BBC News report on PSC and BDS fails to explain either

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]

London, January 2014. Right to Left: Hugh Lanning PSC, Mohammad Sawalha, Mohammad Kozbar, Zaher Birawi (see last two ‘related articles’ below)

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.

Related Articles:

BBC Breakfast’s Jenny Hill enables PSC antisemitism washing

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

Hugging Antisemitism and Holocaust Denial. Welcome to the PSC! (David Collier – Harry’s Place)

BBC’s capitulation to political pressure on Gaza casualty figures: tip of a bigger iceberg?

BBC Radio 4 fails to clarify the agenda of the BDS campaign and the PSC

CiF Watch Special Report: Extremists & terror supporters organizing ‘Global March to Jerusalem’ (UK Media Watch)

CiF Watch Special Report on extremists behind ‘Global March to Jerusalem’: Pt 2, Europe Chapter  (UK Media Watch) 

 

BBC rejects complaint because interviewee ‘did not take issue’

As readers may recall, on January 23rd listeners to the BBC Radio 4 programme ‘Today’ heard presenter Sarah Montague interviewing the Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely.

The conversation included the following: [emphasis in the original]

Montague: “Of course, as I say, the majority of the rest of the world take a very different view but one thing that – clearly you think differently – but do you recognise that the building of these homes makes peace less likely?”

Hotovely: “Absolutely not. What we saw throughout last year is that every time Israel went through a process of concessions and when Israel committed disengagement from the Gaza [in] 2005, what we saw was more extremists on the other side. We saw Hamas regime taking over; terror regime that the Palestinians chose on a democratic vote. So what we saw is actually the opposite. When settlements were not there, instead of having democratic flourish in the Palestinian side, we just saw extremist radicalism and radical Islam taking over. Unfortunately…”

Montague [interrupts]: “You’re talking about a flourish…yes…you’re talking about flourishing of a particular one [laughs]…the…the…Israeli Jews in settlements; they are flourishing. Of course the Palestinians are not. I wonder, do you think that the idea of a two-state solution – because this is of course land that would have been Palestinian under the two-state solution – is the idea of that now dead?”

BBC Watch submitted a complaint concerning the breach of impartiality resulting from Montague’s insertion of her own subjective, unsubstantiated, politicised – and frankly irrelevant – view of who is – and is not – “flourishing”. The response received included the following:

“Thank you for contacting us regarding BBC Radio 4’s ‘Today’ broadcast on 23 January.

I understand you believe Mishal Husain [sic] displayed bias when interviewing Tzipi Hotoveley.

Israeli’s deputy minister of foreign affairs was on the programme to discuss the consequences to Israel’s approval to the building of hundreds of new homes on land it has occupied in East Jerusalem.

Mishal’s [sic] interjection when referring to Palestine [sic] while discussing the “flourishing of Israeli Jews in settlements” was to put into context Palestine’s situation, and to provide the information which listeners may want to hear.

All BBC staff are expected to put any political views to one side when carrying out their work for the BBC, and they simply try to provide the information and context on the story or issue using their professional insight to allow our listeners to make up their own minds.

BBC News aims to show the political reality and provide a forum for discussion on issues, giving full opportunity for all sides of the debate to be heard and explored. Senior editorial staff within BBC News, the BBC’s Executive Board, and the BBC Trust keep a close watch on programmes to ensure that standards of impartiality are maintained.

The key point is that the BBC as an organisation has no view or position itself on anything we may report upon – our aim is to identify all significant views, and to test them rigorously and fairly on behalf of our audiences.”

As readers may recall, the BBC’s ‘style guide‘ tells journalists “in day-to-day coverage of the Middle East you should not affix the name ‘Palestine’ to Gaza or the West Bank – rather, it is still an aspiration or an historical entity”. Apparently the BBC complaints department does not follow that instruction. 

Given that the response received did not even correctly identify the interviewer, we were not confident that the complaint had been addressed seriously and so it was re-submitted. The second response received included the following:

“Thanks for contacting us again. We’re sorry you had to come back to us and appreciate why.

We always aim to accurately address the points raised by our audience and regret any cases where we’ve failed to do this. We’ve raised the issues with your previous reply with the right people. We’d like to offer you a new response here. The following should now be considered your first reply.

We’ve listened in full again to Sarah’s interview on Jan 23. It was introduced as follows: “Israel has just approved 566 new homes for building in East Jerusalem, saying “Now we can finally build”.

The flourishing discussed was in the light of new relations with the US, which is giving Israel new confidence to continue with settlement plans.

