‘likes'” and with the subheading “Israeli soldier wins plaudits for pointing his gun at teenager”.

Nahlawi on hp

The link leads to yet another inaccurate item from BBC Trending: in this case an article written by Cordelia Hebblethwaite titled “Support for Israeli soldier who aimed gun at teen“. 

The article relates to a story which broke last week concerning an incident which took place near Beit Hadassa in Hebron. At least four Palestinian activists – not two as Hebblethwaite claims in her piece – from the opaquely funded organization ‘Youth Against Settlements’ approached a soldier with the clear intention to provoke a reaction. Two of them were filming the pre-planned provocation and the video was later uploaded to the internet.David HaNahlawi story BBC Trending

Later mistaken reports stated that the soldier had been removed from his brigade as a result of the incident, sparking a wave of expressions of support from fellow soldiers and others, not – as Hebblethwaite disingenuously claims – praising the soldier for aiming his gun at the youths, but expressing identification with a soldier targeted by the agitprop of a group of organized provocateurs who, as Hebblethwaite herself reports, were aiming to create an incident designed “to “shame and embarrass” the Israeli military”.

Hebblethwaite fails to provide readers with any context regarding attempted kidnappings of Israeli soldiers or violent attacks against them. She refrains from reminding audiences that just months ago another soldier was shot in the neck in the same city. In the paragraph in which she relates to the reactions of Israeli politicians to the incident, Hebblethwaite highlights Minister Bennett’s use of the phrase “David the warrior”, but neglects to clarify to English-speaking audiences that ‘warrior’ is a translation of the Hebrew word  לוחם and means a soldier involved in active duty rather than one with a desk job.

Not content with misrepresenting the story to BBC audiences herself, Hebblethwaite also amplifies the messaging of ‘Youth Against Settlements’ coordinator Issa Amro but refrains from providing BBC audiences with details of the full range of Amro’s activities, his International Solidarity Movement links (apparently including financial arrangements) and his organisation’s connections – all of which are necessary to view his statements in their appropriate political perspective.

Hebblethwaite’s intention in this article is entirely transparent. She – along with the editors who concocted the misleading titles and sub-heading to the report – seek to amplify and promote Amro’s baseless claim that “Israeli society is getting more aggressive and extreme”.

Apparently BBC Trending needs reminding that it is not the task of an organization supposedly committed to editorial standards of accuracy and impartiality to provide free publicity and amplification of agitprop for anti-Israel political organisations often involved in violence. 

11 comments on “Disingenuous report from BBC Trending promotes Palestinian agitprop

  1. To sum up: an Israeli soldier threatened a 14 year old Palestinian with an AK 47 in the middle of the Palestinian territory.

  2. An Israeli soldier threatening a Palestinian teenager with an assault rifle near an illegal settlement… Bad PR for the settlers.

  3. Speaking of the “opaquely funded organization ‘Youth Against Settlements’”, could we please know who funds the opaquely funded organization “BBC Watch”? So strange that the website would not mention the name of its donors…

  4. “Fritz” you’re obviously here to provoke a reaction to satisfy your sad need for attention, so here it is:
    1. The Israeli army does not now, nor did it ever use AK47s. You’re ignorant.
    2. Actually, there is no real “Palestine” therefor no “Palestinian” territory.
    3. All Israeli settlements are legal, and have been since a. They were assigned the land, and b. Since they threw the murdering and marauding arabs out during several wars, all of which the tiny state of Israel won convincingly.
    4. Even if you, and some of the population is fooled by the so called “PR” that your buddies are producing, state leaders and the rest of us are not.
    5. I believe BBC Watch is transparent in all it’s activities. You would have known this had you bothered to look around on the website at all.
    6. You would see and understand so much more if you decided to look at the world objectively, instead of through those brainwashed spectacles you choose to wear. Honestly, try it.

    • All Israeli settlements in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, are in violation of international law. They violate article 49/6 of the Fourth Geneva convention. The International court of justice has confirmed that Israeli settlements are illegal. The United States and the European Union have repeatedly stated that Israeli settlements are both illegal and illegitimate.

      • Ben, can you please give us a link to the page on BBC Watch’s website which explains how they are funded and by whom? Any reputable media or website has a page dedicated to this. Could not find one here but may have missed it, so please share the link.

        • All we learn on the website is that BBC Watch is an “independently supported” project of Camera. However there is no mention of where this “independent support” comes from. Why? Any reputable media is transparent about the source of its funding.

      • The same one who said :
        ICJ Advisory Opinion of June 21, 1971: “When the League of Nations was dissolved, the raison d’etre [French: “reason for being”] and original object of these obligations remained. Since their fulfillment did not depend on the existence of the League, they could not be brought to an end merely because the supervisory organ had ceased to exist. … The International Court of Justice has consistently recognized that the Mandate survived the demise of the League [of Nations].”

