Attempts to hobble Temple Mount cameras not news for BBC

Last year the BBC devoted considerable coverage to the topic of the recurrent rioting at Temple Mount which was instigated even before the surge in Palestinian terrorism from around October 1st 2015.

Al Aqsa Mosque, September 2015

Al Aqsa Mosque, September 2015

BBC News twists Tisha B’Av Temple Mount incident with ‘last-first’ reporting

More misleading BBC reporting on Tisha B’Av Temple Mount rioting

BBC article on Temple Mount riot notes ban on groups it previously failed to report exist

A worldwide platform for incitement from BBC Arabic’s Nawal Assad

BBC’s Knell promotes Al Aqsa Mosque inaccuracy already corrected by NYT and Newsweek

BBC coverage of Succot Temple Mount riots – part one

BBC coverage of Succot Temple Mount riots – part two

From the beginning of October onwards, BBC audiences were repeatedly told that ‘tensions’ at the site were the cause of Palestinian violence – for example:

“…the police are on alert, especially in Jerusalem’s Old City. It’s home to the Al Aqsa Mosque; sacred to Muslims and Jews [sic]. Tensions over the shrine have fuelled the latest unrest and unleashed a new danger for Israelis: stabbing attacks.”


“The anger’s fueled by a row over access to al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem’s Old City which is built in a place that’s both sacred to Muslims and Jews. Despite official Israeli denials, many Palestinians believe there’s a plan to change long-standing rules and give Jews the right to pray openly at the site they call Temple Mount.”

In late October the BBC reported on an agreement reached between Israel and Jordan designed to reduce those ‘tensions’.

“Israel and Jordan have agreed on moves aimed at reducing tensions surrounding a prominent holy site in Jerusalem, US Secretary of State John Kerry says. […]

The steps he announced include round-the-clock video monitoring and Israel’s agreement to reaffirm Jordan’s historic role as custodian of the religious complex.”

However, as was noted here shortly afterwards, BBC News did not produce any follow-up reporting on that story when Palestinian factions – including the Palestinian Authority – expressed opposition to that arrangement.

Although the agreement to install security cameras was reached nearly half a year ago, it has yet to be implemented.

“Negotiations over the cameras stumbled due to disagreements over three practical issues: Where the footage will be beamed to — whether it be Jordan, Israel or an open-access website; how much control Israel will have over the broadcast, with Jordan and the Palestinians refusing to allow the Israelis the capability to interrupt transmissions; and where the cameras will be located. Israel wants them inside the Al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock in order to prove that both are used to house weapons and stones that Palestinians use against Israeli security forces. Jordan and the Palestinians are opposed to this.

Last month Jordanian government spokesperson Mohammed Momani said that Amman will install cameras on the Temple Mount “within days.”

Senior officials had been concerned that a failure to install the cameras ahead of Passover, which will commence at the end of April, could spark clashes at what is traditionally a time of heightened tensions and an increased number of Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount.”KAT tweet cameras TM

Even if the cameras are installed within the coming fortnight, it would appear that their contribution to the reduction of tensions may be decidedly limited.

“Palestinians placed notices on the Temple Mount compound in Jerusalem warning of plans to smash security cameras installed at the site holy to both Muslims and Jews, which has been at the epicenter of tensions in recent months.

Jordan, which is behind the camera initiative, subsequently stated that they will not be used to monitor the activities of the Muslim worshipers at the two mosques on the Mount, Channel 10 reported Saturday. […]

A “control center” will be set up to monitor round-the-clock video surveillance of the compound, Jordan’s Islamic Affairs Minister Hayel Daoud said recently.

The footage will be broadcast online to “document all Israeli violations and aggressions,” he said in a statement, also adding that no cameras would be installed inside the mosques.”

Given that the BBC devoted so much past reporting to the topic of ‘tensions’ on Temple Mount, one might have thought that Palestinian efforts to hobble measures intended to reduce those tensions – and Jordan’s acquiescence to the threats – would have received some coverage. To date, however, that has not been the case.

Weekend long read

Writing at the Tower, Jamie Palmer has produced a long and thoughtful piece relating to the ongoing issue of the British Left and antisemitism.Weekend Read

“Over the past few years, a palpable sense of alarm has been quietly growing amongst Jews on the European Left. At the heart of an often-fraught relationship lies the following dilemma: The vast majority of Jews are Zionist, and the vast majority of Left-wing opinion is not.

