BBC reports on Kiryat Arba attack without using the word terror

Not for the first time, the BBC News website’s reporting on the June 30th terror attack in Kiryat Arba in which thirteen year-old Hallel Yaffa Ariel was murdered as she was sleeping made sure that audiences were aware of the BBC’s preferred political designation of the location of the incident.

“A teenage Israeli girl has been stabbed to death in an attack at a Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank.”

Pigua K4 ME pge

Pigua K4 art

As ever, the BBC itself did not employ the word terror anywhere in this report with the incident described as “an attack” and the perpetrator as “the attacker” or “the assailant”. The only mention of that word came in a quote from the Israeli prime minister inserted into the fourth version of the article some three hours after its initial appearance.

In contrast, earlier this week when the BBC covered commemoration of the terror attack in Tunisia a year ago, audiences were given a clear and accurate description of that incident – for example here and here. [emphasis added]

“A ceremony has been held in Tunisia to remember the 38 tourists shot dead on a beach exactly one year ago.

Thirty of those killed in the resort town of Sousse were British.

The attack, claimed by the so-called Islamic State, was the greatest loss of British life in a terrorist incident since the July 2005 London bombing.”


“It is almost a year since a gunman opened fire on a beach in Tunisia killing 38 tourists, 30 of whom were from the UK.

It was the greatest loss of British life in a terror attack, since the London bombings in 2005.”

The BBC of course long since made it clear that it ‘believes’ that terror attacks against Israeli citizens are “very different” from the one perpetrated against British citizens in Tunisia in 2015 – although it refuses to explain why in writing.

However, the corporation’s two-tier system of reporting acts of terror is itself clear enough indication of the fact that what lies behind its inconsistent approach are the very “value judgements” that – at least according to its editorial guidelines – the BBC supposedly seeks to avoid.

The terminology used (or not) by the BBC is determined by the way it judges the perceived motivations of the terrorist rather than by the nature of the act itself and that is what ensures that the murder of a thirteen year-old girl asleep in her bed will not be termed a terror attack – as long as that child is a Jewish Israeli and the perpetrator a Palestinian.

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Inaccuracies in BBC diplomatic correspondent’s description of Mavi Marmara

Turkey’s recent diplomatic moves – including the agreement signed with Israel – were the subject of an article by the BBC’s diplomatic correspondent Jonathan Marcus which appeared in the ‘Features’ section of the BBC News website’s Middle East page on June 29th under the headline “Turkey plays diplomatic chess in Middle East“.

Explaining the former nature of ties between Turkey and Israel and what caused the six-year-long rift, Marcus told readers that:

Marcus art Mavi Marmara

In fact, in May 2010 the Mavi Marmara was not “Turkish-flagged” but was registered in Comoros and flew that flag of convenience at the time.

MM registration

Neither was the Mavi Marmara an “aid vessel”: it was a passenger ship (carrying 546 passengers) which formed part of a flotilla of six vessels, only three of which were carrying ‘aid’, as the Palmer report noted (p 47):Marcus Turkey art

“If the flotilla had been a purely humanitarian mission it is hard to see why so many passengers were embarked and with what purpose. Furthermore, the quality and value of many of the humanitarian goods on board the vessels is questionable. There were large quantities of humanitarian and construction supplies on board the Gazze 1, Eleftheri Mesogeio and Defne-Y. There were some foodstuffs and medical goods on board the Mavi Marmara, although it seems that these were intended for the voyage itself.  Any “humanitarian supplies” were limited to foodstuffs and toys carried in passengers’ personal baggage. The same situation appears to be the case for two other of the vessels: the Sfendoni, and the Challenger I. There was little need to organize a flotilla of six ships to deliver humanitarian assistance if only three were required to carry the available humanitarian supplies. The number of journalists embarked on the ships gives further power to the conclusion that the flotilla’s primary purpose was to generate publicity.”

The BBC has previously corrected or amended reports which included the inaccurate description of the Mavi Marmara as an “aid ship” and clearly this article requires the same treatment.

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BBC News puts words in the Turkish president’s mouth

The BBC News website’s main article about the June 28th terror attack in Turkey – “Istanbul Ataturk airport attack: 41 dead and more than 230 hurt” – includes the following:

Erdogan statement

Interestingly, two earlier versions of the article informed readers that:

“Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned the attack, calling for a “joint fight” against terrorism.”

