What is missing from Yolande Knell’s BBC backgrounder on Jerusalem violence?

Two weeks and two days after the first of the recent terror attacks in Jerusalem the BBC News website published a backgrounder article by Yolande Knell in the ‘Features & Analysis’ section of its Middle East page on November 7th under the title “Jerusalem a city on edge as tensions spiral“. Readers were told at the top of the article that:Knell backgrounder written

“Tension is growing around Jerusalem’s holy compound – Yolande Knell examines the issues”

Predictably, the article adopts the standard BBC practices of erasing all history before June 1967 and falling short of BBC editorial guidelines on impartiality by failing to inform audiences of the existence of the many legal opinions which fall outside the BBC’s chosen narrative.

“Israel has occupied East Jerusalem since capturing it from Jordan in the 1967 Middle East war. It annexed the sector in 1980 in a move not recognised internationally.”

“The settlements on occupied land are considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.”

Knell’s article provides BBC audiences with a range of ‘explanations’ for the surge of Palestinian violence in Jerusalem.

  1. The murder of Mohammed Abu Khdeir and police measures to contain rioting:

“He was the spark that lit this uprising. Now we’re facing a lot of problems with the [Israeli] Occupation and having the Israeli border police next to our home only makes matters worse,” says Mr Abu Khdeir. “Anger is rising.”

  1. Alleged ‘discrimination’:

“Palestinian residents have long complained of discrimination…”

  1. ‘Settlers’:

“[Palestinians] blame increasing tension on the growing number of Jewish settlers moving to the area.”

  1. The existence of a campaign for equal Jewish prayer rights at Temple Mount:Knell backgrounder filmed

“Recent clashes have been fuelled by Jewish demands to lift a ban on their religious practices at Jerusalem’s most sensitive holy site in the heart of the Old City.”

  1. Temporary restrictions on access to Temple Mount for Muslims as a means of reducing violent rioting:

“At the al-Aqsa mosque compound, age restrictions continue to be imposed on Palestinian worshippers heading to Friday prayers, a move described by Israeli authorities as a security measure.”

  1. The absence of ‘peace talks’:

“In the absence of peace talks to address the core issues, there are many reminders that the political vacuum can quickly be filled by violence.”

Those last two points were also promoted in a filmed report by Knell published on the same day under the title “Growing tension at Jerusalem holy site“. In that report – also shown on BBC television news – audiences were told: 

“Tensions have been mounting over restrictions at this site – holy to Muslims and Jews. Today Israeli police lined up around the Old City to impose restrictions on Palestinian Muslims heading to the Al Aqsa Mosque. They said this was for security.”


“Recently there have been fresh reminders of how the political vacuum can be filled with violence. On Wednesday a Palestinian militant from Hamas drove into pedestrians, killing two people. It was the second such attack in Jerusalem in two weeks.”Knell backgrounder Bowen Tweet

However neatly the notion that recent violence in Jerusalem and elsewhere is fuelled by a lack of negotiations may fit into the BBC’s narrative, there is one blatantly obvious hole in Knell’s “excellent Jerusalem analysis” as it was dubbed by her Middle East editor. No amount of ‘peace talks’ or political process would have dissuaded Hamas or the PIJ from carrying out the recent terror attacks or inciting violent riots because those terrorist organisations are inherently opposed to any kind of political negotiation with Israel.

Of course those of us with apparently better memories than Yolande Knell also remember the spate of terrorism which followed the signing of the Oslo Accords, not to mention the initiation of the second Intifada by the Palestinian Authority as a means of bringing political process to an abrupt end.

The last round of talks (July 29th 2013 to April 29th 2014) was no different: the statistics show that during the nine months of negotiations a rise in terrorism was seen in Jerusalem and Judea & Samaria (consistently under-reported by the BBC) rather than the opposite – as Knell’s redundant theory would have it.

Knell backgrounder chart

Notably though, Knell’s article refrains from making any mention whatsoever of the issue of incitement and glorification of terrorism by the Palestinian Authority: major contributing factors to the recent violence, terror and unrest seen in Jerusalem and elsewhere.

Truly “excellent Jerusalem analysis” genuinely intended to inform audiences of the background to this particular issue would of course not have omitted that all-important factor. The advancement of a politically-motivated narrative, however, would.

Related Articles:

BBC’s Knell tells WS audiences violence in Jerusalem caused by Jews trying to enter Al Aqsa Mosque

9 comments on “What is missing from Yolande Knell’s BBC backgrounder on Jerusalem violence?

  1. Palestinians and anyone deemed non-western is ever responsible for their own actions. Whatever murder and mayhem they may perpetrate, the BBC will always find a way of blaming someone else, Israelis, US, UK, whatever they alight on first and no matter how far back in history they have to go.

    • Sure. Brown skin trumps everything else (unless they are ME Jews, of course).
      And they have the chutzpah to accuse others of racism.

    • Sure. Brown skin trumps everything else (unless they are ME Jews, of course).
      And they have the chutzpah to accuse others of racism.

  2. Well, you know Hadar, a child was kidnapped and tortured by 3 Israelis this summer. His burnt body was found by the police, who said the abductors burnt him to death. So indeed Palestinians in Jerusalem are discontent.

    People are rarely happy when their kids are kidnapped and burnt to death.

  3. And similarly, ‘Thomas’, people don’t like it much when their kids are kidnapped in groups of three and shot, either. The difference is, the Palestinians hid and protected the murderers of the 3 yeshiva students just as long as they could, conducted riots and attacks against the forces trying to find them, stepped up their shelling of Israeli towns, and widely praised the murderers for committing these three murders. Whereas, in contrast, the Israeli police hunted down the murderers of the poor Arab youth and arrested them PDQ, (despite even more hindrance during the process, in the form of further Palestinian riots and attacks) and also Israelis widely decried the Arab youth’s murder as a barbaric act.

  4. Pingback: BBC coverage of Har Nof terror attack – part one | BBC Watch

  5. Pingback: BBC coverage of Har Nof terror attack – part two | BBC Watch

  6. Pingback: BBC coverage of Har Nof terror attack – the follow up report | BBC Watch

Comments are closed.