BBC ‘Newshour’ presenter Donnison decides an Israeli’s identity

According to a study carried out last year by the Israel Democracy Institute just 14% of the Arab citizens of Israel define their primary identity as Palestinian. However, even in the contemporary era of race and gender self-identification, one BBC World Service radio presenter appears to have granted himself the prerogative of deciding how Israel’s Arab citizens should be defined.

On June 3rd an edition of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newshour‘ included an interview with the Program Director of the Jewish Museum in Berlin. Presenter Jon Donnison introduced the item (from 19:34 here) as follows:

[emphasis in italics in the original, emphasis in bold added]

Donnison: “To Germany now and at the Jewish Museum in Berlin a kippa – the skullcap worn by many religious Jewish men – has gone on display. Nothing too unusual about that you might think but this is a specific kippa. It was worn by a young secular Palestinian Israeli man Adam Armoush in Berlin who put it on to show solidarity with his Jewish friends. Things went badly though. He was violently set upon in the street by a Syrian refugee in an anti-Semitic attack. Video footage of the attack went viral on social media and led to widespread demonstrations with thousands of people of all faiths or none wearing kippot in support of Adam Armoush. His kippa is going on display in the Jewish Museum’s new ‘rapid response’ gallery which aims to highlight contemporary issues in the news.”

As Adam Armoush explained in interviews given to German and Israeli media after the attack, the reason he walked down that Berlin street wearing a kippa was not the one given by Donnison.

“The 21-year-old victim of an anti-Semitic attack on the streets of Berlin has told German media that, despite the fact that he was wearing a traditional Jewish skullcap, he was not Jewish, but an Israeli Arab wearing the kippa as an experiment.

“I’m not Jewish, I’m an Israeli, I grew up in Israel in an Arab family,” the man told German broadcaster Deutsche Welle. 

He was conducting what he termed an “experiment” in response to a warning from a friend that wearing a kippa in Germany was unsafe, saying he refused to believe this. […]

Armoush told German broadcaster Deutsche Welle that he himself is an Israeli Arab, not Jewish, and that he wore the skullcap to make a point to a friend who said it was risky to do so in Germany.

“I was saying it’s really safe and I wanted to prove it, but it ended like that,” he said.”

The BBC itself reported at the time that:

“In a twist to the story, the Israeli victim later told German media that he had grown up in an Arab family in Israel and was not himself Jewish. He had been given the kippah a few days before by a friend from Israel who had told him it was dangerous to wear one in Berlin and he wanted to see if that was true.”

In addition to Donnison’s inaccurate portrayal of the reason why Armoush wore the kippa, he presented the subsequent rallies in Germany as being “in support of Adam Armoush” when in fact they were advertised as having a broader aim:

“As a sign against anti-Semitism, people in several German cities have taken to the streets with the traditional Jewish headgear, the Kippa. Jews and non-Jews gathered on Wednesday in Berlin, Cologne, Erfurt, Magdeburg and Potsdam for solidarity rallies.”

And despite there being no record of Adam Armoush having self-identified as a “Palestinian” in the various interviews he gave to the media, Jon Donnison took it upon himself to portray him as such to BBC World Service radio listeners.

All that in just one hundred and thirty-seven words.  

 

 

 

 

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Another Abbas speech and more selective BBC reporting

Between December 2017 and February 2018 the BBC News website failed to provide audiences with a full account of speeches made by the Palestinian Authority president on three separate occasions:

BBC reports the parts of Abbas’ OIC speech that fit its narrative

BBC censors parts of Mahmoud Abbas speech once again

Another BBC makeover on a speech by Mahmoud Abbas

When Mahmoud Abbas made yet another offensive and historically illiterate speech at a rare PLO convention on April 30th (which was subsequently condemned by a wide range of parties including Israel, Germany, the UK, France, the UN, the EU, US envoys, Holocaust scholars and even the New York Times and the Guardian), the BBC’s coverage appeared at first glance to be more comprehensive.

On May 1st the BBC News website published a report headlined “Holocaust row: Abbas accused of anti-Semitism“. In the body of the report the BBC was similarly incapable of informing readers in its own words of the anti-Semitic nature of Abbas’ remarks and instead relied on observations from third parties.

“Remarks by Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas about the Holocaust have been condemned as anti-Semitic by Israeli politicians and rights activists. […]

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s spokesman said the remarks were “anti-Semitic and pathetic”. […]

In New York, the Anti-Defamation League condemned Mr Abbas’s “anti-Semitic assertions”.”