The word ‘terrorism’ was then removed and the article was amended to read as above.

So did the Turkish president really use the BBC favoured euphemistic terminology “militant groups” just hours after his country (and its important tourism industry) had been hit by a major terror attack?

Not according to the Guardian:

“President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called on all governments, especially in the west, to join forces in taking a “firm stand against terror”.

“The bombs that exploded in Istanbul today could have gone off at any airport in any city around the world. Make no mistake: for terrorist organisations there is no difference between Istanbul and London, Ankara and Berlin, Izmir and Chicago or Antalya and Rome.

“Unless all government and the entire mankind join forces in the fight against terrorism, much worse things than what we fear to imagine today will come true.””

And not according to the New York Times:

“President Recep Tayyip Erdogan noted that the bombing came during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, and he called for global unity in the fight against terrorism.

“Despite paying a heavy price, Turkey has the power, determination and capacity to continue the fight against terrorism until the end,” Mr. Erdogan said in a statement.

Mr. Erdogan added: “The bombs that exploded in Istanbul today could have gone off at any airport in any city around the world. Make no mistake: For terrorist organizations, there is no difference between Istanbul and London, Ankara and Berlin, Izmir and Chicago, or Antalya and Rome.””

And not according to Reuters:

“President Tayyip Erdogan said the attack should serve as a turning point in the global fight against terrorism, which he said had “no regard for faith or values”.”Istanbul attack main art

But maybe all three of those media organisations (and many others) got it wrong and – as claimed by the self-styled “standard-setter for international journalism” – Erdogan really did use the term “militant groups”? The answer to that can be found at the official website of the Turkish presidency.

“…President Erdoğan said: “However, I would like to remind that today’s attack targeted not only 79 million Turkish citizens but also 7.5 billion human beings around the world. Due to the treacherous nature of terrorism, the bombs that exploded in Istanbul today could have gone off at any airport in any city around the world. Make no mistake: For terrorist organizations, there is no difference between Istanbul and London, Ankara and Berlin, Izmir and Chicago or Antalya and Rome. Unless all government and the entire mankind join forces in the fight against terrorism, much worse things than what we fear to imagine today will come true.”

“I hope the Ataturk Airport attack will serve as a turning point in the world, particularly for the Western countries, for a joint struggle against terror organizations,” President Erdoğan said…” 

The BBC’s editorial guidelines on Language when Reporting Terrorism specifically state:

“…we should not change the word “terrorist” when quoting someone else, but we should avoid using it ourselves”

Will the BBC justify its patent distortion of the Turkish president’s comments (which, incidentally, led to the word ‘terror’ being completely absent from this entire report after an earlier reference to ‘a terrorist’ in a quote from the Turkish Justice minister was also removed) by claiming that it was not quoting him directly, but paraphrasing his remarks?


BBC News website contact details


BBC News ignores latest Temple Mount rioting

Those getting their news from the BBC News website will not be aware of the fact that Palestinians recently engaged in pre-planned rioting on Temple Mount over a period of three consecutive days.

The violence began on the morning of June 26th.Kotel at night 2

“Mayhem ensued on the Temple Mount Sunday morning, when a group of masked Arab assailants threw rocks, shoes, metal objects, and chairs at a group of Jewish visitors at the contested compound during the first of the last 10 days of Ramadan.

According to police, who provided video of the disturbance, the group of 11 observant Jews were targeted shortly after entering the compound at approximately 9 a.m. in what appeared to be a premeditated attack.”

The rioting continued the next day.

“Police had deployed additional forces there as a precaution after learning, it said, that “Arab youths, some of them masked, barricaded themselves during the night in the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount with the aim of confronting police, and to disrupt the regular visits and visitors in the Temple Mount area during the Ramadan holiday.”

Of the 263 visitors to the Temple Mount on Monday, 33 of them were Jews, police spokeswoman Luba Samri said in a statement.

According to police, the rioters stockpiled stones and other objects, including firecrackers, inside the Al-Aqsa mosque, “all of which was intended as a confrontation with police and security forces, to prevent them closing the doors and to disrupt the regular visits to the Temple Mount.””

On June 28th a woman was injured at the Western Wall.

“Palestinians threw rocks at Jewish worshippers at the Western Wall on Tuesday, striking a woman of 73 in the head, on a third day of confrontations involving the adjacent Temple Mount.

