Abbas’ Fatah reelection ignored by the BBC – in English

Back in late October, the BBC Jerusalem bureau’s Yolande Knell produced an article concerning the question of who will succeed Mahmoud Abbas in his various roles. In that report, Knell speculated that:

“One potential post-Abbas scenario would see the division of his titles: President, head of Fatah, and Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO).

If different individuals took these jobs it would allow for a more collective political leadership.”

One might therefore have expected that the BBC would be interested in the story of Abbas’ unanimous reelection as head of the Fatah party at its long overdue seventh congress held this week, especially – as the NYT reported, among others – given the less than “collective” circumstances.

photo credit: Times of Israel

photo credit: Times of Israel

“Under fire at home and abroad, President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority moved on Tuesday to solidify his decade-long hold on power with a party conference that had already been purged of most of his opponents.

The carefully selected delegates wasted little time in formally re-electing Mr. Abbas as the leader of Fatah, the party that controls the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. “Everybody voted yes,” a spokesman for Fatah, Mahmoud Abu al-Hija, told reporters who had not been allowed into the conference hall for the decision. […]

Some Palestinian activists had wondered whether Mr. Abbas would use the conference to give up at least one of the three titles he holds — leader of Fatah, leader of the Palestine Liberation Organization and president of the Palestinian Authority. But he made clear on Tuesday that he would not. […]

Missing from the conference were Palestinian leaders and activists who had fallen out with Mr. Abbas, including those affiliated with Muhammad Dahlan, a former security chief who has lived in exile since 2011.

Allies of Mr. Dahlan, and even some Palestinians who were only thought to be his allies, have been purged from Fatah or arrested, and competing factions have engaged in violent clashes. Diana Buttu, a former Palestinian official who is now a critic of Mr. Abbas, named 10 party figures who had been ousted recently.

“To me, the story is who is not at the conference,” said Grant Rumley, a scholar at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington and a co-author of a forthcoming biography of Mr. Abbas. “This conference will formalize the split within his own party.””

Abbas’ reelection was covered (together with additional reporting on the Fatah congress) on the BBC Arabic website. However, the corporation’s English-speaking audiences – who already suffer from a chronic lack of information concerning internal Palestinian affairs – have to date not been provided with any coverage of that story and its background or Abbas’ subsequent reiteration of his refusal to recognise Israel as the Jewish state.

Related Articles:

BBC’s Knell omits back stories in portrayal of PA succession

BBC News continues to under-report internal Palestinian politics

BBC News silent on Abbas’ rejection of Jewish state

BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel – October 2016

The Israel Security Agency’s report on terror attacks (Hebrew) during October 2016 shows that throughout the month a total of 153 incidents took place: 103 in Judea & Samaria, 48 in Jerusalem and two incidents originating from the Gaza Strip.

The agency recorded 121 attacks with petrol bombs, 19 attacks using explosive devices, eight shooting attacks, two vehicular attacks and one stabbing attack in Judea & Samaria and Jerusalem. One combined missile/mortar attack and one additional attack were launched from the Gaza Strip.

Two people were killed and 23 people were wounded (including ten members of the security forces) during October.

The terror attack in Jerusalem on October 9th in which two Israelis were killed and ten wounded was reported on the BBC News website’s Middle East page. Amendments made to the article the following day included identification of the victims.

The BBC News website did not report the missile attack on Sderot on October 5th in English but coverage was seen on the BBC Arabic language website. Among the other attacks which did not receive any BBC coverage were a shooting attack near Nil’in on October 11th (Yom Kippur), a stabbing attack on October 15th in which a soldier was wounded, a vehicular attack on October 28th, a shooting attack near Karmei Tsur on October 29th, a vehicular attack near Beit Ummar on October 30th in which three soldiers were injured and a shooting attack near Beit El on October 31st in which three soldiers were injured.

Attacks prevented by the security forces – which likewise did not receive any BBC coverage – included an incident in which two eight year-old Palestinian boys armed with knives were apprehended near Migdal Oz.

In conclusion, the BBC News website reported one (0.65%) of the 153 attacks during October and since the beginning of the year it has covered 3.2% of the terror attacks which have taken place.

table-oct-16

Related Articles:

Reviewing the BBC News website’s coverage of terror in Israel: April to September 2016 

Reviewing the BBC News website’s coverage of terror in Israel: April to September 2016

In recent months, visitors to the BBC News website have repeatedly read a largely copy/paste portrayal of terrorism in Israel during the last year.

July 2016: “Thirty-five Israelis have now been killed in a wave of knife, gun and car-ramming attacks since October.

More than 200 Palestinians – mostly attackers, Israel says – have also been killed in that period.”

September 2016: “Thirty-five Israelis been killed [sic] in a wave of knife, gun and car-ramming attacks by Palestinians or Israeli Arabs since last October.

More than 200 Palestinians – mostly attackers, Israel says – have also been killed in that period.

Israel says Palestinian incitement has fuelled the attacks. The Palestinian leadership has blamed frustration rooted in decades of Israeli occupation.”

October 2016: “Thirty-five Israelis been killed [sic] in a wave of knife, gun and car-ramming attacks by Palestinians or Israeli Arabs since October 2015.

More than 200 Palestinians – mostly attackers, Israel says – have also been killed in that period.

