Serialised propaganda, omission and inaccuracy on BBC R4’s ‘Book of the Week’

The BBC Radio 4 programme ‘Book of the Week’ is described as:

“Serialised book readings, featuring works of non-fiction, biography, autobiography, travel, diaries, essays, humour and history”

Last week’s five episodes featured a book titled “Where the Line is Drawn” by Raja Shehadeh.

Episode One – July 23rd:

“Raja Shehadeh is an award winning Palestinian writer, lawyer, and founder of the human right’s [sic] organisation, Al Haq. In Where the Line is Drawn he reflects on his forty year friendship with Henry, a Jewish Israeli. As idealistic young men when they first meet in 1977, they connect over shared interests in literature, writing and walking. As the years pass, their friendship is challenged by history, politics, enmity and violence, but it also points the way to a common future. Raja Shehadeh’s books include Occupation Diaries; Language of War, Language of Peace and Palestinian Walks which won the 2008 Orwell Prize. He has contributed to The New York Times, The Guardian and Granta.”

Episode Two – July 24th:

“Raja Shehadeh, the award winning Palestinian writer, lawyer, and founder of the human rights organisation, Al Haq, visits Jaffa, the city from which his father was exiled during the Nakba in 1948 when 750,000 were forced from their homes with the end of the British Mandate and the creation of Israel. It’s now 1978 and he is staying with Jewish friends who moved into one of the old Arab houses in Jaffa. He is curious about their choice of home.”

Episode Three – July 25th:

“Raja Shehadeh, the award winning Palestinian writer, lawyer, and founder of the human rights organisation, Al Haq recollects a humiliating experience on his way home to Ramallah.”

Episode Four – July 26th:

“Raja Shehadeh, the award winning Palestinian writer, lawyer, and founder of the human rights organisation, Al Haq, remembers a terrifying night time drive. Meanwhile, tense times lie ahead for Raja and Henry as the new millennium dawns.”

Episode Five – July 27th:

“Raja Shehadeh, the award winning Palestinian writer, lawyer, and founder of the human rights organisation, Al Haq receives shocking news and he comes to a new understanding about the value of his friendship with Henry. He also reflects on the controversial killing of a young Palestinian attacker by a teenage Israeli soldier who was later jailed for manslaughter.”

Although the NGO ‘Al Haq’ is mentioned in each and every one of those five synopses, BBC Radio 4 audiences were given no information about the political agenda of that so-called “human rights organisation” or its alleged ties to a terror group.

Despite the frequent references to “illegal occupation” and “occupied territories”, no proper historic context was provided to listeners throughout the entire series. In episode one listeners were told that “Israelis…in 1967 had taken the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, from Jordan” without any mention of the fact that Jordan illegally occupied those areas for 19 years.

Listeners to episode one heard a partisan description of the circumstances in which Palestinians including Shehadeh’s father – also a lawyer – left their homes which left them with the inaccurate impression that they were universally “forced out”.

“In 1948 during the Nakba, where around 750,000 Palestinians were forced out of their homes with the establishment of Israel, he lost his practice, his home, and all his properties. And he had to start all over again in Ramallah.”

In episode two listeners heard a reference to Jaffa as “my father’s city from which he was exiled” and were again told that in 1948:

“…with the end of the British Mandate and the establishment of Israel, around 750,000 Palestinians were forced out of their homes. The Palestinians who managed to stay were placed in the Ajami quarter surrounded by barbed wire. It was like a ghetto.”

Listeners also heard that in 1967 “I drove with my parents to visit the city they had been forced to leave 19 years earlier.”

Notably, when Raja Shehadeh appeared on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Desert Island Discs’ in 2014, he told a rather different version of that story: a version in which his parents were not “forced to leave” Jaffa but decided to relocate to their second home.

