BBC framing excludes important aspects of Amman embassy story

After a security officer at Israel’s embassy in Amman was attacked and stabbed by a Jordanian on July 23rd – and subsequently shot the attacker, accidentally fatally wounding another man at the scene – the BBC News website produced three consecutive reports on the incident.

1) “Israeli ‘kills attacker’ at Jordan embassy” originally published 23/7/17

2) “Israel and Jordan in diplomatic standoff after embassy deaths” 24/7/17

3) “Israeli embassy staff home after Amman standoff” 24/7/17

All three of those reports included highly rare references to the Jordanian occupation of parts of Jerusalem, although that occupation actually began the year before the BBC claims.

“Jordan, which occupied East Jerusalem from 1949 to 1967, is the custodian of the site, which is known to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif and Jews as the Temple Mount.”

“Jordan, which occupied East Jerusalem from 1949 to 1967, funds the upkeep of the site, which is known to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif and Jews as the Temple Mount, and runs the Waqf, the religious trust which administers the compound.”

Additionally, all three articles included an inadequate ‘explanation’ of the reason for the introduction of security measures at Temple Mount – failing to clarify that the two Israeli policemen were murdered in a terror attack carried out by terrorists using weapons that had earlier been smuggled into the al Aqsa mosque.

“Tensions between Israelis and Palestinians over the site have surged in recent days in response to the metal detectors, which were put in place following the killing nearby of two Israeli policemen.”

Similar statements also appeared in a fourth article which appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page on July 27th under the headline “Jordan’s King Abdullah calls for Israel trial over embassy deaths“. Readers were told that:

“Jordan’s King Abdullah has urged Israel to put on trial an Israeli security guard who shot dead two Jordanians near Israel’s embassy in Jordan on Sunday.

King Abdullah also described the congratulations given to the security guard by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as “provocative”.” [emphasis added]

Readers are not provided with any information supporting the claim that the security officer received “congratulations” from the Israeli prime minister – or for what – but that allegation echoes a statement that appeared in the BBC’s third article on the story:

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has spoken to the ambassador and the guard, congratulating them on their handling of the situation.”

The suitability of the term “congratulating” is debatable; the Jerusalem Post reported that:

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with [Ambassador] Schlein and Ziv, the Israeli guard stabbed in an apartment near the embassy on Sunday evening, in Jerusalem on Tuesday.

The meeting came less than 12 hours after they, along with Israel’s delegation to Amman, crossed over the Allenby Bridge following a hair-raising drama that began with the stabbing of Ziv, and his firing two shots in self-defense, killing the assailant and another man at the scene.

“I am happy to see you, happy that things ended the way they did,” Netanyahu told the two. “You acted calmly and well, and we had the responsibility to get you out, there was no question whatsoever. It was only a matter of time, and I am happy it was a short period of time.” The prime minister said the two represented Israel, and Israel never forgot that.”

The framing of that as “congratulations” in this latest article is obviously highly questionable. The article continues:

Israel says the security guard shot a Jordanian who had attacked him with a screwdriver and a second Jordanian was inadvertently killed in the gunfire.” [emphasis added]

And:

Israel’s foreign ministry said a Jordanian – named in local media as Mohammed Zakaria al-Jawawdeh, a 17-year-old carpenter – stabbed the security officer from behind inside a residence used by the embassy. The second Jordanian to be killed was the building’s landlord.” [emphasis added]

BBC audiences are not informed that upon concluding its investigation earlier in the week, the Jordanian Public Security Directorate issued a statement confirming what the BBC chooses to frame as an Israeli claim that may or may not be correct.

“Testimonies of eyewitnesses revealed that during the verbal argument between the carpenter and the son of carpentry owner, the carpenter attacked the Israeli diplomat who responded by shooting.” [emphasis added]

Additionally, the BBC does not report that the Jordanian minister of the interior likewise confirmed the information it qualifies using the “Israel says” formula.

“Interior Minister Ghaleb al-Zoabi presented the initial findings to lawmakers on Tuesday, saying an Israeli security guard opened fire, killing two Jordanians, after one of them attacked him with a screwdriver.

He said Sunday’s shooting took place during a furniture delivery to a building linked to the embassy, meaning the incident was covered by diplomatic immunity rules.”

Neither are readers told of scenes in the Jordanian parliament that provide relevant context to the subject matter of this report.

“An acrimonious session of Jordan’s parliament was cut short after lawmakers scuffled and then walked out in protest over their government’s handling of a deadly shooting at the Israeli Embassy in the kingdom. […]

A video of the incident showed one lawmaker hitting another with a bottle of water as parliamentarians argue over the findings.

The legislators’ walkout reflected widespread anger in Jordan over the shooting, and ongoing tensions with Israel.”

BBC audiences have also not been informed of the Jordanian parliament’s earlier reaction to the terror attack at Lions Gate on July 14th in which two Israeli policemen were murdered.

“The Jordanian parliament on Sunday praised the terrorists who carried out a shooting attack at the Temple Mount that killed two Israeli police officers, less than a day after King Abdullah II condemned the attack.

The parliament also criticized Israel for closing the Temple Mount, known to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif (Noble Sanctuary), and prayed for the souls of the three terrorists who carried out the attack, Jordanian media reported.

“May the mercy of Allah be upon our martyrs who sowed and watered the pure land,” said Parliament Speaker Atef Tarawneh. “We will raise our heads through the sacrifice of the young Palestinians who are still fighting in the name of the nation.””

Additional background relevant to understanding of the subject matter of this report is the fact that Jordan’s king paid a condolence visit to the family of the man who attacked the Israeli security officer – but that information is likewise not communicated to readers of this report.

Clearly BBC reporting on this story falls short of the corporation’s obligation to provide its audiences with “accurate and impartial news […] of the highest editorial standards so that all audiences can engage fully with issues across […] the world”.

 

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