Gmar Hatima Tova to all our readers marking the Day of Atonement.
Gmar Hatima Tova to all our readers marking the Day of Atonement.
1) With the BBC World Service having recently failed to disclose the anti-Israel activism of the sole interviewee in a history show, an article by Prof Gerald Steinberg titled “The Lancet: How an Anti-Israel Propaganda Platform was Turned Around” makes for timely reading.
“The Lancet‘s central role in anti-Israel demonization began in parallel to the wider political war launched in late 2000, at a time of violent clashes between Palestinians and Israelis. […]
It was during this period that The Lancet began publishing numerous articles advancing this poisonous political agenda, through allegations of medical and health related abuse of Palestinians. This activity took place under the aegis of Richard Horton, who has held the position of Editor in Chief since 1995 and who frequently generates controversy by using the journal to gain visibility for his pronouncements on major social and political issues associated with progressive liberal agendas. In this context, Horton joined the Palestinian cause, reinforced through close association with highly politicized non-governmental organizations (NGOs) such as Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) and Physicians for Human Rights Israel (PHR-I). Under Horton’s direction, The Lancet and MAP co-sponsored The Lancet-Palestinian Health Alliance (LPHA), generating a steady flow of pseudo-scientific papers, and, in turn, providing Horton with political support and visibility. […]
Dr. Swee Ang Chai, co-founder of MAP, was another central figure in The Lancet campaign and a frequent contributor to anti-Israel demonization, and the introduction from her book From Beirut to Jerusalem was posted on The Lancet’s “Global Health Network” website. The article, which included no citations and advanced no medical claims, was removed 28 days later following widespread criticism of “factual inaccuracies.” Another piece by Swee Ang cited testimonies of unnamed “eyewitnesses” to make war crimes allegations related to the 2009 Gaza conflict. In addition, she participated in an internet group that promoted David Duke’s racism and anti-Semitism, including promoting a video titled “CNN, Goldman Sachs, and the Zio Matrix” in which Duke accuses Jewish banking, media and political figures of conspiring to create “an unholy tribal alliance.””
“Birawi added that despite the difficulties, the main objective of dispatching ships to the Gaza Strip is for their propaganda value, to keep the issues of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and breaking the “siege” alive in public discourse, and to continue to defame Israel (the “occupying entity,” according to Birawi). He claimed that the true test of the success of the flotillas is not whether or not they reach the Gaza Strip, but the coverage of the political and media campaigns accompanying them.
Asked whether ships would sail to the Gaza Strip in the near future, he answered it had been decided in principle to continue to try to break the “siege” by sea. He said the Freedom flotilla coalition was examining a plan to send one or more ships during the summer of 2018. They were currently discussing details and how to ensure success. He also said other NGOs, working in solidarity for the Palestinians, that participated in the Freedom flotilla coalition, were also examining the possibility of sending their own ships.”
3) Readers may recall that in 2015 the BBC rejected a complaint from a member of the public based on information – inter alia – from the group ‘Kairos’. At the Boston Globe, Robert Leikind has more on that organisation.
“Over the last decade, a number of mainline Protestant Churches, including some with a significant presence in New England, have adopted resolutions harshly critical of Israel. During the summer two more were passed by the United Church of Christ and the Disciples of Christ. These measures share three core elements: Each assigns Israel near total culpability for the conflict with the Palestinians; each overlooks decades of Palestinian activity that has undermined prospects for peace with Israel; and each justifies its claims by referring to a document called Kairos Palestine.”
4) The FDD has published a detailed paper on the subject of Hizballah’s finances.
“Hezbollah – a Shiite terrorist group based in Lebanon – is under financial strain, but is likely to stay buoyed by external support from Iran and by its vast network of illicit businesses around the world. The group makes roughly a billion dollars annually through support from Iran (which provides the bulk of its funding), donations from elements within the Lebanese diaspora, and smuggling and drug trafficking networks worldwide. Several countries in South America give the group’s trafficking networks safe harbor. Hezbollah leverages segments of the Lebanese diaspora for donations and “taxation,” and supporters have laundered money and run front companies on six continents. Hezbollah predominantly spends its revenues on providing social services in southern Lebanon, operating as a “state within a state,” and on funding its fighting forces in Lebanon and Syria.”
Visitors to the BBC News website’s Middle East page on September 27th were informed that “Interpol approves Palestinian membership” and:
“Palestinians hail a ‘victory’ made possible by the ‘principled position’ of the agency’s members”
The link led to an article titled “Interpol approves Palestinian membership despite Israeli opposition” in which the source of that BBC sub-heading was revealed.