Q1″Are we going to see more settlement building, now that President Obama is gone?”

Q2 “Does the building of these homes make peace less likely?”

Tzipi [sic] explains that Israel disengaging has caused more extremism and that flourishing only happens when the settlements are occupied.

Sarah offers a counterpoint – that not everyone flourishes in these circumstances, which Tzipi doesn’t actually challenge or object to.

Q3 “Is the idea of a two state solution now dead?”

Q4 “The arrival of President Trump – is it a game-changer?”

With the above in mind, we can’t agree that the discussion was about democracy flourishing, but rather on the building of new settlements in the light of a new US administration.

Sarah’s interjections were justified, in ensuring that both sides of the story were heard by listeners. The ‘Today’ audience expect firm but fair holding to account, whoever is in the guest seat.

We would take the same approach with people on either side of a debate – we realise you beg to differ here, but we’re confident the inclusion of alternative angles improves the context of an interview, rather than taking away from it.

A challenge offers a guest the opportunity to clarify their position, or reject a point with evidence of their own.

Ms Hotoveley, however, did not take issue with the suggestion that Palestinians were not flourishing as a result of the settlements.”

Not for the first time we see that the BBC is apparently of the opinion that an Israeli giving an interview to the corporation (often in a second or third language) is responsible for refuting any content which might breach BBC editorial guidelines on accuracy and impartiality and that his or her failure to do so absolves the BBC from any responsibility to correct or qualify statements, slurs claims which may mislead audiences. 

Related Articles:

The bizarre basis for the BBC’s rejection of an appeal

Superficial BBC News report on Naharayim killer’s release

On March 12th an article headlined “Jordan releases soldier who shot Israeli schoolgirls” appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page.

As is clear from the opening paragraph of the report, the BBC is aware of the fact that Ahmed Daqamseh did not only shoot at Israeli schoolgirls; he killed seven thirteen and fourteen year-olds on a school trip.

“A Jordanian soldier who killed seven Israeli schoolgirls in 1997 has been released after serving 20 years in prison, Jordanian officials say.”

One must therefore wonder why the writer of that headline (which was also promoted on social media) chose the word ‘shot’ rather than ‘killed’ and why the BBC’s report makes no mention of the six additional victims who survived the attack or of the names and ages of those murdered.

The report tells readers:

“A military court deemed him mentally unstable at the time and sentenced him to life in prison.

In Jordan, this usually means 25 years. However, some lawmakers had lobbied for him to be freed early.”

It does not however clarify that “some lawmakers” actually means the vast majority of Jordan’s MPs.

Readers are also told that:

“Daqamseh is seen as a hero by some opposition activists in Jordan, who oppose the country’s peace treaty with Israel, signed in 1994.”

In fact, over the years Daqamseh has been championed by a range of supporters besides the euphemistically titled “opposition activists”, including Islamists, ‘human rights’ activists, trade unionists and lawyers – not least the former Justice Minister.  

Remarkably, the BBC’s report did not make any mention of the enthusiastic welcome given to Daqamseh upon arrival in his home village and the article was not updated to include the remarks he made in an interview with Al Jazeera.

“Hours after his release from 20 years in jail for gunning down seven Israeli schoolgirls, ex-Jordanian solider Ahmed Daqamseh declared on Sunday that Israelis are “human waste” that must be eradicated.

Daqamseh made his remarks to al-Jazeera TV station, shortly after returning from jail to his home village of Ibdir to cheering friends and family.

“The Israelis are the human waste of people, that the rest of the world has vomited up at our feet,” he told the TV station. “We must eliminate them by fire or by burial. If this is not done by our hands, the task will fall on the future generations to do.””

Apparently the BBC did not find the broadcast of that xenophobic incitement to the Doha-based channel’s millions of viewers around the Middle East newsworthy. 

 

 

Third context-free BBC article on proposed legislation

Last November the BBC News website published two articles concerning a proposed bill limiting noise pollution from public address systems in religious establishments.

Superficial BBC reporting on proposed legislation – part 1

Superficial BBC reporting on proposed legislation – part 2

As was noted here at the time, the reports did not provide BBC audiences with any context concerning similar legislation in other countries – both Arab and Western – and so audiences could not appreciate that the proposed legislation is similar to that already found in several European states (including the UK) where the call to prayer through PA systems is either banned altogether or subject to limitations on days of the week, hours and level of decibels.

The two BBC reports did however provide amplification for claims that the proposed legislation is “divisive” and threatens to spark “religious war”.

