An Israel elections story that falls outside BBC framing

Although the BBC has still not got round to producing much coverage of the general election to be held in Israel on April 9th there is no shortage of news on that front.

The Joint Arab List – which featured in the corporation’s coverage of the previous election and was described by one commentator as a “glimmer of hope”– has lost one of its four component parties.

“The Knesset approved a request on Wednesday by MK Ahmad Tibi’s Ta’al (Arab Movement for Change) party to withdraw from the Joint Arab list.

Tibi announced on Tuesday that he would leave the Joint List ahead of the April 9 election, and that his party will run independently. […]

Tibi’s request was filed days after controversial Joint List MK Haneen Zoabi, Balad MK Jamal Zahalka and United Arab List MK Masud Gnaim confirmed that they will not run in the upcoming elections. Similarly, the Joint List faction’s only Jewish lawmaker, Dov Henin, announced he will not be running either. Henin served 13 years in the Knesset as a member of the Hadash Party.”

Meanwhile, a new Arab party has been registered.

“A new Arab party has registered to participate in the upcoming Knesset elections on April 9, Justice Ministry documents show.

“New Horizon — An Arab Centrist Party” registered in mid-December to run in the vote, which has since been set for April 9.

Salman Abu Ahmad, a 62-year-old engineer and Nazareth resident, told The Times of Israel in a phone call that he had established the party, whose candidates will include Arab Israelis from around the country.

The documents say the party’s goals include “improving the status of Israel’s Arab citizens…and promoting a national master plan as a basis to solve the housing shortage in the Arab sector.” […]

The documents also say New Horizon’s aims include “upgrading the education system,…putting together an uncompromising plan to uproot crime and violence in Arab society, forming a plan to promote the status of women in Arab society and serving as a bridge to a historical reconciliation between the two [Israeli and Palestinian] peoples and peace with Arab states.””

But perhaps the most surprising development is one which definitely falls outside the BBC’s conventional framing of Israeli politics: the announcement by a Muslim female candidate that she will run in the Likud party’s primaries next month.

“Dima Tayeh, from the village of Kafr Manda in the Galilee, made headlines on Tuesday when she gave an interview on Hadashot TV news announcing she was running in the right-wing party’s primaries, praising Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and defending the controversial Nation-State Law, which many see as discriminating against Israel’s Arab minority.

If elected, she would be the first Arab Muslim lawmaker in the Likud party. […]

Tayeh, who has previously taken part in a group of Arab Israelis who toured the US to campaign against the BDS movement that seeks to boycott Israel, said she has been a proud Likud member for six years.”

Whether or not Ms Tayeh will gain a place on the Likud list remains to be seen but should she be successful it will be interesting to see if and how that story – which defies the BBC’s standard framing of both Israeli politics and Israeli Arabs – will be presented to audiences.

Related Articles:

Reviewing the BBC’s record of reporting on Israeli elections

The BBC’s Haneen Zoabi show

Inaccurate BBC WS radio portrayal of Israeli legislation

As noted here previously, the lead item in the July 19th edition of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘World Update‘ concerned legislation passed hours beforehand by the Israeli Knesset.

The programme’s webpage uses the title “Israel: An Exclusively Jewish State”. Presenter Dan Damon introduced the item (from 0:00:15 here) using the same term. [emphasis in bold added, emphasis in italics in the original]

Damon: “We begin though with the news from Israel. In the parliament there – the Knesset – a vote on the future of that country’s self-determination: a controversial bill defining the country as an exclusively Jewish state. The law downgrades Arabic as an official language. It says Jewish settlements are in the national interest. Israel [sic] Arab politicians have denounced this new law as racist.”

Obviously the claim that the law defines Israel as “an exclusively Jewish state” is inaccurate.

The same inaccurate claim appeared in the first two versions of an article that appeared on the BBC News website on July 19th.

Following a complaint from Mr Stephen Franklin in which he pointed out that the text of the law does not define Israel in that manner and that Israel’s minorities already have equal rights under the law and will continue to do so under this new legislation, the BBC Complaints department responded, citing an amendment made to the report some eight hours after its initial publication.

“I understand you feel it is inaccurate to state that the bill passed characterises Israel as an exclusively Jewish state.

BBC News always aims for the highest standards – to be fair, accurate and impartial. It is worth noting that the article now reads “‘Israel’s parliament has passed a controversial law characterising the country as principally a Jewish state”.”

BBC Watch has written to request a similar correction to this radio programme and its webpage.

In that item listeners heard from the BBC’s Tom Bateman in Jerusalem who correctly pointed out that the law “isn’t going to change things overnight. It’s simply not that kind of a piece of legislation” and that “many of the things it talks about are actually pre-existing in other laws”.

However, as was also the case in the BBC News website report, Bateman for reasons unclear found it appropriate to mention a clause which was not included in the final draft of the legislation.

Bateman: “…the law says that Jewish settlement is a national value that should be promoted by the state. Now that’s actually a watered-down version of the draft clause which critics of the law had felt might lead to Jewish-only communities and local authorities really having the power to create de facto and in law Jewish-only communities.”

Like the website article, Bateman did not clarify that the dropped clause actually allowed the state to “authorize a community composed of people having the same faith and nationality to maintain the exclusive character of that community” and did not bother to inform his audiences that many communities composed of people belonging to religious and ethnic groups such as Bedouin, Druze, Circassians, Christians and Muslims already exist in Israel.

Bateman closed his report by telling listeners that one Arab-Israeli MK had “described it…as a hate crime and an apartheid law”.

Listeners then heard from two MKs – Yehuda Glick of the Likud and Ahmad Tibi of the Joint Arab List. They did not however hear any challenge from Dan Damon when Tibi raised the false claim promoted by the political NGO Adalah of “more than 60 laws differentiating and discriminating between Jews and Arabs”. Neither did they hear any questioning of numerous inaccurate claims from Tibi including that the new law affords rights “both political and housing, lands allocation etc…only for Jews”.

Related Articles:

How BBC radio programmes misled by adding one letter and a plural

BBC News website framing of Israeli legislation

 

Comparing BBC reporting on mosque loudspeakers in Israel and Rwanda

On November 13th 2016 the BBC News website published a report titled “Quieten calls to prayer in Israel – Netanyahu” (discussed here) in which a draft bill proposing to limit the use of loudspeakers by religious institutions was described as “unnecessarily divisive” and readers were told that:

“Nasreen Hadad Haj-Yahya from the Israel Democracy Institute, a thinktank, wrote in a local newspaper that “the real aim is not to prevent noise but rather to create noise that will hurt all of society and the efforts to establish a sane reality between Jews and Arabs”.”

