Revisiting BBC messaging on the Balfour Declaration

This time last year, the BBC’s generous multi-platform coverage of the Balfour Declaration centenary had just come to an end.

As documented in our subsequent overview of the relevant BBC content:

“Most of that BBC content adopted and amplified PLO framing of the Balfour Declaration as an ‘injustice’ and advanced the notion that Britain should apologise for the century-old document.

Only five items out of the fourteen accurately informed BBC audiences that the Balfour Declaration’s ‘second part’ – which was for the most part presented as being ‘incomplete’ and ‘unfinished business’ – specifically refers to the “civil and religious rights of non-Jewish communities” rather than, as was inaccurately claimed in the rest of the content, rights in general. […]

The narrative of the Balfour Declaration as ‘colonialism’ and an act that Britain had no right to carry out was repeatedly advanced in many of these items, as was the claim that the British government should take a stand against ‘settlements’. The anti-Israel BDS campaign was promoted in two of the items.

The notion that Palestinians were ‘dispossessed’ of ‘their land’ by the Balfour Declaration and that the document was the cause of the ‘Nakba’ was repeatedly promoted in many of these reports. In four of the items BBC audiences were given inaccurate portrayals of the McMahon correspondence and the false notion that the land assigned to creation of a homeland for the Jewish people had already been promised to the Arabs by the British was promoted.”

Readers can revisit all that BBC coverage here

 

 

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BBC Complaints defends Bowen’s inaccurate history

As noted here last week a report on Prince William’s visit to Jordan, Israel and Palestinian Authority controlled territories that was aired on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Today’ programme on June 25th included an inaccurate portrayal of a historic event.

Part of the conversation between presenter Martha Kearney and the BBC’s Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen went as follows:

Kearney: “And interesting how some of the various groups have been greeting the visit. The Palestinian diplomatic representative in London said – referring to the Balfour Declaration – said that this is…eh…considered to be an act of indirect apology.”

Bowen: “Yes. Balfour Declaration of course being the decision by Britain when it was the colonial power in Palestine to say that they supported the establishment of a Jewish state – that was about 100 years ago. So for the Palestinians it’s as if it happened yesterday: they’re very, very angry about it still.” [emphasis added]

BBC Watch submitted a complaint concerning that inaccurate portrayal, pointing out that while the Balfour Declaration was issued on November 2nd 1917, British forces did not complete their First World War ‘Sinai and Palestine Campaign’ until October 30th 1918 – almost a year after the Balfour Declaration was issued – and that the region was not under British control – “colonial” or otherwise – when the Balfour Declaration was issued as claimed by the BBC’s Middle East editor.

The response received from BBC Complaints includes the following:

“We raised your complaint with the programme team and senior staff, who respond:

The presenter, Martha Kearney, put it to our Middle East Editor that Prince William’s visit was being seen as an ‘indirect apology’ for the Balfour Declaration, in the words of the Palestinian Representative in London who had commented on the visit.

As this was the first mention of the Balfour Declaration, Jeremy Bowen responded by attempting to explain in a few words the significance of Balfour for the audience. His summary was not intended to mislead but rather help listeners unfamiliar with the complex historical background and give context to Prince William’s trip. His phrase ‘about a hundred years ago’ clearly indicated that he was précising the details for the benefit for the listener and not setting out an exact sequence of historical events. Nor do we think ‘colonial power’ is an inappropriate phrase to cover this period, given that at the time Britain had a large Empire and went onto administer Palestine at the behest of the League of Nations in 1923.”

Quite how that inaccurate presentation of the chronology of events can be claimed to “help listeners unfamiliar with the complex historical background” is of course unclear. So much for BBC editorial standards of ‘accuracy’. 

Related Articles:

BBC R4’s ‘Today’ forces Brexit and Gaza into royal visit report

BBC R4’s ‘Today’ forces Brexit and Gaza into royal visit report

h/t GB

As readers are no doubt aware the Duke of Cambridge is currently on a visit to Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Authority controlled territories. Although his itinerary does not include a trip to the Gaza Strip, BBC audiences have nevertheless repeatedly seen the promotion of faux linkage between the royal visit and recent events along the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip in the corporation’s related coverage.

An article which appeared on the BBC News website on June 24th – “Prince William makes historic visit to Middle East” – informed readers in its fourth and fifth paragraphs that:

“The trip comes as Israel celebrates the 70th anniversary of its foundation, and amid a rise in tensions between Palestinians and Israelis.

Israeli forces launched air strikes on Palestinian militant positions in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday after rockets and mortars were fired into Israel.”

A report about the Jordanian leg of the visit which appeared on the BBC News website on June 25th under the title “Prince William visits ancient city in Jordan during royal tour” closed by telling readers that:

“The trip comes as Israel celebrates the 70th anniversary of its foundation, and amid a rise in tensions between Palestinians and Israelis.

There has been an upsurge of violence across the Israel-Gaza border in recent weeks, with more than 100 Palestinians killed during protests and dozens of rockets fired into Israel from Gaza.”

In fact over 150 rockets and mortars – rather than “dozens” – have been launched at Israeli civilians by Palestinian terrorists in recent weeks. As has been noted here on numerous occasions – and as the BBC is well aware – the majority of the people killed during the ‘Great Return March’ pre-planned violence that the BBC euphemistically portrays as “protests” have been linked to various Gaza-based terror groups. The BBC, however, continues to systematically sideline that relevant information in its reports.

An additional example of context-free references to casualties resulting from Hamas’ pre-planned agitprop being gratuitously shoehorned into a report ostensibly about Prince William’s tour was found in the June 25th edition of BBC Radio 4’s ‘Today‘ programme.  Presenter Martha Kearney introduced that item and the BBC’s Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen as follows (from 02:45:30 here):

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

Kearney: “Prince William’s visit to Israel today is coming at a very tense time for the region. More than a hundred Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces in recent protests in Gaza. We’re joined now by our Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen. […] And the trip obviously filled with sensitivities.”

Bowen: “Well the thing about the place where he’s going is that everything is political and I think the Palace and the general messaging coming out of the British government as well is that this is a non-political visit like all royal visits. But, you know, Jerusalem is a city – and he’s going to be staying there – it’s a city where, you know, even the public transportation routes are political. Everything is political and almost everything comes as well through the prism of the conflict and so, yep, it’s a…it’s full of bear traps.”

Kearney: “And the people and the places that he’s going to have obviously been very carefully chosen.”

