An article relating to an incident which had taken place earlier in the day at the Western Wall appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page on the afternoon of March 8th under the headline “Western Wall: Jewish women clash over prayer rights”.
At the end of that article readers were told that:
“For 30 years, the Women of the Wall group have been fighting rules that bar women from wearing prayer shawls, praying and reading from the Torah (Bible) collectively and aloud at the site.
According to Orthodox Jewish tradition, women should not perform these religious rituals. Under pressure from ultra-Orthodox parties, the Israeli authorities in 2017 scrapped plans to create a mixed-gender prayer area at the wall.”
That link leads to an article produced by the BBC News website in June 2017 which failed even then to provide readers with clear background information that would enable the proper understanding of the story.
Now the BBC claims that “the Israeli authorities in 2017 scrapped plans to create a mixed-gender prayer area at the wall” and the average reader would obviously understand from that statement that no such “mixed-gender prayer area” exists at the Western Wall because the Israeli authorities “scrapped (i.e. discarded) plans” to create one two years ago.
That, however, is not the case. What was “scrapped” – or more accurately, frozen – in 2017 was a plan to create a new and unique entrance to the Western Wall plaza and the formation of a joint committee to oversee the mixed prayer area.
Non-traditional prayer services have been taking place at the southern section of the Western Wall since the year 2000 and the facility was expanded in 2013. That mixed-gender prayer area still exists – as the BBC apparently knows because earlier on in the same report it stated that:
“The group [‘Women of the Wall’] was later escorted to another area of the wall that allows non-traditional prayers to take place.”
Obviously the inaccurate claim made in this latest article is misleading to BBC audiences both in general and with regard to this specific story and requires correction.