BBC World Service radio adopts the PLO’s language

The October 19th afternoon edition of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newshour‘ included an item relating to the previous day’s announcement by the US Secretary of State concerning the merging of the American embassy and consulate general in Jerusalem into a single diplomatic mission.

Programme presenter James Menendez introduced his interviewee (from 0:45:04 here) as follows: 

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

Menendez: “Until a few months ago America’s embassy in Israel was in Tel Aviv. Its diplomatic mission to the Palestinians was at the consulate general in Jerusalem. But in May – as you may remember – the embassy moved to Jerusalem; America recognising what Israel has always maintained: that Jerusalem is its capital. That was condemned by Palestinians as well as all the other members of the UN Security Council.”

Failing to clarify that no UN Security Council resolution was in fact passed on that topic, Menendez went on:

Menendez: “Well, now another change: the mission to the Palestinians is going to be subsumed into the new US embassy. It’ll be called the Palestinian Affairs Unit. The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says it’s about achieving efficiencies. Palestinians say it’s just another move to downgrade them. Well let’s talk to Martin Indyk, himself a former US ambassador to Israel, now [at] the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. Welcome to the programme. How would you characterise this move?”

Indyk: “Oh I don’t think there can be any doubt that it is a downgrading of US representation to the Palestinians that is consistent with the decision to establish the embassy in Jerusalem – the US embassy to Israel – in Jerusalem and recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. And in doing so the president – President Trump – made no reference to Palestinian claims to Jerusalem and so I think this is just…just a further symbolic and management act that demonstrates that the last…the symbolic toe-hold for the Palestinians in terms of American policy – their toe-hold in Jerusalem – is now gone.”

Failing to explain that the US president’s December 2017 announcement specifically stated that “[t]he United States continues to take no position on any final status issues” and “[t]he specific boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem are subject to final status negotiations between the parties. The United States is not taking a position on boundaries or borders”, Menendez then came up with the following bizarre statement-cum-question:

Menendez: “Eh…I mean in a place where symbols matter hugely, I mean is it also symbolic of this one-state solutionthe Greater Israel as the government there calls it – with everybody being under one roof?”

While members of certain parties included in the current Israeli coalition government have proposed annexation of various parts of Judea & Samaria, that is not official government policy. Menendez’s implication that the Israeli government promotes “the Greater Israel” is obviously inaccurate and misleading (especially given his reference to “this one-state solution” which of course has additional meanings) as well as irrelevant to the topic ostensibly under discussion. The likely source of that misleading phrase used by Menendez will be discussed in a moment but in the meantime, the interview continued.

Indyk: “Well I don’t think it forecloses even some Palestinian position in Jerusalem in final status talks as far as the US policy is concerned. Secretary Pompeo was quick to say that. But in practical terms what it signals is this much touted and little revealed Trump peace plan. What’s in it for the Palestinians is going to be slim pickings indeed, especially when it comes to Jerusalem.”

Menendez: “I suppose someone would say, you know, practically it’s not going to make a huge amount of difference given the lack of peace talks anyway at the moment.”

Indyk: “Yes, that is true but it will make a difference in terms of representation to the Palestinians. There’s a lot more than just talking about peace involved in dealings between the United States and the Palestinian Authority. And now there will no longer be even a consul general – not an ambassador but a consul general – to deal with the Palestinian Authority. That person is going to be a more junior person under the authority of the US ambassador to Israel and that’s something that the Palestinian Authority – and certainly its leader Abu Mazen – will have great difficulty relating to and so I think that, you know, with the cut off in all aid to the Palestinians from the United States…eh…the lowering of the political level of engagement – it just means that there’s an overall downgrading of the Palestinians in Trump administration policy.”

Refraining from pointing out to listeners that the US has not “cut off…all aid” to the PA, Menendez closed the interview there.

So where did James Menendez get that phrase “the Greater Israel”? A clue can be found in the promotion of an article on the same topic which appeared on the BBC News website on October 18th.

In the report itself – titled “US to merge Jerusalem consulate general with new embassy” – BBC audiences were told that:

“Palestinians condemned the move.

Senior official Saeb Erekat said the Trump administration was working with Israelis to “impose ‘Greater Israel’ rather than a two-state solution”.”

That quote was taken from a series of Tweets put out by the PLO Negotiations Affairs Department on October 18th and picked up by a BBC producer.

And so we see that a phrase attributed to the Israeli government by James Menendez in fact comes from the PLO’s Saeb Erekat.

This of course is by no means the first instance in which we have seen the BBC promoting talking points and narratives conceived by the PLO:

Reviewing BBC compliance with PLO media guidance

BBC’s Bateman amplifies PLO’s Balfour agitprop

Mapping changes in the terminology used by the BBC to describe Temple Mount

PLO recommended terminology continues to appear in BBC content

BBC News amplifies PLO’s interpretation of the two-state solution

In this latest item BBC World Service audiences heard just one view of the story (which unsurprisingly happens to dovetail with that of the PLO) while the BBC presenter adopted and amplified misleading terminology promoted by the PLO for political purposes and in doing so, compromised the BBC’s objectivity.  