Bowen: Yes, he’s going to be on the Palestinian side. He’s going to the West Bank. He’s going to see the Palestinian president. He’ll also see Mr Netanyahu the Israeli…ah…prime minister among others and he’ll be seeing…you know it’s a carefully calibrated package certainly but, you know, even when the announcement was made about the programme, it was said in the announcement – the official British announcement – that he would be in the occupied Palestinian territories including East Jerusalem and then the Israeli minister of Jerusalem said ‘wait a minute, that’s not occupied: that’s part of Israel’. You know that is just a small sign of the kinds of things which will inevitably come up and everything that he says, the way he looks and where he goes – all of it will be deeply scrutinised.”

The prince’s itinerary also includes a meeting with the President of Israel but Jeremy Bowen apparently did not find that worth mentioning. Martha Kearney then found it appropriate to amplify a curious and unsupported claim.

Kearney: “And interesting how some of the various groups have been greeting the visit. The Palestinian diplomatic representative in London said – referring to the Balfour Declaration – said that this is…eh…considered to be an act of indirect apology.”

The British Consul-General in Jerusalem had already been questioned on that topic by reporters.

“Over the last year, the Palestinians have called on Great Britain to apologize for its role in the creation of the State of Israel, including for issuing the Balfour Declaration.

When asked about this issue, Hall responded: “I don’t expect the Duke of Cambridge to be apologizing for Britain.””

The BBC’s Middle East editor – of all people – then gave listeners an ‘explanation’ of the Balfour Declaration that included the inaccurate and misleading claim that it had been issued when Britain “was the colonial power in Palestine”. Britain’s WW1 ‘Sinai and Palestine Campaign’ in fact only came to an end on October 30th 1918 – almost a year after the Balfour Declaration was issued – when an armistice agreement was signed with the Ottomans.

Bowen: “Yes. Balfour Declaration of course being the decision by Britain when it was the colonial power in Palestine to say that they supported the establishment of a Jewish state – that was about 100 years ago. So for the Palestinians it’s as if it happened yesterday: they’re very, very angry about it still. So yes, that’s what I mean by saying that everything there is…is going to be political. And there’ve been some slightly carping pieces as well written in the Israeli press saying well, poor old Britain, you know, with Brexit coming along, they’re doing this finally – ‘cos there’ve been loads of invitations in the past which haven’t been taken up – they’re doing this finally because, you know, they need to make trade deals so here’s one way perhaps of trying to make things a little bit better with Israel is to deploy the royal family.”

Kearney then reintroduced the unrelated topic of Gaza.

Kearney: “There’s a Brexit angle on everything. But as I was saying in the introduction, I mean this comes – doesn’t it – at a very tense time given the recent protests in Gaza?”

Bowen: “Yes things are heating up in and around Gaza. There’s absolutely no question about it. And there’ve been a number of…ehm…all-out wars between Hamas in Gaza – the militant Palestinian organisation there – and the Israelis in the last – what? – seven, eight years and the thing about the situation there is that until the whole political context changes, it will always boil up and eventually – I would always argue – spill into war unless something changes in terms of, you know, the status quo. Now nothing is changing and so that old cliché about a long, hot summer – that’s certainly going to be happening and the tension is rising there. There’ve been many casualties on the Palestinian side and there is nothing really to look…to say at the moment which would suggest that things are going to get any better and I…my personal analysis is that there will be more flare-ups of deadly violence.”

BBC audiences have of course heard similar analysis from Bowen in the past and in this case too, the person charged with making “a complex story more comprehensive or comprehensible for the audience” elected not to inform them of the involvement of Hamas and other terror groups in the planning, organisation and financing of the recent violence along the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip.

Once again he avoided reminding audiences of the fact that Israel completely withdrew from the Gaza Strip almost thirteen years ago – relinquishing all territorial claims to it – and failed to make any mention of Hamas’ existential commitment to Israel’s destruction as expressed in its founding charter, in the ‘rationale‘ behind its ‘Great Return March’ and in its continued employment of terror against Israeli citizens.

In other words, not only does the BBC continue to promote its politically motivated account of the latest chapter of Hamas-initiated violence while erasing essential context, it even does so in reports on an unrelated royal visit because, for the BBC, there’s a Gaza “angle on everything”.

Related Articles:

BBC’s Middle East editor ‘explains’ Gaza violence

 

Reviewing BBC News website portrayal of Israel and the Palestinians in Q4 2017 – part two

As recorded in part one of this post, between October 1st and December 31st 2017, one hundred and six reports relating to Israel and/or the Palestinians appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page (compared to 58 reports in Q3), some of which were cross posted from other sections of the site. 12.3% of those reports covered stories relating to security/terrorism.

The remaining reports can be grouped 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.)

Six reports related to historical subject matter:

Albert Einstein’s happiness note sold for $1.6m (24/10/17 to 25/10/17)

‘My house was occupied by Israeli soldiers’ (4/10/17 to 5/10/17) discussed here

Battle of Beersheba charge recreated for centenary (1/11/17 to 2/11/17) discussed here

Israel’s ancient underwater treasure BBC Travel (9/11/17 to 10/11/17)

Was this the first Dead Sea Scroll? BBC Travel (2/12/17 to 3/12/17)

‘It was an uprising from the heart’ (20/12/17 to 26/12/17) discussed here

Seven items can be categorised as miscellaneous:

Poland asked to explain naked Nazi gas chamber video (30/11/17 to 2/12/17)

Argentina judge seeks arrest of ex-leader Cristina Fernández (8/12/17 to 10/12/17)

Who invented hummus? BBC Travel (12/12/17 to 14/12/17 and 16/12/17 to 19/12/17)

Bethlehem Christmas: Church of the Nativity hosts pilgrims (25/12/17 to 26/12/17)

Bethlehem celebrates Christmas amid heightened tensions  Tom Bateman (24/12/17 to 27/12/17)

Urbi et Orbi: Pope calls for peace for Jerusalem (25/12/17 to 26/12/17) discussed here

Urbi et Orbi: Pope addresses world crises (25/12/17 to 26/12/17)

Fifty-one reports (48.1%) related to Israeli diplomatic/international relations and/or political aspects of the Arab-Israeli conflict – with two main topics apparent.

a) the Balfour Declaration centenary – 7 reports:

The Balfour Declaration: My ancestor’s hand in history Jane Corbin (31/10/17 to 6/11/17) discussed here and here

Balfour Declaration: Banksy holds ‘apology’ party for Palestinians (1/11/17 to 2/11/17) discussed here

