BBC still touting problematic backgrounder for children

The BBC News website’s recent article promoting Hamas claims concerning a man murdered last week in Tunisia (previously discussed here) included three links to ‘related articles’ presumably intended to enhance audience understanding of the story.

newsround-art-link-in-sfax-art

The second of those links – billed “A simple guide to the Gaza conflict” – leads to a backgrounder produced by the CBBC website’s ‘Newsround’ section for children between the ages of six and twelve. newsround-gaza 

Titled “Guide: Why are Israel and the Palestinians fighting over Gaza?“, that rather curious choice of ‘related article’ was originally published in November 2012 and was the subject of a complaint and a ruling by the BBC’s Editorial Complaints Unit  in June 2013.

Despite having been amended numerous times, the backgrounder still includes misleading, inaccurate and incomplete information – as was documented here in 2014. At the time we noted that:

“Incidents such as the recent bout of conflict often prompt increased pondering of the topic of why so many educated people in Western countries exhibit a disturbing lack of factual knowledge with regard to Israel. With CBBC apparently reaching 34% of six to twelve year-olds weekly in the UK and its website having a million unique browsers a month, items such as this inaccurate and misleading ‘Newsround’ guide are clearly aiding to perpetuate that situation whilst failing young audience members and their licence fee-paying parents by neglecting  the BBC’s obligation to promote “understanding of international issues”. 

However, as we see, this problematic “guide” continues to be promoted to BBC audiences around the world.

 

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Revisiting the BBC’s promotion of an anti-Israel activist

Readers may recall that back in November 2012 the BBC News website published a very one-sided account of the sentencing of anti-Israel activist Bassem Tamimi which included extensive amplification of content from a press release put out by the political NGO Amnesty International and – as noted here at the time – was illustrated with a staged image of Tamimi’s daughter.Tamimi 1

Nearly three years after that BBC article appeared, Bassem Tamimi went on a speaking tour in the US which included a controversial event at a school. The ‘Legal Insurrection’ website continues the story:

“On Friday morning, September 18, 2015, the third grade classes at the Beverly J. Martin School in Ithaca, NY, heard a presentation on “human rights” by Palestinian activist Bassem Tamimi and local anti-Israel activists, led by Ariel Gold. We broke the story a couple of days later, Anti-Israel activism hits elementary school in Ithaca, NY.

Based on documents produced pursuant to a NY Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request and court rulings, previously we were able to document that the Tamimi event was an anti-Israel propaganda event. At least one third-grade student suffered nightmares and a Letter of Reprimand was issued to the school principal for attempting to cover-up the nature of the event.

Previously, though, we didn’t have any video of the Tamimi Event, just the paper and electronic record of communications. While that paper and electronic record was shocking, only video could fully convey what happened.

After over a year of investigation and litigation, including a court order under the NY Freedom of Information Law, Legal Insurrection has obtained a partial video of the Tamimi Event. That partial video shows how, after the main portion of the presentation was over (for which there is almost no video), the third-grade students expressed strong hostility to Israel and were encouraged to do so.”

The rest of the article and the videos can be found here.

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BBC’s Yolande Knell dons her campaigning hat yet again

 

OFCOM announces further public consultations regarding the BBC

h/t JB

In addition to the public consultation already launched last month, OFCOM has announced consultations on five further topics:ofcom

1) Broadcasting Code Review. The consultation is open until February 9th, 2017 and relevant reading can be found here.

2) Assessing the impact of proposed changes to the BBC’s public service activities: A consultation on Ofcom’s procedures and guidance (i). The consultation is open until February 13th 2017 and relevant reading can be found here.

3) Assessing the impact of the BBC’s public service activities: A consultation on Ofcom’s procedures and guidance (ii). The consultation is open until February 13th 2017 and relevant reading can be found here.

4) The BBC’s commercial activities: A Consultation on Ofcom’s proposed requirements and guidance. The consultation is open until February 13th 2017 and relevant reading can be found here

5) Distribution of BBC public services: A Consultation on Ofcom’s proposed requirements and guidance. The consultation is open until February 13th 2017 and relevant reading can be found here.

Additional consultations are expected in January 2017 and thereafter.