“Jaffa it’s very hot and humid in the summer and so they had a summer-house in Ramallah. When hostilities began they decided it’s safer in Ramallah because it was getting rather dangerous actually – physically dangerous – so they decided, towards the end of April, to take that short drive down to Ramallah – short drive from Jaffa – and my father always thought that if the worst happens – that is the partition – Jaffa was going to be on the Arab side so they will always be able to go back. And they took very few things with them and they were never able to go back.”

Throughout the five episodes listeners heard Israelis described as “settlers” (regardless of their place of residence in Israel) and “colonisers”. Notably, all the Israeli voices in the dramatisation were done in a bizarre quasi-American accent – regardless of where they were born – which implied that they were ‘foreigners’. In episode two listeners heard the story of Shehadeh’s visit to a plant nursery in which he asked how the owner – described as a woman from Canada – “could establish her nursery on land expropriated from villagers who were now forced to live in crowded refugee camps with no land to cultivate for themselves” and accused her of ‘exploiting’ the land.

Listeners also heard a context-free account of the beginning of the second Intifada – described as “futile” rather than wrong – and justification of terrorism:

“Israel was fighting for the retention of this land. We were fighting to end the occupation in accordance with international law which gave us the right to resist.” [episode three]

“…the human and political issues that led these young men to brutally kill themselves, and others, in despair.”

In episode three listeners were told that Shehadeh’s father had been “murdered…by a collaborator working for Israel” even though it was later admitted that “no-one was ever charged”.

In episode five listeners heard the wave of Palestinian terrorism which began in the autumn of 2015 described thus:

“This uprising was different. There was no unified leadership guiding these young men and women. They had no political platform or concrete demands. They simply improvised ways of resisting. Some of these were non-violent, others violent involving the stabbing of not only soldiers but also innocent Israelis. The Israeli government responded with violence, defining all resistance as terrorism.”

Also in episode five listeners heard a long section relating to an incident in Hebron in March 2016 which was inaccurately portrayed as having begun when:

“Abdul Fattah al Sharif, 21, from the occupied old city of Hebron lay on the ground shot after he allegedly tried to stab an Israeli soldier.” [emphasis added]

As the BBC’s own reports on that incident show, the words “allegedly” and “tried to” are completely superfluous and materially misleading.

“Sharif and another 21-year-old Palestinian, Ramzi Aziz al-Qasrawi, had stabbed and wounded an Israeli soldier before troops opened fire on them, wounding Sharif and killing Qasrawi.”

There is of course much more on which to comment in these 75 minutes of entirely one-sided stories which completely erase Palestinian agency and responsibility and prompted Sunday Times journalist Rod Liddle to write to the BBC.

“A nice man called Andrew in the BBC Press Office is kind enough to send me a list of stuff the corporation is doing each week. […]

I have never replied to Andrew’s email, but I did last week because I had been listening to the book that Radio 4 was serialising. Here’s what I wrote:

Dear Andrew,

Many thanks for your weekly bulletins about what the BBC is up to. I wonder if you could answer my inquiry below, or pass it on to someone who can.

Here’s the thing. I am hugely enjoying the serialisation on Radio 4 of the Palestinian writer Raja Shehadeh’s entertaining book, How My People Were Robbed, Murdered and Crushed by the Vile Occupying Fascist Israeli State. I may have got the title slightly wrong, for which apologies. I was wondering if the BBC intended, at any point, to serialise a book that might give a contrary point of view on this disputatious issue — perhaps by an Israeli?

All the best,
Rod

I got a friendly acknowledgment from Andrew — and later a two-line reply from the BBC, stating that the corporation’s coverage is impartial. Mr Shehadeh has spent most of his life railing against Israel and Jews, while claiming to be a moderate. And his book is serialised by Radio 4. Of course, it will not serialise a book by an Israeli to provide the political balance that the corporation is duty bound to strive for (even if, frankly, it doesn’t strive terribly hard).”

That just about sums it up.