The next day – November 14th 2016 – another report (discussed here) on the same story appeared on the BBC News website under the headline “Israeli bills draw Palestinian warning“.

“A senior Palestinian official has said his government will go to the UN to stop what he called a series of “escalatory measures” by Israel.

Nabil Abu Rudeina said Israeli plans to […] quieten calls to prayer, will “bring disasters to the region”. […]

The Palestinian Minister of Waqf and Religious Affairs, Youssef Ideiss, said the plan threatened a “religious war”, the Jerusalem Post newspaper reported.”

On March 8th 2017 the BBC News website published yet another report (discussed here) on the same subject – “Israeli Arab anger as parliament backs ‘muezzin bill’“.

“Two versions of the so-called “muezzin bill”, which would mostly affect Muslim calls to prayer, passed their first readings by slim majorities.

Some Arab MPs ripped apart copies of the legislation during a debate. […]

The bill’s critics say it as an attack on religious freedom.

“The voice of a muezzin has never caused any environmental noise. It is about an important Islamic religious ritual, and we have never in this house intervened in any religious ceremony related to Judaism. Your action is a racist slur,” warned Ahmed Tibi of the Arab-dominated Joint List alliance during the debate.

“Your intervention strikes at the very souls of Muslims,” he added.”

On March 15th 2018 an article appeared on the BBC News website’s Africa page under the headline “Rwanda bans Kigali mosques from using loudspeakers“.

In contrast to the headline in the third BBC report from Israel, that title does not suggest that muezzin themselves are the target of the ban rather than loudspeakers.

Readers of the report from Rwanda were not told that the ban is “unnecessarily divisive” or a “disaster” or a “racist slur” or that it would “hurt society”. They did not see the move portrayed as part of a “religious war” or an “attack on religious freedom” or something that “strikes at the very souls of Muslims”.

Here is how the BBC did present the story to its audiences:

“Rwanda has banned mosques in the capital, Kigali, from using loudspeakers during the call to prayer.

They say the calls, made five times a day, have been disturbing residents of the Nyarugenge district, home to the capital’s biggest mosques.

But an official from a Muslim association criticised it, saying they could instead keep the volume down.”

Readers also found the following analysis:

“Today’s noise pollution concerns have silenced the loudspeakers on Kigali’s mosques. But it would be wrong to say that Muslims are being targeted. They can still go to mosques and pray five times a day.”

It would be difficult to find a clearer example of double standards in BBC reporting.

Related Articles:

Superficial BBC reporting on proposed legislation – part 1

Superficial BBC reporting on proposed legislation – part 2

Third context-free BBC article on proposed legislation

 

 

BBC’s ‘Hardtalk’ hosts Ahmad Tibi – part two

In part one of this post we discussed the first half of a ‘Hardtalk’ interview with Israeli MK Ahmad Tibi which was aired on a variety of BBC platforms on March 7th.

Tibi next brought up the subject of the October 2000 incidents. [emphasis in italics in the original, emphasis in bold added]

AT “Thirteen of us, Stephen, were shot by snipers and killed in 2000 – citizens of the State of Israel – because we just demonstrated against Ariel Sharon getting into Al Aqsa Mosque. Thirteen of us. From that point, until today, 55 Arab citizens were killed by the Israeli security authorities without being prosecuted. We are in danger because of the way Israeli police is dealing with us as enemies – not as citizens. But I am not in a position to preach Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank how to resist. It is the natural way people, nation, under occupation are resisting…” 

Sackur failed to inform audiences that Ariel Sharon did not ‘get into’ Al Aqsa Mosque at all but made a visit to Temple Mount that had been pre-coordinated with Palestinian security forces. Neither did he bother to tell BBC audiences that Tibi’s claim that those killed in October 2000 were “just” demonstrating is not supported by the findings of the official investigation into those incidents:

“The events of October 2000 shook the earth. The riots in the Arab sector inside the State of Israel in early October were unprecedented. The events were extremely unusual from several perspectives. Thousands participated, at many locations, at the same time. The intensity of the violence and aggression expressed in the events was extremely powerful. Against security forces, and even against civilians, use was made of a variety of means of attack, including a small number of live fire incidents, Molotov cocktails, ball bearings in slingshots, various methods of stone throwing and the rolling of burning tires. Jews were attacked on the roads for being Jewish and their property was destroyed. In a number of incidences, they were just inches from death at the hands of an unrestrained mob.” 

Sackur also refrained from asking Tibi how many of the Arab-Israelis he claims were “killed by the Israeli security authorities without being prosecuted” were at the time involved in acts of terrorism.

SS: “It’s not…it’s not your fight, really it’s not your fight, is it?”

AT: “It’s my nation fight. I am a Palestinian also and I… “

SS: “Well but you’re also an Israeli. You happen to have the vote. You happen to have a seat in the Knesset. You know this…there is a distinction between you and those Palestinians who live on the West Bank, who live under military occupation and of course we can talk about the subset – the other Palestinians living in exile beyond the borders…”

AT: “They are suffering much more…”

SS: “Yes but I’m interested in the position of the Arab Israelis and it seems to me amongst Arab Israelis, the overwhelming feeling is one of weary acceptance. If you look at opinion polls – and there have been several in the last year which show that actually a clear majority of Arab Israelis have a positive feeling about their lives in Israel. A positive feeling.”

AT: I am smiling because I am living there. Arabs – Arab citizens of the State of Israel – are discriminated in all field of life and in polls – scientific polls; not polls of Israeli rightist newspapers – they are saying that they feel second or third degree. Not only they are feeling the discrimination in land allocation but budget, employment, agriculture, no industrial zones. We are discriminated in all fields of life.”

All Israeli citizens are of course entitled to equal rights by law. To take Tibi’s claim that Arab citizens of Israel have “no industrial zones” because of discrimination as an example – the Ministry of Economy and Industry lists at least eighteen industrial zones in Arab, Bedouin and Druze communities – from Rahat in the south to Sakhnin in the north. Once again, however, Tibi’s falsehoods went unchallenged by Sackur.

SS: “Well the Israel Democracy Institute ran a major poll last year. Most Arab-Israelis – 60.5% – describe their personal situation as good or very good. It doesn’t seem to match what you’re saying at all.”

AT: “I don’t agree with these results. We are living there but there are other points that you are not bringing here saying that at least 75% of the Arab citizens are saying that they do believe the state is dealing with them as enemies not as equal citizens.”

Sackur then promoted a partisan view of ‘international law’ as fact.

