Top BBC Watch posts of 2014

Over the last twelve months the posts we have published here at BBC Watch have collectively received well over 460,000 views and this is an ideal opportunity to thank you – our readers – for your interest and support throughout the past year. We would also like to thank all those who have taken the trouble to contact us with feedback, updates on your complaints to the BBC and tips concerning items of BBC content. Your contributions are invaluable – please carry on in the New Year.

We were particularly honoured and touched by the fact that during the past summer when conflict raged in Israel and the atmosphere in Europe deteriorated to worrying depths of hate and animosity, many of you – particularly in the UK – wrote to us to share your feelings and concerns at that difficult time.Happy New Year

So which of our posts were the most read in 2014? Here are the top half-dozen:

1) The curious case of a dual-identity BBC interviewee in Gaza

2) Vital statistics: stealth changes made to the BBC’s Gaza casualty figures article

3) Beyond the BBC caricature of Israel

4) BBC Trending warns of misrepresented photo, BBC correspondent Tweets it

5) BBC’s Evan Davis promotes notion that search for kidnapped teens is ‘collective punishment’

6) Orla Guerin’s parting shot breaches BBC editorial guidelines

Wishing all our readers a happy, healthy and peaceful 2015. 

 

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Promoted and quoted: the BBC’s preferred NGO contributors in 2014

Back in May of last year we presented an overview of the NGOs quoted and promoted in BBC coverage of Israel over a six month period. In this post we will take a similar look at the organisations featured in BBC coverage during 2014.

In some instances an interviewee or contributor to BBC content was presented to audiences by name and with the title of his or her organization, but more often than not the political agenda of that organization and the interviewee’s resulting “standpoint” were not adequately clarified – as demanded by BBC editorial guidelines on impartiality. The same practice was evident when quotes were used from organisations’ press releases without being attributed to a specific person. Examples from 2014 include:BBC Hagai Elad B'Tselem

In other cases, interviewees or contributors were presented by name only and – again in breach of editorial guidelines – BBC audiences were not informed of their affiliations with campaigning organisations or of the fact that their contribution should be assessed within the context of a particular political agenda. Examples from 2014 include:Bowen 14 7 Newsday Sourani

In additional cases, the BBC took it upon itself to directly amplify an NGO’s agenda via promotion of its published material or particular campaigns. Examples from the past year include:

2014 also saw extensive BBC coverage of anti-Israel demonstrations in the UK organized by groups such as the Palestine Solidarity Campaign  and the Stop the War Coalition but no effort was made to inform audiences of the real agendas and links of those groups and antisemitic material appearing at those demonstrations was either ignored or whitewashed.

So which NGOs were the most quoted and promoted in BBC Israel-related content in 2014? Among the local NGOs contributing to BBC produced material either in the form of quotes or by means of inadequately identified interviewees, the organization appearing most was B’Tselem, followed by the PCHR. This does not however include the indirect amplification of the agendas of those two organisations, along with Al Mezan, by means of the BBC’s repeated promotion of the Gaza Strip casualty figures  for which they were primary sources.

Among the foreign NGOs promoted, quoted and amplified in BBC Israel-related content during 2014, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign received the most exposure – mainly via coverage of its summer anti-Israel demonstrations in the UK and its involvement in the campaign against SodaStream – followed by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.  

In July of this year NGO Monitor publicized a lawfare campaign against Israel instigated by a collection of NGOs. Among them were Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Al Mezan and the PCHR – all of which were promoted prominently by the BBC during 2014 but, in breach of BBC editorial guidelines, with no information provided to audiences concerning their political agenda in general and their involvement in that lawfare campaign in particular.

As readers may recall, in his recent article about media coverage of Israel, Matti Friedman noted the relationship between journalists and NGOs.

