BBC’s favourite ‘icon of terrorism’ continues to advocate terror

We have previously noted on these pages the BBC’s periodic promotion of PFLP terrorist Leila Khaled as an ‘icon’.R4 Women of Terror

“Leila Khaled was probably the most famous female hijacker in the world in the late 1960s – beautiful, dangerous and politically committed to doing whatever might further the Palestinian cause.

She featured in an iconic photo – sultry-eyed, a Kalashnikov at her side, headscarf carefully draped over her head.” (BBC News website, July 28, 2015)

“In the space of a few weeks, a fascinated news media had cemented her position as an icon of terrorism” (BBC Radio 4, October 21, 2013)

The video below – translated by MEMRI – shows Khaled speaking at an event in Germany earlier this year. In addition to glorifying terrorism, she (not for the first time) rejects negotiations with Israel in favour of violence, stating:

“…negotiations will be held only with knives and weapons.”

One of course wonders if the BBC has ever asked itself whether its repeated romanticisation of a person who openly advocates violence and terrorism meets the expectations of its funding public.

BBC News website continues to ignore missile attacks on Israeli communities

At around half past two on the afternoon of August 21st, terrorists based in the Gaza Strip fired a missile at the Western Negev town of Sderot.missile 21 8 police

“The rocket landed between two homes, near a college and the local train station. Locals said it was “a miracle” that nobody was injured.”

The IDF responded with strikes on Hamas infrastructure in Beit Hanoun and later carried out additional strikes.

The BBC News English language website did not provide any coverage of the missile attack against Israeli civilians.

The BBC Arabic website, however, produced two reports – here and here – about the Israeli response to the missile fire. The second report and the website’s homepage both used a photograph of a water tower allegedly damaged during the Israeli response to the missile attack.

BBC Arabic HP 2 reports response missile 21 8

BBC Arabic art 2 missile 21 8

However, as noted at the Israellycool blog, photographs showing the same damage to the same water tower were published by AFP nearly a year ago.

This latest missile attack from the Gaza Strip is the eighth such incident to have taken place in the eight months since the beginning of 2016. The BBC has not reported on any of those attacks on its English language website but has covered the Israeli response to most of them on its Arabic language site.

January 1stBBC News ignores Gaza missile attacks, BBC Arabic reports Israeli response

January 24thBBC News ignores Gaza missile attack again – in English

March 11thBBC News continues to ignore missile attacks on Israelis – in English

March 15thmissile attack not reported.

May 6thPatchy and selective BBC News reporting of Gaza border incidents

May 25thBBC News fails to report another Gaza missile attack to English-speakers

July 1st: Another Gaza missile attack ignored by the BBC

August 21st: missile attack not reported in English, response reported in Arabic.

The same pattern of reporting has been evident since the end of the conflict between Israel and terrorists in the Gaza Strip in 2014, meaning that English-speaking BBC audiences – including its funding public – are not receiving the services pledged to them in the corporation’s public purposes.

Update: the BBC News website has now reported this attack – see details here

 

The BBC, an Ultra-Orthodox paper and the censorship of images

The August 18th edition of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘World Update’ included an item about a photograph published in an American weekly newspaper which, with its circulation of some 20,000, reaches only a tiny fraction of the US population.  

In addition to being included in the broadcast, that item was promoted separately on social media under the headline “Hillary Clinton Photo Breaks Ultra-Orthodox Taboo“.World Update 18 8

“An Ultra-Orthodox Jewish New York newspaper, Yated Ne’eman, has made history by publishing a photo of presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. The Ultra Orthodox press has a tradition of not publishing images of women. The photo of her is largely obscured. Ari Goldman, professor of journalism at Columbia University tells Dan Damon what the photo looks like.”

After having asked his interviewee Ari Goldman to explain the Ultra-Orthodox press’ approach to the publication of photographs of women, presenter Dan Damon asked:

“And do Ultra-Orthodox women accept that in this day and age?”

One cannot but note the irony of that question, coming as it does from an employee of a Western media organisation which until not too long ago instructed its staff that:

“The Prophet Mohammed must not be represented in any shape or form.”

Following public debate, that editorial guideline was revised. It now reads:

“Due care and consideration must be made regarding the use of religious symbols in images which may cause offence. Images of the Prophet Muhammad are a sensitive issue, and many Muslims regard any depiction of the Prophet Muhammad as highly offensive. We must have strong editorial justification for publishing any depiction of the Prophet Muhammad. Any proposal to include a depiction of the Prophet Muhammad in our content must be referred to a senior editorial figure, who should normally consult Editorial Policy.

