Three BBC articles on US aid promote an irrelevant false comparison

As was noted here at the time, the BBC News website’s January 16th report on the withholding of part of the United States’ annual donation to UNRWA – “US holds back $65m aid to Palestinians” – included a nugget of unrelated information under the sub-heading “How much aid does the US send to Palestinians?”:

“The US’s $370m dwarfs the amount given by other donors – in 2016, the second-largest donor, the EU, gave less than half as much to UNWRA, which runs educational, health and social programmes.

The US also donated $260m in bilateral aid, with much of it going towards projects administered by the US Agency for International Development (USAid).

Those projects are run by non-governmental organisations involved in humanitarian assistance, economic development, democratic reform, improving water access and other infrastructure, healthcare, education, and vocational training.

By contrast, Israel receives more than $3bn in military aid per year from the US.” [emphasis added]

The following day an additional article on the same topic appeared on the website – “UN alarmed as US cuts aid to Palestinian refugee agency” – and there BBC audiences were told that:

“Ms Nauert [US State Dept spokesperson] explained that the US would “like to see some revisions made in how Unrwa operates”, to ensure that the money was “best spent” so that people got the services they needed.

She did not mention whether US bilateral aid to the Palestinians was also at risk. That amounted to $260m in 2016, with much of the money going towards projects administered by the US Agency for International Development (USAid).

By contrast, Israel receives more than $3bn in military aid per year from the US.” [emphasis added]

On January 26th the BBC News website published a report titled “Trump threatens to stop aid to Palestinians” in which readers were informed that:

“The US announced earlier this month that it was withholding more than half of a tranche of funding for the UN agency supporting Palestinian refugees, amounting to about $65m (£46m).

But the US state department later confirmed this was not the aid Mr Trump was referring too. He was instead talking about bilateral funding for economic support and some security training.

US bilateral aid to the Palestinians amounted to $260m in 2016. By contrast, Israel receives more than $3bn in military aid per year from the US.” [emphasis added]

Obviously the amount of military aid the US chooses to give to Israel has nothing whatsoever to do with either of these stories.

Moreover, despite having introduced the topic, in none of those three articles did BBC journalists bother to clarify that Israel is a longstanding US ally or that currently some 74% (set to rise to 100% in 2019) of that military assistance is conditioned on it being spent on purchases from American companies: an arrangement described in the Washington Post as follows:

“In other words, U.S. foreign military financing is essentially a way of subsidizing its domestic defense industry while strengthening the military capabilities of its strategic allies.”

The promotion of a false comparison between the level of US donations to the PA and UNRWA and the amount of US military aid to Israel obviously contributes nothing to audience understanding of the stories the BBC purports to tell in these three articles. And yet, BBC journalists continue to repeatedly shoehorn that irrelevant information into reports supposedly about US donations to a UN agency and to the Palestinian Authority.

Related Articles:

BBC News report on UNRWA funding story omits relevant background

Advertisements

4 comments on “Three BBC articles on US aid promote an irrelevant false comparison

  1. Pingback: BBC’s Yolande Knell amplifies UNRWA’s PR campaign | BBC Watch

Comments are closed.