“This confusion is very much present in Israel and the Palestinian territories, where foreign activists are a notable feature of the landscape, and where international NGOs and numerous arms of the United Nations are among the most powerful players, wielding billions of dollars and employing many thousands of foreign and local employees. […]

In my time in the press corps, I learned that our relationship with these groups was not journalistic. My colleagues and I did not, that is, seek to analyze or criticize them. For many foreign journalists, these were not targets but sources and friends—fellow members, in a sense, of an informal alliance. This alliance consists of activists and international staffers from the UN and the NGOs; the Western diplomatic corps, particularly in East Jerusalem; and foreign reporters. (There is also a local component, consisting of a small number of Israeli human-rights activists who are themselves largely funded by European governments, and Palestinian staffers from the Palestinian Authority, the NGOs, and the UN.)”editorial guidelines

Not only did the BBC continue to provide many examples of the phenomenon described by Friedman throughout 2014 but it also compromised its supposed commitment to impartial journalism by supplying free publicity and amplification for NGOs engaged in political warfare against Israel whilst failing to inform audiences of the agendas of those groups. Audiences need to be informed of the background to organisations providing quotes and material promoted by the BBC which shapes audience perception of issues. The BBC is consistent in its avoidance of provision of that information despite the existence of editorial guidelines requiring it to do so. 

 

BBC’s end of year ‘In Pictures’ feature continues to promote unverified Gaza casualty stats

On December 29th the ‘In Pictures’ section of the BBC News website published a collection of nineteen photographs described as “our favourite pictures” which “sum up the past 12 months”.

The caption to the featured photograph below reads:

“A 50-day conflict in Gaza between Israel and militant groups led by Hamas left at least 2,189 Palestinians dead, including more than 1,486 civilians, according to the UN, and 11,000 injured. On the Israeli side, 67 soldiers and six civilians were killed, with scores more wounded. Here, Palestinians carry a wounded boy who was rescued from under the rubble of a house which witnesses said was destroyed in an Israeli air strike, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.”

In Pictures 2014

As we see, over four months since the end of the conflict and despite the existence of more up to date information showing that the civilian/combatant casualty ratio cited above is most likely inflated, the BBC has made no effort to update the information it provides to audiences and continues to quote the UN figures which were problematic from the onset. Neither is there any evidence to suggest that the BBC has independently verified the statistics it promotes in the weeks since the ceasefire came into effect.

The footnote added belatedly to the BBC article on casualty figures which was revised due to political pressure stated:

“We expect to return to this subject at a later date.”

That has not happened and the BBC’s continued blind promotion of unverified statistics is clearly not only an issue in terms of accuracy but, as time goes on and the BBC continues to stubbornly and inexplicably ignore later work done on this topic, it also obviously becomes a growing issue of impartiality.

Related Articles:

BBC Complaints defends its use of Hamas supplied casualty figures

BBC promotion of the inaccurate notion of exceptional civilian casualties in Gaza

More narrative-inspired reporting from Bethlehem by BBC’s Yolande Knell

The December 27th edition of BBC Radio 4’s ‘From Our Own Correspondent’ included an item (available here from 01:48) described as follows in its synopsis:Knell Bethlehem FOOC

“…why Yolande Knell in Bethlehem is looking forward to two more Christmases in the coming weeks…”

A very similar written version that audio report from Knell’s appeared on the Magazine and Middle East pages of the BBC News website on December 28th under the title “The town with three Christmas Days“. It opens by telling BBC audiences that:

“Christmas comes but once a year – unless you live in Bethlehem, where three different Christian denominations celebrate on three different days.”

Obviously Bethlehem is far from the only town in the region in which different Christian denominations celebrate Christmas on different dates. Towards the end of her report Knell states:

“Many Palestinian Christians see themselves as custodians of Christmas and its colourful traditions.

The dwindling number of Christians in the Holy Land adds a sense of urgency to their celebrations. Nowadays many young people in the West Bank choose to emigrate because of the difficult economic and social conditions created by Israel’s occupation.”

