BBC’s Knell deletes history in Jerusalem walkabout on Radio 4

The BBC Radio 4 programme ‘From Our Own Correspondentclaims to provide listeners with “insight, wit and analysis from BBC correspondents, journalists and writers from around the world” but which of those was intended to apply to the item by the BBC Jerusalem bureau’s Yolande Knell that appeared in the programme’s December 23rd edition is unclear.

After all, no journalist can truly be said to have offered ‘insight’ and ‘analysis’ on the subject of Jerusalem if he or she refrains from providing audiences with the relevant context of the city’s historical background – not least that pertaining to the circumstances under which the city was divided for the only time in its history by a nineteen-year long Jordanian occupation.

Nevertheless (but, given the BBC’s record on that issue, not surprisingly) Yolande Knell did just that.

Programme presenter Kate Adie set the scene (from 06:52 here), ironically ignoring the issue of the BBC’s weighty contribution to the phenomenon she described in her opening sentence.

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

Adie: “Jerusalem has rarely been out of the news this month since Donald Trump announced that the US now recognises the ancient holy city as Israel’s capital and will move its embassy there from Tel Aviv. This week a large majority at the UN General Assembly backed a resolution effectively calling on Washington to reverse its decision – despite threats from Mr Trump to cut off aid to those voting in favour. The international view has long been that any change in the status of Jerusalem can only come about as part of a negotiated peace agreement. But what do ordinary Israelis and Palestinians think of all this? Yolande Knell has been to the Old City where she found plenty of food for thought.”

Notably, Adie failed to inform listeners that the resolution passed at the UN GA is non-binding and of course refrained from mentioning the absurdities that lie behind “the international view”.

Having set the scene with descriptions of Hanukkah donuts and sahlab, Knell got down to business.

Knell: “But I’m here to get a taste of public opinion. The future of the city, with its sites holy to Jews, Christians and Muslims, is one of the most intractable issues in the entire Israel-Palestinian conflict. High up in the Tower of David – an ancient citadel – I find Ayelet with her sons who are off school for the Jewish holiday. She praises Mr Trump as bold and honest, although her mother Yirat [phonetic] exclaims, ‘generally speaking we don’t need his statements. We’ve known for three thousand years that Jerusalem is ours’. Most Israelis say the same. Religiously and culturally they see the city as their eternal, undivided capital. And since the creation of the modern state, Jerusalem has been Israel’s seat of government and home to its supreme court.”

Knell then described the Old City – which of course includes the ancient Jewish Quarter – as ‘East Jerusalem’ while making no effort whatsoever to inform listeners of the relevant topic of the ethnic cleansing of Jews from that part of Jerusalem (and others) as a result of Jordan’s belligerent invasion in 1948.

Knell: “But what makes the status of the city so contentious is the part where we’re standing: East Jerusalem. It was captured by Israel in a war with its Arab neighbours fifty years ago and annexed. That move wasn’t internationally recognized – a fact that pains Yirat and Ayelet. They hope the new US decision will lead to what they call more important steps. ‘We have to come here to look at the place where the story of Hanukkah happened’ says Yirat as she points across the Old City rooftops. ‘Over there; that’s Temple Mount’.”

Knell went on to put history supported by archaeological evidence on a par with religious belief.

Knell: “The site where two biblical temples are believed to have stood is the holiest place on earth for Jews. But it’s also the third holiest site for Muslims who believe the prophet Mohammed rose to heaven from the spot under the gleaming Dome of the Rock next to al Aqsa Mosque. Non-Muslims can visit but can’t pray in the compound.”

She then paraphrased her next Israeli opinion:

Knell: “It’s awareness of all these religious sensitivities that worries Rob, a British Israeli who’s also climbed the tower with his children.”

After a brief description of the Hanukkah story, Knell repeated a practice that has previously been seen on numerous occasions in BBC coverage of this story in recent weeks. Rather than informing listeners of the US Embassy Act passed by Congress in 1995 and its reaffirmation in the Senate just months ago, she portrayed the US president as having ‘gone rogue’.

Knell: “Rob doesn’t dismiss the idea that Mr Trump’s pronouncement on Jerusalem – breaking with decades of previous US policy – could end up being a turning point in the Middle East peace process. But at the same time he sees the president as ‘a bit wacky’ and warns his gesture could provoke Arab extremists.”

Knell continued, following the standard BBC formula of amplifying Palestinian claims even after audiences have been told that Israeli claims are null and void because the ‘international community’ says that “any change in the status of Jerusalem can only come about as part of a negotiated peace agreement”. The BBC’s repeated employment of that formula of course suggests to its audiences that recognition of Jewish sovereignty represents a ‘change in the status of Jerusalem’ while Palestinian demands regarding Jerusalem do not.  

Knell: “Palestinians have reacted furiously to the change in the US position. They still want East Jerusalem as the capital of their desired future state and say that Washington can no longer claim to act as an honest peace broker. There have been protests and clashes with Israeli security forces across the Palestinian territories.”

