Was BBC News presentation of a new Israeli law balanced and accurate?

On July 20th an article appeared on the BBC News website under the title “Israeli parliament passes controversial impeachment law“.

The article included a brief portrayal of the new law which is its ostensible subject matter:

“Israel’s parliament has passed a law that would allow it to impeach an MP who incites racism or supports armed struggle against the state. […]

The law would require three-quarters of the Knesset’s 120 members to vote in favour of any impeachment motion.”

The Jerusalem Post has more details – which the BBC did not apparently find it necessary to report.

“The bill […] allows MKs to vote to dismiss a fellow lawmaker for incitement to violence or racism, and support for armed conflict against Israel, which are among the reasons cited in the Basic Law: Knesset for banning a party or person from running.

The impeachment process would begin with 70 MKs, 10 of whom must be from the opposition, petitioning the Knesset House Committee, and could only be finalized with a vote of 90 MKs in favor of the dismissal. If an MK is expelled, he or she would be replaced by the next person on his or her party’s list. […] the law will not apply retroactively to actions MKs took before it passed.”

In addition:

“The deposed lawmaker could then appeal the decision with the Supreme Court.

Under the terms of the law, Knesset members cannot be removed from office during an election period.”

The 415 word BBC News article included a twenty-three word portrayal of the point of view of a supporter of the law whilst one hundred and twelve words – and a link to an EU funded political NGO’s website – were devoted to portrayal of opinions opposing the law.

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the measure ended an “absurd situation” whereby someone who “supports terror” was allowed to serve in the Knesset.

But critics said it was anti-democratic and aimed mainly at Israeli Arab MPs. […]

A spokeswoman for the Association of Civil Rights in Israel expressed similar concerns about the new impeachment law, which was approved by 62 votes to 47 early on Wednesday.

“It harms the very building blocks of democracy – the right to freedom of expression, the right to vote and to be elected, and the right to representation,” said Debbie Gilad-Hayo.

“Arab [MPs] whose actions and remarks do not find favour with the political majority will be the first people harmed by the bill – however, it is a slippery slope and the bill has potential to affect all,” she added.”

In addition, the article highlighted a previous statement from the EU – which does not relate to the specific subject matter concerned – both in its text and in a photo caption.impeachment law art

“The move comes a week after the European Union warned that the Knesset had risked undermining democracy and freedom of speech by approving legislation that requires NGOs receiving most of their funding from abroad to declare so publicly.”

“The EU warned Israel’s parliament earlier this month that it risked undermining democracy”

The article made no effort to provide readers with the relevant context of impeachment laws in other democracies such as the United States and some EU member countries. It failed to provide readers with information concerning the type of actions to which the new law would presumably apply such as an MK’s participation in a flotilla in support of Hamas organised by a group proscribed under Israeli law.

As was the case at the time, the report gave a whitewashed portrayal of an event which took place earlier in the year.  

“In February, three of the 18 Israeli Arab MPs caused outrage and were suspended from parliamentary activity for several months by an ethics committee after they met the families of Palestinians killed while carrying out attacks on Israelis.”

Clearly this article did not provide uninformed readers with a comprehensive view of the legislation itself or the types of activities to which it may apply. However, there is one specific take away message which it obviously tried very hard to get across to BBC audiences.

“The EU warned Israel’s parliament earlier this month that it risked undermining democracy”

“But critics said it was anti-democratic…”

“… the Knesset had risked undermining democracy and freedom of speech…”

“It harms the very building blocks of democracy…” 

Reports of the death of Israeli democracy are of course greatly exaggerated – but notably, such reports frequently come from the media organisation supposedly committed to accurate and impartial reporting.

Related Articles:

BBC News portrayal of Israeli law airbrushes political NGOs

BBC WS ‘Newshour’ promotion of Haneen Zoabi omits crucial information

BBC News ignores Hizballah terror designation development

Advertisements

7 comments on “Was BBC News presentation of a new Israeli law balanced and accurate?

  1. The BBC also airbrushed the report of incitement of terrorism in Brazil during the Olympic Games, deliberately omitting the fact that much of the incitement specifically mentioned Israel and Israeli athletes.

  2. The proposed law is not anti-democratic in any way – it does not state the religion or party of the MK who can be impeached. If any organisation should be impeached, it is the BBC – who violate their integrity by actively committing a propaganda campaign against their hosts.

  3. So when is the BBC going to come out against the British government? The House of Parliament has the same law, but it only requires a majority of the members to vote to impeach.

    Guess the UK is very anti-democracy in comparison to Israel but the BBC will never say that

  4. Pingback: BBC News misleads audiences on Palestinian boy’s death | BBC Watch

  5. Pingback: 07/23 Links: Is BDS headed for defeat?; Columnist Says Israel ‘Last Hope’ for Arab Christians Before Total Annihilation – 24/6 Magazine

Comments are closed.