An overview of “Ofcom’s preparations for regulation of the BBC” can be found here.

The Draft BBC Royal Charter (updated in November 2016) can be found here.

The Draft Framework Agreement (updated in November 2016) can be found here. The subject of the BBC complaints system and OFCOM’s role is addressed in sections 56 to 60 inclusive. 

Related Articles:

2016 Charter Review 

OFCOM consultation concerning BBC accuracy and impartiality

 

 

 

BBC rushes to amplify an evidence-free Hamas claim

On December 15th a man with links to organisations including Hamas and the Tunisian Muslim Brotherhood was murdered in the Tunisian city of Sfax. Local journalists quickly promoted the notion of Israeli involvement in the killing despite the absence of any supporting evidence.

“According to Channel 10, a senior Tunisian journalist said the Israeli spy agency Mossad had been tracking Zoari for quite some time, and was responsible for his assassination. […]

However, Channel 2 also quoted Tunisian security officials as saying that the investigation of the death did not currently suggest an assassination by a foreign intelligence agency.”

Another Tunisian official later commented on the case:

“A senior court official in Sfax, Murad a-Turki, said police had found two pistols, silencers and four cars apparently used in the killing.

“According to our initial investigation, we found a connection to other elements who are now outside the country,” he said.

Turki was quoted late Saturday saying that there was no evidence linking Israel to the death. He also said there were eight suspects in custody, most of them Tunisian citizens. One of those in custody was said to be a Tunisian journalist based in Hungary. Two other suspects, one a Belgian of Moroccan origin, were still being sought.” [emphasis added]

Nevertheless, on December 17th Hamas put out a statement blaming Israel for the murder.

“Qassam Brigades mourns the martyr of Palestine, martyr of the Arab and Muslim nation, the Qassam leader, engineer and pilot Mohammad Zawari, who was assassinated by Zionist treacherous hands on Thursday in Sfax,” a statement posted on the group’s website said.

“The enemy must know the blood of the leader Zawari will not go in vain,” the statement said.

As Reuters noted in its report, “Hamas […] did not offer any evidence to support its accusation”.

That, however, did not prevent the BBC’s Gaza bureau employee Rushdi Abualouf from posting the following Tweet on the evening of December 17th:

sfax-rushdie-tweet

Later the same night the BBC News website likewise found it appropriate to amplify Hamas’ speculations concerning a story it had previously ignored for well over 48 hours in an article headlined “Hamas accuses Israel of killing its Tunisian drone expert“.sfax-art

“The Palestinian militant group Hamas has blamed Israel for the death of a Tunisian national it described as one of its drone experts.

Mohamed Zaouari, 49, was shot dead at the wheel of his car outside his home in Tunisia’s second city, Sfax, on Thursday.

The Qassam Brigades, Hamas’s armed wing, said he had worked for the “resistance” for 10 years.

It declared a day of mourning and vowed to avenge Mohamed Zaouari’s death.

Israel has not responded to the claims.”

BBC audiences had to read down to the article’s sixteenth paragraph (out of a total of 19) to discover that:

“Hamas has offered no proof of its claims that Israel was behind the murder…”

The article also included an insert under the sub-heading “Hamas’s relationship with Israel” which (not for the first time) amplifies the Hamas narrative of ‘resistance’ while downplaying the group’s terror designations and airbrushing its record of terrorist activity.

“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.”

Although the Tunisian authorities’ investigation into the murder of Mohammed al-Zoari (also Zaouari or Zawari) is still ongoing, the self-styled “standard-setter for international journalism” has already steered its audiences around the world towards a version of events based entirely upon the evidence-free speculation of a terrorist organisation.

Particularly in the current climate of discussion about ‘fake news’, that’s something to think about. 

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BBC News website does ‘one man’s terrorist’

 

 

 

BBC omits key context in account of potential US embassy move

On December 16th an article appeared on the BBC News website’s US & Canada and Middle East pages under the headline “Trump’s new US envoy to Israel seeks Jerusalem base”. The article was subsequently amended several times and is currently titled “Trump chooses pro-settlement hardliner as Israel envoy“.us-envoy-art

In the latest version, BBC audiences are informed that:

“US President-elect Donald Trump has chosen right-winger David Friedman as America’s next ambassador to Israel.