Paramedics said they treated the woman at the scene for a light head injury.”

The background to this latest round of organised rioting lies in the fact that this year – in contrast with the two previous years – the police decided to keep Temple Mount open to all visitors throughout Ramadan.

“Although non-Muslim visitation to the compound was banned for the last 10 days of Ramadan for the previous two years due to threats of violence, [police spokesman] Rosenfeld said that morning tours will resume for the remainder of the holiday.

“Of course we will make security assessments this evening for the next few days of Ramadan,” he said.”

However, the thugs eventually got their way.  

“Following three consecutive days of rioting by Arab youths on the Temple Mount, police announced Tuesday morning that the contested holy site will be temporarily closed to non-Muslim visitors, at least through Thursday.

In a statement, police said the decision was made after security assessments indicated it was not safe for Jewish visitors, who have been the target of numerous attacks there since Sunday, when the final 10 days of Ramadan commenced.”Cogat tweet Ramadan

Notably, the BBC has not found it necessary to report on this latest round of organised violence intended to prevent non-Muslims from visiting a site of importance to three religions.

Meanwhile, Israel continues to facilitate Ramadan visits to the site by Palestinians from the Gaza Strip and PA controlled areas.  

A story serially avoided by the BBC comes home to roost

On June 27th the BBC News website’s Middle East page published an article titled “Israel and Turkey end rift over Gaza flotilla killings” which has since undergone extensive amendment.Turkey deal art

Among the report’s notable features are:

1) The use of euphemistic language to describe those killed in the incident aboard the Mavi Marmara and the concealment of their Islamist links.

“Israel and Turkey have normalised relations, ending a six-year rift over the killing by Israeli troops of 10 Turkish activists on a Gaza-bound ship.”

Ten pro-Palestinian Turkish activists, one of them a dual American citizen, were killed and dozens wounded as clashes broke out after the commandos boarded the ship, descending on ropes from helicopters.” [emphasis added]

2) The promotion of a ‘he said-she said’ account of the incident aboard the Mavi Marmara which ignores the existence of video evidence and witness accounts.   

“The two sides had blamed each other for the violence. The activists said the commandos started shooting as soon as they hit the deck. Israel said the commandos opened fire only after being attacked with clubs, knives and a gun which was taken from them.”

3) The vague statement that the ship was “Turkish-owned” – without any mention of the specific organisation which purchased it (together with one other ship in the flotilla) and the fact that it – the IHH – was one of the publicity stunt’s main planners. Oddly, the IHH is not named even once throughout the whole report and readers therefore remain unaware of its relevant ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas.  

“The Turkish-owned ship Mavi Marmara was part of a flotilla attempting to breach the blockade when it was intercepted by Israeli commandos on 31 May 2010.”

4) A rare realistic portrayal of the aim of the naval blockade on the Gaza Strip is followed by the amplification of a propaganda slur.

“Israel maintains its blockade of Gaza to try to prevent weapons or materials reaching Palestinian militants, with whom it fought a devastating war in 2014, while allowing humanitarian aid into the territory.

Palestinians say the policy is tantamount to collective punishment, and UN and aid officials have warned of deteriorating conditions in Gaza.”

5) The amplification of the Turkish PM’s inaccurate claim concerning the ‘lifting’ of the blockade.

“”The total embargo imposed on Palestine and on the Gaza region in particular, is to being lifted to a great extent through Turkey’s leadership,” Mr Yildirim asserted.”

6) The failure to note the IHH’s opposition to the agreement and its pledge to continue legal action.

“…Turkey agreed to pass legislation protecting Israeli troops from legal claims over the Mavi Marmara incident…”

7) The absence of any mention of political and public opposition to the deal in Israel or of the reactions of Hamas operatives.

One aspect of this report, however, must have been particularly confusing for readers who regularly get their news from the BBC. In the insert of ‘analysis’ from Jonathan Marcus, readers were told that under the terms of the deal:

“Israel sees an end to its practical difficulties with Turkey and gets assurances about future Hamas activity on Turkish soil.”

In the body of the report they were informed that:

“In return, Turkey agreed to […] prevent any military action or fundraising by Hamas operatives based there.”

However, BBC audiences have no idea that there are any Hamas operatives based in Turkey because (as has been documented here on numerous occasions) for the last two years the corporation has diligently avoided telling them that operations – including Hamas’ efforts to strengthen its infrastructure and standing in Palestinian Authority controlled areas – were being run from that NATO member country.