Knell then moved on to Damascus Gate, again describing the food on sale nearby before bringing in the Palestinian side of “public opinion”.

Knell: “I ask Nasser, who’s carrying his prayer mat on the way back from al Aqsa, for his reaction to recent events. ‘Trump’s a crazy man’ he sighs ‘he says he wants to make peace but he’ll just make war’. ‘Jerusalem’s in our hearts’ he goes on ‘this is our land, it’s an Arab city. What about the rights of Muslims and Christians?'”

Knell of course did not bother to inform audiences that only under Israeli rule have all three religions been able to visit and worship at their holy sites in Jerusalem. She went on:

Knell: “Another Palestinian I speak to, Dahlia [phonetic], is a Christian tour organiser who says she can trace her family’s presence in Jerusalem for centuries. She tells me she was disgusted but not surprised by the US president’s declaration.”

Notably, we next learn that – despite having failed to produce any meaningful reporting on the topic over the last weeks – Yolande Knell is aware of the incitement to violence coming from PA officials and various Palestinian factions.

Knell: “But she admits that despite her expectation that all hell would break loose, so far there hasn’t been anything like the uprising that some leaders were calling for. Her fear now is that regional alliances are shifting and that despite recent shows of support at the UN, the Palestinian nationalist cause is no longer an international priority – even for some of its traditional backers in the Middle East.”

Knell closed her item:

Knell: “Returning along the winding streets takes me away from modern politics. I find myself listening to a guide recounting stories of prophets, kings and caliphs of ages past to awe-struck tourists. What’s not yet clear is the extent to which Donald Trump will go down as an important name in the long, rich history of this holy city.”

For over three weeks the BBC has been promoting a monochrome – and hyperbolic – portrait of the story of the US announcement concerning Jerusalem that fails to provide audiences with the historical background necessary for full understanding of the issue, whitewashes US legislation that has existed for over two decades and promotes a partisan narrative. This item from Yolande Knell made no effort to get beyond that template and failed to provide Radio 4 listeners with anything remotely different to what they have been hearing repeatedly since early December.  

 

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8 comments on “BBC’s Knell deletes history in Jerusalem walkabout on Radio 4

  1. Can you tell us how many countries on the Security council supported Trump’s move? Refrained how was it relevant. Very few countries around the world supported this move.
    You continue the fallacy that the US always has wanted to do this. No President once in office and then has been giving a briefing about the issue has ever pursued this option.
    Did Trump’s Secretary of State or Defence or his National security advisor advise on this. Not on your nelly. for good reason.

    What if the President recognised ALL Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital? Where would the perceived violence come from?

    Your argument of ethnic cleansing in 1948 would have greater weight if you acknowledged the ethnic cleansing that occurred by jewish terrorists at a similar time when Palestinians left whole villages in fear.
    You cannot say one occurred without saying the other did as well.

  2. Pingback: BBC’s Knell deletes history in Jerusalem walkabout on Radio 4 | teddymcnabb

  3. Your use of the term “Jewish terrorists” and “ethnic cleansing” in 1948 shows your bias. The Arab commanders in 1948 urged their people to leave, that is why there were so many who fled, it was not the Jews. Members of my own family who were living east of Jerusalem (in Gush Etzion) and some who were living in the Old City were taken prisoner by the Jordanian Army (run by the British with British officers and commanded by Sir John Glubb) in 1948 and were only exchanged after one year. Something the BBC carefully ignores. The BBC has morphed into an Arab propaganda machine perhaps, like so many other British assets, it is now owned by Qatar.

    • Did I say they were in Jerusalem. I said Palestinians fled villages in terror.

      I also agreed there was ethnic cleansing of Jews in Jerusalem!!

      It is impossible to say one occurred but the others did not. Afterall Israel gained two Prime ministers from the terrorist groups.

      I would not be surprised if people here believe al Jazeera should be banned in israel on the same dubious grounds other nations are saying.

      One inaccurate thing that was said on the BBC program is that Christians have holy sites. They do not but they are not religious people Muslims nor modern day Jews are unfortunately.

  4. Arab Apartheid Targets Palestinians
    by Khaled Abu Toameh
    December 27, 2017 at 5:00 am

    Khaled Abu Toameh, an award-winning journalist, is based in Jerusalem.

    Palestinians say that what they are facing in Iraq is “ethnic cleansing.” The new Iraqi law deprives Palestinians living in Iraq of their right to free education, healthcare and to travel documents, and denies them work in state institutions.

    No one will pay any attention to the misery of the Palestinians in any Arab country. Major media outlets around the world will barely cover the news of the controversial Iraqi law or the displacement of thousands of Palestinian families in Iraq. Journalists are too busy chasing a handful of Palestinian stone-throwers near Ramallah. A Palestinian girl who punched an Israeli soldier in the face draws more media interest than Arab apartheid against the Palestinians.

