BBC Complaints invokes ‘common parlance in the media’

As documented previously, on January 28th listeners to BBC Radio 4 and BBC World Service radio repeatedly heard Husam Zomlot described as “the Palestinian ambassador to the UK” and “the Palestinian ambassador to London”.

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BBC Watch submitted a complaint pointing out that the BBC had corrected a similar misrepresentation of Mr Zomlot’s title in 2018 and that although the UK does not currently recognise a Palestinian state, by referring to Mr Zomlot as an ambassador the BBC suggests that it does and therefore misleads audiences.

On February 6th we received the following reply:

“Thank you for contacting us regarding the Today programme and Newshour, both broadcast on Tuesday 28th January.

We have spoken with senior staff about your concerns. We acknowledge the point that Husam Zomlot is not strictly speaking an ambassador, although the phrase is in common parlance in the media. We will remind editors of his actual title, but it is clear from our wider reporting that the UK does not recognise Palestine as a state.”

In other words the BBC is obviously not concerned by the fact that members of the public who access any of those three programmes during the time they are still available online will be misled by the misrepresentation of Zomlot’s title because it is “common parlance in the media” – which apparently takes precedence over BBC editorial guidelines on accuracy.  

6 comments on “BBC Complaints invokes ‘common parlance in the media’

  1. It seems to me that the state of Israel should have a look at itself and reassess its approach to Palestine. The original accepted proposal for Israel and Palestine was that there was to be two states with recognised borders but, for some reason, Israel does not accept this and worse still, the country’s that proposed this two state solution are unwilling to make Israel accept the conditions. Instead eyes are turned away from the issue in fear of upsetting Israel. I accept that the children of Israel did not had a a proper country to call their own after years and years of persecution but the two state proposal after WW2 was supposed to have sorted this situation out so why does Israel insist in ignoring the proposal and why does it insist in bullying Palestine at every turn? No wonder the Palestinian people fight against Israeli bullying !

    • John Smith-Warren, why do you ignore facts? First of all, the PLO was founded in 1964, three years before Israel captured the “West Bank.” And if it was Israel that rejects Palestinian statehood, why did Jordan not grant it when it occupied that area? Second, you may be unaware, but at Taba, Ehud Barak offered Yasser Arafat 95% of the West Bank, all of Gaza (pre-withdrawal), and joint sovereignty over Jerusalem. Arafat in turn, rejected that offer and gave Israel the Intifada instead.

      And all of that on top of the very real security issues that Israel faces from a militant Palestine.

      Israel needs to continue its fight against left-wing attempts to pressure it into submission.

    • ‘Seems’ is also a favoured device of BBC editors. Back on topic, does the response from the UK state broadcaster not worry you just a teeny bit, even as a matter of precedent?

    • Of course your answer also ignores the ‘original’ plan devised in 1920 following the fall of the Ottoman Empire where at the San Remo Conference the League of Nations agreed to the carving up of the Ottoman Empire into 22 Arab nations and one Jewish State. The whole of the British Mandate of Palestine was offered as a home for the Jewish nation East and West of the Jordan River. This was then reneged upon by the UK government who gave the East of the River Jordan to the Hashemites who created Trans Jordan. The West of the Jordan River was supposed to be the Jewish homeland because of its historical birthright, but at the end of the British Mandate, Jordan invaded Judea and Samaria and renamed it the West Bank. In the same way 850,000 Jews were supposed to migrate to Israel from the newly formed Arab States, Muslims from Judea and Sameria were supposed to migrate to other Arab lands. The Jewish nation was eventually left with 23% of the agreed land and yet you accuse them of settling in the land that biblically belongs to them and btw Israel accepted UN resolution 181, just because the Arabs did not does not invalidate it. The truth is the surrounding Arab States refused to accept the migrating Arabs and absorb them into their own societies, racism towards their fellow Arabs at best. Cherry picking portions of history to suit a particular narrative does not legitimise the aims of both the PLO and Hamas i.e. the destruction of Israel at the expense of the creation of a state that never existed in the first place. Had the Arab nations not tried to wipe out the fledgling state of Israel from day one, the 71 year troubles in the Middle East would never have existed, yet the world continues to blame Israel for the failures of other, they are just the whipping boys of the Middle East

  2. … they are just the whipping boys of the Middle East.

    Or as Golda Meir said, “Israel is the Jew amongst the nations”

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