BBC report on UN SG’s Israel visit omits his statements on anti-Zionism

As readers may recall, back in July the BBC’s coverage of commemoration of the mass arrest of French Jews in World War II did not include any mention of the French president’s remarks concerning anti-Zionism.

Macron’s statement is of course in step with the IHRA working definition of antisemitism that was adopted in recent months by the British government and the EU parliament as well as in accord with the US State department’s definition. […] However, the BBC News website’s report on the ceremony made no mention whatsoever of the French president’s recognition of anti-Zionism as a manifestation of antisemitism.”

Moreover, several days later a regional BBC radio station described President Macron’s statement as a “very controversial claim” to its listeners.

During his recent visit to Israel the UN Secretary General told President Rivlin that:

“I do believe that […] those that call for the destruction of the State of Israel that that is a form of modern anti-Semitism”

Mr Guterres expressed the same view when he later met Prime Minister Netanyahu:

“…it is for me clear that to express that the right of existence of the state of Israel doesn’t exist or the wish to destroy the state of Israel is unacceptable form of modern than anti-Semitism.” 

Those portrayals of anti-Zionism – the denial of the right of the Jewish people to self-determination in the land of Israel – as a modern form of antisemitism did not however appear in the BBC’s account of Mr Guterres’ visit.

“Earlier on Monday, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin urged Mr Guterres to work to end what he called “the discrimination against Israel in some branches” of the UN.

Mr Guterres said the UN would “always be very frank in the dialogue with the State of Israel”, but also “very committed to make sure that anti-Semitism doesn’t prevail and that equality in the treatment of all states is fully respected”.”

Once again, that omission will not come as a surprise to those familiar with the BBC’s own failure to accurately explain to its audiences the meaning of anti-Zionism and the corporation’s repeated misrepresentation of that term.

Related Articles:

BBC ignores UN SG’s admission of bias against Israel

BBC News tries – and fails – to explain antisemitism and anti-Zionism

BBC Radio Ulster promotes ‘Zionism is racism’ and the ‘apartheid’ smear

BBC News’ side-lining of French president’s anti-Zionism statement is no surprise

Video: Why Anti-Zionism = Racism (UK Media Watch) 

 

 

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Three previously unreported stories appear in one BBC News article

Last month we noted that BBC audiences had not seen any coverage of the reports that began to emerge earlier this year concerning allegedly Iranian-built underground missile factories in Lebanon.

Reports of a similar project in north-west Syria also came to light in June and began to garner wider coverage in mid-August (though not from the BBC) after satellite images of the site were shown on Israel’s Channel 2.

Both those stories unfolded following reports from sources unconnected to Israel but audiences were not informed of that when the BBC’s first mention of either story came in an article published on August 28th under the headline “Iran building missile factories in Syria and Lebanon – Netanyahu“.

“Israel’s prime minister has said Iran is building sites in Syria and Lebanon to produce precision-guided missiles.

Benjamin Netanyahu accused Iran of turning Syria into a “base of military entrenchment as part of its declared goal to eradicate Israel”. […]

Mr Netanyahu gave no details about the sites Iran was allegedly building to manufacture missiles, but he warned “this is something Israel cannot accept”.

Two weeks ago, the Israeli satellite imagery company ImageSat International published photographs it said appeared to confirm a report by a Syrian pro-opposition newspaper that a missile factory was under construction in north-western Syria under Iranian oversight.”

The same article also included the BBC’s first mention in English of a story it reported in Arabic three weeks previously.

“Mr Netanyahu also pressed Mr Guterres [UN Secretary General] on the UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon, Unifil, which Israel alleges has failed to prevent Hezbollah building up its supply of weapons since they fought a war in 2006.

Mr Guterres promised to “do everything in my capacity” to ensure Unifil fulfilled its obligations.

“I understand the security concerns of Israel and I repeat that the idea or the intention or the will to destroy the state of Israel is something totally unacceptable from my perspective,” he added.

Unifil’s mandate is up for renewal at the end of the month.”

Readers are not however told that earlier this month, Mr Guterres himself called for all non-state actors in Lebanon to be disarmed in accordance with UNSC resolution 1701 – including the terrorist militia that the BBC euphemistically portrays in this article as “Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement”.

As regular readers know, BBC audiences are chronically deprived of information concerning Hizballah’s violations of UN Security Council resolution 1701 and so they are obviously not fully aware of the context to what the BBC describes Israeli ‘allegations’ concerning UNIFIL’s record.

