BBC shoehorns partisan political NGO into report on policeman’s promotion

On April 13th an article appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page under the headline “Israel promotes Arab police officer to senior rank“.Jamal Hakrush art

“An Arab police officer has been promoted by Israel to the highest rank ever attained by a Muslim in the force.

Jamal Hakrush starts his job as deputy commissioner after months of violence between Israelis and Palestinians.”

While the BBC curiously found it necessary to note Deputy Commissioner Hakrush’s religion, the article does not adequately clarify that his promotion elevates him to the second-highest rank in the Israeli police force.

Towards the end of the report readers are told that:

“Deputy Commissioner Hakrush, from the Galilee village of Kafr Kanna, will be in charge of a newly-created police division established to improve policing in Arab communities, The Times of Israel reported.

Deputy Commissioner Hakrush was formally appointed into his new position on Wednesday at a ceremony attended by Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich. One of his main responsibilities will be to stop illegal weapons falling into the hands of the Arab community.

Mr Alsheich also wants to reduce domestic violence, murder rates and other crimes in the Arab sector.

He and the government wants [sic] to recruit 1,300 new officers and construct several new stations in Arab population centres.”

All well and good, but the BBC report does not provide readers with any background information concerning the scale of the issues as presented by Commissioner Alsheich in February:

“At a meeting of the Knesset Internal Affairs and Environment Committee, Alsheich said that although Arabs constitute 21 percent of Israel’s population, they account for 58% of total crimes, 55% of attempted murders, 47% of thefts, and 27% drug dealing.

“This picture is not only of concern to the police, but also to the Arab community itself,” he said. “There is a strong desire to strengthen policing in the Arab community. I met dozens of heads of Arab local authorities and discovered that there was great willingness. ‘Just send in the police already,’ they told me.””

However, the writer of this report did find it appropriate to steer readers towards the conclusion that the high rates of crime in the Arab sector in Israel can be attributed to ‘discrimination’ and he or she conscripted unprovided ‘evidence’ from a highly partisan political NGO involved in the lawfare campaign against Israel in order to advance that notion.

“He [Deputy Commissioner Hakrush] will oversee policing in Arab communities where there is a longstanding distrust of the police.

A fifth of Israel’s population is Arab and they often complain that areas in which they live are not so well policed and have poorer public services.

Their grievances have been supported by Human Rights Watch which in recent years has published several reports highlighting the discrimination which it is argued the Arab population faces.”

Yes – even an article about the unprecedented promotion of an Arab-Israeli police officer can be used by the BBC to advance politicised messaging. 

Did the BBC’s Jerusalem bureau miss this Israel story?

On December 30th the Israeli government unanimously approved a plan to invest 15 billion shekels ($3.8 billion) in the Arab sector over the next five years.

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Daburiyya, Galilee

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon and Social Equality Minister Gila Gamliel formulated the plan seeking to change governmental allocation mechanisms in an effort to narrow gaps and aid in the quick economical development of Arab society.

NIS 1.2 billion will be allocated to promoting construction in Arab municipalities, while NIS 1.4 billion will be allocated to bolstering local authorities in an effort to develop infrastructure. […]

Approval of the plan heralds a big change in transportation, including increasing subsidies for public transportation in Arab municipalities, completing the infrastructure for public transportation and making the information accessible to the Arab public by translating it to Arabic.

To that end, 40 percent of the State of Israel’s public transportation budget will be used in the Arab sector, as well as 40 percent of the budget allocated to transportation infrastructure in municipalities.

The plan includes extensive and in-depth investment in education in the Arab sector, focusing on training educators, educational achievements, and informal education – in both basic and higher education.

In the field of employment and economic development, 32.5 percent will be allocated in 2016 to the development of industrial areas in Arab municipalities. In addition, 17.5 percent of the Small and Medium Businesses Agency’s budget will be allocated to businesses in the Arab sector.”

Two weeks on, BBC audiences have still heard nothing about this story or an additional one about the planning approval for an entire new town in the Lower Galilee for members of the Druze community. Could it be that the BBC’s Jerusalem bureau missed those stories – or do they simply not fit into the popular ‘right-wing Israeli government’ narrative?