Weekend long read

1) At the INSS Remi Daniel and Gallia Lindenstrauss explain why ‘Erdogan’s “Crazy Project” Raises Concerns’.

“Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is promoting the idea of building the Istanbul Canal between the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara as a waterway parallel to the Bosphorus Strait. The idea itself is not new, but Erdogan hopes that its realization will be one of the major achievements of his presidency. Facing him, Mayor of Istanbul Ekrem Imamoglu, who was elected to the post in spite of the President’s strong support for another candidate, is one of the leading opponents of the project. The main argument against the canal is that it will cause serious damage to the environment, and troubling scenarios also foresee an impact on the countries around the Mediterranean, including Israel.”

2) Jonathan Spyer discusses ‘Syria’s Wild South west’.

“The global spotlight has currently returned to Syria because of the Assad regime’s current bloody offensive in Idlib, Aleppo and Latakia Provinces.  The regime is trying to reduce the last enclave held by the Sunni Arab rebels in the country’s north-west.  The assault has precipitated one of the worst humanitarian disasters of the bloody, nine year war.  800,000 people have left their homes to flee the advance of regime forces and the relentless, indiscriminate bombing of Assad’s Russian allies.

Far to the south of Idlib, however, and largely ignored by the global media, events are under way which may offer a clue to the future direction of Syria.  These events are of direct interest to Israel.  The regime is currently seeking to consolidate its presence in Deraa and Quneitra provinces in Syria’s south west.  Assad’s army completed its ‘conquest’ of these areas in the summer of 2018.  Observation of the current situation on the ground in these areas suggests, however, that the situation remains far from a return to the repressive and stifling order of the pre-revolt days.”

3) The ITIC analyses ‘The Tenth Round of Escalation in the Gaza Strip’.

“On February 23 and 24, 2020, there was another significant round of escalation in the Gaza Strip, the tenth since the beginning of the return marches (March 30, 2018). It was instigated by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) in retaliation for the IDF’s killing of one of its operatives who was placing an IED near the border security fence and the subsequent removal of his body with an IDF bulldozer. During the round of escalation 113 rocket and mortar shells were fired at the Israeli communities near the Gaza Strip and at the southern Israeli cities of Sderot and Ashqelon. In response the IDF attacked PIJ terrorist targets in the Gaza Strip and Syria. Two PIJ operatives were killed in the attack near Damascus; no operatives were killed in the attacks on the Gaza Strip. Near midnight on February 24, 2020, the PIJ announced it had completed its retaliation for the death of its operatives. When the rocket fire ceased the IDF stopped attacking in the Gaza Strip.”

4) The JCPA has published a collection of essays titled ‘Israelophobia and the West: The Hijacking of Civil Discourse on Israel and How to Rescue It’.

“This volume evaluates the intensifying anti-Semitism against diaspora Jewry in Western countries and the converging rhetorical assaults on “sovereign” Jews in Israel – condemning them and their nation-state as “Nazi, apartheid, racist, genocidal, war criminal, illegal, illegitimate, colonialist, and anachronistic.” This invective has been characterized and justified as legitimate political criticism of Israel in mainstream Western discourse. It has become standard practice among faculty and “pro-Palestinian” student organizations on American university campuses, the United Nations, associated international bodies such as the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court, as well as European institutions and parliaments. For the first time, anti-Semitic tropes cloaked as political critique of Israel have even been voiced by several members of the U.S. House of Representatives.”

 

 

 

BBC News website runs a headline portraying antisemitism as ‘just fun’

On January 27th the BBC News website published a report titled “Auschwitz 75 years on: Are anti-Semitic attacks rising?”. Attributed to the corporation’s ‘Reality Check team’, the article cites surveys and reports on antisemitic incidents from three European countries and from bodies including the Kantor Center.

Notably the BBC chose to erase the massive rocket attacks by Palestinian terrorist groups against Israeli civilians which led to both Operation Cast Lead and Operation Protective Edge by describing those two defensive operations as “Israeli conflicts in Gaza”.   