While these stories have now finally received some brief BBC coverage in the English language, if audiences are to “engage fully” with the issues they raise as pledged in the BBC’s public purposes, they are clearly in need of much more background information.  

Related Articles:

Another UN SC resolution violation goes unreported by the BBC

BBC News yawns over another violation of UNSC resolution 1701

Reviewing BBC reporting of Hizballah’s violations of UNSC Resolution 1701

Will the new man in Beirut improve the BBC’s record of reporting?

BBC News ignores a Hamas related story that contradicts previous reporting

As has been noted here in the past, the BBC has long avoided producing any serious coverage of the topic of collaboration between groups in the Gaza Strip and the ISIS franchise operating in the Sinai Peninsula and has even amplified Hamas’ messaging on the topic in some reports.

In late June reports emerged concerning Hamas’ construction of a buffer zone along its border with Egypt.

“The Interior Ministry in the Gaza Strip began work Wednesday to build a buffer zone between the Gaza Strip and Egypt in order to increase security in the border area and prevent the transfer of arms and passage of ISIS operatives from Sinai to the Gaza Strip and vice versa.

This is part of the understandings reached by the Hamas delegation during its visit to Cairo and its meetings with senior Egyptian intelligence officials.”

That story did not get any BBC coverage at the time.

On August 17th that same area was the scene of a suicide bombing.

“A suicide bomber killed a Hamas guard in southern Gaza early Thursday when forces tried to stop him from infiltrating into Egypt, members of the terror organization said, in what sources described as a rare attack against the Islamist group.

“Early this morning security forces stopped two people approaching the southern border (with Egypt),” an interior ministry spokesman in the Hamas-run territory said in a statement.

“One of them blew himself up,” it added.

Later a medical source confirmed a member of Hamas had died in the attack. […]

The bombing early Thursday is the first time that a Palestinian has set off a suicide bomb against Hamas forces. Officials said he is believed to be an Islamic State member.”

Fighting was subsequently seen in the area.

Khaled Abu Toameh reported that:

“The suicide bomber was identified as Mustafa Kallab, a member of a jihadi group that is affiliated with the Islamic State (ISIS) terror group. […]

Interestingly, several Palestinian factions, which regularly applaud stabbing and car-ramming attacks, as well suicide bombings, are now calling the August 17 attack along the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt a “cowardly terror attack.”

ISIS has claimed responsibility for the suicide attack that killed the Hamas officer. But this statement has not stopped the Palestinian manipulation machines from pointing a finger at Israel — completely without evidence. […]

Hamas is diverting attention from the fact that ISIS jihadis have long been operating under its rule in the Gaza Strip.

Actually, many of the ISIS jihadis are former members of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. The emergence of ISIS-inspired groups in the Gaza Strip has long been an open secret. This is the inconvenient truth that Hamas has been working hard to conceal for the past few years. […]

Hamas has been working overtime to improve its relations with Egypt in light of reports that jihadis from the Gaza Strip have been infiltrating Sinai to carry out attacks against the Egyptian army.

Now, the truth is out: this suicide attack demonstrates rather convincingly that the Egyptian charges are not unfounded.

Kallab was among a group of jihadis that was on its way to join ISIS and other Islamist terror groups in Sinai that have been waging a wave of terror attacks against the Egyptian army in the past few years. It is worth noting that Hamas has always denied the presence of ISIS in the Gaza Strip.

Hamas has also denied that jihadis from the Gaza Strip were involved in terror attacks in Sinai.”

BBC audiences have, however, not seen any coverage whatsoever of the August 17th incident that contradicts the Hamas messaging amplified in the corporation’s previous reporting

Related Articles:

BBC News continues to ignore the story of Hamas-ISIS Sinai relations

Poor BBC reporting on Hamas-ISIS Sinai collaboration highlighted again

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

 

 

BBC WS Newsday’s one-sided ‘peace process’ reporting – part two

As we saw in part one of this post, on August 24th the lead story in the early edition of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newsday‘ related to a visit to the Middle East by a US delegation.

That item presented an unchallenged, one-sided view of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians from a former PLO employee and steered listeners towards the belief that the main issue at stake is ‘settlements’, as well as promoting partisan views of ‘international law’.

A later edition of the same programme on the same day also led with that story but if listeners were expecting to hear a balancing viewpoint from the other side, they would have been sorely disappointed. Presenter Lawrence Pollard introduced the item (from 00:21 here) thus: [emphasis in italics in the original, emphasis in bold added]

Pollard: “Now let’s talk about the job facing the advisor in chief and son-in-law to the president, Jared Kushner. Can he pull the rabbit out the hat; broker a peace deal between the Israelis and the Palestinians? There’s a US delegation led by Mr Kushner in Egypt, Jordan. Ah…they’re in Israel now and they’re going to pick up with separate negotiations with the Israeli and Palestinian leaderships. Ehm…what are the prospects? A little earlier we caught up with Omar Baddar, the deputy director of the Arab-American Institute in Washington. I asked him what kind of coverage this trip was getting back in the US first of all.”

