On December 28th the BBC News website published an article titled “Israel: Minister leads prayers for rain to end drought” which informed audiences that:
“Israel’s Agriculture Minister, Uri Ariel, has joined with the country’s religious leaders in an attempt to use the power of prayer to end a drought.
Mr Ariel is an Orthodox Jew and led prayers on Thursday at Jerusalem’s Western Wall.
Severe drought for four years has left the country’s water supplies at low levels.
Critics said the minister should tackle the crisis more practically.”
The short report continued:
“Israel’s drought has had a significant impact on farming communities and caused the country to become reliant on its desalination plants on its Mediterranean coast.
“We significantly lowered the cost of water, we are carrying out many studies on how to save water in different crops, but prayer can certainly help,” Mr Ariel said.
The newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth wrote: “Prayer is not a bad thing, but the minister has the ability to influence [matters] in slightly more earthly ways” – such as promoting policies to reduce climate change, it suggested.”
Notably, the BBC did not inform its audiences that, with or without Mr Ariel’s call for a prayer for rain, prayers would have taken place at the Western Wall on that particular day anyway because it was the 10th of Tevet: a minor fast in the Jewish calendar that marks the day on which the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem began in the year 588 BCE – an event which eventually led to the destruction on the Temple in 586 BCE and the first exile of Jews from Israel.