Related Articles:

Desert Island distortions on BBC Radio 4

BBC’s ‘Hardtalk’ mainstreams anti-Israel delegitimisation

 

 

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BBC quoted and promoted NGO supports cash for terror

Even as international awareness grows concerning the issue of Palestinian Authority’s provision of salaries to convicted terrorists and payments to the families of terrorists killed in the act, the BBC has yet to provide its funding public with any serious reporting on that subject. Indeed, as recently as May the BBC’s Middle East editor amplified Palestinian Authority messaging when he told audiences that:

“He [Netanyahu] was referring to a Palestinian Martyrs’ fund. It pays pensions to people it regards as victims of the occupation, including the families of individuals who have been killed attacking Israelis. There is also a fund to support Palestinians who have been imprisoned by Israel. The Palestinians have compared the payments to the salaries Israel pays to soldiers.” [emphasis added]

In early June the Palestinian Authority reportedly halted payments to some former prisoners – for the most part linked to Hamas – residing in the Gaza Strip. However, that move apparently had more to do with the tensions between Hamas and the PA that have also seen Mahmoud Abbas reduce PA payments for electricity and medical care for Gaza residents than with any change of policy regarding the salaries for convicted terrorists.  

Nevertheless, the move brought criticism from assorted ‘human rights’ groups, as documented by NGO Monitor.

“…a number of Palestinian non-governmental organizations (NGOs) receiving European government funding under the banner of human rights assert that terrorists have a “right” to receive salaries and that suspending these payments is a violation of international law. NGO officials have also not questioned the legitimacy of violent responses by the Palestinian street, and some of their statements can be interpreted as veiled threats of violence meant to prevent an end to payments.”

One of those NGOs is the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR).

“On July 25, 2017, the PCHR organized a workshop on “Consequences of Former Prisoners’ Salary Suspension on their Economic and Social Rights.” PCHR director, Raji Sourani, stated that “the decision of suspending former prisoners’ salaries was shocking to the prisoners, their families and all Palestinians as it is illegal, immoral, and violates the Basic Law and the international human rights law.””

As readers may recall, the PCHR was the source of dubious claims concerning ‘war crimes’ which appeared in BBC content less than 24 hours after the beginning of the summer 2014 conflict between Israel and Hamas. The group’s director was interviewed by the BBC on several occasions during that conflict.

As has been noted here previously, the PCHR is one of several NGOs uncritically quoted and promoted by the BBC despite being active in the lawfare campaign against Israel.

Moreover, the PCHR was one of the sources used by UNOCHA for the compilation of casualty figures and civilian/combatant ratios in the Gaza Strip during the 2014 conflict. Those figures were unquestioningly quoted, promoted – and even defended – by the BBC without any independent verification and are still being cited to this day in its content.

Now we learn that the PCHR director – described to audiences by the BBC’s Middle East editor as “a Palestinian human rights campaigner” – is of the opinion that terrorists who murder Israeli civilians have a ‘human right’ to generous monthly cash payments.  

Whether or not that will do anything to convince the BBC that the PCHR is not a reliable and unbiased source of information worthy of unchallenged promotion by a media organisation committed to accurate and impartial reporting is of course highly doubtful.

Revisiting the BBC News website’s PFLP profile

Following the terror attack at the Kehilat Ya’akov Synagogue in the Har Nof neighbourhood of Jerusalem on November 18th 2014, the BBC News website produced a profile of the organisation with which the two terrorists were affiliated.Pigua Har Nof PFLP art

Two years later, that profile remains online with its inaccurate main illustrative photograph. The article’s presentation of the number of Israelis murdered in the Har Nof attack is also inaccurate: [emphasis added]

“It was also not clear how involved the PFLP leadership had been in the attack in November 2014 that saw two members of the group armed with axes storm a synagogue complex in West Jerusalem and kill four rabbis in the middle of their morning prayers.

A statement by the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades praised the “heroic operation” by Ghassan and Uday Abu Jamal, but did not specify whether the cousins had been instructed to carry out the attack.”