Clearly that introduction does not comply with the BBC editorial guidelines on impartiality requiring audiences to be informed of the “particular viewpoint” of interviewees. Pollard made no attempt to clarify the political agenda of either his guest or the organisation he represents and so listeners remained unaware that they were hearing partisan ‘analysis’ from a ‘one-stater’ who – like the head of his organisation – supports the anti-Israel BDS campaign.

Omar Baddar began by promoting the notion that the US delegation’s latest visit to the region is related to domestic events in America – despite the fact that the US officials concerned have previously made numerous similar trips.

Baddar: “Well to be honest with you, I don’t think many people are talking about this in America. I mean the president has gotten himself in such hot water over domestic issues with racism and violence that this is not really on anybody’s radar, which is why precisely I think he is attempting this push; to get some kind of positive media coverage about some kind of foreign policy success on the peace process front for the Israelis and Palestinians. Unfortunately, I don’t think he’s got anything real or substantive going on so I don’t see how this is actually going to generate what he’s attempting to go after. I think this is going to be just another failed venture of this president.”

Pollard: “Some of the headlines are extraordinary; sort of anti-Trump.’Trump defends neo-Nazis’ was one headline on an Israeli newspaper. In the region, how is the visit being seen?”

Baddar: “In terms of how governments in the region are viewing this, I think most of them are just distracted with much other, you know, with many other issues; regional dynamics vis-à-vis Iran and other things. But the Palestinian Authority in particular I’m sure is very, very frustrated because they’ve been stroking Trump’s ego out of desperation, telling him that he’s the president with the boldness and courage and vision to resolve this conflict in the hopes that he would apply some kind of meaningful pressure on the Israelis to sort of show progress towards ending the occupation and stop settlements and so on. None of that pressure is actually coming from the Trump administration so they’re finally seeing this for the PR stunt that it is and they simply have no interest in playing along with it.”

Pollard: “Do you detect a policy, a new idea, a new direction at all coming…coming out of Washington?”

Baddar: “I do not at all. I think he’s a man with no vision whatsoever and I think that’s the real reason behind the mixed messaging he’s been providing on this issue. When it comes on to specifics and the kind of people he’s surrounded himself with, none of them are the kind of people who understand what it actually takes to resolve this conflict so I don’t see anything to be hopeful about.

Pollard: “Ah…interesting. Tell us more about the position, as you see it, of the Palestinian Authority. You say that there they are sort of stroking Mr Trump’s ego out of desperation.”

Baddar: “That’s pretty much the case. I mean, look, they’ve…the Palestinian Authority has bent over backwards to accommodate every Israeli demand but the Israelis have taken everything the PA has offered but have not really offered even a slow-down in settlements in return or anything like that. So what is needed is…you know, President Obama did not really go very far but he at least spoke some truths about this stuff. And in the case of President Trump, he’s not even going nearly as far as Obama did. So what we need more of we’re getting significantly less of. Abbas at this point is actually expressing some level of frustration with the US administration, which is not something that we’ve really see from him in the past.”

One would have expected to see Pollard to remind listeners at this point that when – at the request of the Obama administration – Israel froze construction in communities in Judea & Samaria for ten months in 2009/10, the Palestinian Authority refused to come to the negotiating table throughout 90% of the period.

Pollard: “And at the moment does the Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu have the head space to deal with this? He’s got lots of internal political problems of his own at the moment.”

Baddar: “Yeah. Internal political problems of his own and also complications in dealing with Trump because he sees him as a very useful ally but at the same time, with the kind of comments that Trump has been making about Nazis and white supremacists in the US, I’m pretty sure that Netanyahu is not in a great position either and he’s…his political base is always based on [unintelligible] more rejectionist when it comes to any kind of compromise with the Palestinians.”

Pollard: “And how much does this stuff matter in America? How will it be treated on the networks do you think?”

Baddar: “Not as much as it should. I think America is pretty…pretty occupied right now with the drama that President Trump has created domestically that this is not even on their radar at all. But it really ought to be because in the long-run this is one of those issues that really affects America’s position in the region in a very, very significant way.”