SS:” Why do you think thousands of Arabs living in Jerusalem – and they have a very difficult grey area status because of course under international law East Jerusalem is occupied territory – but they are regarded, since the annexation by Israel of East Jerusalem, as people with rights to residency and, indeed, the right to apply for citizenship in Israel and thousands have indeed applied for citizenship. What does that tell you?”

AT: “Only thousands. We are talking about almost 300,000 Palestinians in East Jerusalem; you are talking about thousands. And it says a lot. Those Palestinians in East Jerusalem are facing strangulation policy, deportation, revoking their identity card, sending them out of Jerusalem – thousands of them. It is to say that the education system in East Jerusalem is one of the worst education system conditions led by the Israeli authorities. It is to say that those in East Jerusalem – Palestinians – not all of them are free to get into Al Aqsa Mosque. Demolition orders in East Jerusalem, but more also in other villages, in Arab villages inside Israel, because of lack of planning and housing. Do you know, Stephen, that there is a law called community villages law forbidding, preventing me, Ahmad Tibi, as an Israeli citizen, Arab citizen, from living in 800 community villages. I can live here in London or in Manhattan but not in these areas.”

Sackur failed to note the context of security considerations which sometimes limit access to the Al Aqsa Mosque to males under a certain age. He refrained from asking Tibi whether his claim that residents of East Jerusalem are being ‘deported’ or having their ID cards ‘revoked’ in fact relates to a small number of terrorists, their accomplices and family members of terrorists. Curiously – considering that between 1967 and 2014, the percentage of Arabs making up Jerusalem’s population rose from 26% to 37% – Sackur did not ask Tibi to provide evidence to support his claim that “thousands” have been ‘sent out’ of Jerusalem.

The law Tibi describes as “community villages law” is the Cooperative Associations Law and it relates to fewer than five hundred – not “800” – small communities of up to four hundred families that are situated in the Negev or the Galilee. Such communities are entitled to have an admissions committee which can screen potential residents. In contrast to the impression given by Tibi, all applicants of any creed or ethnicity meet with the admissions committee and the law expressly states that communities cannot reject applicants for reasons of race, religion, gender or nationality. Stephen Sackur, however, made no effort to relieve audiences of the false impression deliberately propagated by Ahmad Tibi.

Making no effort to explain to audiences what Zionism actually is, Sackur went on:

SS: “Are you saying – and using the words of that resolution from the United Nations in 1975 – are you saying that you still regard Zionism as racism?”

AT: “The practice of Zionism daily is to say that Jews are superior to non- Jews in Israel.”

SS: “Well answer this because it is a very famous UN resolution and it was repealed…repealed…one of the only UN that has ever been repealed 16 years later because consensus across the world that that language was unacceptable and wrong. I’m just asking you whether you actually still use that phrase.”

AT: “We Palestinians – mainly Palestinians inside Israel or outside the Green Line, [are] victims of Zionism because of racism of many aspects of Zionism against non- Jews, mainly original or indigenous Palestinians.”

Sackur then turned the conversation to the topic of elimination of the Jewish state.

SS: “You see I think this debate is important because right now there is a discussion both inside Israel, amongst Arabs outside of the territories but also amongst Palestinians and Arab Israelis, about what is going to happen if the two-state solution is dead. And we’ve discussed Donald Trump and we’ve discussed the current political situation and nobody would pretend that the two-state solution looks alive right now. So there is a unitary state solution and if there is to be a unitary state, do you believe it would be acceptable for the Jewish Israeli population to be in a minority?”

AT: “The speech of Mr Trump adopted the Israeli narrative and it was a bullet in the head of the two-state solution, of the two-state vision. Instead of two-state solution it became two-state illusion. That’s why there are more and more talk about one state solution.”

SS: “You’ve talked about it.”

AT: “I’ve talked about it.”

SS: “You even posited the notion that you might run for Prime Minister of a unitary state from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River and you said ‘if it was a run-off between me and Mr Netanyahu, I would win, no doubt about it’.”

AT: “If this will be the case, and equal right will be there between Jews and Arabs from the sea to the river, a Palestinian will win the post of the Prime Minister.”

SS: “I very advisedly asked you, can you countenance…do you think it is in any way realistic to think that the Jewish population of Israel will ever accept a situation in which they are in a minority? This is the country that was set up under a UN resolution as the homeland for the Jews after the Second World War. You understand that, I believe, better than most Arabs because you made a very famous speech understanding the impact of the Holocaust on the Jewish people and on the creation of the state of Israel. So I put it to you again; can you imagine a unitary state where the Jewish population is in a minority?”

AT: “”We, I, as a victim of the victim in that speech, can tell you that I know, I realise that for the Israelis, it’s a nightmare to talk about equal one democratic state. That’s why, when you are giving two choices for them, two-state solution or one-state solution, they are immediately choosing the third choice, which is not there, the status quo. That is why I am saying two-state solution is the optimal solution that the international community is supporting. But the condition is immediate ending of the occupation and Israel is rearranging the occupation.”

SS: “Yeah, but you don’t just say that. You say very inflammatory things. In an interview not so long ago, you allowed your imagination to run. You said ‘we will, if there is to be a unitary state, we will annul the declaration of independence from 1948. In its place, we will write a civil declaration that represents all citizens – Jewish, Muslim, Christian and Druze’. You said ‘it is untenable for a democratic state to have a declaration of independence that is fundamentally Jewish’. You were asked what would the country’s name be? You said ‘I don’t know: its Parliament will decide’. What about the flag? You were asked and you said ‘yes, that will have to change’. Now when you say these things, how do you think Israelis – Jewish Israelis – respond?”

Sackur could also have raised the no less relevant point that in the same interview, Tibi declared that the Law of Return “would automatically be annulled, because the country would no longer be a Jewish state as it is today”.

AT: “When Israelis are killing Palestinians, how we would react? It is a democratic vision. I think that any democratic in Europe, in the international community, should respect my vision of democracy if there will not be a two-state solution. Yes, I want to be equal with Israeli Jews. I want to be equal with anybody in Tel Aviv and Tayibe, Nazareth and Hadera. But I will never accept to be inferior to any Israeli Jew just because the state is defining itself as a Jewish state. Because defining yourself as Jewish and democratic, it’s an oxymoron, Stephen and this is an oxymoron that we are fighting against day by day.”

SS: “If I may say so, it seems to me your speech was based on empathy and a genuine effort to understand the Israeli mindset. One aspect of the Israeli mindset is that they see more than a decade ago when the Palestinians had a free election, that a majority, at least in Gaza, voted quite clearly for Hamas – a movement that is dedicated in its original constitution to the destruction of the State of Israel.”

