BBC ME editor’s filmed Papal selfie presented as news

The BBC has certainly pulled out the stops to cover the Pope’s visit to the Middle East and reports are coming in thick and fast from its numerous reporters on the ground (more on that later). But among the coverage which appeared on BBC television News programmes and on the BBC News website’s Middle East page on May 24th was an item titled “Pope greets BBC man on plane to Middle East” which readers might find it something of a stretch to define as news.

Bowen Pope plane hp

Pope plane Bowen filmed

“Ah, Well the Pope has come to greet the journalists. He said it’s not a press conference; it’s a religious mission that he’s on. But he’s showing..ah…you know….his friendly and approachable side, I suppose you’d say. As you can imagine, there’s a lot of interest in what he will have to say though when he’s in the Holy Land – especially in Jerusalem – because there are so many controversial issues there involving the Israelis and the Palestinians. And the position of Palestinian Christians.

[18 seconds of footage of Bowen talking to the Pope]

So the Pope has just been down and greeted everybody. Everyone got a handshake and a couple of words. I asked him if it was his first time in Jerusalem and he said no; he’d been once before in the Yom Kippur war. That was 1973. And he said ‘I didn’t see a thing’.”

May 24 Bowen tweet plane 1

May 24 Bowen tweet plane 2

Here is an article about the Pope’s 1973 visit to Jerusalem which appeared in the Israeli media over a year ago, but which apparently was not included in Jeremy Bowen’s pre-flight reading. 

Context-free Twitter messaging from BBC’s Jeremy Bowen

The following Tweets (among others) were sent by the BBC’s Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen to his eighty-two and a half thousand followers on May 23rd.

May 23 tweets Bowen 1

May 23 tweets Bowen 2

May 23 tweets Bowen 3

This is not the first time that Bowen has proffered his particular version of the tragic incident which took place on May 23rd 2000 on Twitter – he did so last year too – and it is also not the first time that he has failed to provide his Twitter followers with a full account of what happened that day.

Looking into south Lebanon from the Menara area

Looking into south Lebanon from the Menara area

“Early in the morning of Tuesday May 23rd 2000 – the day before the completion of the Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon – a tank crew stationed on the border fence near Kibbutz Menara received an intelligence alert concerning the likelihood of terrorists firing anti-tank missiles at IDF tanks and armoured vehicles. Later in the day, the crew spotted a Lebanese vehicle transporting men in civilian clothing and suspected that these were Hizballah terrorists carrying equipment for firing an anti-tank missile. The tank crew was given permission to fire at the suspected terrorists. 

Later it emerged that the men were actually a BBC film crew headed by Jeremy Bowen and that driver Abed Takkoush had been killed. The IDF investigated the incident and issued an apology. Understandably, that tragic incident appears to be still very much at the forefront of Bowen’s mind, although he does not appear to accept that it was possible to mistake three men travelling in a war zone in a car with Lebanese plates, and carrying camera equipment, for Hizballah terrorists dressed – as was very often the case – in civilian clothing.”

It is of course worth remembering that those Tweets were sent by the person who is ultimately the gatekeeper of all “accurate and impartial” BBC reporting from the Middle East.

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Ask Jeremy: Twitter Q&A gives insight into ME Editor’s approach


BBC’s social media guidance continues to be ineffective

Back in November 2012 we noted here that BBC journalists’ use of Twitter sometimes fails to meet BBC editorial guidelines on accuracy and impartiality.

“In this new environment in which often unverified and improperly sourced information is reaching audiences either directly from the Twitter accounts of BBC journalists or via BBC articles based on those Tweets, there is an obvious need for the BBC to invest in some serious thinking as to how its employees’ Twitter feeds can comply with its existing editorial standards of accuracy and impartiality.”twitter

In addition to those BBC editorial guidelines on accuracy and impartiality, which are also applicable to social media, the corporation also has a guidance on the subject of microblogging and a guidance on social media.

