A talk given by Adam Levick of CAMERA’s UK Media Watch to UKLFI in October 2019.
A talk given by Adam Levick of CAMERA’s UK Media Watch to UKLFI in October 2019.
Cross posted from UK Media Watch
The Daily Mail’s coverage of Israel is, by and large, not compromised by the egregious bias found in UK media outlets such as the Guardian and Independent, and editors there are generally amenable to corrections when we point out errors. Nonetheless, their “correction” to a complaint we filed over a map they distributed (to close to a million news consumers) in their Sunday print edition, which falsely listed Tel Aviv as Israel’s capital, is disappointing.
Here’s the section of the map in question, which we originally posted about last week.
Now, here’s the ‘correction’ the Daily Mail published in today’s print edition in response to a complaint filed by UK Media Watch (and countless other followers of our blog):
First, it’s important to note that the UK government map cited by Britain’s national mapping agency, Ordnance Survey, which was sent to us by Daily Mail editors in response to our complaint, does NOT, as they claim, list Tel Aviv as Israel’s capital.
Here’s the map they cite:
As you can see, there’s no capital listed. (Capitals, per the legend, are marked with a black square.)
Moreover, Ordnance Mapping’s claim that they are just following the government’s position on Israel’s capital is not accurate. Though the UK government does not recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital (a reflection of diplomatic sensitivities regarding the future status of the holy city), it also is not Downing Street’s position that Tel Aviv holds this status – a fact that the quote from the Foreign Office in the Daily Mail correction makes clear.
However, the main point – one that we’ve made continuously at this blog when getting corrections from UK outlets suggesting that Tel Aviv was Israel’s capital – is that, regardless of the question over diplomatic recognition, Jerusalem has been Israel’s official capital since 1949. It is the seat of government, and the city where the Knesset, Supreme Court, Prime Minster’s office and most government ministries are located.
As the Press Complaints Commission (the regulatory body for British printed newspapers and magazines that preceded IPSO) ruled back in 2012 in response to a complaint made about the Guardian: ‘Stating that Tel Aviv is Israel’s capital represents a breach in the accuracy clause of the Editors’ Code of Practice’.
Whilst we’re reasonably confident that Daily Mail editors will remember this, the fact that the country’s official mapping agency got it wrong, and then mischaracterised the government’s position on the matter when facing criticism, is extremely troubling.
1) At ‘Lawfare’, Matthew J. Aiesi presents a legal view of the incendiary attacks launched from the Gaza Strip.
“…Israel has also been subjected to frequent attacks by incendiary balloons. By early June of this year, these attacks had destroyed approximately 4,300 acres of land, and more has been destroyed since then. Yet news reports on the incendiary balloons often fail to identify the balloons for what they are—a war crime. […]
As Hamas has been using them, these incendiary balloon attacks violate numerous rules and customs of warfare—principally concerning the targeting of civilians and the use of indiscriminate weapons. The attacks also likely violate the prohibition on the use of incendiary weapons in this context.”
2) MEMRI reports on views of the PA’s handling of an incident earlier this year.
“On April 26, 2019, an urgent appeal by the largely Christian residents of the Palestinian village of Jifna, in the Ramallah and Al-Bireh district, was circulated on social media. Addressed to Palestinian Authority (PA) Prime Minister and Interior Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh, it followed a violent incident that had taken place in the village the previous night. The villagers stated in the appeal that armed “rabble” headed by “an influential individual in Ramallah district” had burst into the village, and that gunmen had fired their weapons and thrown rocks and firebombs at their homes, shouting “racist and sectarian” ISIS-like slogans, including demands that they pay jizya – the poll tax levied on Christians and Jews living under Muslim rule as a protected and subjugate class. The residents called on Shtayyeh to bring the attackers to justice in order to deter others from similar actions against them. […]
The violent incident in question reignited previous criticism of treatment of the Christian minority in Palestinian society, and the PA’s lenience in dealing with anti-Christian activity, as well as the handling of this particular incident.”
3) At the Washington Institute Michael Herzog analyses ‘Israel’s pushback in Syria’.