The 57-year-old lawyer is strongly critical of the long-held US goal of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

He also supports Jewish settlement building in the occupied West Bank and moving the US embassy to Jerusalem. […]

Mr Friedman said earlier he looked forward to working “from the US Embassy in Israel’s eternal capital, Jerusalem”.”

An insert of ‘analysis’ from Yolande Knell tells readers that:

“He’s [Friedman] also indicated that he’ll help fulfil Mr Trump’s promise to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, despite international objections.”

Readers of the three previous versions of the report were told that:

“…the US embassy has been located in Tel Aviv for decades.

But Mr Trump had promised during the presidential campaign to move it to Jerusalem, one of several overtures he made to Israel.”

However, the report refrains from informing BBC audiences that previous US presidential candidates – both Republican and Democrat – pledged to do the same during their election campaigns.

“Bill Clinton and George W. Bush both promised during their presidential campaigns to move the embassy to Jerusalem. Both later backed away from those promises, convinced by Middle East experts that doing so would prejudge negotiations for a final settlement between Israelis and Palestinians.”

Neither are readers informed of the existence of the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Relocation Act and the related bi-annual presidential wavers.

“Every president since the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 was passed by Congress has signed the waiver every six months, determining the delay is necessary “to protect the national security interests of the United States.””

Whether or not the US embassy in Israel will be moved to Jerusalem under the Trump administration remains to be seen, but obviously the president elect’s statement on the topic is in no way as novel as this report implies. BBC audiences have clearly not been provided with the full range of information which would enable the proper understanding of this story.

Weekend long read

1) Back in October the BBC News website published an article about the then recently released UK Parliament Home Affairs Select Committee report on antisemitism in the UK. The British government’s newly published response to the relevant recommendations made in that report can be found here.Weekend Read 

2) Former MK Einat Wilf writes about ‘Israeli timing’ at the Tower.

“Israel has one glaring problem: lousy timing. Most of Israel’s apparent problems, certainly the ones its critics claim it has, emerge from Israel’s repeated inability to be synchronized with prevailing global moods. But patience has its rewards—over time, as challenges facing Israel turn out to be global rather than local, Israel’s failings appear so much less so, if at all.

Consider, as an appetizer, the minor but remarkably annoying issue of airport security. During the 1990s, when I was working on projects in Israel for a global consulting firm, senior partners of the firm would arrive in Israel for a two- to three-day stay to oversee the projects. They would invariably arrive angry. Fuming, really. “What is this crazy security you have at your airports? How dare they look in my bag? How do you ever expect to be part of the global economy if you carry on this way?” The Israelis among us would bow our heads in shame, apologize profusely and mumble something about necessity and terrorism.”

3) The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center has produced a backgrounder relating to the recent 7th Fatah Congress.

“The 7th Fatah Movement conference held in Ramallah between November 29 and December 4, 2016 dealt mostly with internal Palestinian issues, with the struggle for Mahmoud Abbas’ successor in the background. It also discussed strategies for dealing with Israel on the ground and in the international arena. The speeches given by Mahmoud Abbas and statements made by senior Fatah figures indicated the conference’s decision to strengthen the concept of “popular resistance” (decided on at the 6th Fatah Movement conference in August 2009). The concept “popular resistance” is represented as legal, unarmed and peaceful. However, developments on the ground since the 6th conference indicate that behind the term “peaceful popular resistance” hides support given by Mahmoud Abbas, Fatah and the Palestinian Authority (PA) to popular terrorism, which again erupted violently in September 2015 and has since also entered Israeli territory.”

 

BBC’s Bowen dismisses Aleppo fears

On December 13th the BBC News website reported several UN statements concerning the situation in Aleppo.

“Syrian pro-government forces in eastern Aleppo have been killing people, including women and children, on the spot in their homes and on the street, the United Nations says.

The UN’s human rights office said streets were full of bodies.