Balfour Declaration: The divisive legacy of 67 words Yolande Knell (2/11/17 to 7/11/17) discussed here and here

New Banksy work unveiled at ‘apology’ party for Palestinians (2/11/17 to 4/11/17) discussed here

Balfour Declaration: Theresa May hosts Israeli PM for centenary (2/11/17 to 4/11/17) discussed here

Balfour Declaration: 100 years of conflict Yolande Knell (2/11/17 to 5/11/17) discussed here

Palestinians call for Balfour Declaration apology  Tom Bateman (2/11/17 to 7/11/17) discussed here

b) the US administration’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital – 34 reports:

Jerusalem: Opposition to mooted Trump Israel announcement grows (4/12/17) discussed here

Jerusalem: Turkey warns Trump against crossing ‘red line’ (5/12/17) discussed here

Why Jerusalem matters Yolande Knell (6/12/17 to 11/12/17) discussed here

US to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital (6/12/17)

Jerusalem: Trump move prompts negative world reaction (6/12/17 to 7/12/17)

Palestinians and Israelis on US Jerusalem recognition (6/12/17 to 9/12/17)

Jerusalem status: World condemns Trump’s announcement (7/12/17)

What Trump’s Jerusalem decision means for peace Lyse Doucet (7/12/17 to 11/12/17)

Trumplomacy: Key takeaways from Jerusalem policy shift Barbara Plett-Usher (7/12/17) discussed here

Middle East media reacts to ‘slap of the century’ BBC Monitoring (7/12/17 to 8/12/17)

Trump says US recognises Jerusalem: The speech in full (7/12/17 to 8/12/17)

Trump’s Jerusalem move: Anger in Ramallah and Israeli delight Yolande Knell (8/12/17 to 21/12/17)

Trump’s Jerusalem move: US warns against scrapping Abbas talks (8/12/17)

Trump Jerusalem shift puts counter-terror efforts at risk Frank Gardner (8/12/17 to 22/12/17) discussed here

Tensions high in wake of Donald Trump’s Jerusalem announcement (8/12/17 to 11/12/17)

In Jerusalem on the ‘Day of Rage’ (8/12/17 to 9/12/17)

Muslims protest worldwide against Trump (8/12/17 to 9/12/17)

Jerusalem clashes: Sheltering in a sweet shop (9/12/17 to 12/12/17)

Trump’s Jerusalem move: Arab allies attack decision (10/12/17)

Netanyahu: Palestinians must face reality over Jerusalem (10/12/17 to 11/12/17)

Beirut protests: ‘Jerusalem remains a rallying cry’ Martin Patience (10/12/17 to 19/12/17)

Trump Jerusalem move: Tear gas at Lebanon US embassy protest (10/12/17 to 11/12/17)

EU’s Federica Mogherini rebuffs Netanyahu on Jerusalem (11/12/17 to 13/12/17)

The Israeli PM meets EU foreign ministers, but differences emerge immediately (11/12/17 to 20/12/17)

Muslim nations urge recognition of East Jerusalem as Palestinian capital (13/12/17 to 14/12/17) discussed here

Jerusalem: US vetoes UN resolution rejecting Trump’s declaration (18/12/17 to 20/12/17) discussed here

UN Jerusalem vote: US ‘will be taking names’ (20/12/17) discussed here

Jerusalem UN vote: Trump threatens US aid recipients (20/12/17 to 21/12/17)

Trump: Jerusalem UN votes being watched by US (20/12/17 to 21/12/17)

Jerusalem: UN resolution rejects Trump’s declaration (21/12/17 to 22/12/17)

How did your country vote on the Jerusalem resolution? (21/12/17 to 23/12/17)

Nikki Haley warns US will remember UN’s Jerusalem rebuke (21/12/17 to 23/12/17)

Jerusalem: Palestinian leader Abbas spurns US peace plan (22/12/17 to 25/12/17)

US plays hardball at UN over Jerusalem vote Nada Tawfik (23/12/17 to 24/12/17)

c) other:

Israel to join US in quitting Unesco (12/10/17 to 16/10/17) discussed here

Texas city requires Israel pledge for hurricane relief (20/10/17 to 22/10/17) discussed here

Iran ‘sentences Sweden resident to death’ for spying (24/10/17 to 25/10/17)

Miss Iraq and Miss Israel selfie strikes a nerve BBC Trending (16/11/17 to 24/11/17)

Kuwait Airways ‘within its rights’ to ban Israeli – German court (16/11/17 to 20/11/17)

Israeli man’s photos in holy Muslim site cause social media rage (21/11/17 to 23/11/17) discussed here

Israel and Saudi Arabia: What’s shaping the covert ‘alliance’ Jonathan Marcus (24/11/17 to 27/11/17)

Outrage as Iranian wrestler ‘forced’ to lose match BBC Trending (27/11/17 to 5/12/17) discussed here

Jerusalem: Guatemala follows US in planning Israel embassy move (25/12/17 to 28/12/17) discussed here

Saudi chess tournament starts without Israeli players (26/12/17 to 28/12/17)

Ten reports (9.4%) related to Palestinian affairs with half of those devoted to the topic of a Hamas-Fatah ‘unity deal’:

Palestinian PM in rare Gaza visit as rift with Hamas eases (2/10/17 to 4/10/17) discussed here

Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah end split on Gaza (12/10/17 to 16/10/17) discussed here

Palestinian unity deal: Gazans hope for end to feud Yolande Knell (13/10/17 to 23/10/17)

Hamas must disarm to join Palestinian unity government – US (19/10/17 to 22/10/17) discussed here

Gaza conjoined twins ‘need life-saving treatment abroad’ (23/10/17 to 24/10/17) discussed here

Gaza amputees explain their unique friendship (13/10/17 to 17/10/17) discussed here

Hamas hands PA control of Gaza border crossings (1/11/17 to 2/11/17) discussed here

Gaza commemorates Yasser Arafat anniversary (11/11/17 to 13/11/17)

Palestinians ‘could freeze US ties’ over Washington office closure (18/11/17 to 21/11/17)

Palestinians recall envoy to US (31/12/17 to 1/1/18) discussed here

The thirteen reports (12.3% of the total) concerning Israeli affairs can be divided into sub categories:

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

Paradise Papers documents raise questions over African mining deal (6/11/17 to 8/11/17)

Israeli president rejects pardon for soldier Elor Azaria (19/11/17 to 21/11/17) discussed here

b) society:

