BBC again ignores the existence of accepted definitions of antisemitism

A common feature of accepted definitions of antisemitism is their recognition of the denial of the right of the Jewish people to self-determination as a form of antisemitism.

For example:

The US State Department definition of antisemitism:

“Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, and denying Israel the right to exist”.

The EUMC working definition of antisemitism (used in the UK by the All Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism and in the College of Policing Hate Crime Operational Guidance (2014))

“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.”

The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definitionof 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.”

As regular readers will be aware, the BBC does not currently use any of those accepted definitions (including when addressing relevant complaints). However – and notwithstanding its own record – the corporation has in the past produced content purporting to inform its audiences on the topics of antisemitism and anti-Zionism.

Another production in that genre was aired on the BBC Radio 4 programme ‘Beyond Belief’ on November 28th with the synopsis stating:beyond-belief-28-11

“A new term of abuse has emerged on social media, Zio, a shortened form of Zionist. Meanwhile the evidence suggests that anti Semitism is on the rise in Britain. There have been high profile cases of politicians who have been disciplined for anti Semitic comments. There appears to be some confusion even within the Jewish community over what Zionism means, whether a distinction should be drawn between anti Semitism and anti Zionism and what the relationship is between Judaism and Zionism. Ernie Rea brings together three Jews to discuss these issues.”

In his very similar introduction, host Ernie Rea likewise alleged that there is “confusion over what Zionism means” and asked “is there any distinction between antisemitism and anti-Zionism?”, claiming that “there are different views even within the Jewish community”.

In other words, the BBC continues to fruitlessly ‘discuss’ issues previously addressed by expert bodies, while failing to inform its audiences of the existence of accepted definitions of antisemitism which have already answered the question of whether anti-Zionism – ie the denial of the right of the Jewish people to self-determination – is an expression of antisemitism.

Another notable feature of this programme was its misleading portrayal of the Palestinian people as entirely passive actors.

At around 11:50 listeners (the majority of whom will not of course be familiar with the relevant history) heard Ernie Rea say: [emphasis added]

“Well let’s move on. We’ve mentioned Balfour I think twice. 1917 – he declared in the Balfour Declaration that there should be a homeland for the Jewish people. It opened up the possibility for the first time of a homeland for the Jewish people. Subsequent to that we had the rise of the Nazis in Germany. We had the Holocaust with six million Jews losing their lives and then at the end of that there was a State of Israel declared in 1948 with – it has to be said – pretty dire consequences for the Palestinians.”

Later on – from around 18:27 – listeners heard guest Robert Cohen say:

“…what the Jewish community in Britain needs to understand is that Zionism is not…is not a project that was…that could be carried out in all innocence without it having a catastrophic effect on another people. So if you want to pursue the idea that Zionism is part of Judaism then you end up saying that Judaism is responsible for some very terrible things that have happened to another group of people in the land that we call holy.”

And from around 23:50 listeners heard Cohen claim that Zionism is different from “other nationalisms” because:

“It involved mass migrations. It had to involve transfers of people from Europe back to Palestine and you were only going to get a Jewish majority if the indigenous Arab Palestinian people became displaced one way or another.”

Beyond the fact that no effort was made by the programme’s host to make listeners aware of the hundreds of thousands of Jews displaced from Arab and Muslim lands who found refuge in Israel, it is remarkable that throughout this programme, Zionism is portrayed as a movement which brought “dire consequences” and a “catastrophic effect” on “displaced” Palestinians with absolutely no context offered concerning the part played by Arab nations in those events.

Obviously such a context-free and inaccurate portrayal of historic events does not meet the BBC’s remit of enhancing “UK audiences’ awareness and understanding of international issues”.

Related Articles:

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

BBC article on antisemitism report recycles problematic backgrounder

More promotion of the Livingstone Formulation from BBC News

Abbas’ Fatah reelection ignored by the BBC – in English

Back in late October, the BBC Jerusalem bureau’s Yolande Knell produced an article concerning the question of who will succeed Mahmoud Abbas in his various roles. In that report, Knell speculated that:

“One potential post-Abbas scenario would see the division of his titles: President, head of Fatah, and Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO).

If different individuals took these jobs it would allow for a more collective political leadership.”