Meanwhile, the UN children’s agency cited a doctor as saying a building housing as many as 100 unaccompanied children was under heavy attack. […]

“We’re filled with the deepest foreboding for those who remain in this last hellish corner” of eastern Aleppo, UN human rights office spokesman Rupert Colville told a news conference.

He said that 82 civilians had reportedly been killed by pro-government forces, of whom 11 were women and 13 children, adding that the death toll could be much higher. […]

The UN’s humanitarian adviser on Syria, Jan Egeland, earlier spoke of “massacres of unarmed civilians, of young men, of women, children, health workers”.

He named a pro-government Iraqi Shia militia as being responsible for the killings, but placed overall blame for any atrocities in the hands of the Syrian and Russian governments.

“Those who let them loose in this area are also accountable,” he said.” [emphasis added]today-15-12

Two days later – on December 15th – Jeremy Bowen appeared on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Today’ programme (available for a limited period of time from 02:13:35 here) to discuss the situation in Aleppo. The BBC’s Middle East editor is of course charged with providing “analysis that might make a complex story more comprehensive or comprehensible for the audience”.

Towards the end of the item (02:21:57) presenter Mishal Husain asked:

“Jeremy, finally, what we heard from that member of the White Helmets was this fear that after the regime takes full control of this area, everyone will be executed. What will happen? Will there be any sense of accountability? Any parameters?”

Bowen: “You know, let’s hope that doesn’t happen and it makes you…I mean I tend to wonder what they would get out of executing people. You know, I think that it’s not like there’s a crazed militia who are taking over there. They are, you know, I think relatively disciplined troops and you’d wonder why an order to execute everybody would be given. I think, particularly since the…we’re hearing from the ICRC in Geneva that the ICRC and SARC – the Syrian Arab Red Crescent – are gonna be there as well facilitating the evacuation of the wounded, so they’ve allowed in some witnesses potentially. If you’re going to do a massacre I doubt that would happen.” [emphasis added]

For the record.

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More BBC Bowen beating of the Assad regime drum

 

 

 

 

Poor BBC reporting on Hamas-ISIS Sinai collaboration highlighted again

Earlier this year, we documented the BBC’s long-standing avoidance of any serious, in-depth reporting on the subject of collaboration between Hamas and the ISIS franchise operating in the Sinai Peninsula.

Years of BBC amplifications of Hamas denials unravel

BBC’s Knell amplifies Hamas PR while sidestepping ISIS-Hamas collaboration

Back in August 2013 the BBC’s Yolande Knell told audiences that:

“Cairo has repeatedly accused Hamas of interfering in Egyptian affairs and has accused Palestinians of supporting Islamist militants in the increasingly restive Sinai region.”

Failing to provide any objective information concerning those Egyptian claims, she then promoted the following statement from Hamas’ Ghazi Hamad:

“They have a plan in order to distort the image of Gaza in order to start propaganda and media campaign against Gaza, against Hamas, in order to show Gaza is like a devil and Hamas is like a devil,” Mr Hamed [sic] said.

“I think they succeeded to do this on the Egyptian street, in the Egyptian society.”

In October 2014 the BBC told its audiences that:

“Egyptian media accuses Gaza’s Hamas administration of aiding militants in Sinai. Hamas denies the charge.”

In September 2015 the BBC amplified a report by the NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW):

“The [Egyptian] military aims to eventually clear an area of about 79 sq km (30 sq miles) along the Gaza border, including all of the town of Rafah, which has a population of about 78,000 people, HRW says.

The government says the operation will allow the military to close smuggling tunnels it alleges are used by jihadists to receive weapons, fighters and logistical help from Palestinian militants in Gaza.

But HRW said little or no evidence had been offered to support this justification, citing statements from Egyptian and Israeli officials that suggested weapons were more likely to have been obtained from Libya or captured from the Egyptian military.” [emphasis added]

In March 2016, Yolande Knell told BBC audiences that:Knell ISIS Sinai report

“Palestinians are also alleged to have treated injured IS fighters. I cross into Gaza where Hamas officials strongly deny the claims.”

Viewers then heard from Ghazi Hamad.

“We will not allow for anyone from Gaza now to do anything against or to damage or to harm the national security of Egypt and we will not allow for anyone from Sinai to come to use Gaza as a shelter.”