On March 8th the BBC News website revisited the same topic in an article titled “Israeli Arab anger as parliament backs ‘muezzin bill’“.

“Two versions of the so-called “muezzin bill”, which would mostly affect Muslim calls to prayer, passed their first readings by slim majorities.

Some Arab MPs ripped apart copies of the legislation during a debate.

The bill will have to go through further readings before becoming law.

One version of the bill would ban all places of worship from using loudspeakers between 23:00 and 07:00. The other would prohibit the use of speakers considered “unreasonably loud and likely to cause disturbance” at any time of day.”

Yet again the article failed to provide BBC audiences with any background information concerning similar legislation in other countries.

However, once again the article did amplify claims of ‘discrimination’.

“The bill’s critics say it as an attack on religious freedom.

“The voice of a muezzin has never caused any environmental noise. It is about an important Islamic religious ritual, and we have never in this house intervened in any religious ceremony related to Judaism. Your action is a racist slur,” warned Ahmed Tibi of the Arab-dominated Joint List alliance during the debate.

“Your intervention strikes at the very souls of Muslims,” he added.

Ayman Odeh, the leader of the Joint List, was thrown out of the chamber after tearing up a copy of the bill.”

The article closes with the following two paragraphs:

“Arab citizens of Israel, also known as Israeli Arabs, are descendants of the 160,000 Palestinians who remained after the State of Israel was created in 1948. They make up about 20% the Israeli population.

About 80% of Israeli Arabs are Muslim; the rest are divided, roughly equally, between Christians and Druze.”

In other words, the BBC inaccurately tells its audiences that Israel’s Druze citizens are “descendants of […] Palestinians” while ignoring both non-Arab Muslims such as Circassians and non-Arab Christians such as Arameans.

The BBC’s coverage of domestic Israeli affairs does not as a rule include every private members’ bill laid before the Knesset and therefore the fact that this particular proposed legislation has now been the subject of three articles before it has even been passed and become law is especially noteworthy.

BBC News reinforces selected ‘peace process’ narratives yet again

On March 10th an article titled “Trump Middle East: Palestinian leader invited to White House” was published on the BBC News website’s Middle East page. The subject matter of that four hundred and four word-long report is ostensibly a ten-minute phone call between the presidents of the US and the Palestinian Authority which took place that day. However, much of the article was used to reinforce narratives already evident in BBC content for some time.

1) Readers were told that:

“Mr Trump hosted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in February.

At that meeting, Mr Trump dropped a long-standing US commitment to a two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

As has been noted here before, the day after the Israeli prime minister’s visit to the White House, the BBC published an article in which a member of the US administration clarified its stance:

“The US ambassador to the UN has said her country “absolutely” supports the idea of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute.

But Nikki Haley also said the Trump administration was “thinking outside the box as well”, suggesting it was open to other possible solutions.”

Despite having published that report, the BBC News website nevertheless continues to promote the narrative of a ‘major policy shift’ concerning the two-state solution on the part of the US administration.

2) The article includes an insert titled “What is the two-state solution?” that has already been seen in several previous reports.

That insert once again promotes the false narrative according to which the two-state solution is the “declared goal” of Palestinian leaders while erasing from audience view the fact that Hamas and additional Palestinian factions reject the two-state solution outright and failing to inform BBC audiences  of the repeated refusal of Palestinian Authority leaders to recognise Israel as the Jewish state: a necessary condition for fulfilment of the concept of “two states for two peoples”. 

3) The article tells readers that:

“There have been no substantive peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians since US-mediated negotiations broke down in April 2014.”

The BBC has of course been promoting the narrative that those talks simply “broke down” or “collapsed” for a long time but serially refrains from informing its audiences of the decisions made by the Palestinian Authority which led to the end of that round of negotiations.

4) Readers of this article also found more BBC amplification of the PA’s narrative concerning the proposed relocation of the US embassy to Jerusalem:

“The US Senate on Thursday approved Mr Trump’s controversial nominee for ambassador to Israel.

David Friedman favours relocating the US embassy to Jerusalem, a highly inflammatory proposal because both Israel and the Palestinians lay claim to the city as their capital.” [emphasis added]

As has been noted here before, BBC audiences have not heard any alternative view of that proposal or any explanation as to why Palestinians should object to the relocation of the US embassy to an area of Jerusalem to which – according to the corporation’s own presentation of the issue – the PA does not lay claim.

Whether or not a meeting between Abbas and Trump will indeed “rekindle peace talks” as suggested in this report remains to be seen but what is already apparent is the BBC’s chosen framing of that topic – as indicated by the repeated promotion of these unwavering and unquestioned narratives in report after report.

