BBC online description of Six Day War: not accurate, not impartial, barely informative

A member of the public searching online for information on the Six Day War from the BBC will encounter the two maps below among the top results.

BBC Six Day War

The text to the first map reads:

“Six-Day War: Before the war
From 1948 to 1967, the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, was ruled by Jordan. During this period, the Gaza Strip was under Egyptian military administration. Israeli troops captured Egypt’s Sinai peninsula during the 1956 British, French and Israeli military campaign in response to the nationalisation of the Suez Canal. The Israelis subsequently withdrew and were replaced with a UN force. In 1967, Egypt ordered the UN troops out and blocked Israeli shipping routes – adding to already high levels of tension between Israel and its neighbours.”

That explanation of course neglects to clarify to readers that rather than the regions described in the text being “ruled” (as the BBC so benignly puts it) by Jordan, they were in fact occupied, with Jordan’s subsequent annexation of those areas not recognized by the international community. It also fails to clarify that the same area had been designated as part of the homeland for the Jewish people at the San Remo conference in 1920 – along with the Gaza Strip which was similarly occupied by Egypt from 1948 to 1956 and from 1957 to 1967 – and that both areas were conquered by those invading foreign armies during the War of Independence. 

The BBC’s cursory description of the period immediately before the outbreak of the Six Day War fails to describe the organized build-up of Egyptian, Syrian, Jordanian, Saudi Arabian and Iraqi troops on Israel’s borders from May 25th 1967 or the May 30th defence pact between Egypt and Jordan. No mention is made of the fact that by that time, some 500,000 troops, 5,000 tanks and 1,000 warplanes surrounded Israel or of the threatening rhetoric of numerous Arab leaders.

“All of the Arab armies now surround Israel. The UAR, Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Yemen, Lebanon, Algeria, Sudan, and Kuwait. … There is no difference between one Arab people and another, no difference between one Arab army and another.” – King Hussein of Jordan, after signing the pact with Egypt May 30, 1967 

“The existence of Israel is an error which must be rectified. This is our opportunity to wipe out the ignominy which has been with us since 1948. Our goal is clear – to wipe Israel off the map. We shall, God willing, meet in Tel Aviv and Haifa.” – President Abdel Rahman Aref of Iraq, May 31, 1967 

Syria’s forces are “ready not only to repulse the aggression, but to initiate the act of liberation itself, and to explode the Zionist presence in the Arab homeland. The Syrian army, with its finger on the trigger, is united…. I as a military man, believe that the time has come to enter into a battle of annihilation.” – Syrian Defense Minister Hafez Assad, May 20, 1967

Those omissions mean that the BBC is able to open the text appearing under the second map with the inaccurate claim that it was Israel’s pre-emptive attack on Egyptian airfields which “drew Syria and Jordan into a regional war”.

“Six-Day War: After the war
In a pre-emptive attack on Egypt that drew Syria and Jordan into a regional war in 1967, Israel made massive territorial gains capturing the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Golan Heights and the Sinai Peninsula up to the Suez Canal.”

Clearly, the misleading and inaccurate text accompanying these two maps fails to provide BBC audiences with an accurate and impartial view of the causes of the Six Day War. 

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27 comments on “BBC online description of Six Day War: not accurate, not impartial, barely informative

  1. The BBC seems to have a vested interest in denying that Israel has been under threat by the Arab states from the beginning. The more they attempt to fudge this obvious truth the more suspect the rest of their information becomes.

    • The San Remo conference was organised by colonial powers. The racist undertones of its conclusions make it obsolete in the year 2014. It has no validity as it contravenes the principle of people’s’ self determination. You cannot confiscate an indigenous people’s land, here the Palestinian people whic has been living in the Holy land for centuries.

        • Actaully San Remo is still valid according to international law.
          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].”

          • Will you ever get tired of pasting that same old quote? Is there nothing newer to make your case with? really?!

            Not only that, but by your own admissions on numerous previous posts, this particular ICJ Advisory Opinion is not ‘binding’ in ANY way:

            “Contrary to judgments, and except in rare cases where it is stipulated beforehand that they shall have binding effect (for example, as in the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations, in the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the specialized agencies of the United Nations, and the Headquarters Agreement between the United Nations and the United States of America), the Court’s advisory opinions have no binding effect”

            So, Alexa, once again, trotting out quotes from 41 years ago, while refusing to acknowledge that the facts on the ground have changed (Occupation in full swing!) and world opinion is against you, is really denying the reality that there is no support, outside of Israel, for the Occupation.

          • Funny when you people allways show us how we are violating ICJ resolutions.
            Now do show me a source that say that San Remo is not valid.

        • If anyone is talking about ”International Agreements” and ”International Law”, the San Remo Conference produced exactly both of those. An International Law is ALWAYS valid unless revoked INTERNATIONALLY. If San Remo is not valid regarding Israel’s rights then so are the rights of the Arab countries created by the same Conference not valid.

          From my point of view there is International recognition of precedence. The Precedence of the Jews is the oldest of any other group of people in the area. So Shock Horror wake up and come into reality as it is and not as you ‘feel’ it should be. Do some serious objective study and reading and be always fair and objective even if you don’t ”feel” like being these two things

          • What’s the betting that none of you on here work for a human rights organisation, eh? thought not.