One might therefore have expected that the BBC would be interested in the story of Abbas’ unanimous reelection as head of the Fatah party at its long overdue seventh congress held this week, especially – as the NYT reported, among others – given the less than “collective” circumstances.

photo credit: Times of Israel

photo credit: Times of Israel

“Under fire at home and abroad, President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority moved on Tuesday to solidify his decade-long hold on power with a party conference that had already been purged of most of his opponents.

The carefully selected delegates wasted little time in formally re-electing Mr. Abbas as the leader of Fatah, the party that controls the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. “Everybody voted yes,” a spokesman for Fatah, Mahmoud Abu al-Hija, told reporters who had not been allowed into the conference hall for the decision. […]

Some Palestinian activists had wondered whether Mr. Abbas would use the conference to give up at least one of the three titles he holds — leader of Fatah, leader of the Palestine Liberation Organization and president of the Palestinian Authority. But he made clear on Tuesday that he would not. […]

Missing from the conference were Palestinian leaders and activists who had fallen out with Mr. Abbas, including those affiliated with Muhammad Dahlan, a former security chief who has lived in exile since 2011.

Allies of Mr. Dahlan, and even some Palestinians who were only thought to be his allies, have been purged from Fatah or arrested, and competing factions have engaged in violent clashes. Diana Buttu, a former Palestinian official who is now a critic of Mr. Abbas, named 10 party figures who had been ousted recently.

“To me, the story is who is not at the conference,” said Grant Rumley, a scholar at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington and a co-author of a forthcoming biography of Mr. Abbas. “This conference will formalize the split within his own party.””

Abbas’ reelection was covered (together with additional reporting on the Fatah congress) on the BBC Arabic website. However, the corporation’s English-speaking audiences – who already suffer from a chronic lack of information concerning internal Palestinian affairs – have to date not been provided with any coverage of that story and its background or Abbas’ subsequent reiteration of his refusal to recognise Israel as the Jewish state.

Related Articles:

BBC’s Knell omits back stories in portrayal of PA succession

BBC News continues to under-report internal Palestinian politics

BBC News silent on Abbas’ rejection of Jewish state

Reviewing BBC portrayal of the 1947 Partition Plan

Members of the public looking for BBC produced information concerning the 1947 Partition Plan will find a mixed bag of results.

The content available online is untagged and hence does not appear in one place or in chronological order of publication. Members of the public might therefore encounter backgrounders in which no mention is made of the fact that the Partition Plan was rejected by the Arab states and the ‘Higher Arab Committee’ – and thus rendered irrelevant – or that violence ensued.partition-plan-2

For example, a backgrounder dating from 1997 states: 

“The Palestine partition plan was approved by the United Nations in its 128th plenary session November 29, 1947. This is the official text of the resolution which divided Palestine and created one Jewish and one Arab state.

The resolution was approved by the general assembly – 33 votes in favour, 13 votes against, with 10 abstentions.”

The timeline appearing in the BBC’s online Israel profile states:

“1947 – United Nations recommends partition of Palestine into separate Jewish and Arab states, with international control over Jerusalem and its environs.”

A BBC feature commemorating the First World War centenary (previously discussed here) states:

“The UN voted to divide Palestine into two states: one Arab, one Jewish. In 1948, Israel declared its independence; the first Arab-Israeli war began the moment the British left.”

A piece of ‘analysis‘ from 1997 even leads audiences to mistakenly believe that the fact that the Partition Plan was never implemented is attributable to the UN rather than to Arab rejection.

“Even as the votes were cast, it was unclear if the Zionists would get the two-thirds majority they needed. In the end, the resolution was passed by 33 votes to 13; Britain was one of 10 states that abstained.

The UN lacked the means to enforce the resolution and Britain had already said it intended to withdraw from Palestine. But the partition resolution gave new impetus – and new legitimacy – to the quest for Jewish statehood.”

