BBC’s ME editor promotes inaccurate story on Twitter

On February 28th members of the Israeli security forces on duty in the Jerusalem neighbourhood of Issawiya were attacked by rioters.

“According to Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld, shortly after 5 p.m. police units patrolling the flashpoint area were besieged by firebombs and large Jerusalem stones thrown by a mob of young Arab men.

“Police units were carrying out operations in Issawiya and local Palestinians started rioting, throwing petrol bombs and Jerusalem stones weighing up to 20 kilos from rooftops at them,” said Rosenfeld shortly after the attack.

An officer was struck in the head by one of the stones, treated at the scene, and transferred to an area hospital in light condition, he added.”

The BBC did not report those incidents at the time but two days later the corporation’s Middle East editor came up with this story for his 137,000 Twitter followers.

Bowen tweet Issawiya riots

The promoted link leads to a report from Ha’aretz which is based entirely on the account of a family from Issawiya that was detained following the rioting. That article, however, casts some revealing light on the wording chosen by Bowen to describe the story.

The Oxford dictionary defines “jail” as “a place for the confinement of people accused or convicted of a crime” and the equivalent term more often used in British English is of course prison – “a building in which people are legally held as a punishment for a crime they have committed or while awaiting trial”.  A police station is obviously a building with a different function: “the office or headquarters of a local police force”.

The Ha’aretz report opens with the following words:

“A Palestinian toddler spent four hours outside a Jerusalem police station on Sunday, after his parents had been taken into custody during a security operation to arrest his 16-year-old brother, according to family members.” [emphasis added]

So – despite Bowen’s inaccurate and misleading claim – there was in fact no “jail” in this story at all.

The article also states:

“The Israel Police said in response that “a force of police and other security operatives on a mission to arrest suspects in Issawiya was attacked by members of the family. The force managed to pacify the attackers and took them into custody for questioning. The mother of the family was also detained. The police agreed to her request that she bring her child to the police facility until the grandfather could pick him up.” [emphasis added]

Apparently Mr Bowen needs to brush up on his employer’s guidance for the use of social media – especially this part:

“Impartiality is a particular concern for those working in News and Current Affairs. Nothing should appear on their personal blogs or microblogs which undermines the integrity or impartiality of the BBC.” 


5 comments on “BBC’s ME editor promotes inaccurate story on Twitter

  1. Why are you creating a reply about a tweet, but not actually REPLYING TO THE ACTUAL TWEET?

    Here is Bowen’s tweet:

    You should REPLY TO THAT TWEET with your response, so all of Bowen’s followers who click on HIS tweet will also see YOUR response.

  2. Do you understand what I’m saying?

    Bowen tweeted something.

    You had a reaction.

    Yet you are only sharing your reaction with your own followers.

    You should also share your reaction with Bowen’s followers too — at least the ones who interact his tweet.

    This is not rocket science.

    1) Go to the actual tweet you’re talking about. In this case it is this:


    3) Post your response.

    • You are right in that Bowen watchers could have retweeted acorrection tweet to highlight the error but if you see the tweet thread.. you can see that 1 person tried to correct Bowen on the same day of this blogpost

      @devabajna @bowenbbc did u even read the article? “Police agreed to (the mom’s) request that she bring her child” to the police station.

      That reply was pretty much buried amongst the 20 kneejerk sneer tweets against Israel and the 55 retweets of Bowen.

  3. I only saw this today 3/3/2016
    I bet you even if this were true, that the toddler was extremely well take care of, was bathed, cleaned and fed and supervised by an Arabic speaking welfare lady and being 3 years old he will also remember. If this were true../
    Unless he was sent to the street with a bomb strapped to his body as an expendable weapon produced a family where men rule women. As the late Yassir Arafat said, many years ago, “The womb of the Arab woman will win the war”.

Comments are closed.