AT: “Stephen, do you want new rules for democracy? It’s election. It’s democracy. Palestinian people, like in England, like in Germany, like in France, like even in the United States – who just elected very bizarre president – we Palestinians are free to elect exactly what the Palestinians want. Once it is Fatah, once it’s Hamas.”

SS: “And you think the Israelis are going to listen to this and your belief that, oh, the Palestinians can choose Hamas if they want to and still believe that there is any possible reason why they should listen to you talking about unitary state?”

AT: “They can listen to me talking about two-state solution. They are not listening. Neither for that, nor for that. And what is Netanyahu proposing for Israelis and Palestinians? More and more war, more and more confrontation, more and more friction, more and more bloodshed. I am proposing peace. I am proposing freedom for Palestinians and peace for Israelis and Palestinians. It is challenging.”

Sackur then brought up a topic which audiences would no doubt have had difficulty understanding seeing as the BBC has studiously avoided reporting it.

SS: “It is. If you wanted to build some bridges and build some confidence, there are certain things you could do. I mean for a start, you could denounce your fellow Arab-Israeli member of Knesset who is now in prison because he was smuggling telephones to Palestinian prisoners – Mr Ghattas. What did you make of what he did and how disappointed were you in him?”

AT: “The 13 MKs of the Joint List, all of us, are not using this way of struggle in order to act as parliamentarians. It is not the way. He said so. His colleagues in Balad said so. We, myself and others said so, and he is paying the price in the jail.” 

Sackur failed to inform audiences that, despite Tibi’s claims to the contrary, neither Ghattas nor some of his Joint List former colleagues have shown any sign of having reached the conclusion that “it is not the way”.

SS: “And why did you boycott Shimon Peres’ funeral?”

AT: “Because…I carried my condolences to his daughter…”

SS: No, you didn’t go to the funeral. Even Mahmoud Abbas went to the funeral. I’m just wondering again what kind of signal you are sending to the Israelis.”

AT: “Am I obliged to act exactly as the consensus – the Israeli consensus – is demanding from me? There is historical problem. I can understand Israelis when they cannot do something that hurt their feelings. Please understand our feeling as national leaders.”

SS: “I just wonder whether you pay heed to the words of the first Arab-Israeli to be a Supreme Court justice – and that in itself tells you something about the Israeli system. Salim Joubran, you know, he served in the Supreme Court, he was proud to do so, and toward the time he was leaving, he said, ‘yes, I complain a lot about the State of Israel’s treatment of Arab Israelis, but I am also complaining about us – leaders of the Arab community. We must take responsibility and handle problems’. Hasn’t got a point there? That you spend so much time grandstanding about the long-term prospects for a peaceful solution between Arab… between Palestinian and Israeli, you don’t spend much time trying to deliver a better life for your constituents.”

AT: “You are mistaken, Stephen, because according to the statistics and numbers of the Knesset activity, 85% of our activity is focused on social and economical issues of our community. And there is misleading coverage of our activity. Yes, we are responsible for the well-being of our community. We should be much more interested, focusing, acting in the issue, for example, of violence in our community, which is almost devastating.”

SS: “It’s a scourge – particularly violence against women inside Arab-Israeli communities.”

AT: “And who is taking part in every demonstration against that? Who issued a motion against that? Who issued a motion against using weapons in community events? Myself.”

SS: “And I guess that what the Israelis – I can hear the voices in my head – the Israelis watching this will say yes, and you are much freer to make those sorts of protests and to demand better from the community inside Israel that you would be if you were living in a village in the West Bank or indeed a different Arab country.”

AT: “Say it; in Syria or in Libya. Say it.”

SS: “Well, you can say it.”

AT: “It is a racist notice. You know why? Because to tell me, Ahmad, that because I am Arab that I should move to Syria, as they are demanding day by day in the Knesset, or I should compare myself to Third World countries, non-democratic, totalitarian regimes, when Israel is claiming it is democracy. The control group and the control states, Stephen, should be Sweden, France, England – not Libya, not Syria, not third states…Third World states in Africa or south America. I want to be equal, exactly like citizens in Kochav Yair, in Tel Aviv and I do not want to be compared with totalitarian regimes, but with democratic states. It is the test. Can you accept the idea that an Israeli citizen who is Arab is willing to be equal? “

SS: “It’s a good way to end this interview. Ahmad Tibi, thank you very much for being on Hardtalk.”

The people referred to by Sackur as “Israelis watching this” are of course not in need of a BBC programme to enlighten them on the topic of Ahmad Tibi’s record, views and agenda: they have after all spent nearly two decades watching him function as an anti-Zionist MK in their own parliament – perhaps the best refutation of his claims of ‘discrimination’ that there could be.

While it can be said that Stephen Sackur did question Ahmad Tibi on some of the positions he holds, the fact remains that BBC audiences around the world watching or listening to this programme went away with a plethora of inaccurate impressions about Israel due to the fact that Sackur refrained from challenging any of the multiple smears, falsehoods and distortions promoted by Tibi in this interview.

Related Articles:

BBC’s ‘Hardtalk’ hosts Ahmad Tibi – part one

 

 

 

BBC’s ‘Hardtalk’ hosts Ahmad Tibi – part one

Israeli MK Ahmad Tibi from the Joint List travelled to London earlier this month to speak at a conference organised by the pro-Hamas organisation ‘Middle East Monitor’ (MEMO).

While in the British capital, Tibi also gave an interview (available here to UK audiences and also here) to the BBC programme ‘Hardtalk‘ which was aired on March 7th on the BBC News Channel and the BBC World News Channel. A clip from the interview was promoted on the BBC News website under the title “Ahmad Tibi: Trump ‘promoting anarchy’ in Middle East” and an audio version was broadcast on BBC World Service radio (and also made available as a podcast) where it was presented with the following synopsis: 

“Stephen Sackur speaks to Ahmad Tibi. He is a veteran Arab Israeli MP and one time adviser to Yasser Arafat. President Donald Trump claimed he could broker the deal of the century between Israel and the Palestinian. Instead he seems to have entrenched the hostility after recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Is the Arab-Israeli experience a sign that the status quo is the only viable response to the conflict between Jews and Arabs?”