“Those involved in editorial or production areas must take particular care to ensure that they do not undermine the integrity or impartiality of the BBC or its output on their blogs or microblogs. For example those involved in News and Current Affairs or factual programming should not advocate a particular position on high profile controversial subjects relevant to their areas.”

That might seem pretty straightforward to most of us, but apparently it was not quite as clear to some BBC employees who recently sent Tweets on the subject of last week’s UK local and European elections which displayed anything but the BBC’s much-touted impartiality.

“Jasmine Lawrence, a channel editor at BBC News, has been removed from playing any part in the corporation’s coverage of the European and local council elections after tweeting a derogatory comment about Ukip. […]

Lawrence subsequently deleted her account but the corporation has taken the incident seriously and launched an investigation.

Only last week, BBC director of news and current affairs James Harding told a social media conference organised by the BBC Academy of Journalism and the New York Times that corporation staff should not tweet anything they would not say on air – where they are bound by strict BBC guidelines on impartiality. […]

“Jasmine Lawrence was tweeting from a personal account,” said a BBC spokesman. “She has been reminded of her responsibility to uphold BBC guidelines. She has deactivated her Twitter account and will now be playing no part in the BBC’s election coverage in coming days.” “

The BBC’s Mary Hockaday – head of the newsroom – reminded staff of the existing guidelines.

“I’d also specifically draw your attention to the following section: ‘You shouldn’t state your political preferences or say anything that compromises your impartiality. Don’t sound off about things in an openly partisan way. Don’t be seduced by the informality of social media into bringing the BBC into disrepute.'”

Those various guidelines on the use of social media have existed for years now and yet despite that, as this latest incident once again shows, they remain ineffective in ensuring adherence to the BBC’s own standards.

It would of course be helpful were the BBC take its “investigation” into inappropriate use of social media beyond the field of domestic politics and for it to address some of the similar incidents which have previously (see a few examples in ‘related articles’ below) been raised here.

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BBC’s Wyre Davies Tweeting for illegal building

BBC’s Jon Donnison Tweets unverified information again

BBC’s Vatican correspondent amplifies stock faux narrative on Palestinian Christians

BBC coverage of the Pope’s visit to the Middle East began on May 22nd – two days before the commencement of the event itself – with an article by the corporation’s Vatican correspondent David Willey titled “Pope Francis to tread careful path on Mid-East visit” appearing in the ‘Features & Analysis section of the BBC News website’s Middle East page and on its Europe page.Pope visit article

Excepting Willey’s misleading reference to the Palestinian territories as one of “three countries” to be visited by the Pope, the first section of the article is fairly unremarkable until readers arrive at the section sub-headed “Christian exodus”.

“The Pope’s namesake, Saint Francis, never actually made it to Jerusalem, or to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

He did however travel as far as Acre – now part of Israel – in 1219, laying the foundations for a Franciscan presence in the Middle East which has, somewhat miraculously, endured until this day.

Some 300 Franciscan friars are officially entrusted by the Vatican with the custody and upkeep of the Holy Places in the Middle East.

However, they have been denuded of their Christian heritage to the extent that one leading local Catholic churchman has described the Holy Land as developing into a sort of “spiritual Disneyland”, full of tourist attractions but increasingly devoid of religious meaning because of the departure of much of the former indigenous Christian population.”

Whilst the jurisdiction of the Custodian of the Holy Land includes sites in Israel, the Palestinian Territories, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Cyprus and Rhodes, many if not most of the sites that body administers are in Israel (as can be seen on the organisation’s website) where the Christian population – contrary to Willey’s statement – is continually growing.

Willey goes on:

“The Christian exodus extends over a wide area of the Middle East, not only from the Palestinian territories.

Two of the oldest Christian communities in the Middle East, the Chaldean Catholics of Iraq, and the Syrian Catholics have been decimated by war.”

That euphemistic description of course fails to enlighten readers with regard to the significant element of Islamist persecution of Christians in countries such as Iraq and Syria.

Willey is equally circumspect and misleading with regard to Palestinian Christians.  