“Of all the threats in Israel’s strategic landscape, Iran’s ambitions and developing military capabilities in neighboring Syria and Lebanon have ranked highest in recent years in the attention of Israeli decisionmakers and strategic planners. These ambitions and capabilities, which carry serious strategic-military implications, have been relentlessly advanced by an Iranian regime deeply hostile to Israel and, if unchecked, could yield dangerous results in the foreseeable future. On the spectrum of threats, Iran’s push to build a formidable military front against Israel in Syria and Lebanon, with a complementary envelope in Iraq, fits somewhere between the immediate yet modest (Hamas in Gaza) and the long term and extremely menacing (Iran with nuclear arms). This balance of its severity and relative immediacy explains why it has ranked so high for Israeli decisionmakers in recent years. In turn, the Iranian effort has driven Israel to push back militarily even at the risk of sparking a major confrontation, a policy that in Israel enjoys wide public and political consensus.”
4) UK Media Watch is Celebrating 10 years of promoting accurate coverage of Israel.
“Ten years ago, a small group of dedicated activists concerned about inaccurate and inflammatory coverage of Israel in the British media, and the antisemitism such reporting often fuels, had an audacious idea: to take on the Guardian, the central address for such bias.
The blog established by this group in August 2009 was called CiF Watch, reflecting our initial focus on the Guardian’s online home for op-eds and commentaries, known as ‘Comment is Free’ (‘CiF’). The first post at CiF Watch pledged to expose and combat the bigoted and one-sided nature of the Guardian’s obsessive focus on Israel and, by extension, the Jewish people.”
The edition of ‘Panorama’ titled “Is Labour Anti-Semitic?” which was aired on BBC One on July 10th (available here on iPlayer or here) swiftly garnered reactions from the Labour party itself – which described it as an “authored polemic” – and its supporters as well as from bodies such as the Chief Rabbi, the JLC and CST and the Board of Deputies of British Jews along with many others.
There is, however, something more to be said about the core topic addressed by John Ware.
At 08:58 Ware told viewers that: [emphasis in italics in the original]
Ware: “Before Jeremy Corbyn was elected Labour leader in 2015, complaints in the party about antisemitism were rare. […] After Mr Corbyn became leader, party membership surged, some attracted by his decades of radical Left activism.
Interviewee: “So there’s an increase in members from a particular perspective and they brought with them a particular world view which unfortunately allowed breathing space for antisemitism to arise.”
That “world view” of course existed in British society long before Corbyn’s election to the party leadership in September 2015 and it was described later on in the film (from 10:21) as follows by Dr Dave Rich.
Rich: “Many people on the Left they define themselves by being anti-racist and actually they define the Right as being racist. So in their world they can’t be antisemitic because they are Left-wing.”
Ware: “For Jeremy Corbyn and those who share his world view, part of being anti-racist is near unconditional support for the Palestinian cause. Yet the campaign for Palestinian rights can blind some anti-racists to another kind of racism against Jews.”
Rich: “If you look back at the kind of antisemitism that existed in the 1930s – Jews using their money, Jews controlling governments – instead you started to see the same ideas were being directed towards Israel. These kinds of ideas are much more acceptable on the Left and in pro-Palestinian campaigning circles because they talk about Israel; they don’t talk about Jews. But actually underneath the surface, it’s the same ideas.”
If one wishes to understand why antisemitism is still so sociably acceptable in the UK in the 21st century that it is not a barrier to becoming a member of – or even a leading figure in – one of Britain’s most prominent political parties, one cannot ignore the country’s biggest and most influential media organisation.
For example, among the images seen during the above section of the programme was this one, apparently from a demonstration in London:
Long before Jeremy Corbyn took over the Labour party leadership the BBC was whitewashing the antisemitism of British politicians and facilitating the spread of antisemitic discourse on its message boards. Over six years ago the BBC was already promoting the notion that “it’s very difficult to criticize the Israeli government without in turn being told you’re antisemitic and some people would say that Jews see antisemitism everywhere” and that was not a one-off case by any means. In its various ‘backgrounders’ supposedly explaining antisemitism to its audiences, the BBC has repeatedly promoted the Livingstone Formulation.
The BBC has hosted known antisemites and Holocaust deniers and provided often offensive anti-Israel campaigners with an unhindered platform from which to promote falsehoods. It has whitewashed antisemitism in British society from sport to charities and academia and has promoted antisemitic stereotypes. BBC audiences have been repeatedly exposed to antisemitic tropes concerning ‘the Jewish lobby’ or ‘the Israel lobby’ and stereotypes about ‘rich Jews’ even from BBC staff and contributors. And of course the BBC has failed to respond appropriately to complaints from the general public concerning antisemitism in its own content.
Since the issue of antisemitism in the Labour party became prominent, the BBC has repeatedly shown itself to be incapable of reporting on that topic accurately, impartially and in a manner which provides the British public with the full range of information.