Israel says Palestinian incitement has fuelled the attacks. The Palestinian leadership has blamed frustration rooted in decades of Israeli occupation.”

Back in April we took a look at how much of that “wave” of attacks (which the BBC of course still refuses to describe as terrorism) had actually been reported to audiences during the six months between October 2015 and March 2016.

“During that time the Israel Security Agency has documented a total of 1,639 attacks, ninety of which – i.e. 5.49% – have received coverage on the BBC News website.”

Based on our monthly review (see ‘related articles’ below), we can now take a look at the BBC’s reporting of the same subject throughout the six months between April 2016 and September 2016.

During that time the ISA documented a total of 622 attacks, just twelve of which – i.e. 1.9% – received coverage on the BBC News website.

chart-april-to-sept

Six people were murdered in terror attacks between April 1st and September 30th 2016. The BBC reported all those fatalities and – in contrast with its record during the prior six months in which 40% of the people killed were not identified – also named all the victims.

During the twelve months between October 1st 2015 and September 30th 2016, a total of 2,261 attacks were recorded by the ISA. 102 of those attacks – i.e. 4.5% – were mentioned in reports on the BBC News website. Thirty-nine people – Israelis and foreign nationals – have been killed in those twelve months (and two more last month) and hundreds wounded. Three of those fatalities (7.7%) were not reported at all by the BBC and of the casualties which were reported, twelve people (30.8%) were not identified by name. In contrast with BBC reporting on terror attacks in other locations around the world, only four of the victims had their photographs published by the BBC.

The victims are described by the BBC as having been killed in “a wave of knife, gun and car-ramming attacks” and indeed shooting attacks were the leading cause of death followed by stabbing attacks and car rammings. The information provided by the ISA shows that a total of 115 stabbing attacks, 88 shooting attacks (not including those along the border with the Gaza Strip), and 22 car rammings were carried out during those twelve months. Additional methods of attack not reflected in the BBC’s portrayal include IEDs (over 250), petrol bombs and missile and mortar attacks from the Gaza Strip.

Clearly the BBC’s portrayal of twelve months of terror attacks against Israelis does not provide audiences with the full range of available information necessary for their understanding of the scale and extent of the attacks. Notably, despite having had twelve months in which to independently verify the information, the BBC is still appending the caveat “Israel says” to its description of most of the Palestinian fatalities as “attackers”.

BBC audiences have also yet to see any serious reporting on the issue of the incitement and glorification of terrorism by official Palestinian bodies which has underpinned that year of terror.

Related Articles:

BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel – April 2016

BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel – May 2016

BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel – June 2016

BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel – July 2016

BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel – August 2016

BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel – September 2016

Reviewing the BBC News website’s coverage of terror in Israel: October 2015 to March 2016

 

 

BBC ‘frequent flyer’ Erekat lauds convicted terrorists

In her recent article (previously discussed here) concerning the question of who will succeed Mahmoud Abbas in his roles as president of the Palestinian Authority, chair of the PLO and head of the Fatah party the BBC Jerusalem bureau’s Yolande Knell informed audiences that:

“One potential post-Abbas scenario would see the division of his titles: President, head of Fatah, and Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO).

If different individuals took these jobs it would allow for a more collective political leadership.

This might involve Saeb Erekat, chief negotiator and secretary general of the PLO, and Nasser al-Kidwa, a former foreign minister and representative to the UN who is also nephew of the revered late leader, Yasser Arafat.”Erekat Hardtalk May 2015

BBC audiences are of course familiar with Saeb Erekat due to his frequent appearances on the corporation’s various platforms. They are however considerably less well-informed with regard to the views expressed by Saeb Erekat when communicating with his own people rather than with the audiences of Western media organisations.

As our colleagues at CAMERA documented, Erekat recently proclaimed his “admiration” for imprisoned terrorists.

“According to Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), a non-profit organization that monitors Arab media in eastern Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank (Judea and Samaria), Erekat offered words of praise terrorists in an Oct. 19, 2016 edition of Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, the official PA daily newspaper.

Erekat, referring to Palestinians imprisoned by Israel for committing acts of terrorism, said:

‘Our brave prisoners, who gave and sacrificed their freedom for Palestine and its freedom, are worthy of aid, support, and constant activity by us in order to release them and put an end to their suffering. The prisoners’ cause is a national and central cause, and we bow our heads in admiration and honor of the prisoners’ sacrifices, for their acts of heroism, and for their ongoing battle with the occupation.'”

Additional documentation of the messaging for domestic audiences from the man functioning as chief negotiator for the PLO (which ostensibly renounced terrorism, recognised Israel and committed itself to the peace process over two decades ago) can be found at PMW.  

With Erekat tipped by Yolande Knell as one of Mahmoud Abbas’ potential successors, BBC audiences’ understanding of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict would of course be enhanced were they provided with some insight into the stance that he (along with other potential candidates) presents to his domestic audience rather than just the PR messaging promoted for Western ears.  

BBC’s Knell omits back stories in portrayal of PA succession

October 28th saw the appearance of an article by Yolande Knell in the ‘Features’ section of the BBC News website’s Middle East page. Titled “Palestinians face uncertainties over Abbas succession“, the report was translated into Arabic and also appeared two days later on the BBC Arabic website.knell-abbas-art-main

Knell’s staid portrayal of the issue of who will succeed Mahmoud Abbas in his role as president of the Palestinian Authority (as well as chair of the PLO and head of the Fatah party) is most notable for what is absent from her framing of the story. Given that BBC audiences suffer from a chronic lack of information concerning internal Palestinian affairs, it is of course highly unlikely that they would be able to read between Knell’s lines and fill in the blanks for themselves.