“At the end of the British mandate in Palestine in 1947, the population of Bethlehem was 85% Christian. Today it is 18% and continues to diminish as a result of a higher local Muslim birth-rate and emigration owing to tough economic conditions and Israeli security measures.

In the Old City of Jerusalem, the Christian presence is now estimated at just 1.5%.” [emphasis added]

The Christian population of Israel as a whole stands at some 161,000 – around 2% of the total population – and so a Christian presence of 1.5% in the Old City is not quite the dramatic figure Willey would have readers believe and does not reflect the fact that since the reunification of Jerusalem in 1967, the city’s Christian population has remained largely stable.  

As we recently noted here in a post concerning another BBC production on the subject of Palestinian Christians, the realities behind the emigration of Palestinian Christians are decidedly more complex than Willey is prepared to state, but notably he appears to have adopted the now well entrenched BBC faux narrative of Palestinian Christians leaving their homeland because of “Israeli security measures”.

In the concluding section of his article Willey misleads readers by implying that religious freedom in Jerusalem is currently lacking.

“So what are the stumbling blocks towards better relations between the Vatican and Israel?

The Vatican has remained single-mindedly in favour of a two state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and to the internationalisation of the city of Jerusalem in the name of religious freedom.”

Providing no factual evidence for his next inaccurate claim, he goes on to state that:

The Israeli government is less enthusiastic about a Palestinian state, and says Jerusalem will remain their “eternal undivided capital”.” [emphasis added]

Whether or not we will see yet more repetitions of the BBC’s faux narrative regarding the reasons for the decline in numbers of Palestinian Christians during its coverage of the Pope’s visit in the coming days remains to be seen, but the tone set by Willey’s opener and the fact that the Pope’s party includes the BBC’s Middle East editor suggests that the topic is one upon which to keep a watchful eye.

Bowen tweet Pope visit

Related Articles: 

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BBC still has not updated Ansar Bayt al Maqdis profile to include terror designation

The lead story on the BBC News website’s Middle East page on the morning of May 23rd ran under the headline “Sinai militant group leader killed” with the sub-heading:

“Shadi al-Menei, the head of Sinai Islamist militant group Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, has been killed, Egyptian security officials say.”

Among the ‘related stories’ offered to visitors to the Middle East page was one titled “Profile: Egypt’s militant Ansar Beit al-Maqdis group”.

ABM art on hp

The article itself, titled “Egypt: Sinai Islamist leader Shadi al-Menei shot dead“, also includes a link to the same profile report (compiled by BBC Monitoring) in an insert titled “Who are Ansar Beit al-Maqdis?

ABM art insert box

Unfortunately – as we pointed out here over a month ago – that profile report has not been amended since its initial publication in January and hence is no longer up to date.

“Since the beginning of April 2014 Ansar Bayt al Maqdis has been declared a proscribed terrorist organization by the UK government (see page 5) and designated as a foreign terrorist organization and a specially designated global terrorist entity by the US State Department. In addition, an Egyptian court ruled on April 14th that the group is a terrorist organization.”

The same insert informs readers that the group:ABM art

“Has claimed responsibility for deadly attacks around Egypt, and rocket attacks on Israel”.

In fact, ABM has also claimed responsibility for another terrorist attack against Israel, besides several instances of missile fire, and is suspected of involvement in an additional attack.

“In 2012, the group claimed responsibility for the deadly cross-border attack in September that year in Israel, in which three terrorists, wearing explosive belts and armed with RPG launchers, attacked a group of IDF soldiers securing civilian contractors who were working on the Israel-Egypt fence. IDF soldier Netanel Yahalomi was killed in the attack. The three terrorists were killed in the ensuing gunfight with soldiers.

Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis was also reportedly involved in the sophisticated, multi-pronged August 2011 attack on Highway 12 near Israel’s border with Egypt, which killed a total of eight Israelis.”

The BBC, however, continues to ignore the terror designations of Ansar Bayt al Maqdis, describing it as “a militant group” in this report’s opening lines and Middle East page header.  

