BBC’s ‘Is Labour Anti-Semitic?’ documentary maker in conversation

In the latest episode of his podcast series British journalist Jonny Gould talks to John Ware about his documentary “Is Labour Anti-Semitic?” which was aired on BBC One’s ‘Panorama’ earlier this month.

“…the [Labour party] press operation is frankly inept…it’s difficult to take some of their stuff seriously.”

“None of them [the Labour party leadership] would submit to questioning. It’s impossible to interrogate them because any communication is conducted…by e-mail, by written answers…it’s not an ideal way to get to the bottom of something…”

“…the Labour party’s relationship to the truth on some of these issues is not what it should be, has not been what it should be.”

The podcast is available here or in additional formats here.

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In which the BBC asks ‘is Zionism wrong?’

On July 23rd the BBC put out a short video titled “What is Zionism? A very brief history” on its ‘Ideas’ platform.

“Confused about what Zionism actually is? Here’s a three-minute history from SOAS professor, historian and author, Colin Shindler.”

The same video also subsequently appeared in the ‘Features’ section of the BBC News website’s ‘Middle East’ page. 

The film – made by an external company called Somethin’ Else – begins by giving equal weight to a definition and an outright falsehood. [emphasis in bold added, punctuation in the original]

“For its supporters, Zionism is the national liberation movement of the Jewish people. For its opponents, it is a means to establish a settler-colonial state in the developing world.”

It goes on:

“Theodor Herzl, a Viennese journalist and playwright, founded the modern Zionist movement in 1897. Yet many orthodox Jews strongly opposed the rise of Zionism. They believed that the Jews would only return to Zion, the land promised by God to the Jews in the Hebrew Bible, with the eventual coming of the Messiah. Jews should not therefore force God’s hand.”

While the First Zionist Congress was indeed held in 1897, it is inaccurate to present Zionism as having come into being in that year and that portrayal erases the First Aliyah which of course included orthodox Jews.

“There were may types of Zionist – Marxist, religious and nationalist, Liberal, Social Democrat – the forerunners of today’s political parties in Israel. But Zionism and Arab nationalism arose during the same period of history, with claims over the same piece of land – a geographical area known for centuries to Jews as the Land of Israel. This is the ideological basis of the seemingly intractable Israel-Palestinian conflict. While there’s been a Jewish presence in the Holy Land since biblical times, at the beginning of the 20th Century the Jews were few in number compared to Christian and Muslim Arabs.”

No effort is made to explain why that was the case and the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine is not mentioned at all in this film.

“Unlike other national liberation movements whose supporters were actually living on the territory they wished to free, Zionist Jews had first to emigrate from a far-flung diaspora, build an infrastructure, and only then initiate a liberation struggle. Zionism therefore does not fit into conventional theory. So, is Zionism wrong or just different?”

Yes – the BBC really did posit that Jewish self-determination might be “wrong”. Totally ignoring the experiences of Sephardi and Mizrahi Jews and downplaying antisemitism, the film continues:

“In the aftermath of the French revolution, many 19th Century Jews began to regard themselves as a people with a history, literature, culture and language – and not just followers of an ancient religion, Judaism. Many were highly influenced by progressive national movements in Europe such as the Risorgimento of Mazzini and Garibaldi for a united Italy, and Irish Republican efforts to throw off the yoke of British domination. The example of Russian revolutionary Lenin influenced the socialist Zionist leader and first prime minister of Israel, David Ben-Gurion. Lenin demonstrated what could be achieved with a handful of supporters. Many East European Jews wanted to escape the heavy hand of Russian anti-Semitism, [spelling in the original] so the early Zionists were often revolutionary socialists who not only wished to build a new country, but also to construct a new society, unlike the ones they had just left. One of the building blocks of this new society was the kibbutz, [mispronounced] a self-sufficient, self-governing collective.”

Kibbutzim were actually never “self-sufficient”.

“There were many possible territorial solutions where a Jewish state could be built. They ranged from the Portuguese colony of Angola to the Jewish Autonomous Region in the USSR, Birobidzhan on the border of China. Herzl even approached the British with the idea that Uganda might be “a night shelter” on the road to the Land of Israel.”

