A review of BBC News website coverage of UNSC resolution 2334

Events at the UN Security Council received generous coverage on the BBC News website on December 23rd and 24th. BBC audiences found articles relating to Egypt’s withdrawal of its draft resolution and reports concerning the subsequent tabling of  the resolution by New Zealand, Senegal, Venezuela and Malaysia which was approved by the UNSC on December 23rd.

December 23rd:un-sc-2334

1) Egypt delays UN motion on Israel as Trump intervenes

2) Israel blasts US over UN vote on settlements

3) UN Security Council votes against Israeli settlements Barbara Plett Usher (also appeared on BBC television channels and embedded in written reports)

4) Israeli settlements: UN Security Council calls for an end (date stamp changed

December 24th:

5) Israel settlements: Netanyahu rejects ‘shameful’ UN vote

6) Israel settlements: Netanyahu orders UN ties review

The narrative promoted in those reports was uniform and conformed to existing BBC editorial policy.

a) BBC audiences were repeatedly told that the resolution related to Israeli communities on “occupied” – rather than disputed – land and that the said territory is “Palestinian”.

“Egypt has delayed a UN vote on a text condemning Israeli settlements in occupied territory after Israel asked Donald Trump to intervene.” (report 1)

“Israel has reacted furiously over a renewed bid to bring a resolution condemning settlements on occupied land before the UN Security Council.” (report 2)

“Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says a UN call to end settlement activity on occupied land is “shameful”. […]

The resolution, approved by 14 votes to zero, with only the US abstaining, demands that Israel immediately “cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem”.” (reports 5 and 6)

“The move comes after the Security Council adopted a resolution demanding an end to Israeli settlement building on occupied land.” (report 6)

b) BBC audiences were also repeatedly told that Israeli communities in Judea & Samaria and parts of Jerusalem are “illegal” and breach “international law” while the presentation of alternative views on that issue was limited to a box-ticking reference to the Israeli view with no further detail or explanation.

“The resolution submitted by Egypt called for Israel to stop settlement activity in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which it said breached international law. […]

About 500,000 Jews live in about 140 settlements built since Israel’s 1967 occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The settlements are considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.” (reports 1, 2, 4, 5, 6)

“Barbara Plett-Usher explains the significance of the UN Security Council’s vote against illegal Israeli settlements.” (report 3)

“The United Nations Security Council has passed a resolution urging an end to illegal Israeli settlements after the US refused to veto it.” (report 4)

“It [the resolution] says Jewish settlements are a “flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-State solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace”. (reports 5 and 6)

c) The reports failed to distinguish between “settlement building” and construction in existing communities, thereby giving audiences the mistaken impression that new communities are being built.

“The Obama administration has long made clear its opposition to Israeli settlement building and there had been speculation that in its final month it might allow a resolution against settlements to pass at the UN.” (report 1)

“But the outgoing Obama administration has long made clear its opposition to Israeli settlement-building in occupied territory and there had been speculation that in its final month it might allow a resolution against settlements to pass at the UN.” (report 2)

“This is a vote on a resolution that condemns the building of Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian territory. It says it’s illegal under international law. […]

“They themselves [the US administration] have been very critical of settlement building over the last year.” (report 3)

“The resolution reflects an international consensus that the growth of Israeli settlement-building has come to threaten the viability of a Palestinian state in any future peace deal.” (‘analysis’ from Barbara Plett Usher, reports 4 and 5)

d) One of the reports promoted the inaccurate implication that construction under the current Israeli government is exceptional. 

“And it [the resolution] says that the amount of building under this Israeli government is threatening the possibility of the creation of  Palestinian state in any future peace deal.” (report 3)

e) The reports uncritically amplified the PLO narrative of ‘settlements as an obstacle to peace’.