The numbers behind BBC promotion of the ‘Israel lobby’

As readers may recall, we have posted here a few times about the BBC’s unsatisfactory responses to complaints which have arisen due to its journalists having employed the loaded term ‘Jewish lobby’ – see for example here and here.Capitol

BBC employees are no better at dealing with their interviewees’ promotion of the notion of an all-powerful ‘Israel lobby’ either, as we noted in this recent post, perhaps because the BBC itself does not shy away from using either term – as shown for example in a 2007 article still available on the BBC News website titled “US storm over book on Israel lobby” which opens with the words:

“The power of America’s “Jewish lobby” is said to be legendary.”

Now a study on lobbying of the US government has been published which might be of help to members of the public making similar complaints in the future and, as Yair Rosenberg explains, the results are very interesting.

“If you estimated the amount of money a country spends on lobbying the United States based on critical media coverage of that lobbying, you’d probably put Israel at the top of the list. But a new study by the Sunlight Foundation reveals that not only isn’t Israel a big spender, it practically doesn’t even make the list. Of the 84 countries surveyed, Israel ranked 83rd, spending just $1,250 to lobby America in 2013. (The only country that ranked lower was Mali, which spent nothing at all.) By contrast, other key American allies unloaded massive sums to influence the U.S. government. Topping the list is the United Arab Emirates with $14.2 million. It is followed by Germany ($12 million), Canada ($11.2 million), and Saudi Arabia ($11.1 million).”

Readers may be interested to learn too that the eternally cash-strapped, donor supported Palestinian Authority spent $1,110,769.59 on lobbying the US via the PLO in 2013.

As Jeff Dunetz points out:

“Some of you may be thinking, “nice trick Jeff what about AIPAC? (The American Israel Public Affairs Committee)”. If one includes AIPAC, then other groups such as the American Iranian Friendship Council must be included. So asking about AIPAC is making demands of the Israel numbers that aren’t being made of other countries.

But I will bite anyway. According to Open Secrets, AIPAC spent $2,977,744 in lobbying in 2013, when the $1,250 is added it brings Israel’s total to $2,978,994 which puts Israel in eighth place between South Korea and the Republic of Srpska.

Even when AIPAC spending is included Israel’s lobbying dollars is only 21% of what the UAE spends, about a quarter of Germany’s spending, 26.5% of Canada’s, 26.8% of the Saudi’s, 48.6% of Mexico’s and about three-quarters of both Morocco and South Korea’s lobbying spending.”

If anyone comes across a BBC reporter or interviewee talking or tweeting about the UAE lobby, the Morocco lobby or the Canada lobby “taking control of a foreign government“, or perhaps the BBC’s World Affairs editor John Simpson writing that ‘the Mexican tail usually seems to wag the American dog’, please do be sure to let us know. We’ll pop out and buy a lottery ticket. 


Newsnight introduction of Asim Qureshi again breaches BBC editorial guidelines

Earlier this month we noted yet more breaches of the BBC editorial guidelines which require interviewees and guests on BBC programmes to be adequately introduced so that audiences can determine “when contributors are associated with a particular viewpoint”.  

We also noted that in October of last year, the BBC’s Editorial Standard’s Committee stated that it had reminded BBC News producers of “the importance of clearly summarising the standpoint of any interviewee where it is relevant and not immediately clear from their position or the title of their organization”.

That earlier post related to two occasions on which Asim Qureshi of ‘Cage’ had been inadequately introduced to audiences before being interviewed on the issue of British Muslims travelling to Syria to fight with insurgent groups.

The same subject came under discussion on the May 20th edition of BBC Two’s ‘Newsnight’ under the heading “Why shouldn’t British Muslims fight in Syria?” and the programme can be seen by readers in the UK for a limited period of time here. The specific segment can also be viewed here.

Asim Qureshi was again one of the guests invited by ‘Newsnight’ to discuss the topic and once more presenter Jeremy Paxman’s introduction of him did nothing to fully and appropriately inform audiences of Qureshi’s “standpoint” on this subject.

“We’re also joined by Asim Qureshi from the campaign group Cage which works on behalf of those accused of terrorist offences.”