The serial omission of information on that topic obviously now compromises the ability of audiences to understand the background to the references to Hamas made in this article and that impacts their understanding of this particular “international issue“. 

Minor amendment to BBC report on gay pride murder sentencing

As was noted here on June 26th, a BBC News report from that day concerning the sentencing of Yishai Schlissel, who was previously convicted of the murder of one person and the attempted murders of six others at the Jerusalem gay pride march in 2015, failed to provide audiences with the full story.Schlissel sentencing art

Following communication from BBC Watch, one sentence in the report was amended. The original article stated:

“A police investigation last year called for the removal of six senior Israeli officers over the attack.”

That sentence – which did not inform readers that the recommendation was implemented – was later amended to read:

“Several senior Israeli police officers were sanctioned or reassigned following the attack.”

However, the report was not amended to include details of the full sentence handed down to Schlissel: life imprisonment and 31 additional years, plus an order to pay damages of 2.6 million shekels to the families of his victims.

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One to listen out for on BBC Radio 4

A programme titled “One Day in Entebbe” will be broadcast on Tuesday, June 28th at 8 p.m. on BBC Radio 4. Its synopsis reads as follows:Freedland Entebbe prog

“Forty years ago, the world gasped as it witnessed one of the most outlandish rescue missions ever undertaken. Israeli commandos flew 2,500 miles to free more than a hundred hostages, passengers whose plane had been hijacked and diverted to Entebbe. In the dead of night, they were plucked out from under the nose of Uganda’s larger-than-life dictator, Idi Amin.

The operation would become a template for special forces operations, taught at military colleges around the globe. It would change the calculus in the Middle East, altering the way Israel was seen and the way it saw itself. And it would set one young man on the path to eventual power.

Through exclusive and intensely personal interviews with those involved, including Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu and two of his predecessors – Ehud Barak and Shimon Peres – as well as former hostages, ex-commandos and the one-time Palestinian hijacker Leila Khaled, writer and broadcaster Jonathan Freedland tells the remarkable story of that day in July 1976.

He hears Netanyahu confess that he would not be prime minister today had it not been for Entebbe where his brother led the commando unit and was killed in action – proof that the impact of that one day in Entebbe lives on.”

Jonathan Freedland has also written about the 40th anniversary of the rescue operation at Entebbe for the Guardian.


Nasrallah speech necessitates update of BBC’s Hizballah profile

As we noted here a few months ago, the BBC is decidedly coy on the subject of Iranian terror financing in general and its material support for Hizballah in particular.

“The BBC News website’s coverage of the Iranian president’s visit to Europe late last month included two reports – “Rouhani in Europe: Italy covers nudes for Iran president“, January 26th and “Rouhani arrives in Paris as Iran drums up business with France“, January 27th – in which audiences were told that:

“Iran has been accused of funding militant groups, such as Hezbollah in Lebanon.”

Obviously that choice of minimalist phrasing does not clarify to readers who has accused Iran of funding “militant groups” (the BBC standard euphemism for terrorist organisations) or whether or not there is any basis to those accusations. It also obfuscates the fact that at least one Iranian official has acknowledged that Iran provides support to Hizballah.”

Neither the BBC profile of Iran nor its profile of Hizballah provides audiences with any in-depth information on that topic.  Moreover, in June 2013 the BBC specifically told its audiences that:

“A recent report by the International Crisis Group (ICG) on the impact of international sanctions on Iran found no indication that the sanctions had affected Iran’s regional role.

And the report’s principal author says there is no evidence of any financial support provided to Hezbollah. “There isn’t a single line in the budget that confirms any aid or financial support to Hezbollah”, Ali Vaez contends.” [emphasis added]

Hassan Nasrallah evidently disagrees with that ICG analyst.Iran Hizballah

“Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah on Friday said his group would not be affected by fresh US sanctions because it receives its money directly from Iran, not via Lebanese banks.[…]

“We are open about the fact that Hezbollah’s budget, its income, its expenses, everything it eats and drinks, its weapons and rockets, are from the Islamic Republic of Iran,” he added. […]

“As long as Iran has money, we have money… Just as we receive the rockets that we use to threaten Israel, we are receiving our money. No law will prevent us from receiving it,” Nasrallah said.”