In additional BBC material still available to audiences online the rejection is inaccurately portrayed as coming from one particular source and the role of the Arab nations in opposing the plan (and threatening violence should it be implemented) is erased from audience view.partition-plan-1

“The United Nations General Assembly decided in 1947 on the partition of Palestine into Jewish and Arab states, with Jerusalem to be an international city. The plan, which was rejected by the native Arabs, was never implemented.” [emphasis added] (source)

“The UN set up a special committee which recommended splitting the territory into separate Jewish and Palestinian states. Palestinian representatives, known as the Arab Higher Committee, rejected the proposal; their counterparts in the Jewish Agency accepted it.” [emphasis added] (source)

“The United Nations General Assembly decided in 1947 on the partition of Palestine into Jewish and Arab states, with Jerusalem to be an international city. The plan, which was rejected by the Palestinians, was never implemented.” [emphasis added] (source)

“1947 – United Nations recommends partition of Palestine into separate Jewish and Arab states after Britain signals end to Mandate, with international control over Jerusalem and its environs. Arab High Committee rejects partition.” (source)

The one backgrounder (dated November 2001) in which the Arab states’ rejection of the Partition Plan is documented was corrected in 2014 after BBC Watch highlighted its erroneous claim that Ben Gurion had rejected the UN resolution.

“The Palestinians and Arabs felt that it was a deep injustice to ignore the rights of the majority of the population of Palestine. The Arab League and Palestinian institutions rejected the partition plan, and formed volunteer armies that infiltrated into Palestine beginning in December of 1947.”

The BBC’s inconsistent portrayal of the Partition Plan is obviously relevant from the point of view of the accuracy of information provided to audiences but it also has wider implications. As readers may be aware, the corporation bases its enduring refusal to describe Jerusalem as Israel’s capital on the misguided claim that:partition-plan-3

“…a UN resolution passed in 1947 has not been rescinded. It calls for the whole of Jerusalem to be an international city, a corpus separatum (similar to the Vatican City), and in that context, technically, West Jerusalem is not Israeli sovereign territory.”

Ahead of next year’s 70th anniversary of that UNGA resolution, it is clearly high time for the BBC to ensure that all its available related content meets editorial standards of accuracy and impartiality and that its audiences – as well as journalists and other staff – are given an accurate understanding of the relevance of the resolution today.

BBC WS culture show reinforces stereotypes by omission of context

The September 25th edition of the BBC World Service programme ‘The Cultural Frontline’ included a fairly long item (from 08:10 here) described in the synopsis as follows:cultural-frontline-ws-25-9

“…Palestinian artists Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme reveal how their work replaces clichéd images of their region with complex film and sound tapestries.”

In her introduction to the item, presenter Tina Daheley describes the artists’ work in similar terms:

“Rather than using their work for political protest though, they try to challenge stereotypes about their region and show complexities rather than clichés.”

Listeners actually hear very little in the way of a coherent explanation about the types of “stereotypes” and “clichés” which are supposedly challenged.

Daheley: “What sort of clichés are you reacting against?”

Abou-Rahme: “Firstly of course on the kind of media representations but at the same time it’s also this sort of traps that, you know, artists fall into which is that, you know, people want you to produce certain kind of works that have very clear, tangible images. They’re ready to respond to a perception that they have of the place and experience. You know if you’re gonna see a work that’s just showing you the checkpoint again or is just…you know…what is that gonna….how is that gonna speak to Palestinian communities? So, you know, in a way for us that’s always sort of….that it really speaks to a Palestinian audience.”

However, the absence of any effort to introduce context into this item means that in fact listeners have quite a few of the “stereotypes” and “clichés” which make up a particular political narrative reinforced.

Daheley: “Their work in video, photography and installation explores themes like colonialism, militarism and the challenges of daily life in the West Bank city of Ramallah.”

Abbas: “…young people have been making trips back to the destroyed Palestinian villages inside Israel…” […] “You’re really kind of going back to the site of your own erasure…”

Abou-Rahme: “I mean the whole project really for us started a year and a half ago at a period of really kind of immense, you know, violence and also trauma – collective trauma across the region….”

Abbas: “…our lives are, like, fragmented all the time. You know, our lines of visibility are literally fragmented with walls and checkpoints but also our experience is fragmented and communities are fragmented and separated by IDs and ID colours and you’re allowed to live here, you’re allowed to live there. So our sort of collective historical narrative is constantly…there are constant attempts to always fragment it and rewrite it…”

Abbas: “So much oppression that happens these days happens on a scale of imagination, you know, so what’s oppressed is your ability to imagine it from a way of being or your ability to imagine something else.”

