BBC News report on UNHRC blacklist conceals more than it reveals

On the evening of February 12th the BBC News website published a report headlined “UN lists 112 businesses linked to Israeli settlements” which, for reasons unknown, it chose to tag “Trump peace plan”.

The main image illustrating the report appears to show an Arab neighbourhood in Jerusalem near the anti-terrorist fence but is captioned “The settlements are seen as illegal under international law, although Israel disputes this”.

That partial but standard BBC mantra is of course repeated in the body of the article.

“About 600,000 Jews live in about 140 settlements built since Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem in 1967. The settlements are widely considered illegal under international law, though Israel has always disputed this.”

The report promotes a version of a partisan map produced by the political NGOB’tselem’ which has appeared in countless previous BBC News website reports. The map marks the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City as a “settlement” and fails to inform audiences that what are described as areas under “Palestinian civil control” and areas under “Israeli military and civil control” are in fact Areas A and B and Area C as designated under the Oslo Accords, to which the PLO was party.

Readers are told that:

“The UN human rights office has issued a long-awaited report on companies linked to Jewish settlements in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

The report names 112 business entities the office says it has reasonable grounds to conclude have been involved in activities related to settlements.

They include Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia Group and Motorola Solutions.”

The BBC does not clarify that the UNHRC’s blacklist also includes the Rami Levy supermarket chain (which is known as a model of co-existence between Israelis and Palestinians) and numerous companies providing services such as transport, water and telecommunications to both Israelis and Palestinians.  

Later on readers are told that:

“In 2016, the UN Human Rights Council mandated the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to produce a database of companies involved in specific activities relating to settlements. […]

Following what it said was a thorough review and assessment of all information available, the OHCHR presented a report on Wednesday identifying 112 business entities that it said, there were reasonable grounds to conclude, had been involved in one or more of those activities.”

BBC audiences are not informed that members of the UNHRC at the time that the resolution (3136) requesting the compilation of that database was passed included human rights ‘beacons’ such as China, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Cuba, Qatar and Venezuela. Neither were they given any background information concerning the UNHRC’s infamous and long-standing bias against Israel.

The BBC’s report avoids all mention of the BDS supporting NGOs involved in the compilation of the blacklist. NGO Monitor notes that:

“The list was based on input from BDS groups, including Human Rights Watch. Many of the groups centrally involved receive significant funding from the EU and European governments. […]

Given that 85 of the 112 companies included on the blacklist are also found in the BDS NGO Who Profits’ database, and based on documentation seen by NGO Monitor,  it is clear that the UN relied on this and other BDS actors as its sources of information.”

In light of that serious omission, the BBC’s decision to include part of a quote from Human Rights Watch in its report is particularly notable.

“Human Rights Watch said the list “should put all companies on notice: to do business with illegal settlements is to aid in the commission of war crimes.””

Although the BBC’s report claims that “There were no immediate comments from the companies named on the list”, one such comment is available here.

The BBC report amplifies comments made by a PA official:

“The Palestinian Authority’s Foreign Minister, Riyad al-Maliki, said: “The publication of the list of companies and parties operating in settlements is a victory for international law.”

He also called on the Human Rights Council member states to “issue recommendations and instructions to these companies to end their work immediately with the settlements”.”

However at no point in the article did the BBC bother to inform readers in its own words that there is no prohibition in international law from doing business in occupied or disputed territories.

Neither does the report make any effort to inform audiences of the fact that the UNHRC has taken no such action against companies operating in other occupied or disputed territories anywhere else in the world.  

Given the BBC’s dismal record on informing audiences on the topic of UNHRC bias against Israel, its long-existing editorial policy of promoting a specific politically motivated narrative concerning ‘settlements’ and ‘international law’ and its promotion of the BDS campaign agenda, the serious omissions in this report come as no surprise whatsoever.