Viewers are given no information as to why those “solutions” were not acceptable. The film ends with some blatant political messaging and a visual misrepresentation of the Star of David on an image apparently supposed to resemble Israel’s Declaration of Independence.

“Some supporters believe that Zionism completed its task when the state of Israel was established in 1948. Others believe that the Zionist project cannot be considered complete until Israel is at peace, secure within its boundaries and within the wider region, and creates a fairer society for all its inhabitants.”

Why the BBC chose to put out this film at this time is not clear but it could of course be connected to the ongoing antisemitsm scandal in the British Labour party. The unavoidable conclusion, however, is that this three-minute long and embarrassingly superficial effort contributes very little indeed to audience understanding of the topic it purports to address and in the current political climate in the UK, that is a particularly unfortunate waste of licence fee funds.

BBC radio audiences hear one-sided reports from Yolande Knell

In the news bulletin at the beginning of the July 22nd edition of the BBC Radio 4 programme ‘World at One’ listeners heard the following report (from 04:17 here) presented by newsreader Neil Sleat. [emphasis in italics in the original]

Sleat: “The Israeli security forces have begun pulling down at least ten buildings in a Palestinian village close to the separation barrier in the occupied West Bank. The United Nations and the European Union have called for the demolitions near East Jerusalem to stop, claiming it’s undermining the chances of peace and a two-state solution to the conflict. From Jerusalem, here’s our Middle East correspondent Yolande Knell.”

Knell: “Bulldozers and hundreds of Israeli police and soldiers moved into Sur Baher early this morning. A Palestinian official said some thirty people were forced to leave their homes and the demolitions began. Israel’s Supreme Court had ruled that these properties, some of which were still under construction, were too close to Israel’s separation barrier and for security reasons the owners should have sought permission from Israel’s military commander. Palestinians said that as their buildings were just inside the occupied West Bank, they had taken their permits from the Palestinian Authority. They argue that the clearance of their homes could set a precedent for further demolitions along the length of the barrier.”

As we see the unsupported UN/EU statement was uncritically amplified with listeners denied any information which would enable them to judge its veracity and relevance for themselves. Likewise, Yolande Knell uncritically amplified PLO messaging concerning “a precedent”.

“The PLO Negotiation Affairs Department slammed the court’s ruling last week, stating that it “aims to set a precedent to enable the Israeli occupying forces to demolish numerous Palestinian buildings located in close proximity to Israel’s Annexation Wall.””

Knell’s portrayal of the Supreme Court ruling did not clarify that it came after years of court cases.

“The court’s dismissal of the case brought an end to the residents’ seven-year legal battle against a military order that halted work on the 16 apartment buildings. Though the permits for the buildings were issued by the PA’s planning ministry nearly 10 years ago, Israel in 2012 ordered a halt to construction work in Wadi al-Hummus, citing its close proximity to the security barrier. […]

…the justices sided with the Defense Ministry, saying in their decision that major construction along the barrier would “limit [military] operational freedom near the barrier and increase tensions with the local population.

“Such construction may also shelter terrorists or illegal residents among the civilian population, and allow terrorist operatives to smuggle weapons or sneak inside Israeli territory,” justices Menny Mazuz, Uzi Fogelman and Yitzhak Amit wrote… “We therefore accept that there is a military-security need to restrict construction near the barrier.””

According to one Israeli news website reporting on that court ruling:

“In the year 2016 alone there were 170 security incidents in the area of Sur Baher, including the infiltration of terrorists who carried out attacks throughout the country.”

Neither did Knell’s portrayal adequately inform BBC audiences that:

“In its ruling, the Court said: “The original construction ban order and the orders extending it were publicized as required. The petitioners took the law into their own hands when they started and continued to build structures without receiving a special permit from the military commander.””

At no point were BBC audiences informed that the area in question lies outside Jerusalem’s municipal boundary and that misleading omission was repeated the next day – July 23rd – when listeners to the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newshour’ heard presenter Tim Franks introduce an item (from 40:17 here) as follows:   

Franks: “House demolitions in and around Jerusalem – particularly occupied East Jerusalem – are not that unusual. But Monday’s destruction by Israeli forces of at least ten Palestinian buildings has drawn particular attention and criticism. The UN and the EU had called for the demolitions not to go ahead, saying they’d undermine the prospects of peace and a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. From Jerusalem, Yolande Knell reports.”

