Another Temple Mount incident ignored by BBC News

BBC reporting of confrontations on Temple Mount has often been selective in the past and so it came as little surprise to see that the corporation elected to ignore this story:Kotel at night 2

“Two members of the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf were arrested Wednesday after allegedly attacking Israeli archaeologist Zachi Dvira on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem.

A group of six Israeli archaeologists were attacked by eight Waqf members as they toured the holy site, the Hebrew language Ynet website reported. The clash began after the Israeli group refused to leave the compound when ordered to do so by the Waqf personnel.”

A first-hand account of that incident can be found here.

“The Waqf’s demands were unsolicited and absurd, especially when they prevented us from seeking out the police. Officially, the Waqf guards have no authority upon tourists walking in the open courts of the Mount. Their only authority is inside the Mosques, in which tourists are not allowed. The only official authority are the police, and it is sad that these types of incidents are often overlooked due to political concerns and that the Waqf guards can harass innocent tourist.”

Once again we see that audiences do not receive news which does not tie in with the BBC’s prevailing narrative.

Relatedly, we noted here last month that a BBC Trust adviser handling an appeal concerning a BBC report wrote:

“…the Al-Aqsa Mosque is situated very close to, and on the same raised platform as, the Dome of the Rock (under which the ruins of the two Jewish temples are assumed to be buried – although there was ongoing debate about this)” [emphasis added]

We remarked:

“One can only hope that the bolded statement above does not suggest that the BBC subscribes to or accommodates the narrative of ‘Temple denial’ propagated by some PA officials and others.”

The Times of Israel recently published an interview with the Palestinian Authority’s “top cleric”.

“But regarding the holiest site in Judaism, the Temple Mount — known to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif — Habbash said the idea that ancient Jewish temples stood where the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem stands today is a myth.

Habbash was unfazed by a 1925 pamphlet on the Temple Mount produced by the Supreme Islamic Council, the body in charge of Muslim community affairs during the British Mandate in Palestine from 1920 to 1948, that states that the Temple Mount is indisputably the former site of Solomon’s temple. While he respects the Jews’ right to their own narrative, Habbash said, there is a “reality on the ground.” […]

Pressed on this point — wasn’t it once the Waqf’s own narrative that Solomon’s temple was on the mount? — Habbash’s response, in short, was this: forget narratives and concentrate on the status quo. “Please, please, don’t push us against the wall” and make this a religious war, he said, in which Israel would find “two billion Muslims as well as two billion Christians against you.” This unveiled threat was delivered in the calmest, nicest way imaginable.

Following the interview, Habbash asked for a copy of the pamphlet. In a statement to The Times of Israel, he questioned the document’s authenticity, saying he has “plenty of reasons to believe that some of the sentences were altered and new phrases and terms were injected in order to make it look like it endorses the Jewish narrative that the area where Haram al-Sharif stands used to be the site of the Temple Mount.””

The ability of BBC audiences to understand the frequently reported tensions surrounding Temple Mount would obviously be enhanced were they informed of the motivations that lie behind the Palestinian tactic of negation of Jewish history in Jerusalem. However, with the BBC increasingly compromising its own impartiality by adopting PLO approved terminology and narrative, it seems unlikely that audiences will be provided with objective information which would contribute to their understanding of that issue anytime soon.

Related Articles:

A Temple Mount incident ignored by BBC News

BBC News ignores latest Temple Mount rioting

BBC News ignores Northern Islamic Movement ban – in English

BBC ignores Jordanian cancellation of US brokered Temple Mount plan

Mapping changes in the terminology used by the BBC to describe Temple Mount

 

Revisiting the BBC’s policy on naming and personalising victims of terror

Earlier this month the trial of one of the two terrorists who carried out an attack on a Jerusalem bus last October in which three Israelis were murdered and dozens injured came to a close.

“A Jerusalem court on Monday sentenced an East Jerusalem terrorist to three consecutive life sentences and an additional 60 years in prison for killing three people in an attack on a bus in the capital last October.