Stephen Sackur gave a very similar introduction to the filmed version of the interview but the audio version had a different introduction: [emphasis in italics in the original, emphasis in bold added]

Sackur: “My guest today is an elected politician who insists that his is a life stripped of genuine freedom and democracy. Ahmad Tibi is a member of the Israeli Knesset – one of its deputy speakers in fact. He leads the Arab Movement for Change party and is a familiar figure to Israelis making impassioned speeches on the floor of the chamber in fluent Hebrew. Roughly a fifth of Israel’s population is Arab. They have citizenship, they can vote, but according to Tibi they remain second-class citizens in a state that he likens to apartheid South Africa. His parents were originally from Jaffa but fled during the war of 1948 and made a new home in the area of Israel known as the Arab Triangle. He is a trained gynecologist. But he became a prominent political figure who was a close advisor to Yasser Arafat during the Oslo peace process. Now of course that process is lifeless. President Trump has recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and suggested he isn’t committed to that old trope the two-state solution. So where does that leave the Arabs – both inside Israel and those Palestinians outside? Well Ahmad Tibi joins me now.”

Predictably, given the BBC’s intense focus on that topic in recent months, Sackur began with the subject of the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital – also the topic of the MEMO conference attended by Tibi.

SS: “I think we have to start with the impact of the Donald Trump presidency on relations between Palestinians and Israelis. Would you agree that it has fundamentally changed the dynamic in the region?”

AT: “Yes, for the negative. I think that Trump and his administration promoted and promoting anarchy in the region and anarchy in the world by supporting, enhancing, encouraging, violation of international law and adopting one side on behalf of another. President Trump via his speech about Jerusalem, he totally adopted the Israeli narrative and the occupation narrative. To say that he and his Three Musketeers – advisors who are great supporters of the settlements – adopted the talking points of Benjamin Netanyahu…”

Far from challenging Tibi’s specious claim concerning ‘international law’, Sackur endorsed it.

SS: “Well, you can…you can make your point about international law but surely what Donald Trump has actually done is recognise reality in perhaps a more honest way than previous US presidents because the truth is it’s obvious to everyone that the Israeli capital is in Jerusalem.  That’s where the prime minister’s office is, it’s where the cabinet meets, it’s where the government buildings are and Donald Trump has said enough with this nonsense; let’s just recognise reality.”

AT: “That’s nonsense. Because 1967 – East Jerusalem was occupied in 1967, this is the reality. And if there is a thief in the area and he stole your house, it is a reality but you’re not supposed to accept reality as it is legitimate fact.”

Sackur refrained from reminding audiences that parts of Jerusalem were occupied before 1967 – by Jordan.

SS: “Sure but Trump did say in the course last December of announcing that he would move the embassy to Jerusalem – and we understand it may happen quicker than we thought this year – he did say look I’m not prejudging what the two parties finally agree on Jerusalem; they can do what they want, they can divide it in the future as they wish. We are simply recognising what we now see to be Israel’s capital.”

AT: He said more than that. In 1980, there was a motion, a law in the Knesset, saying exactly what he is saying in his speech. He adopted that law of unified capital of Israel, containing Supreme Court, government, parliament. He adopted that phrasing, even. He did not say that East Jerusalem is an occupied area. He did not say that East Jerusalem can be the capital, or should be the capital, of the Palestinians. He – and this is the most dangerous thing – he is dealing with the issue of Jerusalem as it is internal of the Israelis – and it is not.”

SS: “The fact is, he remains the most powerful man in the world – you could perhaps argue about that, China is the rising power – but none the less, Donald Trump when it comes to the Middle East is the most important man in the world. He has made a decision which reflects the fact that, frankly, many Palestinians would now acknowledge; you’ve lost. You have lost in the sense that your interests are never going to be achievable.”

AT: “I do not agree with you totally.”

SS: “You do…in part you do?”

AT: “It is one of the most toughest and difficult areas for the Palestinian people, I agree with that. But we had much more difficult phases in our history…of the Palestinian history. This nation, the Palestinian people, is very much insisting in implementing and achieving his national rights and it is rights of the people under occupation seeking to be free, to be independent, to be sovereign, alongside the state of Israel. And Mr Trump is saying to Palestinians…and to Israelis, you will take it all and to Israelis, you will take nothing. That’s why he has disqualified himself as a broker.”

SS: “But I suppose what I’m wondering is what you as an Arab – and let’s not forget, you’re an Israeli citizen, you serve in the Israeli Knesset, the Israeli parliament, you represent the interests of the Arab Israeli population in Israel. I wonder what you make of the reaction from Hamas leaders like Ismail Haniyeh saying things like, you know, ‘we would not allow Trump’s declaration to pass even if we lose our heads in the process’. All the talk of a new intifada, all the talk of Palestinians putting their lives on the line to protest, we have been here so many times before. Is there not now a weary resignation that says to you, in the privacy of your own mind, there is no point anymore to this sort of talk of laying down our lives, new Intifadas. It’s gone.”

AT: “I am representing the Arab Palestinian minority in Israel. We are part of the Palestinian people. There are three parts: Palestinians inside Israel, Palestinians in ’67 areas and Palestinians in the diaspora. But we are also citizens of the State of Israel.”

SS: “That’s right.”

AT: “We are supporting Palestinians self-determination and this right is not negotiable. And we are, as citizens also, saying in the Knesset, from the podium, I am saying in Arabic, in English, in Hebrew that we are promoting Israeli-Palestinian peace. We are not supporting violence – we said it in the past always – I am supporting nonviolent popular resistance. It succeeded in the last year when the magnometers [metal detectors] were put in the Al Aqsa Mosque and it succeeded when the church closed…the church because the government official tried to impose taxes on the Christian church in Jerusalem.”

Sackur provided no context to either of Tibi’s examples, meaning that audiences remained unaware that metal detectors were not “put in the Al Aqsa Mosque” at all but at the entrance to Temple Mount following a terror attack at the site by three Arab-Israelis. Neither were they told that the “taxes” are not “on the Christian church” but on church-owned properties that are not used for worship – just as in the UK.

Neither did he question Tibi as to how his claim that “we are not supporting violence” squares with the fact that members of his Knesset list paid a condolence visit to the families of terrorists in 2016.

Sackur then brought up the Ahed Tamimi case – but failed to inform BBC audiences that the charges against her include incitement to violence: again a relevant topic given Tibi’s claim to support exclusively non-violent protest.

SS: “Yeah, one could say it is easy for you to talk about protests; the usual words in the Knesset. But if you live in the occupied West Bank, the reality of protest is much more dangerous. I mean we have in our minds perhaps right now the case of Ahed Tamimi – the young girl, teenage girl, in the West Bank village who struck out at an Israeli officer because she was so angry at what the Israeli troops were doing in and around her village. She is now in a court facing serious charges and may well end up in prison. You know, it is easy for you as an Arab-Israeli to say this but much more difficult for protesters in the West Bank not to jeopardise their own security in this call for civil disobedience.”