Knell’s over-simplified claim of a “dwindling number of Christians in the Holy Land” misleads audiences by failing to distinguish between Israel – where Christian communities thrive and grow – and the PA ruled areas where their numbers continue to decline. Of course the vast majority of Palestinians in the PA-controlled territories do not live under “Israel’s occupation” at all with control of Bethlehem, for example, having been handed over to the PA in accordance with the Oslo Accords two decades ago. However, Knell continues to promote the mantra which has dominated previous BBC reports on the topic of Palestinian Christians, according to which emigration is entirely attributable to factors connected to Israel. And as we have seen in much other BBC reporting on the issue, Knell studiously avoids the long-standing but under-reported topic of intimidation of Christians.

“Christian families have long been complaining of intimidation and land theft by Muslims, especially those working for the Palestinian Authority.

Many Christians in Bethlehem and the nearby [Christian] towns of Bet Sahour and Bet Jalla have repeatedly complained that Muslims have been seizing their lands either by force or through forged documents.

In recent years, not only has the number of Christians continued to dwindle, but Bethlehem and its surroundings also became hotbeds for Hamas and Islamic Jihad supporters and members.

Moreover, several Christian women living in these areas have complained about verbal and sexual assaults by Muslim men.

Over the past few years, a number of Christian businessmen told me that they were forced to shut down their businesses because they could no longer afford to pay “protection” money to local Muslim gangs.

While it is true that the Palestinian Authority does not have an official policy of persecution against Christians, it is also true that this authority has not done enough to provide the Christian population with a sense of security and stability.”

Interestingly, a BBC feature from 2011 called “Guide: Christians in the Middle East” (much of which is now sadly out of date due to events in Syria and Iraq) did briefly mention non Israel-related factors affecting Palestinian Christians.Knell Bethlehem written Mag

“Some Christian leaders also cite the rise of radical Islam in the area as a growing pressure on Christian communities.”

At the beginning of the audio version of Knell’s report presenter Kate Adie informs listeners that:

“Yolande Knell has lived in the city [Bethlehem] just a few miles south of Jerusalem for four years now…”

Despite that fact – or perhaps because of it – BBC audiences continue to be fobbed off with one-dimensional reporting from Yolande Knell which presents Palestinians exclusively as passive victims of Israeli policy and actions whilst concurrently refraining from any attempt to report on the internal Palestinian affairs which affect their lives.

Related Articles:

BBC’s Yolande Knell ditches any semblance of impartiality

BBC’s Connolly reports on ME Christians: omits the one place they thrive

Terror excused, Palestinian Christians sold out on BBC World Service

BBC’s Knell politicises St George’s Day with promotion of PA propaganda

BBC’s Knell exploits Christmas report to lie about anti-terrorist fence

The Christians who do not fit into the BBC’s Middle East narrative

Should BBC News allow its agenda to be dictated by social media?

December 28th saw the appearance of a filmed report in the technology section of the BBC News website (also apparently shown on that day’s edition of BBC Breakfast on BBC One and the BBC News channel) under the title “What news event got us tweeting and posting in 2014?“.

Regarding what he described as “the top three news events shared on social media this year”, presenter Graham Satchell told audiences:

“At [number] three, the month-long bombardment of Gaza: a conflict with Israel seemingly without end.”

Those words were presented with a background of two images: notably both black and white photographs whilst the rest of the report is of course in colour.

Satchell filmed image 1

Satchell filmed image 2

No further context was provided. Probably much like the Tweets and posts which made this topic the third most shared of the year, Satchell’s report made no effort to inform audiences that “bombardment” of Israeli villages, towns and cities also took place throughout the fifty days of the conflict or that what led to its outbreak were over 280 incidents of missile fire by Gaza Strip based terrorist organisations at Israeli civilian targets between June 14th and July 8th and the later discovery of cross-border tunnels constructed for the purpose of terror attacks.

Social media is of course by nature both superficial and easily manipulated to create a level of ‘noise’ way beyond the actual significance of a story by focusing on its eye-catching sound-bites alone. How many of the Tweets and posts which placed the “bombardment of Gaza” in third place actually originated from a small number of political activists and how such activism serves the interests of Hamas’ PR war is not a topic which Satchell saw fit to address.

Satchell stated:

“What we like, share is now influencing everything – including the news.”