“For example, the latest report from Tel Aviv University’s Kantor Center on anti-Semitism worldwide, found the number of major violent incidents in 2018 had been at a relatively high level. However, it was still well below the levels seen around the times of Israeli conflicts in Gaza in 2008-9 and 2014, for example.” [emphasis added]

Nevertheless, we see that just a month ago, the BBC was aware of the rise in antisemitism in Europe.  Consider then the way in which the same website elected to report the blatant antisemitism on display at the Aalst carnival in Belgium this past weekend.

On February 24th the BBC News website’s ‘Europe’ page published a 475-word report which it chose to headline “Belgian city of Aalst says anti-Semitic parade ‘just fun’”.

That messaging also opened the report:

“A Belgian city has defended as “just fun” a carnival featuring caricatures of Orthodox Jews wearing huge fur hats, long fake noses and ant costumes.”

One hundred and fifty-four words were given over to promotion of the talking points of the spokesman for the city’s mayor, including the notion of antisemitism as “freedom of speech”.

“The Aalst mayor’s spokesman told the BBC “it’s our humour… just fun”. […]

“It’s our parade, our humour, people can do whatever they want,” he said. “It’s a weekend of freedom of speech.””

One can only wonder whether the BBC would find it likewise appropriate to promote the notion of “freedom of speech” in relation to grossly offensive stereotypical portrayals of other religious and ethnic groups or, for example, the LGBT community.

The report ‘balanced’ that promotion of the city spokesman’s view with statements from three sources:

“Israel, Jewish groups and Belgian Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès were among many who strongly condemned the costumes in Sunday’s parade in Aalst.”

A total of 136 words were used to report the condemnations from all those sources.

In other words, the BBC decided to give more space to the defence of the display of antisemitism in Aalst than to those condemning it.

The report included a reference to a story which was ignored by the BBC at the time.

“The city drew much criticism for parading caricature Jews last year – so much so that it was dropped from Unesco’s cultural heritage list in December. After the outcry, Aalst itself had asked to be taken off the list.”

In fact, UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage said it was withdrawing the carnival “over recurring repetition of racist and anti-Semitic representations” at the event. As the Jerusalem Post pointed out, this year’s event included “more and worse antisemitic tropes and themes than in the past”.

The BBC News website, however, chose to run a headline portraying that racism as “just fun”.

Related Articles:

BBC News passes on follow-up to story it reported in March

 

 

BBC News again uncritically amplifies Iranian regime disinformation

On January 23rd the BBC News website published a report about the World Holocaust Forum event held that day at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. The report – which was originally headlined “World leaders gather in Israel for Holocaust forum” – was updated and amended throughout the day and its final version (which will remain online as “permanent public record”) was retitled “Holocaust forum: Netanyahu urges world to unite to confront Iran”.

The report opened by telling BBC audiences that:

“Israel’s prime minister has vowed that “there will not be another Holocaust” in a speech at a forum in Jerusalem marking the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp.

Benjamin Netanyahu also called on the international community to “join the vital effort of confronting Iran”.

“We have yet to see a unified and resolute stance against the most anti-Semitic regime on the planet,” he said.”

Later on readers were informed that in his speech the Israeli prime minister:

“…warned that, today, Iran “openly seeks to develop nuclear weapons and annihilate the one and only Jewish state”.

“Israel salutes [US President Donald] Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence for confronting the tyrants of Tehran, who subjugate their own people, who threaten the peace and security of the entire world,” he added.

“I call on all governments to join efforts in confronting Iran. Israel will do whatever it must do to defend its people and the Jewish future.””

BBC journalists then found it necessary to add the following:

“Iran has repeatedly called for the eradication of the State of Israel, but says that it is not anti-Semitic. It has also denied that it wants nuclear weapons.”

The IHRA working definition of antisemitism includes “Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination” as one possible manifestation of antisemitism. The BBC however did not bother to clarify to audiences that calling for “the eradication of the State of Israel” is hence antisemitic, despite the Iranian regime’s claim to the contrary.

BBC audiences are frequently exposed to the corporation’s unquestioning amplification of the Iranian regime’s denials of pursuit of nuclear weapons. The BBC continues to uncritically promote that mantra despite evidence to the contrary which includes a December 2015 report produced by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) which stated that:

“…the agency “assesses that a range of activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device were conducted in Iran prior to the end of 2003 as a coordinated effort, and some activities took place” up to 2009.”

