On November 24th two loosely sports-themed filmed reports – apparently also shown on BBC television news programmes – appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page.
One – titled “Israeli form of self-defence ‘on rise’” – is by the BBC Jerusalem Bureau’s Yolande Knell and its synopsis reads as follows:
“Following a recent increase in knife attacks by Palestinians, there has been a dramatic rise in Israelis taking self-defence lessons.
Many study Krav Maga, an Israeli method developed for the military and incorporating different fighting techniques.
Our Middle East Correspondent, Yolande Knell, went along to a class.”
To her credit, Knell managed to keep politics out of her report – which is a lot more than can be said for her colleague Lyse Doucet who used her report – titled “The Palestinian runners pounding the pavements” – to promote blatant political messaging and inaccurate information.
The synopsis of that report reads:
“As tensions remain high between Israelis and Palestinians, lives of young people on both sides of the divide are being affected.
Three years ago two Danish aid workers and a Palestinian basketball player founded a running group.
What began as a Palestinian marathon has grown into a global running club which is as much about rights as it is about running.
Lyse Doucet met the Palestinian co-founder of the Right to Movement in the West Bank city of Beit Sahour.”
As was the case when her colleague Jon Donnison showcased ‘Right to Movement’ over two years ago, Doucet makes no attempt to provide BBC audiences with an impartial portrayal of the political agenda of the organization she highlights and promotes. Hence, viewers hear the following from George Zeidan – with no effort made by Doucet to inform them that Beit Sahour has been under the full control of the Palestinian Authority for two decades.
“Any runner outside Palestine have to just put on his running shoes and tie his shoes and go out to run. To me if I want to do this I take several other steps that I have to plan. I have to plan which street I’m going, when, and that’s because of the Israeli occupation.”
Doucet also adds her own inaccuracies to the cocktail:
“Pounding crowded streets in the city of Beit Sahour wouldn’t be any runner’s first choice. But these runners say they haven’t much choice; not when tensions are now running so high in an area surrounded by Israeli checkpoints and Jewish settlements.” [emphasis added]
Beit Sahour lies to the east of Bethlehem and to the north of a number of Palestinian villages located in PA controlled Area A or in Area B. It is not “surrounded” by either “Israeli checkpoints” or “Jewish settlements” at all.
And – despite the fact that in the last two months 21 people have been killed and 189 wounded in 74 stabbings, 10 shooting attacks and 12 car rammings by Palestinian terrorists – Doucet gives her interviewee a platform from which to tell BBC audiences who they should view as really being under “continuous threat”.
“We’re running here every Saturday for three years. But nowadays, with the current issues between Palestinians and Israelis and the continuous threat from the Israeli soldiers to be….for a Palestinian to be attacked….we just not comfortable and safe to be here.”
Doucet refrains from clarifying to viewers that no Palestinian has been “attacked” by Israeli soldiers for jogging and hence the “threat” is obviously a figment of her interviewee’s political agenda. Her subsequent claims regarding a “dirt track” which supposedly “lies on privately owned Palestinian land” but is “under Israeli military control” are of course impossible to substantiate given the absence of exact coordinates but she fails to clarify that the division of territory into Areas A, B and C came about under the terms of the Oslo Accords – signed by the recognized representatives of the Palestinian people.
Doucet’s supposed nod to ‘impartiality’ in this report comes in the form of the following statement:
“You say that you’re worried about the settlers but now the Israelis are worried about the Palestinians because of the stabbings. They say they’re the ones who are threatened.”
That statement is in fact merely a cue for her interviewee to introduce his own political statement:
“I’m more concerned that the Palestinians are under occupation.”
Doucet’s conclusion to the report is as follows:
“They take to the streets to say they’re telling a different story. But the old story here of conflict and confrontation is far louder and never seems to end.”
Those closing words reinforce the underlying theme seen in this report and much of the BBC’s other coverage over the last two months: the injection of the false notion of equivalence into the story of the current wave of terrorism against Israelis.
Here we have two filmed reports supposedly telling different sides of the same story. But whilst Yolande Knell’s report tells of Israelis trying to augment their personal security during a wave of terror attacks by taking self-defence classes, Doucet’s report is nothing more than the provision of a platform for opportunistic political propaganda which does nothing to contribute to the BBC’s public purpose remit of building “understanding of international issues”.