Despite the BBC’s repeated amplification of Hamas denials of collaboration with the ISIS affiliate in Sinai, we now learn from that latter organisation itself of the existence of a “liaison” between it and Hamas.

“ISIS in the Sinai Peninsula has announced that its liaison to Hamas—Hashem Abdel Aileh Kishtah has been killed. However, the group didn’t reveal how their liaison to the Palestinian terror group died.

ISIS released a statement on the matter on Tuesday. Kishtah was originally from the city of Rafah in the southern Gaza strip.

Kishtah’s name was first revealed when it was mistakenly announced via Sky News Arabic that the Egyptian Air Force had assassinated him in February of 2016. He was referred to as a high-ranking official in the Hamas Izzadin al-Qassam military brigade. […]

Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai mentioned Kishtah’s name several times when speaking about the relationship and cooperation which exists between ISIS and Hamas.”

Yet again we see that BBC audiences are not receiving the full range of information which would enhance their understanding of this “international issue“.

BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel – November 2016

The Israel Security Agency’s report on terror attacks (Hebrew) during November 2016 shows that throughout the month a total of 95 incidents took place: 84 in Judea & Samaria, nine in Jerusalem and two incidents originating from the Gaza Strip.

The agency recorded 72 attacks with petrol bombs, 17 attacks using explosive devices and four shooting attacks in Judea & Samaria and Jerusalem. There were no incidents of missile fire from the Gaza Strip. One member of the security forces was wounded in a shooting attack near Tulkarem on November 3rd which did not receive any BBC coverage.

Among the additional attacks which did not receive any BBC coverage were an attempted stabbing on November 3rd, an attempted stabbing on November 9th, a petrol bomb attack on November 10th and an IED attack on November 14th.

In conclusion, the BBC News website did not cover any of the 95 attacks during November and since the beginning of the year it has reported 2.96% of the terror attacks which have taken place.

table-nov-16

Related Articles:

BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel – October 2016

Reviewing the BBC News website’s coverage of terror in Israel: April to September 2016

The BBC and the ‘apartheid’ smear

BBC audiences are no strangers to unchallenged multi-platform amplification of the ‘apartheid’ smear against Israel.mcdonalds-pic

For example, in November 2012, listeners to BBC Radio 4 were told that:

“The ..emm…country [Israel] is run on such apartheid lines it’s possible for the two sides to just literally not see each other.”

In April 2014 visitors to the BBC News website were told by the former BBC Middle East bureau chief that use of the word ‘apartheid’ made (and later walked back) by the US Secretary of State “adds legitimacy to the debate about whether there is an equivalence between the old South African regime and the situation on the West Bank”.

In May 2014 viewers of the BBC News Channel programme ‘Hardtalk‘ and visitors to the BBC News website heard a South African anti-Israel activist say:

“We have seen – I have seen – in Palestine what didn’t exist under apartheid in the worst days of apartheid.”

In January 2015 the BBC News website managed to shoehorn a ‘he said-she said’ version of the ‘apartheid’ trope into a news story:

“Harsh critics of Israel level the charge of apartheid – the system of state-sanctioned racial discrimination once practised by South Africa – against the Jewish state over its treatment of Palestinians and Israeli-Arab minority. Israel says the accusation is baseless and a part of efforts to demonise it.”

In March 2015 listeners to the BBC World Service were told that:

“…practically he [the Israeli prime minister] officially declared Israel as an apartheid state – a segregation state”

And:

“…this would be a long journey and a struggle against the system of apartheid that Netanyahu has created. And that means that we need not only Palestinian popular resistance on the ground but also boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel in the very same manner that was used against the system of apartheid in South Africa at one point in time.”

And that:

“…as Israel moves further into the open as an apartheid state, that clash with US values will become more apparent.”

In August 2015 the BBC World Service initiated a ‘discussion’ based on the ‘apartheid’ trope.

In September 2015 listeners to BBC Radio Wales were told that in relation to Israel they should:

“…remember the days of apartheid South Africa. People used to hold up these small examples of coexistence […] to gloss over the fundamental reality of institutionalized racism, of apartheid.”

