Given the BBC’s self-evident interest in freedom of the press and its track record of calling out intimidation of journalists and obstruction of free speech, one might have thought that a story about colleagues condemned by a terrorist organisation and pressured not to visit a certain country would have caught the corporation’s attention.
“A delegation of seven leading Moroccan journalists is currently being hosted by the Israeli foreign ministry with the aim of enabling the participants to view first-hand the situation in Israel and to shatter negative myths associated with the country’s image. […]
In a conversation with Ynet, one of the delegation members from a prominent Moroccan newspaper explained the climate of fear and propaganda which has hitherto precluded the possibility of such a visit from coming to fruition.
In 2009, she said, she received an invitation to visit Israel as part of Euro-Mediterranean Youth Forum but felt pressured to decline the offer.
“I was extremely afraid of coming. We are under pressure from the Arab media, religious people and propaganda about the Palestinian issue,” the journalist confessed.
“People are scared to become outcasts. If you say you support Israel, or even that you don’t have a negative opinion about the country in regard to the Palestinian issue, they will single you out.”
In 2010 and 2011, the same journalist received invitations to participate in a conference on counter terrorism in Israel. “For that, of all things, I wanted to come but my manager told me that if I go there he will have the right to fire me because if someone found out that one of our radio journalists visited Israel they would attack us for normalization…This is the thing that scares us in Morocco. It is forbidden to normalize relations with the Israeli enemy and with the Israeli criminal army that robs Palestinians of their land.” “
The Jerusalem Post adds:
“In a report published on London-based al-Araby al-Jadeed’s website, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said: “In the shadow of the escalation of the crimes of the Israeli enemy and the actions of racist purification against our people, we condemn the visit of a team of Moroccan media persons to the Israeli entity with the goal of normalizing with it and undertaking a campaign of beautifying its image in the Arab media.
“We consider this a crime against our people, and an offense to the feelings of the Arabs and Muslims and lovers of the Palestinian cause and an encouragement of the Israeli entity in its crimes and violations,” he continued. […]
…Barhoum stressed that “urgent work is needed to stop all forms of normalization, cooperation and connection with this Israeli entity by any party and to mobilize all the energies of the [Arab] nation to support the justice of the Palestinian cause and to stand behind our people, its rights and [its] principles.””
However, that story did not receive any coverage on either the BBC News website’s Middle East page or the BBC Arabic website’s ‘Morocco‘ section – and neither did the following recent events in Rabat:
“Hundreds demonstrated in the Moroccan capital Wednesday against the Israeli flag being flown beside the colours of 195 other countries at UN climate talks in the central city of Marrakesh. […]
“The Israeli flag at COP22 means Morocco symbolically recognizing the state of Israel. It’s unacceptable,” one protester told AFP.
“Death to America, death to Israel!” demonstrators cried while burning the Israeli flag and parading anti-Israel placards.
Several pro-Palestinian associations took part in the protest after calling on authorities to take action about the flag earlier this week.”
Apparently BBC editors did not consider that these two stories would contribute to meeting their remit of building understanding of “international issues”.