Related Articles:

BBC continues to obstruct audience understanding of UN bias

Disproportionate focus in BBC News report on UNHRC speech

BBC portrayal of US decision to leave UNHRC – part one

Does BBCsplaining of Palestinian aspirations stand up to scrutiny?

The BBC’s recent coverage of the US Administration’s ‘Peace to Prosperity’ proposals once again provided no shortage of examples of ‘BBCsplaining’ of alleged Palestinian aspirations.

“The Palestinians want an independent state of their own, comprising the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem.”

“The Palestinians insist on borders based on ceasefire lines which separated Israel and East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza between 1949 and 1967.” [source]

“The Palestinians have long sought to establish an independent, sovereign state in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, which were occupied by Israel during the 1967 Six Day War.”

“The Palestinians insist on borders based on ceasefire lines which separated Israel and East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza between 1949 and 1967.” [source]

“The Palestinians want an independent state of their own, comprising the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem.”

“The Palestinians insist on borders based on ceasefire lines which separated Israel and East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza between 1949 and 1967.” [source

We have in the past all too often had cause to note that the BBC’s implication that there is one unified and representative Palestinian voice which aspires to a two-state solution is inaccurate and misleading. Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad obviously do not hold that aspiration – their aim is the destruction of Israel. Readers may recall that three years ago, however, the BBC rejected a complaint on that issue.

We have also noted the BBC’s failure to inform its audiences of the existence of voices from within the Palestinian Authority and Fatah which do not align with the narrative it promotes.

Examining the BBC’s claim of Palestinian support for the two-state solution

Fatah officials contradict the BBC’s ‘two-state’ narrative

Palestinian Media Watch has documented another such recent example provided by a member of Fatah’s central committee, Tawfiq Tirawi.

“Who said that we are for a state [on the borders of] 1967? Who said this? In Fatah, this does not exist in our constitution and our charter! They [Israel] want Beit El and Ma’ale Adumim (i.e., Israeli towns in the West Bank) to be Israeli, and we say that Nazareth, Haifa, and Acre (i.e., Israeli cities) are Palestinian, and they will remain Palestinian! Our Palestinian land is from the [Jordan] River to the [Mediterranean] Sea. I dare any Palestinian, any senior Palestinian official, or any Palestinian leader to reduce the Palestinian map to the West Bank and Gaza! He would not be able to walk one meter in the streets of our Palestinian cities among our people! … Arab brothers… Be with the Palestinian people, the people that lives on land that is all holy and that is all waqf land (i.e., land that is an inalienable religious endowment in Islamic law.)” [Facebook page of Fatah Central Committee member Tawfiq Tirawi, Feb. 2, 2020]

BBC audiences will of course continue to be denied knowledge of such views because they contradict the politically motivated narrative that the corporation has chosen to advance.

Related Articles:

Reviewing BBC News website coverage of the US ‘Peace to Prosperity’ plan

A review of the impartiality of BBC radio coverage of the US ‘Peace to Prosperity’ plan

Why is the BBC’s failure to properly report the Jewish state issue important?

BBC News silent on Abbas’ rejection of Jewish state

BBC Complaints: inaccurate portrayal of Palestinian leadership is not a ‘significant issue’

BBC Radio 4 promotes a redundant comparison

The February 5th edition of BBC Radio 4’s ‘The World Tonight’, presented by Shaun Ley, included a pre-recorded interview with David Miliband, president and CEO of the NGO the International Rescue Committee.

During that interview (from 24:42 here) Miliband spoke about the humanitarian crisis in Idlib, Syria, which is under attack from the Assad regime and its Russian allies along with Iranian militias. He noted that hospitals and health centres are being bombed and that vehicles “carrying displaced people are also being targeted”. Ley raised the topic of war crimes in relation to ambulances being targeted and Miliband referred to “international humanitarian law” and “war crimes”.

However in the course of that interview, Miliband also made the following statement (from 26:43):

Miliband: “I want to say to your listeners, we already have one Gaza in the Middle East, in Gaza itself, with about two million people crammed in. There’s a new Gaza being created in the west of Syria with three and a half million people, with terrorist groups in control and with civilian life at daily risk from bombardment and other fighting.”