Notably, the BBC’s ‘impartiality’ box ticking excluded any mention of the relevant subject of the Iranian regime’s longstanding record of Holocaust denial – a topic described by the corporation in 2013 as ‘taking issue’ with the Holocaust.  

The all too common BBC practice of uncritically promoting the disinformation of authoritarian regimes (such as Iran, Russia and Syria) without providing audiences with the background information necessary to put that propaganda into its correct perspective obviously obstructs the fulfilment of the BBC’s first public purpose of helping its funding public to understand and engage with the world around them”.

Related Articles:

Are BBC audiences positioned to ‘judge’ Iranian denials of antisemitism?

BBC’s Marcus promotes ‘moderated’ Iranian Holocaust denial

BBC continues to portray a ‘moderate’ Iranian regime

BBC Ideas tries – and fails – to explain ‘the root causes’ of antisemitism

Over the past three and a half years we have repeatedly documented the BBC’s dismal attempts to explain antisemitism to its audiences:

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

BBC News ‘explanation’ of antisemitism promotes the Livingstone Formulation

BBC article on antisemitism report recycles problematic backgrounder

BBC again ignores the existence of accepted definitions of antisemitism

Another BBC antisemitism backgrounder promotes Livingstone Formulation

Another item in that genre appeared on the ‘BBC Ideas’ platform on December 20th – the same platform which in July of this year asked “is Zionism wrong?”.

Titled “Why are people anti-Semitic?”, the video – produced By BBC Northern Ireland – is one of a four-part series called “Prejudice Unpacked”.

“Why do people hold prejudices – like racism, homophobia and sexism? We explore some of the root causes.”

BBC Northern Ireland apparently concluded that the most qualified person to “explore some of the root causes” of antisemitism and help the public understand that form of racism is not an expert on the topic such as Dr Dave Rich, but an American Jewish stand-up comedian.

“As part of our series on the root causes of various forms of prejudice, US comedian Alex Edelman explores what’s behind anti-Semitism.”

The video – which is just over four and a half minutes long and is plagued by bad sound – opens with Edelman’s opinions on antisemitism in the UK. [emphasis in italics in the original]

“I think in the UK people are just sort of reckoning now with the existence of antisemitism and I think that that sort of self-interrogation is very difficult for people. I think it’s an identity crisis in the UK. People understand that antisemitism does in fact exist.”

Those who have been battling antisemitism in the UK for the past four years and longer may of course disagree with that diagnosis.

Viewers are told that Edelman “believes it’s important to understand anti-semitism in order to eradicate it” but the information which would promote such understanding is not evident in this film. Audiences hear that Edelman has personally experienced antisemitism – with no further details given – from different kinds of people and that it is “not restricted to one party or gender or race”.

However the two examples given – a late 1950’s newsreel of a swastika daubed on a synagogue in Leeds and a 2018 speech by Hungary’s prime minister Viktor Orban – both come from one side of the political map and viewers do not see any examples of antisemitism on the ‘progressive’ Left. 

A significant part of the video is devoted to the topic of Israel – which viewers are told is “a very complicated issue”.

“I think Jews get bludgeoned with Israel. I think Israel is like a very weird lead pipe for a lot of people. They’re just like ‘oh you’re Jewish so explain this Israeli policy’. And you’re like ‘well I don’t know if I 100% agree with that policy because, you know, I’m a person with complicated political views’. And then they’re like ‘well then, do you think Israel shouldn’t exist?’ and you’re like ‘no that’s not what I said either’. Like, Israel is a very complicated issue and it is the only sort of Jewish homeland on earth so for that reason Jews do have a special affiliation with it and it is a place by the way where I…I love my time in Israel ‘cos it is one of the only places where I do not feel ‘other’ for being Jewish.”

Having made sure to clarify that he has “taken issue with, you know, many of [Israel’s] policies” Edelman states that he thinks that:

“…Israel is used as a complete mask for anti-semitism sometimes or it’s used to justify anti-semitism.”

Viewers are not provided with any examples of how that device manifests itself.

Edelman spends the last part of the video telling the audience that there are many different kinds of Jews.

