BBC WS Newshour erases perpetrators from item about hijacking

The March 29th evening edition of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newshour’ included an item concerning the same day’s hijacking of an EgyptAir plane. Following a report on the incident, the item turned to a more general topic, introduced by presenter James Coomarasamy (from 34:50 here) as follows:Hijacking item on Newshour

“Well let’s hear now from someone who knows a thing or two about hijacking; he’s 85 year-old Uri Bar Lev. He’s a retired Israeli pilot and back in 1970 when he was flying an El Al plane from Amsterdam to New York he became the first and possibly the only pilot to foil a hijacking in mid-air.”

The ensuing conversation with Uri Bar Lev was also promoted separately on social media but remarkably, one rather relevant piece of information was omitted from the entire item.

At no point were listeners informed that the plane piloted by Bar Lev was the target of an attempted hijacking by the Palestinian terrorist organisation the PFLP. Especially when one considers that over the past two and a half years the BBC has produced at least three items of content concerning that story and has repeatedly portrayed one of the hijackers on Bar Lev’s flight – Leila Khaled – as an ‘icon’, that is quite an omission.

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BBC programme with mistranslated Arabic nominated for award

Courtesy of the Jewish Chronicle we learn that Lyse Doucet’s programme ‘Children of the Gaza War’ which was broadcast by the BBC last summer has been nominated for a BAFTA award.Doucet doc

“A BBC documentary which substituted the word “Israeli” for “Jews” in its translation of interviews with Palestinians has been nominated for a Bafta.

Children of the Gaza War, which aired on BBC2 in July, followed journalist Lyse Doucet as she spoke to children in Israel and Gaza in the wake of the 50-day war. […]

At the time of its airing, Ms Doucet stood by the decision to translate “yahud” as “Israeli” in subtitles on her hour-long documentary.

The correct translation for “yahud” from Arabic to English is “Jew”.

The BBC’s chief international correspondent said that Gazan translators had advised her that Palestinian children interviewed on the programme who refer to “the Jews” actually meant Israelis.”

As readers may recall that mistranslation of the Arabic word ‘Yahud’ was not the first to be broadcast – and defended – by the BBC. In October 2013 the BBC Trust’s Editorial Standards Committee wrote the following in relation to a similar case:

“The Committee considered that the decision to translate the girl’s words as “an Israeli” was an appropriate exercise of editorial judgement. In taking this view the Committee emphasised that no interpretation of the Editorial Guidelines requires content producers to make direct word-for-word translations without also taking account of relevant context.” [emphasis added]

Complaints from members of the public concerning Doucet’s programme were similarly dismissed – even though the BBC had shown that it was capable of providing audiences with an accurate translation of the same word in different circumstancesMistranslation was however not the only issue arising from Doucet’s programme.

The programme was heavily promoted by the BBC at the time, including on the BBC News Facebook account. That post prompted a high volume of comments – including many offensive and antisemitic ones which were left standing by the BBC

BBC Two’s ‘Inside Obama’s White House’: unchallenging and uncritical

BBC Two has been showing a series titled ‘Inside Obama’s White House’ and the third episode of that programme – already shown on March 29th and to be broadcast again tonight at 23:15 local time – addresses the topic of the US president’s record in the Middle East.

Obama prog ME

The synopsis to that episode – titled “Don’t Screw It Up” – reads as follows:Obama prog synopsis

“Episode three explores how Barack Obama set out to end George Bush’s wars in the Middle East and reset relations with the rest of the world. In Cairo he speaks to the Arab world, calling democracy a human right. Two years later when protest erupts in Tahrir Square, the president is torn between secretary of state Hillary Clinton and defense secretary Robert Gates, who believe Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak provides regional stability, and his young advisors, who are in tune with the promise of the Arab Spring. Before long, a similar test arises in Libya, Hillary Clinton changes her position to back military intervention and Obama agrees to join allies in airstrikes against Colonel Gaddafi.

In Syria, when shocking evidence shows the use of chemical weapons, Obama decides to bomb. But when the British Parliament votes against intervention, he decides he needs the backing of a reluctant Congress. Foreign secretary William Hague explains why the British parliament voted against intervention in 2013 and President Obama explains why he then decided to seek the backing of Congress.

This episode also explores how Obama scored a big win when he negotiated a secret deal to end the nuclear threat from Iran – behind the backs of his closest allies. Secretary of state John Kerry tells how he worked through the night, with President Obama on the phone, to secure the outlines of the deal.”