Related Articles:

More narrative driven BBC portrayal of the ‘peace process’

BBC News and the US ‘major policy shift’ that wasn’t

BBC News website’s explanation of the two-state solution falls short

BBC continues to push its monochrome US embassy story

 

 

The BBC and Israeli science

This is a cross-post from the ‘Good News from Israel‘ blog.

On the Jewish festival of Purim, we wear masks as a disguise. It reflects the Purim story in which the true nature of the events leading up to Jewish redemption from the threat of annihilation is disguised as a series of apparent coincidences. In today’s upside-down world, the positive activities of the State of Israel are mostly covered up by the International media. Using some recent examples, I’ll now remove the mask to reveal Israel’s true identity.

Israeli scientists have been responsible for many breakthroughs in cancer treatments. But you wouldn’t know this if your only news source was the British Broadcasting Corporation. 

Read the rest of the post here.

Weekend long read

1) Since mid-December BBC audiences have repeatedly been told (in accordance with PLO messaging) that the proposed relocation of the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem would mean an end to the peace process – although none of the corporation’s journalists has bothered  to question why that should be the case. At the Tower, Eylon Aslan-Levy notes that “Jerusalem Already Has Plenty of Embassies—Just Not to Israel“.

“Much has been made in recent months of President Donald Trump’s pledge to move the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and its possible repercussions. The public conversation has generally concentrated on the potential diplomatic and political fallout, especially the possibility of a new outbreak of Palestinian violence. Lost in all the controversy, however, is the fact that the U.S. is one of nine countries that already has a de facto embassy in Jerusalem. But these are all embassies to the Palestinians, not Israel.”

2) Also at The Tower, Jamie Palmer has a long and very interesting essay titled “Getting International Law Right on the Next Gaza War” that will likely touch a chord with anyone who remembers how, less than 24 hours after the conflict of summer 2014 began, the BBC rushed to promote to its audiences worldwide the notion that Israel was committing ‘war crimes’ in the Gaza Strip. 

“Last April, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) told the New York Daily News, “My recollection is over 10,000 innocent people were killed in Gaza. Does that sound right?”

It did not sound right. By inflating the total number of those killed in 2014’s Operation Protective Edge by a factor of nearly five, and the estimated number of civilian dead by almost double that again, Sanders demonstrated something more than mere ignorance of international affairs: That such a horrifying death toll should strike him as not just plausible but accurate enough to repeat betrayed his prejudices regarding Israel’s supposed capacity for callous brutality.

 “My understanding is that a whole lot of apartment houses were leveled,” he continued. “Hospitals, I think, were bombed. So yeah, I do believe and I don’t think I’m alone in believing that Israel’s force was more indiscriminate than it should have been.”

In a subsequent interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, Sanders conceded that he had misstated the casualty figures, but stuck to his accusation of indiscriminate force, as if the rather large difference between 10,000 and roughly 1,000 were neither here nor there. “Was Israel’s response disproportionate? I think it was,” he continued to insist.

In fact, the one point on which Sanders was correct is his claim that he is not alone in his general assessment of Israeli military conduct. During the conflict, various journalists and human rights groups accused Israel of violations of international law that amounted to war crimes.”

3) At the Jewish News, Maajid Nawaz takes a look at the BDS campaign spin-off ‘Israel Apartheid Week’.

“The Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement is mostly spearheaded in the West by people who have little to nothing attaching them to the Middle-East conflict.

Nothing, that is, beyond the fact that belonging to the hard-left and not supporting BDS has become the equivalent of claiming a love for fashion, while hating haute couture. Though unlike haute couture, BDS is an inelegant and simplistic solution to a protracted and incredibly complicated problem. But who cares for detail when you have a fabulous placard to wave?

The lazy analogy that BDS rests on is with South African apartheid. But unlike apartheid-era South Africa, Arabs make up 20 percent of Israel’s full citizenry. Most of these Arab-Israeli citizens are Muslim. There are mosques on Israeli beaches. Alongside Hebrew, Arabic is an official language of Israel. An Arab-Israeli judge has even impeached and convicted former Israeli prime minster, Ehud Olmert.

And though many problems with integration persist – as they do with minority communities across the West – when surveyed 77 percent of these Arabs expressed an overwhelming preference to remain Israeli, rather than become citizens of a future Palestinian state.

The reason is obvious, Israeli-Muslims have more freedom of religion than other minorities – and even other Muslims have in all other Middle-Eastern countries.