But the problem goes beyond the question of Israel itself. It also involves a general sense that the Left is unconcerned with Jewish interests and unwilling to take the matter of rising anti-Semitism seriously, preferring instead to dismiss it as a consequence of Israeli policies or a censorious attempt to close down discussion of the same. The horror with which many Jews greeted the election of Jeremy Corbyn to the leadership of the Labour Party was outstripped only by the realization that his supporters felt that his fondness for the company of anti-Semites was unworthy of their concern.

This is a complex subject, with roots that stretch back to the beginning of the last century. I have attempted to outline in necessarily broad fashion some of the trends of thought that have informed the relationship between Jews and the Left, as well as the shifting attitudes towards Israel in particular. In doing so, I hope to shed some light on their implications.”

Read “The Holocaust, the Left, and the Return of Hate” here.

At the Times of Israel, Haviv Rettig Gur has some very interesting observations on the topic of Israeli democracy.

“Israel boasts many of the features of highly successful democracies: an open and contentious public square, free and egalitarian parliamentary elections, robust judicial recourse and oversight.

But no one quite knows why.

Built by East European and Muslim-world immigrants with no actual experience of democracy, the Israeli state is, on paper at least, worryingly monolithic and intrusive. […]

Nor did Israel’s early history favor democracy. For the first 29 years of the state’s existence, the center-left, today called the Labor Party, never lost an election. This de facto one-party regime controlled not only the country’s powerful security services, but much of the economy. Israel’s largest industries were state-owned and -run (and thus de facto Labor-owned and -run) in those decades. […]

Only in 1992 were some key rights delineated in two pseudo-constitutional “basic laws,” yet even these are in an important sense only halfheartedly constitutional. The Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty, which articulates fundamental rights such as bodily safety, privacy and freedom of movement, can be changed or overturned by a simple majority of MKs present in the Knesset plenum.

Add to that Israel’s bitter history of near-constant warfare that gave the military a central role in the formation of national identity, the heroicizing of military leaders that naturally flowed from this experience – indeed, add in the enormous number of generals who moved seamlessly out of uniform and into the highest elected offices in the land: Yitzhak Rabin, Moshe Dayan, Ariel Sharon, Ehud Barak – and one begins to feel that it is not the allegedly looming collapse of Israeli democracy that should surprise us, but the fact that so robust a democracy ever took root here in the first place.

Why did it take root?”

Over at ‘Legal Insurrection’ one can listen to a recent lecture given by Professor William Jacobson at the University of Chicago Law School under the title “When Does Anti-Israelism Turn Into Anti-Semitism?”


What is missing from the BBC’s ME peace process narrative?

Throughout the past six months consumers of BBC News reports on the subject of the wave of Palestinian terror attacks against Israelis have repeatedly been told that the reason for the surge of violence is the failure to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict by means of the two-state solution.

“The recent rise in violence is blamed by Palestinians on the continued occupation by Israel of the West Bank and the failure of the Middle East peace process.”

As has been documented here on many occasions during that time, the BBC’s framing of the issue has not only excluded official Palestinian incitement and glorification of terrorism from audience view but has also sidelined additional factors underpinning the violence.

BBC audiences have thereby been steered towards a specific narrative, according to which were “the Middle East peace process” resumed and were it to bring about an end to “the continued occupation by Israel of the West Bank”, terrorism against Israelis would end.

While promoting that narrative the BBC has managed to avoid telling its audiences about the PA president’s public rejection of recognition of Israel as the Jewish state and the PA’s rejection of the renewal of direct negotiations with Israel but another point concerning that narrative is also worthy of note.

Remarkably, the BBC’s chosen narrative takes it as read that Palestinian grievances would be brought to an end by Israeli withdrawal from the areas previously occupied by Jordan which came under its control in 1967. That premise is never examined by BBC journalists and all evidence to the contrary has been serially ignored over the years.PMW Abbas occupation

Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) recently published examples of the kind of messaging produced by official PA sources for their local audiences in which Israel is erased from the map, Israeli towns and cities are described as ‘Palestinian’ and the ‘occupation’ is said to have begun with Israel’s creation – including by the PA president in a television interview last month.