“Interpol has admitted the Palestinian territories as a new member, despite opposition from Israel.
The international policing body backed membership for “the State of Palestine” at its annual general assembly.
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki declared the news a “victory”, made possible by the “principled position” of most Interpol members.
Israel tried to delay the vote, arguing that Palestine was not a state and therefore ineligible for membership.”
Later on readers found another quote from al-Maliki:
“”On this joyous occasion, the State of Palestine reiterates its commitment to upholding its obligations and contributing to fighting crime and furthering the rule of law,” Mr Maliki said in a statement.”
That was followed by a quote from a Tweet sent by an Israeli politician:
“Israel’s Deputy Minister for Diplomacy, Michael Oren, criticised the vote, writing on Twitter: “By admitting ‘Palestine’, which praises terrorists of the past and refuses to condemn those of today, Interpol makes the world less safe.””
The BBC did not however provide readers with any information in its own words on obviously relevant issues such as the PA’s payment of financial rewards to terrorists and their families or the fact that alongside the new item of membership dues to Interpol, the PA’s annual budget includes salaries for convicted terrorists. Neither did the BBC consider it necessary to raise the question of Interpol membership for an entity currently negotiating power-sharing with a designated terror organisation.
Given the PA’s record on human rights, the question of the abuse of Interpol membership for factional score-settling is also relevant – particularly in light of a statement reported by the Times of Israel:
“A senior Palestinian official said there were no plans to sue any Israelis through Interpol. He said the purpose is “to pursue criminals who commit crimes here and escape.”
He said one target would be Mohammed Dahlan, a rival of Abbas.”
The last five paragraphs of this report include promotion of a link to the BBC News website’s recent report on the terror attack in Har Adar (which did not describe the incident as terrorism or the attacker as a terrorist) and standard recycled ‘background’ inserts that amplify PLO messaging on the topic of Palestinian terrorism.
“Israel says Palestinian incitement has fuelled the attacks. The Palestinian leadership has blamed frustration rooted in decades of Israeli occupation.”
While that paragraph has been seen in countless BBC News website reports over the last two years, audiences continue to be deprived of serious reporting on incitement to violence from official Palestinian sources or on the Palestinian Authority’s funding of terrorists – topics relevant to this particular story as well as numerous others.
The September 15th edition of the BBC World Service radio history programme ‘Witness’ was titled “Sabra and Shatila – A Massacre in Lebanon“.
“A doctor working in Sabra and Shatila refugee camp in Lebanon recalls the massacre there in September 1982. Over the course of three days, Lebanese Christian militiamen killed and raped hundreds of the Palestinian inhabitants of Sabra and Shatila in Beirut in revenge for the assassination of their leader, Lebanese president elect, Bashir Gemayel. Dr Swee Ang treated the wounded in the basement of the only hospital in the camp; she tells Louise Hidalgo her story.”
The interviewee’s background is described to listeners by Hidalgo as follows:
“Dr Swee Ang was working in the hospital in Sabra and Shatila during those days.”
“Dr Swee Ang is an orthopedic surgeon originally from Singapore who moved to Britain in 1977.”
A significant proportion of the programme relates to Israel rather than to the Lebanese Christian militia that actually carried out the massacre in Sabra and Shatila with Hidalgo referring to the findings of the Kahan Commission and providing some rather sketchy background to the first Lebanon War and her interviewee adding other statements.
“I grew up a very staunch fundamentalist Christian and I’ve always been supporting Israel. In 1982 […] I saw on television aerial bombardment of Beirut in Lebanon and I just couldn’t square it with my religious upbringing…”
“My understanding of the situation – because I was brought up with a lot of friends who are pro-Israel – was that the PLO was the cause of all the trouble.”
“Tanks were coming northwards into Beirut city and a contingent came for Sabra and Shatila. So by nightfall the shelling became so close and we knew that we were surrounded by Israeli tanks.”
At the end of the programme listeners are told that:
“After Sabra and Shatila she and her husband set up a medical charity for the people of the camp.”
That charity is called ‘Medical Aid for Palestinians’ (MAP) and – far from being a neutral “medical” charity – its politicised anti-Israel bias is notorious. Dr Swee Ang herself is frequently seen at anti-Israel events such as ‘Israel Apartheid Week’ and in 2014 she co-authored a highly politicised open letter promoting unsubstantiated allegations and accusing Israel of ‘massacring’ Palestinians that was published in the Lancet.