That of course can only be the case if news services allow social media to influence their agenda. Among the questions BBC audiences may be asking is why they even need the mainstream media to act as an intermediary between them and what they can already discover for themselves (for free) and do they actually want the content provided by their news service to be dictated by the Tweets and Facebook posts of interest groups and anonymous subscribers to those services and others.

The BBC’s contract with its funding public obliges it to “inform, educate and entertain“. The issue of whether context-free amplification of topics popular on social media – as seen in this report – can be said to meet the terms of that remit is one which readers are invited to discuss in the comments below.

BBC R4 programme on terror and the media rebrands PFLP terrorists

On December 22nd BBC Radio 4 broadcast a programme called “Terror and the Oxygen of Publicity” made by the BBC’s security correspondent Gordon Corera. The broadcast is available here and individual clips from the programme have also been put online here.Gordon Corera prog

According to the programme’s synopsis, it “examines the jihadists’ social media strategy, the attempts to combat it, and how media organisations tread the fine line of giving publicity to terrorists and reporting the news”. Near the beginning of the broadcast Corera states that his aim is “to ask what the media and government can and should do”.

There is much of interest in Corera’s programme but one topic he does not address is that of the media’s use of language when reporting on terrorism. As BBC Watch readers are doubtless aware, that subject is a particularly pertinent one in relation to the corporation itself as it regularly employs double standards regarding the use of the word terrorism and by doing so communicates to its audiences which political violence it regards as terror and which – due to its own political motivations – it does not. Ironically, listeners heard a small example of that phenomenon early on in this programme.

Corera’s introduction to the topic of what he describes as the “relationship between terror and modern media” comes through the example of the Dawson’s Field hijackings in 1970 which he describes thus:

“A Palestinian group called the PFLP had simultaneously hijacked a number of passenger planes and then flown them to a landing strip in the middle of the Jordanian desert known as Dawson’s Field.”

He later states:

“The PFLP’s spectacular act was intended to capture the world’s attention. They wanted the release of political prisoners held by Israel in return for the hostages…” [emphasis added]

By describing members of an internationally designated Marxist-Leninist terrorist organization as ‘political prisoners’ Corera of course promotes a stance which speaks volumes about his own approach to the subject of PFLP terrorism. But as well as the obvious impartiality issue raised by the use of that phrase, Corera also fails on accuracy.

The Dawson’s Field hijackers did indeed demand the release of prisoners held in Israel, but – as shown in US State Department cables from the time – the PFLP’s primary demand was for the release of prisoners held in three other countries.

“The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine has issued a  72-hour ultimatum to the Swiss Government to release three Palestinian Commandos currently serving 12 year sentences in Switzerland for attacking an Israeli airliner in Zurich in 1969.”

Those prisoners were not incarcerated for ‘political’ reasons but due to their having launched a terror attack.

“On February 18, 1969 El Al flight 432, on its way from Amsterdam to Tel Aviv via Zurich, was due to take off at Zurich International Airport. While slowly advancing toward the take-off starting point, the plane was attacked by four terrorists, who opened automatic fire and hurled demolition charges at the aircraft.”

A later US State Department cable states:

“According to news reports, the PFLP has made three demands for release of the aircraft and passengers:  1) release and return to Amman of three PFLP commandos imprisoned in Switzerland; 2) return to Amman of the commando killed in the abortive El Al hijacking and release of his female accomplice; and 3) release of three fedayeen being held in West Germany. A fourth demand, relayed by the PFLP office in Beirut, calls for the release of all fedayeen held in Israel.”

That “female accomplice” was terrorist Leila Khaled who, together with Patrick Argüello, tried to hijack an El Al plane as part of the Dawson’s Field operation. The three terrorists imprisoned in West Germany had carried out an attack on a bus carrying El Al passengers at Munich airport on February 10th 1970, killing one person and wounding 11 others.

The provision of the “oxygen of publicity” for terrorists by the mainstream media and on social media is certainly an interesting topic for discussion. No less crucial to that debate, however, is the issue of how the mainstream media picks and chooses its terrorists and the way in which journalists’ own political opinions affect their portrayal of terrorism to the wider world – as seen in this example unintentionally provided by Gordon Corera.