Given the BBC’s record of uncritical promotion of the US administration’s view of the negotiations with Iran and the resulting JCPOA, it is hardly surprising to see that issue presented in this programme as a “triumph”.  Remarkably, Middle East perspectives of Obama’s decisions relating to the region do not get a platform in this programme and perhaps most notably the US president’s spin concerning his retreat from his self-imposed ‘red lines’ in Syria goes unchallenged.

Previous episodes are available to viewers in the UK on iPlayer here.

 

BBC’s Knell amplifies Hamas PR while sidestepping ISIS-Hamas collaboration

For nearly two and a half years the BBC has managed to avoid producing any serious reporting on the subject of collaboration between Hamas and the ISIS franchise operating in the Sinai Peninsula.

Back in August 2013 the BBC’s Yolande Knell told audiences that:

“Cairo has repeatedly accused Hamas of interfering in Egyptian affairs and has accused Palestinians of supporting Islamist militants in the increasingly restive Sinai region.”

Failing to provide any objective information concerning those Egyptian claims, she then promoted the following statement from Hamas’ Ghazi Hamad:

“They have a plan in order to distort the image of Gaza in order to start propaganda and media campaign against Gaza, against Hamas, in order to show Gaza is like a devil and Hamas is like a devil,” Mr Hamed [sic] said.

“I think they succeeded to do this on the Egyptian street, in the Egyptian society.”

In October 2014 the BBC told its audiences that:

“Egyptian media accuses Gaza’s Hamas administration of aiding militants in Sinai. Hamas denies the charge.”

Since then the topic of collaboration between Hamas and Wilayat Sinai (formerly known as Ansar Bayt al Maqdis) has been the subject of numerous articles and reports from a variety of outlets (see for example here, here, here, here, here and here) but not only has the BBC failed to adequately address the topic in that time, it has even promoted a conflicting narrative.

On March 29th 2016, Yolande Knell produced a filmed report for BBC television news programmes which also appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page under the headline “Israel on alert for attacks by Islamic State fighters in Sinai“. Notably, the word terror does not appear at any point during Knell’s narration and in the synopsis ISIS terrorists in Sinai are described as “militants” and “extremists”.Knell ISIS Sinai report

Knell’s report begins in Eilat where she takes a trip on an Israeli navy boat and then proceeds to the between Israel and Egypt.

“Recently the so-called Islamic State has made threats. A high state of alert extends along Israel’s 240 kilometer border with the Sinai.” […]

IS fighters have made the Sinai into another Middle East stronghold. Here they’re mostly targeting Egyptian security forces but they’ve also struck at Israel. […]

Israel and Egypt admit little publicly but they’re known to be sharing intelligence. Here there’s a constant threat of surprise attacks by Islamic extremists. What increasingly worries both Israel and Egypt is links between militants in the Sinai and groups in Gaza, which is nearby.”

Knell then goes on to make the following statement, notably failing to remind viewers of Hamas’ designation as a terrorist organisation:

“This month Egypt’s interior minister accused the Palestinian group Hamas, which controls Gaza, of helping Jihadists to kill the Egyptian public prosecutor last year, giving them training in the Sinai.”

Given that until that point the entire report related to ISIS, it is obvious that the uniformed viewer would conclude that Knell’s reference to “Jihadists” also means that same group. However – as the BBC itself reported at the time – Egypt does not attribute the murder of Hisham Barakat to the ISIS affiliated Wilayat Sinai group, but to the Muslim Brotherhood. In addition, the Egyptian interior minister did not claim that the attackers had received training in Sinai, but in the Gaza Strip.

“On March 6, 2016, tensions between Egypt and Hamas increased when Magdi Abdel Ghaffar, Egypt’s minister of the interior, held a press conference where he accused Hamas of involvement in the assassination of Hisham Barakat, the Egyptian attorney general. The assassination, carried out in June 2015, was attributed to operatives of the Muslim Brotherhood. Hamas vigorously denied the accusations but Egyptian sources have repeatedly claimed that Hamas provides military support for Muslim Brotherhood terrorists, including training them in the Gaza Strip.”

Knell continues:

“Palestinians are also alleged to have treated injured IS fighters. I cross into Gaza where Hamas officials strongly deny the claims.”

Viewers then hear once again from Ghazi Hamad.