As we see, banal UN/EU messaging was again uncritically amplified.

Knell: [sound of shouting] “Cries of protest as Palestinian families are moved out of their homes. In the darkness, hundreds of Israeli soldiers and police had entered Sur Baher. Residents had feared this moment since the deadline for them to demolish their own properties expired last week. Soon, the bulldozers got to work, demolishing buildings that Israel’s Supreme Court says violated a ban on construction too near Israel’s separation barrier. Owners such as Ismain Obediyeh [phonetic] said they’d built properties just inside the West Bank and took permission from the local Palestinian council.”

Voiceover: “I have a permit to build this house from Bethlehem, from the Palestinian Authority.”

Knell: “Sitting near the rubble of his home, Ismain – a father of six – said his family was left with nowhere to live.”

Voiceover: “This was the most difficult day I have known in my life. I’m so sad and tired. Today my house was demolished. My dreams were destroyed. They shattered the dreams of my entire family. It’s really difficult.”

It then became apparent that Knell does in fact know that the Wadi Hummus area is not part of the Jerusalem municipality but she made no effort to inform listeners that it lies on the Jerusalem side of the anti-terrorist fence because the residents of Sur Baher petitioned for that to be the case in 2004.

Knell: “The village of Sur Baher straddles the boundary line between occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank. A double fence – part of Israel’s separation barrier – runs near the edge. Emmanuel Nahshon – a spokesman for the Israeli foreign ministry – said construction isn’t allowed here for security reasons.”

Nahshon: “The Palestinians know fully well that they are not allowed to build near the security fence and Israel is totally within its rights when it destroys those buildings. And the destruction order has been approved by our Supreme Court.”

Knell closed her report with more unquestioning promotion of PLO talking points.

Knell: “This year there’s been an increase in house demolitions by Israeli authorities in East Jerusalem. Palestinians say it’s difficult for them to get building permits. And now these homes have been cleared, they worry it could set a precedent for many more that lie along the route of Israel’s West Bank barrier.”

In neither of these reports were BBC audiences told why the anti-terrorist fence had to be constructed or how it has dramatically reduced the scale of terror attacks against Israeli citizens. Had they been given that information listeners could have decided for themselves whether the demolition of mostly partly built buildings or the politically motivated murder of Israeli civilians contributes more to “undermining the chances of peace and a two-state solution to the conflict”.

As well as the omissions and largely one-sided content in these two reports, we see the exclusive use of partisan language such as “occupied West Bank” and “occupied East Jerusalem” which severely erodes the BBC’s claim to ‘impartiality’.

Related Articles:

BBC News report omits significant information

In Wadi Hummus demolitions story, journalistic precision is a casualty (CAMERA)

 

Resources ahead of a likely BBC story

Back in May 2018 the BBC News website published a predictably partial report on Israel’s refusal to renew a one-year working visa for ‘Human Rights Watch’ representative Omar Shakir.

Although BBC audiences were told that “HRW insists that neither it nor Mr Shakir promote boycotts of Israel”, as was noted here at the time:

“Apparently the BBC could not be bothered to take a closer look at Omar Shakir’s history of anti-Israel activism – including pro-BDS Tweets.

Obviously too, the BBC has ‘forgotten’ that an anti-Israel campaign at FIFA (which it vigorously promoted at the time) was supported by political NGOs including Human Rights Watch. In fact, Shakir even went so far as to fly to Bahrain a year ago to lobby FIFA officials…” 

Petra Marquardt-Bigman has documented what has happened since that BBC report was published.

“…HRW sued to block Shakir’s deportation and appealed the decision not to renew his permit. In mid-April of this year, the Jerusalem District Court rejected the appeal and ordered Shakir to leave by May 1st, citing his ongoing support of boycotts of Israel. However, HRW once again appealed the decision, which is now before Israel’s Supreme Court…”

On July 25th Israel’s High Court will be hearing Shakir’s appeal. Seeing as ‘Human Rights Watch’ is currently trying to create media ‘buzz’ around the case (apparently including a press conference on that day) and given that it is one of the political NGOs most frequently – and uncritically – quoted and promoted by the BBC, it is quite likely that BBC audiences will see coverage of that story.