            San Remo, like all ‘agreements’ can be overturned, or simply overrun by events on the ground and in the judgement of subsequent rulings by bodies that matter.

            In 2014, with Human Rights, the UN and self-determination of peoples (not states or Empires) being the founding principles, there is no serious way that San Remo stands up to the more or legal tenets that the majority of the worlds population (and states!) hold dear. Ergo, San Remo is an anomaly, a blip if you will, and shameful event that has been slowly slowly erased from the consciousnesses of all serious legal scholars and those that hold true UN ideals.

            If Israel doesn’t want to abide by UN rules, then by all means, leave the UN. It’s that simple. If you’re part of the UN, then illegal occupation is a no-no. and if you’re not part of the UN and other international bodies (with membership rules attached), then you’ll get no trade deals, no loans, no passport entry, no academic privilidges. Nothing.

            You’ll change your tune then, that’s for sure.

            It’s no longer 1923 – popular opinion has weight and matters. Israel is losing the PR battle for ‘hearts and minds’ as an illegal occupation sounds warm and fluffy to no one in their right mind.

          • Ergo, San Remo is an anomaly, a blip if you will, and shameful event that has been slowly slowly …….

            That would mean that Iraq. Lebanon ,Syria and Jordan are the result of a shameful event

          • If Israel doesn’t want to abide by UN rules?

            You mean the UN should abide by its own rules if it were to go by article 80 in the UN charter,.
            Pity they don;t.

          • @Alexa: ” Iraq. Lebanon ,Syria and Jordan are the result of a shameful event” – Indeed they are! Yet they don’t imprison 4.5 million people under and illegal occupation…..see the difference?

      • Gilly,

        Do some serious study of the history and always be objective. If you feel any adjectives coming into your head about any issue , just remove the adjective,,,,,,be like a judge with no opinion but just read as much facts as you can. No part of history can be wiped out by words like ”public opinion”. All your conclusions must be able to be backed up by careful analysis. Get as many points of view as possible. Always be reasonable. Avoid having your own ”personal opinion” because inevitably personal opinions are subjective.

        To talk about ”racist undertones” and a ”Palestinian people” meaning only Arabs is not strictly accurate regarding the history of this area. There was never a Palestinian country going back more than 4000 years. The Mandate of Palestine was created by the League of Nations whose laws were implemented the results of which still exist today: the creation of the countries by the redrawing of the map of the 500 year old Ottoman Empire.

        The Jews played a significant part in the history of this area for thousands of years. They even had a country which was occupied several times by hostile neighbours. The last such occupation was initiated by the Roman and followed on by various Christian and Moslem occupations.

        The Ottoman Empire was built on Occupation of other nations including the Land of the Jews. The Ottomans were racist, cruel, colonialist and occupiers (to use your words) of Jewish Land. Land that belonged to the Jews long before Christianity or Moslems came into the history books.Things happen in a cause and effect sequence always but for some reason you have failed to see this over the whole course of the history of this area. Is 1967 or 2014 your starting point? San Remo predates these and San Remo took into account the history of the Jews when it came to its conclusions. If you want to enter into a dialogue of sensible talk with me I am happy to do so. Mud slinging is not my style.

  2. Hang on, hang on … I am on my first coffee, so perhaps my eyesight isn’t clear; but is there no mention at all of the closure by Egypt of the Tiran Straits, an act of war by any normal definition?

  3. BBC also has failed to point out that Hitler and Husseini extended the Shoah to the Muslim states beginning in 1941 resulting in the flight or expulsion and expropriation of assets of 865,000 Jews who constitute more than half of the Jewish population of Israel today. Their fate is no less important than that of the Palestinian Arabs and might serve as part of a population exchange.

      • Does that include cases where it’s Jews who are ethnically cleansed? I’m thinking, of course, of Hebron (1929), the Jewish Quarter and other areas of Jerusalem (1948), the Etzion Bloc (1948), to name just a few.

      • Gilly, within living memory, 40% of Baghdad was Jewish. Now not one Jew lives in Iraq (it is disputed that there may be 3 or 4 individuals).

        The Arab population in Israel (including Judea and Samaria) keeps rising.

        More Jews were made refugees in 1948 than Arabs (including at the hands of Palestinian Arabs in Jerusalem and Hebron, as elsewhere).

        Who is doing the ethnic cleansing?

  4. OK, it’s mentioned (briefly), but it should be made clear that it didn’t ‘add to tensions’ – IT WAS AN ACT OF WAR.

  5. Israel only entered the West Bank after repeated Jordanian artillery fire and ground movements across the previous armistice lines. Jordanian attacks began at 10:00 a.m.; an Israeli warning to Jordan was passed through the UN at 11:00 a.m.; Jordanian attacks nonetheless persisted, so that Israeli military action only began at 12:45 p.m. Additionally, Iraqi forces had crossed Jordanian territory and were poised to enter the West Bank. Under such circumstances, the temporary armistice boundaries of 1949 lost all validity the moment Jordanian forces revoked the armistice and attacked. Israel thus took control of the West Bank as a result of a defensive war.

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    • wow! great source! How did you manage the brain power to find that INDEPENDENT article!?

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