So while John Ware’s Panorama documentary about institutional antisemitism in the Labour party is obviously a very welcome step in informing the British public about the anti-Jewish racism in their society, it is also necessary for the BBC to put its own house in order by undertaking a serious examination of its own coverage of – and contributions to – that worrying phenomenon.
In partnership with
the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs & The Israel Innovation Fund
“The Mainstreaming of Antisemitism:
The Media, BDS and Celebrated Bigotry”
Please join us on June 11th in Jerusalem for a panel discussion with Dan Diker, Fellow and Senior Project Director at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs; Ricki Hollander, Senior Media Analyst for CAMERA, and Aviva Rosenschein, International Campus Director for CAMERA. David Hazony, Executive Director of The Israel Innovation Fund, will moderate the panel.
While Western lawmakers seek to adopt clear definitions of antisemitism, the age-old bigotry is gaining ground in universities, government circles, and within the liberal progressive milieu that has traditionally been so hospitable to Jews. Hiding behind the veil of human rights, BDS advocates have made antisemitic rhetoric so commonplace that it emerges even in mainstream venues. Who are the new antisemites? What role do the media and academia play in normalizing them and their dangerous vitriol? What can we do about it?
Details and registration here.
1) Writing at the Jerusalem Post, Tamara Berens explains how an “Anti-Zionist Minority Holds British Universities Hostage”.
“With the BBC’s prominence as a breaking news source on social media, British students have been inculcated with a highly distorted vision of Israel. On campus, students of my age grew up reading extensive reporting on Operation Protective Edge in 2014, characterized by stark omission of the facts on the ground. Coverage of the conflict was marred by the BBC’s repeated failure to showcase the barrage of rockets fired at Israeli homes and city centers – a total of 4,897 rockets in 2014. Trusted news source The Guardian frequently prints opinion pieces rationalizing Palestinian terrorism and portraying Israelis as violent. Ill-informed students in Britain go into university with the impression that Israel is an inherently evil aggressor in a one-sided conflict. With such unchallenged media coverage, who should blame them?”
2) MEMRI reviews the escalation of tensions between Fatah and Hamas.
“Relations between Fatah, headed by Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud ‘Abbas, and Hamas are now extremely tense, and the two organizations’ positions have not been farther apart since the 2007 Hamas coup against the PA in Gaza. In recent weeks, the tension has become so great, and the schism between them so wide, that it appears that both sides – which, incidentally, both accuse the U.S. of striving, by means of the Deal of the Century, to create two separate Palestinian entities, in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank – are doing just that on their own, without any help from the U.S. Things have reached the point where each side is saying that the other no longer represents the Palestinian people, that it will never return to talks or reconciliation efforts, and that it will act to bring down the regime of the other.”
3) Also at MEMRI – translated excerpts from an interview with the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran.
“Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, was interviewed on Channel 4 TV (Iran) on January 22, 2019. He said that the negotiations surrounding the JCPOA had required Iran to destroy the Arak reactor’s calandria by filling it with cement, but that Iran had secretly acquired replacement tubes ahead of time so that the reactor’s functionality would not be ultimately affected. He also said that pictures that had circulated that showed the Arak reactor’s pit filled with cement had been photoshopped. He explained that Iran has no intention to build a nuclear weapon, and that the Arak reactor is nonetheless incapable of producing weapons-grade plutonium. In addition, Salehi said that the yellowcake production facilities in Ardakan are operational and that Iran has been authorized to produce two additional IR-8 centrifuges. Salehi added that Iran has advanced rapidly in the field of nuclear propulsion.”
4) Khaled Abu Toameh reports on “The ‘Political Detainees’ No One Talks About” at the Gatestone Institute.
“In a letter to Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, a number of Palestinian human rights organizations recently demanded that the international agency speak out against the politically motivated arrests by the PA in the West Bank.
“We wish to express our deep concern and condemnation over the increased arrest campaigns carried out by the PA security forces against residents because of their opinions and political affiliations,” the organizations said in their letter. They also expressed deep concern over the “systematic torture” of Palestinians in PA prisons. […]
Abbas and the Palestinian Authority leadership in Ramallah can sit pretty, all the same, despite their continued assault on public freedoms. The mainstream media in the West has shown itself to be wholly indifferent to the torture taking place inside Palestinian prisons.”
1) At the JCPA Yoni Ben Menachem reports on a visit to Tehran by the new Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader.