In January 2016 visitors to a local page on the BBC News website found amplification of the claim from an anti-Israel group that “its campaign was similar to international boycotts of South Africa in the 1970s and 80s, when anti-apartheid activists tried to bring down white minority rule.”

In February 2016 visitors to another local page on the BBC News website found the following unqualified information:

“According to its website, Israel Apartheid Week takes place across 150 universities and cities and “aims to raise awareness about Israel’s ongoing settler-colonial project and apartheid policies over the Palestinian people”.”

In April 2016 a BBC News website backgrounder on antisemitism informed audiences that:

“The Palestine Solidarity Campaign says it opposes all racism, including anti-Jewish prejudice and the “the [sic] apartheid and Zionist nature of the Israeli state”…”

And in September 2016 listeners to BBC Radio 4 heard the unchallenged claim of:

“…an occupation that has transformed into a system of apartheid much worse that what prevailed in South Africa.”

Despite all that amplification (and more), not once in those four years has BBC Watch been able to document an explanation having been provided to BBC audiences as to why the ‘apartheid’ trope is false, why used by anti-Israel activists and what is the aim of that tactic.

As has been noted here before:

“As Norman Finkelstein (not one of the better known card-carrying Zionists) pointed out earlier this year [2012], the makers of those demands [the BDS campaign] have one end-game in their sights.

“They call it their three tiers… We want the end of the occupation, we want the right of return, and we want equal rights for Arabs in Israel. And they think they are very clever, because they know the result of implementing all three is what? What’s the result? You know and I know what’s the result: there’s no Israel.” […]

The methods used to try to bring about that end game include the delegitimisation of Israel: the attempt to paint a picture of a country so morally unacceptable that any ‘right-minded’ person cannot possibly tolerate its continued existence.

One way of doing that is to use the ‘apartheid’ trope. By deliberately employing rhetoric which the public associates with a universally morally unacceptable theme, the BDS movement aspires to brand Israel in the minds of the general public with the same stigma as the former racist regime in South Africa. 

Of course a close and factual examination of the situation immediately reveals that the use of the ‘apartheid’ trope in relation to Israel is utterly unfounded.  But sadly, many if not most members of the general public do not have sufficient knowledge of the facts to be able to assess the ‘apartheid’ trope for what it really is: a rhetorical tactic relying on the human mind’s natural tendency to make associations.”

But in addition to failing to provide its audiences with the context which would enable their understanding of why the false ‘apartheid’ smear is used, the BBC has for the most part also ignored the views of people who really did experience apartheid. A publication produced by ‘Africans for Peace’ provides some interesting insights from four South Africans who have visited Israel.

“In South Africa, I had frequently heard the description of Israel as an “apartheid state.” As a black man coming from South Africa, where we actually experienced apartheid, I realized that this was not apartheid. This was not the same situation.”

How does it make you feel that the BDS movement compares the situation of the Palestinian people with the plight of black people under apartheid?

It upsets me a lot! A lot! Because it’s misleading! The situation cannot be compared to apartheid because it’s not apartheid. Those people involved with the BDS movement need to go to Israel and the West Bank to see the situation for themselves.”

“Please – don’t steal the word “apartheid!” For black South Africans, apartheid was more than just systematic discrimination against our people. It was a project that aimed to rob a specific race of its history, culture, dignity, and humanity. Those who apply the term “apartheid” to the Israeli-Palestinian impasse are guilty of perpetuating that same theft, by denying the uniqueness of the racism and hatred that we faced, and which we have overcome with much blood and tears. While the challenges that face Israel and her neighbor Palestine may result in one group feeling discriminated against by the other, it is very different from the legally-blessed racism, based on the discredited idea of white supremacy, that once reigned in my country.”

“The reality is that the two situations are very different. I came to understand that the analogy of apartheid in Israel was an abuse of the memory of apartheid, just as it is possible to abuse the memory of the Holocaust or slavery in a similar manner.”

It is high time for the BBC to meet its public purpose remit and its commitment to ‘due impartiality’ by ensuring that its audiences are provided with fact-based information concerning the redundancy of the ‘apartheid’ trope the true aims of those who promote that tactical smear.