‘The Cultural Frontline’ describes itself as a programme “where arts and news collide”. Not for the first time, this item clearly did nothing to contribute to meeting the BBC’s remit of enhancing audience understanding of the current affairs issue to which it relates.

Weekend long read

 

1) At Engage, Sarah Brown reviews a new book titled “The Left’s Jewish Problem” by the CST’s Dave Rich.Weekend Read

“Many of today’s familiar anti-Israel tropes began to circulate in the late 1950s and 1960s. The PLO compared Zionism to Nazism and the Algerian National Liberation Front blamed Israel’s creation on the monopoly of finance and media held by ‘magnate Jews’. Rich explains in detail how another trope – the comparison between Israel and apartheid South Africa – gained so much traction. Surprisingly, the Young Liberals play a major part in this story. The relationship between this group and the wider Liberal Party was bizarrely disjunctive in the 1960s. Their vice-chairman Bernard Greaves, for example, ‘dismiss[ed] Parliament as a hindrance to “the revolutionary transformation of society”’.

Some members flirted with Communism and others engaged in violent direct action as part of their campaign against apartheid. Among the key players was Peter Hellyer, Vice-Chairman of the Young Liberals. Through his campaigning he made connections with Palestinian and other Arab activists and this political environment exposed him to Soviet and Egyptian anti-Zionist – and antisemitic – propaganda. As Rich explains, the Soviet Union was a particularly important vector for anti-Zionist discourse. Examining these 1960s networks, and the way ideas circulated within them (rather like tracing the transmission of a virus) helps explain not just the preoccupations of today’s left but the precise arguments and images they instinctively reach for.”

2) Nick Cohen’s review of the same book can be found here.

“Anti-fascism died when Islamist utopianism annihilated socialist utopianism. At a pro-Palestinian rally in the 20th century, you would hear dreams of a future where the Arab and Jewish working classes would unite in a common homeland. By contrast, at a pro-Palestinian rally led by Corbyn in 2002, supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood handed out newspapers instructing marchers that man was on Earth to serve God, and Muslims and non-Muslims could not be treated equally in an Islamic state. All of a sudden, and without anything resembling a debate, the loudest voices in the British and world left were on the side of men whose prejudices, not only against Jews, but against women, homosexuals, secular societies, and human rights, combined the worst theology of the seventh century with the worst ideology of the 20th.”

3) Not unrelatedly, Jamie Palmer examines the question of “Why Doesn’t the Western Left Listen to Palestinians?”.

“The Holocaust, the Six Day War, and the PLO terror campaign of the 1970s are receding in living memory. Subsequent generations grew up watching television news reports of Israeli tanks pounding Beirut in the early 80s and stone-throwers confronting armed soldiers during the first intifada. The Left has tended to understand these images and events using an anti-imperialist and post-colonial lens that ennobles victimhood and romanticizes violent struggle.

The upshot has been the infantilization of a people whose suffering is perceived to be somehow apolitical. What Palestinians do or say is simply an expression of enraged frustration and an inevitable consequence of oppression. If Palestinian public figures incite the murder of Jews in unequivocal terms, it is to be expected, if not exactly justified. If Palestinian politics and society are dysfunctional, it is because they are laboring under occupation. If Palestinians denounce the peace process, it is because they are tired of Israeli intransigence.

It is seldom allowed that Palestinians are thinking, speaking, and acting of their own volition or in pursuit of a counter-productive and racist agenda, which does not align with the Left’s expectations and assumptions. Behind the Left’s generalities, the specifics of what this-or-that Palestinian official, newspaper, or terrorist said are therefore irrelevant. Israel is the occupying power, ergo only Israel and Israelis are capable of moral responsibility and deserving of censure.”

4) Professor Eugene Kontorovich has published a new paper titled “Unsettled: A Global Study of Settlements in Occupied Territories”.

“…international law scholars, like lawyers generally, do not try to tease legal rules out of one particular case, but try to discern the pattern in the entire set of cases. Making law from one case risks serious error.

Yet that is exactly what happens with Art. 49(6) of the Fourth Geneva Convention, the provision that, loosely speaking, restricts settlements in occupied territory. The provision itself is quite obscure and has never been applied in any war crimes case. Thus, looking at state practice would be particularly useful to understand the scope of its meaning.