AT: “First of all I am accompanying Ahed Tamimi in her military court. She’s courageous…”

SS: “You can walk away at the end of the day. She can’t.”

The second half of the interview will be discussed in part two of this post. 

 

 

Continuing serious breaches of editorial guidelines in ‘Newshour’ with Lyse Doucet

The BBC World Service’s flagship international news and current affairs radio programme ‘Newshour’ is broadcast in two daily editions – one at 13:06 GMT and one at 21:06 GMT every day. The January 11th 13:06 edition of that programme, which went on air just an hour after the official announcement of Ariel Sharon’s death, has already been addressed here. The same day’s later 21:06 edition of that programme purported to discuss “Sharon’s impact on the region”.

Newshour 11 1 14 ed 2

Again presented by Lyse Doucet, this edition begins with a version of the item by World Affairs correspondent Mike Wooldridge which also opened the previous programme and which repeats the promotion of the myth that the second Intifada began because Ariel Sharon went to visit Temple Mount in September 2000 and once again has the geographically challenged Ahmad Tibi claiming that:

“He [Sharon] came here in order to burn up the area. Al Aqsa Mosque is an Islamic place. Al Aqsa is in the Palestinian territory.”

That is followed by a recording of Shimon Peres talking about Sharon and then one of Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri saying:

“The death of Sharon after eight years in a coma is a sign from God and a lesson for tyrants. The Palestinian people live in a historic moment due to the departure of this criminal who killed our people and our leaders.”

Next, a section of the defamatory rant by Mustafa Barghouti which was featured heavily in the prior edition of the programme is aired and that is followed by short interviews with former deputy Foreign Minister of Israel Danny Ayalon and Ha’aretz journalist Amir Oren

At around twenty-five minutes into the programme a news bulletin is read in which the news reader gives audiences what we can understand to be the official ‘in a nutshell’ BBC view of Ariel Sharon and the one it intends millions of listeners worldwide to take away.

“One of the most senior figures from Israel’s founding generation, the former prime minister Ariel Sharon, has died at the age of 85 after eight years in a coma. Mr Sharon played a major and controversial role; first guerilla fighter and soldier known for both bravery and occasional recklessness and later as a politician. When he ordered the invasion of Lebanon in 1982, his Lebanese Christian allies massacred hundreds of Palestinian civilians in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps. An Israeli commission of inquiry found he bore personal responsibility and he stood down as Defence Minister. His visit to Islam’s holiest mosque in Jerusalem in 2000 sparked Palestinian uprising but Israelis voted him into power the following year. He defied domestic opposition by pulling Israel out of Gaza in 2005 but promoted West Bank settlements and commissioned a barrier to keep Palestinians out of Israel. President Obama said Mr Sharon had dedicated his life to Israel but Palestinians in Gaza celebrated by handing out sweets.” [emphasis added]

And that, ladies and gentlemen, comes from an organization supposedly committed to editorial standards of accuracy and impartiality, so please bear with us as we point out to the BBC World Service that:

1) Ariel Sharon did not ‘order’ the 1982 invasion of Lebanon – the Israeli government did as a result of Palestinian terror attacks on Israeli civilians which the BBC elects to airbrush from the picture.

2) All Lebanese Christian allies were allies of Israel – not of Sharon personally as suggested in this news bulletin.

3) The Kahan Commission found that Sharon and others bore indirect responsibility for failing to anticipate violence on the part of the Phalangists.

4) Sharon’s pre-coordinated visit to Temple Mount – not the Al Aqsa Mosque as erroneously stated – did not spark the second Intifada. That terror war was pre-planned by the Palestinians in advance of his visit, as numerous Palestinian officials have stated over the years.

4) The purpose of the anti-terrorist fence is – as the BBC might better appreciate were it to employ the correct terminology – to curb attacks by terrorists of the kind which resulted in the deaths, maiming and injury of thousands of Israelis before its construction. Its aim is not to keep out “Palestinians”, as is evidenced by the fact that over four million crossings were made by Palestinians in the first half of 2013 alone.

That news bulletin is followed by Doucet misrepresenting the Phalangists as being “under the control” of Sharon: 

“Today Palestinians as well as most Arabs remember Ariel Sharon as an Israeli who, in the words of many, left no good memories. His legacy can be perhaps found most vividly in the memories of those living in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Lebanon. A little more than thirty years ago, the brutal actions of a pro-Israeli militia acting under the control of the then Defence Minister Ariel Sharon have left deep scars. Jim Muir has been to one of the refugee camps today to gauge reaction to his death.” [emphasis added]

In other words, Doucet is telling listeners that the massacres in Sabra and Shatila were perpetrated by a militia which Sharon controlled, with the implication of course being that he also controlled the actions of that militia in the refugee camps.

What follows that is an audio version of a report by Jim Muir, which was also broadcast on BBC television news programmes and featured on the BBC News website. In the filmed version Muir tells audiences:

“It was here in September 1982 that Israel’s Christian militia allies carried out a massacre in these narrow alleys and streets that was to carry the name of Sabra and Shatila – Sabra is just next door – all around the world. The Israelis themselves didn’t come into the camp. They were controlling the perimeter all around and were over beyond there and they basically held the ring as the massacre took place. But, the following year the Kahan Commission report concluded that as Defence Minister, Ariel Sharon was personally responsible for what happened.”

In the audio version broadcast in this ‘Newshour’ programme he says:

“Well this is the Palestinian camp of Shatila on the southern edge of Beirut. It’s a teeming, very densely packed neighbourhood, crowded with little streets and alleyways; very busy, very bustling here now, thirty years on. But back in September 1982 it was a very different story. Christian militia men allied to Israel came in here and perpetrated a massacre of hundreds of defenceless civilians. The Israelis themselves of course were not directly involved. They were controlling the surrounding area and holding the ring as their Christian militia allies went in. The following year the Kahan Commission in Israel concluded that the Defence Minister Ariel Sharon was personally responsible for what happened.” 

Beyond this additional misrepresentation of the findings of the Kahan Commission, Muir is clearly suggesting to audiences that Israel knew what was going on in the camp at the time of the massacre and even collaborating. The British idiom “held the ring” may be unfamiliar to some of Muir’s audience, but its definition is “to oversee a situation while attempting to remain uninvolved in it”.