In fact, five people (four worshippers and a policeman) were killed during the attack and one additional victim succumbed to his wounds a year later but the BBC’s article has not been updated accordingly.

The article refrains from describing the PFLP as a terrorist organisation in the BBC’s own words, with that definition attributed to Israeli authorities in quotation marks:

“The PFLP leader was subsequently sentenced to 30 years in an Israeli prison for heading an “illegal terrorist organisation”…” 

Readers of the profile are not informed that the PFLP is defined as a proscribed terror organisation by the United States, Canada, Israel and the EU.

NGO Monitor recently produced a report concerning the financial support provided to various NGOs linked to the PFLP.

“Many European countries fund a network of organizations, some of which are directly affiliated with the PFLP, and others with a substantial presence of employees and officials linked to the PFLP. The non-governmental organizations (NGOs) include Addameer, Al-Haq, Alternative Information Center (AIC), Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCI-P), Health Work Committee (HWC), Stop the Wall, Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), and the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC). […]

Donors to the NGOs include the EU, the governments of Sweden, Denmark, Spain, Norway, Ireland, UK, Netherland, Germany, Belgium, France, and Switzerland, and the United Nations. Continued funding raises serious questions about due diligence and evaluation on the part of the governments and the UN, as well as compliance with domestic and international laws.”

Some of those NGOs have been directly or indirectly quoted and promoted by the BBC in its Middle East coverage – for example Addameer, Al Haq, Defence for Children International – Palestine and of course the PCHR, which received particularly extensive exposure during the 2014 conflict between Israel and terror organisations in the Gaza Strip and which was one of the sources behind the casualty figures amplified by the BBC at the time.

Related Articles:

BBC Complaints: terror attacks in Jerusalem and Tunisia are “very different”  

BBC News coy on lawfare NGOs it previously quoted and promoted

On July 4th the BBC News website published a report titled “Israeli politician Tzipi Livni ‘summonsed by UK police’” on its Middle East page.Livni art

One coyly worded paragraph is of particular interest:

“Correspondents say pro-Palestinian activists have filed a series of complaints against Israeli officials, including Ms Livni, in recent years.”

Who those “correspondents” are is not made clear and of course the said “activists” are more accurately described as anti-Israel than “pro-Palestinian” but remarkably, the BBC chose not to identify them for its readers.

Fortunately, NGO Monitor has background information on that subject which includes the following:

“The main NGOs behind the campaigns in the UK and beyond, including at the International Criminal Court, are Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), Al Haq, and Al Mezan. All are funded by European governments.

In the UK, they have been supported by Daniel Machover of Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights and Hickman & Rose Solicitors, as well as Irvine, Thanvi, Natas and Imran Khan & Partners.”

If the names of those political NGOs engaged in lawfare against Israel and its public figures seem familiar to readers, that is because the BBC has quoted and promoted them extensively over the years – and in particular during its coverage of the conflict between Israel and terrorist organisations in the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2014.

Not only were the Gaza Strip casualty figures cited by the BBC based on information sourced, inter alia, from the PCHR and Al Mezan, but the corporation engaged in vigorous amplification of unsubstantiated claims of ‘war crimes’ by the PCHR literally from day two of the conflict.

Reminders of the BBC’s promotion of Al Haq can be found here, of Al Mezan here and of the PCHR here.

Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas addresses the PCHR 2006 conference

Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas addresses the PCHR 2006 conference

The BBC has never provided its funding public with a satisfactory explanation as to why it uncritically amplifies the agendas of organisations which make no secret of the fact that they are involved in a political campaign of lawfare against Israel or why it rejected complaints which challenged the BBC’s use of obviously politically partisan information from those sources.

Audience understanding of this latest lawfare stunt (and the topic in general) would of course be greatly enhanced were the corporation to name its protagonists and finally provide some accurate and impartial information concerning their political agenda. 

