BBC News shoehorns apartheid trope into supposed news story

Among the reports promoted to visitors to the BBC News website’s Middle East page on January 18th were two items relating to a rent-a-mob incident in Ramallah in which shoes and eggs were thrown at the visiting Canadian foreign minister. As well as a filmed report titled “Canada’s foreign minister egged in Ramallah by protesters“, a written report appeared under the headline “Palestinians throw eggs at Canada’s John Baird“.Baird Ramallah art

Seeing as the minister was fortunately not harmed in the incident – as is already pointed out in the second paragraph of the BBC article – and taking into account that the BBC does not usually go out of its way to report on Palestinians behaving badly, one might be curious as to the editorial considerations behind the running of this story – particularly as the subject of Canadian aid to the Palestinians ($66 million in 2014 alone) is not mentioned in the report.

In the first seven paragraphs of the article the BBC manages to squeeze in information on the incident itself, on Canada’s relations with Israel and on Mr Baird’s comments after the meeting with his PA counterpart. From paragraphs eight to eleven inclusive, the report’s focus shifts to the amplification of a defamatory politically motivated trope from that old BBC favourite Saeb Erekat.

“Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat, who did not meet Mr Baird, issued a statement expressing his anger at Canada’s backing for Israel.

“We regret the Canadian government’s decision to stand on the wrong side of history by blindly supporting the Israeli occupation and its apartheid policies,” he said.

Harsh critics of Israel level the charge of apartheid – the system of state-sanctioned racial discrimination once practised by South Africa – against the Jewish state over its treatment of Palestinians and Israeli-Arab minority. Israel says the accusation is baseless and a part of efforts to demonise it.

He criticised Mr Baird for meeting Israeli officials in occupied east Jerusalem in 2013.”

Erekat’s “statement” was actually an opinion piece published in the Globe & Mail on January 16th. Remarkably, out of the nine hundred and forty-four words comprising that screed, the BBC elected to focus audience attentions on the ‘apartheid’ trope and to unreservedly adopt Erekat’s language by use of the phrase “occupied east Jerusalem”. Notably too, the BBC’s token nod to editorial impartiality comes in the form of its well-worn ‘Israel says’ formula.

So to sum up, the anonymous writer of this BBC report decided to use a quarter of the paragraphs in a story supposedly about Palestinians throwing eggs at the Canadian FM for amplification of a defamatory trope against Israel by a well-known Palestinian demagogue who was not even party to the meeting with the visiting Canadian official. Having amplified and embroidered the trope, he or she failed to clarify to BBC audiences that it is completely baseless and false but played one of its infamous token ‘Israel says’ get-out-of-impartiality-jail-free cards.

Apparently the BBC believes that it can pass off self-conscription to Saeb Erekat’s PR team as ‘standard-setting’ journalism to its funding public.

Related Articles:

BBC’s Yolande Knell ditches any semblance of impartiality

6 comments on “BBC News shoehorns apartheid trope into supposed news story

  1. Nothing changes at the BBC, as we saw in Paris with Tom Wilcox. It seems that BBC staffers – reporters and editors – are allowed to voice their own personal prejudices, regardless of BBC Guidelines.

  2. More shoehorning going on as part of the “BBC Democracy Day” by Yolande Knell:

    How Palestinian democracy has failed to flourish

    The explanation, of course, is that it’s Israel’s fault!


    “We’re only allowed democracy if the West likes our choices,” comments one Qalqilya shopper as he reflects on this troubled political history. “They supported us when we went to the ballot boxes but did a u-turn when Islamists won.”

    Occupation obstacle


    Now a Fatah mayor is back in charge. People in Qalqilya voted for Othman Dawood in the last local elections that took place in the West Bank in 2012.

    Yet he complains that his powers to tackle his town’s economic hardships are restricted.

    “We’re a democratic society. It’s in our blood,” Mr Dawood says. “We have long had different political factions and ideologies. There are public consultations. But in the end we cannot have a real democracy under Israeli occupation.”


    Although a new unity deal was struck between Hamas and Fatah last April, so far their technocratic government has failed to pave the way for promised elections across Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem, the latter annexed by Israel in a move not recognised internationally.


    The head of the Palestinian Central Election Committee, Hisham Kuhail, says his body remains ready for new polls – if only arrangements can be made.

    “For any upcoming election there must be internal agreement – between Fatah and Hamas to co-ordinate in the West Bank and Gaza,” he says. “Then we must rely on the Israelis making concessions in East Jerusalem.”

    In 2006 Israel banned Hamas, which it regards as a terrorist organisation, from campaigning in East Jerusalem and blocked its inclusion on ballot papers in the sector.

    “Every year we renew the electoral roll,” Mr Kuhail goes on. “We remain 100% ready for any call.”

    So there we have it. As part of the BBC’s celebration of 700 years of Parliamentary democracy in Britain we’re told that there would be democracy in “Palestine”, if it wasn’t for Israel.

    • Israel tried when every last Jew evacuated from Gaza leaving the Arabs with high tech greenhouses which were instantly vandalised and parts sold as scrap. The Arabs even demolished perfectly good housing rather than live in the same building where a Jew had lived.

Comments are closed.