Muir interviews a ‘man in the Shatila street’ whom he names as Abu Majahed and who very predictably says:

“Well here for everybody Ariel Sharon is the name of the war criminal who is responsible about the tragedy of the Sabra and Shatila massacre and he was the leader of the invasion to Lebanon in 1982. […]

What is make us sad really, we don’t expect that he should die normal or by sickness without any punishment. He should be at the court. Of course they feel that he’s as criminal or as one of the cause of the tragedy for the people and make them lose so many people in the camp during Sabra and Shatila massacre and during the war in general, so his death doesn’t bring sadness to them.”

Following Muir’s report, Doucet speaks to Rami Khouri whom she describes as the Director of the Issam Fares Public Policy Institute at the American University of Beirut and “a syndicated columnist”. Readers can get some idea of American-born Rami G Khouri’s writing from this recent column. Answering Doucet’s request for his “first thoughts”, Khouri says:

“My first thought was that this is a man who spent all of his life in an antagonistic, military, confrontational and violent relationship with all of the Arabs around him – in Palestine, in Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Syria. He was constantly at war, killing, occupying, and annexing or laying siege to Arabs or imprisoning tens of thousands of them and in his death his legacy that was the result of his life’s action is perpetuating all of this confrontation, suffering, anger. So this is a very, very negative man in terms of his political actions. The consequences which continue to plague us today because of the settlements, because of the siege of Gaza, the rise of Hamas, the rise of Hizballah, all of the different things that he has done I think will be seen probably much more negative in regional and global terms than any positive way that he is viewed by some Israelis or Zionists.”

Doucet then asks if there should be recognition of Sharon’s pragmatism because of the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and Khouri continues:

“I think the only thing that we can say about that that would be acknowledging something positive was that you can uproot Israeli settlers, but that was done before: Begin did it in Yamit in the Sinai. But that one symbolic move was, I think, way overshadowed by all of the other negative things that were associated with that, which were a vast expansion of settlement in the West Bank, building the wall, mass imprisonment and laying siege to Gaza. So all he did is redeploy some soldiers on the surface of the ground of Gaza but this led to the wars in consequent years. So I would give him one mark for a positive move to redeploy settlers and get them out of Gaza and I would give him nine negative marks for all the other bad things that were associated with that.”

Doucet asks Khouri if Sharon might also have carried out disengagement in Judea & Samaria had he not been taken ill. His response is as follows:

“I think he might have been thinking about another unilateral disengagement from some parts of the West Bank and he probably would have done what Netanyahu is talking about now: trying to keep the whole Jordan Valley, annex about 20% of the West Bank where the wall runs and maintain control of the underground water resources, maintain control of the air-space above it. So again this is not a serious engagement for peace. This is a unilateral security-minded way to engage with the Palestinians as inferior people who do not have the same rights to statehood and sovereignty and security and human dignity that Jews and Israelis and Zionists do.

This is the problem with Sharon: that he would make these bold, dramatic gestures which would catch the attention of the world and the media and many Israelis, but when you disaggregate his actions and you look at them one by one, they’re essentially colonial in spirit and even, I would say, semi-racist and apartheid-like in their motivation. And this is the real problem with him. He was a man of great complexity, of great drama, but I think also of great criminality at one level because the actions he did – the settlements, the wall, the killings, the siege – were all basically against international law.”

Not a peep is heard from Doucet in response to that polemic. Not even a reminder to listeners that the partial blockade on Gaza came about – almost two years after the disengagement and 18 months after Sharon fell ill – as a result of the increased terror attacks from the Gaza Strip which Khouri of course completely airbrushes from the picture. One actually has to wonder what was the point of having Doucet in the studio at all – other than as scenery for Khouri’s diatribe. 

But she is not quite finished yet. After the final guest – former US ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk who gives a very interesting account of his impressions of Sharon – parts of the ‘interview’ with Rami Khouri are rebroadcast.

Not only was no attempt made in this programme to conform to editorial standards of accuracy, but inaccurate information was actively promoted – including in the news bulletin. In addition, whilst listeners heard three positive or neutral opinions (Peres, Ayalon and Indyk), they heard negative or even demonizing ones from a Hamas spokesman, Mustafa Barghouti, Amir Oren, Jim Muir’s interviewee and twice from Rami Khouri, not to mention Doucet herself and Wooldridge. Clearly, as far as editorial guidelines on impartiality are concerned, no genuine attempt to give a balanced view was made.

This programme was broadcast just eight hours after the previous – and no less problematic – edition also presented by Doucet in which the balance was also tipped in favour of negative and even defamatory commentary. It is abundantly clear what the producers and presenter of both programmes were trying to convey to BBC audiences around the world and it is also very obvious that they were not going to let BBC editorial guidelines get in their way.

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Breaches of editorial guidelines in BBC WS ‘Newshour’ special Sharon broadcast

Breaches of editorial guidelines in BBC WS ‘Newshour’ special Sharon broadcast

Just one hour after the official announcement of Ariel Sharon’s death on January 11th, the BBC World Service’s ‘Newshour’ programme went on air with an edition titled “Ariel Sharon dies” presented by Lyse Doucet which can be heard here.

Newshour 11 1 14

The programme opens with an item by BBC World Affairs correspondent Mike Wooldridge in which the second Intifada myth is once again promoted.

“It was as Likud leader in opposition in September 2000 that he paid a visit that was to go down in history, like other actions of his. Ariel Sharon simply going to the Al Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem – a site also holy to Jews – turned out to be one of the sparks for the second Palestinian uprising or Intifada.”

Wooldridge even includes in his account a recording of former Arafat advisor Ahmad Tibi deliberately misrepresenting geography:

“He [Sharon] came here in order to burn up the area. Al Aqsa Mosque is an Islamic place. Al Aqsa is in the Palestinian territory.”

The editorial decisions behind the presentation of the various interviewees in this programme of course remain a mystery, but the very first person to be interviewed by Doucet is Mustafa Barghouti who is presented as a “prominent Palestinian politician”, with of course no mention of hisanti-Israel activism. Barghouti opens: 

“Well of course there is no gloating in death – nobody should celebrate any death – but unfortunately I have to say that Mr Sharon left no good memories with Palestinians. Eh..he was responsible for the terrible invasion of Lebanon in 1982. He was personally accused even by Israeli courts for responsibility for the massacre in Sabra and Shatila which took the lives of thousands of Palestinians. He himself provoked the Intifada – the second Intifada – when he visited Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, killing practically the Oslo process and then he engaged in a unilateral redeployment in Gaza, refusing to negotiate with the Palestinian side. And the worst thing – the worst memories I have in this period was when they invaded us again in an act of invasion that destroyed our houses, killed hundreds of Palestinians and practically re-established occupation again of the West Bank. And he is accused also of the assassination of President Arafat, so all in all unfortunately he had a path of war and aggression and a great failure in making peace with the Palestinian people.”