If the BBC is to fulfil its requirement to “build a global understanding of international issues” it obviously needs to inform its audiences of this side of the story of the “failure of the Middle East peace process” too.  Its continuing avoidance of that topic is indicative of the fact that the advancement of a politically motivated narrative takes precedence over meeting that remit.

Related Articles:

The Palestinian TV show the BBC will not tell you about


The BBC Gaza interviewee and the dead terrorist conspiracy theories

Towards the end of February a fugitive Palestinian terrorist who had been hiding in the Palestinian Authority mission in Sofia, Bulgaria, died.

“Bulgarian radio reported that Omar Nayef Zayed, 51, had fallen from the fourth floor of the embassy. He died later in the hospital.

A senior Palestinian Authority official said he “was discovered with serious torso injuries and died before emergency services arrived,” official Palestinian news agency Wafa reported. PA officials said they were investigating the circumstances of his death.” […]

In 1986 Zayed was convicted in the murder of yeshiva student Eliyahu Amedi — whom he stabbed to death in Jerusalem’s Old City — along with two other Palestinian assailants. He was sentenced to life in prison.

Four years after beginning his sentence, Zayed began a hunger strike and was moved to a Bethlehem hospital facility, from which he managed to escape. He fled to Bulgaria in 1994 and married a local woman with whom he had three children.

In December of 2015, Israel submitted a request to Bulgarian authorities to extradite him. Late last year Bulgarian authorities agreed to examine the Israeli request but a December 14 hearing was postponed because Zayed was not at his address, the Bulgarian interior ministry said.

He had fled to the Palestinian Embassy to seek sanctuary there, and had been staying there ever since.”

Predictably, conspiracy theories soon sprang up.

“Zayed, a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), had been living in Bulgaria for the past 20 years. Even though the body bore no bullet wounds, the PFLP claimed he had been shot in the head.

Palestinian Ambassador Ahmed al-Madbuh told reporters Friday that the death was murder and said it was “a result of the continuing persecution by Israel.” He added: “Omar is one of the Palestinian fighters who led the struggle against the occupation and fulfilled his duty to his land and his people.””

Almost a month later, the Bulgarian Prosecutor dismissed the claim of murder.

“Bulgarian Prosecutor Sotir Tsatsarov on Monday dismissed suggestions that Omar Zayed, a Palestinian man whose dead body was found in front of the Palestinian Embassy in Sofia, might have been murdered.

He told reporters that the post-mortem examination of Zayed’s body had shown no signs of violence.

Instead, the man fell off a balcony on the third floor of the Embassy and it was that incident that cause his death, Tsatsarov explained.”

Prior to that announcement from the Bulgarian Prosecutor, a series of events were (and still are being) organized by a plethora of anti-Israel activists worldwide who had no need of an official investigation in order to determine what had happened to Omar Zayed – and who was to blame.

For example, an Iran linked website (which has recently been in the news in the UK for other reasons) promoted the image below on its Twitter feed and held some sparsely attended events in London.

In minds tweet

The day after Zayad’s death the US-based ‘Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network’ issued an appeal to members of the European Parliament in which it was claimed that Israel had murdered him and the day before that Samidoun’s New York based ‘organiser‘ Joe Catron had put out a statement in which – just hours after the event – he claimed that Zayad had been ‘assassinated’ by Israel.Tweet Catron

It was of course not in the least bit surprising to see ISM member and professional anti-Israel activist Joe Catron propelling the bandwagon of unproven defamatory smears against Israel.

It is however worth remembering that on two occasions during the summer of 2014, the BBC promoted content based on claims made by Catron without making any effort to comply with its own editorial guidelines on impartiality which stipulate that the agenda and ‘standpoint’ of interviewees should be made clear to audiences.Guerin ISM report

On July 31st 2014 the BBC World Service aired an interview with Catron in which he told BBC audiences that Hamas was not using Gaza hospitals for military purposes.

On August 13th 2014 BBC News aired a report by Orla Guerin which showcased an unsubstantiated video produced and promoted by Catron under the heading “Allegations of war crimes”.

As the story above shows, it is from time to time worth reminding ourselves of the types of sources the BBC considers legitimate and the agendas which are sometimes concealed behind ‘news gathering’.