At the beginning of the programme Corera informs listeners that:

“Here in the newsroom some of the toughest decisions relate to how we cover the subject of terrorism – even the use of the ‘T-word’ itself.”

Having set out to ask “what the media […] can and should do”, it is clear that a topic awaits for a sequel to Corera’s programme.

Related Articles:

Debate widens on BBC avoidance of the word terrorist

Mapping the BBC’s inconsistent use of the word ‘terror’

Where can terrorism be named as such by the BBC?

BBC R4 gives a platform to terrorist Leila Khaled

BBC report on Christmas in Bethlehem amplifies PA political messaging yet again

Attempts to co-opt Christmas for Palestinian political messaging are nothing new and neither is the BBC’s collaboration with those public relations campaigns. In previous years we have seen Jon Donnison and Yolande Knell using the occasion of Christmas Eve celebrations in Bethlehem for opportunistic promotion of political messaging. This year coverage of the celebrations was assigned to Quentin Sommerville who managed to produce a reasonable filmed report free of political messaging. The accompanying written article which appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page, however, was not.Bethlehem Christmas art main

Titled “Christians hold Christmas Eve Mass in Bethlehem“, the report was amended no fewer than five times and those changes can be seen here. Just under 40% of that report’s word count is devoted to context-free amplification of political statements with descriptions of the religious celebrations themselves barely appearing in the article.

With no background information provided to BBC audiences on the obviously significant context of the political activities of some members of the clergy in the region, the report states:

“In a homily, Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal called on Jews, Muslims and Christians to “live together as equals”.

Referring to violence in Gaza and Jerusalem, he said he hoped 2015 “would be better than this difficult year”.” […]

“Patriarch Twal, the most senior Roman Catholic cleric in the Holy Land, said the region had become “a land of conflict”.

“I hope next year there will be no separation wall and I hope we will have bridges of peace instead,” he said, referring to the barrier Israel is building in and around the West Bank, which separates Bethlehem from Jerusalem. Israel says the barrier is necessary to prevent attacks by militants.

“Peace comes from justice and we have a cause which we hope will be solved soon,” the Patriarch added.” […]

“Patriarch Twal urged Christians not to forget the residents of Gaza, where up to 19,600 families displaced by the 50-day conflict between Israel and Palestinian militants are still in need of medium- and long-term shelter…”

As usual, the proven effectiveness of the anti-terrorist fence is ignored by the BBC – along with the events which brought about its construction – and the reason for its existence presented in the partial language of “Israel says”. Readers are not reminded that the summer conflict lamented by the Latin Patriarch was instigated by Hamas or of the obviously relevant issue of continuing Palestinian terrorism against Israeli civilians.

Additionally, the writer of this report saw fit to use it as a hook for the promotion of quotes from the PA Minister for Tourism.

“His sentiment was echoed by Palestinian Tourism Minister Rula Maayah.

“Our message this Christmas is a message of peace like every year, but what we added this year is that all we want from Christmas is justice,” the minister said.

“Justice for our people, justice for our case and the right to live like all other people in the world in our independent state without the occupation.” “

Readers are not informed that the phrase ‘all I want for Christmas is justice” is the official Christmas political campaign slogan chosen this year by Ms. Maayah’s department and neither are they told anything about the circumstances of how that quote reached the BBC just in time for its Christmas Eve report from Bethlehem.

Similar messaging was apparent in some of the images chosen to illustrate the report and their captions.

Bethlehem Christmas art pics

The article also includes the following snippet of unrelated information, echoing the BBC’s coverage at the time:

“On Tuesday, Pope Francis – who prayed at the West Bank barrier and called for an end to the “increasingly unacceptable” Palestinian-Israeli conflict when he visited the region in May – sent a message of solidarity to Christians in the Middle East.” [emphasis added]

If readers of this article assumed that – as suggested in its title – they were going to learn something about the celebration of the religious festival itself in Bethlehem, they were of course mistaken. Instead, the BBC has once again self-conscripted to the opportunistic exploitation of Christmas for promotion of context-free PA political sloganeering.  