“We will not allow for anyone from Gaza now to do anything against or to damage or to harm the national security of Egypt and we will not allow for anyone from Sinai to come to use Gaza as a shelter.”

Sharp-eared viewers may have noted Hamad’s use of the future tense and the word “now”. That may well be linked to the fact that a senior Hamas delegation visited Cairo earlier in the month to try to defuse tensions with Egypt. The BBC did not report that visit, so viewers will naturally be unaware of that crucial context to Hamad’s words.

In this report Yolande Knell has once again avoided providing audiences with any serious, objective reporting on the topic of Hamas’ long-standing collaboration with ISIS in Sinai whilst at the same time yet again providing amplification for Hamas’ public relations messaging. She has also misled viewers with regard to the Egyptian allegations concerning Hamas’ collaboration with the Muslim Brotherhood in the murder of an Egyptian official.

So much for the BBC’s claim to be the “standard-setter for international journalism”.

Related Articles:

Years of BBC amplifications of Hamas denials unravel

 

BBC’s ‘Newsbeat’ discovers terrorists in Israel

h/t JS

BBC Radio 1’s ‘Newsbeat’ recently produced an article about the change to British Summer Time titled “The time when the clocks changed by more than an hour“. At the end of that report we find unusual use of the term ‘terrorists’ in connection with Israel – albeit well over a decade and a half ago – as well as mention of a country the BBC style guide correctly says does not exist.

“So, in day-to-day coverage of the Middle East you should not affix the name ‘Palestine’ to Gaza or the West Bank – rather, it is still an aspiration or an historical entity.”

Newsbeat clocks art

BBC News website promotes 3 year old inaccurate related reading

On March 27th the BBC News website’s Middle East page published an article about the Israeli High Court of Justice’s decision concerning the government’s natural gas policy which was handed down on the same day.Bagatz gas art

Titled “Israel’s Mediterranean gas deal struck down by top court“, the report tells the specific story in an accurate manner – although those unfamiliar with its wider background may have had trouble understanding the court’s objections. Despite its usual interest in internal Israeli affairs, the topic of public objections and political wrangling surrounding the gas policy has not been covered by the BBC in recent months.

It was hence not very surprising to see that the article offered as additional reading on the topic both at the bottom of the report and on the main Middle East page is nearly three years old.

Unfortunately, that May 2013 article by Yolande Knell – titled “Gas finds in east Mediterranean may change strategic balance” – includes inaccuracies which the BBC has still not corrected.Knell article on ME pge

“Further south down the coastline of the Levant Basin, the Gaza Marine field, 30km off the coast of the Palestinian territory, has long been known about. In 1999, the Palestinian Authority awarded the exploration licence to British Gas.

However the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians has prevented further development of the field. The situation became more complicated when the Islamist group, Hamas, took over by force in 2007, ousting its rivals from the Fatah faction. Israel then tightened its border and naval blockade of Gaza.”

As was noted here at the time:

“The violent Hamas take-over of Gaza took place between June 5th and 15th 2007 and the Palestinian Authority – the internationally recognized representative of the Palestinian people – was forcefully ejected from power. Following that event, both Egypt and Israel largely closed their borders with the Gaza Strip due to the fact that the body charged with joint security arrangements under the terms of the Oslo Accords – the Palestinian Authority – no longer exercised any control over the territory. 

Three months later – on September 19th 2007 – in light of the escalation of terrorist rocket attacks against Israeli civilians originating in the now Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip – the Israeli government declared Gaza to be ‘hostile territory’. […]MoT notification naval blockade

However, Knell’s suggestion that the “naval blockade of Gaza” was “tightened” immediately after the 2007 Hamas coup (as any reasonable reader would understand her phrasing) is incorrect because the naval blockade was not put in place until January 2009. “

And:

“Is Knell’s wider claim that “the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians has prevented further development of the [gas] field” an accurate representation of the situation? Well obviously, had the Palestinians chosen to develop the economy of Gaza Strip after Israel’s 2005 disengagement and had a terrorist organization not overrun the territory, turned it into a terrorist enclave which necessitated the implementation of maritime zones and later the naval blockade and had it not ousted the internationally recognized representatives of the Palestinian people authorized with signing agreements on their behalf, there may have been more opportunity for exploitation of offshore gas resources.”

Remarkably, despite having failed to make the necessary corrections to the factual inaccuracies in Knell’s report even after all that time, the BBC has now elected to promote it further.