‘Bloody hour’: Israeli bar discount for women on period (29/10/17 to 31/10/17)

Aharon Shteinman: Ultra-Orthodox spiritual leader dies in Israel (12/12/17 to 14/12/17)

Teva Pharmaceuticals: Israeli drugmaker to cut 14,000 jobs (14/12/17 to 17/12/17)

c) domestic news/politics:

Israel Facebook: Mistranslated post creates security alert (22/10/17 to 23/10/17)

Israel approves 176 new settler homes in East Jerusalem (25/10/17 to 27/10/17) discussed here

Israel honours first recognised Arab Holocaust saviour (27/10/17 to 30/10/17)

Israel health minister resigns over Sabbath rail works (26/11/17 to 28/11/17)

Jerusalem: Israel plans ‘Trump station’ near Western Wall (27/12/17 to 28/12/17)

Israel parliament passes law restricting police powers (28/12/17 to 30/12/17)

Israel: Minister leads prayers for rain to end drought (28/12/17 to 31/12/17)

d) science and technology:

Israeli spies ‘watched Russian agents breach Kaspersky software’ BBC Technology (11/10/17 to 12/10/17) 

Three reports related to British politics:

Priti Patel held undisclosed meetings in Israel  James Landale (3/11/17 to 5/11/17)

Priti Patel apologises over undisclosed Israeli meetings  (6/11/17 to 7/11/17)

Priti Patel quits cabinet over Israel meetings row  (8/11/17 to 9/11/17)

Three related to the US and the JCPOA:

What will Trump do about the Iran nuclear deal? Jonathan Marcus (12/10/17 to 16/10/17)

Trump aims blow at Iran and threatens landmark nuclear deal (13/10/17) discussed here

Iran nuclear deal: Global powers stand by pact despite Trump threat (14/10/17 to 18/10/17) discussed here

As was the case throughout 2016 and in the first three quarters of 2017, (see ‘related articles’ below) Israeli domestic affairs once again received more extensive coverage than did Palestinian affairs in the final quarter of 2017 – notwithstanding the story of the Hamas-Fatah ‘unity deal’.

Throughout the whole of 2017 security related reports accounted for 14.2% of the BBC News website’s articles pertaining to Israel and/or the Palestinians. 25.2% of the coverage related to Israeli affairs while internal Palestinian affairs were the topic of just 8.6% of the articles. The subject most frequently covered in BBC reporting continues to be international relations and conflict politics – 37.9%.

Related Articles:

An overview of BBC News website coverage of the US embassy story

Reviewing BBC coverage of the UN GA Jerusalem vote – part one

An overview of BBC coverage of the Balfour Declaration centenary

Reviewing BBC News website portrayal of Israel and the Palestinians in Q4 2017 – part one

Reviewing BBC News website portrayal of Israel and the Palestinians in Q3 2017 – part two

Reviewing BBC News website portrayal of Israel and the Palestinians in Q3 2017 – part one

Reviewing BBC News website portrayal of Israel and the Palestinians in Q2 2017 – part two

Reviewing BBC News website portrayal of Israel and the Palestinians in Q2 2017 – part one

Reviewing BBC News website portrayal of Israel and the Palestinians in Q1 2017 – part one

Reviewing BBC News website portrayal of Israel and the Palestinians in Q1 2017 – part two

Reviewing BBC News website portrayal of Israel and the Palestinians in Q4 2016 – part two (includes links to previous reports)

 

 

 

BBC censors parts of Mahmoud Abbas speech once again

An article that appeared on the BBC News website on January 14th under the headline “Jerusalem embassy: Abbas says Trump plan ‘slap of the century’” purports to inform audiences about a speech made by the Palestinian president and PLO chairman at a meeting of the PLO central council.

The BBC reported the content of Abbas’ speech as follows:

“Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has described US President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace efforts as the “slap of the century”.

At a meeting of Palestinian leaders, he stressed he would not accept any peace plan from the US after it recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

He also accused Israel itself of putting an end to the 1994 Oslo Accords, which began the peace process. […]

Speaking to Palestinian faction leaders in Ramallah on Sunday, he said: “The deal of the century is the slap of the century and we will not accept it.”

“I am saying that Oslo, there is no Oslo,” he added. “Israel ended Oslo.””

Under the sub-heading “Did he say anything new?” readers were also told that:

“On Sunday, Mr Abbas suggested Palestinians were being offered the village of Abu Dis, outside Jerusalem, as the capital of a future Palestinian state.

“What would you want, if Jerusalem were to be lost?” he asked rhetorically, according to the Jerusalem Post. “Would you want to make a state with Abu Dis as its capital?””

However, that 162 word portrayal of the speech made by Abbas – which went on for more than two hours – omits parts of its content.

Ha’aretz reported that Abbas personally attacked US officials, saying:

“U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman is a settler who is opposed to the term occupation. He is an offensive human being, and I will not agree to meet with him anywhere. They requested that I meet him and I refused, not in Jerusalem, not in Amman, not in Washington. U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley too, she threatens to hit people who hurt Israel with the heel of her shoe, and we’ll respond in the same way.”

Abbas also promoted the following unoriginal smear:

“Israel has imported frightening amounts of drugs in order to destroy our younger generation.”

The Palestinian president expressed the intention to continue providing payments to convicted terrorists and their families.

“Prisoners and their family members are our sons, and we will continue to give them stipends.”

He also made false claims regarding Theodor Herzl:

“Abbas then turned to the United Kingdom, saying that “we continue to demand an apology from the British for the Balfour Declaration, and we will continue to demand their recognition of a Palestinian state.” He noted that “Herzl’s phrase ‘a land without a people for a people without a land’ was made up. He arrived here and saw a people, and for that reason, spoke of the need to get rid of the Palestinians.”” [emphasis added]

Abbas’ historical distortions continued:

“Abbas spoke for about two and half hours about how Jews were brought to Israel. He noted that England and the United States participated in the process of bringing Jews to Palestine after the Holocaust, seeking to solve the problem of having Jews without suffering the consequences.”

The New York Times adds:

“Testing his audience’s attention, Mr. Abbas also gave a lengthy history lecture reaching back to the 17th century, saying that Oliver Cromwell had first proposed shipping European Jews to the Holy Land, before tracing the beginning of Zionism to what he called the 19th-century journalist and activist Theodor Herzl’s efforts to “wipe out Palestinians from Palestine.”