If the BBC is to fulfil its remit of enhancing audiences’ understanding of international issues, then obviously its profile of Hizballah needs to be updated following Nasrallah’s confirmation of Iran’s long-known funding of that terror organisation and the implications of his admittance of receiving weapons from Iran in violation of UN SC resolution 1701.

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Incomplete BBC portrayal of sentence for gay pride murderer

On June 26th the BBC News website published an article titled “Jerusalem Gay Pride stabbing: ultra-orthodox Yishai Schlissel jailed for life” on its Middle East page which opens as follows:Schlissel sentencing art

“An Israeli court has given a life sentence to a man who killed a teenager and wounded five other marchers at last year’s Gay Pride parade in Jerusalem.”

In fact, Schlissel was sentenced to life plus 31 additional years of imprisonment.

“The Jerusalem District Court on Sunday sentenced to life behind bars Yishai Schlissel, an ultra-Orthodox Jewish man convicted of stabbing to death 16-year-old Shira Banki at the Jerusalem Gay Pride Parade last year.

Schlissel was given another 30 years in prison for attempted murders of the six other people he injured in the attack, and another year for breaking the terms of his release from prison for a similar stabbing attack he carried out in 2005.”

The article neglects to mention that he was also ordered to pay damages.

“He was also ordered to pay NIS 2.6 million ($670,000) in compensation to the families of his victims.”

No mention is made of the judges’ remarks during sentencing.

“In their ruling, the panel of three judges declared, “We have before us a man who doesn’t see people in front of him. A cruel man. A man who sees himself as ‘giving and taking life’ in the name of the principles that he set for himself to enforce.”

“This dangerous man can no longer walk the streets of Jerusalem or any other place,” they said.”

The BBC report states:

“A police investigation last year called for the removal of six senior Israeli officers over the attack.”

Readers are left to guess whether or not the recommendation was implemented.

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BBC ignores Abbas’ antisemitic libel in EU parliament speech

On June 23rd the Palestinian Authority president addressed the EU parliament and among his remarks was one in particular which – as is to be expected – made headlines at international media outlets.

 The New York Times reported:

“Echoing anti-Semitic claims that led to the mass killings of European Jews in medieval times, President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority accused rabbis in Israel of calling on their government to poison the water used by Palestinians.

He made the unsubstantiated allegation during a speech to the European Parliament on Thursday.”

Reuters wrote:

“Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday accused Israeli rabbis of calling for the poisoning of Palestinian water, in what appeared to be an invocation of a widely debunked media report that recalled a medieval anti-Semitic libel.

Abbas’s remarks, in a speech to the European parliament, did not appear on the official transcript issued by his office, suggesting he may have spoken off the cuff as he condemned Israeli actions against Palestinians amid stalled peace talks.”

AFP reported:

“Israel accused the Palestinian president of libelling the Jewish people after he charged Thursday that rabbis had called for Palestinian wells to be poisoned.[…]

During a speech to the European Parliament, Abbas said, in apparently unscripted Arabic remarks, that recently “a number of rabbis in Israel made a clear declaration and asked their government to poison water to kill the Palestinians”.

He cited the accusation, without giving any source, as part of an attack against what he said was Israeli incitement against the Palestinians.”

The Washington Post ran the headline “Palestinian president uses anti-Semitic trope against Israel in E.U. speech“.

Abbas’ libel was based on a story invented by the PLO (which he of course also heads) that prompted false accusations days earlier from one of his government’s offices and was promoted on official PA TV.

“The Palestinian Authority’s Foreign Ministry revived the well-worn blood libel of Jews poisoning wells this week.

The PA’s Foreign Ministry released a statement on Sunday citing a supposed ruling by a “Rabbi Mlmad” authorizing Israelis to poison Palestinian wells.

The official PA website called the supposed ruling a crime against humanity, and said Israel is fully responsible for it and should arrest the rabbi for incitement.”

Two days after the Brussels speech, Abbas walked back his preposterous libel.

To date there has been no stand-alone BBC reporting on Abbas’ public promotion of that antisemitic blood libel or of his refusal to meet the Israeli president who was also in Brussels at the same time. The BBC News website’s ‘Parliaments‘ page includes an item headlined “Rivlin and Abbas address MEPs” but the page to which it links includes no mention of Abbas’ racist canard.

Abbas speech on Parliaments page

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