BBC sidesteps the story of PA electricity debt to Israel

The latest chapter in a long-running saga played out over this last week when the Israel Electric Corporation (IEC) found it necessary to make short, temporary cuts in the power supply to Jericho, Bethlehem and Hebron.hevrat hashmal

“The IEC says the Palestinian authorities have racked up a debt of 1.74 billion shekels ($460 million), which the company can no longer absorb. Of that sum, the IEC says NIS 300,000 ($79,350) is owed by the Palestinian Authority. […]

 “I don’t know of any company that would be agree to do nothing about a NIS 1.74 million debt owed by another company,” IEC Chairman Yiftah Ron Tal said. “The time has come to put an end to the situation in which the debts just bloom. We weren’t left with any choice. We’re limiting electricity in a proportionate way. I call on those with authority to help us to collect the debts.””

The additional NIS 1.4 billion ($371 million/ £264.6 million) of the debt is owed by the Palestinian-run Jerusalem District Electricity Company (JDECO).

On April 6th a temporary agreement was reached:

“The deal struck Wednesday morning will see the PA pay off NIS 20 million of that debt and give negotiators one week to reach an understanding over settling the rest of the money owed.

If no deal is reached in time, according to a report by Channel 10, then the power cuts will resume.”

As readers may recall, in the past Israel has sometimes tackled the same long-term problem of the PA’s unpaid debts to the IEC by withholding tax transfers and on those occasions the BBC has reported the story with alacrity – but while failing to inform audiences of the scale of the debt and the reasons for its accumulation.

Despite the current pertinence of the topic of the Palestinian Authority’s financial priorities for British tax-payers, the BBC elected not to report this latest chapter in the ongoing saga of the foreign donor funded PA.

BBC framing of Iran’s president once again shown to be redundant

Just over a year ago we posed the following question on these pages: “Why does the BBC continue to describe Rouhani as a ‘moderate’?“. That question was prompted by the fact that at the time – nearly two years after Rouhani’s election – the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran had just published a report which found that the number of executions in Iran has risen under Rouhani’s presidency.

On April 6th 2016 the BBC News website published an article titled “Amnesty highlights ‘disturbing rise’ in global executions” which has the following fifty-eight words to say about the country which, according to the quoted report, had the second highest rate of executions in the world in 2015.executions art

“Iran executed at least 977 people in 2015 – the vast majority for drug-related crimes – compared with 743 the year before, according to Amnesty.

Those put to death, the group found, included at least four people who were under 18 at the time of the crime for which they had been convicted. This, it said, violated international law.”

Although no mention of it is made in this BBC report, additional organisations have raised questions regarding Iran’s dubious use of charges concerning drug-related crime and the lack of due process for those detained on such charges. According to the organisation ‘Iran Human Rights’:

“…Iranian authorities have carried out more executions in 2015 than any other year in the past 25 years.”

A recent report from the same NGO notes that:

“Since the election of Hassan Rouhani in June 2013, at least 2162 people have been executed. A comparison between the 2.5 years after Hassan Rouhani’s election and the 2.5 years before his election show an increase of 43% in the number of executions.

Although it is the judiciary which issues and implements death sentences, neither President Rouhani nor members of his cabinet expressed any dissatisfaction about the large number of executions. On the contrary, on the few occasions when President Rouhani or Foreign minister Zarif made statements about the death penalty they have defended Iran’s high number of executions.”Iran elections

Nevertheless, as recently as late February the BBC was still telling its audiences that Rouhani is “Iran’s reformist President” and describing him as heading a “reformist camp”. A BBC profile of Rouhani last updated in February 2016 tells audiences that ‘Mr Rouhani says he wants to steer Iran towards “moderation”‘ and another profile dated August 2015 states that:

“Although he was seen as part of the establishment, Mr Rouhani’s promises to relieve sanctions, improve civil rights and restore “the dignity of the nation” drew large crowds on the campaign trail.” [emphasis added]

Towards the end of that profile, however, readers learn that:

“Mr Rouhani had pledged to help free reformist opposition leaders, held without trial since 2011, but hardliners have stood firm and they remain under house arrest.

He also promised to usher in an era of more freedoms in the country where human rights abuses are rife. However, few believe there has been much improvement here, and in some areas the situation may have worsened.

There are still many journalists, and opposition activists in jail, and the number of executions carried out in Iran has soared.”