If one is expecting Lyse Doucet to jump in at this point and clarify to her millions of listeners that the Lebanon war began in response to Palestinian terrorism and that the Kahan Commission was not a court but a commission of inquiry and that it found that Sharon bore indirect responsibility for the massacre by Lebanese Christian Arabs of Palestinian Arabs, then one will be sorely disappointed.  Likewise, Doucet makes no effort to explain that the second Intifada was pre-planned long before Sharon set foot on Temple Mount , that Operation Defensive Shield was brought about by unprecedented Palestinian terrorism against Israeli civilians or that two recent reports have shown that Arafat died of natural causes. Instead, Doucet allows Barghouti free rein to continue his tirade of falsehoods by asking him if – had he not been taken ill – Sharon would also have withdrawn from the PA controlled territories in Judea & Samaria. Barghouti replies:

“I doubt that totally because there are big differences between West Bank and Gaza. Actually what he did in Gaza helped destroy the Palestinian internal unity because he really did not withdraw from Gaza. He did not end the occupation of Gaza. All he did is redeployment and establishment of a new form of occupation where Gaza is besieged by air, by land and by sea. And his main goal was to separate the West Bank from Gaza and thus by getting rid of 1.3% of the land he could keep the rest of the land and this way he could get rid of one third of the demographic formula.”

No comment is made by Doucet regarding Barghouti’s use of that figure of 1.3%, even though it reveals the true nature of his agenda seeing as the Gaza Strip comprises 1.3% of the land which was under British administration at the time of the Mandate. Neither does the frankly comic notion that Sharon destroyed “Palestinian internal unity” raise any reaction from Doucet and she offers no clarification of the fact that the partial blockade on the Gaza Strip came as a direct response to Palestinian terrorism.  Barghouti goes on:

“The other issue of course which will remain for history to decide, is whether one day he will be judged also in the court of justice for crimes against humanity, especially what happened in terms of the invasions and also in Sabra and Shatila – these were his orders.”

In spite of the fact that Barghouti has just claimed that the massacre of Palestinians in Sabra and Shatila was carried out upon the “orders” of Sharon, Doucet makes no attempt to inform listeners of the false nature of that claim, instead closing with “thank you for joining us from Ramallah”. To make matters worse, parts of Barghouti’s uninterrupted monologue of lies and defamation are later rebroadcast twice in the programme.

Doucet’s other interviewees include two Israelis (Zalman Shuval and David Horowitz ), three additional BBC correspondents (Kevin Connolly, Jeremy Bowen and Karim Gohary of the BBC Arabic Service), former US negotiator Dennis Ross and Palestinian journalist Ghassan Khatib. 

Karim Gohary is brought in at around 27:37 to inform listeners of the reaction to Sharon’s death in the Arab world. His contribution is seasoned with terms such as “war crimes” and “criminal court” as well as what are clearly his own interpretations of events, which also go unchallenged by Doucet.

“..in addition to what I’ve already spoken about, the starting of the second Intifada – actually going to the Al Aqsa Mosque, unannounced as well – it has a lot of meaning for many Arabs…”

In fact, Sharon’s visit to Temple Mount (he did not enter either of the mosques) was pre-coordinated with Jibril Rajoub of the PA security forces, so it can hardly be described as “unannounced”.  Of course the “meaning” of that event might perhaps be a little different were it reported accurately by the media – including the BBC – both over the past thirteen years and at the present time.

Doucet’s final guest is Ghassan Khatib who, when asked by Doucet for his “thoughts today”, says:

“Well, I thought that we only have negative and bad memories of Sharon. I think the consensus among Palestinians is that Sharon needed to be treated as a war criminal more than anything else. In all his political life he was a leading figure in the Israeli political camp that worked by all possible means, legal and illegal, in order to maintain the illegal control of Israel over the Palestinians and the Palestinian territories in West Bank including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. He was responsible for massacres. He pulled out of – from – Gaza in order to consolidate the Israeli occupation in the West Bank and he did it in a way that contributed to marginalising the peace camp in Palestine and he did it in a way that played to the hand of the opposition of the peace process in the Palestinian territories. There’s a consensus among Palestinians that he is the worst ever leader in Israel from prospective [the perspective] of Palestinians. Palestinians – I think most Palestinians, all Palestinians, would like to see him and his memory resting in the [unintelligible] history, worst possible place in history.”

Neither Khatib nor Doucet of course bother to inform listeners that Sharon’s successor Ehud Olmert, who became acting prime minister when Sharon was taken ill in January 2006 – less than five months after the Gaza disengagement – and then was elected (having run on a platform of withdrawal from Judea & Samaria) to continue the post in April 2006, offered Mahmoud Abbas a peace plan which demonstrates just how disingenuous claims of ‘consolidation’ of Israel’s presence there – as promoted by Khatib – actually are.  

BBC editorial guidelines do not apply merely to content spoken or written by BBC employees. Hence, an interviewer has the responsibility to ensure that when interviewees make grossly misleading or defamatory statements, they are countered with facts. 

“As it is not possible to guarantee the compliance of live programmes in advance of transmission we should take special care to minimise the risks involved such as inadvertently causing harm or offence, giving undue prominence to products, organisations or services or creating legal problems. This applies to anyone appearing live on air or online including our contributors, our own presenters, journalists and reporters, commentators and analysts, and even the live audience. The risks of live broadcasting may include:

 the inappropriate use of strong language;

the inadvertent inclusion of strong language in song lyrics (both English and foreign language versions), film clips, poetry readings, extracts from literature and so on;

issues of portrayal including racism and national stereotyping;

broadcast of derogatory or libellous comments;

failure to achieve impartiality;

misleading of audiences;

detailed and inappropriate identification of child contributors;

undue prominence of a product, for example, a film, book or sponsors logo;

unexpected and potentially inappropriate coverage of injuries and loss of life in national or international emergencies;

inappropriately graphic or insensitive coverage of sporting fatalities or severe injuries;

failure to alert viewers who may have photosensitive epilepsy to the inclusion of editorially justified flashing images or strobing.

[emphasis added]   […]

“If it is established during a live programme that a factual error has been made and we can accurately correct it then we should admit our mistake clearly and frankly. Saying what was wrong as well as putting it right can be an important element in making an effective correction. “

In this broadcast Doucet and her producers were not even going through the motions of pretending to adhere to editorial standards of accuracy and impartiality.

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