This is a colonial enterprise that has nothing to do with Jewishness,” Mr. Abbas said. “The Jews were used as a tool under the concept of the promised land — call it whatever you want. Everything has been made up.”” [emphasis added]

There is of course nothing new about Abbas’ denial of Jewish history and his attempts to portray Israel as a European colonialist implant: such propaganda has been spread by the Palestinian Authority for years.

Unfortunately, there is also nothing novel about a BBC report on a speech made by the Palestinian president in which the parts of his remarks that do not fit the corporation’s chosen narrative are erased from audience view: only last month the BBC News website did the exact same when reporting on an address delivered by Abbas in Turkey.

Just as BBC audiences are never told about the ‘moderate’ Palestinian president’s personal role in the PA’s incitement to violence and glorification of terrorism or his refusal to recognise the Jewish state, they likewise do not hear anything about his longstanding denial of Jewish history and distortion of the origins of modern Israel.

Related Articles:

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

UK media airbrush Abbas’s anti-Jewish remarks from report on PLO conference (UK Media Watch)

Reviewing BBC coverage of 2017 anniversaries

2017 was a plentiful year for Middle East related anniversaries but BBC audiences did not see reporting on all of them.

In June the BBC gave generous coverage to the fiftieth anniversary of the Six Day War – often without provision of relevant context but with uniform promotion of the BBC’s chosen narrative.

BBC WS tells a context-free tale of Egypt’s Six Day War ‘naksa’

BBC’s Bateman erases history and context from his account of the Six Day War

BBC’s filmed Six Day War backgrounder falls short

Jeremy Bowen promotes political narrative in BBC’s Six Day War centrepiece

BBC Arabic’s Sally Nabil promotes more uncorroborated Six Day War hearsay

A third feature promotes the BBC’s chosen Six Day War narrative

Radio 4’s Hugh Sykes joins the BBC’s ‘it’s all down to the occupation’ binge

BBC’s Six Day War messaging continues on R4’s ‘Today’

BBC News endorses its Six Day War narrative by celebrity proxy

BBC World Service history programmes on the Six Day War – part one

BBC World Service history programmes on the Six Day War – part two

In contrast, later the same month the tenth anniversary of the violent take-over of the Gaza Strip by the terrorist organisation Hamas did not receive any BBC coverage whatsoever.

BBC bows out of coverage of 10 years of Hamas rule in Gaza

Neither the 120th anniversary of the first Zionist Congress nor the 40th anniversary of President Sadat’s historic visit to Israel received any BBC coverage.

In contrast, copious cross-platform coverage was given to the Balfour Declaration centenary throughout October and November. While much of that coverage focused on the promotion of a particular political narrative, the question of whether Britain fulfilled the pledge made in that declaration was largely ignored.

Politicising the Balfour Declaration on BBC Radio 4 – part one

Politicising the Balfour Declaration on BBC Radio 4 – part two

BBC Radio Wales on the Balfour Declaration – part one

BBC Radio Wales on the Balfour Declaration – part two

MEMO Balfour event participant hosts BBC Radio 4 discussion on Balfour Declaration

BBC’s Corbin sidesteps prime issues in Balfour reports – part one

BBC’s Corbin sidesteps prime issues in Balfour reports – part two

More Balfour Declaration agitprop promotion on the BBC News website

More BBC Balfour Declaration centenary reporting from Yolande Knell – part one

More BBC Balfour Declaration centenary reporting from Yolande Knell – part two

BBC’s Bateman amplifies PLO’s Balfour agitprop

BBC News portrays propaganda installation as a “museum”

BBC report on UK Balfour dinner follows standard formula

BBC Radio 4’s ‘Today’ Balfour Declaration centenary special – part one

BBC Radio 4’s ‘Today’ Balfour Declaration centenary special – part two

BBC Radio 4’s ‘Today’ Balfour Declaration centenary special – part three

BBC Radio 4’s ‘Today’ Balfour Declaration centenary special – part four

BBC WS ‘Newshour’ Balfour Declaration centenary special – part one

BBC WS ‘Newshour’ Balfour Declaration centenary special – part two

BBC’s Balfour Declaration centenary programming continues

With the exception of one Radio 4 item aired in June, the 70th anniversary of the UN Partition Plan in November did not receive any BBC coverage.

No Partition Plan anniversary coverage from the BBC

The BBC produced one item relating to the 30th anniversary of the first Intifada in December.

BBC News gives a sentimental account of the first Intifada

As we see, the BBC chose to focus on just two of those 2017 anniversaries, producing reporting that primarily promoted specific political narratives rather than providing the full range of information and historical background that would enable audiences to put the events into context.

With the seventieth anniversary of Israel’s independence on the horizon, we can no doubt expect that the coming year will see similarly politicised messaging promoted under the banner of ‘history’.

Weekend long read

1) At the Middle East Quarterly, Wolfgang G. Schwanitz discusses ‘The “Ottoman Balfour Declaration”‘.

“In October 1917, as British forces knocked at Jerusalem’s gates, the Ottoman authorities declared a string of draconian steps aimed at destroying the Jewish community in Palestine (the Yishuv). Should the Turks be driven from Palestine, threatened Djemal Pasha, governor of the Levant and one of the triumvirs who ran the Ottoman Empire during World War I, no Jews would live to welcome the British forces.

Less than a year later, on August 12, 1918, Grand Vizier Talaat Pasha, Djemal’s co-triumvir, issued an official declaration in the name of the Ottoman government abolishing these restrictions and expressing sympathy “for the establishment of a religious and national Jewish center in Palestine by well-organized immigration and colonization.”

Though issued far too late to have any concrete effect—nearly half a year after the British conquest of Palestine and some eighty days before the Ottoman surrender—the significance of the declaration cannot be overstated. Here was the world’s foremost Muslim power mirroring the British government’s recognition (in the November 1917 Balfour Declaration) of the Jewish right to national revival in Palestine, something that many Muslim states refuse to acknowledge to date.”

2) At the Algemeiner, Ben Cohen writes about a statement concerning the AMIA bombing case made by one of the political NGOs most frequently quoted and promoted by the BBC.

“The influential NGO Human Rights Watch rose to the defense of the previous Argentine government on Wednesday — two weeks after a federal judge indicted former President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner and several of her senior colleagues for allegedly colluding with Iran in the cover-up of Tehran’s responsibility for the July 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish center in Buenos Aires.

In a statement, HRW claimed that there was “no evidence that would seem to substantiate those charges.”

“Relatives of victims of the AMIA terrorist attack deserve justice for this heinous crime,” said José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at HRW. “But, instead of promoting accountability, this far-fetched indictment further tarnishes the credibility of the Argentine judiciary over the AMIA attack investigations.””