 

BBC promoted NGOs and a question in Parliament

Back in December we noted that our colleagues at CAMERA had secured corrections to inaccurate information appearing in an article published by Associated Press which was largely sourced from an employee of a political NGO previously quoted and promoted in BBC content.

“”They (Israelis) are trying to uproot us from Jerusalem, they are stealing the houses, the trees and the stones of the city,” laments Nura Sub-Laban, a Palestinian woman featured in The Associated Press article today by Karin Laub and Mohammed Daraghmeh (“Palestinian eviction case spotlights Jerusalem settler push“).

Set against the backdrop of the disputed “gold-topped Dome of the Rock,” AP’s account of the looming eviction of Sub-Laban from their home in Jerusalem’s Muslim Quarter reflects a narrative of supposed Jewish encroachment in the holy city at the expense of dispossessed Palestinians, blameless “victims of discriminatory use of Israeli property law.” 

It is also fundamentally wrong, based as it is on a grossly misrepresented basic facts about the Sub-Laban case, initially ignoring critical essential information and falsely casting it as part “of a wider settlement campaign.””

The subject matter of that AP article cropped up again last week during Prime Minister’s Questions in the UK Parliament. The ‘BBC Parliament’ TV channel of course broadcast the February 24th session which included a question from the MP for Bradford East (available in the UK only from 29:22 here).

Imran Hussain (Bradford East) (Lab): Last week, together with several of my hon. Friends, I visited Palestine, where we went to the home of Nora and her family, who have lived in the old city of East Jerusalem since 1953. Israeli settlers, however, are now trying to force Nora from her home of over 60 years. There are many other cases like that. Does the Prime Minister agree with me that illegal settlements and constructions are a major roadblock that hinder peaceful negotiations? What are this Government doing to help prevent these infringements into Palestinian lives and land?”

Mr Hussain and additional Labour MPs did indeed visit the region earlier in February on a trip organized by the charity Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) and the Council for the Advancement of Arab-British Understanding (CAABU). As readers may recall, MAP has been used by the BBC in the past as a source of information and a BBC reporter showcased one of its projects in 2014. CAABU’s director Chris Doyle and other representatives are frequent contributors to BBC content.

According to CAABU’s Joseph Willits, the part of the trip which involved a visit to the Sub Laban family was facilitated by the foreign funded political NGO Al Haq which is of course active in the ‘lawfare’ campaign against Israel and is from time to time promoted in BBC content.

“They are Nora Gheith Sub-Laban and her family in Jerusalem’s Old City who are battling an eviction because illegal settlers want to move into their home. They also face constant intimidation from settlers and the Israeli army. Thanks to Al-Haq Organisation for arranging these visits to see the impact of illegal settlements and the Wall that destroys lives, livelihoods, families, and a person’s psychological make up.”

Willits tweet Sub Laban

MAP described that visit as follows:

“On Thursday, the MPs met Palestinian communities living in the shadow of Israel’s 440km-long separation wall, and heard from the Gaith-Sub Laban family who have threatened [sic] with eviction from their home of 62 years in East Jerusalem.”

Unsurprisingly given the agendas of all the groups involved in organising this visit, the British parliamentarians were obviously not told the entire story.

“…the Sub-Labans were never the owners of the property, but rather enjoyed “protected tenant” status. That status can be lost if the tenant abandons the property without intention of returning – and it is irrelevant whether the tenant is Jewish or Palestinian. […]

…before the 1948 war, the building was “owned by a trust for Kollel Galicia, a group that collected funds in Eastern Europe for Jewish families in Jerusalem.” When Jordan occupied Jerusalem in 1948, the property fell under the control of the Jordanian administration and was rented to the Palestinian Sub-Laban family in 1953. Following the 1967 war, when Israel gained control of eastern Jerusalem, the property was, according to the AP,

‘handed to an Israeli government department, the General Custodian. Palestinian residents were recognized as “protected tenants,” provided they continued to live in the apartments and pay rent to the Custodian.