Pollard closed the item with the promotion of some questionable linkage between the US delegation’s visit, internal US affairs and (yet again) an unconnected headline in a specific Israeli newspaper.

Pollard: “Speaking from the Arab-American Institute in Washington that was Omar Baddar. Meanwhile, more background to this visit: four prominent US Jewish groups have announced they will not take part in what has become a yearly call between the president and hundreds of rabbis across the country ahead of the Jewish high holidays of Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur. They said his remarks around Charlottesville lacked moral leadership and empathy for the victims of racial and religious hatred. Of course that story has been getting a great deal of attention in the Israeli press as well. ‘Trump defends neo-Nazis’ was one headline a couple of days ago. So; the visit of Jared Kushner complicated by so many factors.”

Again we see that ‘Newsday’ coverage of this story focused on promoting the notion that ‘settlements’ are the main issue stalling the ‘peace process’, with no mention at all of relevant topics such as terrorism, the absence of a uniform Palestinian leadership, Hamas’ refusal to accept the existence of Israel in any shape or form or the Palestinian Authority’s payment of salaries to terrorists.

With both interviewees in the two items coming from the anti-Israel side, the complete absence of any mention of such topics is of course hardly surprising but obviously ‘Newsday’ cannot possibly claim to have covered this story in an accurate and impartial manner that meets its public purpose of helping audiences to understand the issue.

Related Articles:

BBC WS Newsday’s one-sided ‘peace process’ reporting – part one

 

 

BBC WS Newsday’s one-sided ‘peace process’ reporting – part one

For reasons best known to themselves the production team of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newsday‘ decided that their lead story on August 24th should be a US delegation’s visit to the Middle East. The item (from 00:38 here) was introduced by presenters Lawrence Pollard and Nomia Iqbal as follows:

[emphasis in italics in the original, emphasis in bold added]

Pollard: “So can the Trump administration pull the rabbit out of the hat and broker a peace deal between the Israelis and the Palestinians?”

Iqbal: “Huge question, isn’t it? But it’s what the US team on Mid-East tour is hoping to provide the answer to. Led by President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, they’ve been to Egypt, Jordan and now Israel for talks with the Israeli prime minister and the head of the Palestinian Authority.”

Pollard: “Behind them is the domestic row in the US over the president’s alleged slowness in condemning antisemitism and racism and ahead of them is what looks like a hardening of positions from both sides. Can the American team jump-start the so-called peace process? That’s our question this morning.”

Failing to provide any concrete examples to back up his claim of a “hardening of positions” on either the Israeli or Palestinian side, Pollard then signposted his interviewee’s legal qualifications, thereby encouraging listeners to regard her subsequent pronunciations on ‘international law’ as credible and accurate. He did not however inform listeners that Diana Buttu – now, among other things, a policy advisor for Al Shabaka – is a BDS supporter who thinks the Palestinian Authority should be disbanded.

Pollard: “Let’s speak now to Diana Buttu who is a former legal advisor to the Palestinian negotiations team in Ramallah, joins us now. Welcome to the programme. Both sides making demands, which is kind of what you’d expect before a round of negotiations. Just explain to us what the red line is on the Palestinian side.”

Buttu: “Well the red line is exactly what international law says, which is that settlements shouldn’t be constructed. I think it’s very important for people to keep in mind that what’s been happening during these negotiations is that the negotiations process, rather than serving as a mechanism for ending Israel’s military rule has actually served as a mechanism to facilitate it and to entrench it. Since negotiations began we’ve actually seen nearly a tripling of the number of Israeli settlers living illegally in the West Bank. So the position has and always will be that we cannot continue to negotiate while there’s a gun to our head…”

Pollard: “Right…”

Buttu: “…in the form of increased settlement activity.”

In addition to failing to clarify to listeners that Buttu’s claim regarding international law and the legality of Israelis living in certain locations is not the only interpretation of the fourth Geneva Convention, Pollard also refrained from telling his audience that the Oslo Accords – signed willingly by the PLO for which Buttu used to work – place no restriction whatsoever on construction or population in communities in Area C, the status of which is to be determined in negotiations. Pollard then resuscitated a twelve-year-old quote.

Pollard: “That raises the issue of how much of an honest broker the American team can be. I mean there are people who have been familiar with the inside of the American process who say, you know, what we’ve done in the past is we’ve been Israel’s attorney rather than both sides’ sort of honest broker. Do you think that Jared Kushner represents a change?”