Notably, Jeremy Paxman’s introduction of the item itself included a comparison between British Muslims fighting with Al Qaeda-linked groups in Syria and British Jews who enlist with the IDF.

“Let’s take first off this comparison there that was raised at the end of that report. People from this country went and fought in the Spanish civil war and many people felt rather fondly and proudly towards them. People from this country have gone off and fought with, for example, the Israel Defence Forces. In what respect is this particular offence of going to Syria an acute matter which deserves being sent to jail for?”

Of course Paxman neglects to clarify that British-born IDF soldiers would have to have either permanent or temporary residency status in Israel before joining the army of that sovereign country.

In light of Paxman’s inadequate introduction of Qureshi and his organization, it is particularly relevant that Qureshi’s misleading and inaccurate claim – at 02:15 in the video version above – goes uncorrected and unchallenged.

“But I think the vast majority…well I think there isn’t really a single voice here in the UK at least that’s encouraging them to go there.”

Here is Asim Qureshi himself speaking at a rally in London in 2012 alongside Shakeel Begg and other known Islamists, delivering  what some might consider to be a fairly “encouraging” message.

“Every time you stick on BBC you see what’s going on in Syria, in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Kashmir, in Palestine. And what: you think you’re seeing all of that stuff, that knowledge is coming to you and that Allah will not hold you accountable for it? […]

This should be the beginning; the reason why we’ve gathered here today is to say to ourselves that we need to do more. We need to gather together and do something about the situation. […]

We’ve got brothers here who’ve turned up in vans. They’ve turned up in order to give you the opportunity to help through your wealth, through your bodies, through anything that you can.” [emphasis added]

And can it really be that both Asim Qureshi and Jeremy Paxman just forgot to mention the activities of that other frequent BBC guest Anjem Choudary?






42 years on – no change in BBC’s reluctance to use the word terror

Forty-two years after the Lod Airport massacre the BBC still will not use the word terror to describe the politically motivated indiscriminate murder of twenty-six civilians and the wounding of some eighty others.

In the misdated article (the attack took place on May 30th rather than May 29th) which appears in the ‘On this Day’ section of the BBC News website under the title “1972: Japanese kill 26 at Tel Aviv airport” the word terror does not appear once and the PFLP – which organised the attack – is not defined as a terrorist organisation.Witness Lod

That word also does not appear in the synopsis to a filmed item from the BBC World Service’s ‘Witness’ series which appeared in the BBC News website’s ‘Magazine’ section and on its Middle East page on May 21st with the heading ‘I survived the Israeli airport massacre’.

“On 29 May 1972 three Japanese students arrived at Israel’s Lod airport in Tel Aviv on an Air France flight from Paris.

Once their luggage came through to the baggage hall, they drew out automatic guns and hand grenades, and began shooting people indiscriminately.

They killed 26 people and injured more than 70 others. One of the men killed himself, another was shot by security guards and the third was arrested.

The gunmen were hired by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, who said they had recruited the trio from Japan’s Red Army terror group, to carry out the attack, in revenge for the killing of two Arab hijackers earlier in May.

Ros Sloboda, who was living in Israel at the time, was seriously wounded in the attack.” 

Ms Sloboda’s account is of course both interesting and touching, but surely – over four decades on – it is time for the BBC to term the attack and its perpetrators accurately. 

BBC amplifies the unproven claims of anti-Israel political NGO

Nearly fourteen years have passed since the instigation of the second Intifada by the Palestinian Authority in the wake of failed negotiations with Israel. A major factor in whipping up fervour on the Palestinian street at the time was the Al Dura incident of September 30th 2000. Then, as in subsequent events such as the fabricated ‘Jenin massacre’ and more recently the Masharawi affair, the BBC was at the forefront of those media outlets which unquestioningly promoted and amplified the lethal narratives supplied by interested parties, with little or no regard for its general journalistic obligation to check facts and its particular commitment to BBC editorial guidelines on accuracy and impartiality.