None of that information was made available to listeners to this programme despite the fact that BBC editorial guidelines on impartiality state:
“We should not automatically assume that contributors from other organisations (such as academics, journalists, researchers and representatives of charities) are unbiased and we may need to make it clear to the audience when contributors are associated with a particular viewpoint, if it is not apparent from their contribution or from the context in which their contribution is made.”
Given the programme’s focus on Israel, full disclosure of its sole interviewee’s political activism in line with BBC editorial guidelines was obviously necessary.
Unsurprisingly, presenter Julian Marshall portrayed the attack without using the words terror or terrorist: [emphasis in italics in the original]
Marshall: “Let’s go now to Israel where President Trump’s Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt has arrived in Jerusalem to try to revive Israel-Palestinian peace talks and shortly before his arrival there was a shooting incident on the occupied West Bank in which three Israelis were shot dead by a Palestinian gunman who was himself later killed by police. The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blamed the attack on what he called ‘Palestinian incitement’. The BBC’s Yolande Knell joins us now from Jerusalem and, Yolande, first tell us a bit more about that shooting incident.”
Knell: “Well the attack happened early this morning at Har Adar settlement. It’s just north-west of Jerusalem, just inside the occupied West Bank, and there are Palestinian workers there who were – with Israeli permits – going to work inside the settlement. They were queuing up for security checks. This man was among them and he had a work permit but his behaviour made security staff suspicious. When they asked him to stop he pulled out a gun and he shot and killed two of the private security guards from the settlement and one Israeli policeman as well. There was another security official who was badly injured and then the Palestinian man himself was shot dead. I was in the area just afterwards as an ambulance raced past. All surrounding roads were blocked off with a very heavy security presence.”
Marshall: “And…err…what has prompted the prime minister to blame the attack on ‘Palestinian incitement’?”
With BBC audiences being serially under-informed about Palestinian incitement, that question (notwithstanding the scoffing tone in which it was voiced) obviously provided an opportunity to enhance listeners’ understanding of the issue. Yolande Knell did not however step up to the plate.
Knell: “This is something that we have regularly seen from the Israeli prime minister. He also called on the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas to condemn the shooting and his deputy foreign minister Tzipi Hotovely linked this to the arrival of the US envoy Jason Greenblatt – he’s back here trying to revive the moribund peace process. She said that the Palestinians meant this as a reception for him and she suggested that the US should focus on getting the Palestinian leader to condemn such acts of violence before any peace initiative could be launched. And we’ve heard this a lot from Israeli leaders recently.”
In addition to side-stepping the very relevant topic of incitement, Knell also avoided a no less important subject raised by Tzipi Hotovely in the statement partly paraphrased by Knell.
“The terrible attack this morning in Har Adar is the reception that the Palestinians prepared for US envoy Greenblatt,” she [Hotovely] said in a statement. “The American efforts must focus first of all on stopping the murderous Palestinian terror before anything else. There can be no negotiations with those who only fan the flames of terrorism and continue to pay the families of terrorists.”
The issue of the PA’s payment of salaries to convicted terrorists, allocation of benefits to released prisoners and payments to the families of terrorists killed while carrying out attacks is one about which BBC audiences know next to nothing. Knell, however, sidelined that issue too and – choosing her words carefully – went on:
Knell: “Of course it’s very difficult for Palestinian leaders to come out..ehm…condemning individual attacks because many of these…err…attackers would be seen…by…many Palestinians as being heroes of some kind while the Israelis would see them as being terrorist. And there was actually a senior member of President Abbas’ Fatah movement who came out saying that Israel alone bears responsibility for what he called the crimes of the occupation. And then the…err…Palestinian militant group Hamas as well; their spokesman told the BBC…ahm…that this was a natural reaction – those were his words – to the occupation and he praised this attack.”
Knell did not bother to inform listeners that Abbas’ Fatah party glorified the terrorist on social media or that among the so-called “crimes of the occupation” cited by that Fatah “senior member” was “the incessant invasions by the herds of settlers of the Al-Aqsa Mosque plazas”.
Marshall then gave Knell the cue for a typically tepid and obfuscating portrayal of the breakdown of negotiations in 2014.
Marshall: “Ahm…Yolande, you referred to those…err…peace talks as moribund. In fact so moribund you’re going to have to remind us when the two sides last sat down to talk to each other.”
