The BBC World Service’s Hamas-Fatah ‘unity’ binge – part two

As was noted in part one of this post, the lead story in the afternoon edition of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newshour‘ on September 17th was centred around the 106 word long statement put out by Hamas earlier that day.

Following the earlier report on that story – which was over twelve and a half minutes long – the same programme also aired an additional item on the topic which brought the total time allotted to the subject to over twenty minutes.

Presenter James Coomarsamy introduced the second item (from 45:06 here) thus:

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

Coomarasamy: “Let’s return now to our main story today: the announcement by the Palestinian group Hamas that it will dissolve the administration that runs Gaza and hold talks with its rival Fatah about forming a government of national unity and holding elections. I’ve been discussing this with the Palestinian academic Khaled Hroub – he’s a professor of Middle Eastern studies and the author of two books on Hamas – and Oliver McTernan, the director of the mediation group ‘Forward Thinking’ who’s been working on bringing the sides in the Middle East closer together. So why does he think Hamas has done this now?”

BBC audiences have heard from both Qatar-based Khaled Hroub and from the director of the UK charity ‘Forward Thinking’ on previous occasions but it would of course have been helpful to listeners trying to put the ‘analysis’ they heard into context had they been informed that McTernan is a proponent of the view that being a terror organisation committed to Israel’s destruction should not disqualify Hamas from governing the Palestinian Authority or being part of negotiations to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Unfortunately, Coomarasamy did not comply with the BBC’s editorial guidelines on impartiality which require the “particular viewpoint” of contributors to be clarified in advance.

Given McTernan’s approach, his promotion of Hamas favoured terminology by inaccurately describing the restrictions on the entry of dual-use goods into the Gaza Strip as a “siege” was not unexpected. Coomarasamy however did not challenge that inaccurate portrayal or the false linkage McTernan tried to create between Israel’s counter-terrorism measures and the electricity crisis in Gaza.

McTernan: “Of course life for ordinary people in Gaza is under tremendous pressure at the moment because it’s almost ten years of siege and that means that the flow of goods, the flow of people and in particular the current situation on electricity – where you have roughly three hours a day for the average person – is putting a lot of strain on ordinary life in Gaza.”

Neither was it much of a surprise to hear McTernan later repeat his long-held view that the international community should have embraced the terror group’s victory in the 2006 PLC election.

McTernan: “…so I think what’s needed now is a wise action by both leaderships [Hamas and Fatah] to say we move into a situation where we can share power and then we go back to the electorate and stand for election and both sides should be committed this time round to fully respecting the outcome of the election. Because 2006 was recognised as one of the most open and fair elections in the Arab world and sadly the international community were responsible greatly for not respecting that outcome.”

The very relevant fact that Hamas is a terrorist organisation that rejects recognition of Israel’s right to exist and the question of how that can possibly align with the Palestinian Authority’s existing commitments to agreements signed with Israel was not raised by Coomarasamy in this item even when McTernan pontificated on what Israel should do.

McTernan: “I think if Israel had wisdom they would see Palestinian division is in fact not in their interest. It’s both in their immediate and long-term interest first of all to see stability both in Gaza and in the West Bank and secondly to allow the Palestinian political leadership to form itself in a way that can truly represent the Palestinian cause and therefore be an effective partner.”

McTernan’s later additional inaccurate references to a “siege” likewise did not produce any challenge from Coomarasamy.

McTernan: “…the reality of the situation in the region is that Abbas or Hamas don’t control the freedom of movement so I think Israel is a big player in this. They control what goes into Gaza, who can come out, who can go in. I think what needs to be looked at is the whole siege of Gaza and I think that will require much more international determination both from the West and from the Gulf countries and Egypt to sort of say to Israel ‘look, it’s not in your interest to keep the siege going’.”

In among McTernan’s barely concealed advocacy of Hamas talking points listeners did hear some relevant points raised by Khaled Hroub, including clarification of the significance of Egypt’s closure of its border with the Gaza Strip, the relevance of Egypt’s concerns about the ISIS presence in Sinai and the fact that after ten years of unaccountable absolute power, Mahmoud Abbas might be less willing to embrace parliamentary limitations and accountability. Those topics were not however explored further.

While over twenty minutes of coverage of a 106 word statement from Hamas might seem generous or even excessive, the binge was not yet over: the later edition of ‘Newshour’ on the same day also led with the same story and that will be discussed in a future post.

Related Articles:

Superficial BBC reporting on Hamas-Fatah ‘unity’ returns

The BBC World Service’s Hamas-Fatah ‘unity’ binge – part one

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6 comments on “The BBC World Service’s Hamas-Fatah ‘unity’ binge – part two

    • The ghastly sight of Oliver prompts Duvdl to compose a song, “Whisky Face” to the tune of “Baby Face”, sung by Judy Garland in the youtube clip below:

      Whisky Face
      Whisky face; you’ve got that scarlet mottled whisky face.
      McTurn-coat you are truly a disgrace.
      Whisky face.
      My poor nose is railing, ‘gainst that stink you’re exhaling.
      I don’t need to hear drunk hatred in my ear,
      With that ghastly whisky face.

      DS Al Coda

    • Second verse:

      Whisky face.
      Your crimson sallow pock-marked whisky face.
      An ugly insult to the human race.
      Whisky face.
      On Bushmills you’re not scrimping,
      While for Hamas you’re pimping.
      Whisky face.
      I’m in the doldrums when I smell more than a trace.
      You’d make a statue blink,
      Confronted with the schtink
      From McTurncoat’s whisky face.

      DS Al Coda:
      Coda:
      Isis would drown you.
      With that death-mask whisky face.
      Hamas would hang you,
      With McTurncoat’s whisky face.

  1. It is always important no to be excessive in reacting to situations The devil always overplays his hand it is said. But you need to consider creating a careful protfolio and taking out a legal cas eagainst the BBC. HOWEVER be careful not to only listen to yourselves and people who agree with you.ALSO what if you win? It will simply be seen as wealthy connected Jewish people being manipulative and getting their way. It will contribute to conspiracy theories.Understand taht to teh outside world the Palestinians are poor victimised people – we all love to support the underdog. It is a role they use and play well. To many people Israel seems just like a bully. The dictatorships and repression within Muslim societies is ignored. Much of this is a proxy fight of teh old Cold War and Palestinians as victims is an idea that is so simple and useful for people who are not affected to carry on fighting.
    It was simiular in Ireland where people who had left teh country for America wanted to carry on teh romantic fight – while loal people on teh ground wanted peace.

  2. Pingback: The BBC World Service’s Hamas-Fatah ‘unity’ binge – part three | BBC Watch

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