The problem lies in the status of the West Bank and Gaza, not with any imaginary apartheid system inside Israel proper. So lazy is the apartheid analogy that I could effectively end my article at this paragraph. But so entrenched has our political laziness become, I feel compelled to carry on.” 

 

 

 

BBC News ignores another UNRWA – Hamas story

At the end of last month we noted that the BBC had chosen not to report the story of an employee of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) who was suspended following allegations of his election to the Hamas political bureau in the Gaza Strip.

Now another similar story has come to light.

“A senior Palestinian employee of a Gaza-based United Nations humanitarian agency was reportedly elected to Hamas’s political bureau, the top governing body of the terrorist organization the rules the Strip.

One the 15 members elected to the bureau in February’s internal elections was Muhammad al-Jamassi, a senior engineer employed by UNRWA, the UN agency in charge of Palestinian refugees, according to the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center.

Jamassi has held various positions within Hamas since 2007, including in the group’s public relations department and its affiliated charities, the center said.

He currently serves as board chairman for the UNRWA engineering department in central Gaza, and oversees all off the agency’s infrastructure projects in the area.”

According to UNRWA figures, the UK was its third most generous donor in 2015, contributing nearly a hundred million US dollars to its budget. Hence, members of the British public may well be interested in seeing some serious investigative reporting from their national broadcaster on the issue of alleged links between the UN agency they help fund and the terror organisation that is proscribed by the British government.

Despite being one of the few international media organisations to have an office in the Gaza Strip and therefore being well-placed to cover this story, the BBC continues to date to refrain from doing so.  

Revisiting a BBC ‘Israel did it’ story from May 2016

As was documented here back in May 2016:

As was noted here at the time, although that information did not in fact come from Hizballah, subsequent versions of the BBC’s report inaccurately told readers that the terror group had “rolled back” the claim.

Nevertheless, the final version of the article – which is still available on the BBC News website – points BBC audiences towards the assumption that Israel may have been responsible for the killing.

“An initial report by Lebanon’s al-Mayadeen TV said that Badreddine, 55, died in an Israeli air strike. But a later statement by Hezbollah on al-Manar’s website did not mention Israel.

Israeli media reported that the government refused to comment on whether it was involved in Badreddine’s death.

Israel has been accused by Hezbollah of killing a number of its fighters in Syria since the conflict began.”

And – under the sub-heading “Key questions”:

“Who could have killed Mustafa Badreddine?

Any of the armed groups seeking to overthrow Mr Assad might have sought to kill the man co-ordinating Hezbollah military activities. However, suspicion is likely to fall on Israel, which fought a war against Hezbollah in 2006.

Israel has been accused of killing several of the group’s leaders over the years, although it has never officially confirmed its involvement.

Hezbollah military chief Imad Mughniyeh was killed in a car bombing in Damascus in 2008 that US intelligence officials said last year was a joint operation by the CIA and Israel’s Mossad spy agency.

In January 2015, a suspected Israeli air strike in the Syrian Golan Heights killed six Hezbollah fighters, including Mughniyeh’s son Jihad, and an Iranian Revolutionary Guards general.

And in December, Hezbollah said one of its senior figures, Samir Qantar, was killed when missiles fired by Israeli jets struck a block of flats in Damascus.

Israel has also reportedly conducted air strikes aimed at preventing advanced weapons shipments from Iran from reaching Hezbollah via Syria.”

On March 8th 2017 the Israeli news website Walla reported that an investigation by Al Arabia suggests a different answer to the question “who could have killed Mustafa Badreddine?” than the one promoted by the BBC.  

“According to an investigation by the ‘Al Arabia’ network, the General Secretary of the organisation [Hizballah – Nasrallah], together with the commander of the Iranian Quds Force [Soleimani], planned the assassination of the organisation’s senior figure [Badreddine], who died in a ‘mysterious explosion’ at Damascus airport. Hizballah blamed the Syrian opposition – which in turn blamed Hizballah.”

Whether or not that allegation is true is unclear but Al Arabia’s report is certainly no less reliable that the one from Al Mayadeen claiming that Badreddine had been killed by an Israeli airstrike which the BBC elected to amplify without independently confirming the claim.

As we know, the BBC relates to its online content as “historical record”:

“Our online news is far more accessible today than the newspaper archives of libraries. But in principle there is no difference between them: both are historical records. Fundamentally it is in the public interest to retain them intact.”

Given that, we would of course now expect to see the BBC revisiting this story, reviewing its steering of audiences towards the default conclusion that Israel was likely to have been involved and checking the accuracy of this particular example of “historical record”.