Buttu: “Absolutely not. That phrase of Israel’s lawyer was one that was coined by Aaron David Miller who was involved with the Clinton administration. And the Clinton administration is no way like the Trump administration. At least then one could potentially say or probably say that there was some semblance of…of being objective – even though I would question that. But with the Trump team the mask is completely off. Jared Kushner himself is somebody who is a big supporter of the settlements. David Friedman – the US ambassador – is also a financial backer of the settlements. His daughter just immigrated to Israel taking advantage of a very racist Israeli law and has become an Israeli citizen. So I don’t…I’m not under any illusions whatsoever that the Trump administration is going to do anything. In fact I think what they’re going to do is either continue to provide a fig leaf or continue to entrench Israel’s military occupation.”

The Israeli law to which Buttu referred in that gratuitous reference to a person unconnected to the US administration is of course the Law of Return. Pollard refrained from challenging her portrayal of that law as “very racist”.

Pollard: “Give us an idea, from your point of view, has a strategy emerged? I mean those are pretty dark interpretations that you’re giving of American intentions. Has there actually been a series of policy statements that you could call a strategy or an idea or a road map forward?”

Buttu: “From…on the part of the Americans – yes, definitely. This is the first US president who has indicated that he intends to move the embassy from…from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This is again in violation of international law. This is a president who has completely turned a blind eye to Israeli settlement construction and while this may not be an actual plan, I think what it…what the Trump administration has made clear is that they’re not going to do anything to push Israel to end its now 50 year military rule and to stop the denial of freedom for Palestinians. So this is the plan that has been in place and on…in terms of what it is that the sides want, the Trump administration needs to look as though they’re actually doing something. The Netanyahu administration needs to look as though they’re actually doing something and within Israel all that they’re saying is provided that we look as though we’re engaged in a process but not actually doing anything, then the situation will be fine and that is not acceptable.”

Pollard failed to clarify to listeners that – as the BBC well knows – there has been no new “Israeli settlement construction” since Trump came into office or indeed for well over two decades before that. Neither did he bother to ask Buttu to clarify exactly which part of “international law” supposedly precludes moving the US embassy to Jerusalem or challenge her false claim that this is the first time a US presidential candidate has pledged to move his country’s embassy to Israel’s capital.  

Pollard: “But…but there are people who…who are trying to be optimistic about this, who are kind of saying there’s going to be a new approach from Jared Kushner; he’s a real estate guy. Let’s treat it as a real estate approach; after all this is an issue about land ownership. Any fruits come from that approach?”

Buttu: “Not at all. This isn’t a real estate issue. This is an issue of rights and whether Palestinians have a right to live freely on their land or whether the world is going to continue to accept the denial of freedom of a people for yet another 50 years. So I don’t at all buy into this…”

Pollard: “Right…”

Buttu: “…theory that somehow Jared Kushner is going to be different. The question is not about the quality of the person but about what they’re empowered to do…”

Pollard: “Right…”

Buttu: “…what it is they intend to do and it’s clear that this administration is going to do nothing but kick the can down the road.”

Failing once again to clarify that the status of Area C is subject to negotiations and hence cannot accurately be described as “their land”, Pollard concluded with a repeat of his signposting:

Pollard: “You’re not going to be holding your breath by the sound of it. Diana Buttu; many thanks indeed for her take on the prospects of some breakthrough courtesy of Jared Kushner and the US team in the Middle East. Diana is a former legal advisor for the Palestinian negotiating team in Ramallah.”

Clearly BBC World Service audiences listening to this item did not benefit from accurate and impartial information that would enhance their understanding of the current situation regarding US efforts to restart negotiations between Israel and the PLO or the full range of issues to be tackled in such talks.

What they did hear, however, was unchallenged, politically motivated messaging from an inadequately introduced professional activist intent on persuading BBC audiences that the main – if not sole – factor of any importance in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is ‘settlements’.

A later edition of ‘Newsday’ also led with the same story – but did listeners hear anything to balance this item? That question will be answered in part two of this post.

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Diana Buttu is at it Again, Harvard Edition  (CAMERA)

 

 

Weekend long read

1) As noted here last week, the BBC did not produce any reporting about the recent visit to Iran by a Hamas delegation. The JCPA has an article explaining the significance of that visit.

“Now, again, the Iranian regime is telling the Hamas leadership in no uncertain terms that the Islamic movement must make a “correct” strategic decision, consistent with the changing balance of power in the Middle East, and align with Iran, which has become a regional superpower. Its hegemonic status now grounded in the Shiite crescent, which includes Iraq, Yemen, Syria, and Lebanon, Iran is leading the ongoing struggle against Israel. In his meeting with Izzat al-Rishk, Parliament Chairman Larijani said that Hamas must draw conclusions from the Middle Eastern developments in recent years, particularly those in Iraq and Syria.”