For example, readers are told that:

“Three other potentially important players have strong backing in the security forces:

  • Mohammed Dahlan, led the PA’s Preventive Security force in Gaza until 2007. He was expelled from Fatah after falling out with the president and now lives in luxurious exile in Abu Dhabi. He also has close ties to regional leaders”

Knell refrains from telling audiences that in recent months Abbas has been urged by some of those “regional leaders” to mend fences with Dahlan – as the Times of Israel explained back in August.

“Arab leaders have recently been pressuring the Palestinian Authority and its leader Mahmoud Abbas to patch up differences within Fatah and make peace with former Gaza strongman Mohammad Dahlan.

Among the heads of state who have weighed in are Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, Jordan’s King Abdullah, King Salman of Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates President Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan. […]

In response, Fatah’s Central Committee has resolved to consider readmitting to its ranks several dozen senior Fatah figures expelled for their links to Dahlan. But they have not yet agreed to readmit Dahlan himself, who was kicked out of the Gaza Strip in 2011 after a feud with Abbas.

Indeed, despite Arabic media reports about possible reconciliation within the Fatah movement, senior figures within the Palestinian Authority (PA) say there is still quite some way to go.”

Abbas himself voiced public objection to what he saw as intervention from “other capitals” on that issue – although Dahlan himself is on record as denying a wish to run for the PA presidency (despite Knell’s later claim that he and others “undoubtedly regard themselves as possible future presidents”).

Relatedly, in the days before (and since) Knell’s article was published severe violence was seen in a number of locations in PA controlled areas.

“Intense clashes erupted in three refugee camps Tuesday night between Palestinian youths and Palestinian Authority security forces, after a protest over the recent expulsion from the Fatah party of a Palestinian lawmaker was suppressed.

At least two people were wounded from reported live fire during the clashes, which took place in the refugee camps of al-Amari, near Ramallah, Balata, near Nablus, and Jenin.

The clashes began when PA security refused to allow a protest in support of Jihad Tummaleh, who was expelled from the Fatah party on Saturday by PA President Mahmoud Abbas, near Tummaleh’s home in the al-Amari refugee camp.

Tummaleh’s expulsion came after he organized a conference at al-Amari in support of “party unity.” The event was viewed by some in Ramallah as an effort to urge reconciliation between Abbas and his chief political rival Mohammad Dahlan. […]

PA security forces also arrested Tuesday night the official spokesperson of Fatah in Jerusalem, Rafat Alayan, who had earlier participated in a rally in support of Tummaleh.”

Also unmentioned by Knell is the meeting which took place between Abbas and Hamas leaders in Qatar the day before her report was published.

“The 81-year-old Abbas met with Hamas politburo chief Khaled Mashaal and Hamas’s Gaza leader, Ismail Haniyeh, for a “business lunch” in Doha, the PA’s official news agency Wafa said. […]

The meeting in Doha was attended by the Foreign Minister of Qatar Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al-Thani, PLO Secretary General Saeb Erekat and Palestinian Ambassador to Qatar Munir Ghanam.”

Veteran analyst Avi Issacharoff interprets that meeting as follows:

“In a turn of events no one could have foreseen mere weeks ago, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas — until recently the ally of Egypt and Saudi in the fight against the Muslim Brotherhood and other radical Islamist groups — met on Wednesday with Khaled Mashaal, outgoing head of Hamas’s politburo, and with Ismail Haniyeh, Mashaal’s successor. These meetings took place after Abbas met the previous week with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al Thani.

Erdogan and Sheikh Tamim are considered strong patrons of the Muslim Brotherhood, the great rival of Egypt and its president, Abdel Fattah el-Sissi. Abbas’s meetings with them, as well as his talks with Mashaal and Haniyeh, the two highest-ranking members of Hamas (the Muslim Brotherhood’s Palestinian offshoot), may even lead to a historic reconciliation with Hamas, though that outcome is still a long way off. Whether such a reconciliation would be a good or a bad thing depends on whom you ask.

So what — or, rather, who — has led Abbas straight into the arms of the Muslim Brotherhood, and maybe even into those of Hamas, just days after a high-ranking Hamas official in Gaza called him a traitor?

The answer is simple: Mohammad Dahlan. This former high-ranking Fatah official, who has been challenging Abbas for several years, succeeded this week in areas where even Hamas has failed. He managed to get Cairo on his side in the fight against Abbas and proved how weak and shaky Abbas’s status is in the Arab world.”

As Issacharoff also points out, another succession struggle is also underway:

“…everybody is busy with the question of “the day after.” Many members of Fatah fear that the day is fast approaching when Fatah will split over the uncompromising battle between Dahlan and Abbas, and Hamas will become more powerful still.

It should be emphasized that Dahlan is not the only one in Fatah to be marking out territory in anticipation of the fight over the succession.