BBC WS ‘Weekend’ presenter Paul Henley erases hundreds of terror attacks in 34 words

h/t GB

The December 27th edition of BBC World Service radio’s ‘Weekend’ was devoted to revisiting “programme highlights from the past year”, one of which was an item about an organisation called ‘Heartbeat‘.WS Weekend 27 12

Presenter Paul Henley introduced the item (from 35:52 here) as follows:

“At the end of June the bodies of three Israeli teenagers were found near the city of Hebron. They’d been abducted earlier in the month while they were hiking. Israel started airstrikes on Gaza. As hostilities got worse, we looked at an organisation at the beginning of July called ‘Heartbeat’. It’s a not for profit organisation that brings together Israeli and Palestinian young musicians […] to socialise, make music and art and get to know one another and – almost by osmosis – develop creative, non-violent tools for some sort of badly needed social change there.”

Beyond the BBC presenter’s paternalistic and parochial prescription of “badly needed social change”, what of course stand out most are the inaccuracies and omissions in Henley’s introduction.

Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Sha’ar and Naftali Frankel were not “hiking” at the time of the incident on June 12th and they were not only “abducted” but also murdered by a Hamas terrorist cell: facts which Henley erases from his account of events. Henley clearly implies linkage between the kidnappings and murders and Israeli “airstrikes on Gaza”. His narrative does not include the fact that Israel’s actions were actually in response to missile attacks by terrorist organisations based in the Gaza Strip and that between June 14th and July 8th (the beginning of Operation Protective Edge), two hundred and eighty-eight missiles hit Israeli territory.  

And so we see how, in a mere thirty-four words, Henley casually distorts facts and creates an inaccurate narrative which erases terrorism whilst focusing audience attention on misrepresented Israeli actions alone. So much for BBC editorial standards of accuracy and impartiality.

Related Articles:

BBC misleads audiences regarding cause of Operation Protective Edge

Revisiting the BBC’s framing of the 2013/14 Israel-PLO negotiations

A significant proportion of the BBC’s Middle East coverage during the first few months of 2014 was devoted to the topic of the negotiations between Israel and the PLO which had commenced at the end of July the previous year and were scheduled to run until the end of April.BBC News logo 2

As we know, those talks collapsed shortly before their deadline arrived due to the PA’s decision to form a unity government with Hamas but, as The Tower reports, Roger Cohen of the New York Times has now published an interview with Israel’s chief negotiator Tsipi Livni which provides further background and insight into the lead up to the end of that round of negotiations.

“On March 17, in a meeting in Washington, President Obama presented Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian leader, with a long-awaited American framework for an agreement that set out the administration’s views on major issues, including borders, security, settlements, Palestinian refugees and Jerusalem.

Livni considered it a fair framework, and Netanyahu had indicated willingness to proceed on the basis of it while saying he had reservations. But Abbas declined to give an answer in what his senior negotiator, Saeb Erekat, later described as a “difficult” meeting with Obama. Abbas remained evasive on the framework, which was never made public.”

The BBC’s reporting of that meeting was discussed here and here.

Despite Abbas’ stance, negotiations continued but by March 26th the BBC was setting the scene for their collapse, which it explained as follows:  

“A dispute over the release of a fourth batch of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails threatens to derail his [Kerry’s] plan to continue talks beyond 29 April.”

Similar portrayal of the issue was also broadcast on BBC radio.

The Tower continues:

“Cohen writes that on April 1, the Israeli government had prepared a statement promising further prisoner releases and an agreement to negotiate past the April 29 deadline, with a commitment to slow down or freeze the building of Israeli settlements.”

A BBC report from that time continued to fail to clarify to audiences the issues behind the delayed prisoner release. Cohen’s article goes on to state:

“Then, Livni said, she looked up at a television as she awaited a cabinet meeting and saw Abbas signing letters as part of a process to join 15 international agencies — something he had said he would not do before the deadline.