2) At the Tablet, Tony Badran discusses Hizballah’s ‘shopping list’.

“In remarks delivered at the Port of Beirut, Ambassador Richard reviewed the material contents of a $100 million contribution that the US is making to the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), which last month provided support to Hezbollah in a joint military operation in northeastern Lebanon. Hailing the first eight of a promised thirty-two M2A2 Bradley Fighting Vehicles that the US will be delivering to the LAF, Richard reviewed the items the US has delivered to the LAF over the past 12 months. Along with heavier weapons, Richard revealed, the list includes “4,000 M4 rifles,” “320 night vision devices and thermal sights,” and “360 secure communication radios.”

Why is this noteworthy? Well, as it happens, these precise items have been on Hezbollah’s shopping list consistently for almost a decade.”

3) At the Weekly Standard, Matthew Brodsky also addresses the topic of the blurred lines between the Lebanese Armed Forces and Hizballah.

“The problem with the policy expansion in Lebanon is that the LAF today is simply another arm of Hezbollah, the terrorist group that runs Lebanon. Even Sunni politicians like Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who visited President Trump at the White House in July, are forced to play by the Shiite proxy’s rules. That means U.S. support for the LAF is helping Iran, which spawned Hezbollah in Lebanon in 1982. That news should be concerning because until 9/11, Hezbollah held the distinction of being the terrorist group responsible for killing the most Americans.”

4) MEMRI has published a report on the Palestinian Authority’s 2017 budget that highlights a topic serially under-reported by the BBC: the PA’s payment of salaries to convicted terrorists.

“The salaries, as noted, are paid to the prisoners themselves while they are incarcerated. The most significant criterion for the amount they receive is the length of their prison sentence, not their socioeconomic situation or their family situation. Obviously, the sentence depends on the severity of their offense, so the worse the offense, the higher the salary. In this way, the PA offers economic incentives for serious offenses involving endangering human life and murder.

A prisoner serving up to three years for, say, possessing ammunition receives a basic monthly salary of NIS 1,400 (about US $390). A prisoner serving 10 to 15 years for, say, causing bodily harm or injury with a weapon receives a basic salary of NIS 6,000 (about US $1,700), and a prisoner serving 30 years or more for multiple offenses, including murder which alone gets him a 20-year sentence, receives a basic salary of NIS 12,000.”  

Are BBC audiences getting the full picture on Syria’s chemical weapons?

The BBC’s main backgrounder on the topic of the civil war in Syria – “Syria: The story of the conflict“– includes a brief portrayal of the issue of chemical weapons that makes no mention of the attack in Khan Sheikhoun in April of this year.

Another backgrounder – “Why is there a war in Syria?“, 7 April 2017 – makes just one brief reference to the topic of chemical weapons:

“The US has conducted air strikes on IS in Syria since September 2014, and, in the first intentional attack on Syria itself, hit an air base which it said was behind a deadly chemical attack, in April 2017.”

With the deal that mandated the destruction of the Syrian regime’s chemical weapons arsenal being enshrined in a UN Security Council resolution that was described at the time by the former US Secretary of State John Kerry as “precedent-setting” and by the then UK Secretary of State William Hague as “ground breaking”, the BBC’s funding public would obviously expect to be kept up to date on its implementation and efficacy – not least because British tax-payers contributed to funding the operation.

Last week Reuters published a special report titled “How Syria continued to gas its people as the world looked on“.

“A promise by Syria in 2013 to surrender its chemical weapons averted U.S. air strikes. Many diplomats and weapons inspectors now believe that promise was a ruse.

They suspect that President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, while appearing to cooperate with international inspectors, secretly maintained or developed a new chemical weapons capability. They say Syria hampered inspectors, gave them incomplete or misleading information, and turned to using chlorine bombs when its supplies of other chemicals dwindled.

There have been dozens of chlorine attacks and at least one major sarin attack since 2013, causing more than 200 deaths and hundreds of injuries. International inspectors say there have been more than 100 reported incidents of chemical weapons being used in the past two years alone.

“The cooperation was reluctant in many aspects and that’s a polite way of describing it,” Angela Kane, who was the United Nation’s high representative for disarmament until June 2015, told Reuters. “Were they happily collaborating? No.”

“What has really been shown is that there is no counter-measure, that basically the international community is just powerless,” she added.