The highest levels of Fatah, as a whole, are busy with Fatah’s general assembly, which is set to take place in late November and can point the way to who Abbas’s successor might be. Fatah’s Central Council will be elected during the assembly — and according to Fatah’s bylaws, it is only from the Central Council that Abbas’s successor, Fatah’s next chairman, may be chosen. It is also likely that the assembly will elect Fatah’s deputy chairman, who could, in time, succeed to the chairmanship.”

All that internal Palestinian conflict is obscured by Knell. She does however find it necessary to promote ‘analysis’ from a Belgium-based NGO.

“…there is no clear frontrunner and analysts warn against second-guessing the dynamics within Fatah.

“The names you hear about most often are basically former security people because these are whom Israel is most comfortable with and whom Western donors have interacted with and vetted,” says Nathan Thrall of International Crisis Group.

“These sometimes correlate with what’s realistic in Fatah power structures but oftentimes not.””

So is Yolande Knell unaware of the back story to the issue she supposedly set out to explain to BBC audiences? A vaguely worded caption to one of the images used to illustrate the article suggests not.

knell-abbas-art-pic

The question that therefore arises is why the BBC’s funding public and worldwide audiences are not being told the whole story. 

 

BBC News producer breaches impartiality guidelines on social media

BBC Editorial Guidelines on impartiality state:

“Presenters, reporters and correspondents are the public face and voice of the BBC – they can have a significant impact on perceptions of whether due impartiality has been achieved.  Our audiences should not be able to tell from BBC output the personal prejudices of our journalists or news and current affairs presenters on matters of public policy, political or industrial controversy, or on ‘controversial subjects’ in any other area.  They may provide professional judgements, rooted in evidence, but may not express personal views in BBC output, including online, on such matters.”

The BBC’s guidance on social networking states:

“Impartiality is a particular concern for those working in News and Current Affairs. Nothing should appear on their personal blogs or microblogs which undermines the integrity or impartiality of the BBC. For example, News and Current Affairs staff should not:

  • advocate support for a particular political party;
  • express views for or against any policy which is a matter of current party political debate;
  • advocate any particular position on an issue of current public controversy or debate.” [emphasis added]

A story which was not reported by the BBC but which was recently “an issue of current public controversy or debate” in Israel concerns the decision of the political NGO B’Tselem to participate in an informal session at the UN Security Council. As Ynet reported ahead of the session:

“The Palestinian delegation to the United Nations successfully initiated an informal meeting of the Security Council on Israeli settlements in the West Bank that is to be held on Friday and to be attended by representatives of B’Tselem.

According to the UN’s website, the “Arria-Formula meeting,” which is how Friday’s discussion has been defined, is a “very informal, confidential” meeting that enables “Security Council members to have a frank and private exchange of views.”

 It is believed that this meeting is the Palestinian delegation’s first step in a plan to have the Security Council issue a resolution against Israel regarding the settlements.

Friday’s meeting will take place at 10am EDT (5pm Israel time) and will be co-chaired by Angola, Egypt, Malaysia, Senegal and Venezuela. The meeting’s title is ‘illegal Israeli Settlements: Obstacles to Peace and Two-State Solution.'”

Predictably, the participation of B’Tselem (which has received funding from UN bodies) in such an event created controversy, as did the actual messaging delivered by its director Hagai El-Ad to the forum. One Israeli politician declared his intention to weigh “the possibility of taking legal action against El-Ad to strip him of his Israeli citizenship”. That, of course, will not happen because not only was David Bitan subsequently advised that there is no legal basis for such action but parliamentarians from across the political spectrum – including his own party – publicly declared their opposition to any such move.  

Nevertheless, Bitan’s declaration did provide the opportunity for some PR posturing from B’Tselem’s director.

el-ad-tweet

And that second Tweet was given further amplification by BBC News producer “in Israel and the West Bank” Michael Shuval who went on to add his own commentary – notably and oddly, in English.

rt-shuval-btselem

shuval-tweet-2

Those Tweets clearly “advocate” a “particular position on an issue of current public controversy or debate” and thus contradict the BBC’s guidance and compromise its impartiality. The fact that B’Tselem was the local political NGO most quoted and promoted by the BBC throughout 2015 and 2014 makes that lack of impartiality even more worthy of note.

Related Articles:

BBC News, impartiality and the Israeli elections

 

BBC Jerusalem bureau ignores a story that challenges its chosen narrative

Back in April the BBC’s Yolande Knell produced written, filmed and audio reports from Gush Etzion. None of those reports presented audiences with anything other than the corporation’s standard narrow portrayal of the factors supposedly underlying the Palestinian-Israeli conflict:

“Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank and the expansion of settlements are often cited as reasons for Palestinian anger…”

Last week a journalist from the Washington Post also visited Gush Etzion to attend an event in the town of Efrat. efrat

“Efrat’s mayor, Oded Revivi, who is also a lieutenant colonel in the Israeli army reserve, invited Palestinians from surrounding villages to come to his house and celebrate the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles, when the faithful gather in palm-roofed huts, a remembrance of the 40 years of wandering landless in the desert back in the time of Moses.

A couple of dozen Palestinians accepted the mayor’s invitation this week to share brownies, grapes, cookies, apples and coffee, alongside 30 Israeli settlers. This was a first. […]

One Palestinian stood and told the guests that he didn’t want to see the West Bank “turn into Syria.”

Another said he didn’t like “being lumped together with the terrorists.” […]

Ahmad Mousa, 58, a contractor from the neighboring Palestinian village of Wadi Al Nis, said, “We consider ourselves part of the family, part of the people of Efrat.”