There also should be an awareness of religious sensitivities about smoking, drinking and certain foods.”

The BBC also adopted a policy of issuing ‘health warnings’ in the rare articles which do include “sensitive” images.

health warning image

As we see, the BBC’s own approach to self-censorship of images it thinks its audiences might consider inappropriate is not so vastly different from that of Yated Ne’eman. Interestingly though, while a niche newspaper’s policy is considered newsworthy, its own is rarely brought to the attention of its audiences. 

Related Articles:

Why was a photo-shopped image ‘top story’ on the BBC News website ME page?

 

 

 

Hizballah terror activity against Israelis again ignored by BBC News

On August 16th the Israeli security services announced the earlier arrests of nine suspects recruited by Hizballah and the prevention of a number of terror attacks.

Hizballah logo

Hizballah logo

“Hezbollah operatives from the group’s Unit 133 — its foreign operations unit — working out of Lebanon and the Gaza Strip recruited members in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and within Israel through social media sites, notably Facebook, the Shin Bet security service said.

The terror cells had planned to carry out suicide bombings and ambush IDF patrols in the West Bank. They received funding from Hezbollah, and some members had begun preparing explosive devices for use in attacks, the Shin Bet says.”

This is of course not the first time that Hizballah’s attempts to set up terror cells in Israel via social media have been thwarted by the Israeli security services. A similar story came to light in February of this year and – like this latest one – it too was ignored by the BBC’s numerous correspondents in Jerusalem, Ramallah and Gaza.

While refraining from providing audiences with any serious coverage of the issue of efforts by established terrorist groups such as Hamas and Hizballah to conscript Palestinians and Israeli Arabs, the BBC promotes framing of Palestinian terrorism as the spontaneous product of “frustration rooted in decades of Israeli occupation” – in a manner eerily similar to the dictates of the PLO’s guidance for foreign journalists.  

That narrative-dictated framing of course contributes to the BBC’s failure to meet its obligation to enhance audiences’ “awareness and understanding of international issues”.  

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Poor BBC reporting on Palestinian incitement again mars audience understanding

BBC finds a ‘working definition’ for terrorism in Europe

The BBC Radio 4 programme ‘More or Less’ and Radio 1’s ‘Newsbeat’ were commended in the recent BBC Trust review of the impartiality of the corporation’s reporting of statistics in its news and current affairs output. Those two programmes recently came together with BBC Monitoring to produce a multi-platform feature on the subject of deaths resulting from terrorism in Western Europe.Newsbeat terror

Terror deaths in Western Europe at highest level since 2004” Newsbeat

“The start of 2016 saw the highest number of terrorism deaths in Western Europe since 2004, BBC research has revealed.

The first seven months of the year saw 143 deaths, which is also the second worst start to the year since 1980.”

Counting Terror Deaths” ‘More or Less’, BBC Radio 4

“Is 2016 an unusually deadly year for terrorism?

In a joint investigation with BBC Newsbeat and BBC Monitoring, we’ve analysed nearly 25,000 news articles to assess whether 2016 so far has been a unusually [sic] deadly year for terrorism. It certainly feels like it. But what do the numbers say? We estimate that, between January and July this year, 892 people died in terrorist attacks in Europe – making it the most deadly first seven months of a year since 1994. But the vast majority of those deaths have been in Turkey. The number for Western Europe is 143, which is lower than many years in the 1970s.”More or Less R4 terror

Counting Terror Deaths” ‘More or Less’, BBC World Service Radio

“With high profile attacks in Brussels, Nice and Munich, you might think that 2016 has been a particularly bad year for terrorism in Europe. But what happens when you put the numbers in historical context and compare them with figures for the rest of the world?”

The research underlying all those reports used a “working definition” of terrorism described as follows in the radio programmes:

“Terrorist attacks are acts of violence by non-state actors to achieve a political, social, economic or religious goal through fear, coercion or intimidation.”

Since the surge in terror attacks against Israelis began last September, the BBC has provided its audiences with a variety of explanations for the violence. The preferred explanation proffered by the corporation’s Middle East editor has been ‘the occupation’.

“Many Palestinians have told me they believe the reason for the attacks is that another generation is realising its future prospects will be crippled by the indignities and injustice of the occupation of the Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem.”

“Violence does not come out of the blue. It has a context. Once again, the problem is the unresolved conflict between Palestinians and Jews. It is at the heart of all the violence that shakes this city.

A big part of the conflict is the military occupation of the Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem, that has lasted for nearly 50 years. It is impossible to ignore the effects of an occupation that is always coercive and can be brutal.

In successive Palestinian generations, it has created hopelessness and hatred. In some cases, that bursts out into murderous anger.”