“And, you know, if you think all Jews are sort of powerful and educated and rich, I have a bunch of cousins that you should meet…”

Obviously this exercise contributed very little indeed to audience understanding of the “root causes” of antisemitism – not least because little effort was made to explain the many ways in which that form of racism manifests itself beyond the rather obvious daubing of a swastika on a synagogue, the use of “1930s rhetoric” and something “complicated” connected to Israel.

Once again we see that the BBC’s efforts to address the issue of antisemitism in British society continue to fall far short but that nevertheless – despite its own dismal record and the plethora of evidence illustrating that the BBC does not have the authority or the expertise, let alone the remit, to define antisemitism – it continues to insist on producing content purporting to inform its audiences on that issue.

Related Articles:

In which the BBC asks ‘is Zionism wrong?’

BBC WS radio misrepresents the IHRA definition of antisemitism

h/t SG

The December 22nd edition of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Boston Calling’ – titled “The allegiance edition” – included an item (from 08:56 here) described in its synopsis as follows:

“Also, we look into President Trump’s latest executive order, which relies on a controversial definition of anti-Semitism…” [emphasis added]

The working definition of antisemitism which the BBC World Service found fit to portray as “controversial” is that produced by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) which has been adopted by governments and bodies around the world.

Presenter Carol Hills (of PRI) chose to introduce the item with an unexplained reference to ‘allegiance’ which might well be considered inappropriate given the subject matter of antisemitism.

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

Hills: “In these divided times there are still some things we agree on. Few people, for example, would not agree that antisemitism is bad and that we should do something about it. But the agreement ends there because as soon as you start asking people what is antisemitism, who is guilty of it and what to do about it, that’s when you run into disagreements and in some cases allegiance comes into question. This became clear after President Trump signed his latest executive order. Our own Rupa Shenoy has more.”

Rupa Shenoy – also of PRI – began with a superficial description of the executive order signed on December 11th which is ostensibly the subject matter of her report.

Shenoy: “Hanukkah came early at the White House as President Trump recounted what he’d done for the Jewish people and said he was adding to that legacy by signing a powerful executive order.”

Recording Trump: “This action makes clear that Title VI of the Civil Rights Act which prohibits the federal funding of universities and other institutions that engage in discrimination applies to institutions that traffic in antisemitic hate.”

Shenoy: “He noted that Congress and the previous administration had tried to do something similar but those efforts stalled.”

Recording Trump: “But this year there’s no roadblock because I’m doing it myself. It’s much easier.”

Shenoy: “And Trump made the intent of his order clear.”

Recording Trump: “This is our message to universities: if you want to accept the tremendous amount of federal dollars that you get every year, you must reject antisemitism. It’s very simple.”

Shenoy: “The order recommends that universities define antisemitism with this specific language as -quote – a certain perception of Jews which may be expressed as hatred towards Jews including – quote – rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism. Ken Stern helped craft that definition originally for the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.”

Ken Stern did not ‘help craft’ the IHRA definition. He did help write – along with some eight others – its predecessor for a now defunct EU agency called The European Union Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia. Seeing as Stern has repeatedly voiced his opinion that the IHRC is not suitable for use on campuses because he regards them as a special ‘free speech’ environment, the views he expresses in this report do not come as much of a surprise.

Stern: “It was never intended as something to police speech on campus.”

Shenoy: “Because he says there’s no similar definition of racism for example. And Stern says the Department of Education has made clear that Title VI already covers Jewish students.”

Stern: “Jewish students are being targeted regardless if they’re pro-Israel or anti-Israel, simply because they’re Jewish. That’s something that’s actionable and a concern. But the use of this definition is part of a long-standing pattern to try to curtail political speech about Israel.”

Shenoy then brought in a second voice supporting the same view – but failed to meet BBC editorial guideline requirements to inform audiences of the “affiliations, funding and particular viewpoints” of her contributor and the organisation she currently represents.  

Shenoy: “Others have come to the same conclusion about Trump’s executive order. Lara Friedman is president of the Foundation for Middle East Peace.”