You do not hear that much in the West Bank, at least not in public, with smartphone cameras rolling.

He said, “Seventy percent of our village works in Efrat. They treat us very well and we are very good to them, too.”

Noman Othman, 41, a construction worker from Wadi Al Nis, said this was his first time as a guest in a home in the settlement, although he had worked here for years, building houses.

“This is good,” he said. “Our relationship is evolving.”

Asked whether he bore any grudge against the expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank, now home to 400,000 settlers, which the Obama administration has condemned as “an obstacle to peace,” Othman said nope. He didn’t have any problem with Efrat.

If there was a Palestinian state someday, a dream Palestinians say is growing more distant, Othman said the Jews in Efrat “should stay on their land.”

He saw it this way: “These are their houses. They bought them with their own money. We should have no problem living together — if there is peace.”

Ali Musa, 49, came from the village of Al Khader. He told the gathering: “I came for a reason. I came to talk about our relationship, between you and us.”

He reminded his hosts that there is a locked yellow gate that blocks the entrance to his village, a closure enforced by Israeli security ­forces. “That gate should be removed,” Musa said.

He added: “And that racist sign? That should also be removed. It’s outrageous. It prevents our Jewish friends from visiting us.”

Musa was referring to the large red signs posted across the West Bank warning Israelis in capital letters that it is against the law and “dangerous to your lives” to enter “Area A,” cities and villages under full control of the Palestinian Authority.”

However, events later took a less positive turn when some of the Palestinian participants were arrested by the PA security forces.

“In a move against normalization with settlers, Palestinian Authority security forces have held four Palestinians from the village of Wadi al-Nis since Thursday after they visited Efrat council head Oded Revivi’s succa. […]

On Saturday night, Revivi said he was unable to determine what had happened to the four visitors from Wadi al-Nis.

“I’m sorry that human rights organizations have not spoken out about this situation,” he said.

In an interview with Wattan TV on Thursday, the PA’s Deputy Governor of Bethlehem Muhammad Taha said the incident was under investigation. The government, in coordination with the PA security forces, will hold these people accountable according to Palestinian law, he said.

Taha clarified that the participants will be dealt with through legal processes, and added that what they did is not a part of his people’s culture and upbringing.

“All Palestinians condemn the [visit], and visiting settlers is completely unacceptable,” he said.”

After being detained for four days, the men were finally released.

While BBC audiences are regularly and repeatedly instructed that “settlement expansion” endangers the possibility of peace between the Palestinians and Israel, they are rarely given insight into issues such as the Palestinian Authority’s incitement, glorification of terrorism and rejection of normal neighbourly relations between Palestinians and Israelis. Neither of course do the corporation’s audiences get to hear the kind of opinions voiced by the Palestinian guests in the Succa in Efrat because such voices which do not fit the BBC’s chosen narrative. 

The BBC’s job, however, is not to give weight to a specific political narrative but to provide its funding public with the full range of available information. 

 

 

BBC News passes up chance to explain why Israeli counter-terrorism measures exist

The BBC’s portrayal of the reasons for restrictions on entry to Israel from the Gaza Strip is usually at best superficial and at worst misleading and politically motivated. Two months ago, for example, Yolande Knell made opportunistic use of a story about the rescue of neglected animals from a Gaza zoo for the promotion of a deliberately incomplete representation of those travel restrictions that made no mention of the factor which necessitates them: Palestinian terrorism.

“In Khan Younis at the Mahali [phonetic] family home, the children show me their plastic zoo animals and I tell them Laziz [the tiger] is moving to South Africa.”

“Akram Mahali says daily life is a struggle. Neither he nor his six children have ever seen life outside Gaza and they’re not likely to any time soon. With Hamas in control of the Palestinian territory, both Israel and Egypt impose tight border restrictions and limit travel.”

Voiceover Mahali: “There is nothing nice in Gaza. Really if I could I would take them out. I wish I could. There is no money, no happy life and there is no work. There are power cuts. I see now the animals are living better than humans.”

Knell closed that radio report with the following loaded statement:

“Then, just after dawn, the animals leave Gaza. Their suffering will soon be over but they leave behind Palestinians who continue to feel trapped.”

That report was not atypical: in the past BBC audiences have seen or heard restrictions on the movement of people and specific categories of goods in and out of the Gaza Strip inaccurately described as “collective punishment” or a “siege”.

There is therefore all the more reason for the BBC – which claims to be impartial and is tasked with building audience understanding of “international issues” – to report stories which would help its audiences understand the real reasons for the counter-terrorism measures which include restrictions on entry to Israel from the Gaza Strip. One such story was recently cleared for publication.erez

“On 21 September 2016, at Erez Crossing, the ISA, in cooperation with the Israel Police, arrested Mahmoud Yusuf Hasin Abu Taha, a resident of Khan Younis, as he sought to enter Israel via the Erez Crossing ostensibly for commercial purposes.

During his investigation it was learned that he led a terrorist cell guided by Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip, and had been planning to carry out a large-scale terrorist attack at an events hall in the south and to abduct and murder an IDF soldier for bargaining purposes. 
 