Last month, Bilal Abu Ghanem was convicted of three counts of murder, seven counts of attempted murder and aiding the enemy in wartime for his role in killing three people in a terror attack on a bus in the Armon Hanatziv neighborhood.”

As readers may recall the BBC News website reported the murders of Chaim Haviv and Alon Govberg but did not name them or provide any other personal details. The death of a third victim of the same bus attack – Richard Lakin – two weeks later did not receive any BBC coverage at all.

In another trial this month:

“A Palestinian man who stabbed two Israelis to death in Tel Aviv last year was convicted by the Tel Aviv District Court on Thursday on two counts of murder and three of attempted murder after confessing to the charges.

Raed Masalmeh, 36, a father of five from the Hebron-area town of Dura in the West Bank, previously pleaded not guilty to murdering Reuven Aviram and Aharon Yesiav in a Tel Aviv office building synagogue on November 19, 2015.”

The BBC News website reported that attack, together with another one on the same day, but once again the victims were not named. There has been no BBC reporting on either of these trials.Istanbul attack victims

After last November’s terror attacks in Paris, the BBC News website produced an article paying tribute to the people murdered and that practice of naming, personalising and humanising victims of terror attacks has since continued.

BBC audiences have learned about victims of the March 2016 attack at Brussels airport and the June 2016 attacks in Orlando and at Istanbul airport. In July 2016 the BBC News website made efforts to personalise victims of terror in Baghdad, in Kabul, in Nice and in Munich. Five policemen killed in a shooting attack in Dallas were the subject of an article titled “Dallas police shootings: Who are the victims?“.

However, for BBC audiences the vast majority of terror victims in Israel remain faceless and in very many cases such as those noted above, even nameless.  

Weekend long read

1) As regular readers know, internal Palestinian affairs are consistently under-reported by the BBC despite the fact that it has permanent offices in Ramallah and in Gaza City. Khaled Abu Toameh brings news of the upcoming Palestinian municipal elections – of which BBC audiences will not be aware.Weekend Read

“The Palestinian Authority’s recent decision to hold municipal elections on October 8 has sparked fear among Palestinians that the move will lead to even more security chaos and anarchy, especially in the West Bank. The word on the Palestinian street is that the elections will be anything but fair and free.

The decision to hold new elections was taken during a meeting of the Palestinian Authority (PA) government, headed by Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, on June 21 in Ramallah. The elections are slated to take place in 407 municipalities — 382 in the West Bank and 25 in the Gaza Strip. […]

Hamas has not yet announced its position on the October 8 municipal elections. The Islamic movement’s leaders in the Gaza Strip said this week that they were still debating amongst themselves, and consulting with other Palestinian factions concerning the local elections.”

(Since that article was published, Hamas has decided that it will participate in the elections.)

2) Daveed Garstein-Ross and Nathaniel Barr have written an interesting essay called “The Myth of Lone-Wolf Terrorism” which will ring a bell or two for those getting their news from the BBC.

“Analysts, journalists, and scholars have been quick to label each perpetrator of recent attacks as a lone wolf: individuals who lacked substantial connections to ISIS or other jihadist groups and who carried out their operations without the assistance of others. The designation has generally been applied within 24 hours of these attacks, before significant intelligence about an incident’s planning and execution has emerged—and long before authorities have concluded their investigation.”  

3) The ITIC has produced a report on vehicular terror attacks.

“Israel has been dealing with vehicular attacks since the first intifada (1987), most of them carried out by Palestinian popular terrorism operatives who are not organized or directed by the established terrorist organizations. In most instances the Palestinians use ordinary civilian vehicles, but in some cases they have used heavy construction equipment to increase the number of victims. Vehicular attacks continue to this day: since the beginning of the current terrorist campaign which began in September 2015, of the 224 particularly serious terrorist attacks carried out so far, 31 have been vehicular attacks.”

4) Two US think tanks have this past week held events concerning the Second Lebanon War and the prospect of future conflict between Israel and Hizballah. A podcast of the FDD’s event can be found here and a video is available here. A written report from the FDD on the same topic can be found here.

A video of the event held by the Hudson Institute can be found here.