        • Alexa, I was reading an article on this a few days ago:

          Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop suggested to The Times of Israel in January 2014, contrary to conventional diplomatic wisdom, that Israeli settlements may not be illegal under international law. In recent years a growing number of politicians and scholars have expressed similar positions. Many of them argue that the results of the 1920’s San Remo Conference, and the inclusion of the principles contained in the Balfour Declaration in the text of the Mandate of Palestine, assured to the Jewish people the exclusive right to create their “national home” on “the whole country of Palestine, not a mere part of it”.

          In this respect, the Levy Report – released on 9 July 2012 by a special committee appointed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – has represented a watershed of sorts. It clarified that

          with the establishment of the United Nations in 1945, the principle of recognizing the validity of existing rights of states acquired under various mandates, including of course the rights of Jews to settle in the Land of Israel by virtue of the above documents, was determined in article 80 of its charter.

          According to the Levy Report, Article 80 of the UN Charter implicitly recognizes the Mandate for Palestine.

          The late Eugene Rostow, former dean of Yale Law School, also known for being a key draftee of UN resolution 242, further clarified these aspects explaining that “a trust” – as in Article 80 of the UN Charter – “does not end because the trustee dies”. Rostow’s argument, which is repeated in the Levy report, is that although the League of Nations had ceased to exist, its commitments remain binding.

          These claims are marred by several inaccuracies, starting from the fact that the term “national home” had no mutually agreed upon meaning or scope and that the British government was under no definite obligation, since the Mandate made any Jewish immigration subject to “suitable conditions” and contained safeguards for the rights and position of the non-Jewish communities.

          Furthermore, as David Ben-Gurion clarified in July 1947 in front of the UNSCOP commission:

          The Mandate, in fact, does not exist because it was violated by the Mandatory. We are not in favour of renewing it. […] we say that the original intention and the need, and what in our conviction is just, should be decided upon by the United Nations […] I said we do not ask for a Mandate any more, so it is not a question. The question does not arise on the Mandate.

          Also the assertion that Article 80 of the UN Charter implicitly recognizes the Mandate for Palestine is more complex than often claimed. One of the legal advisors to the Jewish Agency, Jacob Robinson, published a book in 1947 that presented a historical account of the Palestine Question and the UN. He explained that when the Jewish Agency learned that the Allied Powers had discussed at the Yalta Conference (February 1945) a new system of international supervision to supersede the system of mandates, the Agency decided to submit a formal request to the San Francisco Conference (April-June 1945) to obtain a safeguarding clause in the UN Charter. The proposed clause would have prevented a trusteeship agreement from altering the Jewish right to nationhood secured by the Balfour Declaration and the Mandate for Palestine. The UN Conference ignored the Agency’s request and stipulated in article 80 of the Charter that the UN organization did have the necessary power to conclude trusteeship agreements that could alter existing rights held under a mandate.

          Robinson tried to portray a legal setback as a victory and convince everyone that Article 80 of the Charter accomplished the Agency’s stated objective. Indeed, the final text adopted by the working paper for international trusteeship contained an exception that allowed trusteeship agreements to do exactly what the Jewish Agency had tried to prohibit. In Article 80’s words: “Except as may be agreed upon in individual trusteeship arrangements placing each territory under the trusteeship system, nothing in this chapter should be construed in and of itself to alter in any manner the rights of any state or any peoples in any territory”.

          Article 1 of General Assembly resolution 24(I) reserved the right of the UN to decide not to assume any function or power of the League of Nations. On the 19th March 1948, during the 271st meeting of the Security Council, US Ambassador Warren Austin cited UN General Assembly resolution 24(I) and pointed out:

          The United Nations does not automatically fall heir to the responsibilities either of the League of Nations or of the Mandatory Power in respect of the Palestine Mandate. The record seems to us entirely clear that the United Nations did not take over the League of Nations Mandate system.

          On top of all these considerations, the above mentioned thesis of “exclusivity”, besides being unjustified from an historical point of view – Palestine did not belong in an exclusive way to one single population in its entire history – is incorrect also from the legal perspective imposed since the early stage by London. Hubert Young, an important figure of the Foreign Office, wrote in November 1920 that the commitment made by London “in respect of Palestine is the Balfour Declaration constituting it a National Home for the Jewish People”. Lord Curzon corrected him: “No. ‘Establishing a National Home in Palestine for the Jewish people’ – a very different proposition”.