Knell: “Well it’s now three years since…eh…the peace talks – the last round of peace talks – which were brokered by the US – ehm…fell apart. And Jason Greenblatt is back, trying to help President Trump work towards what he’s called the ultimate deal but there have been many signs that this is not gathering momentum. Palestinian leaders making complaints that the US is not pressuring Israel to curb its construction of Jewish settlements on land they want for their future state.”
Knell of course knows full well that the phrase “construction of Jewish settlements” is inaccurate and misleading, with no new communities having been constructed for decades. She closed her report with the BBC’s standard – yet partial – mantra on ‘international law’.
Knell: “Of course settlements are seen as illegal under international law, although Israel disagrees with that. And the other complicating factor that we have to remember are [sic] these fresh signs of reconciliation between the two main Palestinian political factions; between Hamas and Fatah. Ehm…they’ve just said in the last week or so that they want to work towards a unity government; expected to have more on that and Hamas of course is seen by the US, by Israel, by the EU and others as being a terrorist group.”
In conclusion, listeners to this report ostensibly about a terror attack against Israelis did not hear the words terror or terrorist used in the BBC’s portrayal of the incident. Neither did they learn anything about the three people murdered other than their job descriptions and Yolande Knell carefully avoided narrative-conflicting topics such as the Palestinian Authority’s incitement to violence, glorification of terrorism and financial rewards to terrorists.
However, BBC World Service listeners did hear two references to the “occupied West Bank”, five references to “settlements”, two references to “the occupation” and a one-sided portrayal of international law.
The September 22nd edition of the BBC Radio 4 programme ‘Woman’s Hour‘ included an interview with an Israeli-Arab film director who was also featured in an article that appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page between September 3rd and 21st inclusive.
“‘In Between’ tells the story of three young Arab women living together in Tel Aviv, Israel. Away from the constraints of their families, they find themselves caught in between the free lives they want to lead and the restrictions still imposed on them. The first major film by Palestinian director Maysaloun Hamoud has been praised by international critics but also caused controversy, Maysaloun has had a fatwa issued against her. She joins Jenni to discuss.”
During the interview (from 24:20 here) listeners heard two further references to that ‘fatwa’ from presenter Jenni Murray.
25:07: “The writer and director Maysaloun Hamoud had a religious fatwa issued against her.”
31:03: “Now the film, we know, has attracted controversy about its theme. A fatwa was issued and I know there’ve been death threats. What impact is that having on you?”
“Upon its release, it [the film] was heavily criticized in Umm al-Fahm, including by the city’s mayor.
Located in northern Israel, Umm al-Fahm is one of the country’s largest Arab cities with around 50,000 residents and serves as a stronghold for the Islamic Movement. The film was banned from screening in the city.
Right after the film was first screened in Israel, the mayor of Umm al-Fahm Sheikh Khaled Hamdan called Hamoud a heretic during a speech delivered in a mosque in January. Soon after, the Higher Islamic Council issued a fatwa, a religious Islamic ruling that determined that Hamoud was harming Islam and that the film was sinful. […]
The Umm al-Fahm city hall also sought a countrywide ban on In Between, and wrote a letter to the Israeli Ministry of Culture demanding that the film be removed from all Israeli theaters, describing it “offensive to the religion of Islam and to the residents of Umm al-Fahm in particular.””
Similarly, when Jenni Murray asked Hamoud about criticism of the source of funding for the film by “some people”, listeners were not told that the criticism came from supporters of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign or that the film fund in question is financed by the Israeli Ministry of Culture and Sport.
29:45 Murray: “Now I know you were funded from Israeli film funds. Why were some people critical of that?”
Murray made no effort to question or clarify the claims of ‘discrimination’ and ‘tenth class citizen’ included in Hamoud’s response.
Hamoud: “I also ask why some people critical on that when they don’t remember [an] important thing: that I am a Palestinian [but] in the same time I am a Israeli citizen. I pay taxes, I have all my duties to the state that I deserve to get back – OK – as a citizen. But because I am a Palestinian citizen, so I am not second, even third or – I don’t know – tenth citizen class for the Israeli and we are discriminated [against] so we don’t really get our budgets that we deserve so I need to take not just that money that I took for my movie. I need – we as Palestinian artists, filmmakers or not just filmmakers – need to get our what we deserve so I see all the people who criticize this as really non-connected to reality.”
Neither did Murray bother to provide listeners with relevant information which would help them put Hamoud’s politicised portrayal of ‘history’ into its appropriate perspective.