Yet scholars and humanitarian groups have only sought to understand its meaning through the lens of one case, that of Israel. If there were no other situations to look at, this would be understandable. But, as I show in my new research paper, settlement activity is fairly ubiquitous in occupations of contiguous territory. Yet state practice in these other situations has not been used to inform an understanding of the meaning of Art. 49(6).”

A link to the paper can be found here

 

 

Reviewing BBC News website portrayal of Israel and the Palestinians in Q2 2016 – part two

As noted in part one of this post, between April 1st and June 30th 2016, fifty-four reports relating to Israel and/or the Palestinians (along with others relating to non-Israeli Jews) appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page, some of which were cross posted from other sections of the site. 24% of those reports covered stories relating to security/terrorism which were current at the time or follow-up to previously reported incidents.website

The remaining 76% of those articles can be divided into a number of categories. (The dates in brackets represent the period of time in which each report was available to visitors to the website’s Middle East page.)

Four reports related to historical subject matter.

Operation Solomon: Airlifting 14,000 Jews out of Ethiopia (25/5/16 to 28/5/16)

Items from Israel Entebbe hostage rescue (27/6/16 to 3/7/16)

Entebbe: A mother’s week of ‘indescribable fear’ (27/6/16 to 30/6/16) (discussed here)

WW2 Jewish escape tunnel uncovered in Lithuania’s Ponar forest (29/6/16 to 30/6/16)

Two reports can be categorised as miscellaneous.

‘Polish Catholic posed as rabbi’ in Poznan (20/4/16 to 21/4/16)

Angel mosaic revealed at Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity (29/6/16 to 4/7/16)

10 reports related to Israeli diplomatic/international relations and/or political aspects of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Gush Etzion Junction: The deadly roundabout (28/4/16 to 1/5/16) (discussed here, here and here)

Israel-Palestinian tensions return to boiling point (4/5/16 to 12/5/16) (discussed here)

My son the bomber, my daughter the victim (5/5/16 to 9/5/16) (discussed here)

New hope for Holy Land’s minefield churches (16/5/16 to 18/5/16) (discussed here)

The most dangerous church in the world (16/5/16 to 17/5/16) (discussed here)

Israel-Palestinian two-state solution ‘in serious danger’ (3/6/16 to 6/6/16) (discussed here)Bangladesh art

Bangladesh home minister suggests Israel behind spate of killings (6/6/16 to 7/6/16) (discussed here)

Dead Sea drying: A new low-point for Earth (17/6/16 to 21/6/16) (discussed here)

Israel and Turkey end rift over Gaza flotilla killings (27/6/16 to 28/6/16) (discussed here)

Turkey plays diplomatic chess in Middle East (29/6/16 to 4/7/16) (discussed here)

Four reports cross-posted on the Middle East page related to UK politics and antisemitism.

MP Naz Shah suspended from Labour (27/4/16 to 28/4/16)

What’s the difference between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism? (28/4/16 to 2/5/16) (discussed here)

Jeremy Corbyn denies crisis as Ken Livingstone suspended (28/4/16 to 30/4/16)

Chief Rabbi condemns ‘offensive’ Corbyn anti-Semitism comments (30/6/16 to 1/7/16) (discussed here)

Seven reports related to Palestinian affairs.

Gaza cinema a new experience for many with first screenings in 20 years (8/4/16 to 15/4/16) (discussed here)

Palestinian doctor turns personal tragedy into dramatic play (15/4/16 to 19/4/16) (discussed here and here)

Traditional industries in the West Bank (17/5/16 to 20/5/16) (discussed here)

New Palestinian museum opens without exhibits (18/5/16 to 20/5/16) (discussed here)

More than half UN schools in Middle East targeted in conflicts (21/5/16 to 23/5/16) discussed here)

UN alarmed by Hamas plans for executions in Gaza (26/5/16 to 27/5/16) (discussed here)

Gazans squeezed by triple taxes as Hamas replaces lost income (20/6/16 to 26/6/16) (discussed here)

14 articles concerned Israel related stories – mostly domestic – and they can be divided into sub categories including:

a) reports relating to legal and/or criminal issues:

Israeli soldier ‘faces manslaughter’ for killing wounded attacker (31/3/16 to 1/4/16)

Video of Israeli soldier’s killing of Palestinian attacker fuels debate (11/4/16 to 17/4/16) (discussed here)

Israeli soldier charged over killing of wounded attacker (18/4/16 to 19/4/16)

Jerusalem Gay Pride: Ultra-Orthodox Jew convicted of murder over stabbing (19/4/16 to 20/4/16)

Israeli diamond dealer arrested amid huge fraud probe (21/4/16)

Israeli soldier goes on trial for killing wounded Palestinian attacker (9/5/16 to 10/5/16)

Jerusalem Gay Pride stabbing: ultra-orthodox Yishai Schlissel jailed for life (26/6/16 to 27/6/16) (discussed here and here)

b) immigration:

Ethiopian Jews’ Israel migration hope (28/4/16 to 2/5/16)

c) society:

Israel promotes Arab police officer to senior rank (13/4/16 to 15/4/16) (discussed here)

Jesus’s tomb in Jerusalem undergoes restoration work (6/6/16 to 8/6/16) (discussed here)

d) domestic politics:

Golan Heights ‘forever Israeli’, PM Benjamin Netanyahu vows (17/4/16 to 18/4/16)

Israel’s Netanyahu criticises military official over Nazi claim (8/5/16 to 9/5/16) (discussed here)

Israel politics: Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon resigns in protest (20/5/16 to 21/5/16) (discussed here and here)

Avigdor Lieberman named as Israel’s defence minister (25/5/16 to 27/5/16) (discussed here and here)

Internal Israeli affairs received twice as much coverage as Palestinian affairs during the second quarter of 2016. Notably, BBC audiences saw two relatively rare reports relating to social issues (taxes and executions) under the Hamas regime. As was the case in the first quarter, a significant proportion of the Israel related stories the BBC chose to publish related to domestic legal and/or criminal issues and those reports make up 13% of all the articles published during the second quarter.

q2-chart

Overall throughout the first half of 2016, 30.5% of the BBC’s reporting on Israel and the Palestinians related to security issues which were current at the time or were follow up to previously covered stories. The second most reported category in Q1 and Q2 was Israeli internal affairs (26.5%). Just 10.2% of the coverage related to Palestinian internal affairs.

q1-and-q2-chart

Related Articles:

Reviewing BBC News website portrayal of Israel and the Palestinians in Q1 2016 – part one

Reviewing BBC News website portrayal of Israel and the Palestinians in Q1 2016 – part two

Reviewing BBC News website portrayal of Israel and the Palestinians in Q2 2016 – part one 

What does the BBC News website tell audiences about the Khartoum Resolutions?

September 1st marked the 49th anniversary of the Arab League’s issuing of the Khartoum Resolutions.Khartoum summit

“…the leaders of thirteen Arab states gathered at a summit conference in Khartoum, Sudan from August 29 to September 1. There they pledged to continue their struggle against Israel. Influenced by Nasser, “their conditions were quite specific: no peace with Israel, no negotiations with Israel, no recognition of Israel, and ‘maintenance of the rights of the Palestinian people in their nation.’ The Khartoum Declaration was the first serious warning to the Israelis that their expectation of an imminent ‘phone call’ from the Arab world might be a pipe dream”.”

For years the BBC has cited the Six Day War as the central factor in its portrayal of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, the broader Arab-Israeli conflict and even beyond. In 2007 the corporation’s Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen told radio audiences that:

“The legacy of 1967, military occupation and violent resistance, the unresolved refugee crisis and the competition for control of land and water…lies behind most of the shameful brutal and tragic events I have witnessed in 16 years of covering the Arab Israeli conflict for the BBC.”

“It would be bad enough if the misery of the past 40 years was confined to the Palestinians and the Israelis. But now at the start of the 21st century, their war affects all of us.. It’s at the center of the conflict between the West and the Islamic world… Ignoring the legacy of 1967 is not an option.” [emphasis added]

One might therefore expect that audiences would be able to find information concerning the Khartoum Resolutions on the BBC News website but a search for that term yields no results whatsoever.