“Palestinians say they don’t need to be told when to be angry after almost fifty years of an occupation that is always coercive and often brutal.”

Another ‘explanation’ repeatedly offered to audiences goes along the following lines:More or Less WS terror

“The recent rise in violence is blamed by Palestinians on the continued occupation by Israel of the West Bank and the failure of the Middle East peace process.”

In addition to those political factors, the BBC has frequently cited a religious factor as context to the surge in violence.

“The current escalation was partly triggered by Palestinian fury over restricted access to the Al Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem’s Old City. The site is holy to Muslims and Jews, who call it Temple Mount.”

“In the last few weeks what we’ve had is this big flare-up in tensions over the Al Aqsa Mosque compound; about access to this important religious site.”

“But the key to all of this, we think, is this ancient dispute about rights of worship at the Al Aqsa Mosque – which is called Temple Mount by Jews of course.”

“Tensions have been particularly high in recent weeks over the long-running issue of access to the al-Aqsa mosque compound in East Jerusalem.”

But despite having cited political, social and religious factors as explanations for the Palestinian violence against Israelis in recent months, as has been documented here on countless occasions the BBC nevertheless universally refrained from describing those attacks as terrorism or their perpetrators as terrorists. 

With the corporation now having finally found a working definition of terrorism with which it is apparently comfortable, its long-standing editorial policy of eschewing accurate terminology when covering Palestinian attacks on Israelis clearly becomes even more egregious.  

Related Articles:

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BBC News finds terror (without quotation marks) in Europe

BBC’s Fatah profile misleads on reason for failure of 2010 negotiations

The BBC News website’s profile of Fatah has not been updated in over five years and hence does not provide BBC audiences with any up to date information on the topic of the power struggles within that party or the fate of the 2014 Hamas/Fatah ‘reconciliation’ which caused the last round of negotiations between Israel and the PLO to come to an end.Fatah profile

BBC audiences do however find in that backgrounder a sanitised and inaccurate account of the preceding round of talks.

“…Mr Abbas went to Washington in September 2010, aiming to re-launch peace talks with the Israelis on behalf of all Palestinians. The talks collapsed within a matter of weeks over Israel’s refusal to stop building settlements.”

Audiences are not informed that the Israeli government announced a ten month-long ‘goodwill gesture’ construction freeze in November 2009 or that for nine of those ten months, the Palestinians refused to come to the negotiating table. Only at the beginning of September 2010 did the Palestinians agree to commence direct negotiations and meetings were held in Washington and Sharm el Sheikh. As the construction freeze’s pre-designated time frame drew to a close on September 26th, the PA president and PLO and Fatah leader Abbas demanded its extension, threatening to end the talks if he did not get his way. The result was that on October 2nd 2010 the negotiations ended.

It is not unusual to find misrepresentation of the reason for the end of the 2010 talks in BBC reports – see examples here and here. However, inaccurate information in a backgrounder obviously has the potential to mislead even more and clearly needs correction.

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Inaccuracy in BBC’s Fatah profile exposed

BBC Sport ‘overlooks’ BDS linked agitprop in Glasgow

Sky News’ reporter noticed them. So did journalists from the Guardian, the Telegraph, the Daily Mail, the Mirror and numerous other media organisations.  In fact, one might well have concluded that only BBC Sport failed to spot the Palestinian flags which were part of a pre-planned political provocation at the Champion’s League match between Celtic and Hapoel Be’er Sheva in Glasgow on August 17th.Celtic match

In its three separate reports on the match – here, here and here – BBC Sport apparently did not find the breach of UEFA rules by a group of Celtic fans and the potential punishment of the football club worthy of mention. The only coverage of incident came in the form of a cryptic mention on BBC Sport’s ‘Football gossip’ page on August 18th and in the BBC News website’s coverage of the Scottish papers:

“Meanwhile, the Daily Record says that Celtic face another UEFA “rap” after their fans flew Palestine flags during the Champions League clash with Israelis Hapoel Beer Sheva.”

A week before the match took place the Jerusalem Post reported that:

“Celtic fans are waiting to greet the Israeli team and its fans with Palestinian flags. A Facebook page set up in honor of the occasion has already attracted 837 “interested” Facebook users. The page, entitled “Fly the flag for Palestine, for Celtic, for Justice,” was set up by a group that goes by the name Celtic Fans for Palestine.

The group says an Israeli soccer team should not be allowed to participate in the soccer competition “due to the system of apartheid laws and practices including religious- and ethnic-based colonization, military occupation and segregation of what remains of Palestinian land and over 90 laws which discriminate against indigenous Palestinians who make up 20 percent of the population of current-day Israel.”