NGO Monitor has compiled a useful resource on the background to the case which – if the BBC’s previous article is anything to go by – is likely to be under-reported in its potential coverage.

 

 

No dots to join in BBC News Gulf crisis backgrounder

The BBC News website currently has a backgrounder titled “Iran and the crisis in the Gulf explained” on its Middle East page.

For a self-defined explanatory article, some of its wording is remarkably vague. For example, under the sub-heading “What is the crisis about?” BBC audiences are told that:

“Behind the latest tensions is the fact that Iran and the US have increasingly accused each other of aggressive behaviour.

The US says recent activity by Iranian and Iranian-backed forces is destabilising the region and threatening US interests, while Iran says the US is trying to use military force and economic pressure to bring down its government.”

What is that “recent activity”? Who are “Iranian-backed forces”? How does “destabilising the region” manifest itself? The BBC isn’t telling.

Similarly, under the sub-heading “Why does the crisis matter?” readers find a rather trite statement which is not given any further exploration or explanation:

“…if the crisis erupts into a war, the consequences will be devastating.”

One of the places where “the consequences” of any such armed conflict will be felt is – as Iranian officials have said quite plainly – Israel and that is because Iran has protégés in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip on call for precisely such a scenario.

While Hizballah and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad are Iran’s main investments on Israel’s borders, it has also been rebuilding relations with Hamas, after ties took a blow in 2011 when the terror group refused to side with Iran’s Syrian partner, Bashar al Assad.

Although Hamas delegations have traveled to Tehran fairly regularly in recent years – including for Rouhani’s second inauguration – the latest of those visits included something of a novelty. For the first time in seven years, Hamas representatives (including Saleh al Arouri, Husam Badran, Osama Hamdan and Mousa Abu Marzouk) met with Iran’s ‘supreme leader’ Ali Khamenei.

“Iran’s state TV says a delegation from the Palestinian militant group Hamas that is visiting Iran has met with the country’s supreme leader.

The TV report on Monday says Ayatollah Ali Khamenei held talks with Hamas’ deputy chief, Saleh al-Arouri, who is heading the delegation. The Hamas delegation also met with Kamal Kharrazi, an adviser to Khamenei.

“Hamas is Iran’s first line of defense,” said Al-Arouri following the meeting.”

The Jerusalem Post added:

“Referring to recent escalations between the US and Iran, the Hamas official added that Hamas expressed “solidarity with the Islamic Republic of Iran and emphasize that any hostile action against Iran is actually hostile to Palestine and the current of resistance. We consider ourselves to be at the forefront of supporting Iran.”

Al-Arouri addressed how the capabilities of the Hamas terrorist group have advanced through the years, adding that “today, all of the occupied territories and the main Zionist centers are in the crosshairs of Palestinian resistance missiles.””

The significance of that Hamas visit to Tehran was clearly recognised by many major media organisations such as AP, the Washington Post and the New York Times. The BBC however apparently did not consider it newsworthy and so readers of the BBC’s backgrounder on the Gulf crisis are deprived of information which could go some way towards ameliorating its often opaque and unhelpful language.

Related Articles:

The BBC and media freedom – theory and practice

 

  

No BBC follow-up on a sports story it reported last year

Readers may recall that last August BBC Sport published a report concerning FIFA’s decision to issue a 12-month suspension and a fine to the head of the Palestinian Football Association, Jibril Rajoub, for “inciting hatred and violence” against the Argentinian player Lionel Messi.

Over 35% of that report was given over to the unquestioned amplification of some decidedly bizarre comments from the PFA concerning its president’s suspension which closed with the words:

 “The Palestinian FA says it will now “pursue this issue to the last possible legal venue”.”

Last week that “last possible legal venue” – the Court of Arbitration for Sport – announced its decision.