Clearly then the BBC knows full well that in the nearly three years since his election, Rouhani has done very little to justify the “reformist” and “moderate” labels it regularly appends to him. The question which therefore must be asked is why does the BBC continue to employ such editorial framing given that it clearly hinders the corporation’s obligation to enhance its funding public’s “awareness and understanding of international issues”?. 


BBC ignores Hamas theft of construction materials yet again

Late last week COGAT announced that it was temporarily halting the entry into the Gaza Strip of cement bound for the private sector.cement Gaza

“The Office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) monitors the flow of cement into Gaza to ensure that Hamas has not used it to construct tunnels to attack Israel. On Friday COGAT posted on its Arabic Facebook page that it suspended the transfer of cement to Gaza because some deliveries had been diverted by Imad Elbaz, the deputy director-general for Hamas’s economics office.

“This is a blatant violation of agreements for the rehabilitation mechanism,” COGAT said in its Facebook post.
COGAT head Maj.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai temporarily halted the shipments until the matter is fully investigated, COGAT said. adding that it regretted that Hamas continues to pursue its own personal agenda at the expense of Gaza’s residents.

The UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov, issued an unusually sharp response on Monday, accusing Hamas of theft.

“Those who seek to gain through the deviation of materials are stealing from their own people and adding to the suffering of Palestinians in Gaza,” Mladenov said.”

Notwithstanding the BBC’s recurrently promoted interest in selected aspects of the topic of reconstruction in the Gaza Strip (and taking into account its concurrent minimal interest in the subject of Hamas’ rehabilitation of its offensive cross-border tunnels), BBC News has to date once again refrained from reporting on this latest example of Hamas misappropriation of construction materials

Comparing BBC personalisation of victims of terror in Paris, Brussels and Israel

Following the terror attacks in Paris in November 2015, various BBC platforms – including the BBC News website – produced content paying tribute to the victims of those attacks which included photographs and some biographical details.Paris victims

A similar feature appeared on the BBC News website after last month’s terror attacks in Brussels under the title “Victims of the Brussels attacks” and it not only included photographs and personal information about the majority of the people murdered in the attacks but also about several of the wounded.

As has been noted here previously, such information of course enables BBC audiences to get beyond mere casualty figures and goes some way towards helping them appreciate the individual personal tragedies of victims and their families.

Throughout the last six months – October 2015 to March 2016 – the BBC has also been reporting on terror attacks in Israel (although it of course refrains from naming them as such) but in that reporting, personalisation of the victims is very much the exception rather than the rule.Brussels victims

During that six-month period articles appearing on the BBC News website have included photographs of only four victims of two separate terror attacks.

On October 2nd 2015 a follow-up report concerning the terror attack in which Eitam and Na’ama Henkin were murdered included their photographs. On October 3rd and 5th the BBC produced reports about the terror attack in which Aharon Banita-Bennett and Nehemia Lavi were murdered – here and here – which included their photographs.

Since October 5th, however, not one of the BBC’s reports about the many terror attacks in which Israelis and/or foreign nationals have been killed has included photographs of the victims and the deaths of three people have not been reported at all.

October 13th: the murder of Yeshayahu Krishevsky in a vehicular/stabbing attack in Jerusalem was reported in an article which also noted the murders of Chaim Haviv and Alon Govberg during a combined shooting/stabbing attack on passengers on a city bus in Jerusalem earlier on the same day but did not name any of the victims of either attack. The death of a third victim of the same bus attack – Richard Lakin – two weeks later did not receive any BBC coverage.

October 18th: the terror attack at Be’er Sheva bus station in which Sgt Omri Levy and Eritrean national Habtom Zerhom were killed was covered in this BBC report and a follow-up article.  

October 20th: the murder of Avraham Hasno at al Fawar junction was briefly mentioned in this article but the victim was not identified.

November 4th: a vehicular attack took place at Halhul junction and those wounded in that attack included St. Sgt. Binyamin Yakobovitch who succumbed to his injuries four days later. There was no BBC News coverage of either the initial attack or St.Sgt Yakobovitch’s death.

November 13th: the murders of Rabbi Ya’akov Litman and his son Netanel near Otniel were reported in an article titled “Israelis killed in West Bank as Palestinians shot dead“.