Friedman: “What it says is when it comes to criticising Israel, Jews equal Israel, Israel equals Jews. If you are on campus and you only talk about Israel and you’re criticising Israel, you are by definition antisemitic. Under the definition offered here the Palestinian historic and lived narrative becomes antisemitism.”

Shenoy: “She says the order’s goal is to send a message to university administrators and organisers.”

Friedman: “We are watching you and we will make your life miserable; cost you time, there’ll be reputational costs, all of that. You could lose your federal funding if you dare cross the line so don’t even go near the line.”

Shenoy: “Friedman says Trump’s executive order is aimed at campus protests across the country that Trump sees as connected to a larger worldwide movement to boycott Israel called BDS. That’s short for boycott, divestment and sanctions.”

As is inevitably the case in BBC content, audiences did not receive any sort of explanation concerning the BDS campaign – including the particularly relevant fact that what that campaign ultimately seeks to achieve is the end of Israel as the Jewish state.

Recording Trump: “And as president I want to be very clear. My administration vigorously condemns the BDS campaign against Israel.”

Shenoy: “This is Trump earlier this week [actually December 8th] at the Israeli-American Council’s national summit in Florida.”

Recording Trump: “But sadly BDS has also made disturbing headway on American college campuses – you know that, don’t you? Here with us today is Adela Cojab, a recent graduate of New York University who courageously stood for Israel in the face of hostility and bigotry…”

Shenoy: “Adela Cojab got on stage and told the audience she was suing NYU because it failed to protect Jewish students from harassment. Now she tells me she feels validated by the presidential order.”

Cojab: “By signing this order he just expanded the definition of protected groups and it includes Jewish students of course. And that tells Jewish students everywhere that what they’re going through isn’t normal, it’s not OK. And it just clarifies that they can stand up.”

Shenoy: “And Cojab pushes back against the argument that the executive order will stifle free speech.”

Cojab: “I think that the process can very much not be antisemitic. I criticise Israel openly because I have thoughts but there’s a difference between criticising Israel and Israeli policy and Israeli administration and criticising Israel’s right to exist. Because when you say that you’re anti-Zionist you’re saying that you’re against Israel’s right to exist, which is destroying Israel.”

Having apparently brought in Cojab to balance the two voices already heard, Shenoy then promoted a third view opposing the executive order. She did not however bother to clarify to listeners that her interviewee is a member of ‘Students for Justice in Palestine’ (SJP) which is one of the main proponents of BDS on US campuses.

Shenoy: “And creating a hostile environment for students, she says. For their part many campus activists for Palestinian rights say they’re not backing down. Nick Galloway is a graduate student at the University of Maryland who’s participated in demonstrations for years.”

Galloway: “They can’t stop us from getting together and fighting for justice and fighting for BDS.”

Shenoy: “He says Trump’s executive order might intimidate some Palestinian or Muslim students on campus from protesting. But Galloway adds that it also might invite a backlash.”

Galloway: “It’s going to strengthen the resolve of student organisers to [unintelligible] that.”

Shenoy: “But the divisions over Israel, Zionism, Palestinian rights and free speech aren’t going away any time soon. Trump’s executive order will have to play out on college campuses and likely court rooms across the country.”

To sum up, BBC audiences heard three voices opposing the US president’s executive order and just one in favour. In breach of BBC editorial guidelines they were not informed of the agendas of the organisations with which two of those voices are associated and neither were they given any relevant background information concerning the BDS campaign which they support.

Most egregiously, listeners were told that the IHRA working definition of antisemitism is “controversial” and that its adoption means that people who “talk about Israel” and criticise Israel “are by definition antisemitic”. That of course is completely false. As Dave Rich of the CST has pointed out, the IHRA definition does not “repress” freedom of speech at all.

“The IHRA definition does no such thing, stating plainly that ‘criticism of Israel similar to that levelled against any other country cannot be regarded as anti-Semitic.’ This leaves room for the full range of rational, evidence-based opposition to Israeli laws, policies and actions. It doesn’t allow for the kind of obsessive, irrational hatred that depicts Israel as a Nazi state of unparalleled cruelty that needs to be wiped off the map, or that sees “Zionist” conspiracies behind everything from 9/11 to the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal, and for good reason: because, as the IHRA definition recognises, antisemitism sometimes includes ‘the targeting of the State of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity.’”