“The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has issued its decision in the arbitration procedure between Jibril Rajoub, President of the Palestine Football Association (PFA) and the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA). The appeal has been dismissed and the decision issued by the FIFA Appeal Committee (FIFA AC) dated 24 September 2018, confirming the earlier decision taken by the FIFA Disciplinary Committee (FIFA DC) dated 13 July 2018, is confirmed. Consequently, the one-year match suspension (until 23 August 2019) and the fine of CHF 20,000 imposed on Jibril Rajoub have been confirmed.”

However, the Times of Israel reports that an additional investigation by FIFA is underway.

“FIFA is currently conducting an investigation against Rajoub on suspicion that he breached its bylaws by glorifying terrorism and inciting hatred and violence… […]

The letter by FIFA’s chief of investigation in the Ethics Committee, Martin Ngoga, cited many alleged examples of Rajoub’s “promotion and glorification of terrorism,” “incitement to hatred and violence,” “discriminatory/denigratory statements and prohibiting the use of [soccer] as a bridge to peace” and the “use of [soccer] to promote a political agenda.””

As regular readers will be aware, the BBC has a record of providing no small amount of amplification to Rajoub’s football related political campaigns.

BBC WS news bulletins amplify HRW delegitimisation campaign

BBC’s Knell relegates impartiality to the bench in campaigning football report

PA’s anti-Israel campaign at FIFA gets BBC WS amplification again

BBC World Service tells sports fans tall tales of ‘stolen Palestinian land’

Perhaps that explains why audiences have seen no reporting on the rejection of Rajoub’s appeals against FIFA or about its current investigation into his conduct.

Related Articles:

How BBC News framed the Argentina-Israel football match story

BBC amends misleading Argentina match report after complaint

BBC WS reports what the BBC website didn’t on the Argentina football story

BBC News and BBC Sport ignore FIFA’s Jibril Rajoub disciplinary

BBC News report omits significant information

On the morning of July 22nd a report headlined “Israel demolishes ‘illegal’ homes under Palestinian control” was published on the BBC News website’s ‘Middle East’ page. The original version of the report – which was in situ for around four hours – told readers that:

“Israel has begun demolishing a cluster of Palestinian homes it says were built illegally too close to the separation barrier in the occupied West Bank.

Hundreds of police and troops moved in to Sur Baher as bulldozers tore down structures said to house 17 people.”

Readers were not informed that most of those “homes” were in fact multi-storey buildings in various stages of construction – and hence for the most part uninhabited – or that a halt to that building work was ordered in 2012.

They were however told that “Palestinians say it is an attempt by Israel to grab West Bank land” before the report went on to state that:

“Israel’s High Court had rejected appeals against the demolition order, saying the homes had been put up within a no-build zone next to the barrier.”

The BBC did not inform readers that while that no-build zone has been in force since 2011, construction of the said structures commenced after that date. Neither were they told that the court addressed the background to that no-build zone.

“…the justices sided with the Defense Ministry, saying in their decision that major construction along the barrier would “limit [military] operational freedom near the barrier and increase tensions with the local population.

“Such construction may also shelter terrorists or illegal residents among the civilian population, and allow terrorist operatives to smuggle weapons or sneak inside Israeli territory,” justices Menny Mazuz, Uzi Fogelman and Yitzhak Amit wrote […] “We therefore accept that there is a military-security need to restrict construction near the barrier.””

Readers next found the BBC’s standard framing of the anti-terrorist fence, which does not include presentation of the factual evidence of its efficacy.

“The barrier was built in and around the West Bank in the wake of the second Palestinian uprising which began in 2000. Israel says its purpose is to prevent infiltrations from the West Bank by Palestinian attackers, but Palestinians say it is a tool take over occupied land.” [emphasis added]

The report continued:

“The demolitions are particularly controversial because the homes, in the village of Wadi Hummus on the edge of Sur Baher, are situated in part of the West Bank under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority but were built on the Israeli side of the barrier.”

The BBC did not bother to inform readers that that is the case because – as documented by the political NGO ‘Terrestrial Jerusalem’ the residents of Sur Baher petitioned against the original route of the anti-terrorist fence which excluded those Area A and Area B designated areas.