Is the BBC’s report of Jabhat al-Nusra ‘split’ from al Qaeda too simplistic?

Those visiting the BBC News website’s Middle East page on the morning of July 29th learned the following:

Nusra on ME pge

The article to which that link leads is titled “Syrian Nusra Front announces split from al-Qaeda” and readers are told that:

“Syrian jihadist group Jabhat al-Nusra, also known as the Nusra Front, has announced it has split from al-Qaeda.

Leader Abu Mohammed al-Julani, in his first recorded message, said its new name would be Jabhat Fateh al-Sham [Front for the Conquest of Syria/the Levant].

He said the move was intended to remove the pretext used by powers, including the US and Russia, to bomb Syrians.”

But is the repeated claim that Jabhat al-Nusra has “split from al-Qaeda” an accurate representation of what actually happened? A senior fellow at the FDD doesn’t think so and his analysis (which includes a mention of this BBC article) is well worth reading in full.

“…Al Nusrah’s overt relationship with al Qaeda made it easy for Russia and the US to justify bombing Syria. For this reason, others in the Syrian insurgency objected to Al Nusrah’s status as an al Qaeda branch. (To date, American airstrikes have mainly targeted individual al Qaeda leaders embedded in Al Nusrah’s ranks, not the organization’s overall paramilitary force. However, the proposal for cooperation with Russia may have led to a change in that focus.)

Julani and Al Nusrah’s other leaders are sensitive to the complaint and so they wanted to eliminate this supposed pretext.

“For the aforementioned reasons, we declare the complete cancellation of all operations under the name of Jabhat Al Nusrah, and the formation of a new group operating under the name ‘Jabhat Fath Al Sham,’ noting that this new organization has no affiliation to any external entity,” Julani says.

Press outlets and many analysts seized on this phrasing to argue that Julani had announced Al Nusrah’s “split,” or “break” from al Qaeda. Some even reported that Julani had thanked “commanders of al Qaeda for having understood the need to break ties.”

But that is not what Julani actually said. His remarks were far more nuanced and require careful analysis.

Julani did not explicitly say that Al Nusrah had broken or split from al Qaeda, which is the language used by the press. He made no such claims.

Instead, Julani said Jabhat Fath Al Sham would have “no affiliation to any external [or foreign] entity.” If Julani wanted to argue that he and his men no longer had any ties to al Qaeda, he could have said so. He didn’t. And his precise wording allows for a considerable amount of wiggle room.”

Later on in the BBC’s article readers are told that:Nusra art

“Analysts say the Nusra Front decided to rebrand itself after the US and Russia stepped up their military efforts against the group.

It is understood the group hopes to form closer alliances with other Islamist groups fighting in Syria.”

The article goes on to offer readers a link to a previous BBC report from March 2015.

“Al-Nusra first announced its existence in a video posted online in early 2012, some months after the Syrian civil war began.

It has been claimed that Qatar has relatively close ties with the group, probably through intermediaries.”

In that article (previously discussed here) audiences were told that:

“This is why Qatar is hoping to bring the Nusra Front in from the cold. If the state can get the group to eschew its al-Qaeda affiliation and adhere to a broadly moderate Islamist platform, Qatar can officially commence, with Western blessing, the supply of one of the most effective fighting forces in Syria.” [emphasis added]

But does Jabhat al-Nusra’s rebranding and potential “closer alliances” with additional groups really signal a step down the road to ‘moderation’? Analyst  Jennifer Cafarella does not think so:

“The cancellation of Jabhat al Nusra’s operations and rebranding of Jabhat al Nusra fighters does not remove the group from the global Salafi-jihadi movement, which believes in the use of violence to establish shari’a-based governance. Jabhat al Nusra will continue to fight to advance Syrian Salafi-jihadi interests under its new name. It has not renounced its vision of establishing an Islamic emirate in Syria. It has instead improved its chances of success by removing obstacles to unify the opposition under its leadership. 