“The issue of Jewish settlements is one of the most contentious between Israel and the Palestinians, who see them as an obstacle to peace.” (reports 1, 2, 4)

f) References to the parts of the resolution condemning terror and incitement were to be found in just one of the BBC’s reports. In contrast to the impression given to BBC audiences, the word ‘Palestinian’ is in fact not included in that part of the text

“French UN Ambassador Francois Delattre said the “key goal” of the resolution was “to preserve and reaffirm the two-state solution”. […]

“It also condemns the violence and terrorism. It also calls to prevent all incitement from the Palestinian side so this is a balanced text.”” (report 2)

g) While some of the later reports included reactions from “the Palestinian leadership”, none of them informed audiences of the fact that the resolution was hailed by the terror organisations Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

“The Palestinian leadership welcomed the UN resolution, which was passed by 14 votes to zero, with one abstention.” (report 4)

“Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ spokesman said the resolution was a “big blow to Israeli policy”.” (report 5)

“A spokesman for Mr Abbas said: “The Security Council resolution is a big blow to Israeli policy, a unanimous international condemnation of settlements and a strong support for the two-state solution.”” (report 6)

h) Three of the later articles (reports 4, 5 and 6) quoted the US ambassador to the UN as saying that “even if all settlements were dismantled, both sides would still have to acknowledge “uncomfortable truths” and make “difficult choices” to reach peace” but none of the reports reminded BBC audiences that although Israel did indeed remove all ‘settlements’ and ‘settlers’ from the Gaza Strip in 2005, peace was not forthcoming and the Hamas terror group continues to seek the destruction of Israel.

i) None of the reports reminded BBC audiences of the 2009 freeze of construction in communities in Judea & Samaria and the fact that the Palestinians refused to negotiate during most of that ten-month freeze.

j) None of the reports provided readers with the relevant context of the Palestinian Authority’s attempts to impose an outside ‘solution’ to the conflict in preference to negotiations.

k) None of the reports provides any relevant historical background on the subject of the 1948 Jordanian occupation of Judea & Samaria and parts of Jerusalem or the 1967 Jordanian attack which subsequently left Israel in control of those areas.

Anyone wondering why the generous coverage of this story was uniformly one-sided and failed to provide BBC audiences with the full range of information necessary for proper understanding might find the following Tweet from the BBC’s Middle East editor (also retweeted by the BBC correspondent who contributed to much of the coverage) enlightening.

bowen-tweet-unsc

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BBC WS report on UNSC resolution endorses Palestinian narrative

On the afternoon of December 22nd (before news broke of Egypt’s withdrawal of its draft resolution tabled at the UN Security Council) listeners to the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newshour’ heard a report (from 50:04 here) relating to that story.plett-newshour-22-12

Presenter James Coomarasamy introduced the item as follows: [all emphasis in bold added]

JC: “The US president-elect Donald Trump has called for a UN Security Council resolution aimed at halting the building of Israeli settlements to be vetoed. The draft resolution is meant to put an end to all settlement activity by Israel in the occupied Palestinian territories including East Jerusalem. Well, joining us now on the line from Washington DC is the BBC’s Barbara Plett Usher. Ehm…so Barbara; this is meant to be voted on a bit later on today – is that right?”

Plett Usher responded:

BPU: “Yes; it’s a draft resolution put forward by Egypt which would say that Jewish settlements in occupied East Jerusalem and the Palestinian…rest of the Palestinian territories are illegal. Now, UN resolutions already say that….eh…but there has been some push to get…ehm…it out there again and re-in…re…re-supported by the UN because of the…this particular Israeli government has…has done a lot of settlement building and it is…it’s very much its policy.”

JC: “And what about the Obama administration’s policy? What do we know about its thoughts on this draft resolution?”

BPU: “The Obama administration and the United States generally has said that settlement building lacks legitimacy. It stops short of adopting the position that it is illegal under international law but Mr Obama’s administration has been very, very critical of the settlement building during his administration and he has…and some of his advisors and his officials have said it was…contributed to breakdown in the peace talks. So there’s been a lot of speculation that in the final month of his…of his term he might take some sort of step, some sort of parting shot, to put his own stamp on what he thinks Israel – Palestinian peace should look like or what the parameters might be or what the problems might be and so there’s been some speculation he might take action at the UN. Up until now…eh…the Americans have vetoed any resolution critical of Israel and the Obama administration did that too in 2011 exactly on a resolution involving settlements. But because he’s leaving, because of his contentious relationship with the Israelis, because Mr Trump is coming after him and looks like he will be changing policy or could change policy…ahm…there’s speculation that he might vote differently this time.”

JC: “So briefly, Barbara, what should we make of the president elect’s intervention?”