28:33 Hamoud: “The Palestinian cinema is still so young. We cannot actually forget that we as a Palestinian had a very big, big, dramatic point in our history – it called the Naqba, OK – ’48 in creating of Israel. And let me say [it] smashed all the Palestinian society so after that dramatic historical – crucial, actually – point you start to build society from zero, from scratches [scratch], and not just in the culture aspect: in everything.”
In other words, while listeners to this item did not get a proper explanation of the religious and political sources of opposition to the film and its funding, they did hear completely unchallenged, one-sided, politicised portrayals of Israeli society and history that have considerably less relevance to the topic of discussion.
Just over an hour after a terror attack took place in Har Adar on September 26th the BBC News published its first report on the incident under the superfluously punctuated headline “Palestinian gunman ‘kills three Israelis’ in West Bank”.
Over the next six hours numerous amendments were made to that report as information emerged but – in line with usual BBC policy – none of its versions described the incident as terrorism or the attacker as a terrorist.
“Israel says Palestinian incitement has fuelled the attacks. The Palestinian leadership has blamed frustration rooted in decades of Israeli occupation.”
“The issue of settlements is one of the most contentious between Israel and the Palestinians, who see them as an obstacle to peace.
More than 600,000 Jews live in about 140 settlements built since Israel’s 1967 occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The settlements are considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.”
From version six onward readers found yet another mantra which, although frequently promoted by the BBC, fails to provide audiences with the information and background necessary for full understanding of the reasons for the breakdown of that round of negotiations.
“Peace talks between the two sides broke down amid acrimony in April 2014.”
The BBC’s report notes praise for the terror attack from Hamas and the PIJ:
“No group has taken responsibility for the attack, although Gaza-based Palestinian militant organisations Hamas and Islamic Jihad welcomed it.”
Fatah’s reaction is portrayed by the BBC as follows:
“The head of the Information Office of Fatah, the political faction of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said Israel bore responsibility for the attack, because of its “continuous aggression” against the Palestinians.”
BBC audiences were not told of Fatah’s glorification of the terrorist – “A morning scented with the fragrance of the Martyrs” – and threats of additional violence. Nor were they informed of the relevant issue of the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority’s scheme of financial rewards for terrorists.
While the BBC’s report names the terrorist and provides some of his personal details, despite the fact that by 1 p.m local time the names of all three of the murdered victims had been released for publication, the BBC did not update its article to inform audiences of their names: Border Policeman Solomon Gavriyah, aged 20 from Be’er Ya’akov and civilian security guards Youssef Ottman from Abu Ghosh and Or Arish of Har Adar, both aged 25.
September 23rd saw the appearance of a report titled “Iran tests missile despite Trump pressure” on the BBC News website’s Middle East page.
In addition to an account of the display of a new ballistic missile at a military parade in Tehran, the BBC’s report purports to provide readers with background information on several aspects of the story.
“US President Donald Trump criticised the launch, saying the missile was capable of hitting its ally Israel. […]
In a tweet on Saturday, Mr Trump criticised Iran and accused it, without elaborating, of co-operating with the North Korean regime.”
‘He [Macron] told reporters that Iran’s ballistic missile program must be curtailed and cited the need to reassure “states in the region, and the United States.”‘
Following the display of the missile on Friday, France put out statement that was also not mentioned in this BBC report.
‘An “extremely concerned” French foreign ministry warned the launch violated the United Nations Security Council resolution that endorsed the accord.
“France demands that Iran halt all destablizing activities in the region and to respect all provisions of Resolution 2231, including the call to halt this type of ballistic activity,” a statement read.
“France will consider ways, with its European and other partners, to get Iran to stop its destabilizing ballistic activities.”’
The BBC, however, appears to be keen to steer audiences to the conclusion that opposition to the Iranian ballistic missiles programme comes exclusively from the US and its president.
The report goes on:
“The US announced fresh sanctions on Iran in July over its ballistic missile programme and what it said was Iran’s support for terror organisations.” [emphasis added]
Apparently the BBC is not convinced that Iran’s support for Hizballah, Hamas, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad cited in the US statement at the time constitutes “support for terror organisations”.
“The missile test is arguably a borderline case as far as the UN Security Council is concerned. A resolution calls on Iran not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons.”