Related Articles:

BBC framing of Jerusalem embassy stories continues

Context lacking, inaccuracies let slide in BBC WS coverage of PLO mission closure

BBC News report on US closure of PLO mission fails to adequately inform

BBC News reporting on US aid cut to UNRWA – part two





11 comments on “BBC World Service radio adopts the PLO’s language

  1. When, if ever, will Palestinians get it into their heads that there will never be ANY solution to the ongoing Israel/Gaza conflict until the right of Israel to exist is recognised. It is as simple as that – and even the might of BBC propaganda against Israel will not alter Israel’s determination by one jot.

  2. More of the same lies and distortions by the BBC, learn to suck it BBC, Israel has every right to exist and your propoganda campaign against them will not change that and if the Palestinians wish to stop the rockets, firebombs, IED attacks, car rammings, knife attacks and actually recognise Israel as they instructed to in the Quran, then perhaps a solution can be found but until then, regardless of the UN bias and the BDS campaign which is not concerned with helping Palestinians only deligitimising Israel there will be a situation of impasse. Stop the BBC bias against Israel

  3. Perhaps you should reread what you have said Menendez had said, He did not say a resolution had been passed. He said the moving of the embassy was condemned and rightly so.

    More dissembling from you. This move from Israel is doing just that as the admirable Martin Indyk implies it is doing.

    • Regurgitating history, the moving of the embassy was a historical decision, it is over 20 years since the USA congress voted to move the embassy from TA to Jerusalem and no American president since has had the balls to carry out the wishes of congress until now. If people wish to condemn someone for carrying out what was decided some twenty odd years ago then they obviously prefer throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

      • don’t dissemble
        no president who has intelligence ever was going to do that.
        It is interesting that no-one here will ever entertain why NO president with intelligence would ever countenance such a move in the US embassy.

        • Why would anyone entertain such a notion? Trump is an intelligent but ruthless, mysoginistic businessman, Obama was an intelligent career politician and an excellent orator, of course for the latter you must also read, double dealing, career public servant who has never ever had, let alone held down a regular job, who has spent his life working in the often murky depths of politics, There is absolutely nothing false or misleading in my previous post’s comment, it is the truth, a recorded fact whether you like it or not. Only time will show whether it was a clever or a stupid move neither you not I are in a position to comment on that, it will be our children and their children that will have to live with the consequences of that move. One thing I know for sure is that Karl Marx, writing in the New York Daily Tribune, in 1854 as follows:- “The sedentary population of Jerusalem numbers about 15,500 souls, of whom 4,000 are Mussulmans [Muslims] and 8,000 Jews. The Mussulmans, forming about a fourth part of the whole, and consisting of Turks, Arabs and Moors, are, of course, the masters in every respect, as they are in no way affected with the weakness of their Government at Constantinople.
          “Nothing equals the misery and the sufferings of the Jews at Jerusalem, inhabiting the most filthy quarter of the town, called hareth-el-yahoud, the quarter of dirt, between the Zion and the Moriah, where their synagogues are situated – the constant objects of Mussulman oppression and intolerance, insulted by the Greeks, persecuted by the Latins, and living only upon the scanty alms transmitted by their European brethren.”

          So there is factual proof that in 1854 Jews outnumbered Musselmans 2:1 in Jerusalem so why nobody thinks they have no rights there now is beyond comprehension apart from the fact that antisemitism is nothing new, it pours from the mouths of generation to generation and is contantly justified by the insidious, political and idealogical cult of Islam

          • Trump is an idiot. Simply read the transcript of him ad Turnbull our PM at the time. It is embarrassing
            Why would you not mention Clinton nor Bush.
            I see Christians never mentioned. typical.

            I also wonder why the writer never mentions the fact Government claims all of Jerusalem as its capital.

          • Like I said previously, none of them had any balls, but I was not aware you wanted a concise detailed history lesson. Yes the current coalition government does claim Jerusalem but unlike the period from 1948 to 1967 when Jordan illegally occupied the whole of Jerusalem and denied access to all Jews, the current arrangement allows access to all religions, is that not better for all? Without speaking directly to the Knesset for confirmation that is probably because Jews have a 3,500 year history there, indeed Arab Palestinians never even existed before Yasser Arafat invented the PLO in 1964 prior to that their collective name was just Arabs, having migrated from surrounding Arab countries when businesses began to appear and flourish and farming began to make the desert bloom. True citizens of British Mandate of Palestine which covered an area which included present day Jordan, parts of Syria and Lebanon were Jews and were called Palestinians. This fact is evident in the establishment of the Palestine National Orchestra and the Palestine Soccer team all of whom were Jews.

          • sorry theologically speaking modern jews are completely different to the jews of the good. hint it is not a rqacial thing.

            you need to talk to people whose property was taken in 1948 or fleed in terror of their lives. They called them selves palestinians.

            Afterall the Poms were administering Palestine

  4. Pingback: 10/22 Links Pt2: Palestinians’ Refusal to Accept the Jewish National Movement Has Been Disastrous for Them; Documents Reveal the Extent of the Soviet Union’s Escalation During the Yom Kippur War – 24/6 Magazine

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