BPU: “It’s consistent with what he’s done so far. During the campaign his advisors…ahm…were very sceptical of a two state solution. He has appointed an ambassador as his nominee who is a hardline pro-settler…ah…views. Ahm…so I think that’s consistent with what we’ve seen.”

As we see, in that two and a half-minute conversation, listeners heard two references to “settlements” in “Palestinian territories”. The BBC Academy’s ‘style guide’ states that:

“Strictly speaking, the phrase ‘Palestinian Territories’ refers to the areas that fall under the administration of the Palestinian Authority…”

Obviously there are no Israeli ‘settlements’ in those areas and so the use of such inaccurate terminology misleads listeners.

Israeli communities do exist in Area C and in parts of Jerusalem previously occupied by Jordan for nineteen years. Under the terms of the Oslo Accords no limits are placed on construction in those regions and their final status is to be determined in negotiations. Listeners to this item, however, were not provided with that all-important context and the language used by Plett Usher and Coomarasamy clearly endorses and promotes the Palestinian side’s political claims and narrative, thereby compromising BBC impartiality.

Listeners also heard several references to “settlement building”. Just last September the BBC News website amended similarly misleading language – which leads BBC audiences to mistakenly believe that Israel is constructing new communities rather than – as is actually the case – houses being built in existing towns and villages – most of which would under any reasonable scenario remain under Israeli control in the event of an agreement.

Plett Usher’s claim that “this particular Israeli government has…has done a lot of settlement building” does not stand up to scrutiny and does not clarify to audiences the existence of what Ha’aretz earlier this year termed “an informal construction freeze”.

It is by no means surprising to see the BBC continuing to push its well-worn but unabashedly partisan mantra on the topic of ‘settlements’ – the corporation has, after all, embraced that editorial line for years. However, as this report once again demonstrates, that editorial policy hinders audience understanding of both this specific story and the issue in general.

Related Articles:

BBC News amends misleading portrayal of Israeli construction

BBC News pushes settlements narrative in report on another topic

The BBC’s inaccurate and misleading representation of Israeli building – part two

BBC News continues to cultivate its settlements narrative

Examining the BBC’s claim that Israeli building endangers the two state solution

The return of the BBC’s political narrative on Israeli construction

 

 

 

 

Weekend long read

1) Writing at ‘Foreign Affairs’, the former Israeli Minister of Defence Moshe Ya’alon lays out his views on making peace between Israel and the Palestinians.Weekend Read  

“When news first broke about the Oslo Accords, I supported the agreement and the “land for peace” formula on which it was based, because, both then and now, I revere the preservation of life more than the acquisition of land. Like many Israelis, I believed in the idea that territorial concessions might be the key to achieving peace. But over time, I became disillusioned.

My awakening came after I was appointed the head of Israel’s military intelligence in 1995, shortly before the signing of the Oslo II agreement. In that position, I had the opportunity to see all aspects of Palestinian politics up close. What I learned was shocking—and I learned it not by uncovering secret Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) decisions but just by following Palestinian media, Palestinian educational curricula, and Palestinian leadership statements. The evidence was overwhelming: rather than preparing the younger generations of his community for a historic reconciliation with Israel, Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat was feeding his people a steady diet of hatred and vitriol toward Israel.”

2) At the Tower, former MK Einat Wilf writes about “The Intersectional Power of Zionism”.

“But Zionism is as much a revolution in Jewish life as a continuation of it. In the immediate aftermath of the Roman exile, the Judeans might have conceived of their return to Judea as a forthcoming possibility. But by the 19th century, the idea of return was sublimated into a Messianic wish, expressed in ritual and prayer. One day, a descendant of King David would arise and lead the Jewish people out of a fragile existence into a life of dignified sovereignty in a land of their own. It was a passive hope that mandated no action.

Zionism was a rebellion against this Jewish passivity. To the Jewish people, Zionism carried the message that they need not wait for the Messiah. Rather, they should be their own Messiahs. Zionism, born of the enlightenment, embodied the idea of human agency. Rather than wait for God or Messiah to bring about their salvation, Zionism called upon the Jewish people to be the vehicles of their own redemption. Zionism demonstrated that, even when dealt some of the worst cards in history, humans were active agents, capable of changing the course of their private and collective futures.”

3) At the Times (£), Michael Gove MP discusses anti-Zionism and antisemitism.