Related Articles:

BBC’s Knell inaccurate on naval blockade of Gaza Strip

BBC wrongly blames Israel for cooking gas shortage in Gaza 

 

BBC Radio London provides a platform for conspiracy theories

h/t AH

The March 24th edition of the BBC Radio London late-night phone-in show ‘Duncan Barkes’ was hosted by stand-in presenter Chris Rogers.Radio London 24 3

Under the title “Terrorism and roadworks”, one topic put forward for discussion was the potential further arming of police in the UK in light of the terror attacks (interestingly, termed as such) in Brussels and Paris.

However, during the first hour of the show (available for a limited period of time here) listeners heard very little discussion of that topic. What they got to hear instead was the repeated promotion of bizarre conspiracy theories.

In relation to the Brussels attack two days previously, from around 22:17 ‘Steve in Streatham’ told listeners that:

“This is a terrorist false flag. Anyone who knows about false flags will know that these covert operations include Israel’s Mossad, the CIA and MI5 to blame other countries for their agenda in the Middle East and this is what’s going on time and time again. […] Those Zionists out there that are doing all this, they wanna blame certain sections of people to achieve their agenda of taking over the Middle East….”

Describing his guest’s views as “pretty contentious”, Rogers continued the conversation and even encouraged him to elaborate on his conspiracy theories so that listeners were exposed to the notion that:

“Obviously…there are terrorists about – I’m not denying they’re not terrorists [sic] – but a lot of the cases they train them up and they’re joining in with them – as sick as it might sound – they’re joining in with them, turning the gun on the terrorists at the last minute and getting away with it.”

And:

“OK: let’s get this straight, right. America and Israel are the biggest terrorists in the world.”

Rogers interjected at that stage with a cautionary “steady on” – for which he later gave an interesting explanation. Following that caller, Rogers told listeners:

“So I do apologise if you found any of his views offensive or insulting. But he’s entitled to those views. We live in a free country and that’s what we’re fighting for, isn’t it?”

After having acknowledged that “there’s a lot of conspiracy theorists listening tonight”, at 36:26 Rogers introduced a caller named Ian who told him:

“I don’t think it’s any longer plausible for […] radio stations and TV stations to dismiss the role that the US and Israel have had to play.”

Rogers interrupted him, saying in relation to his previous conversation with ‘Steve’:

“I wasn’t dismissing that. I was dismissing the barmy conspiracy theories that President Bush blew up the Twin Towers in New York to create an excuse to go to Iraq. But I know what you’re saying…”

The conversation continues with ‘Ian’ repeating the claim that “the US and Israel are the biggest terrorist states in the world at the moment” and “just in the last three months Israel has killed 200 people”.

Failing to inform listeners that those “200 people” were for the most part terrorists caught in the act or violent rioters, Rogers did however say:

“That doesn’t make Israel a terrorist organization. That makes Israel a state that is protecting itself – they would argue – from terrorism.”

‘Ian’ was allowed to continue:

“Remember, they [the US] stole land they invaded and they kept the land. Israel’s done the same thing.”

“Just because the US and Israel claim that they’re doing it to protect themselves, that doesn’t make it right. You know Hitler had a claim. Mussolini had a claim. It doesn’t matter.”

Having told ‘Ian’ that he “made some really interesting points” Rogers went on to speak to ‘Michael from Fulham’ at 50:38 and in that segment he found it appropriate to interrupt his speaker as follows:

Michael: “There are actually verses in the Old Testament of the Bible – the Jewish Bible or the Christian Bible or the Torah – that are very, extremely violent. They are unbelievably violent. They….it was all about God’s wrath, you know…”

Rogers [interrupts]: “And the right to take Jerusalem by force as well.”

In the speech he made last summer about fighting extremism, the British prime minister spoke about “certain intolerant ideas which create a climate in which extremists can flourish”.

“And ideas also based on conspiracy: that Jews exercise malevolent power; or that Western powers, in concert with Israel, are deliberately humiliating Muslims, because they aim to destroy Islam. In this warped worldview, such conclusions are reached – that 9/11 was actually inspired by Mossad to provoke the invasion of Afghanistan; that British security services knew about 7/7, but didn’t do anything about it because they wanted to provoke an anti-Muslim backlash.”