“In 2004, when the separation barrier was under construction, the route of the barrier was to leave the area of Wadi Hummus on the West Bank side of the separation barrier. After the residents despaired of stopping the construction of the barrier altogether, they appealed to the IDF to change the route of the barrier so as to include Wadi Hummus on the Jerusalem side of the fence. They had two major considerations: they sought to maintain the geographical integrity of the neighborhood, and to preserve access to one of the few areas of the neighborhood where additional construction could be carried out.”

As we see the BBC’s original reporting of this story seriously downplayed the security issues which are its context. While additional information – most of which was available at the time of the original publication – was subsequently added, the fact remains that the BBC was apparently quite content to promote an incomplete story for four hours, knowing full well that people who read the article during that time would be unlikely to return to it later in the day.

Related Articles:

Does BBC reporting on Israel’s anti-terrorist fence meet standards of ‘due impartiality’? – part 3

 

 

 

BBC News ignores Palestinian protests in Lebanon

The BBC generally avoids telling its audiences about the treatment of Palestinian refugees living in Arab states and why they have not been resettled by their host countries four generations on.

In October 2018 the BBC’s Paul Adams produced a report titled “After 70 years, who are the Palestinian refugees?” in which he visited Burj Al-Barajneh refugee camp in Beirut. Viewers saw one interviewee state that Palestinian refugees in Lebanon “don’t have the right to work or to own properties” but no further information was supplied.

In the past we have seen that the BBC’s presentation of the number of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon has been inaccurate.

In recent days protests have taken place in Lebanon.

“A couple of hundred Palestinian refugees protested Tuesday in the streets of Beirut against Lebanon’s labour ministry cracking down on businesses employing foreign workers without a permit.

They and dozens of demonstrators in Palestinian refugee camps in the capital, as well as the south and east of the country, denounced the move as “unfair”. […]

In Beirut, security forces prevented the protesters from reaching parliament, where this year’s much delayed state budget was under discussion.”

Khaled Abu Toameh explains the background to those protests.

“Lebanon…has launched an unprecedented crackdown on illegal foreign workers, including Palestinians, thereby triggering a wave of protests among Palestinians living there.

The Lebanese authorities say the crackdown on illegal foreign workers is directed mostly against Syrians who fled to Lebanon after the beginning of the civil war in Syria in 2011. As part of this campaign against illegal workers, several businesses have been closed and many Palestinian and Syrian workers have been suspended from their jobs.

The Palestinians…launched protests in different parts of Lebanon against the crackdown on illegal foreign workers. Protesters burned tires at the entrances to a number of refugee camps, and some Palestinian factions and officials, condemning the campaign, have asked the Lebanese authorities to halt their measures against Palestinian businessmen and workers. […]

Lebanese law restricts Palestinians’ ability to work in several professions, including law, medicine and engineering, and bars them from receiving social security benefits. In 2001, the Lebanese parliament also passed a law prohibiting Palestinians from owning property.”

Apparently several days of protests eventually prompted changes to the Lebanese government’s policy.

BBC audiences saw no reporting on those protests and the issue of discrimination against Palestinians living in Lebanon continues to be one the BBC apparently prefers to avoid.  

Related Articles:

Unravelling years of BBC statistics on Palestinian refugees in Lebanon

 

 

 

 

Do BBC audiences get the ‘range and depth of analysis’ promised?

The BBC’s explanation of the first of its public purposes includes the following:

“It should offer a range and depth of analysis and content not widely available from other United Kingdom news providers…so that all audiences can engage fully with major…global issues…as active and informed citizens.”

In contrast to that fine declaration, here is an example of actual practice taken from an article published on the BBC News website’s ‘Middle East’ page on July 20th under the headline “Benjamin Netanyahu becomes Israel’s longest-serving leader”.

“As head of the right-wing Likud party, Mr Netanyahu has a reputation as a hardliner on the Israel-Palestinian peace process.

Although he carried out a partial withdrawal from the city of Hebron in the occupied West Bank in 1998 – handing most of it over to the Palestinian Authority – he is a staunch opponent of the land-for-peace formula.

He has since declared there will be no more evacuations of Jewish settlers or settlements under his rule, nor the creation of a fully fledged Palestinian state.”

