BBC News’ bizarre ‘Newsbeat’ backgrounder on Syria

An article which appeared in the ‘Features’ section of the BBC News website’s Middle East page on October 5th was billed as follows:


The link leads to a backgrounder produced by BBC News for ‘Newsbeat‘ – and hence specifically tailored for younger audiences – which is titled “How the history books will remember Syria in 2016“.

The backgrounder – headed “Newsbeat Explains” – may well raise eyebrows both for what it does tell those ‘younger audiences’ and what it does not. No mention is made, for example, of the fact that the vast majority of casualties in the Syrian civil war have died at the hands of the Syrian regime or of issues such as the barrel bombs, the use of chemical weapons against civilians or the siege and starvation policy employed by Bashar al Assad. Apparently ‘Newsbeat’ does not consider those points worthy of the history books: a section headed “It’s hard to know exactly how many people have been killed in Syria” does not even try to inform audiences about such issues.


Readers are told that the root of the conflict in Syria goes back to “March 2003 when Britain and America and other countries decided to invade Iraq” and that the ‘Arab Spring’ can be attributed to the “economic crash of 2007/08”. The oppressive nature of the Syrian regime pre-March 2011 is severely whitewashed.


In a section concerning Syrian refugees audiences are told that Britain is characterised by “endemic racism” and in a section about the “international players” in Syria, readers are bizarrely informed that:


It is of course remarkable that the dubious notion that “Israeli security” is a prime factor behind US intervention in Syria (such as it is) was included in this BBC backgrounder without any concrete evidence being provided to back up that statement. Given that the information comes from an academic – Tim Jacoby – with a record of supporting anti-Israel boycotts and delegitimisation, the BBC’s amplification of that entirely unsupported claim obviously requires explanation.



3 comments on “BBC News’ bizarre ‘Newsbeat’ backgrounder on Syria

  1. The use of people like Tim Jacoby and Ben White to give a “neutral” look at Syria is deliberate propagandising designed to mislead the uninformed. A far shrewder look at what is happening in Syria was broadcast on the World Service on Saturday night when a reporter explained that there is plenty of food in Syria outside Aleppo and that it is in the hands of “traders” who inflate the prices tenfold for the hapless victims of the seige. These are fellow Syrians who are ruthlessly exploiting their fellow Syrians. There are also roadblocks everywhere (sound familiar?) but at each roadblock money is extorted from travellers, probably including UN aid vehicles.

  2. It would be so refreshing to see or hear a BBC report issued by the Israeli press office providing the truth on the Middle East political scenario – but the chance of that happening is less likely than seeing an elephant fly.

  3. Pingback: 10/10 Links Pt2: Palestinian refugee camps: Facts, myths, & illusions; Goodbye, Barack – 24/6 Magazine

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