“Antisemitism has moved from hatred of Jews on religious or racial grounds to hostility towards the proudest expression of Jewish identity we now have — the Jewish state.

No other democracy is on the receiving end of a campaign calling for its people to be shunned and their labour to be blacklisted. The Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions movement is a growing force on our streets and campuses. Its campaigners argue that we should ignore ideas from Jewish thinkers if those thinkers come from Israel and treat Jewish commerce as a criminal enterprise if that business is carried on in Israel.

This is antisemitism, impure and simple. It is the latest recrudescence of the age-old demand that the Jew can only live on terms set by others. Once Jews had to live in the ghetto, now they cannot live in their historic home. […]

Antizionism is not a brave anti-colonial and anti-racist stance, it is simply antisemitism minding its manners so it can sit in a seminar room. And as such it deserves to be called out, confronted and opposed.”

4) At the Jewish News/Times of Israel, Ronnie Fraser writes: “The first step in defeating anti-Semitism is to define it”.

“When Theresa May, the British Prime Minister, announced that her government was to adopt the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism she said that the ‘first step in defeating anti-Semitism is to define it clearly, to remove any doubt about what is unacceptable, so that no one can plead ignorance or hide behind any kind of excuse.’ This should mean the end of people saying ‘I am not an anti-Semite because I say am not’ or that ‘I am not an anti-Semite because my family stood up to Oswald Mosely and his Blackshirts in the 1930s’.

It should also mean that organisations such as the trade unions or the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) will have to reconsider what they mean when they say they oppose anti-Semitism. The PSC condemned the use of the EUMC definition of anti-Semitism; the forerunner of the IHRA definition, by saying it denied their right to challenge ‘the racism of the Israeli state’ which freedom of speech of course allows them to, as is their right, but they can no longer truthfully say that they condemn anti-Semitism.”

BBC News removes information on Hamas missile fire and terror designation

Earlier this week the BBC News website’s Middle East page published an article promoting Hamas’ unsubstantiated claims concerning the murder of one of its members in Tunisia which was previously discussed here.sfax-art

That article included an incomplete portrayal of Hamas’ designation as a terrorist organisation and its record of terror activity while amplifying the group’s ‘resistance’ narrative.

“Hamas, which rules the Gaza strip, is seen as a legitimate resistance group by its supporters – but is classed as a terrorist outfit by the US and EU.

It refuses to recognise Israel as a country, and regularly fires rockets from Gaza into the Jewish state.

Israel has held Gaza under a blockade for the past decade, and conducted several offensives and air strikes against the territory – which it says are needed to curtail Hamas rocket fire.”

Subsequently, that section of the article was amended and the references to Hamas’ terror designation and firing of missiles at civilian communities in Israel were removed. The edited version now reads:

“Hamas, which is in control of the Gaza Strip, does not recognise Israel’s right to exist, and there have been years of conflict between the two sides.

It has occasionally sent drones across the border into Israel but these have either crashed or been shot down.”

The context of Hamas’ terror designation, its long record of terror activity and its self-declared mission to destroy Israel is obviously crucial to audience understanding of the allegations put forward in this article. Rather than improving on the incomplete information previously given, the amendments made do the exact opposite and thus reinforce the impression that the main purpose of this article was to promote Hamas’ evidence-free speculation.

Related Articles:

BBC rushes to amplify an evidence-free Hamas claim

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BBC ignores UN SG’s admission of bias against Israel

Readers may recall that in February 2016 the BBC’s UN correspondent Nick Bryant told listeners to BBC World Service radio that:

“The Israelis always believe that they are victimized at the UN; that they are singled out unfairly; that they are isolated…”

However, as has been noted here before, Bryant did not provide BBC audiences with any relevant factual information which would enable them to understand the reality behind his portrayal of what Israelis “always believe”.  

As the current UN Secretary General’s term of office comes to an end, the BBC has found a ‘hint’ made at a final press conference newsworthy.ban-art-2

“UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has hinted that he may shortly run for the presidency of his native South Korea.

Mr Ban’s term as the world’s top diplomat expires at the end of December.

In his final press conference as UN chief, Mr Ban said that after some rest he will return to South Korea and consider how best to help his country.”

Not newsworthy for the BBC, however, was Ban’s acknowledgement of bias against Israel at the body he has headed for a decade in his last address to the UN Security Council.