That frustration was echoed by U.N. war crimes investigator Carla del Ponte, who announced on Aug. 6 she was quitting a U.N. Commission of Inquiry on Syria. “I have no power as long as the Security Council does nothing,” she said. “We are powerless, there is no justice for Syria.””

In May of this year the BBC produced a report which also highlighted claims that Syria’s chemical weapons programme is still in operation.

“Syria’s government is continuing to make chemical weapons in violation of a 2013 deal to eliminate them, a Western intelligence agency has told the BBC.

A document says chemical and biological munitions are produced at three main sites near Damascus and Hama. […]

Despite monitoring of the sites by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the document alleges that manufacturing and maintenance continues in closed sections.”

However, that article also gave a platform to propaganda from the Syrian regime – as seen in additional reports.

On August 22nd Reuters published a story concerning chemical weapons shipments from North Korea to Syria.

“Two North Korean shipments to a Syrian government agency responsible for the country’s chemical weapons program were intercepted in the past six months, according to a confidential United Nations report on North Korea sanctions violations.

The report by a panel of independent U.N. experts, which was submitted to the U.N. Security Council earlier this month and seen by Reuters on Monday, gave no details on when or where the interdictions occurred or what the shipments contained. […]

Syria agreed to destroy its chemical weapons in 2013 under a deal brokered by Russia and the United States. However, diplomats and weapons inspectors suspect Syria may have secretly maintained or developed a new chemical weapons capability.”

That story was picked up by numerous media organisations around the world, including Newsweek, the Independent and the Guardian – but not the BBC.

Clearly the BBC could be doing a lot more could be done to provide its audiences with up-to-date information concerning the Assad regime’s failure to comply with the 2013 UN SC resolution 2118.

Related Articles:

Why does the BBC describe the Khan Sheikhoun chemical attack as ‘suspected’? 

More PA incitement the BBC will not report

As has been noted here on many occasions, the BBC serially avoids any serious reporting on the issue of Palestinian Authority incitement – including that relating to the sensitive issue of al Aqsa mosque.

For some years now the PA has been exploiting the anniversary of an incident that took place in 1969 when a mentally ill Christian Australian tourist set fire to the mosque. As the Times of Israel reported, this year was no exception.

“The Palestinian Authority and Hamas both revived the lie that a Jew or Jews were behind the 1969 arson of the Al-Aqsa Mosque by a Christian fundamentalist, which took place 48 years ago.

Marking the August 23 anniversary, both parties again blamed Jews and tied the old incident to recent conflict at the Temple Mount, which saw weeks of protests and violence. […]

Dr. Mahmoud Habbash, Supreme Sharia Judge in the Palestinian Authority and a close adviser to PA President Mahmoud Abbas said Tuesday, in statements published by the official PA news site Wafa, that “the fires that erupted in the Al-Aqsa Mosque 48 years ago by a Jewish terrorist of Australian origin are still burning today, as long as the noble sanctuary and the holy city [of Jerusalem] are violated by the Israeli occupation.””

Palestinian Media Watch reports that in addition, official PA television aired a ‘documentary’ on the topic that was also shown in previous years.

“With Palestinian-Israeli tensions over Jerusalem’s Old City and the Temple Mount still simmering, the Palestinian Authority has chosen to intensify Palestinian anger and hate by repeating one of its most dangerous libels – that “senior Jews of high position” planned the arson of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in 1969. In a documentary broadcast on PA TV, it was presented as fact that not only did Jews plan the arson of the Mosque but also that after the fire started Israel shut off the water supply, preventing fire fighters from efficiently putting out the fire. […]

“PA TV’s decision to broadcast this Al-Aqsa libel now, follows its ongoing attempts to keep Palestinian hatred of Israel simmering over the Temple Mount issue. Last month the Palestinian Authority Minister of Religious Affairs told Palestinian viewers on television that Israel was planning to destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque…”

The BBC frequently tells its audiences that ‘tensions’ in Jerusalem are caused by the belief on the part of Palestinians that Israel intends to alter the status quo on Temple Mount or even that al Aqsa mosque itself is ‘in danger’. It does not however bother to inform audiences why such baseless beliefs are so enduring and widespread and how they are nourished by incitement in the PA media and from even the highest of PA officials.

Without that crucial information, BBC audiences clearly cannot properly understand the recurring story of ‘clashes’ in Jerusalem.

BBC resource for teachers spreads inaccuracies about Judaism

Last year the BBC launched a project called ‘BBC Teach’ which it describes as follows:

“With the increased use of the internet in classrooms, teachers now have unprecedented access to a whole range of resources to help with delivering the curriculum. While there is plenty of content available to access, teachers come to the BBC because we are a trusted brand and recognised provider of quality teaching resources. We wish to build on our reputation with BBC Teach, a new and exciting platform for schools and teachers.  