One can of course find several points on which to take issue with Miliband’s simplistic, if not sensationalist, comparison of Idlib to the Gaza Strip. For example, in that province in Syria hospitals have – as the BBC knows – been deliberately bombed by Russian jets. In the Gaza Strip, not only is that not the case but hospitals receive medical supplies transferred by Israel (139 tons in the week in which this programme was aired alone) and additional products such as food and building materials are also supplied.

For the producers of ‘The World Tonight’, however, that redundant comparison was apparently the most important thing that Miliband said during his five-minute interview – as shown by the fact that it was used to promote the item in the programme’s introduction (from 00:55) along with a reference to war crimes.

Ley: “Also in the programme, the UN Security Council meets tomorrow to discuss the humanitarian crisis in Idlib, the last rebel-held province in Syria. The former foreign secretary David Miliband tells me that Western indifference has contributed to a situation in which war crimes are being committed.”

Miliband: “There’s a new Gaza being created in the west of Syria with three and a half million people, with terrorist groups in control and with civilian life at daily risk from bombardment and other fighting.”

Apparently the BBC considers that invalid and irrelevant comparison to be consistent with its supposed editorial standards of accuracy and impartiality.

Related Articles:

Comparing BBC reporting on strikes on hospitals in Syria and Gaza

BBC Sounds relaunches 2017 series by Middle East editor

The BBC recently re-uploaded the 2017 audio series by its Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen called ‘Our Man in the Middle East’.

Our analysis of the episodes relating to Israel can be found below:

BBC’s ME Editor misrepresents the Hussein-McMahon correspondence

A predictable view of Jerusalem from the BBC’s ‘Man in the Middle East’

BBC ME editor gives context-free, omission rich potted history of Israel’s creation

BBC’s Bowen tells his annual Lebanon story on Radio 4

BBC’s Bowen resurrects the ‘Arafat was poisoned’ canard on Radio 4

In which the BBC’s Jeremy Bowen repeats his ‘no human shields in Gaza’ claims

Summary of BBC News website portrayal of Israel and the Palestinians – January 2020

Throughout the month of January 2020, twenty-eight written or filmed reports relating to Israel and/or the Palestinians appeared on the BBC News website’s ‘Middle East’ page, three of which were carried over from the previous month and some of which also appeared on other pages.

(dates in brackets indicate the time period during which the item was available on the ‘Middle East’ page)

One report concerned external security issues:

Qasem Soleimani: ‘Trump deserves all the credit’ – Netanyahu (3/1/20 to 6/1/20)

Eleven items related to the US Administration’s ‘Peace to Prosperity’ proposal (discussed here):

Trump’s Middle East peace plan: ‘Deal of the century’ is huge gamble Jeremy Bowen (27/1/20 to 7/2/20)

Netanyahu: Trump Middle East peace plan ‘deal of the century’  (28/1/20 to present)

Trump outlines Middle East peace plan (28/1/20 to present)

Abbas on Trump peace plan: ‘Conspiracy deal won’t pass’ (28/1/20 to present)

Trump releases long-awaited Middle-East peace plan (28/1/20 to 29/1/20)

Trump’s Middle East peace plan: Smiles and sorrow on the ground Tom Bateman (28/1/20 to present) discussed here

What does Trump’s Middle East plan say on key issues?  (29/1/20 to 10/2/20)

Trump Middle East plan: What he gets out of it  Aleem Maqbool (29/1/20 to present)

Why Trump’s Middle East plan is so divisive  Jeremy Bowen (29/1/20 to 3/2/20 and 7/2/20 to present)

Trump Middle East plan: Palestinians reject ‘conspiracy’ (29/1/20 to 3/2/20)

Palestinian PM defends stance on Trump Middle East plan Orla Guerin (30/1/20 to 3/2/20)

Six items related to a ceremony held in Jerusalem to mark the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.

