An item in the December 28th edition of the BBC Radio 4 programme ‘The World Tonight’ related to the speech given by the outgoing US Secretary of State John Kerry on the same day. Throughout that item (from 07:59 here), host Shaun Ley promoted several inaccuracies. [all emphasis in bold added]
Ley told listeners that:
“Last week President Obama authorised a change of tactics towards Israel. The US opted not to deploy its veto on a Security Council resolution condemning building by Jewish settlers on what had been Palestinian land until the Six Day War.”
Prior to the Six Day War Judea & Samaria and parts of Jerusalem came under Jordanian occupation following that country’s attack on the newly declared Israeli state in 1948. That occupation was not recognised by the international community. Before the Jordanian invasion, the same areas were administered by Britain under the terms of the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine. Prior to British conquest during the First World War, the areas were controlled by the Ottoman Empire for some 500 years. Nevertheless, Ley promoted the totally inaccurate claim that Judea & Samaria and parts of Jerusalem were “Palestinian land” until 1967.
“It was a war which lasted less than a week yet the territory seized by Israel then is still de facto controlled by Tel Aviv today.”
Referring to “Gulf Arab states like Saudi Arabia”, he later told listeners that:
“They also share Tel Aviv’s anxiety about the growing importance of Iran in the region.”
As pointed out by our colleagues at CAMERA in relation to a correction secured from AP (and additional outlets) on the same issue earlier this month:
“This is a case of an error in the journalistic practice of naming a nation’s capital as shorthand for the country’s government. For instance, “Washington” is shorthand for the U.S. government because it is the capital. […]
But Israel’s capital is Jerusalem, not Tel Aviv. The Prime Minister’s bureau is located in Jerusalem, next to the Foreign Ministry, the Bank of Israel, and across the street from the Supreme Court and the Knesset. While Israel’s Ministry of Defense is in Tel Aviv, the U.S. Department of Defense is in Arlington County, Virginia and yet the AP does not refer to “Arlington County” selling F-35s to Israel, for instance.”
As we know, the BBC presumptuously refuses to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital but nevertheless, Ley’s choice of wording leads listeners to believe that Tel Aviv is Israel’s capital – which is clearly inaccurate.
Ley also told audiences that:
“The attitude of Gulf Arab states like Saudi Arabia has become more ambiguous since they fought with Israel in 1967. Whilst continuing to make the case for a separate Palestinian state, most now accept the existence of the Jewish state.”
The Gulf Arab states are Kuwait, Bahrain, Iraq, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. None of those countries recognises or has diplomatic relations with Israel and all but one forbid entry to Israeli passport holders, meaning that Ley’s claim that “most” Gulf states “accept the existence of the Jewish state” is unsubstantiated. With the exception of Iraq and some minor air support from Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, his claim that the Gulf Arab states “fought with Israel in 1967” is also misleading.
Later on, Ley managed to introduce an apartheid analogy into his commentary while implying the existence of some mysterious additional unpopulated “occupied territories”.
“If the occupied territories, as they’re called, including the populated ones – the West Bank and the Gaza Strip – were formally absorbed into a single Israeli state, Mr Kerry suggested people would be separate and unequal – a phrase bound to anger many Israelis because of the implication that this is something similar to the racial segregation once practiced in South Africa and the United States. Israel insists that it treats all its citizens equally…”
Subsequently listeners heard an interview with the PA’s Husam Zomlot in which a reference to Israeli “tanks that is [sic] besieging entire communities” went unchallenged by Shaun Ley.
Part of the BBC’s public purpose remit is to “[e]nhance UK audiences’ awareness and understanding of international issues” in its domestic content – which includes Radio 4. Shaun Ley’s commentary is so ridden with inaccuracy and incompetency that it clearly does not meet that remit.