          The British White Paper of June 1922 – the first document that officially clarified the interpretation of the Mandate’s text – clarified that the Balfour Declaration does “not contemplate that Palestine as a whole should be converted into a Jewish National Home, but that such a Home should be founded ‘in Palestine’”. Furthermore, it stressed – and this is perhaps the most relevant aspect – that the “Zionist congress” that took place in Carlsbad in September 1921 had officially accepted that “the determination of the Jewish people to live with the Arab people on terms of unity and mutual respect, and together with them to make the common home into a flourishing community, the upbuilding of which may assure to each of its peoples an undisturbed national development”.

          It is only in light on these clarifications that the preamble as well as Article 2 of the Mandate text can and should be understood. It is noteworthy that Zionist consent to such interpretation was requested, and received, before the Mandate was confirmed in July 1922. In Weizmann’s words: “It was made clear to us that confirmation of the Mandate would be conditional on our acceptance of the policy as interpreted in the White Paper [of 1922], and my colleagues and I therefore had to accept it, which we did, though not without some qualms”.

          Israel’s right to defend itself against terror and discrimination is something that any person interested in peace cannot but support. Equally true is that the attempt to exploit and colonize the Palestinian territories through a misleading use of history, international law, and international consensus is a dangerous threat that requires better public understanding.

          • The British Mandatory was not a sovereign. All its rights and obligations relating to Palestine, emanated from the Mandate of Palestine. The Mandatory was a trustee for the League of Nations, and it was not given the power to take any steps which violated the terms of the Mandate. It could not change the terms of the Mandate at its pleasure, as it did in the following two cases:

            Ceding 77.5 % of Palestine to Trans Jordan (in 1922)
            Ceding the Golan to Syria (in 1923)

            . In the 1924 Anglo American Convention the U.S. agreed to support Great Britain as a Mandatory so long as the Mandatory abided by the San Remo Resolution. The sole purpose of the Resolution regarding Palestine was:

            Drawing the borders of Palestine
            Reconstituting Palestine as a National Homeland for the Jewish People worldwide
            Recognizing the Jewish People’s historical connection to the land

            There was not even one word in the Mandate or the Anglo American convention about creating an Arab land in Palestine.

            The Lodge-Fish Resolution of September 21, 1922, was a Joint Resolution passed by both houses of the U.S. Congress and signed by President Warren Harding, endorsing the Balfour Declaration with slight variations. This made the text of the Joint Resolution part of the law of the United States until this very day.

            “Resolved by the Senate and House of representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, that the United states of America favors the establishment in Palestine of a national Home for the Jewish people…”
            confirming the irrevocable right of Jews to settle in the area of Palestine — anywhere between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea:
            . Under American Law when a joint resolution is passed by both the Senate and the House of Representatives in an identical form and then signed by the President, it becomes the Law of the U.S.

            Any attempt to negate the Jewish people’s right to Palestine and to deny them access and control in the area designated for the Jewish people by the League of Nations is an actionable infringement of both international law and the Supremacy Clause (Article VI, paragraph 2 of the United States Constitution), which dictates that Treaties “shall be the supreme Law of the Land”.

            The Mandate explicitly prohibited ceding any land in Palestine to any foreign powers or changing the terms of the Mandate without the League’s expressed permission. That permission had to be unanimously passed by all members. That never occurred.

            All rights emanating from the three international treaties were approved by the League of Nations and inherited by the United Nations. They did not expire. The United Nations had no right to vary them.

            The UN has no right to pass a resolution which ran contrary to an existing earlier decision/ resolution on its books.
            The UN or Britain are not sovereigns and had no right to change borders at its pleasure.

            The same Supreme Council that drew the borders for Iraq Syria and Lebanon, gave Israel the right to its borders from the Jordan to the Mediterranean. This was approved by the League, and its members: Britain, France, Japan and Italy. They have no right to vary that which they had approved.

            The General Assembly does not have the right to create enforceable resolutions or borders. So even if the Arabs had accepted the Green Line [the armistice lines after the 1948 Arab-Israeli war], these borders would not have been legally enforceable.

            Rights gained from Mandates don’t cease at the expiration of the Mandate

            The principle of law that rights once granted or recognized under a treaty or other legal instrument do not expire with the expiration of that treaty or instrument is now codified in article 70(1)(b) of the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (the Treaty on Treaties). This article states that “unless the treaty otherwise provides or the parties otherwise agree, the termination of a treaty… does not affect any right, obligation or legal situation of the parties created through the execution of the treaty prior to its termination”.

            As a result, Jewish rights to Palestine and the Land of Israel remain in full force today under international law.

  5. Wasn’t it “sencar” who used to get his knickers in a twist about the supposedly mysterious funding of CiFWatch?

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