    Palestinian leaders, meanwhile care nothing about the plight of their own people in Arab countries. They are much too busy inciting Palestinians against Israel and Trump to pay such a paltry issue any mind at all.

    Iraq has just joined the long list of Arab countries that shamelessly practice apartheid against Palestinians. The number of Arab countries that apply discriminatory measures against Palestinians while pretending to support the Palestinian cause is breathtaking. Arab hypocrisy is once again on display, but who who is looking?
    ….Earlier this week, it was revealed that the Iraqi government has approved a new law that effectively abolishes the rights given to Palestinians living there. The new law changes the status of Palestinians from nationals to foreigners. The Palestinian population has dwindled to 7,000.
    … Palestinians say that what they are facing in Iraq is “ethnic cleansing.”

    The conditions of the Palestinians in Iraq are about to go from bad to worse. The new law, which was ratified by Iraqi President Fuad Masum, deprives Palestinians living in Iraq of their right to free education, healthcare and to travel documents, and denies them work in state institutions. The new law, which is called No. 76 of 2017, revokes the rights and privileges granted to Palestinians under Saddam Hussein. The law went into effect recently after it was published in the Iraqi Official Gazette No. 4466….
    “Instead of protecting the Palestinian refugees from daily violations and improving their living and humanitarian conditions, the Iraqi government is making decisions that will have a catastrophic impact on the lives of these refugees,” said Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor.
    …The law means, simply, that…It is easier for a Palestinian to obtain Canadian or US citizenship than to get one from most of the Arab countries.
    In a note of extreme irony, it is the Arab League that has advised its members not to give the Palestinians citizenship. The excuse: By granting Palestinians citizenship of Arab countries, you are denying them the “right of return” to their former homes inside Israel. So the Arab countries want the Palestinians to remain refugees forever by lying to them and telling them: you will one day go back to your former villages and towns (many of which do not even exist anymore) inside Israel.
    … Why? Because the name of the country that passed this apartheid law is Iraq and not Israel.
    … Major media outlets around the world will barely cover the news of the controversial Iraqi law or the displacement of thousands of Palestinian families in Iraq. Journalists are too busy chasing a handful of Palestinian stone-throwers near Ramallah. A Palestinian girl who punched an Israeli soldier in the face draws more media interest than Arab apartheid against the Palestinians. A protest of 35 Palestinians in the Old City of Jerusalem against Trump and Israel attracts more photographers and reporters than a story about endemic Arab apartheid and discrimination against the Palestinians.
    …The hypocrisy of the Arab countries is in full swing. While they pretend to show solidarity with their Palestinian brothers, Arab governments work tirelessly to ethnically cleanse them. Palestinian leaders, meanwhile care nothing about the plight of their own people in Arab countries. They are much too busy inciting Palestinians against Israel and Trump to pay such a paltry issue any mind at all.

  5. nottrampis: Get your facts right and better not trumpet your prejudice so loudly! Jewish terrorists? I guess your definition of terrorist is, well, is not quite what is usually defined as such. I guess that makes Mandela or Ghandi terrorists (for example), I can’t remeber any of them inciting to mass murder or blowing children in the Middle of crowded cities (around the world)…etc. They were by definition fighting a colonial power in the same way that the Algerians, the Indians and many other nations did at the time. As for chasing Plalestinians out of home and lands – It’s pure rubbish! Most Palestinians fled not because they were chased out or banished they were actively “adviced” to leave by their so called bretherns “until Israel is vnquished and they can return” well that didn’t happen. There was no policy of expaltion (I know because my own grandfather was the one not only entrusted with protecting their rights but in quite a few cases managed to persuade them to stay which they did and are still there and in those (much fewer than you think) cases were there was flight it was was war!! (Nobody talks about the greather number of Jews literally driven out and banished from Arab countries about the same time.) There certainly was ethnic cleansing of Jews in Jerusalem and the serrounding areas and defiling of the holliest of Jewish sacred sites. Did we talk about the treatment of Palestinians in Arab countries? Not only Iraq but Lebanon where 70 years on Palestinians are not allowed citizenship (fourth generation, born there) or any but menial jobs or proper education and are not allowed to live outside those camps they were asigned 70 years ago. Same for Saudi-Arabia… etc the list is long!) I can go on and on so give me a break. The Palestinians could have had a state of their own 90 years ago (the Peal Commission), 70 years ago (1947) 50 years ago (1970) 25 years ago (1993-5) and even 10 years ago (2006) they repeatedly said NO. So stop the farse and utter crap!

  6. Pingback: 12/27 Links Pt2: Genocide Fail. Israeli Arabs have the highest Life Expectancy in the Arab World; Cary Nelson: The Middle East Studies Association Is Fundamentally Anti-Zionist – 24/6 Magazine

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