It was also learned that Mahmoud Yusuf Hasin Abu Taha had been recruited by Wael Sufiyan Abu Taha, a senior Islamic Jihad terrorist, who resides in Gaza, and who had directed him to establish a military infrastructure and prepare to carry out the aforementioned attacks. Mahmoud Yusuf Hasin Abu Taha, in turn, recruited three additional cohorts who have also been arrested”.

Unsurprisingly, the BBC did not find that story newsworthy.

Related Articles:

Documenting the BBC’s continuing silence on Gaza smuggling

BBC waives another chance to explain why Gaza’s naval blockade exists

 

Reviewing BBC News website portrayal of Israel and the Palestinians in Q3 2016 – part two

As noted in part one of this post, between July 1st and September 30th 2016, eighty-seven reports relating to Israel and/or the Palestinians (along with a few others relating to non-Israeli Jews) appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page, some of which were cross posted from other sections of the site. 13.8% of those reports covered stories relating to security/terrorism.website

The remaining 86.2% of those articles can be divided into a number of categories. (The dates in brackets represent the period of time in which each report was available to visitors to the website’s Middle East page.)

Seven reports related to historical subject matter.

Entebbe pilot Michel Bacos ‘saw hostage murdered’  (3/7/16 to 4/7/16)

Researchers make ‘first discovery’ of Philistine cemetery (10/7/16 to 11/7/16)

Ancient barley DNA gives insight into crop development (18/7/16 to 20/7/16)

Rio 2016: Widow welcomes Munich massacre memorial (2/8/16 to 3/8/16) discussed here

Rio 2016 Olympics: Widow’s wish sees ceremony mark killings of Israeli athletes (3/8/16 to 8/8/16) discussed here

Jerusalem Biblical Temple floor designs ‘restored’ (6/9/16 to 8/9/16) discussed here

Digital technology reveals secret of ancient biblical scroll (22/9/16 to 23/9/16)

Two reports can be categorised as miscellaneous.

Auschwitz survivor Elie Wiesel dies aged 87 (3/7/16 to 4/7/16)

Microscope observes life of the ocean floor (13/7/16 to 16/7/16)

20 reports related to Israeli diplomatic/international relations and/or political aspects of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Israel and Palestinians: Powers warn of ‘perpetual conflict’ (1/7/16 to 3/7/16) discussed here

Israel-Palestinians: Blame and bitterness keeping peace at bay (1/7/16 to 8/7/16) discussed here 

Turkey sends Gaza aid after six-year rift with Israel ends (3/7/16 to 4/7/16) discussed here

Israeli politician Tzipi Livni ‘summonsed by UK police’ (4/7/16) discussed here

Netanyahu in Entebbe: A personal journey amid a diplomatic push (4/7/16 to 5/7/16) discussed here

Israel’s Netanyahu in Entebbe to mark hostage-rescue anniversary (4/7/16 to 5/7/16) discussed here

US criticises Israel over plans for new settlement homes (6/7/16 to 7/7/16) discussed here

Israel and Palestinians: Egypt FM urges two-state solution in rare visit (10/7/16 to 11/7/16) discussed here

Palestinians plan to sue Britain over 1917 Balfour act (26/7/16 to 28/7/16) discussed here

Rio 2016 Olympics: Lebanese athletes refuse to travel with Israel team (6/8/16 to 9/8/16) discussed here

Rio Olympics 2016: ‘Not what the Olympics are about’ – judo player refuses to shake hands  (12/8/16 to 16/8/16) discussed here

Rio Olympics 2016: Egyptian judoka Islam El Shehaby ‘sent home for handshake snub’ (16/8/16 to 17/8/16) discussed here

Celtic fans raise £85,000 ‘for Palestine’ after Uefa charge (22/8/16) discussed here

Israel ‘approves 464 settlement homes in West Bank’ (31/8/16 to 2/9/16) discussed here

Rio Paralympics: Algeria goalball team absence investigated (11/9/16)

Rio Paralympics: Algeria goalball team ‘did not boycott’ games (12/9/16 to 13/9/16)

US approves record $38bn Israel military aid deal (14/9/16 to 15/9/16) discussed here and here

UN’s Ban: Netanyahu ethnic cleansing remarks ‘outrageous’ (16/9/16 to 18/9/16) discussed here

Israel’s Netanyahu asks Palestinian president to address parliament (22/9/16 to 25/9/16)

The hopes for peace between Israelis and Palestinians (27/9/16 to 29/9/16)

Three reports cross-posted on the Middle East page related to antisemitism.

Poland’s Duda vows anti-Semitism fight at Kielce anniversary (4/7/16 to 5/7/16)

Amos Oz: Saying Israel should not exist is anti-Semitic (13/9/16 to 14/9/16) discussed here

Amos Oz: Saying Israel should not exist is anti-Semitic (14/9/16)

Six reports related to Palestinian affairs.