The website’s current profile of the Arab League offers no information on that subject either and neither does its predecessor which is still available online. An old ‘timeline’ of the Arab League dating from 2011 includes the following entry for 1967 and a subsequent ‘timeline’ from 2013 offers the same information.

Arab League timeline

Next year will mark the fiftieth anniversary of the Six Day War and no doubt the BBC’s coverage of the topic will be extensive. Whether or not that coverage will finally include the provision of BBC audiences with information concerning the Arab League’s rejection of peace after losing that war remains to be seen.

Six years on: BBC backgrounder still misleads on Resolution 242

At the bottom of the recent BBC News website article concerning the visit of the Egyptian foreign minister to Israel (discussed here) readers found links to several backgrounders, one of which is titled “History of Mid-East peace talks“.

Backgrounders Egypt FM art

Although it is now date stamped July 2013, the URL is the same as that of a backgrounder of the same title produced in 2010 by Paul Reynolds. Three years ago, in July 2013, we pointed out on these pages that the backgrounder provides a misleading portrayal of Resolution 242 – and it has not been corrected since that time.History of ME peace talks

“The first entry on that page relates to the subject of UN SC resolution 242.

“Resolution 242 was passed on 22 November 1967 and embodies the principle that has guided most of the subsequent peace plans – the exchange of land for peace.

The resolution called for the “withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict”, and “respect for and acknowledgement of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every state in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognised boundaries free from threats or acts of force”.

The resolution is famous for the imprecision, in English, of its central phase concerning an Israeli withdrawal – it says simply “from territories”. The Israelis said this did not necessarily mean all territories, but Arab negotiators argued that it did.

It was written under Chapter VI of the UN Charter, under which Security Council resolutions are recommendations, not under Chapter VII, which means they are orders. Many peace proposals refer to 242. Resolution 338 is usually linked to it. This called for a ceasefire in the war of October 1973 and urged the implementation of 242 “in all its parts”.”

The third paragraph of this entry severely misleads BBC audiences. The wording of resolution 242 is not imprecise: it was deliberately phrased in that specific manner by those who drafted it. But by presenting that wording as some sort of typographical oversight, and by concealing the fact that many others besides “the Israelis” have, over the years, clarified that the lack of definite article in the sentence is deliberate, the BBC lays the groundwork for the presentation of attempts to distort the resolution’s intent as though they were of equal validity.”

We noted at the time that the people who drafted Resolution 242 had given ample explanation of its wording and provided several examples.History ME peace talks 2013

“There are many other examples which also clarify the fact that the wording of resolution 242 was in fact deliberately very precise and intended. It is therefore unfitting that the BBC should choose to misrepresent it in this disingenuous manner and the fact that it does so clearly contravenes BBC guidelines on accuracy and impartiality as well as deliberately misleading BBC audiences.”

However, as we see, nearly six years since its original publication this inaccurate portrayal of Resolution 242 is still being promoted by the BBC and continues to mislead readers.

There is obviously no value in a backgrounder which fails to present audiences with accurate information and thus actively hinders the BBC’s public purpose remit of building “understanding of international issues”.

Weekend long read

Earlier this week we noted that the BBC’s coverage of the new Israeli NGO transparency law did not provide audiences with the range of accurate and impartial information needed for proper understanding of the issue. Among the issues arising was the report’s lack of any mention of similar legislation in other countries. At the Tablet, Professor Eugene Kontorovich discusses that topic.Weekend Read

“A major talking point of the law’s critics is that it has “no democratic parallel,” and that it puts Israel in the category of non-democratic regimes like Russia, and even sets it on the road to fascism. But if these claims are true, there is little hope for democracy in the U.S., which has had similar rules for decades, and imposed new ones a few years ago without a peep of international objection.”

We have often remarked here on the BBC’s absurd tendency to promote the Palestinian-Israeli conflict as the Middle East conflict (it even has a sparse webpage with that title composed of material exclusively from the last Gaza conflict) and the concurrent practice of labelling reports about that particular conflict “Mid-East crisis” or “Middle East crisis“. The Times of Israel has an interesting interview with Shadi Hamid of Brookings which relates to that issue.

“In conversation with The Times of Israel, the expert explains that he believes that even if the Israeli-Palestinian conflict were somehow miraculously resolved tomorrow with a two-state solution, the Middle East would still be “a bloody dangerous place.”