However, later on in the same report readers are also told that:
“It [the US] says such launches violate the spirit of the 2015 agreement between Iran and six world powers to limit its nuclear programme in exchange for sanctions relief. […]
Tehran insists its missile programme does not contravene the agreement. It says the missiles are not meant to carry nuclear warheads.”
“Iran is called upon not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology, until the date eight years after the JCPOA Adoption Day or until the date on which the IAEA submits a report confirming the Broader Conclusion, whichever is earlier.” [emphasis added]
This is not the first time that the BBC has amplified Iranian messaging on the topic of its ballistic missiles programme without adequate clarification of the issue to audiences.
The double standard evident in the language used by the BBC when reporting terror attacks in differing locations is regularly discussed on these pages and has been the subject of numerous complaints to the BBC.
In April of this year the BBC responded to one such complaint by stating that:
“Where there is an ongoing geopolitical conflict – as in the Middle East – to use the term “terror attack” or similar might be seen to be taking sides. There are those who might consider the actions of the Israeli government to be considered as terrorist acts.
In a situation where a country that is not involved in a direct physical combat comes under attack, it may be reasonable to construe that as a terrorist incident.
The use of such terminology is never an exact science but where a continuing conflict exists, it is reasonable that the BBC would not wish to appear to be taking sides.”
Regrettably, that response subsequently received endorsement from the UK’s communications regulator OFCOM.
The cynical approach behind the BBC’s policy came into full view last week in an interview with an Israeli guest in the September 19th edition of the BBC Radio 4 programme ‘Today‘ that was described as follows in the running order:
“The leader of one of the world’s most conflict-ridden cities has questioned official UK police advice to “run, hide, tell” during terror attacks and has suggested Britons should take on jihadists to save lives. Nir Barkat, the mayor of Jerusalem, said people should “engage” the enemy directly. He joins us on the program.”
In his introduction to that item (from 01:12:17 here) presenter John Humphrys made it perfectly clear that he (and his organisation) knows perfectly well that both Israel and the UK suffer from terror attacks.
Humphrys: “The official advice to people in this country if they get caught up in a terrorist attack is ‘run, hide, tell’. But that, according to Nir Barkat, is wrong and he’s the mayor of Jerusalem which has seen more attacks than pretty much any other city on the planet and he’s on the line.”
In other words, when it is convenient for a particular purpose the BBC is perfectly happy to acknowledge both the existence and the scale of terrorism against Israelis. But when the corporation reports on (some of) those attacks in Israel, it deliberately refrains from describing them as terror because it is concerned about its own image and does “not wish to appear to be taking sides”.
Back in May 2014 the BBC News website reported a story from Belgium involving a politician and a banned rally that the corporation had difficulty describing accurately to its audience.
As was noted here at the time:
“The BBC report ‘balances’ its reporting of statements made by Belgian officials and an anti-racist organization on the subject of the convention by quoting a Facebook post from its organiser.
“Writing on his Facebook page, Laurent Louis said it was laughable that his movement “Debout Les Belges!” (Stand up, Belgians!) was seen as anti-Semitic, simply because its members had adopted Dieudonne’s trademark “quenelle” gesture.”
However, the BBC refrains from informing audiences that Louis’ repeated use of the quenelle is just the tip of the iceberg of his history of antisemtism and extremism, which includes making that gesture in the Belgian parliament, Holocaust denial and analogies and accusing Zionists of having “set up and financed” the Holocaust. Last year Louis was photographed at a pro-Assad rally trampling an Israeli flag and holding a portrait of Bashar al Assad and a Hizballah flag, telling Syrian TV that “Europe is being used in the conflict [against Syria] as a tool in the hands of Israel, the rogue state”.”
The following year Laurent Louis was convicted of Holocaust denial by a Belgian court and barred from running for office for six years. Following an appeal, Louis (who subsequently paid a visit to Hizballah) had his sentence changed.
“A former lawmaker in Belgium convicted of Holocaust denial in 2015 was handed an unusual sentence this week: The Brussels Court of Appeal ordered him to visit one Nazi concentration camp a year for the next five years and write about his experiences, according to the former lawmaker and local news reports. […]
Mr. Laurent [Louis] was given a six-month suspended jail sentence and fined over $20,000 at his 2015 trial, which centered on online statements he made that questioned the number of Jews killed in gas chambers during the Holocaust.”
However, all anyone searching for information about the European MP convicted of Holocaust denial on the BBC News website will find is amplification of Louis’ denials of antisemitic activity along with a tepid and unhelpful ‘explanation’ of the quenelle gesture.