November 19th: the murders of Rabbi Aharon Yesayev and Reuven Aviram in Tel Aviv and the murders of Ezra Schwartz, Yaakov Don, and Shadi Arafa at Alon Shvut junction on the same day were reported in an article titled “Palestinian attacks in Israel and West Bank kill five” although none of the victims were named.Israel victims 1

November 22nd: the stabbing attack at Gush Etzion junction in which Hadar Buchris was murdered was reported in this article.

November 23rd: the murder of Cpl. Ziv Mizrahi at a petrol station on Route 443 was reported in this article.

December 7th:  Gennady Kaufman was seriously wounded in a stabbing attack in Hebron. Neither the original attack nor Mr Kaufman’s later death on December 30th received any BBC News coverage.

December 23rd: the BBC News website covered an attack in Jerusalem in which two people were killed and one wounded. The victims – Rabbi Reuven Birmajer and Ofer Ben Ari – were not named in the report.

January 1st 2016: two of the victims of the terror attack in Tel Aviv – Alon Bakal and Shimon Ruimi – were first named in a follow-up report which appeared the next day. The third victim –Amin Shaaban – was only named a week later in a subsequent report.

January 17th: the murder of Dafna Meir in Otniel was reported in this article.Dafna Meir murder BBC headline

January 25th: the stabbing attack in Beit Horon in which Shlomit Krigman was murdered was only covered on the BBC News website the following day and the victim was not named.

February 3rd: the attack at Damascus Gate in which Cpl Hadar Cohen was shot and killed was covered in this report.

February 18th: the attack at Sha’ar Binyamin in which off-duty soldier Tuvia Yanai Weissman was murdered was reported here.

February 24th: the attack at Gush Etzion Junction in which Eliav Gelman was killed was covered in this article

March 8th: the terror attack in Jaffa in which US citizen Taylor Force was murdered was covered here.

As we see the BBC clearly employs a markedly different approach to the victims of terror attacks in Europe and in Israel. Dedicated coverage of the victims of the attacks in Paris and Brussels has ensured appropriate personalisation and humanisation of those murdered in attacks the BBC is (for the most part) comfortable describing as terrorism.

However, for BBC audiences the vast majority of victims in Israel remain faceless and, in very many cases, even nameless victims of violence which the corporation refuses to describe as terrorism.






The BBC and “a politer version” of antisemitic conspiracy theory

Last week the British journalist and writer Nick Cohen published an article titled “Why I’m becoming a Jew and why you should, too” in the Guardian. The entire article is of course well worth reading but one passage in particular will ring true with anyone who regularly follows BBC coverage of the Middle East.

“Whether the antisemitic conspiracy theory is deployed by German Nazis or Arab dictators, French anti-Dreyfusards or Saudi clerics, the argument is always the same. Democracy, an independent judiciary, equal human rights, freedom of speech and publication – all these “supposed” freedoms – are nothing but swindles that hide the machinations of the secret Jewish rulers of the world.

Describe the fantasy the Tsarist and Nazi empires developed that bluntly and it is impossible to understand how the Labour party is in danger of becoming as tainted as Ukip by the racists it attracts.

But consider how many leftwing activists, institutions or academics would agree with a politer version.

Western governments are the main source of the ills of the world. The “Israel lobby” controls western foreign policy. Israel itself is the “root cause” of all the terrors of the Middle East, from the Iraq war to Islamic State. Polite racism turns the Jews, once again, into demons with the supernatural power to manipulate and destroy nations. Or as the Swedish foreign minister, Margot Wallström, who sees herself as a feminist rather than a racial conspiracist, explained recently, Islamist attacks in Paris were the fault of Israeli occupiers in the West Bank.”BBC building

Over the years we have documented on these pages numerous examples of the BBC’s promotion of the notion of an all-powerful “Israel lobby” and – even more frequently – the less veiled notion of a “Jewish lobby“. In November 2014, for example, listeners to BBC Radio 5 live heard the following:

“I mean if we’re not careful we’re going to turn into the east coast of America where, you know, where all of politics is in thrall…ehm…to the Jewish lobby and to the Irish lobby and as a result you get very, very distorted politics and good sense goes out of the window.” […]

“We can’t all observe dietary laws because it might offend the more powerful lobby – the Israeli lobby – which already has big brother America cow-towing to its every wish. I mean it really is unacceptable. It’s kind of un-British anyway…”  [all emphasis added]

During the summer of 2014, as the civil war continued to rage in Syria and ISIS began slaughtering Yazidis in Iraq, we saw frequent BBC promotion of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict as the Middle East conflict – as indicated by the dedicated page appearing under that title as well as the repeated use of the term “Middle East crisis” in headlines (for example here, here and here).