“When someone is representing Israeli state institutions it is sadly never merely a game; football, UEFA and Celtic FC are being used to whitewash Israel’s true nature and give this rogue state an air of normality and acceptance it should not and cannot enjoy until it’s impunity ends and it is answerable to international law and faces sanctions for the countless UN resolutions it had breached,” the Facebook page states. […]

The Celtic group affiliates itself with the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement, which it hails as “inspiring and unstoppable.”

The BBC’s funding public (and even some politicians) in Scotland might of course have an interest in being fully informed about the background to this and other fringe groups tarnishing their country’s reputation as a hospitable tourist destination year after year with agitprop based on falsehoods and propaganda. 

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BBC News website whitewashes attack on Israeli footballers

Revisiting a BBC story from 2002

During the Second Intifada, on September 9th 2002, BBC News reported the arrests of three Jerusalem residents in an article titled “Palestinians ‘planned to poison diners’“.Cafe Rimon art 1

“Israel is holding three young Palestinians from East Jerusalem on suspicion of plotting to poison diners at a café in the city.

Two of the men, who were arrested in August, are also suspected of planning to mount a suicide bomb attack.”

Six days later, BBC News produced another report on the same case – “Palestinian ‘poison plan’ cook charged” – in which audiences were told that:

“A Palestinian cook has been charged by the Israeli authorities with plotting to poison customers at a restaurant in West Jerusalem where he used to work

The man – named as 23-year-old Othman Said Kianiya – was arrested last month along with two other Arab residents of East Jerusalem who have already been charged.

All three were alleged to be working on behalf of the militant group Hamas.”

This week the ringleader of the would-be poisoners was released after completing a fourteen-year prison sentence and photographs of his reception in the Jerusalem neighbourhood of Jabel Mukaber show that the BBC’s use of the word “alleged” with regard to Sufian Bakri Abdu’s links to Hamas was superfluous.

Jabel Mukaber 1

Jabel Mukaber 2

Over the last couple of years, BBC reports have variously told audiences that terrorists hailing from Jabal Mukaber were “ground down by the occupation“, angered by the demolition of houses of other terrorists or enraged by “threats to an important Muslim site“. Audience understanding would of course have been enhanced had BBC also covered the topic of the long-standing links of some residents of that Jerusalem neighbourhood to proscribed terrorist organisations and carried out some serious reporting on the much neglected issue of Hamas’ efforts to boost its infrastructure in PA controlled areas. 

BBC coverage of Choudary conviction ignores his BBC appearances

Like many other UK media organisations, the BBC produced considerable coverage of the story of the conviction of British Islamist extremist Anjem Choudary which broke on August 16th.

BBC audiences heard reports on Radio 4’s ‘Six O’Clock News‘, ‘The World Tonight‘ and ‘PM‘. Listeners to the BBC World Service heard a report on ‘Newshour‘. Television audiences also saw reports on the story – for example here and here. Visitors to the BBC News website found reports on its UK page – for example here and here – and an article by the BBC’s home affairs correspondent titled “How Anjem Choudary’s mouth was finally shut” appeared in its magazine section.Choudary magazine

As is the case in some of the other reports, in that article Dominic Casciani referred to Choudary’s relationship with members of the media.

“He would greet the journalists with a smile, and some guile, dressed up as charm.

One day outside Regent’s Park Mosque (he was banned from ranting inside its premises) he told the crowd he was honoured that I had turned up to hear him speak. He liked playing games. It gave him a sense that he was winning.” […]

“Choudary loved the limelight and revelled in media attention.” […]

“He [Choudary] tried in vain to get the Supreme Court to stop the prosecution. He asked some journalists if they would act as character witnesses (I wasn’t one of them).”

In the Newshour report, presenter James Coomarasamy remarked:

“And in Britain he’s been a fairly ubiquitous sort of figure. This is not someone – for listeners around the world – this is not someone who’s only reached…ehm…supporters via Youtube or via other social media. He’s been on mainstream news programmes quite regularly, hasn’t he?”