Palestinian authorities investigate mosque music mix-up (12/8/16 to 15/8/16) 

Palestinian suspect in police killings ‘beaten to death’ (23/8/16 to 25/8/16) discussed here

Gaza’s last tiger to leave for new home in South Africa (24/8/16 to 25/8/16) discussed here

Palestinian court delays municipal elections after challenges (8/9/16 to 9/9/16) discussed here

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas ‘was KGB agent’ (8/9/16 to 9/9/16) discussed here

Palestinian women fight elections name ‘censorship’ (13/9/16 to 21/9/16) 

Of 37 reports concerning Israel related stories, nineteen related to the illness and death of former president Shimon Peres. The reports can be divided into sub categories including:

a) Shimon Peres:

Former Israeli President Shimon Peres ‘critical but stable’ after stroke (14/9/16) 

Shimon Peres: Ex-Israeli president ‘showing improvement’ after stroke (14/9/16 to 16/9/16) 

Shimon Peres, former Israeli president, dies aged 93 (28/9/16)

Obituary: Shimon Peres, Israeli founding father (28/9/16 to 30/9/16)

Shimon Peres: Long legacy of Israel’s elder statesman (28/9/16 to 2/10/16) discussed here

Chief rabbi pays tribute to former Israel PM Shimon Peres (28/9/16) 

Shimon Peres on turning 90 (28/9/16 – originally from 2013)

Chemi Peres: ‘Farewell to our beloved father (28/9/16 to 29/9/16)

Shimon Peres’ wish for peace lives on – Yossi Beilin (28/9/16 to 30/9/16)

Shimon Peres: An emigre who became a world statesman (28/9/16 to 30/9/16)

Shimon Peres: Tributes from around the world (28/9/16 to 30/9/16)

Shimon Peres’s death closes a chapter in Israel’s history (28/9/16 to 3/10/16)

Israel’s Shimon Peres lies in state at parliament (29/9/16)

Shimon Peres: The Nobel Peace Prize winner’s final speech (29/9/16 to 30/9/16)

Body of Shimon Peres lies in state (29/9/16 to 30/9/16)

Shimon Peres funeral: Leaders hail legacy of former Israeli leader (30/9/16 to 3/10/16)

Palestinian and Israeli leaders shake hands at Peres funeral (30/9/16 to 7/10/16)

Shimon Peres was a great man of the world, says Israeli PM (30/9/16 to 3/10/16)

Obama: Abbas at Peres funeral ‘a reminder of unfinished peace’ (30/9/16 to 3/10/16) 

b) reports relating to legal and/or criminal issues:

Jerusalem Gay Pride: Jailed killer Schlissel ‘planned new attack’ (21/7/16 to 24/7/16)

Israeli tourist ‘gang-raped’ in northern India, two arrested (25/7/16 to 27/7/16)

Franz Kafka: Israeli library wins legal battle over unpublished papers (9/8/16 to 10/8/16)

Israeli woman and baby kept at airport in DNA case (9/8/16 to 11/8/16)

c) society:

Four-legged friends get cinema outing in Tel Aviv (12/7/16 to 18/7/16)

Jerusalem LGBT parade returns after stabbing attack (21/7/16 to 25/7/16)

The ultra-Orthodox Jews combining tech and the Torah (9/9/16 to 11/9/16)

The island where thousands go to get married (11/9/16 to 13/9/16)

World’s oldest man, Yisrael Kristal, 113, to hold bar mitzvah (15/9/16 to 16/9/16)

d) domestic news/politics:

Israel army names new chief rabbi criticised over rape comments (12/7/16 to 13/7/16) discussed here

EU criticises Israel law forcing NGOs to reveal foreign funding (12/7/16 to 13/7/16) discussed here

Israeli parliament passes controversial impeachment law (20/7/16 to 21/7/16) discussed here and here

Israel police chief: ‘Natural’ to suspect Ethiopians of crime (31/8/16 to 1/9/16) discussed here 

Israel: Three dead in Tel Aviv after car park collapses (5/9/16 to 6/9/16)

Israeli restaurant bill: Chinese tourists paid $4,393 (8/9/16 to 9/9/16)

e) technology:

Who are the hackers who cracked the iPhone? (26/8/16 to 7/9/16) discussed here

Apple tackles iPhone one-tap spyware flaws (26/8/16 to 29/8/16)

Meeting Cellebrite – Israel’s master phone crackers (26/9/16 to 29/9/16)

Even excluding the reports on the death of Shimon Peres, Israeli domestic affairs once again received considerably greater coverage than did Palestinian affairs in the third quarter of 2016.

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Overall throughout the first three quarters of 2016, 23.7% of the BBC News website’s reporting on Israel and the Palestinians related to security issues. Israeli internal affairs were the subject of 33% of the BBC’s reporting while just 8.8% of the coverage related to Palestinian internal affairs.

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Related Articles:

Reviewing BBC News website portrayal of Israel and the Palestinians in Q1 2016 – part one

Reviewing BBC News website portrayal of Israel and the Palestinians in Q1 2016 – part two

Reviewing BBC News website portrayal of Israel and the Palestinians in Q2 2016 – part one  

Reviewing BBC News website portrayal of Israel and the Palestinians in Q2 2016 – part two

Reviewing BBC News website portrayal of Israel and the Palestinians in Q3 2016 – part one

 

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

On October 13th a report by the BBC Jerusalem bureau’s Yolande Knell appeared in the ‘Features’ section of the BBC News website’s Middle East page under the headline “Fifa urged to give red card to Israeli settlement clubs“.knell-fifa-art

Knell opens her piece with an account of some pre-planned agitprop which took place on the eve of Yom Kippur.

“A dozen Palestinian boys dressed in football kit and carrying balls, march towards a Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank.

Israeli police and soldiers come to block the way as they approach the gates of Maale Adumim, where some 40,000 Israelis live, to the east of Jerusalem.