[Ahmed] Sub-Laban said his family was forced out of the apartment between 1984 and 2001, but did not lose their protected tenancy during this period.’ […]

But the article’s underlying flaw is that initially nowhere did it state that at that point, in 2001, the family failed to move back into the property, which is the crux of the legal argument against them.

The magistrate court (34656-11-10) (in a decision upheld by the district court (28083-12-14) found that the family had not returned to the apartment in 2001. According to the court from 2001-2010 (when the property was transferred to the trust) the family did not live in the apartment. From 2010 until 2014, they had only “pretended” to live in the apartment.”

In other words, the claim made by Mr Hussain in Parliament that “Israeli settlers, however, are now trying to force Nora from her home of over 60 years” is inaccurate not least because two  courts of law have established that she did not live in that rented apartment for thirty of those years. Naturally, Mr Hussain’s amplification of that political propaganda in Parliament was appreciated by his hosts.

Willits tweet 2

The problematic aspects of the relationship between the media and political NGOs have previously been raised on these pages.

“As time goes by the mutually beneficial relationship between the traditional media and NGOs flourishes and expands and news consumers find that more and more of their news comes or is sourced from agenda-driven organisations which make no claim to provide unbiased information and are not committed to journalistic standards.

When political agendas and reporting meet, questions obviously arise concerning accuracy, impartiality and reliability. Whilst the BBC – like many other media organisations – has addressed the topic of ‘citizen journalists’ providing user-generated content (UGC), much less attention is given to content sourced from NGOs.”

One result of the BBC’s unchallenged promotion of information provided by NGOs often portrayed as ‘human rights groups’  is the ensuing ‘halo effect’ which leads members of the public and politicians alike to refrain from critical examination of the facts behind claims made by campaigning groups with a clear political agenda – as, sadly, the above example shows only too well.

Related Articles:

British MP’s query on Jerusalem prompting David Cameron’s ‘shock’ is based on lie (UK Media Watch) 

BBC continues to avoid telling audiences what BDS is really about

On June 4th the BBC News website’s Middle East page published an article now titled “Israel PM Netanyahu attacks Orange boss for pulling deal“, changes to which can be viewed here.Orange art

The article includes three paragraphs of particular interest, with the first one including a link promoting a report produced by a coalition of French NGOs together with the Palestinian NGO ‘Al Haq’

Orange art para 1

The BBC’s tepid description of FIDH as “a Paris-based NGO” fails to provide audiences with any insight into the organisation’s political agenda – information which is obviously crucial if readers are to be able to put its statement quoted and promoted by the BBC into the correct context. For example, the writer of this report could have reminded readers that FIDH was one of a group of political NGOs (again, along with Al Haq) which last summer led a lawfare campaign against Israel.

The article also includes the standard BBC mantra which fails to comply with BBC editorial guidelines on impartiality by neglecting to inform audiences of the existence of legal opinions which contradict the view exclusively promoted by the BBC.

Orange art para 2

We have noted many times before on these pages that whilst the BBC often provides a platform for proponents of BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) against Israel (and no less frequently some of its own journalists can also be found amplifying and mainstreaming that campaign), the corporation consistently fails to provide its audiences with the full facts about the aims and motivations of BDS.

In this report we find an interesting use of the “Israel says” formula: the BBC’s way of telling audiences that it does not confirm the information provided.

Orange art para 3

Editorial guidelines on accuracy and impartiality would obviously require the BBC to clarify to audiences that the BDS campaign’s constant delegitimisation and demonization of Israel is not its end game. Those methods are part of a toolbox aimed at influencing global public opinion with the intention – as BDS activists freely admit – of bringing about an end to the Jewish state and denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination.

Until the BBC provides its funding public with the full range of factual information about the BDS campaign and its real aims, it cannot abide by its own editorial guidelines and it cannot meet its public purpose remit of building “global understanding of international issues”. 