She called Erekat and told him to stop the Palestinian move. He texted her the next day to say he couldn’t. They met on April 3. Livni asked why Abbas had done it. Erekat said the Palestinians thought Israel was stalling. A top Livni aide, Tal Becker, wrote a single word on a piece of paper and pushed it across the table to her: “Tragedy.””

The BBC’s report of that April 1st unilateral move failed to inform audiences that the Palestinians had committed to refraining from just such an action in the pre-negotiation agreements and subsequent reports on April 3rd and April 4th were characterized by the same omission, as was the one published on April 6th and the one published on April 9th. By April 11th the BBC was openly attributing the floundering state of the negotiations to Israeli actions.

The final nail in the coffin of negotiations came a few days later:

“Talks limped on around the idea of a settlement freeze and other confidence-building measures. Then, on April 23, a reconciliation was announced between Hamas and Abbas’s Fatah — something since proved empty. That, for Netanyahu and Livni, was the end: They were not prepared to engage, even indirectly, with Hamas.” […]

 “Livni met Abbas in London on May 15. ‘I said to him, the choice is not between everything and nothing. And your choice in the end was to get nothing’.”

BBC reporting of that PA move failed to clarify its significance to audiences whilst both continuing to attribute the failure of negotiations to Israel and to amplify PA propaganda blaming Israel for the collapse of talks.

When the official deadline for the end of negotiations arrived on April 29th, BBC reporting on the topic was taken over by its Middle East editor. Jeremy Bowen produced a series of reports – see here, here, here and here – which framed the issue in terms of Israel having broken off negotiations. That simplistic messaging was repeated in other BBC articles – see examples here and here. As was noted here at the time:

“So once again we see that the BBC’s dumbed-down take-away message to its audiences is that the negotiations […] were ended by Israel, with no mention of any other contributing factors or context. That apparently well entrenched editorial policy very clearly points audiences towards the adoption of a view of the issue according to which Israel is the rejectionist which spoiled the peace party for everyone else.”

As Roger Cohen’s interview with Tsipi Livni shows, the Palestinian Authority made three important choices between March 17th and April 23rd (not to accept the American framework, to join international agencies in breach of existing commitments and to opt for reconciliation with Hamas) which had a crucial effect on the fate of the negotiations. Eight months on, however, BBC audiences have still not been properly informed as to why those negotiations collapsed and what part the Palestinian Authority played in that failure. Moreover, the BBC’s inaccurate version of events joins its archive material as ‘historical record‘ and hence will continue to mislead the public in years to come. 

Another terror attack on Israelis ignored by BBC News

Here is a screenshot of the BBC News website Middle East page from the morning of December 26th 2014.

hp 0900 26 12

About fourteen and a half hours before that screenshot was taken – at around 18:30 local time on December 25th – a father and his eleven year-old daughter who were driving home near Ma’ale Shomron in Samaria were attacked with a petrol bomb which set their vehicle on fire.

Photo credit: Jerusalem Post

Photo credit: Jerusalem Post

“The girl suffered third degree burns over the majority of her body and face and was placed in an induced coma.

Professor Zeev Rotstein, director of the Sheba Medical Center, said that she suffered life threatening burns to her torso, head, arms and legs, and that “we will do everything in order to save her life.”

The father suffered minor burns to his limbs.”

The absence of any BBC reporting on this terror attack joins the growing list of incidents the corporation has elected to ignore. Since the beginning of this month alone, those unreported incidents have included a stabbing attack at a supermarket in Mishor Adumim, an acid attack on children on Route 60, a missile attack from the Gaza Strip and a sniper attack near Kissufim. 

If we are perhaps tempted to attribute the BBC’s failure to report this attempt to burn Israelis alive in their car to the fact that the attack occurred during the Christmas holiday season – which presumably falls into the same category as the BBC’s “smaller operation at the weekend when fewer stories are covered” – then it is worth noting that all the articles circled in green on the screenshot below showing the website’s Middle East page as it appeared later on in the afternoon of December 26th were added on the same day that the attack near Ma’ale Shomron took place.

Added 25 12