“During a visit to Tehran on December 29, 2018, Ziyad Nakhalah, leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), met with the top echelons of Iran’s leadership, including the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Iran’s head of the Supreme Security Council, Rear Admiral Ali Shamkhani told Nakhalah, “Iran has always been supportive to the resistant and oppressed Palestinian people since the very start of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s establishment, which was inspired by our religious and humane beliefs and will continue until the complete victory of the resistance process.”
Nakhalah gave an interview to the Iranian TV channel Al-Alam, in which he revealed the “Axis of Resistance” plan, led by Iran, to attack Israel from the north and the south. PIJ serves as Iran’s proxy in Gaza. Nakhalah’s statements were issued several days after his public meeting in Beirut with the leader of Hizbullah, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah.”
2) At the INSS Meir Elran and Alon Shuster discuss “Societal Resilience in the “Gaza Envelope” and its Relevance for Other Areas in Israel“.
“Over the last ten years, in three rounds of fighting with Hamas (2008/9, 2012, 2014), and between them, as during the events of recent months, the “Gaza Envelope” residents have indeed demonstrated that they have amassed – with comprehensive help from the government and local authorities – an impressive degree of societal resilience. This was manifested not only in their determined stand against terror, but also in their fast recovery from the severe disruptions, and even more so in the remarkable growth in all these localities during a challenging period. Demographic, economic, and social growth in the face of such continuing threats reflects an outstanding level of societal resilience.
These vital capacities are not accidental. They are the direct result of a profound understanding on the part of the local leadership, based on lengthy practical experience, of the importance of resilience and how to enhance it over time.”
3) The ITIC reports on Fatah and Palestinian Authority rebuilding of terrorists’ houses.
“The Palestinian Authority (PA), Fatah and institutions affiliated with them help rebuild the houses destroyed by Israel that belonged to terrorists’ families. The rebuilding is an act of defiance to challenge the deterrent message Israel sends by destroying the houses. The PA policy was recent illustrated by two cases: the Tulkarm municipality and Fatah activists donated funds and supervise the engineering aspects of rebuilding the house of the family of terrorist Ashraf Na’alwa, who murdered two Israelis in the Barkan industrial zone. In addition, a senior Fatah figure said Mahmoud Abbas had ordered the rebuilding of the family house of terrorist Islam Yusuf Abu Hamid, who killed an IDF soldiers by throwing a slab of marble on him during an IDF security activity.”
4) At the Algemeiner CAMERA’s Tamar Sternthal documents “Top Israel News Coverage Fails of 2018“.
“The end of the year is a natural time to look back on 2018’s most defining moments, the highs and the lows, the pictures and the stories which best capture the significant developments, movements, or trends. Reuters’ “Pictures of the Year 2018” feature, released last month, is a case in point. […]
Thus, one of the selected Reuters images was apparently intended to convey the Israeli-Palestinian clashes at the Gaza border since Hamas began the violent “March of Return” events in late March. In reality, it exemplified the flawed, caustic media coverage skewed against Israel.”
Reports have emerged concerning an upcoming six-week long stunt organised by factions in the Gaza Strip that is primarily aimed at the international media.
“In the coming weeks, Hamas plans to set up tent encampments along the Gazan border with Israel, where thousands of the strip’s denizens will be housed, with the intention to march hundreds of Palestinians every day—including the elderly, women and children—to the border fence in “return marches.”
At the same time, Hamas also intends to hold mass fishing boat protests near the maritime border with Israel. These actions will gradually grow in intensity and culminate just before Israel’s 70th Independence Day.”
The ITIC has more details on the agitprop scheduled to commence on March 30th – ‘Land Day’ – which this year is also Passover Eve.
“According to the march organizers, the objective is to send a message to the world about the Palestinians’ “right of return.” […]
Originally the proposed date for the march was May 15 (Nakba Day). However, calls have recently been heard to hold the main event on Land Day, March 30, the day Israelis Arabs have demonstrated their adherence to their lands since 1976. The organizers of the march said it would not be a single event but rather a series of activities which would continue over time. Issam Adwan, head of Hamas’ department of refugee affairs, said the organizing committee had agreed to hold the march on Land Day (March 30, 2018). He said all the national and Islamic organizations, including Fatah, had agreed. He said the march would be only a part of the comprehensive initiative of “the great return march”. […]
The organizers said they intended to recruit about a hundred thousand participants, most of them from the refugee camps in the Gaza Strip. The “great return march” coordinating committee appealed to Gazans to take an active role. The committee also reported it was continuing its efforts to establish national committees in other countries that would organize their own marches, simultaneous to the one in the Gaza Strip.