Resources:

BBC News website – contact and complaints

 

BBC’s Knell invents ‘settlements’, amplifies anti-Israel activist

On January 13th an article by the BBC Jerusalem Bureau’s Yolande Knell titled “Ariel Sharon death stirs conflicting emotions across political divide” appeared in the ‘Features & Analysis’ section of the BBC News website’s Middle East page. The article was also promoted on the same page as one of several ‘related articles’ among the extensive coverage of Ariel Sharon’s funeral.

Knell Sharon art 13 1

Excluding photo captions and sub-headings, Knell’s article is 657 words long. Two hundred and fifty-five of those words are used to present Israeli views – both positive and negative – of Sharon. Two hundred and seventy-nine words are devoted to the presentation of exclusively negative Palestinian views.

Knell states:

“During the 1990s, when he served as housing minister, Mr Sharon oversaw a massive building drive of settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories.”

Ariel Sharon served as Minister of Housing and Construction from June 11th 1990 to July 13th 1992, so according to Knell, there was a “massive” increase in the number of communities established in Judea & Samaria and Jerusalem during those 25 months. But is that actually the case?

Examination of the dates of establishment of neighbourhoods in Jerusalem and communities in the regional councils Gush Etzion, Har Hevron, Megilot, Matei Binyamin, Aravot HaYarden and Shomron shows that throughout the whole of the period between 1990 and 1992 a grand total of three communities were established. 

Avnei Hefetz was established in 1990. As of 12/2011 it had 350 1,545 residents. Rechelim was first established in 1991 in memory of two women named Rachel who were both murdered in terror attacks. However, civilians were not permitted to stay there and between 1992 -94 the site was held by the IDF’s Nahal brigade. In 2013 the sixty family-strong community’s status was recognized. Revava was established in 1991 on land which had been purchased in 1983 and as of 12/2011 had 1,395 residents. 

But perhaps – given the fact that planning and building procedures take time – that “massive building drive” of new communities which Knell claims Sharon “oversaw” came to fruition after his term as Minister of Housing and Construction? Well the answer to that is no: Revava – established in 1991 – was in fact the last official new community to be built for the next 21 years.

Of course what Knell might actually mean is that Sharon oversaw building in existing communities during his term as Minister of Housing, but that is not what she writes. She uses the phrase “Mr Sharon oversaw a massive building drive of settlements” – not ‘a massive building drive in settlements’ – which any reasonable reader will take to mean that Sharon was responsible for the building of a very large number of new communities. Hence, Knell’s inaccurate phrasing misleads BBC audiences.

Later on in the article Knell writes: 

“In a New Yorker blog post, the writer, Raja Shehadeh referred to his [Sharon’s] involvement in the 1982 massacres of Palestinians in Beirut refugee camps and his controversial visit in 2000 to Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa Mosque Compound, known to Jews as Temple Mount. The walkabout on the contested site infuriated Palestinians, who launched the second intifada (or uprising).

Mr Shehadeh believes that the unilateral pullout from Gaza was part of Mr Sharon’s attempt to strengthen Israel’s hold on as much territory as possible rather than a reach for peace.”

Knell of course does not bother to inform readers that the opinions of the “writer” she chooses to amplify should be viewed in the context of the fact that he is a former director of Al Haq and a regular participant in the BDS-supporting ‘PalFest’

Neither does Knell bother to clarify for readers that Sharon had no “involvement” (her word, by the way: Shehadeh does not use that term in his post) in the massacres at Sabra and Shatila which was carried out by Lebanese Christian Arabs or that the second Intifada was planned long before Sharon’s pre-coordinated visit to Temple Mount in September 2000. Likewise, although Shehadeh is perfectly entitled to “believe” whatever he wishes, the fact is that attempts were apparently made by Sharon to coordinate the Gaza Strip disengagement and Ehud Olmert – who took over leadership of Sharon’s Kadima party after his illness – made an offer to the Palestinian leadership which proves the very opposite of Shehadeh’s ‘beliefs’. 

