On July 12th the BBC News website’s Middle East page ran an article headlined “Israel army names new chief rabbi criticised over rape comments” which opened by informing readers that:
“Israel’s military has nominated a new chief rabbi criticised for remarks he made in the past that seemed to condone the rape of non-Jewish women in war.
In an answer to a religious website in 2002, Rabbi Colonel Eyal Karim implied that such an act was permissible.”
The link in that second paragraph directs BBC audiences to the English language version of an article published by Yediot Aharonot in Hebrew on its Ynet website, as well as in print, on the day that this BBC News article appeared.
The BBC has enough Hebrew speakers working in its Jerusalem bureau to have been able to determine that amplification of Yediot Aharonot’s false claims is not in line with the BBC’s professed standards of accuracy and that is perhaps why the subsequent paragraph read as follows:
“He [Rabbi Karim] clarified in 2012 that his words had been taken out of context and that rape was forbidden “in any situation”.”
Nevertheless, the next 96 words of the article were devoted to the amplification of vacuous reactions to the non-story which were lifted directly from the linked Ynet article.
“But his appointment, which requires the defence minister’s approval, was condemned by a top female politician.
Zehava Galon, leader of the Meretz party, described Rabbi Karim as “not suitable to represent Jewish morality in any way whatsoever”.
“His appalling, racist and violent statement makes women fair game,” she added.
The head of the Israeli parliament’s Committee on the Status of Women and Gender Equality, Aida Touma-Sliman of the Joint Arab List, said: “Col Karim’s ruling on permitting raping non-Jewish women is similar to the fatwa of a murderous organisation that’s not so far from Israel’s borders.””
That was followed by a response from the IDF.
So what was the point of the BBC’s amplification of this second-hand non-story? Obviously it certainly wasn’t to report news or contribute to audiences’ “understanding of international issues” because the ‘news’ is false and the issue non-existent.
Rather, this is yet another BBC report belonging to the ‘dark Israel’ genre: the succession of stories which – often with little or no regard for accuracy – paint a portrait of a country parting ways with democracy that is rife with racism, sexism, xenophobia, government censorship and more.
The publication of articles such as this of course does nothing to support the BBC’s claim that its reporting from Israel reporting is “impartial” and professional.