The redeployment of Israeli troops from 80% of Hebron – in accordance with the protocol signed during Netanyahu’s first term as prime minister – took place in January 1997 rather than in 1998 as claimed by the BBC.

In those three short paragraphs the BBC tells its audiences that Netanyahu is “a hardliner”, supposedly justifying that description with the claim that he is “opponent of the land-for-peace formula” and will not evacuate Israeli communities or agree to a Palestinian state.

Audiences are given no explanation of what the “land-for-peace” formula is, how it originated or whether or not it has been successful and hence are not provided with the tools to judge Netanyahu’s alleged opposition to it for themselves. They are not informed that the two examples of treaties signed by Israel and Arab countries based on the concept of ‘land-for-peace’ – the agreements with Egypt and Jordan – have resulted in what some Israelis might describe as ‘land-for-not-war’ rather than peace.

The BBC’s would-be cameo refrains from mentioning the cases in which Israeli withdrawal from territory – for example parts of Gaza and Judea & Samaria in the early 1990s and the Gaza Strip in 2005 – not only failed to bring peace but was actually followed by greater violence. No mention is made of the effects that has had on perceptions of the concept of ‘land-for-peace’ in Israel: according to that BBC definition of a ‘hardliner’, it would include a significant proportion of the Israeli public as well as people such as former Labour politician Eitan Cabel, the ‘Blue & White’ party’s Moshe Ya’alon and writer A.B. Yehoshua.

Significantly, the BBC’s portrayal erases Palestinians (and their multiple refusals to accept ‘land for peace’ offers) from the picture entirely, promoting the narrative that Israel alone – and specifically its current prime minister – is responsible for the absence of peace.

A further example of how the BBC is more interested in narrative than fact comes in the article’s closing lines.

“He [Netanyahu] faces a tough challenge from political opponents seeking to topple him in elections on 17 September. Among them are another former prime minster, Ehud Barak, and a former military chief-of-staff.”

According to the latest opinion polls, Netanyahu’s ‘Likud’ party is on track to secure 32 Knesset seats in the election in two months’ time while Ehud Barak’s ‘Israel Democratic Party’ is polling four to five seats.

The BBC’s “depth of analysis” apparently defines that as a “tough challenge”.  

Superficial BBC reporting on Argentina’s designation of Hizballah

A written report titled “Argentina designates Hezbollah as terrorist organisation” appeared on the BBC News website’s ‘Middle East’ page on July 18th.

“Argentina has designated Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement as a terrorist organisation and frozen its assets.

It accuses the Shia Islamist group of being behind two attacks on its soil.

The announcement was made on the 25th anniversary of one – the bombing of the Amia Jewish cultural centre in Buenos Aires, in which 85 people died.”

Later on in the report readers were told that:

“The attack on the Amia centre – which Argentina said was planned and financed by Iran, and carried out by Hezbollah – was the South American country’s deadliest terrorist attack.”

As has been standard practice for years in BBC reporting on the AMIA attack, the report then went on to note denials from Hizballah and Iran but failed to inform audiences of the wealth of evidence available which indicates that such denials are to be viewed with a considerable amount of scepticism.

“Both Iran and Hezbollah have denied any involvement. No-one has ever been brought to trial in connection with the bombing.”

Like the BBC profile of Hizballah (which has not been updated for over three years) to which readers were provided with a link, the report also gave readers an incomplete view of the designation of Hizballah.

“Hezbollah is also designated by the US, UK, Israel and several Gulf Arab states, but Argentina is the first country in Latin America to do so.”

BBC audiences found the following cryptic statement:

“Argentine officials say Hezbollah is engaged in illegal activities between Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay to finance its operations elsewhere.”

Readers were not informed that a year ago the Argentinian government froze the financial assets of fourteen Lebanese residents of the Tri-Border Area who were part of an organisation linked to Hizballah or that the governments of Brazil and Paraguay have also taken steps – as the BBC knows – against Hizballah’s terror-financing activities in that region.

The report did however close by telling BBC audiences that “[t]he US, along with Israel, had pushed for Argentina to declare Hezbollah a terrorist organisation”.

Related Articles:

The Amia Attack: Terrorism, Cover-Up and The Implications For Iran  (CAMERA)