3) At the Gatestone Institute, Khaled Abu Toameh reports on a new law in Iraq discriminating against Palestinians.

“Earlier this week, it was revealed that the Iraqi government has approved a new law that effectively abolishes the rights given to Palestinians living there. The new law changes the status of Palestinians from nationals to foreigners.

Under Saddam Hussein, the former Iraqi dictator, the Palestinians enjoyed many privileges. Until 2003, there were about 40,000 Palestinians living in Iraq. Since the overthrow of the Saddam regime, the Palestinian population has dwindled to 7,000.

Thousands of Palestinians have fled Iraq after being targeted by various warring militias in that country because of their support for Saddam Hussein. Palestinians say that what they are facing in Iraq is “ethnic cleansing.”

The conditions of the Palestinians in Iraq are about to go from bad to worse. The new law, which was ratified by Iraqi President Fuad Masum, deprives Palestinians living in Iraq of their right to free education, healthcare and to travel documents, and denies them work in state institutions. The new law, which is called No. 76 of 2017, revokes the rights and privileges granted to Palestinians under Saddam Hussein. The law went into effect recently after it was published in the Iraqi Official Gazette No. 4466.”

4) At Mosaic Magazine Professor Martin Kramer discusses “The Fantasy of an International Jerusalem“.

“In the uproar over President Trump’s announcement of U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, one constant refrain has been the insistence that, by longstanding international consensus, the city’s status has yet to be decided. In the portentous words of the recent UN General Assembly resolution protesting the American action, “Jerusalem is a final-status issue to be resolved through negotiations in line with relevant United Nations resolutions.”

The most “relevant” of those prior resolutions was the November 1947 resolution proposing partition of Palestine and envisaging, in addition to two independent states, one Arab and one Jewish, an entirely separate status for Jerusalem as a city belonging to no state but instead administered by a “special international regime.”

One might have thought that the wholesale Arab rejection of the entire partition plan, in all of its parts, would also have put paid to the idea of an internationalized Jerusalem. Evidently, however, this fantasy is too convenient to lie dormant forever.

That is why it’s useful to know that, almost exactly three decades before the 1947 UN plan, internationalization of Jerusalem was killed—and killed decisively. Who killed it? Thereby hangs a tale, but here is a hint: it was neither the Arabs, nor the Jews.” 

Political narrative and inaccuracy in BBC Two’s ‘Alternativity’ – part two

As we saw in part one of this post, much of the first half of the BBC Two commissioned ‘documentary’ titled ‘Alternativity’ which was aired on December 17th presented audiences with an overwhelmingly one-sided portrayal of Israel’s anti-terrorist fence.

The only explanation of why the structure had to be constructed came nearly a quarter of the way into the programme in the grand total of twenty-seven words from Danny Boyle. Viewers saw no images of any of the dozens of suicide bombings which brought about public demand for that counter-terrorism measure and did not hear from even one Israeli whose life was affected by Palestinian terrorism.

That first part of the programme also focused on the Bethlehem area, although interestingly – given the film’s declared subject matter – the problems facing Christians in that city and the sharp decline in their numbers since the PA took control of Bethlehem were not among the topics addressed. At 22:07 narrator Olivia Colman set the scene as Danny Boyle was taken to another location.

Colman: “Bethlehem has the largest Christian population in the occupied Palestinian territories. But the nativity isn’t just a Christian story and Danny’s nativity needs to be relevant to all so he’s visiting the mainly Muslim city of Hebron. Peace talks in the mid ’90s carved the West Bank up into areas A, B and C under Palestinian, combined and Israeli control respectively. But Hebron is especially contested with Jewish settlers occupying specific streets and sometimes specific houses. Here, the heavily defended settlers come and go as they please. But Danny’s guides – Fadi, a Christian and Saeed, a Muslim – are both Palestinians. And neither of them are allowed into the parts of Hebron claimed by the settlers.”

Obviously no viewer lacking background knowledge on Hebron (i.e. the majority) would understand from that ‘explanation’ that the agreement concerning that city signed by Israel and the Palestinians almost twenty-one years ago divided it into two parts: H1 – under Palestinian control – and the smaller H2 – under Israeli control. Not only does this programme fail to explain that the presence of Jews in Hebron is the result of that agreement, but the history of Jews in Hebron – including the fateful 1929 pogrom by Arabs – is completely erased.

At 23:15 viewers see Boyle on a street in H2 on what we later learn is Shabbat – Saturday.

Boyle: “It’s like a ghost town, isn’t it? It’s like a Western, isn’t it? It’s like a showdown or something. It’s crazy to think like that but it makes you feel like that, doesn’t it?”

Having later come across a family out walking, Boyle – clearly no firearms expert – tells viewers:

Boyle: “So that’s extraordinary to see a man out walking peacefully on the Sabbath with his wife and his child in a buggy and he’s got a AK47 [sic] or whatever the machine gun [sic] is…it’s a machine gun [sic]. So his statement that he’s making about what he expects to find, to protect his family – which is a natural instinct – is terrifying really.”

Boyle does not however bother to give viewers any idea of the scale of terror attacks in that area either in the past or in recent months. Standing on Emek Hevron street, Boyle then (22:40) presents pure conjecture as ‘fact’.

Boyle: “And the Star of David on the doorways which is declaring that obviously the…that in these circumstances, declaring that this is…this will become a settlement home…is shockingly reminiscent of something we all…one of the worst horrors of the world. That’s a bit mind-boggling.”

BBC Watch contacted a resident of that area and was informed that the Stars of David painted on those buildings are actually graffiti painted by unknown parties. Additional examples of graffiti on the same street can be seen in the photographs here on the right. 

The doorways mentioned by Boyle are in fact entrances to small Arab market shops that were closed during the second Intifada due to Palestinian violence. Not only are those shops unsuitable for conversion into “a settlement home” – they have never even been considered for that purpose.

As we see, therefore, Danny Boyle – who earlier on in the programme admitted that the nearest he had previously ever been to the region was Majorca – has (presumably with a bit of help from his ‘guides’) let his imagination run wild – and presented his own uninformed assumptions as fact.

Moreover, he appears to be making an oblique reference to Nazi confiscation of Jewish property – an analogy that would be considered antisemitic according to the IHRA working definition adopted by the British government.

Again failing to provide crucial context, the narrator subsequently tells viewers that: “Not all of Hebron has been settled”.