Holocaust row seethes as leaders gather in Israel Tom Bateman (22/1/20 to 29/1/20) discussed here

Macron orders Israeli security to ‘go outside’ at Jerusalem church (24/1/20 to 28/1/20)

‘Go outside’: France’s Macron berates Israeli police at Jerusalem church (23/1/20 to 24/1/20) discussed here

Yad Vashem: Why Poland won’t be attending Holocaust memorial (23/1/20 to 24/1/20)

Holocaust forum: Netanyahu urges world to unite to confront Iran (23/1/20 to 28/1/20) discussed here

Prince Charles visits grandmother’s tomb on Jerusalem visit (24/1/20 to 25/1/20)

While no reporting on internal Palestinian affairs was published in January, audiences did find a report carried over from the BBC’s Christmas coverage and an interactive feature relating to archaeology in the Gaza Strip.

The Christians helping Bethlehem shepherd families give birth safely (25/12/19 to 3/1/20) discussed here

Treasure Hunters (24/1/20 to 25/1/20)

Of the eight items relating to internal Israeli internal affairs, seven reports concerned legal/criminal cases, of which two related to a case in Cyprus in which Israelis had been released without charge in July 2019, yet the BBC continues to publish reports on the website’s ‘Middle East’ page:

Ayia Napa: Foreign Office ‘concerned’ over Briton found guilty over rape claim (31/12/19 to 2/1/20 and 4/1/20)

Ayia Napa Briton sentenced over false rape claim (7/1/20 to 9/1/20)

Benjamin Netanyahu asks for immunity from prosecution (1/1/20 to 7/1/20 and 9/1/20)

Israel releases two Syrian prisoners in ‘goodwill gesture’ (10/1/20 to 12/1/20)

Jerusalem rabbi arrested for ‘holding women in slavery’ (13/1/20 to 14/1/20)

Netanyahu indicted in court on corruption charges after dropping immunity bid (28/1/20 to 30/1/20)

Naama Issachar: US-Israeli woman released from Russian prison (29/1/20 to 1/2/20)

One report concerned social issues:

How Beitar Jerusalem’s football club owner took on racism and won Alex Capstick (20/12/19 to 1/1/20) discussed here

As noted above, the BBC News website did not produce any reporting on internal Palestinian affairs throughout January and neither did it produce any coverage of Palestinian terror attacks against Israelis. As we see, almost 40% of the reporting appearing on the BBC News website’s ‘Middle East’ page throughout January concerned the US administration’s ‘Peace to Prosperity’ proposal.

Related Articles:

Summary of BBC News website portrayal of Israel and the Palestinians – December 2019

Reviewing BBC News website coverage of the US ‘Peace to Prosperity’ plan

Reviewing BBC News website coverage of Palestinian affairs in 2019

BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel – January 2020

 

 

BBC News ‘explains’ Israeli gesture with a Tweet from an American

On February 3rd the BBC News website published a piece by Tom Gerken of BBC News Washington on its ‘US & Canada’ page titled “The many meanings of the pinched fingers emoji”.

As the title suggests Gerken attempted to explain the different meanings of a hand gesture in various countries.

“Is it a way to show disbelief, a way to ask others to be quiet, or a cute gesture popularised by a K-Pop star?

It’s called “pinched fingers” and depending on where you are in the world, a new emoji announced by the Unicode Consortium, which approves standard emojis worldwide, could have a completely different meaning.”

Gerken obviously concluded that the best person to explain the meaning of that gesture in Israeli culture was an American journalist who lived in the country for just three years rather than an actual Israeli.

He also apparently did not bother to read the rest of that thread on Zetter’s Twitter feed.

Gerken’s sloppy portrayal of Israeli culture to the BBC News website’s North American audiences, based on a claim which he obviously did not bother to verify made in one Tweet from a person who has “no patience with Israelis”, is sadly not unrepresentative of the BBC’s commitment to fact checking.