“During the past ten years, I have argued that we must never accept bias against Israel within UN bodies.  Decades of political maneuverings have created a disproportionate volume of resolutions, reports and conferences criticizing Israel.  In many cases, rather than helping the Palestinian cause, this reality has hampered the ability of the UN to fulfill its role effectively.” 

As noted at the Tower:

“Ban criticized the UNHRC’s singular focus on Israel shortly after assuming his post in 2007, saying that he was “disappointed at the council’s decision to single out only one specific regional item, given the range and scope of allegations of human rights violations throughout the world.” […]

Earlier this year, U.S. Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power underscored the injustice of the UN’s singular focus on Israel:

“As you all know, the UN Charter guarantees “the equal rights of nations large and small,” and yet we have seen member states seek to use the UN Security Council, the General Assembly, and even the most arcane UN committees in ways that cross the line from legitimate criticisms of Israel’s policies to attempts to delegitimize the state of Israel itself. The only country in the world with a standing agenda item at the Human Rights Council is not North Korea, a totalitarian state that is currently holding an estimated 100,000 people in gulags; not Syria, which has gassed its people – lots of them. It is Israel.

Bias has extended well beyond Israel as a country, Israel as an idea – it even extends to Israeli organizations. Some of you may know the group ZAKA – an Israeli humanitarian group that helps save lives in disasters and ensures proper burial for the victims of those tragedies. ZAKA not only works here in Israel, but it responds to natural and manmade disasters worldwide, as it did in New York after 9/11, and in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. Yet when ZAKA was nominated in 2013 for accreditation by the UN’s NGO committee – and this accreditation is what gives NGOs the right to participate in UN meetings, the right to assert their voices, the right to raise causes that really can matter in the world – when ZAKA was put forward it was denied approval. Five subsequent times the committee met, and five times member states blocked ZAKA – not because of the quality of its work, people weren’t that interested in the quality of its work, but simply because ZAKA is an Israeli organization.”

Particularly as the BBC is prone to frequent uncritical amplification of UN officials’ statements concerning Israel, Ban’s acknowledgement of anti-Israel bias at that body is precisely the type of information that audiences need in order to enhance their understanding.

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Documenting five years of BBC politicisation of Christmas

Christmas is coming and with it – if the BBC’s record over the past five years is anything to go by – the usual politicised reporting from the Middle East.

Christmas Eve of 2011, for example, saw Jon Donnison piling on the pathos in a reworking of the well-worn ‘Bethlehem shepherds’ theme on Radio 4’s ‘Today’ programme.  

“There are still shepherds in Bethlehem 2000 years on from the nativity but as our West Bank correspondent Jon Donnison reports, Jewish settlement expansion there has made the life of the shepherd increasingly limited.”knell-2011-nativity

On the same day the BBC News website published a particularly egregious example of campaigning propaganda produced by Yolande Knell under the transparent title of “Bethlehem’s modern-day nativity characters“. 

In 2012 Kevin Connolly reported on Christians in the Middle East while managing to omit any mention of the one country in which they thrive and Jon Donnison produced a politically opportunistic report from Bethlehem.

Bethlehem was also the location for a 2013 report from Yolande Knell in which she promoted inaccurate information about the anti-terrorist fence.

“In the Bethlehem Governorate there are more than twenty Pal..err…Israeli settlements and now Israel’s West Bank separation barrier. It appears as a high concrete wall around Bethlehem and the people here complain that it has strangled their economy. Israel says of course that it was built for security but the Palestinians view it as a land grab.”

A multi-platform item promoted a smear from a patron of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.Knell Bethlehem main

Political messaging concerning the anti-terrorist fence also dominated a Christmas 2014 report on the BBC News website and Yolande Knell produced an audio report and a written report from Bethlehem in which she blamed “the dwindling number of Christians in the Holy Land” on “Israel’s occupation”.

Reporting again from Bethlehem in 2015, Yolande Knell revisited the ‘nativity characters’ theme in a multi-media feature focusing on politicised messaging concerning the anti-terrorist fence. An audio report by Knell broadcast on the BBC World Service was notable for its adherence to PLO media guidance.

Let’s hope that this year the BBC Jerusalem bureau can resist the temptation to exploit Christmas for the promotion of opportunistic politicised messaging and perhaps even come up with some original reporting about the Middle East’s beleaguered Christians. 