If the BBC’s partners at PRI are not capable of portraying the IHRA working definition of antisemitism in a manner that meets BBC editorial guidelines on accuracy and impartiality, that content should obviously not be rebroadcast on ‘Boston Calling’.

Related Articles:

Guardian op-ed: presidential order on antisemitism only supported by right-wing Jews (UK Media Watch) 

 

BBC News claims motive for NY stabbing attack “not clear”

On the morning of December 29th the BBC News website published a report concerning the stabbing attack at the house of a Rabbi in Monsey, NY.

That article is currently headlined “Monsey stabbing: Five people wounded at home of New York rabbi”. All eight versions published to date include the claim that the motive for the attack “was not clear”.

Apparently the BBC is unable to fathom why a masked attacker might enter the home of a Rabbi located next to a synagogue and begin randomly stabbing people.

The latest three versions of the report include the following:

“In April a gunman killed a female rabbi and wounded three people at a synagogue in San Diego.”

The murdered woman – Lori Gilbert-Kaye – was not “a female rabbi”.  

 

Weekend long read

1) At the INSS Gallia Lindenstrauss, Sarah J. Feuer and Ofir Winter analyse ‘The Perils of the Turkey-Libya Maritime Delimitation Deal’.

“The November 27, 2019 signing of the maritime delimitation agreement between Turkey and the internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli, led by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, has heightened concerns among many countries in the Eastern Mediterranean. The deal will negatively affect Turkey’s relations with Greece, Cyprus, Egypt, and Israel; pose further challenges to the already questionable plans for the EastMed pipeline; and raise the stakes for outside actors involved in the Libyan civil war, likely prolonging the conflict there. It may, however, have a boomerang effect from Ankara’s perspective in that it strengthens Egypt’s determination to become an energy hub for the region.”

2) Writing at Commentary magazine, Jonathan Schanzer discusses ‘The new rocket threat to Israel’.

“If Israel doesn’t find a way to halt Iran’s PGM project, the very character of its wars will change. Despite a steady stream of attacks perpetrated by their enemies in recent years, the Israelis have not needed to fight long or particularly bloody wars. Instead, they have been conducting limited operations. Israel has, in fact, often been able to determine the beginning and end of these flare-ups. Iron Dome’s ability to neutralize rudimentary rockets has made that possible. But now, with PGMs in play, Israel may no longer be able to dictate the terms of conflict when its enemies want one.

And let there be no doubt: They want one.”

3) Jonathan Spyer takes a look at ‘The Riddle of Baghdad’.

“Last week, five rockets were fired at the Ayn al-Asad base in Iraq’s Anbar Province.  The base is a facility housing US troops.  Ayn al-Asad is something of a symbol for the 5,000 strong US presence in Iraq.  […]

Two days  later, Katyusha rockets were fired at the Balad airbase, 70 kilometers north of Baghdad.  Again, this is a base where US forces and contractors are stationed.

There were no casualties in either attack. They were the latest in a string of similar incidents which have taken place on US facilities in Iraq since the beginning of the year. These attacks have a number of things in common, other than that they are directed at US personnel and facilities: they appear to be intended for now to send a message rather than to cause injuries or fatalities among US troops.

They are also notable in that no force or organization has taken responsibility for them.”

4) David Hirsh argues that ‘Corbyn’s legacy is that political antisemitism has re-entered the British mainstream’ at the Fathom Journal.

“Corbyn’s movement has left behind many thousands of people who have been educated to believe that between ‘us’ and ‘socialism’ sits the formidable obstacle of Jewish power. The rage and shame that they are feeling after their humiliating defeat should not be under-estimated. For many it will be a key formative experience. Political antisemitism has re-entered the British mainstream, and it is not going to just disappear. There is reason to believe that on the populist left people who have been learning to understand the world through antisemitism will find ways to actualise that in the development of antisemitic social movements.”

 

BBC News passes on follow-up to story it reported in March

On December 13th the BBC News website published a report about additions to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation’s (UNESCO) ‘cultural heritage’ list.

“The back-cracking traditional Thai massage has been added to a prestigious Unesco heritage list.