Perhaps most disturbingly of all, in all three of the cases mentioned above (and others) there is no evidence to suggest that universally human considerations were taken into account regarding the likely effects of misleading and inaccurate media reports on the lives – literally – of persons associated with the group at which an accusatory finger was pointed by hasty journalists in a region in which the violent consequences of rumour spread like bush-fires.

On May 20th – just weeks after the latest round of failed negotiations came to its déjà vu end – the BBC News website published an article on its Middle East page titled “Video ‘shows shootings of Palestinian protesters’“. Notably, the BBC’s previously promoted and extremely problematic article on an Amnesty International report was one of the ‘related stories’ offered to readers together with that article.

Beitunia on MEHP

What really happened at Beitunia on May 15th to lead to the deaths of two Palestinian youths is as yet unknown and the incident is currently under investigation. What we do know, however, is that the edited video upon which the BBC article is based took five days to appear and that it was circulated and promoted by an organisation which the BBC misrepresents in the opening sentence of this report as a “human rights group”. 

“A human rights group has released a video it says shows two teenage Palestinians being shot dead by Israeli security forces at a protest last week.”

Defence for Children International – Palestine (DCI- Pal) is a radical political NGO with an agenda which includes anti-Israel campaigning and support for the anti-peace BDS movement. Its website still promotes the myth of the ‘Jenin massacre’ and a member of its board of directors, Shawan Jabarin, allegedly has ties to the PFLP terror organization.

Later on in the BBC’s report, the executive director of DCI-Pal is quoted and his classification of rioting seventeen year-olds (although some sources report them as being older) as ‘children’ is promoted.

” “The images captured on video show unlawful killings where neither child presented a direct and immediate threat to life at the time of their shooting,” said Rifat Kassis, executive director of DCI-Palestine.”

Rifat Odeh Kassis in fact wears many different hats for his political campaigning.

“The director and founder of DCI-Pal is Rifat Odeh Kassis – another seasoned anti-Israel campaigner who is active in a number of organisations (some of which he founded), including OPGAI, The World Council of Churches, EAPPI, the Alternative Tourism Group, and the Alternative Information Centre (also known for links to the PFLP).  Kassis is the co-author of the notorious Kairos Document, which promotes BDS and suggests that Jewish sovereignty is an affront to God’s plan for humanity.”

What we also know about this incident is that later the same day, one of the youths killed was claimed by Hamas as one of its activists on its Al Aqsa TV station and that at their funerals, one was wrapped in a Hamas flag and the other in a Fatah flag. Hamas members featured prominently at the funerals and the subsequent protests and one of the youths was photographed beforehand wearing a Hamas flag and headband. The BBC neglects to provide audiences with that information.

Beitunia rioting Hamas flag

Beitunia funeral flags

As the BBC notes in its report: [emphasis added]

No Israeli troops can be seen in the video, which begins with a youth throwing a stone from the end of a street, beside a row of shops.”

This BBC report does not, however, bother to inform readers that Israeli troops are far from the only ones who carry guns in that area and with the BBC having repeatedly failed in past months to adequately report the rise in Palestinian terrorism in Judea & Samaria, audiences will be unaware of that factor.Beitunia art

Neither does this BBC report inform readers of the fact (significant particularly in light of the recent Hamas-Fatah reconciliation deal) that the spokesman for the Palestinian security forces, Adnan al Damiri, told AFP that “…this prompts the [PA] leadership to seriously consider a halt to security coordination with the Israeli side”.

By the time the actual facts surrounding the deaths of the two youths in Beitunia on May 15th come to light, it will of course hardly matter. The symbiotic relationship between the media – BBC included – and political NGOs will have created and established a narrative which, like the past examples of the Al Dura case, the so-called ‘Jenin massacre’ and the Masharawi story, will remain etched in the minds of audiences (and available on the BBC News website for decades to come) regardless of what any investigation proves or disproves.

That is surely something which should be seriously considered by any responsible journalist before a report based upon so far evidence-free third-party claims and opaque edited video sequences is promoted to BBC audiences.