The organizers, led by Abu Artima, continue to emphasize the march will be non-violent and there is no intention to confront IDF forces. Interviewed by Hamas’ Palinfo website, he called “the great return march” a “popular strategic tool” to use peaceful measures to realize the “right of return.” He said the march would be different from the [routine] clashes at the border security fence. That was because the participants would not throw stones, but rather hold a rally that the whole world and media outlets would watch.”[emphasis added]
Obviously such an event could not take place without Hamas’ approval.
“The organizers got a green light from Hamas and the PIJ for the march. “The great return march” Facebook page posted a statement from Issam Adwan, head of Hamas’ department of refugee affairs, who emphasized the necessity and importance of the event. He said it was part of the “resistance” and that it was no less important than the “armed struggle.” He also said that the Land Day march would be only the opening move of a comprehensive global operation. […]
Talal Abu Zarifa, senior figure in the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), said the Palestinian organizations had agreed on activities that would be consistent with the objectives of “the great return march.” […] He added that the organizations had agreed to continue mass recruitment, to make Israel responsible [for what happens] and realize the “right of return”.”
Apparently the organisers of that agitprop intended to employ antisemitic Nazi analogy.
“According to information on the Facebook page of “the great march of the return,” in preparation for the event the organizers need clothing like the striped suits worn by the inmates of the Nazi concentration camps. Anyone who could provide such suits, or sew them, was asked to contact the march’s coordinating committee. The organizers are apparently going to present a display comparing the Palestinians to the victims of the Nazis.”
The project’s logo includes a reference to UN GA resolution 194 of December 1948.
“The new logo shows the UN logo and the number 194, which relates to UN General Assembly Resolution 194 […], a map of “Palestine” in the colors of the Palestinian flag, with no reference to the existence of the State of Israel; a hand holding a key, the symbol of the so-called right of the Palestinian refugees to return to the places they lived in 70 years ago.”
Any BBC journalist intending to cover this propaganda campaign should of course be aware of the fact that Resolution 194 is non-binding, that it does not specifically relate to Palestinian refugees (despite long-standing BBC claims to that effect) and – contrary to often heard assertions – neither does it grant any unconditional ‘right of return’. Rather, it recommends that refugees be allowed to return to their homeland if they wish to “live at peace with their neighbours”. Also worth remembering is the fact that the Arab states voted against that UN GA resolution.
Last month Israel’s foreign ministry hosted a delegation of Moroccan, Lebanese, Syrian, Kurdish & Yemeni journalists. The first delegation of journalists from the Arab world to visit Israel in 2016 apparently included a representative from BBC Arabic.
“”The visit to Israel was exciting and unique. It is a shame that most people in the Arab world are still filled with blind hatred and prejudice toward Israel,” said G.M., an Iraqi journalist living in exile in Germany.
The four journalists, of Iraqi, Syrian, and Egyptian descent, write from Europe for a variety of Arabic-language news outlets, including Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, Sky News, the BBC Arabic, Deutsche Welle Arabic, and Kitatbat.
They asked that their identities not be revealed because if it became known that they visited Israel, they would not only be risking their job, but also their lives.”
One of those journalists did however later write about his experiences in Israel.
The latest visit produced an angry reaction from the Palestinian Authority.
“The Palestinian Authority on Thursday denounced a visit by Arab journalists to Israel and called for punishing them to deter others from following suit. […]
…the PA said that the visit was aimed at “promoting normalization” between the Arabs and Israel. The Palestinians oppose other Arab nations establishing ties with Israel until a peace deal is signed with between Israel and the Palestinians.
The PA Ministry of Information denounced the visit of the Arab journalists and called on Arab media bodies to place them and the media outlets they work for on the Arab boycott “blacklist.”
It called on the Arab Journalists Union to take “punitive and deterring measures” against the journalists and their media outlets.”
Similar criticism was voiced by the Moroccan National Syndicate of Journalists and Morocco’s Minister of Culture and Communication.
While the BBC’s charity ‘Media Action’ claims to promote “media freedom and rights” and the BBC News website has a page devoted to the subject of “press freedom”, audiences have seen no coverage at all of the PA’s call to punish and blacklist journalists merely because they visited Israel.
As readers may recall the BBC was similarly silent when, in November 2016, Hamas condemned a group of Moroccan journalists who were hosted by the MFA.