Nuad Thai is now part of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, which features traditions and practices passed across the generations. […]

Other practices added to this year’s list include:

  • Irish harping
  • Celestinian forgiveness in Italy
  • The Carnival of Podence in Portugal
  • Silat self-defence in Malaysia”

Interestingly, the BBC’s report did not include any information about the unprecedented decision by UNESCO on the same day to remove an item from that list.

“UNESCO on Friday withdrew an annual carnival in the Belgian city of Aalst from its heritage list over persistent anti-Semitism.

In an unprecedented move, UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage said it was withdrawing the carnival “over recurring repetition of racist and anti-Semitic representations” at the event.

The carnival of Aalst, in the Belgian Dutch speaking region of Flanders, was initially added to UNESCO’s list of the intangible cultural heritage of humanity in 2010.

But the presence in the parade of a float caricaturing Orthodox Jews with hooked noses and sitting on gold bags, outraged Belgium’s 40,000-strong Jewish community.”

That omission is especially notable given that in March of this year the BBC News website published a report headlined “Belgium anti-Semitism row over stereotyped Jews in carnival float” (and for some reason tagged ‘The Holocaust’) on its ‘Europe’ page.

“A float featuring stereotyped Jewish figures at a carnival near Brussels has been widely criticised as anti-Semitic.

The float in the town of Aalst, 25km (15 miles) from the European Parliament, featured the grinning figures of Orthodox Jews standing on large piles of money. […]

The Coordinating Committee of Jewish Organisations of Belgium and the Forum of Jewish Organisations issued a joint statement saying they had lodged a formal complaint with authorities.”

As noted in that report, the antisemitic representations were also condemned by the European Commission at the time.

Nevertheless, the BBC has chosen to ignore the follow-up to that story it reported nine months ago.

Related Articles:

Revisiting a BBC News website story from 2014

BBC News guide to UK election downplays Labour antisemitism

On December 10th the BBC News website published what was apparently intended to be a guide to the upcoming UK general election for readers in North America on its ‘US & Canada’ page. Written by the BBC’s North America reporter Anthony Zurcher, the article is headlined “General election 2019: Why this UK vote is a huge deal”.

“As British voters prepare to head to the polls for a defining general election – the third in four years – they face a difficult choice, involving two unpopular leaders. […]

It’s as if the 2016 US presidential election, where both major candidates were deemed flawed and untrustworthy, is playing itself out again three years later, on the other side of the Atlantic.”

Under the subheading “Corbyn’s credibility and ideology” readers find three paragraphs concerning the Labour party leader’s “mixed and contradictory messages on Brexit” before they are told that: [emphasis added]

“He has also been accused of inadequately addressing anti-Semitism with his party’s ranks, of pushing out moderate voices within the party and of previously harbouring sympathies for the IRA.”

The volume of evidence pointing to Corbyn’s failure to effectively tackle antisemitism in the party he has led for over four years includes Jewish and non-Jewish MPs leaving the party citing ‘institutional racism’ and a submission of evidence of antisemitism from 70 current and former party officials to a body formally investigating the party on that issue.

Nevertheless, Zurcher chose not to inform the BBC’s North American audiences of that and additional evidence or to provide an objective and accurate account of Corbyn’s own related record. Rather he elected to portray the issue in equivocal terms which, while technically correct, fail to provide readers with the information that would “build people’s understanding” as required under the BBC’s public purposes.

Related Articles:

Jeremy Corbyn’s antisemitism crisis: a timeline

BBC News not sure whether Corbyn controversy mural antisemitic or not

BBC Watch prompts correction to report on French antisemitism resolution

Last week we noted the inaccurate portrayal of a resolution passed by the French parliament in an article which appeared on the BBC News website’s ‘Europe’ page.

BBC News misrepresents French parliament resolution

BBC Watch submitted a complaint concerning that report (including a link to the draft resolution passed by France’s National Assembly) and two days later we received a reply from the BBC News website:

“Thank you for getting in touch about our article France anti-Semitism: Jewish graves defaced with Nazi swastikas.

After considering your point further we have amended this section of the article and added a correction note at the bottom, advising readers of these changes.”

The original version of the report read as follows:

The amended version and the added footnote now read: