In addition to the filmed report she recently produced in Beit Sahour, the BBC’s chief international correspondent Lyse Doucet also recorded an audio report on the same topic in the same location. That report – which includes different but no less egregious inaccuracies and political propaganda than the filmed version – was broadcast on the November 24th edition of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newshour” and can be found from 45:09 here.
Presenter James Coomarasamy introduced the item using a dose of the kind of equivalence seen all too frequently in BBC reporting:
“He is not promising a recipe for peace but, on his first visit to Israel and the West Bank in a year, the US Secretary of State John Kerry has said he is trying to find ways to restore calm. Today he condemned the recent wave of stabbing attacks by Palestinians on Israelis as ‘acts of terrorism’. Well, tensions remain high between Israelis and Palestinians and the lives of young people on both sides are being affected. Two and a half years ago two Danish activists and a Palestinian basketball player started a group of runners. What began as a Palestinian marathon has grown into a global event that’s as much about proclaiming rights as it is about athletic prowess. Newshour’s Lyse Doucet went to meet the co-founder of the Right to Movement in the West Bank city of Beit Sahour.” [emphasis added]
As was the case in her filmed report, Doucet interviews George Zeidan without making any attempt to conform to BBC editorial guidelines on impartiality by telling listeners of the political agenda behind the organization he represents.
Zeidan: “My name is George Zeidan and right now we’re walking on the place where we found[ed] the Right to Movement group.”
Doucet: “And we’re walking along a dirt road and it’s taking us through olive groves and some terraced fields: absolutely beautiful countryside here in the West Bank. And it…but it’s very much reflecting of the political situation. This is a Palestinian village…the city of Beit Jala – very close to Bethlehem. And here on this hilltop is a Jewish settlement.”
Zeidan: “The settlement of Har Gilo. It’s an old….quite an old settlement on the Palestinian territory. It’s very important for us to emphasise on the importance of our right to movement on our own property. And we believe that this land’s our own property. This is what the United Nations and the international world has given us. So we’re not asking for anything else.”
Doucet fails to relieve listeners of the inaccurate and materially misleading impression that the United Nations “has given” that particular portion of territory – or any other – to the Palestinians. She goes on to provide Zeidan with the cue for promotion of more political propaganda.
Doucet: “But you’ve stopped running here – why?”
Zeidan: “With the current…the current unstable situation…we don’t feel that it’s the best idea to take a risk and come here very close to a settlement. So we just try to stay away from this issue.”
Later on in the report Doucet promotes more political propaganda using a cue from another one of the people she describes as “running for exercise, running to make a statement about their right to move here”.
Woman: “My story is to destroy the wall.”
Doucet: “The wall that Israel erected to separate off Israeli…Israel from Palestinian areas – they say to stop suicide bombings.”
Apparently the BBC’s chief international correspondent has no qualms about deliberately misrepresenting the reason for the construction of the anti-terrorist fence.
Listeners later hear another woman claim that the Palestinian terrorists who have carried out the recent attacks against Israelis are “doing it because they’re seeing, like, their families being stabbed or killed or hurt by them”.
The item closes with George Zeidan saying:
“It will be better if we soon can run from Bethlehem to Jerusalem without being stopped on a checkpoint. So that’s what we look forward to.”
Doucet’s narrative has no room for clarification to BBC audiences of the fact that checkpoints did not exist anywhere in the area before the Palestinians decided to launch the terror war known as the second Intifada fifteen years ago.
Once again Lyse Doucet has produced a report which does nothing to contribute to the BBC’s public purpose remit of building “understanding of international issues” but which is a vehicle for the amplification of opportunistic political propaganda by both herself and members of an inadequately presented NGO.
It is precisely reports such as these which undermine the BBC’s reputation as an accurate and impartial broadcaster and it is especially disturbing to see such a senior BBC correspondent engaged in blatantly political reporting.