But in none of the above reports did BBC journalists acknowledge that their own corporation repeatedly provided Choudary with a platform. Following an interview with Choudary on the BBC Radio 4 ‘Today’ programme in December 2013 in which he controversially refused to condemn the murder of British soldier Lee Rigby, we noted here that:

“Of course there can be no doubt that the BBC editors who decided to interview Choudary for that programme knew in advance exactly what kind of responses they were going to get from him. After all, like the proprietors of some Victorian freak-show seeking to attract audiences by way of the ‘shock factor’, the BBC has been wheeling out Choudary and his template propaganda for over a decade, including a ‘Hardtalk’ interview from 2003 in which he refused to condemn the Mike’s Place suicide bombers, another ‘Hardtalk’ interview from 2005 in which he likewise refused to condemn the London terror attacks, participation in ‘The Big Questions’ and ‘Newsnight’ and an appearance on ‘Newsnight’ in May 2013 (also promoted on the BBC News website) in which his stance on the brutal murder of Lee Rigby was made amply clear. 

Beyond his tawdry ‘shock factor’ which is exploited to the full by the BBC, Anjem Choudary does not represent one of those “significant stands of thought” which the BBC’s Editorial Guidelines pledge to reflect and represent. His bigoted rants and apologist attitude to terrorism reflect the views of no more than a minuscule proportion of British citizens and such views certainly are not embraced by the vast majority of people who share his faith. And yet, following the latest round of criticism in December, the BBC felt the need to defend its amplification of the abhorrent views of an anti-democratic supremacist.

“A BBC spokeswoman said: “We have given great consideration to our reporting of the Woolwich murder and the subsequent trial, and carried a wide range of views from across the political and religious spectrums.

“We have a responsibility to both report on the story and try to shed light on why it happened. We believe it is important to reflect the fact that such opinions exist and feel that Choudary’s comments may offer some insight into how this crime came about.”Choudary Newshour

In both the ‘Newshour’ report and in his written article, Dominic Casciani describes Choudary as having “used his megaphone to drive a wedge between Muslims and the rest of Britain”. If the BBC now recognises that, one must of course ponder the question of why it saw fit to so frequently provide him with a microphone no less pernicious than his megaphone.

It is of course precisely that factor which has over the years prompted repeated criticism of the BBC’s frequent showcasing of Choudary. A recent article in the Telegraph notes that:

“…Choudary became a regular on many of the corporation’s flagship news programmes including Newsnight and Radio 4’s Today.

During his trial Choudary described how he would “bait” the media with controversial statements and relished appearing on air.

The court heard how he had hundreds of media contacts who he would tip off before high profile demonstrations and stunts, including 31 journalists from the BBC.

Last night Tory MP Andrew Bridgen said: “The BBC has given this man hours of airtime down the years providing him with a platform to express his views.

“It was never with the intention of adding to the debate but simply for shock value. “Choudary TV news

But if the BBC’s funding public is under the impression that this case will perhaps prompt some overdue introspection on the topic of the corporation’s provision of platforms for extremists, a response from a BBC spokesman which appears in a Daily Mail article may indicate that such hopes are premature.

“A BBC spokesperson said: ‘This interview took place 3 years before today’s court ruling. It is important to acknowledge that such opinions exist within the UK, throughout the segment Anjem Choudry’s views were robustly challenged by our presenter and countered by Lord Carlile, the government’s former anti-terrorism adviser.'”

Obviously some at the BBC still don’t get it.

Related Articles:

Anjem Choudary’s BBC appearances ignored in reports on his arrest

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The BBC, ‘democratic principles’ and the Jihadist recruiter

More Fatah glorification of terrorism ignored by the BBC

Last month we noted the predictable absence of any BBC coverage of the annual paramilitary summer camps organised by the terrorist groups Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad for children and youth in the Gaza Strip.

Now Palestinian Media Watch brings us news of another terror glorifying children’s summer camp.  This one, however, did not take place in the Gaza Strip and was not run by Islamist terror groups.

“As part of the closing ceremony of a summer camp for Palestinian children organized by the Palestinian National Committee of Summer Camps and the Fatah Movement, Palestinian children performed a play showing the alleged “cruel attitude of the Zionist jailer towards our [Palestinian] heroic prisoners.”  […]

The summer camp was named after terrorist Muhammad Al-Shubaki, who stabbed and wounded an Israel soldier at the entrance to the Al-Fawwar refugee camp on Nov. 25, 2015. The terrorist’s father spoke at the closing ceremony of the summer camp, expressing his “pride and thanks for the gesture of memorializing the heroic Martyrs.””Fatah profile

The BBC’s profile of Fatah continues to inform audiences that the movement “signed a declaration rejecting attacks on civilians in Israel and committing themselves to peace and co-existence.”

As long as the corporation continues to avoid reporting cases of blatant glorification of terrorism by the PA’s dominant party Fatah such as this summer camp, audiences will of course be unable to put that supposed Fatah ‘commitment’ to “peace and co-existence” into its appropriate context and the BBC will continue to fail to meet its purpose remit of building “understanding of international issues”.   

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