 Syrian Salafi-jihadi groups want to unify opposition groups to increase the effectiveness of their war against the Assad regime. U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper today noted that the formation of Jabhat Fatah al Sham likely aimed to “create the image of being more moderate in an attempt to unify and galvanize and appeal to other oppositionist (sic) groups in Syria.” […]

The decision to form Jabhat Fatah al Sham removes the primary source of the opposition’s resistance to a merger. Opposition groups have been hesitant to merge with Jabhat al Nusra for fear that affiliation with an al Qaeda branch would justify Russia’s air campaign and cause the U.S.-led coalition to target them. […]

It was certainly part of a plan coordinated with al Qaeda’s central leadership. Al Qaeda sanctioned the decision to form a new group in a message released today. This was no break from al Qaeda, but rather the execution of a deliberate global strategy on behalf of the movement. The al Qaeda statement emphasized that “the brotherhood of Islam that is between us is stronger than all the finite, ever-changing organizational links.” “

At the time of writing, the BBC’s profile of Jabhat al-Nusra has not been updated to include this latest development or to correct previously noted inaccuracies.

Related Articles:

Confusing and conflicting messaging on Jabhat al Nusra in BBC reports

 

 

 

 

Why BBC accuracy matters for its funding British public

Not for the first time, the annual Al Quds Day march held in London earlier this month did not receive any coverage on the BBC News website. As the Jewish Chronicle reported, the event included the inevitable Iranian sponsored defamation and demonisation of Israel, calls for the eradication of that UN member state and glorification of terrorism.Al Quds day London

“Signs accusing Israel of genocide were handed out at the start of the protest, with a banner at the front of the rally reading: “Dismantling of Zionist State = End Of Bloodshed.” One man carried a homemade placard which said: “Israel is a cancer. We are the cure.””

Although the BBC did not apparently find the hate-fest going on under its own nose newsworthy, there was something novel about this year’s event.

“Approximately 500 pro-Israel activists mounted a counter-demonstration, chanting “Shame! Shame! Shame!” and “Terrorist scum: off our streets” when the Al-Quds Day marchers collected outside the United States embassy in Grosvenor Square. […]

Joseph Cohen, who runs the Israel Advocacy Movement grassroots group, said the day had been “incredible.

“Last year my wife and I were the only people opposing the rally, when there were people marching with Hizbollah flags calling for the genocide of Israel.

It’s amazing today to see hundreds of people coming out to oppose Hizbollah terrorism. Every year they march unopposed. Not this year.””

Since then, a debate has begun on the topic of the display of the flag of a terrorist organisation proscribed by the UK on London’s streets with Dr Matthew Offord MP raising the issue in Parliament.

The Mayor of London also spoke on the topic when it was raised at the London Assembly but, as the Jewish News reports, the issue is not straightforward.  

“The confusion appears to centre on the fact the armed wing of Hezbollah is listed as a terrorist group while the political wing is not, yet the two elements share the same flag. The home office has said “the context and manner in which the flag is displayed must demonstrate that it is specifically in support of the proscribed elements of the group”.”

Obviously some of that confusion could have been avoided had the UK’s national broadcaster adhered to its remit of building an “understanding of international issues” rather than spending years cultivating that same myth of separate ‘wings’ of Hizballah, whitewashing the fact that it is a terrorist organisation by means of euphemisms such as “Lebanese Shia group”, misrepresenting its terror designation by numerous countries and misleading BBC audiences with regard to its activities.

A retrospective look at BBC coverage of the Second Lebanon War – part three

As was noted in part two of this post, some of the themes found in BBC coverage of the Second Lebanon War a decade ago were also evident eight years later in the corporation’s reporting of a different summer war: the 2014 conflict between Israel and Hamas and other assorted terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip.SONY DSC

One of those themes was the presentation of civilian/combatant casualty ratios based on information which was not independently verified by the BBC and as regular readers know, that was a serious issue in the corporation’s reporting of the 2014 conflict between Israel and Hamas – and remains so.