Under the sub-heading “What did Abbas say exactly?” the BBC report described Abbas’ statements as follows:

“Carried live on Palestinian TV, the 90-minute speech in Arabic included a section on the Palestinian leader’s view of the history of European Jewry, based on what he said were books by “Jewish Zionist authors”.

Jews in eastern and western Europe, he said, had been periodically subjected to massacres over the centuries, culminating in the Holocaust.

“But why did this used to happen?” he asked. “They say, ‘It is because we are Jews.’ I will bring you three Jews, with three books who say that enmity towards Jews was not because of their religious identity but because of their social function.

“This is a different issue. So the Jewish question that was widespread throughout Europe was not against their religion but against their social function which relates to usury [unscrupulous money-lending] and banking and such.”

Mr Abbas also denied that Ashkenazi Jews – Jews from Germany and north-eastern Europe – were actually Semitic, saying, “They have no relation to Semitic people.””

The BBC did not however bother to clarify that Abbas’ falsehoods did not stop there and it failed to inform readers that he also touted the long discredited claim according to which Ashkenazi Jews are descendants of the ‘Khazar kingdom’, that he denied historic Jewish links to Israel and described the State of Israel as a “colonialist enterprise”, that he promoted the falsehood that Jews in Arab lands had not suffered discrimination and persecution or that he claimed that a Jewish bank had collaborated with the Nazi regime.

In other words, rather than telling readers – as claimed – what Abbas said “exactly”, the BBC actually gave a selective account of his speech to audiences who have in the past repeatedly been denied information concerning similar outbursts from the Palestinian leader that the corporation frequently touts as a ‘moderate’.

Towards the end of that article readers found a typically euphemistic description of the background to the breakdown of the 2013/14 round of talks between Israel and the Palestinians:

“The last direct peace talks took place in 2014, when Barack Obama was in the White House. They broke down amid acrimony.”

As has so often been the case in the past, the BBC refrained from clarifying to readers that those talks came to an end after the Palestinian Authority chose ‘reconciliation’ with Hamas over an end to the conflict with Israel and breached agreements reached before the talks commenced.

Three days after the appearance of that report, on May 4th, the BBC News website published an additional article titled “Palestinian leader Abbas apologises for Holocaust remarks” which similarly presented a selective description of Abbas’ statements.

“His televised speech included a section on his view of the history of European Jewry, based on what he said were books by “Jewish Zionist authors”.

He said that, over the centuries, Jews in eastern and western Europe had been periodically subjected to massacres, culminating in the Holocaust.

“But why did this used to happen?” he asked. “They say, ‘It is because we are Jews.’ I will bring you three Jews, with three books who say that enmity towards Jews was not because of their religious identity but because of their social function.

“This is a different issue. So the Jewish question that was widespread throughout Europe was not against their religion but against their social function which relates to usury [unscrupulous money-lending] and banking and such.””

The article failed to clarify to readers that Abbas did not retract any of the false claims made in his speech or that his belated ‘apology‘ was directed at “people of the Jewish faith” rather than the Jewish people because he and others of his ilk continue to deny that the Jews are a nation.

Once again we see that the BBC has sidestepped an opportunity to enhance its audiences’ understanding of factors such as the Palestinian erasure of Jewish history and refusal to recognise the Jewish state that do not fit into the narrative it has chosen to promote regarding the ‘reasons’ for the failure of the so-called peace process to yield results.

Related Articles:

BBC claims Abbas’ historical distortions and smears not ‘relevant’

BBC News silent on Abbas’ rejection of Jewish state

 

 

Guardian op-ed challenges the ‘rigid’ Yom Ha’atzmaut ‘orthdoxy’ that Israel should exist

Cross posted from UK Media Watch

Last week, Israel – and its supporters around the world – marked 70 years of its existence, as the country celebrated Yom Haatzmaut, Independence Day. In Israel, it is a day when political differences and arguments are put to one side, as the country joins together to celebrate its achievements, and its very existence. But the Guardian naturally wasn’t going to change course, and published a typically Guardian opinion piece to mark the day.

featured image

Michael Segalov’s opinion piece complains that Yom Haatzmaut does “not leave room for nuance”, and “only creates space for a certain type of Jew,” before reminding us that “Judaism has a long and proud history of dissent and disagreement”. He argues that Jews should follow the idea of seeing “Israel Independence Day as an opportunity for debate.”

Often UK Media Watch focuses on bias and inaccurate reporting.  But, in this case, it falls to us to dismember an incredibly weak opinion article, which surely would not have been published were it not to flatter the opinions of the editors.

