Visitors to the ‘Manchester’ page on the BBC News website on January 22nd found the BBC’s version of a story reported two days earlier by the Jewish Chronicle.
The story relates to the cancellation of a rally, scheduled for January 31st, organized by North West Friends of Israel and additional Jewish community organisations. The BBC’s article – titled “Manchester’s Sheridan Suite pulls out of pro-Israeli event” opens as follows:
“A venue has pulled out of hosting an event in support of Israel after pro-Palestinian supporters complained.
North West Friends of Israel (NWFOI) said the Sheridan Suite in Manchester had “succumbed to gross intimidation” by cancelling a booking for 31 January.
A coalition of pro-Palestinian groups said it was “a moral duty” for firms to refuse to host events that “glorify Israel’s decades-long illegal occupation… of the Palestinians”.”
A more fitting description of the groups concerned would of course be ‘anti-Israel’ rather than “pro-Palestinian” but there is nothing novel about the BBC’s failure to accurately represent such activists.
Having expanded on NWFOI’s comments in seventy-seven words, the article then goes on to devote one hundred and eleven words to unqualified, context-free promotion of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign’s messaging.
“Advocates of a boycott claim it exerts pressure on the Israeli government, particularly over the building of settlements in Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories, which has been condemned by the United Nations.
Four groups, including Manchester Palestine Solidarity Campaign and Manchester Jewish Action for Palestine, issued a statement, saying: “It is not anti-Semitism to oppose the Israeli regime and its oppressive system of domination over the Palestinians.”
They claimed event organisers were trying to “plead victim while more theft of Palestinian land takes place every day”, adding that its campaign was similar to international boycotts of South Africa in the 1970s and 80s, when anti-apartheid activists tried to bring down white minority rule.”
As is consistently the case in any BBC report involving the subject of BDS, no effort is made to inform readers of the real agenda which underlies that campaign. It would have been relevant, for example, for readers of this report to know that the chair of the Manchester Palestine Solidarity Campaign is on record as saying “What we want to see the end of is the Zionist state” and for them to understand that opposition to Jewish self-determination falls within accepted definitions of antisemitism.
The result is that once again the supposedly ‘impartial’ BBC whitewashes the messaging of the anti-peace BDS campaign whilst mainstreaming its tactical rhetoric such as the ‘apartheid’ trope.
Notably, another recent story from the UK connected to “pro-Palestinian” supporters of BDS silencing free speech – which was reported by mainstream media outlets such as the Daily Mail, the Independent, the Jewish Chronicle and the Telegraph – appears to have received only minimal local coverage from the BBC three days after the incident took place.