“Now on this day last year another war erupted in Gaza. It lasted 51 days and turned into the longest, most costly conflict of the three wars in the past six years. More than 2,100 people were killed in Gaza and 72 were killed on the Israeli side including 66 soldiers. And a very high price paid by civilians – and most of all children – became a defining issue in this confrontation.” (Rebecca Kesby, ‘BBC World Update: Daily Commute’, BBC World Service, 8/7/2015) [emphasis added]

An internet search for information from the BBC concerning casualty figures during the Second Lebanon War produces remarkably uniform results. The BBC’s profile of Hizballah (like additional articles relating to the terrorist group) states that:

“More than 1,125 Lebanese, most of them civilians, died during the 34-day conflict, as well as 119 Israeli soldiers and 45 civilians.”

An article from 2010 informs audiences that:

“More than 1,000 Lebanese, mostly civilians, and about 160 Israelis, mostly soldiers, died in the conflict. […] More than 1,000 Lebanese, many civilians, died in the war as well as 116 Israeli soldiers and 43 civilians. In Lebanon, bridges, roads and thousands of homes were destroyed in the Israeli bombardment.”

An article from 2009 tells readers that:

“What it [Hizballah] got was a 34-day onslaught from the Israeli military, costing more than 1,000 lives, mostly Lebanese civilians.

About 160 Israelis were killed, mostly soldiers, in fighting and rocket fire from Hezbollah.” 

Another report from the same year states:

“On the Lebanese side more than 1,000 people died, mostly civilians. About 160 Israelis – most of them soldiers – died in the fighting and rocket fire.”

An article from 2007 states:

“About 1,200 Lebanese, mostly civilians, and 160 Israelis, mostly soldiers, were killed in the conflict.”

Another report from 2007 tells readers that:

“Most of the 159 Israelis killed were soldiers. More than 1,000 Lebanese, most of them civilians, also died in the 34-day war.”

In a report from November 2006, audiences were told that:

“The war killed more than 1,200 Lebanese, mostly civilians, and 157 Israelis, mostly soldiers.” 

As can be seen, the BBC’s portrayal of the subject of Lebanese casualties is glaringly and consistently devoid of any mention of Hizballah combatants – despite the fact that at the end of August 2006, the corporation did acknowledge that some of the dead were combatants from that group and others.

2 Leb War Aug Hizb casualties

Like Hamas in 2014, the Lebanese authorities did not differentiate between civilians and combatants during the 2006 war but nevertheless, Lebanese officials reported even before the conflict was over that some 500 of the dead were Hizballah personnel and UN officials gave similar figures while Israeli estimates stand at around 600 (with 450 identified by name: see page 55 here).

As we see above, the media organisation supposedly committed to rigorous standards of accuracy has however continued over the years to portray Lebanese casualties during the 2006 war as “mostly civilians” despite there being no evidence of its having been able to independently verify that claim.

The same is true of the BBC’s portrayal of casualties during the summer 2014 conflict between Israel and Hamas which is presented along the following lines:

“The war left more than 2,100 Palestinians dead, the majority civilians, according to the UN.”

In both these conflicts and in others, the BBC adopted and promoted the narrative that non-Israeli casualties were ‘mostly civilians’ despite the lack of independent verification. Moreover, the BBC makes no effort to provide its audiences with information which would enable them to compare civilian/combatant casualty ratios in conflicts in which Israel is involved with those seen in other conflicts.  

The result is of course clear: BBC audiences have over the last decade at least been repeatedly steered towards the erroneous view that wars in which Israel is involved result in exceptionally high numbers of civilian deaths on the other side.   

Related Articles:

BBC continues to avoid independent verification of Gaza casualty ratios

BBC promotion of the inaccurate notion of exceptional civilian casualties in Gaza

A retrospective look at BBC coverage of the Second Lebanon War – part one

A retrospective look at BBC coverage of the Second Lebanon War – part two

 

 

The missing word in the BBC’s report on the capture of a Hamas terror cell

Visitors to the BBC News website’s Middle East page on July 27th found the following headline:

Surit incident on ME HP

That link led them to an article with a title which similarly suggested to audiences that there was reason to doubt Mohammed Fakih’s involvement in a terror attack reported by the BBC earlier in the month: “Israeli forces shoot dead Palestinian suspected of killing rabbi“. The article opened:Surif incident main

“Israeli forces have shot dead a Palestinian who they said was behind a recent attack which killed an Israeli father-of-10 in the West Bank.” [emphasis added]

However, audiences were not told that one of Fakih’s accomplices had previously identified him as the gunman – as reported by Israeli media.