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Why isn’t the BBC telling its audiences all about the PA’s ‘lawfare’ strategy?

Readers may remember that earlier this month the BBC’s Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen told listeners to three separate editions of a programme broadcast on both BBC Radio 4 and BBC World Service radio that the recent Hamas-Fatah unity deal is part of a ‘new’ Fatah strategy which includes additional aspects.pic Bowen

“Hamas was running out of options. What it had left was ending the split with President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah. His side had concluded that the latest round of talks with Israel was going nowhere – like all the others over twenty years or more. So unity seems to be part of a new strategy for President Abbas and his people. It includes joining international organisations which could eventually lead to war crimes prosecutions of Israeli soldiers.” [emphasis added]

Bowen was presumably referring to the possibility of the Palestinians joining the International Criminal Court (ICC).

That court’s former chief prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, gave an obviously more professional and learned appraisal of the hypothetical scenario promoted by Bowen during a recent visit to Israel, as Ha’aretz reported.

“Last week, on his first visit to Israel, Moreno-Ocampo was full of praise for the local legal system and eager to point out that joining the ICC could backfire for the Palestinians. […]

But he isn’t at all sure that if the Palestinian Authority were to join the ICC — or if Israel were to join, for that matter — the international court would actually play an active role in the conflict.

The ICC’s job is to investigate and prosecute only in cases in which the local legal system is not performing. “In a dictatorship they can make you disappear and kill you,” said Moreno-Ocampo. “But here, even if the situation is awful, you cannot disappear; you have the rule of law.” […]

For the ICC to rule on Israel’s activities, he said, “the Palestinians have to prove that the [Israeli court’s] decision was to shield the defendants. They would have to prove that it wasn’t a fair proceeding.” […]

 “And the Palestinians should ask themselves how they would do it, because if you want to include everything since 2002 [when the ICC was established], that could include things done by the Palestinians. Another alternative is to start from 2015, not investigate past events and now that Hamas is part of the government, that would prevent them from committing more crimes.” “

For additional comprehensive background on the limitations of the ICC, see this paper by Professor Eugene Kontorovich from 2013.

The BBC Middle East editor’s job description was described by the corporation’s news editors in 2006 thus:

“Jeremy Bowen’s new role is, effectively, to take a bird’s eye view of developments in the Middle East, providing analysis that might make a complex story more comprehensive or comprehensible for the audience, without the constraints of acting as a daily news correspondent. His remit is not just to add an extra layer of analysis to our reporting, but also to find stories away from the main agenda.”

BBC licence fee payers might therefore feel entitled to expect rather more factually based and informative reporting from Jeremy Bowen than his above banal “war crimes” statement (which some might consider a mere regurgitation of PLO-NAD press releases) actually provides.

This is not the first time that the BBC has promoted the scenario of the possibility of prosecution of Israelis at the ICC: it also did so in a 2012 backgrounder titled “Q&A: Palestinians’ upgraded UN status” and in that simplistic and factually flimsy item too, the point that retroactive legal actions could include acts of Palestinian terrorism perpetrated since 2002 was not communicated to BBC audiences.

“If they are allowed to sign the ICC’s founding treaty, the Rome Statute, the Palestinians hope prosecutors would investigate alleged crimes against humanity and war crimes.” […]

“Technically a state joining the ICC also has the option of granting jurisdiction retroactively to the date when the treaty came into force – on 1 July 2002.

So the Palestinians might seek to have the ICC investigate war crimes allegations from the 2008-2009 Gaza war, as well as the most recent conflict in Gaza.”

If the BBC is going to wade into the issue of the strategy of ‘lawfare’ being pursued by the Palestinian Authority, it obviously must also inform audiences of the ICC’s actual mandate and limitations, as well as of additional potential scenarios such as, for example, the prosecution of PA officials connected to acts of terror during the second Intifada. At present, those aspects of the story are not being presented to BBC audiences, not even by the Middle East editor responsible for making “a complex story more comprehensive or comprehensible for the audience”.