 

Reviewing BBC News website coverage of the US ‘Peace to Prosperity’ plan

Last week we looked at the impartiality of BBC Radio 4 and BBC World Service radio coverage of the US Administration’s ‘Peace to Prosperity’ plan.

A review of the impartiality of BBC radio coverage of the US ‘Peace to Prosperity’ plan

But did visitors to the BBC News website fare any better?

Below is a summary of the relevant content published on the BBC News website’s ‘Middle East’ page between January 27th and January 30th – eleven items in all.

Many of the reports promote talking points also evident (including before anyone at the BBC had actually read the proposal) in BBC radio and television coverage:

  • Description of the proposal as a “surrender document” for the Palestinians which does not meet their demands.
  • Presentation of the document as fully meeting Israeli demands.
  • Presentation of the timing of the launch of the document as being related to political and legal processes in the US and Israel.
  • Amplification of the talking points of the PLO and political NGOs, including the ‘apartheid’ trope.
  • Portrayal of the Palestinians as having no agency and predictions of ‘inevitable’ violence.

January 27th:

Trump’s Middle East peace plan: ‘Deal of the century’ is huge gamble by the BBC’s Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen. Although now dated January 29th, the article was originally published on January 27th – the day before the US proposal was launched – as part of the BBC’s cross-platform preemptive framing of the story.

“…the Trump plan gives Mr Netanyahu all he wants – and offers Palestinians very little; a sort-of state that will be truncated, without proper sovereignty, surrounded by Israel’s territory and threaded between Jewish settlements.”

“Israel argues the Palestinians turned down a series of good offers. The Palestinian negotiators say they made huge concessions, not least accepting Israel’s existence in around 78% of their historic homeland.”

“The timing of the announcement of the Trump initiative suits the political and legal needs of Mr Trump and Mr Netanyahu. Both men face elections. As well as that, Mr Trump gets a distraction from his impeachment, and from his trial in the US Senate for high crimes and misdemeanours. Mr Netanyahu faces criminal charges of corruption, bribery and breach of trust.”

“Essentially the Palestinians have been told to take it or leave it. They are being given a surrender document, told to accept that Israel has won, and with its American friends will shape the future. If Palestinians refuse, the message continues, Israel will still get what it wants and they will be even worse off.”

“There is a chance Palestinians will be afflicted by more anger, despair and hopelessness. In a combustible part of the world, that is dangerous. The Trump plan is a gamble.”

January 28th:

Netanyahu: Trump Middle East peace plan ‘deal of the century’  (video without commentary)

Trump outlines Middle East peace plan  (video without commentary)

Abbas on Trump peace plan: ‘Conspiracy deal won’t pass’  (video without commentary)

Trump releases long-awaited Middle-East peace plan  with analysis from Jonathan Marcus and a link to the website of a political NGO which engages in ‘lawfare’ against Israel.

“…his [Trump’s] “take it or leave it offer” will appal many long-standing students of the region. The question now is not so much what benefit this deal might bring but how much damage it may do by over-turning Palestinian aspirations.”

“Israeli human rights group B’Tselem said the proposals envisaged a form of apartheid.

It said Palestinians would be relegated “to small, enclosed, isolated enclaves, with no control over their lives”.

Israel’s Peace Now organisation said the plan was “as detached from reality as it is eye-catching”.

“The plan’s green light for Israel to annex the settlements in exchange for a perforated Palestinian state is unviable and would not bring stability,” it said.”

Trump’s Middle East peace plan: Smiles and sorrow on the ground Tom Bateman discussed

“The Trump document says applying Israeli sovereignty to the settlements would be compensated by land swaps to Palestinians. It would also recognise Israeli sovereignty over the strategically important Jordan Valley, a key swathe of land in the West Bank important for agriculture running along the border with neighbouring Jordan. […]

But Palestinians say the move will entrench apartheid.”