“The hunt for the rabbi’s killers began proper on July 4, three days after his death, when [Mohammed] Omaireh — a member of the Palestinian Preventive Security Services — was arrested. He told Shin Bet officials during questioning that it was he who drove the car on the night of the attack, but that it was Fakih who had actually fired the shots.”

Readers of the report were told that:

“Three other suspects were arrested in the night-time operation. […]

The Israeli military said the three Palestinians who were arrested were linked to the ambush on the car and were “members of a terrorist cell with ties to Hamas”.

A spokesman for the Israeli prime minister said a member of the Palestinian security forces who was recently arrested had driven Fakih to the location of the attack.”

According to the IDF the three were arrested “earlier this month” rather than during the operation which is the topic of this article and it was not clarified to readers that the “member of the Palestinian security forces” is also a member of Hamas

“The army said the three other cell members — Fakih’s brother, Sahir; their cousin Muaz Fakih; and Mohammed Omaireh — all belong to the Hamas terror group, which rules the Gaza Strip and has seen growing popularity in the West Bank.”

The BBC article describes Fakih as follows: [emphasis added]

“Mohamed Fakih, of the Islamist group Hamas, died in a gun battle with troops who surrounded his hideout in the village of Surif. […]

Hamas said Fakih belonged to its armed wing, the the [sic] Izz al-Din Qassam Brigades.”

Readers were not informed that:

“Fakih was imprisoned in the past for planning terror attacks along with others while he was a member of the terror organization Islamic Jihad. While in prison, he joined the ranks of Hamas’s military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades.”

In short, in a report concerning a terrorist cell linked to a proscribed terror organisation which carried out a fatal terror attack on Israeli civilians, the BBC once again refrained from using any form of the word ‘terror’ itself, with the sole use of the term ‘terrorist’ found in a quote preceded by the qualifier “The Israeli military said”. Apparently the BBC was once again afraid of making a “value judgement“. 

Related Articles:

BBC News finds terror (without quotation marks) in Europe

The continuing disservice of the BBC’s black and white narrative

Behind the BBC’s ‘lone wolf’ portrayal of terrorism in Israel

 

BBC News, PA Balfour agitprop and British history

BBC amplification of the latest pseudo-legal agitprop from the vexatious Palestinian Authority came in the form of an article which appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page on July 26th under the misleading title “Palestinians plan to sue Britain over 1917 Balfour act“.PA Balfour Decl art

The Balfour Declaration was of course a statement of British government policy – not an “act” as this headline states.

Later on in the article, readers were further misled by an inaccurate portrayal of the end of British administration of the Mandate for Palestine.

“Israel declared its independence in 1948 after the UK mandate expired.”

The mandate did not ‘expire‘: the British government chose to terminate its administration of the mandate originally granted by the League of Nations.

Remarkably, the article omitted any mention of British restrictions on Jewish immigration to Mandate Palestine before, during and after the Second World War.

“Jewish immigration to Palestine accelerated from the 1920s to the 1940s, latterly spurred by Nazi persecution and the Holocaust in Europe. The growth of the Jewish population was opposed by Palestine’s Arab community, which rejected the eventual establishment of a Jewish state.”

The article provided uncritical amplification to spurious claims made by a PA representative:

“Palestinian FM Riad Malki said the document led to mass Jewish immigration to British Mandate Palestine “at the expense of our Palestinian people”. […]

Speaking at an Arab League summit in Mauritania on Monday, Mr Malki said the UK was responsible for all “Israeli crimes” since the end of the mandate in 1948.

“Nearly a century has passed since the issuance of the Balfour Declaration in 1917,” he was quoted as saying by the Palestinian Wafa news agency.

“And based on this ill-omened promise hundreds of thousands of Jews were moved from Europe and elsewhere to Palestine at the expense of our Palestinian people whose parents and grandparents had lived for thousands of years on the soil of their homeland.””