Later on in the film viewers see footage of preparations for the Balfour Declaration centenary ‘street party’ at the Walled Off hotel that was generously covered by the BBC at the time. That segment includes the following statement from the hotel manager:

Salsaa: “This [the Balfour Declaration] is the origin of the modern conflict in the Middle East. Millions became refugees, thousands died and hundreds of thousands suffered because of this.”

At 33:11 the narrator tells viewers that:

Colman: “Most Jewish settlers live in fortified settlements accessible by Israeli-only roads.”

That claim is of course inaccurate and misleading: there are no restrictions whatsoever on the roads leading to the vast majority of communities in Judea and Samaria. She goes on:

Colman: “There are virtually no Jewish people in Bethlehem and Israeli citizens are warned that entering any part of the city is dangerous.”

Boyle then further displays the level of his ‘regional expertise’, telling BBC Two viewers (33:31) that Israelis and Palestinians are “the same nation”.

Boyle: “It’s very difficult, clearly. Certainly I think that one of Banksy’s purposes is to try and illuminate that actually, although this is the same nation, the chances to interact are reduced so enormously by this wall and everything that comes with this wall. So that kind of division means that it’s very, very difficult to get Israelis to come and visit openly and certainly obviously to speak on camera about it. So that’s a big, big problem that we have.”

Needless to say, that problem was not overcome: viewers of this hour-long programme did not hear even one Israeli view.

In a segment of the film about the children participating in the nativity play (in which it is implied that parents might not want their children to take part because of the ‘risk’ of them being shot by the IDF), viewers see a seven year-old child presented only as Sofia and are told that “her father got arrested two days ago”. The narrator then informs BBC audiences (43:07) that all of Israel is “occupied” land and reinforces the previously promoted inaccurate notion that ‘millions’ of Palestinians became refugees in 1948.

Colman: “Over a million Palestinians live in camps which they were settled in when their lands were occupied after 1948. It’s been alleged that Sofia’s father leads the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in the Dheisheh camp where her family lives.”

Viewers are not informed that the PFLP is a terrorist organisation and although Sofia’s mother is seen giving her tearful account of her husband’s arrest and the story is promoted again later in the film, the mother is not named and so the story remains unverifiable.

It is blatantly obvious that the aim of this BBC commissioned film was not – as BBC Two’s controller claimed in the PR – to present “a challenging and provocative exploration” of the nativity story. Rather, the seasonally relevant topic of Christmas was merely a hook upon which to hang an hour of serially inaccurate and politically biased amplification of an anti-Israel narrative, made all the more attractive to British audiences by the inclusion of ‘national treasure’ names such as Banksy, Olivia Colman and Danny Boyle.

The methodology behind this film can in fact be summed up by one of its scenes (from 34:15) in which an unnamed woman with a British accent who is helping organise Banksy’s Balfour Declaration ‘street party’ agitprop tells the camera that:

“The global news outlets will pick this up a) because it’s Banksy b) because it’s Palestine. People love stunts. They love big, brash stunts. They love it!”

And indeed a big, brash star-studded stunt is exactly what the BBC’s funding public paid for in this BBC collaboration with the agitprop of an anonymous political activist. What they did not get, however, was anything resembling an accurate and impartial programme that would contribute to their understanding of the complex topics that are the components of this story – including that of the issues facing Christians living under Palestinian Authority rule.

Related Articles:

Political narrative and inaccuracy in BBC Two’s ‘Alternativity’ – part one

A BBC Two commission and the politicisation of Christmas

Documenting five years of BBC politicisation of Christmas

More Balfour Declaration agitprop promotion on the BBC News website

Multiplatform BBC amplification for anti-Israel ‘political statement’ PR campaign

BBC inaccurately promotes Banksy propaganda as a ‘documentary’

BBC’s Balfour Declaration centenary programming continues

h/t BF

The BBC Media Centre informs us of yet another BBC programme linked to the Balfour Declaration centenary – to be broadcast on Tuesday, December 5th on BBC Radio 4 under the title ‘Balfour’s Promised Land’.

“The Balfour Declaration is just 67 words – one very long sentence on a small piece of paper issued on 2 November 1917. But the effects of that sentence are still felt to this day across the Middle East.

In the ferment of debate generated by the centenary of the Balfour Declaration this year, David Reynolds goes back to its historical roots, to find out how and why it was conceived.

Because that document cannot be understood set apart from the dramatic autumn of 1917, when the Great War hung in the balance. Britain’s ally Russia was on the verge of collapse amidst revolution, while the Ottoman empire’s military success against British imperial forces was finally foundering. After the terrible British setbacks of Gallipoli, Kut, and disappointment in the war for the Holy Land, General Allenby was finally poised for victory in Palestine.

On 9 December he was able to grant prime minister Lloyd George his Christmas present of Jerusalem’s ‘liberation’ from centuries of Ottoman rule. By that time the fateful Balfour Declaration had been issued in London; its impact could barely be absorbed across war-torn Palestine still suffering the privations of famine, plague and conflict.

In London, the small Zionist movement was delighted by its role in shaping the Declaration, yet they were just part of a tangle of British imperial planning that, in late 1917, had seen a chance to decide the war and also define the peace. As they manipulated Jews and Arabs, Russia and America, British decision-makers were convinced of their ability to pull the strings of world politics. But not for the first time (or the last) British leaders would become victims of their own hubris.

The very long sentence was a very British story.”

Historian David Reynolds provides something of a preview of that programme in articles published last month in The New Statesman and the BBC History Magazine.

Related Articles:

An overview of BBC coverage of the Balfour Declaration centenary

 

An overview of BBC coverage of the Balfour Declaration centenary

On October 24th 2017 the PLO’s negotiations affairs department put out a document titled “A Century of Injustice: Q and A on Palestine and the Balfour Declaration”. As well as the theme of ‘injustice’ promoted in its title, the document promotes additional messaging aimed at advancing the PLO’s narrative by portraying the Balfour Declaration as:

  • a ‘colonialist’ act that brought about the ‘colonisation’ of Palestine.
  • a ‘promise’ Britain had no right to make and for which it has not assumed responsibility.
  • ignoring the existence of an Arab majority in Palestine at the time and violating their right to self-determination.
  • having caused the Palestinian refugee issue termed the ‘Nakba’.
  • having brought about a situation in which there is allegedly one state (Israel) with two separate systems and no equal rights for non-Jews.
  • a document Britain is wrong to celebrate and for which it must atone by recognising a Palestinian state and taking a stand against ‘settlements’.