As we see above, BBC Radio London defends its propagation of conspiracy theories on the airwaves of a station broadcast to over eight and a half million people by defining them as ‘free speech’. Whether or not the BBC would be equally sanguine about broadcasting conspiracy theories concerning other groups is debatable but obviously the ‘free speech’ clause was in this case used to excuse the broadcast of inadequately challenged conspiracy theories and antisemitic discourse. License fee payers funding that might well ask how that meets the BBC’s public purposes.

Related Articles:

Mainstreaming antisemitic discourse on BBC Radio London

Resources:

BBC Radio London contact details

 

BBC ignores UNHRC’s nomination of controversial official

As was recently noted here, a BBC report from March 25th on the topic of an anti-Israel resolution adopted by the UN Human Rights Council failed to provide audiences with relevant background information concerning that body’s habitual disproportionate focus on Israel.UNHRC pic

At the same session which adopted that resolution the council also appointed a new “Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967”. That post is described by UN Watch as:

“…a position that, contrary to the official title, is in fact charged with investigating “Israel’s violations of the principles and bases of international law” — and disregards all human rights violations in the Palestinian territories committed by the Palestinian Authority, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and others.”

The Canadian foreign minister has apparently called on the UNHRC to reconsider the appointment of Michael Lynk to the six-year post and the impartiality of the new appointee has already been called into question.

“The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs said Lynk, a law professor at Western University in Ontario, “has been significantly involved in anti-Israel advocacy in Canada.” The group cited Lynk signing anti-Israel petitions, calling for Israel to be prosecuted for war crimes, accusing Israel of ethnic cleansing, addressing conferences promoting one state, and serving as a leader of a group that promotes Israel Apartheid Week.”

The BBC, however, has to date chosen to ignore that story.

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BBC article on Israel & UN HRC omits important context

 

 

BBC fails to tell the whole story of UNHRC anti-Israel resolution

An article which appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page on March 25th under the headline “Israel rejects database of settlement-linked firms” pertains to a resolution adopted by the UN Human Rights Council the previous day.UNHRC art

The BBC’s report is notable both for what it does and does not tell readers.

In the former category we see the standard insert which breaches editorial guidelines on impartiality by failing to inform audiences of alternative views to the narrative on ‘international law’ adopted by the BBC.

“Settlements built on territories occupied by Israel in 1967 are considered illegal under international law, but Israel disputes this position.”

We also see employment of the term “Palestinian lands” to describe locations in Jerusalem and Judea & Samaria which, prior to being under Israeli rule, were occupied by Jordan and have never been under the control of a Palestinian entity. Significantly, the BBC previously ruled that the employment of that term “appropriately reflected the language of UN resolutions”, despite the fact that it is obviously confusing and misleading to audiences aspiring to understand the factual background to the dispute over those locations.

“The BBC’s Yolande Knell in Jerusalem says the database will provide a resource for any organisation wanting to divest from companies involved in Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands.

It will potentially include a number of Israeli and international firms working in industries from banking to construction and security services, our correspondent adds.”

Knell does not however inform BBC audiences that the resolution was initiated by the Palestinians and promoted by various Arab and Muslim countries. Despite her use of the term “Palestinian lands” and the fact that the report opens by telling readers that “Israel has criticised the UN Human Rights Council for voting to establish a database of firms doing business in settlements in the occupied West Bank”, Knell does not tell readers that the resolution also includes the Golan Heights.

Readers are not told that at the same session – which took place during the week in which five years of civil war in Syria were marked – the UNHRC also passed a resolution calling on Israel to relinquish the Golan Heights to Syria along with condemnation of alleged ‘human rights abuses’ against the Druze population of the Golan.

Neither does Knell tell BBC audiences of the response to the UNHRC blacklist from the organisers of the anti-Israel BDS campaign.

 “In a official [sic] statement, the BDS Committee stated:

This is a welcome step but the UN Human Rights Council must go further to hold Israel to account for its violations of international law including by supporting a full ban on trade with illegal Israeli settlements and a two-way military embargo.”

Although the article includes a quote from the Israeli prime minister concerning the resolution, it predictably fails to provide readers with any objective information concerning the UNHRC’s habitual disproportionate focus on Israel and its anti-Israel bias.

A media organisation which genuinely aspired to enable its audiences to understand the context behind this story and the narrative it promotes would of course have ensured that it supplied readers with that crucial background.

Related Articles:

BBC WS ‘Newshour’ dodges the issue of UN bias against Israel