The article refrained from clarifying to readers that this latest PA stunt does not come out of the blue and it failed to provide them with the relevant context of the long record of denial of Jewish history by official Palestinian bodies, as ‘The Tower’ explains:

“Article 20 of the charter of the Palestine Liberation Organization, whose chairman Mahmoud Abbas is also president of the Palestinian Authority, declared that “The Balfour Declaration, the Mandate for Palestine, and everything that has been based upon them, are deemed null and void. Claims of historical or religious ties of Jews with Palestine are incompatible with the facts of history and the true conception of what constitutes statehood.”

In 1993, PLO chairman Yasser Arafat promised, as part of the Oslo peace process, to revoke elements of the charter that denied Israel’s right to exist as part of the Oslo peace process. After initially failing to keep his commitment, Arafat specified in a 1998 letter to President Bill Clinton that Article 20 would be among those that would be revoked. In December 1998, the Palestinian legislature officially voted to revoke those sections of the charter that were inconsistent with the Palestinians’ commitment to peace. By questioning the legality of the Balfour Declaration, the Palestinian Authority may be in violation of its international commitments to peace.”

This latest PA agitprop is of course unlikely to do more than create a few headlines. Nevertheless, if the BBC is going to give it amplification, it should at least also inform audiences about the real aim of an exercise that highights the redundancy of the BBC’s repeated promotion of the notion that ‘settlements’ and ‘occupation’ are the “obstacles to peace”.

Obviously too, the UK’s national broadcaster should be capable of presenting its funding public with an accurate account of Britain’s role in that particular chapter of history.

Related Articles:

BBC’s Connolly contorts Israeli – and British – history to fit his political narrative

BBC’s Kevin Connolly erases Iranian patronage of terror, distorts history

BBC World Service misleads on Jewish immigration to Mandate Palestine

Omissions, distortions and inaccurate history in BBC WW1 ‘educational’ feature

How does the BBC define ‘pro-Palestinian’?

BBC R4 presents jaundiced account of San Remo conference

 

A retrospective look at BBC coverage of the Second Lebanon War – part two

A review of the content produced by the BBC a decade ago at the time of the Second Lebanon War shows that many of the themes found in that coverage resurfaced eight years later in the corporation’s reporting of a different summer war: the 2014 conflict between Israel and Hamas and other assorted terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip.

SONY DSC

One theme found very early on in the BBC’s coverage of the 2014 war was the promotion of the unsubstantiated notion that Israel was committing ‘war crimes’ in the Gaza Strip, based on unverified claims from political NGOs – some of which were already engaged in lawfare against Israel.

Documenting the BBC contribution to political warfare against Israel

Documenting the BBC contribution to political warfare against Israel – part two

Documenting the BBC contribution to political warfare against Israel – part three

After the fighting had ended, the BBC continued to amplify the agenda of NGOs including Human Rights Watch (“More BBC promotion and amplification of lawfare NGO“) and in particular Amnesty International:

BBC’s Middle East editor promotes Amnesty International’s Gaza report

More BBC wind in the sails of NGO’s lawfare campaign

BBC amplification of Amnesty’s lawfare agenda again compromises impartiality

BBC WS ‘Newshour’ amplifies Israel delegitimising lawfare campaign

The green shoots of that editorial policy were apparent – albeit on a smaller scale – eight years earlier when – just eight days into the Second Lebanon War – the BBC News website ran an article headlined “UN warning on Mid-East war crimes” which was based on statements made by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights at the time. An additional article published on the same day told BBC audiences that:

“The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, warns that those involved in the spiral of violence between Israel and Lebanon could face war crimes charges if they are found to have deliberately attacked civilians”

On August 23rd 2006 the BBC News website promoted a report by Amnesty International under the headline “Israel accused of war crimes“.

“Amnesty International has accused Israel of committing war crimes by deliberately targeting civilian infrastructure in Lebanon. […]

The document details what it describes as “massive destruction by Israeli forces of whole civilian neighbourhoods and villages”, together with attacks on bridges “in areas of no apparent strategic importance”, on its list of supporting evidence. […]

“Many of the violations identified in our report are war crimes, including indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks,” said Ms Gilmore.”