There is of course nothing new about those talking points; as PMW director Itamar Marcus has explained, they have been promoted by the Palestinian Authority for years.

“For the PA, the Balfour Declaration is a necessary component of the Palestinian narrative. The two foundations of Palestinian ideology, both fictitious, are that a Palestinian nation existed for thousands of years and that there never had been a Jewish presence in the Land of Israel. But this left one problem: The PA needed to explain to its people why millions of Jews had immigrated from Europe and all over the world, if they had no connection to the land.

The PA’s answer is colonialism, and Balfour is the “proof.”

According to the PA’s adjusted narrative, Balfour and Britain’s support were not one step in the growing Zionist movement, but the beginning of all Jewish history in the land. […]

Defining Israel as a European colony is a fundamental and essential component of PA myth-building, and has been part of the PA narrative since the early years of the PA. […]

In honor of the 100th anniversary of this important document, the PA decided to make the Balfour Declaration and denial of Israel’s right to exist its primary messaging this year.

Mahmoud Abbas is taking the lead with public statements such as: “It must be emphasized that the historical injustice that was caused to our people, and which continues to accumulate, began in fact with the ominous Balfour Promise. Therefore, we call on the government of Britain to bear its historical and moral responsibility and not mark and celebrate the 100th anniversary of this invalid promise. Instead, it must submit an apology to our Palestinian people…””

Between October 1st and November 2nd 2017 the BBC broadcast and published remarkably generous coverage of the Balfour Declaration centenary on its various platforms that included the following:

1) October 1st, BBC Radio 4, ‘Sunday’:

Politicising the Balfour Declaration on BBC Radio 4 – part one

Politicising the Balfour Declaration on BBC Radio 4 – part two

2) October 8th, BBC Radio Wales, ‘All Things Considered’:

BBC Radio Wales on the Balfour Declaration – part one

BBC Radio Wales on the Balfour Declaration – part two

3) October 28th, BBC Radio 4, ‘The Week in Westminster’:

MEMO Balfour event participant hosts BBC Radio 4 discussion on Balfour Declaration

4) October 31st, BBC Two, “The Balfour Declaration: The Promise to the Holy Land”, Jane Corbin:

BBC’s Corbin sidesteps prime issues in Balfour reports – part one

BBC’s Corbin sidesteps prime issues in Balfour reports – part two

5) October 31st, BBC News website, “The Balfour Declaration: My ancestor’s hand in history“, Jane Corbin:

BBC’s Corbin sidesteps prime issues in Balfour reports – part one

BBC’s Corbin sidesteps prime issues in Balfour reports – part two

6) November 1st, BBC News website, “Balfour Declaration: Banksy holds ‘apology’ party for Palestinians”:

More Balfour Declaration agitprop promotion on the BBC News website

7) November 1st, BBC World Service radio, ‘Newshour’, Yolande Knell:

More BBC Balfour Declaration centenary reporting from Yolande Knell – part one

More BBC Balfour Declaration centenary reporting from Yolande Knell – part two

8) November 2nd, BBC News website, “Balfour Declaration: The divisive legacy of 67 words“, Yolande Knell:

More BBC Balfour Declaration centenary reporting from Yolande Knell – part one

More BBC Balfour Declaration centenary reporting from Yolande Knell – part two

9) November 2nd, BBC News website and BBC television, “‘Er… Sorry’: Banksy’s new West Bank work”:

More Balfour Declaration agitprop promotion on the BBC News website

10) November 2nd, BBC News website and BBC television, “Palestinians call for Balfour Declaration apology”, Tom Bateman:

BBC’s Bateman amplifies PLO’s Balfour agitprop

11) November 2nd, BBC News website and BBC television, “Balfour Declaration: 100 years of conflict”, Yolande Knell:

BBC News portrays propaganda installation as a “museum”

12) November 2nd, BBC News website, “Balfour Declaration: Theresa May hosts Israeli PM for centenary“:

BBC report on UK Balfour dinner follows standard formula

13) November 2nd, BBC Radio 4, ‘Today’:

BBC Radio 4’s ‘Today’ Balfour Declaration centenary special – part one

BBC Radio 4’s ‘Today’ Balfour Declaration centenary special – part two

BBC Radio 4’s ‘Today’ Balfour Declaration centenary special – part three

BBC Radio 4’s ‘Today’ Balfour Declaration centenary special – part four

14) November 2nd, BBC World Service radio, ‘Newshour’:

BBC WS ‘Newshour’ Balfour Declaration centenary special – part one

BBC WS ‘Newshour’ Balfour Declaration centenary special – part two

Most of that BBC content adopted and amplified PLO framing of the Balfour Declaration as an ‘injustice’ and advanced the notion that Britain should apologise for the century-old document.

Only five items out of the fourteen accurately informed BBC audiences that the Balfour Declaration’s ‘second part’ – which was for the most part presented as being ‘incomplete’ and ‘unfinished business’ – specifically refers to the “civil and religious rights of non-Jewish communities” rather than, as was inaccurately claimed in the rest of the content, rights in general.

With the exception of two of the items, the fact that the vast majority of the Palestinians living in Judea & Samaria and the Gaza Strip do so under Palestinian rule and hence have political rights under that system was erased from audience view.

The narrative of the Balfour Declaration as ‘colonialism’ and an act that Britain had no right to carry out was repeatedly advanced in many of these items, as was the claim that the British government should take a stand against ‘settlements’. The anti-Israel BDS campaign was promoted in two of the items.

The notion that Palestinians were ‘dispossessed’ of ‘their land’ by the Balfour Declaration and that the document was the cause of the ‘Nakba’ was repeatedly promoted in many of these reports. In four of the items BBC audiences were given inaccurate portrayals of the McMahon correspondence and the false notion that the land assigned to creation of a homeland for the Jewish people had already been promised to the Arabs by the British was promoted.

In only one item did BBC audiences hear a reference (not from a BBC journalist) to the significance of Jordan as a location in which the political rights of Arab communities in the area known as Palestine at the time were fulfilled. The part of the Balfour Declaration safeguarding “the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country” was erased from BBC coverage, along with the issue of Jewish refugees from Arab and Muslim lands.

Sadly for the BBC’s reputation as an ‘impartial’ media organisation, it is all too obvious that the editorial approach adopted throughout the corporation’s remarkably generous coverage of the Balfour Declaration centenary bears an uncanny resemblance to the PLO’s political narrative concerning that topic.