The BBC tells its funding public that “BBC News aspires to remain the standard-setter for international journalism”. As this latest effort by Yolande Knell shows, the sad proof of the “standards” pudding which BBC News sets for itself (and “international journalism”, no less) is the distasteful one of misleading, inaccurate reporting, deliberate amplification of falsehoods and blind repetition of the politically motivated propaganda spouted by known anti-Israel activists. 

BBC’s Donnison promotes Al Haq translation of PA propaganda

At best, the Palestinian NGO Al Haq is just one of many political organisations abusing the halo of the title ‘human rights’ in order to make its anti-Israel campaigning more palatable in the West. At worst, it has a much more sinister side. 

At the beginning of February 2013, Al Haq director Shawan Jabarin visited France and whilst there, gave an interview to a French television station.

“Jabarin claimed that members of the French Parliament had promised him they would relay the matter of administrative detentions to the French foreign minister so that he could exert pressure on Israel to cancel the policy of administrative detentions and to release the imprisoned Hamas activists of the Palestinian Legislative Council.”

It therefore comes as no surprise to find that Al Haq, together with another political NGO – Addameer – took the trouble to translate into English the decidedly strange autopsy report on Arafat Jaradat produced by Dr Saber al Aloul of the Palestinian Medico-legal Institute. 

Assuming that the translation (which can be seen here) is accurate, one may at first glance wonder if Dr al Aloul is angling for a part in ‘Silent Witness’ or ‘CSI’. Not for him the usual accepted terminology of an autopsy’s findings being “consistent with” this or that. No, this super-pathologist has eliminated the need for lab tests, a police investigation, a court and a judge. He has the whole case solved in the blink of an eye, with time left over for commercials. 

“All bruises (injuries) are very recent and strong resulting from direct intensive torture”

“THE REASON OF DEATH: nervous shock as a result of extreme pain from the intensity of the injuries described above, which resulted from multiple direct and extensive acts of torture.”

Dr al Aloul’s Israeli counterparts who took part in the same autopsy are apparently nowhere near as efficient. 

“It was found that the hemorrhages and fractured ribs found during the autopsy occurred close to death and are characteristic of the resuscitation attempts that were performed on the deceased by Prison Service and MDA medical staff for 50 minutes in an effort to save his life.

No signs of other contusions were found. The toxicology tests were also negative.

There were no signs of significant change due to illness in other organs that could indicate cause of death; therefore, further tests to determine the cause will be performed.”

However, the Israeli doctors are not hurried along by the catalyst of a Palestinian Authority minister of prisoner affairs who had already pronounced that Jaradat had been “killed during the investigation” only hours after his death. Neither are they faculty members at a Palestinian university which boasts a “museum for prisoner affairs” named after one of the architects of the Munich Olympic massacre. 

Informed observers would of course take the combination of a politically motivated autopsy report and a convenient English translation provided by an NGO with a long history of delegitimisation of Israel with several pinches of salt.

Not so the BBC Jerusalem Bureau’s Jon Donnison, who saw fit to promote the Al Haq translated report on Twitter.

Donnison Al Haq

But hey; what is this? A mere day after Donnison kindly took care of promoting that particular chapter of PA propaganda, the PA ministry of prisoner affairs has changed its story

“The Palestinian Authority claimed Saturday that Arafat Jaradat, the 30-year-old Palestinian who died in Megiddo Prison last week, was killed by Palestinian “collaborators.”

The PA Prisoners Affairs Ministry said that Jaradat died two days after being transferred to a cell where “collaborators” were being held.”

It looks as though we will have to wait for the rest of the tests and lab results after all.

It’s a thankless job being a voluntary PA mouthpiece, isn’t it Jon?

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