In September 2007 the BBC News website published an article titled “Israel accused over Lebanon war” which amplified a report by Human Rights Watch (HRW).

“A human rights group has accused Israel of carrying out indiscriminate air strikes that killed hundreds of civilians during the 2006 Lebanon war.

Human Rights Watch said Israel showed “reckless indifference” to the fate of civilians and queried its argument that Hezbollah used them as human shields.”

Despite the existence of publicly available evidence discrediting the claims made by AI and HRW (see for example here and here) the above BBC reports (and others) remain available online  – without any clarifying footnote – as ‘historical record’.SONY DSC

Another theme seen in BBC coverage of the Second Lebanon War was promotion of the notion of ‘disproportionate’ (and by implication, illegal) actions by Israel – already from day two of the conflict.

“A Lebanese cabinet minister said the Israeli response was disproportionate, and called for a ceasefire. […] France and Russia condemned Israel’s “disproportionate use of force”.” (July 13, 2006)

“The European Union is greatly concerned about the disproportionate use of force by Israel in Lebanon in response to attacks by Hezbollah on Israel.” (July 13, 2006)

“President Jacques Chirac of France called Israel’s acts “disproportionate” while Russian President Vladimir Putin called for an end to fighting. […]But he said Israel’s response was “completely disproportionate”, adding: “One can ask oneself whether there isn’t a sort of desire to destroy Lebanon.”” (July 14, 2006)

“Amnesty’s report said Israeli attacks into Lebanon were “indiscriminate and disproportionate”. (November 21, 2006)

Seeing as the BBC did not make any effort at the time (or since) to inform its audiences (and its own staff) of what the principle of proportionality in warfare actually means, it is not surprising to see that the ‘disproportionality’ theme regularly resurfaces in BBC reporting.

In June 2015, for example, viewers of BBC Two’s ‘Newsnight’ saw Evan Davis promote the false notion that proportionality means equality in death and suffering. During the summer 2014 conflict BBC audiences heard and read generous amplification of equally uninformed comment from assorted British politicians and in November 2012 listeners to the BBC World Service heard Julian Marshall tell an Israeli spokesperson:

“I think one of the observations made by critics of Israel is that you always respond disproportionately and – ah – in a way the figures tell the story. Since this offensive of yours began, 39 Palestinians have been killed, three Israelis. There’s a disproportionate use of force going on here.”

In the next instalment of this post we will take a look at additional common themes found in the BBC’s 2006 reporting from Lebanon and its subsequent coverage from the Gaza Strip.

Related Articles:

A retrospective look at BBC coverage of the Second Lebanon War – part one

 

BBC to review its complaints system again

The July 24th edition of the BBC Radio 4 programme ‘Feedback’ (available here) included an item in which presenter Roger Bolton discussed the topic of BBC impartiality with the corporation’s Director of Editorial Policy and Standards, David Jordan.BBC R4 Feedback

Towards the end of that discussion (from 11:43), the conversation turned to another subject.

RB: “David Jordan; just before you leave us can I ask you about the BBC complaints procedure because we’ve just heard that it’s being overhauled and you indeed the man who is going to overhaul it. Why?”

DJ: “I think overhaul might be over-egging the pudding but…ahm….we are having a look at our complaints system in the light of the fact that…err…under the new charter which will be introduced in the New Year, we will be regulated for the first time by OFCOM – the office of communications: an outside regulator – and they will be responsible for all the third stage appeals against our complaints that are currently handled by the BBC Trust.”

After explaining the terms first, second and third stages, Jordan went on to say:

“We’re just having a look at the first two stages in the whole process to make sure it’s as simple as possible, as transparent as possible and that we’re as accountable as possible under the new system and that’s what I’ve been asked to do.”

Whether or not members of the corporation’s funding public whom the BBC complaints procedure is supposed to serve will be consulted on the topic of the current system’s ‘simplicity’ and ‘transparency’ is unclear. At the moment, no such consultation appears on the BBC Trust’s website