The BBC’s response to a complaint about Christians in Israel

In late December we noted that listeners to an edition of BBC Radio 4’s ‘World at One’ had been told by presenter Jonny Dymond that:

“More than 200 million Christians are at risk of persecution around the world – a number that has risen sharply over the past few decades according to the Foreign Office. In Christianity’s home – the Middle East – the numbers speak for themselves. Four fifths of Iraq’s Christians have fled or been killed. In Israel and the Palestinian territories as those following other religions have grown sharply in number, the Christian population has shrunk. Today the Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt ordered a review into the persecuted Christians around the world and how much help they get from the UK.” [emphasis in italics in the original, emphasis in bold added]

BBC Watch submitted a complaint concerning Dymond’s inaccurate claim that “in Israel…the Christian population has shrunk” which, nine days later, we were informed would take more time to address. Nearly two weeks after the complaint was originally submitted we received a response from BBC Complaints which includes the following:

“We understand you feel Jonny Dymond falsely stated that the Christian population has shrunk in Israel and the Palestinian territories.

The information was clearly flagged up as being Israel and the Palestinian Territories because they are and were the best comparable figures to use to make a comparison between now and pre- Second World War – there was prior to the Declaration (and War) of Independence no administrative unit known as ‘Israel’, only the combined territory of the Ottoman and Mandate units known generally as Palestine, subdivided at times, what is now bits of Jordan, the Palestinian Territories and the State of Israel.

To get as long as possible time frame on the Christian decline in the region that was the administrative unit we chose.”

BBC Watch has submitted a second complaint clarifying that the original one related solely to Dymond’s statement concerning Israel, that the time frame presented was “the past few decades” rather than “between now and pre- Second World Warand that seeing as listeners would have reasonably understood that Dymond was referring to Israel rather than “Ottoman and Mandate units” which were not mentioned at all, a correction is still in order.   

6 comments on “The BBC’s response to a complaint about Christians in Israel

  1. Then why mention Israel at all since it is clear that Christians in Israel are about the safest that the Christian community can be anywhere in the Middle East ? Israel and the Palestinian territories are not conjoined twins. Usually Palestine is mentioned specifically when the BBC reports a host of other “issues”. I listened to it as a regular BBC listener and it came acros “quite clearly” to anyone who knew no different that in ISRAEL Christian comunities are dimishing and at risk. Stop fudging the issue, BBC. You are normally our clarion of disinterested reporting…but not in this case.

  2. The BBC must be made to identify the borders of its version of “Palestine” which is apparently something other than the territory demarcated by the League of Nations in 1922. Any look at a contemporaneous map will see that that territory included today’s Israel, the disputed territories and all of Jordan not, as the BBC asserts, “bits of Jordan.”
    More importantly, the BBC will never admit a critical point made explicit by the Mandate: this territory was not randomly selected, it represents the historical homeland of the Jewish people. The BBC can’t even rely on its usual circumlocution, because that would read “The world community says ….”

  3. Pure intended lies from the BBC – telling the world that the Christian population in Israel has shrunk when, in fact, it has grown.

  4. Pingback: After second complaint, BBC clarifies inaccurate claim about Israel’s Christian population | BBC Watch

  5. Pingback: BBC adds missing link following further complaint | BBC Watch

Comments are closed.