January 29th:

What does Trump’s Middle East plan say on key issues? Backgrounder

“The Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) said the US plan “recognises Israel’s illegal colonisation and annexation of occupied lands belonging to the State of Palestine”, while Israeli human rights group B’Tselem warned that Palestinians would be “relegated to small, enclosed, isolated enclaves, with no control over their lives”.”

Trump Middle East plan: What he gets out of it  Aleem Maqbool

“Israeli opposition figures have not shied away from suggesting that the timing of the proposal’s release was aimed at helping Benjamin Netanyahu in a general election to be held on 2 March.”

“The impeachment allegations [against Trump] suggest sordid and dishonourable use of his powerful position for personal political gain; withholding hundreds of millions of dollars of military assistance to Ukraine until Kiev opened investigations into Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.

Mr Trump might hope the unveiling of his proposal would offer Americans a contrasting narrative of his skills as a statesman, delivering “the deal of the century”.”

“There are also Evangelicals within the Trump administration itself, like Vice-President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who have reportedly been pushing for the kind of support for Israel’s expansionist aspirations as detailed in the new plan.

Those aspirations all but do away with the notion of having sovereign Palestinian and Israeli states existing side by side, as previous US administrations had said they wanted.

Evangelical Christians were huge financial backers of the Trump campaign in 2016, but there were others who would have wanted to see some return on the support they gave during the last election reflected in this proposal.

Aipac, the powerful pro-Israel lobbying group, has already endorsed Mr Trump’s Middle East plan, saying it appreciated the efforts of the president.”

“Whether the plan and the timing of its release is about backing Mr Netanyahu, distracting from impeachment troubles, playing domestic politics or if it is indeed driven by ideology, it comes with huge risks.

It can be seen as a proposal that gives Israel the authorisation to broaden its occupation, already a source of misery for so many. The fear is that a proposal that gives Palestinians so little hope is one that also strengthens hard-liners across the region.”

Why Trump’s Middle East plan is so divisive  Jeremy Bowen (video with commentary)

“The BBC’s Middle East Editor Jeremy Bowen explains why the proposal is so divisive.”

Trump Middle East plan: Palestinians reject ‘conspiracy’

“Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said the Trump administration had simply “copied and pasted” the steps that Mr Netanyahu wanted to see implemented.

“It’s about annexation, it’s about apartheid,” he said. “Moving to the de jure annexation of settlements is something that was given the green light yesterday.””

January 30th:

Palestinian PM defends stance on Trump Middle East plan Orla Guerin interview with Mohammad Shtayyeh (video)

As we see the BBC elected to interview the Palestinian Authority prime minister but not any senior Israeli official. The BBC chose to showcase political NGOs and a PLO official promoting the baseless ‘apartheid’ trope but did not provide an alternative viewpoint. The reports written by the BBC staff presented a disturbingly uniform negative view of the topic and audiences were not provided with a balanced “range of views”.

The purpose of the editorial guidelines is of course to enable the BBC to meet its public purpose obligations, including the provision of “duly accurate and impartial news, current affairs and factual programming to build people’s understanding of […] the wider world”. It is once again abundantly obvious that BBC journalists were far more intent on establishing a specific narrative than they were committed to providing accurate and impartial news reports offering a “wide range of significant views”. 

Related Articles:

Snark and speculation on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Today’

BBC’s Tom Bateman misleads on the Oslo Accords

BBC Two ‘Newsnight’ viewers misled on 1949 Armistice lines

The BBC’s Middle East editor’s framing of the US peace plan

Inadequately presented interviewees and an anonymous quote in BBC One Guerin report

BBC Radio 4’s preemptive framing of the ‘Peace to Prosperity’ plan

BBC’s ‘Newshour’ serves up ‘rumours and leaks’ with one-sided analysis

BBC Radio 4 news implies previous existence of Palestinian state in US plan report

BBC radio interviews same PA representative three times in one day

BBC WS radio promotes US peace plan commentary from partisan lobbying group

A review of the impartiality of BBC radio coverage of the US ‘Peace to Prosperity’ plan

 

BBC News again recycles Syrian regime propaganda

On February 6th the BBC News website published a report titled “Syria war: Israel ‘hits Iran-backed fighters near Damascus’” (and bizarrely tagged “Syrian civil war”) on its Middle East page.