BBC Teach aims to support teachers by curating the best of BBC videos, clips and other curriculum-related resources for use in the classroom. The BBC Teach brand is a dedicated teaching resource site hosted on YouTube.”

Along with lots of other material, the BBC Teach website currently offers a new series titled “A to Z of Religions and Beliefs” that is described as “an animated A to Z guide exploring and introducing a variety of religious topics for students aged 11 – 14”.

One would of course expect material touted as “quality teaching resources” produced by a self-described “trusted brand” to take particular care to be accurate and impartial and to refrain from propagating archaic religious stereotypes. That, however, is not the case in all the videos in that series.

In the video titled “J is for Jesus“, the target audience of 11 to 14 year-olds is told that the Jews:

“…turned against him [Jesus] and had him executed by the Romans; nailed to a cross.”

The video titled “T is for Temples” tells viewers that:

“Centuries later the Jewish people were able to rebuild, only to have the Second Temple destroyed by the Roman as punishment for a rebellion. But a small part – the Western Wall – still stands and it is the most sacred place for Jewish people.”

The Western Wall is of course not a “part” of the Second Temple but a section of the retaining wall of the plaza on which the Temple stood. Neither is it “the most sacred place for Jewish people”: that title belongs to Temple Mount.

Later in the same video, pupils are told that:

“It’s [Jerusalem] also where the prophet Mohammed ascended to heaven. The rock he ascended from was incorporated into the Islamic shrine the Dome of the Rock. It’s built where the Jewish Temple used to stand and is sacred to both Jewish people and Muslims.”

The Dome of the Rock is of course not “sacred” to Jews as suggested by that wording: Temple Mount – on which it and additional structures stand – however is.

Obviously any teacher considering using BBC Teach material needs to carefully fact check its content before doing so.  

Related Articles:

What does the BBC Academy teach the corporation’s journalists about Judaism?

BBC R4 and WS inaccurate on Western Wall yet again

BBC Radio 4’s ‘Sunday’ misleads on Western Wall and the Waqf

BBC ‘explains’ its claim that Western Wall is Judaism’s holiest site

BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel – July 2017

The Israel Security Agency’s report on terror attacks (Hebrew) during July 2017 shows that throughout the month a total of 222 incidents took place: 129 in Judea & Samaria, eighty-seven in Jerusalem, four inside the ‘green line’ and two originating from the Gaza Strip.

In Judea & Samaria and Jerusalem the agency recorded 184 attacks with petrol bombs, 21 attacks using explosive devices, one stabbing attack, six shooting attacks, two vehicular attacks and two arson attacks. Within the ‘green line’ one stabbing attack (in Petah Tikva), one petrol bomb attack and two arson attacks took place. Also recorded were two missile attacks from the Gaza Strip.  

Five people were murdered (3 civilians and 2 members of the security forces) and seven were wounded (2 civilians and five members of the security forces) in attacks during July.

The BBC News website covered the July 14th terror attack (without calling it terror) at Lions’ Gate/Temple Mount in which two policemen were murdered and one wounded. The attack in Halamish in which three members of the Salomon family were murders and one wounded was also reported – again without the BBC describing it as terrorism in its own words. An attempted stabbing at Gush Etzion junction on July 28th was briefly reported.

Among the attacks that did not receive any BBC coverage were a vehicular attack near Tekoa on July 10th in which a soldier was wounded, a petrol bomb attack in Jerusalem on July 14th, a drive-by shooting near Ateret on July 15th, a vehicular attack near Hebron on July 18th, an attempted stabbing in Gush Etzion on July 20th and a stabbing attack in Petah Tikva on July 24th in which a civilian was wounded.

The missile attacks from the Gaza Strip on July 23rd and 24th also did not receive any BBC coverage.

In all, the BBC News website reported three of the 222 attacks which took place in July. Between January and July 2017 inclusive, the BBC News website reported 0.78% of the total terror attacks that took place and 92% of the resulting fatalities.

Related Articles:

BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel – June 2017

BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel – May 2017

BBC coverage of the Jerusalem terror attack – part one: BBC News website

BBC coverage of the Jerusalem terror attack – part two: BBC radio

Reviewing BBC ‘historical record’ of the July 2017 Temple Mount story – part one

Reviewing BBC ‘historical record’ of the July 2017 Temple Mount story – part two

BBC refrains from using the word terror in report on murdered family

BBC ignores two more missile attacks from Gaza