On March 13th an article headlined “UK pro-Palestinian activist deported from Israel” appeared on the BBC News website’s UK and Middle East pages.
The first two paragraphs of the later version of the report summarise the story as follows:
“A UK activist has been blocked from entering Israel because of his support for a movement urging a boycott of the country, Israeli officials say.
Hugh Lanning, chairman of the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign, was deported after arriving on Sunday.”
Readers are next told that:
“It comes days after Israel passed a law barring entry to foreign backers of the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.
The PSC says the law violates basic “freedoms essential to democracy”.”
Rather than referring merely to “backers” of the BDS campaign as the BBC claims, the amendment to the ‘Entry to Israel Act’ which was passed on March 6th in fact states: (translation BBC Watch)
“A visa or residence permit of any sort will not be granted to a person who is not an Israeli citizen or holder of a permanent residence permit in Israel, if s/he, or the organisation or body on behalf of which s/he acts, knowingly issued a public call to boycott the State of Israel as defined in the Prevention of Damage to the State of Israel Caused by Boycotts Act of 2011, or pledged to take part in any such boycott.”
However, having amplified the PSC’s opinion on the subject of legislation in a foreign country, the BBC report then goes on to state that the amendment concerned is not connected to the story.
“Israel’s Immigration Authority said Mr Lanning was not stopped due to the new law, but instead on the discretion of Interior Minister Aryeh Deri and Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan.
It also released an image showing Mr Lanning in a meeting with the then-leader of the Palestinian militant group Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, in 2012.”
Nevertheless, later on in the report readers find further amplification of the PSC’s politicised messaging and repetition of the notion that Lanning was denied entry to Israel under the new legislation.
“Ben Jamal, director of the PSC, said Mr Lanning was “the first victim” of the new law and that he believes he is now “permanently barred” from the country.
He added: “If Israel believes that by introducing these draconian undemocratic laws it will intimidate its critics into silence it is mistaken.”
Mr Jamal called on the UK government to condemn the ban of a British citizen “whose only crime is to advocate for human rights”.”
As has been noted here on numerous occasions in the past, when reporting on the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel, the BBC consistently refrains from informing its audiences what that campaign aims to achieve and in August 2015, we learned that the BBC considers the provision of such background information “not our role“. It is therefore unsurprising to see that this report similarly fails to provide readers with the context – obviously relevant to the story’s subject matter – of what lies behind the anti-Israel BDS campaign that the PSC promotes.
As regular readers are aware, members of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign sometimes appear in BBC content (most recently on BBC One just a few weeks ago) and in 2014 the PSC was the foreign NGO that received the most promotion in BBC Israel-related content – in part because of the BBC’s generous but selective coverage of anti-Israel demonstrations organised by the group that summer.
In 2011, while reporting on the banning of an Israeli from the UK on the grounds that his presence in that country was “not conducive to the public good”, the BBC was able to describe one of the opponents to the Home Secretary’s decision as follows:
“Sheikh Salah’s supporters in Britain include the radical Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), which has promoted an annual march attended by supporters of the Iranian Hezbollah group and Hamas and which has also given a platform to the extremist Hizb ut-Tahrir group.” [emphasis added]
In this latest report, however, the BBC avoids informing audiences in its own words of the PSC’s activities, despite there being plenty of information available in the public domain concerning the group’s links to Hamas and its supporters, its perennial delegitimisation of Israel and its promotion of the BDS campaign.
Instead, this report provides readers with a ‘he said/she said’ account of the PSC’s raison d’être – and directs them to the PSC website via a link.
“His [Lanning’s] organisation, the PSC, says it campaigns for “justice and equality for Palestinians”. However Israel says its true aim is to delegitimise the Jewish state.
A statement from the Embassy of Israel in London said PSC “leads the campaign in the UK to demonise and boycott Israel”.
It added: “Lanning is associated with the leaders of Hamas, which is designated as a terror group across the European Union; a group whose anti-Semitic charter calls for killing all Jews.”
Clearly this report does not provide BBC audiences with the range of information necessary for their complete understanding of the story.
Hugging Antisemitism and Holocaust Denial. Welcome to the PSC! (David Collier – Harry’s Place)