BBC News’ under-reporting of internal PA politics continues

Regular readers need no reminder of the fact that the BBC’s coverage of internal Palestinian affairs, including human rights issues and politics, is – to put it generously – minimal.No news

In recent weeks alone, BBC audiences have not seen any English language coverage of Fatah’s 7th congress or Mahmoud Abbas’ apparently unanimous re-election to the post of head of that party. Neither have they been provided with any reporting on the splits and rivalries within the party that dominates the Palestinian Authority and the PLO and the related violence in PA-controlled areas. It was therefore unsurprising to see the BBC ignoring the following story.  

Last week Israeli media outlets reported that:

“Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday lifted the parliamentary immunity of five PA lawmakers, as he readied to level charges against them, sources in Abbas’s office and the Palestinian parliament said.

The five MPs include Mohammad Dahlan, the former Gaza strongman who was ousted from Fatah by Abbas in 2010, and four other lawmakers: Shami Shami, Najat Abu Bakr, Nasser Juma and Jamal Tirawi.

They will face charges of embezzlement, weapons smuggling, defamation and insults, according to the sources, who spoke to AFP on condition of anonymity.

According to one source, “The whole issue related to existing conflicts” between Abbas and Dahlan. […]

Earlier in November, the Palestinian Constitutional Court, a body set up a few months earlier by Abbas himself, issued a decision confirming the right of the PA president to lift the parliamentary immunity of lawmakers in the Palestinian Legislative Council.”

Prior to that decision from the Palestinian Constitutional Court, decisions concerning the removal of MP’s immunity were made by the Palestinian Legislative Council.

“Abbas formed the PA Constitutional Court in April, a move that many analysts viewed as a power grab. […]

Jihad Harb, a Palestinian researcher and analyst, told The Jerusalem Post the court’s ruling “grants the president executive power to hold a sword to the neck of parliamentarians, especially those who oppose his policies.””

Further developments in the story were seen this week.

“Palestinian forces entered the offices of the International Committee of the Red Cross near the West Bank city of Ramallah on Sunday, and removed three lawmakers who had sought refuge there.

MPs Shami Shami, Najat Abu Bakr and Jamal Tirawi, who along with Nasser Juma are all allies of Mohammad Dahlan, the former Gaza strongman who was ousted from Fatah by Abbas in 2010, were holed up in the International Red Cross offices, where they appealed for protection by the international community. […]

Arabic media reported that initially the parliamentarians were denied entry to the Palestinian legislature. They then went to the Red Cross building seeking international protection. A few hours later, Palestinian security forces entered the building, bringing out the lawmakers.”

It is of course difficult to imagine that such a story would have been deemed not newsworthy by the BBC had it taken place in any other location.

Related Articles:

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BBC News continues to under-report internal Palestinian politics

Abbas’ Fatah reelection ignored by the BBC – in English

BBC News passes up coverage of recent Fatah congress

Reviewing BBC News coverage of internal Palestinian affairs

Revisiting the BBC’s amplification of an NGO’s PR

The Guardian reports that the head of Oxfam GB has described the NGO’s 2014 campaign against the Israeli company SodaStream as having ‘backfired’.

“In a candid presentation to an audience of charity professionals on 14 December, Goldring said Oxfam had made high-stakes misjudgments […] in the row over the involvement of its then celebrity ambassador, Scarlett Johansson with a company operating in an Israeli settlement on the West Bank.

The Johansson furore had cost Oxfam America “literally thousands” of donors, Goldring revealed. […]

In the Johansson case, after a protracted stand-off, the actor ended her eight-year association with Oxfam over its criticism of her for endorsing fizzy drinks company SodaStream, which at the time had a factory in an Israeli settlement.

Goldring […] told a seminar on campaigning for less popular causes that in mishandling the Johansson affair, Oxfam turned what should have been a point of principle into “something of a PR disaster”.

Oxfam’s error, said Goldring, was letting the controversy drag on so that Johansson could eventually seize the initiative. “The judgment was when to be proactive, when to be forceful, and when to be balanced and reflective,” he said. “We got that wrong.”Today Connolly

As readers may recall, the BBC also played a very “proactive” role at the time, promoting Oxfam’s PR messaging (together with that of fellow BDS campaigners, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign) on a variety of platforms including the BBC News website, BBC Radio 4 and BBC television channels.