At the beginning of the report the two sources upon which it is based are noted:

“Israeli warplanes have fired missiles at targets near Syria’s capital, Damascus, Syrian state media report.

The Sana news agency said air defences intercepted most of the missiles, but that eight people were wounded.

A monitoring group said Syrian army positions and those of Iran-backed militias were hit, killing 23 people.”

Only in the article’s ninth paragraph is it clarified that the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group is based in the UK.

As has often been the case in the past, readers found unqualified promotion of propaganda from Syrian regime media – including a link – such as the standard claim that “air defences intercepted most of the missiles”.

“Sana cited a Syrian military source as saying that Israeli warplanes flying over Lebanon and the occupied Golan Heights launched two waves of missiles at southern Syria early on Thursday.

The first wave targeted military positions in the suburbs of Damascus, while the second targeted those in Deraa, Quneitra and Damascus Countryside provinces, according to the source.

“[The] vigilance of our air defence personnel contributed to destroying large numbers of the hostile missiles and the aggression caused the injury of eight fighters, in addition to a material damage,” the source added.”

The BBC’s report even provided (not for the first time) amplification for the Syrian regime’s conspiracy theories:

“The Syrian military accused Israel of launching an “aggressive escalation” in an attempt to “save the armed terrorist organisations which have been collapsing in Idlib and western Aleppo in front of the strikes of the Syrian Arab Army”.”

At no point in the report were readers provided with any warning concerning the lack of reliability of reports put out by the Syrian regime and its mouthpieces and their history of lying about events in Syria.

Readers of the BBC’s report were told that:

“The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based monitoring group, said strikes on Iran-backed militia positions in Kiswa, Muqaylabiya, Jisr al-Baghdad and Izra killed 15 fighters, including five Syrians and at least three Iranians.

And eight Syrian soldiers were killed by missiles that hit air defence batteries near Damascus, it added.”

The SOHR’s report also includes the claim that some of those killed were Iranian-backed militia fighters.

Curiously, the BBC’s 2017 report concerning Iran’s establishment of a military base in Kiswa (also al Kiswah) was not included in the related reading appended to this report but readers were directed to an article about cats. Although readers learned nothing about Iranian military assets in Syria – including the IRGC base near Izra in southern Syria which according to reports includes a base for surface-to-air missiles – they were told that:

“Israel did not comment, but it has acknowledged carrying out hundreds of strikes in Syria in recent years to stop Iranian “military entrenchment”.”

So while the BBC saw fit to qualify the topic of Iranian military entrenchment in Syria by means of punctuation, it did not bother to provide any objective background information concerning that issue.

Once again we see that BBC newsgathering for this report consisted mainly of repeating claims from Syrian state media linked to the regime’s Ministry of Information and from the Syrian regime itself without any evidence of independent confirmation by the BBC.

Given the record of those sources, one would expect a serious media outlet (especially one which promotes itself as an authority on ‘fake news’) to be considerably more cautious about promoting their unverified statements and conspiracy theories to its funding public in supposedly factual news reports.

Related Articles:

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Looking behind a BBC News website tag

BBC News website tones down Assad regime propaganda

Despite evidence, the BBC won’t let go of Assad propaganda

More false balance in BBC News report on Douma chemical attack

BBC newsgathering again relies on Syrian state outlets

 

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”.

BBC Radio 4’s preemptive framing of the ‘Peace to Prosperity’ plan

BBC’s ‘Newshour’ serves up ‘rumours and leaks’ with one-sided analysis

BBC radio interviews same PA representative three times in one day

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.