Surrounded by journalists, protest organiser, Fadi Quran, tells a senior officer that the children want to play a game in the local football stadium.

“You know exactly why they can’t come in,” says the officer.

“Is it because they’re Palestinian?” Mr Quran asks.

“No, no, because you need a permit,” the officer replies.

“Well, people in the world are watching and I think it’s important to know you have segregation,” says Mr Quran.”

Were it not for reports like this one from a member of the pre-conscripted press pack, “people in the world” would of course know nothing about the exploitation of a dozen boys for a campaign which has nothing to do with sport and everything to do with the political campaign of delegitimisation of Israel.

But despite the BBC’s decision to use its world-wide reach to put wind in the sails of this particular political campaign, its editorial standards concerning accuracy and impartiality should at least ensure that audiences would be told the whole story. That, however, is not the case in Knell’s report.

The ‘star’ of Knell’s account of the event is the man she tepidly describes as “protest organiser” Fadi Quran. BBC audiences receive no information concerning Quran’s affiliations and are not told, for example, which organisation – if any – he represents, who funded the boys’ transport to Ma’ale Adumim or who paid for the identical T-shirts they and Quran are seen wearing in the photographs which accompany the article.avaaz-logo

A closer look at those T-shirts and the accompanying placards shows that they bear the Avaaz logo and that would come as no surprise had BBC audiences been informed that American citizen Fadi Quran is a “senior campaigner” for Avaaz. A former employee of Al Haq, Quran is also a “policy member” at Al Shabaka and a “Popular Struggle community organizer”.

Obviously that information is critical to audience understanding of the wider story behind the agitprop she describes, but Yolande Knell refrains from providing it to her audience. She goes on to ostensibly provide readers with the background to that “small protest” but similarly fails to inform them that the meeting to which she refers is the fruit of a long-standing Palestinian campaign to use FIFA to delegitimise Israel.

“The small protest is soon over but it has symbolic significance ahead of this week’s meeting of the council of world football’s governing body, Fifa, in Switzerland.

It is due to discuss whether teams from settlements, including Maale Adumim, should be barred from the Israeli Football Association (IFA).”

Knell’s reporting once again falls short of editorial standards of impartiality when she presents a one-sided portrayal of ‘settlements’ while failing to inform readers that all those communities are located in Area C which – according to the Oslo Accords, to which the Palestinians were willing signatories – is to have its final status determined through negotiations.

“Settlements are built on land captured and occupied by Israel in 1967, which the Palestinians want for a future, independent state. The international community sees them as “illegal” and “an obstacle to peace”, but Israel strongly disagrees.”

As readers are no doubt aware, the BBC’s editorial guidelines on impartiality require clarification of the “particular viewpoint” of outside contributors but Knell makes do with the inadequate term “advocacy group” when describing the political NGO Human Rights Watch which has long been involved in lawfare campaigns against Israel.

“The advocacy group Human Rights Watch (HRW) suggests the IFA should be made to move all Fifa-sanctioned matches inside the internationally-recognised boundaries of Israel.

“By holding games on stolen land, Fifa is tarnishing the beautiful game of football,” says Sari Bashi, HRW’s country director for Israel and Palestine.

report by the group notes that some settlement playing fields are built on privately-owned Palestinian land, and that West Bank Palestinians, apart from labourers with permits, are not allowed to enter settlements and use their services.”

The HRW report to which Knell provides readers with a link was already given context-free and partial promotion on the BBC World Service last month.  Significantly, the HRW country director quoted by Knell has also found it appropriate to give an interview on the same topic to the BDS campaign’s South Africa branch.

Knell goes on to promote an old but unsupported claim:

“To underscore the inequalities, the Palestinian boys leaving the demonstration at Maale Adumim continue to chant: “Infantino, let us play.”

Some come from nearby Bedouin communities, which have lost access to their land due to settlement expansion, and have pending demolition orders against their homes.” [emphasis added]

As has previously been documented here, the Jahalin tribe’s claims of ownership of the said land have been examined – and rejected – in courts of law.

Knell similarly amplifies a specific political narrative when she promotes – as fact – the notion of “Israeli restrictions” on Palestinian footballers without any mention of the very relevant context of the links of some of those players to terrorist organisations.

“…a monitoring committee was set up, headed by the Fifa official Tokyo Sexwale, a South African politician and former anti-apartheid activist.

It was asked to address Israeli restrictions on the movement of Palestinian players and visiting teams, alleged racism and discrimination, and the clubs based in settlements, all of which play in Israel’s lower leagues.”football-terrorist

And of course Knell’s portrayal of the topic of Palestinian football does not extend to telling her audiences that one team saw fit to ‘honour’ a terrorist who murdered two Israelis in Jerusalem only this week.

BBC audiences are of course no strangers to Yolande Knell’s signature blend of journalism and activism and this latest report provides yet another example of her serial amplification of political narratives and campaigns in the guise of ‘news’. And yet, the BBC remains silent on the issue of Knell’s repeated compromise of its supposed editorial standards of impartiality.

Related Articles:

Presenting the “progressive” (Guardian approved) group, Avaaz – astroturfing for Hamas  UK Media Watch

BBC WS news bulletins amplify HRW delegitimisation campaign

BBC’s Yolande Knell ditches any semblance of impartiality