“It feels like Israel-Palestine has almost become an afterthought for how we talk about the Middle East nowadays,” says Hamid. “It isn’t the central conflict in the region. Many of us thought it was, particularly in the pre-Arab Spring period.”

“The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not the key to resolving the ongoing problems, or making peace, in the Middle East,” he concludes.”

The UK-based Campaign Against Antisemitism had produced a guide titled “Recognising Antisemitism” which some BBC journalists and other employees might find helpful.

Another hole in the BBC’s Middle East narrative laid bare

Anyone who bothered to read right to the end of the article titled “Israel seals off Hebron after surge of attacks” which appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page on July 1st will have come across the following portrayal of an incident which took place on that day.route 60 attack art

“Elsewhere in the West Bank a Palestinian man died during clashes at the Qalandiya checkpoint, near Ramallah, where Muslims were trying to cross to Jerusalem for prayers.

Local hospital officials say he had a heart attack brought on by inhaling tear gas.”

That account does not clarify to audiences that what the BBC describes as “clashes” was actually violent rioting by a mob of Palestinians without entry permits who tried to breach the checkpoint by force. While Palestinian sources have indeed claimed that the man’s death was related to the use of tear gas during attempts to bring the violent rioting under control, in contrast to the impression given in this report, the connection has not been definitively established.

“A Palestinian man died Friday at the Qalandiya checkpoint in the West Bank, between Ramallah and Jerusalem, as some security forces faced off against some 1,000 Palestinians rioting at the site.

The protests erupted when dozens of Palestinians tried to break through the checkpoint in order to attend the final Friday prayers of Ramadan at the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the flashpoint Temple Mount in Jerusalem, Channel 2 reported. Security forces at the site used riot dispersal measures, which Palestinian sources said included tear gas.

According to the Palestinian news agency Ma’an, the man in his 40s choked as a result of the use of tear gas, and was taken to hospital in Ramallah, where he was pronounced dead.

An Israeli military source said, however, that the man’s death was caused by a heart attack, not from inhaling tear gas, the Walla news website reported.

Three police officers were lightly injured in the violence, Walla said. The crossing was closed temporarily due to the riots.”

The article also included reporting on the terror attack which took place on Route 60 on the same day – as ever without any mention of the word terror.

“It comes after an Israeli man was killed and his wife and two children wounded after their car was fired on near the Jewish settlement of Otniel.

It was the second fatal attack on an Israeli in the West Bank in two days. […]

The victims of Friday’s attack were members of the same family. Local media named the dead man as 48-year-old Michael “Miki” Mark, a father-of-10.

He was killed when the car crashed after the attack. His wife and two children were taken to hospital for treatment.

Israeli forces were still searching for a Palestinian gunman.”

Readers of the report were told that:

“In the wake of the attack, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered Israel to deduct from tax it collects on behalf of the PA the equivalent amount which the PA pays each month to Palestinian militants jailed in Israel.

“Israel believes that the encouragement of terrorism by the PA leadership – in incitement and in payments to terrorists and their families – constitutes incentive for murder,” the prime minister’s office said.”

As has been documented here on numerous occasions in the past, the BBC has long ignored the subject of the salaries paid to convicted terrorists and the financial benefits awarded to the families of deceased terrorists by the Palestinian Authority and/or the PLO, despite the relevance of that topic to general audience understanding of the background to the conflict and notwithstanding the particular relevance of the issue to British tax-payers. Most readers of this article would therefore lack understanding of the context to the Israeli government’s action and statement described above.

As we see, for the second time in one day, visitors to the BBC News website came face to face with a topic that the BBC has serially excluded from its framing for years. Obviously (if the BBC really does seek to meet its obligations to its funding public) one of the tasks at the top of the list for whoever replaces Kevin Connolly at the corporation’s Jerusalem bureau should be to try to compensate for those years of neglect by providing audiences with the information of which they have been deprived on the inter-related topics of Palestinian Authority incitement, glorification of terrorism and funding of convicted and deceased terrorists.  

Related Articles:

BBC reports on Kiryat Arba attack without using the word terror

Another fatal terror attack; another miserable BBC News headline