The argument that Yom Haatzmaut doesn’t leave room for nuance is simply wrong. One can be right-wing or left-wing, secular or religious, Jewish or non-Jewish, pro-Netanyahu or anti, and basically subscribe to any political ideology under the sun, and celebrate Yom Haatzmaut. This isn’t just theoretical – this is the reality in Israel! Celebrating Yom Haatzmaut simply means you celebrate the existence of a Jewish state of Israel in some form. This is as basic a requirement as possible, and does not in any way preclude what form that state should take.

As often with anti-Israel articles, one sees the warped and convoluted logic when applying this “Israel-speak” to another country. Almost all countries in the world celebrate an Independence Day. The statement that “celebrating Bastille Day leaves no room for nuance, and implies there is only one way to be French,” is just a non starter. Yet such nonsense is seen enlightened when said about Israel.

Segalov’s argument is also profoundly underdeveloped, or frankly non-existent. He quotes, disapprovingly, the Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom, who said that Zionism is inseparable from Judaism, and counters that we should not make Zionism a part of the Jewish faith. But Judaism is not Mr Segalov’s plaything, and he does not actually present a counter argument himself. His response to the Chief Rabbi is a) that opinion only creates room for one type of Jew, and b) Judaism has a tradition of dissent.

His essential response to “Zionism is inseparable from Judaism” is a) I don’t like that, and b) Judaism allows for multiple lines of argument, even though I haven’t actually provided one.  This is not so much an opinion piece, more an I-don’t-like-their-opinion piece.

And finally, he should call a spade a spade. What is the content of the “debate” Mr Segalov is calling for? If one is calling for a debate on Independence Day, isn’t that a polite way of calling to debate the very existence of the country? One cannot “debate” in the abstract, one must debate something – an argument, a concept, a preposition. Mr Segalov stops short of saying what his proposition is, but leaves little to the imagination. In his mind, the correct way to mark Israel’s independence is to challenge its continued independence.

Here is the final irony of the article. Segalov calls for diversity, room for multiple voices. If only the Guardian had that ability to create space for another voice – for just one day a year, to put aside its qualms, and to join in recognising the tremendous achievements of Israel. Alas, until then, it seems the Guardian’s monotony of gloom and doom about Israel will continue.

Aron White has a BSc in Politics and International Relations from the University of London (Lead College: LSE), and is a graduate of the Jewish Statesmanship Center in Jerusalem. His writings have been published at the Jerusalem Post, JNS, The Daily Caller and the Algemeiner.

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Weekend long read

1) Anyone who missed Howard Jacobson’s recent op-ed on antisemitism in the UK can find it here.

“The incantatory repetition of the charge that Jews cry antisemitism only in order to subvert criticism of Israel or discredit Corbyn is more than fatuous and lazy, and it is more than painful to those many Jews who own an old allegiance to the Labour party and who are not strangers to criticising Israel. It is the deepest imaginable insult. I cannot speak for all Jews, but a profound depression has taken hold of those I know. For myself, I feel I am back in that lightless swamp of medieval ignorance where the Jew who is the author of all humanity’s ills lies, cheats, cringes and dissembles. And this time there is no horse to punch.”

2) Ynet has a report on the subject of Hizballah activities in Colombia.

“The Spanish language news website Infobae reported that Hezbollah’s presence and activities were confirmed by the Colombian police in a three year investigation carried out jointly with the US Drug Enforcement Agency. 

The investigation allowed for the identification of commercial entities and platforms of which Hezbollah made use to cover-up its activities including drug dealing, selling and exporting stolen vehicles and money laundering; alongside the recruitment of locals for future terror related activities.”

3) Writing at Politico, Jonathan Schanzer discusses “How Putin’s Folly Could Lead to a Middle East War“.

“It was all very predictable, the moment that Putin began to partner with Iran and its lethal proxy, Hezbollah. They shared intelligence, patrolled together and fought together against the Sunni jihadists and other rebels who were warring against the Assad regime.

Iran’s motivations for this unlikely marriage were crystal clear: The regime viewed Syria as a crucial territory to maintain a land bridge from their borders to the Mediterranean. For Iran, Syria was key to regional domination. It was also key to maintaining military supply routes to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Russia, by contrast, had more global ambitions. For one, Putin was putting a finger in the eye of the Obama administration. The message was that Russia could dominate territory once seen as under American influence. Putin also sought to convey to the rest of the Arab world that Russia was a strong and reliable ally for the region, and that Russia was willing to provide advanced weaponry at the right price—and without American-style red tape and oversight.”

4) At the Weekly Standard, Thomas Joscelyn takes a look at “Assad’s Horror, and Those Who Enable It“.

“There is no real question that Assad has continued to use chemical weapons even after he agreed to give them up. As the State Department was quick to note yesterday, the U.S. has concluded that he was responsible for the April 4, 2017, Sarin gas attack in Khan Sheikhoun—the same incident which prompted the Trump administration’s bombing. And both the U.S. government and the UN have found that Assad’s goons used other chemical weapons, namely crude chlorine bombs, more than once. While some of these bombs struck areas held by jihadi rebels, they have also indiscriminately killed civilians.

Assad’s principal international backer, Vladimir Putin, hasn’t stopped him from using of them. Nor has Iran, which is deeply embedded in Syria alongside Assad’s forces. In fact, the Assad-Putin-Khamenei axis has a legion of online apologists who argue that the high-profile chemical weapons assaults aren’t really the work of the Syrian “president” at all. This noxious advocacy on behalf of mass murderers is readily available on social media.

It gets even worse, as another rogue state has reportedly facilitated Assad’s acquisition of chemical weapons: North Korea. This facilitation is especially worrisome in light of the two nations’ previous cooperation on a nuclear reactor that was destroyed by the Israelis in 2007.”

 

 

BBC News website invents a new Jewish holiday

A report on this story that was published in the ‘politics’ section of the BBC News website’s UK page on the morning of April 3rd initially told readers that:

“Photographs on the Guido Fawkes website appear to show Mr Corbyn meeting members of Jewdas to mark the Jewish festival of Seder.” [emphasis added]

The article was subsequently twice updated – with the same inaccuracy recycled in a different paragraph.

The Jewish festival is of course called Pessah or Passover. The Seder is the festive meal marking the beginning of that festival.

Yes – this is the same BBC that has appointed itself to the position of internet fact checker.

Reviewing BBC R4’s ‘World at One’ background on the Labour Party story

On March 26th BBC Radio 4 news and current affairs programmes understandably devoted a considerable amount of airtime to the topic of the letter put out the previous evening by the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the JLC criticising the leader of the British Labour Party and calling for a protest outside Parliament.

One of those programmes – ‘World at One’ – seemed to attempt to present listeners with a more comprehensive view of the background to the story than others, but did that portrayal really give audiences the full view?

Presenter Martha Kearney opened the item (from 07:21 here) as follows: [emphasis in italics in the original]

Kearney: “At half past five this afternoon Jewish community leaders are gathering at Westminster in a protest against Jeremy Corbyn, accusing him of siding with antisemites again and again. They say it’s their first protest against a mainstream political party since the Second World War. The Labour leader has responded by saying ‘we recognise that antisemitism has occurred in pockets within the Labour Party, causing pain and hurt to our Jewish community in the Labour Party and the rest of the country’. He added ‘I’m sincerely sorry for the pain which has been caused’. These accusations have been levelled at Jeremy Corbyn for years.”

Kearney then presented her first example and – in contrast to her colleagues at the BBC News website – was able to give an accurate portrayal of the mural concerned.

Kearney: “In 2012 he offered his backing to a street artist whose mural, featuring antisemitic stereotypes, was due to be removed after complaints. Jeremy Corbyn replied ‘Why? You’re in good company’. He compared the mural to Rockefeller destroying one made by Diego Rivera because it included Lenin. But last week Jeremy Corbyn issued a statement saying ‘I sincerely regret that I did not look more closely at the image I was commenting on’.”

Kearney then cited her next example of “accusations…levelled at Jeremy Corbyn”.

Kearney: “In 2009 Jeremy Corbyn welcomed members of Hamas and Hizballah to the UK and referred to them as friends. He later refused to apologise for this in an interview with Krishnan Guru-Murthy on Channel 4 news.”

Listeners then heard some of the less angry parts of that 2015 interview, including the claim from Corbyn that Hamas and Hizballah are “part of a peace process” and:

“I’ve also had discussions with people from the Right in Israeli politics who have the same view, possibly, that the State of Israel should extend from the river to the sea as it is claimed people from the Palestinian side do.” [emphasis added]

On the topic of his describing members of the two designated terrorist organisations as ‘friends’, listeners heard Corbyn say:

“I’m saying that people I talk to…I use it in a collective way, saying our friends were prepared to talk. Does it mean I agree with Hamas and what it does? No. Does it mean I agree with Hizballah and what they do? No.”

Martha Kearney did not however inform listeners that in the original March 2009 speech in which he repeatedly called Hamas and Hizballah ‘friends’, Corbyn also spoke about Hamas – an organisation committed to the destruction of Israel under its overtly antisemitic founding charter – as follows:

“The idea that an organisation that is dedicated towards the good of the Palestinian people and bringing about long-term peace and social justice and political justice in the whole region should be labelled as a terrorist organisation by the British government is really a big, big historical mistake…”

Neither were ‘World at One’ listeners told that – despite the ‘explanation’ they heard for his use of the term ‘friends’ and the claim that it does not mean that he agrees with Hamas and Hizballah – Corbyn clearly expressed his opposition to the Jewish people’s right to self-determination in their own state: a stance categorised as antisemitism under the IHRA working definition.

“We are opposed to Zionism and what Israel is doing towards the Palestinian people. […] Our argument – and I refuse to be dragged into this stuff that somehow or other because we’re pro-Palestinian we’re anti-Semitic: it’s nonsense. What we’re in favour of is a Palestine where everybody can live. They can’t live if you’ve got Zionism dominating it all.”

Martha Kearney’s next example referred to a story the BBC failed to report accurately at the time.

Kearney: “In 2016 Naz Shah, the Labour MP for Bradford West, apologised for writing a series of antisemitic posts on Facebook, including arguing for Israel’s population to be transported out of the Middle East. Then, while defending Naz Shah, the former London mayor Ken Livingstone claimed that Hitler had been a Zionist. He was suspended but not expelled from the Labour Party and spoke to the ‘World at One’.”

Listeners then heard parts of Kearney’s 2016 interview with Livingstone, including his insinuation that “people” were “smearing and lying about” him and the claim that “if you’re a bigot, you’re not going to join the Labour Party”.

After parts of the letter written by the Board of Deputies and the JLC had been read out, Kearney went on:

Kearney: “During the 2015 Labour leadership contest Jeremy Corbyn took calls from listeners on the ‘World at One’. One of them was Lee Barnett from Richmond.”

Listeners heard a recording of Mr Barnett speaking about antisemitism and Holocaust denial “posted by those who say they’re your supporters” followed by Corbyn responding that he had spent his life as a campaigner against racism and mentioning his mother’s presence at Cable Street in the 1930s – but without substantially addressing the caller’s points. That 2015 recording continued with Martha Kearney saying to Corbyn:

Kearney: “But there have been questions raised about the kind of people that you associate with: story in the papers today about the fact that you invited Diane [sic] Abu Jahjah to the Commons as a special guest. Now this is a man who’s talked about ‘hoax gas chambers’.”

Corbyn: “Sorry, who?”

Kearney: “You’ve not met him?”

Corbyn: “No. Well I’ve…I saw the name this morning and I asked somebody who is he.”

Kearney: “Right so this was somebody who…so you definitely didn’t invite this man to the Commons as a special guest?”

Corbyn: “Well my views are that the Holocaust was the most disgraceful and vile process of the history of the twentieth century, if not the wider world. And that has to be understood by successive generations and has to be understood by all our children in schools. That surely is important. The idea…”

Kearney: “So just to be absolutely clear on this: there’s an accusation which I think you’re denying. I’m giving you the opportunity to deny it.”

Corbyn: “The idea that…the idea…”

Kearney: “You didn’t invite this man?”

Corbyn: “I’m sorry; can I answer please? The idea that I’m some kind of racist or antisemitic person is beyond appalling, disgusting and deeply offensive. I’ve spent my life opposing racism. Until my dying day I will be opposed to racism in any form.”

Kearney closed that section of the item there, moving on to another related topic.  Remarkably though, despite having aired Corbyn’s recorded response denying knowing who Dyab Abou Jahjah was, Kearney did not bother to inform listeners that – as the BBC itself reported in August 2015 – Corbyn subsequently claimed that he “must have forgotten meeting him in 2009”.

Dyab Abou Jahjah (whose organisation had published a Holocaust denying cartoon three years earlier) was in fact at the same March 2009 ‘Stop the War Coalition’ meeting at which Corbyn called Hamas and Hizballah ‘friends’. Abou Jahjah was subsequently banned from visiting the UK by the British government: a decision he blamed on “the lobbying of the Zionists” while claiming that “MP Corbyn is filing a complaint against this disgrace”.

Although this programme clearly did attempt to provide the BBC’s domestic audiences with more background to the story than other Radio 4 programmes aired on the same day, it is notable that while listeners did hear rather a lot of Jeremy Corbyn’s fairly standard evasive responses to the long-standing criticism against him, parts of the story that are highly relevant to full audience understanding of it – such as the fact that he did meet Dyab Abou Jahjah and his self-professed opposition to Jewish self-determination – were airbrushed from the portrayal.

Related Articles:

BBC News not sure whether Corbyn controversy mural antisemitic or not

BBC News ‘explanation’ of antisemitism promotes the Livingstone Formulation

 

 

BBC News ‘explanation’ of antisemitism promotes the Livingstone Formulation

On March 27th an article titled “Jeremy Corbyn told to act on ‘stain’ of anti-Semitism in party” was published in the ‘politics’ section of the UK page on the BBC News website.

Relating to the previous day’s protest organised by two British Jewish community bodies, the article includes an insert ostensibly intended to help readers understand the story.

Titled “What is anti-Semitism?”, the insert commences by giving a definition attributed to the Oxford English Dictionary.

“Anti-Semitism is “hostility and prejudice directed against Jewish people” (OED)”

BBC audiences are then told that:

“Campaigners for Palestinian rights – a popular left-wing cause – say they are against Zionism rather than anti-Semitic”

The insert goes on to give an explanation of Zionism which, notably, does not include the term self-determination.

“Zionism refers to the movement to create a Jewish state in the Middle East, roughly corresponding to the historical land of Israel, and thus support for the modern state of Israel. Anti-Zionism opposes that.”

Obviously an insert purporting to explain antisemitism to BBC audiences should have clarified that according to the IHRA working definition (adopted by the UK government, among others), opposition to the right of the Jewish people to self-determination in the Jewish state is defined as one possible manifestation of antisemitism.

“Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.”

Finally, the insert presents readers with a dose of the Livingstone Formulation:

“But some say “Zionist” can be used as a coded attack on Jews, while others say the Israeli government and its supporters are deliberately confusing anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism to avoid criticism”

As regular readers will be aware, this is far from the first time that the BBC has promoted the notion that “the Israeli government and its supporters” deliberately and dishonestly raise the issue of antisemitism in order to delegitimise criticism of Israel.

Neither is this the first time that the BBC has tried – and failed – to explain antisemitism and anti-Zionism to its audiences. Indeed, this insert was obviously for the most part recycled from the opening paragraphs of a ‘backgrounder‘ first published in April 2016.

In other words, in nearly two years of BBC coverage of the issue of antisemitism within the UK Labour party, audiences have not once been informed of the existence of accepted definitions of antisemitism which have already answered the question of whether anti-Zionism – i.e. the denial of the right of the Jewish people to self-determination – is an expression of antisemitism.

Moreover, it is obvious that even the high profile of the latest related story covered in this article did not prompt the BBC to come up with an accurate definition of its core issue.

Given the fact that the BBC still does not work according to an accepted definition of antisemitism and in light of its own record on that issue and its repeated failure to inform audiences what anti-Zionist groups such as the PSC and the BDS campaign really stand for despite frequently showcasing their agendas, that is perhaps hardly surprising.

But this insert does demonstrate once again is that the BBC is currently incapable of properly serving its funding public’s interests on this topic.

Related Articles:

IHRA adopts working definition of antisemitism: when will the BBC?

BBC News tries – and fails – to explain antisemitism and anti-Zionism

BBC article on antisemitism report recycles problematic backgrounder

BBC again ignores the existence of accepted definitions of antisemitism

 

 

 

 

BBC News not sure whether Corbyn controversy mural antisemitic or not

On the evening of March 25th the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the JLC put out an unprecedented letter criticising the leader of the British Labour Party and calling for a protest outside Parliament the following day.

The BBC News website reported that story on its UK page on March 26th in an article titled “Jewish groups attack Jeremy Corbyn over anti-Semitism“.

“”Enough is enough,” Jewish groups have said in a letter accusing Jeremy Corbyn of failing to tackle anti-Semitism. […]

The letter – drawn up by the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Jewish Leadership Council – said there has been a “repeated institutional failure” to properly address anti-Semitism.

It accuses Mr Corbyn of being unable to “seriously contemplate anti-Semitism, because he is so ideologically fixed within a far left worldview that is instinctively hostile to mainstream Jewish communities”.

The organisations refer to Mr Corbyn’s apparently supportive message to the creator of an allegedly anti-Semitic mural in 2012 and his attendance at “pro-Hezbollah rallies”.” [emphasis added]

That last paragraph includes a link to a BBC report from March 23rd headlined “Jeremy Corbyn regrets comments about ‘anti-Semitic’ mural” in which readers are also told that the mural was “allegedly anti-Semitic”.

“Jeremy Corbyn has expressed “sincere regret” at failing to look more closely at an allegedly anti-Semitic mural in London before questioning its removal.”

Readers are also offered another item of related reading dating from the previous day titled “Tom Watson apologises over ‘anti-Semitic’ mural row“.

“Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson says Jeremy Corbyn was right to express regret for sending an apparently supportive message to the creator of an allegedly anti-Semitic mural.”

Clearly the question of whether or not that 2012 mural included antisemitic imagery is crucial to audience understanding of this story. Obviously too, the BBC is very reluctant to provide an answer to that question.

In addition to the repeated use of the word ‘allegedly’ and punctuation implying that the question is open to interpretation, all three of those BBC reports state that the artist “has denied being anti-Semitic”. At the same time opposite views of the topic from both Watson and Corbyn are quoted.

“He [Corbyn] added: “I sincerely regret that I did not look more closely at the image I was commenting on, the contents of which are deeply disturbing and anti-Semitic.”

 “My reaction is that is a horrible anti-Semitic mural that was rightly taken down,” he [Watson] said.”

The Jewish Chronicle’s Stephen Pollard notes that:

“The work, Freedom for Humanity, was painted near Brick Lane in London’s East End by “graffiti artist” Kalen Ockerman, who goes by the name of Mear One.

Its intent was obvious. It showed businessmen and bankers sitting counting their money. Not only did they look like obvious caricatures of Jews – in a style reminiscent of Nazi propaganda in the 1930s – the artist himself confirmed they were intended as such, writing: “Some of the older white Jewish folk in the local community had an issue with me portraying their beloved #Rothschild or #Warburg etc as the demons they are.”

Anyone with even a basic knowledge of politics, history and the world would see that the work was caricaturing Jews. And, to be blunt, anyone denying that is indulging in sophistry of the most pathetically unconvincing kind.

Indeed, the then Mayor of Tower Hamlets, Lutfar Rahman, himself ordered council officials to “do everything possible” to remove the mural, agreeing that “the images of the bankers perpetuate anti-Semitic propaganda about conspiratorial Jewish domination of financial institutions.”

To repeat: this was not a controversial view. The artist himself held it, publicly.”

This is of course far from the first time that the BBC has refrained from unambiguously informing its audiences that content at the centre of a controversy is antisemitic.

However, with concerns about antisemitism within the second largest party in the UK parliament now prompting the mainstream British Jewish community to take such an action for the first time in decades, it is obviously essential that Britain’s national broadcaster be capable of providing its audiences with a clear and accurate view of the story.

And that necessarily includes being able to unambiguously describe antisemitism as such – without the equivocal punctuation and qualifying terminology all too frequently seen in BBC content.   

Related Articles:

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BBC discovers that MP’s “Israel” Facebook posts were antisemitic

More promotion of the Livingstone Formulation from BBC News

BBC News tries – and fails – to explain antisemitism and anti-Zionism

The BBC and “a politer version” of antisemitic conspiracy theory

BBC Radio 4’s ‘Today’ and ‘alleged’ antisemitic Tweets

 

Weekend long read

1) At the JCPA Yoni Ben Menachem discusses a topic ardently avoided by the BBC: “Corruption in the Palestinian Authority“.

“At the moment, the hot topic of conversation in the Palestinian Authority is the most recent appointment made by Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. At the beginning of this week, he extended the tenure of his friend Rafiq al-Natsheh as head of the Palestinian Authority’s anti-corruption department for the second time, contrary to Palestinian law. Even the department’s internal constitution does not allow its serving head to remain in his position once his term has ended.”

2) Raz Zimmt of the INSS analyses the protests in Iran.

“Some two months after the wave of protest that swept through Iran, the Iranian authorities are endeavoring to bring the situation back to normal, though local protest events are still ongoing. The protests, which reflected the Iranian public’s demand for change, once again highlighted the conflicting opinions in the Iranian leadership concerning the desired response to the civilian plight.”

3) Writing at the Jerusalem Post, Joshua Block unpacks a concept about the Middle East that is frequently promoted in BBC coverage.  

“Of all the policy myths that have kept us from recognizing the true nature of conflict in the blood-soaked region, one stands out for its fatality and perpetuation: the idea that if only the Israeli-Palestinian conflict were solved, all the other deep-rooted quandaries facing the Middle East would magically disappear.

The “Arab Spring” revolt that swept across the region should have destroyed the “linkage” dogma once and for all – what happened in Syria, Libya, Egypt and Tunisia had nothing to do with Israel – and yet the myth that the Arab world resolves around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict lives on.”

4) Yad VaShem is offering a free online course on the history of antisemitism.

“In this course, 50 leading scholars from all over the world will explore questions and issues relating to antisemitism including: What is antisemitism? How has it changed throughout history? Why can it be found among so many diverse cultures, and even among opposing ideologies? What happened to antisemitism after the Holocaust? How is antisemitism expressed today, and what are the main spheres in which it can be found?
We will examine different periods and societies, exploring the development of antisemitism as well as its changing nature over time, place and culture.”

Hamas agitprop requires BBC journalists to brush up on UN resolution

Reports have emerged concerning an upcoming six-week long stunt organised by factions in the Gaza Strip that is primarily aimed at the international media.

Gaza border area

“In the coming weeks, Hamas plans to set up tent encampments along the Gazan border with Israel, where thousands of the strip’s denizens will be housed, with the intention to march hundreds of Palestinians every day—including the elderly, women and children—to the border fence in “return marches.” 

At the same time, Hamas also intends to hold mass fishing boat protests near the maritime border with Israel. These actions will gradually grow in intensity and culminate just before Israel’s 70th Independence Day.”

The ITIC has more details on the agitprop scheduled to commence on March 30th – ‘Land Day’ – which this year is also Passover Eve.

“According to the march organizers, the objective is to send a message to the world about the Palestinians’ “right of return.” […]

Originally the proposed date for the march was May 15 (Nakba Day). However, calls have recently been heard to hold the main event on Land Day, March 30, the day Israelis Arabs have demonstrated their adherence to their lands since 1976. The organizers of the march said it would not be a single event but rather a series of activities which would continue over time. Issam Adwan, head of Hamas’ department of refugee affairs, said the organizing committee had agreed to hold the march on Land Day (March 30, 2018). He said all the national and Islamic organizations, including Fatah, had agreed. He said the march would be only a part of the comprehensive initiative of “the great return march”. […]

The organizers said they intended to recruit about a hundred thousand participants, most of them from the refugee camps in the Gaza Strip. The “great return march” coordinating committee appealed to Gazans to take an active role. The committee also reported it was continuing its efforts to establish national committees in other countries that would organize their own marches, simultaneous to the one in the Gaza Strip.

The organizers, led by Abu Artima, continue to emphasize the march will be non-violent and there is no intention to confront IDF forces. Interviewed by Hamas’ Palinfo website, he called “the great return march” a “popular strategic tool” to use peaceful measures to realize the “right of return.” He said the march would be different from the [routine] clashes at the border security fence. That was because the participants would not throw stones, but rather hold a rally that the whole world and media outlets would watch.”[emphasis added]

Obviously such an event could not take place without Hamas’ approval.

“The organizers got a green light from Hamas and the PIJ for the march. “The great return march” Facebook page posted a statement from Issam Adwan, head of Hamas’ department of refugee affairs, who emphasized the necessity and importance of the event. He said it was part of the “resistance” and that it was no less important than the “armed struggle.” He also said that the Land Day march would be only the opening move of a comprehensive global operation. […]

Talal Abu Zarifa, senior figure in the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), said the Palestinian organizations had agreed on activities that would be consistent with the objectives of “the great return march.” […] He added that the organizations had agreed to continue mass recruitment, to make Israel responsible [for what happens] and realize the “right of return”.”

Apparently the organisers of that agitprop intended to employ antisemitic Nazi analogy.

“According to information on the Facebook page of “the great march of the return,” in preparation for the event the organizers need clothing like the striped suits worn by the inmates of the Nazi concentration camps. Anyone who could provide such suits, or sew them, was asked to contact the march’s coordinating committee. The organizers are apparently going to present a display comparing the Palestinians to the victims of the Nazis.”

Photo credit: ITIC

The project’s logo includes a reference to UN GA resolution 194 of December 1948.

“The new logo shows the UN logo and the number 194, which relates to UN General Assembly Resolution 194 […], a map of “Palestine” in the colors of the Palestinian flag, with no reference to the existence of the State of Israel; a hand holding a key, the symbol of the so-called right of the Palestinian refugees to return to the places they lived in 70 years ago.”

Any BBC journalist intending to cover this propaganda campaign should of course be aware of the fact that Resolution 194 is non-binding, that it does not specifically relate to Palestinian refugees (despite long-standing BBC claims to that effect) and – contrary to often heard assertions – neither does it grant any unconditional ‘right of return’. Rather, it recommends that refugees be allowed to return to their homeland if they wish to “live at peace with their neighbours”. Also worth remembering is the fact that the Arab states voted against that UN GA resolution.

Related Articles:

BACKGROUNDER: The Palestinian Claim to a “Right of Return”  (CAMERA)