BBC News recycles second-hand SodaStream slur, fails to explain BDS

BBC’s ‘Today’ programme ‘should know better’ than to engage in covert promotion of the PSC’s agenda

BBC displays its campaigning colours in SodaStream story coverage 

Oxfam’s Ben Phillips on BBC Two’s ‘Newsnight’

BBC One serves up BDS at Breakfast

As was noted here at the time:

“As its coverage of this story shows, the BBC has abandoned its role as a provider of news and information regarding the anti-Israel BDS movement and emphatically tied its colours to the campaigning mast.”

 

 

BBC coverage of Berlin terror attack again highlights double standards

The BBC’s coverage of the vehicular terror attack in Nice on July 14th 2016 highlighted the differences in the terminology used to describe and define that attack as opposed to the language used when reporting similar attacks against Israelis.Attack Nice website Europe pge

When a vehicular attack occurred in Berlin on the evening of December 19th, the BBC News website’s initial report on the incident – oddly titled “Berlin Breitscheidplatz: Lorry kills 12 at Christmas market” – was amended less than two hours after its initial publication to include a sub-heading posing the question “Terror attack?”

“We are investigating whether it was a terror attack but do not yet know what was behind it,” a police spokesman told AFP news agency.”

A later version of the report used the sub-heading “Was it a terror attack?” and informed readers that:

“German politicians have been unwilling to call the deadly crash a terrorist attack at this stage, while many of the details remain unverified or unclear.”

All but the first two versions of the report created linkage with an attack previously defined by the BBC as terrorism, telling readers that the incident:

“…evoked memories of the lorry attack on Bastille Day crowds in the French city of Nice on 14 July, when 86 people were killed. That attack was claimed by so-called Islamic State (IS).”

Later versions added:

“Both IS and al-Qaida have urged their followers to use trucks as a means to attack crowds.”berlin-attack-art-2-main

Early on the morning following the attack, the BBC News website published a second article which soon had its headline updated to read “Berlin attack: Police say lorry crash ‘probably terror attack’“.

“German police are investigating a “probable terrorist attack” after a man ploughed a lorry into a Christmas market in the heart of Berlin, killing 12 people and injuring 48. […]

Politicians had avoided branding the bloodshed a terror attack in the hours immediately following, but Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere told ARD television, “there are many things pointing to one”.”

Readers were provided with a link billed “A year of terror in Germany”.

berlin-attack-art-2-insert

The updated article to which that link leads was originally published in July 2016 and now opens:

“After suffering a series of attacks in the summer, Germany has been in fear of further terrorist violence.

Those fears were realised on Monday, when a lorry ploughed into a Christmas market in Berlin, killing 12 people and injuring 48.”berlin-attack-on-europe-pge-20-12

The same link was promoted as a stand alone item on the BBC News website’s ‘Europe’ page and in an article titled “Berlin lorry attack: What we know” which informed readers:

“A lorry smashed into a crowded Christmas market in central Berlin, killing 12 people and injuring 48, with many of them in a critical condition.

German police are treating it as a terror attack. It has already been compared with the July lorry attack in Nice, southern France, which killed 86 people. […]

Germany was shocked by four terror attacks in the summer, two of which – by asylum seekers – were claimed by IS.”

Also on December 20th, BBC television viewers were told by reporter Jenny Hill that:

“There is of course a sense of utter horror here this morning and that is compounded by the fact that the police here are now describing this as a suspected terror attack. So not only do they believe that that lorry was deliberately driven into the crowd here, they believe that this was a terror inspired attack too.”

In conclusion, BBC audiences were alerted to the probability that the incident at the Berlin Christmas market was a terror attack from the early stages of the BBC’s coverage, with use of the terms terror and terrorist made by the BBC itself, as well as in quotes from officials.

With the corporation having consistently refrained from describing vehicular attacks (and all other types of attacks) against Israelis as terrorism, the double standards so often evident in its reporting of terrorism in different locations are once again on display to BBC audiences – who of course have never seen a BBC article billed ‘A year of terror in Israel’.   

Related Articles:

Reviewing BBC reporting of vehicular attacks in France and Israel

More mapping of BBC inconsistency in terrorism reporting

BBC News finds terror (without quotation marks) in Europe