In the past couple of years BBC audiences have also heard promotion of the myth that Israel is responsible for Islamist terrorism in the Middle East and beyond – for example:

“I still think that it’s largely politics which is acting as a driver to recruit young Muslim men to the cause of extremist groups like ISIS and…ehm…helping resolve important issues in the Middle East will go a long way to draining extremist groups of the support that they’re craving from young people. […]

…we only need to look at the statements Al Qaeda was issuing in the run-up to those attacks…ahm…on 9/11. I mean Al Qaeda believed that the United States was the main funder and armor of Israel and the dispossession of the Palestinian people has always been a massive rallying cry for extremist groups which is why seeking an urgent solution to the problem of the dispossession of the Palestinian people – they have been now occupied for 49 years now and there’s not been any sanctions applied to Israel. So seeking a resolution to that central, key Middle East dispute must be seen as a key part…a key part of defeating extremism.”


“There are many explanations for the winds of change sweeping through the Middle East.

Depending on their point of view, analysts cite the failure of Arab nationalism; a lack of democratic development; post-colonialism; Zionism; Western trade protectionism; corruption; low education standards; and the global revival of radical Islamism.” [emphasis added] […]

“…I don’t think that Israel-Palestine is a separate discrete conflict. It’s part of the whole Middle East set-up and it’s the most fundamental and lasting and enduring conflict in the region and there can be no peace, no stability and no security in the Middle East until the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is resolved.”


“I was told by a good source that in an area where ISIS is actually minting money, believe it or not, on one side of the coin is the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. And another interesting vignette: on the mobile phone of one of the kids that were arrested in Paris recently – a Muslim child – was a speech of Yasser Arafat. And I guess that’s by way of saying that, you know, we have been thinking about extremism in this region – out there in Afghanistan, out there in Pakistan. The fact is that having a deeply marginalised Muslim Arab community is becoming a cause celebre also. So the idea that there’s this extremist element out there somewhere and Gaza is something different: it isn’t like that. So these moderate Arab countries and other Arab countries to which Lyse refers have to realise that what is…they’re allowing to happen in Gaza is having a direct impact on the rising tide of extremism which they’re so concerned about. So don’t see Gaza as an isolated factor. Don’t see it as something which is simply sort of there: it is very much part and parcel of the narrative of extremism and the rising tide of extremism that is, you know, so prevalent and so shocking today in the Middle East.”

Is it really at all surprising that the adoption of such conspiracy theories by the “leftwing activists, institutions or academics” described by Cohen is so widespread when we consider that the broadcaster with the most extensive access to British audiences is not averse to mainstreaming such ideas? 


BBC Arabic misleads on naval blockade of Gaza Strip

COGAT recently announced the extension of the fishing zone along part of the Gaza Strip coastline.

COGAT fishing Gaza

Despite the interest in the Gaza fishing industry shown by the BBC in the past, there was no reporting of this news on the English language BBC News website. The story did however get coverage on the BBC Arabic zone story BBC Arabic

In that report readers were told that Israel has imposed a naval blockade on the Gaza Strip since Hamas seized control of the territory – i.e. in June 2007. In fact, the naval blockade was announced in January 2009 – over a year and a half after the Hamas coup in the Gaza Strip.

As readers may recall, that inaccurate claim has been made on several prior occasions and has also been corrected by the BBC in the past. It is therefore all the more unfortunate to see the same error appearing in BBC content time after time.

Both the caption to the photograph illustrating the report and its final paragraph inform readers that under the terms of the Oslo Accords, the fishing zone was to extend to 20 nautical miles from the coastline. That statement is of course accurate, but readers are not informed that the party which currently controls the Gaza Strip opposed those accords and is not a signatory to them, that it ousted the party which did sign them in a violent coup or that it was Hamas terrorism and arms smuggling which necessitated the reduction of the fishing zone.


BBC Arabic contact details