BBC WS radio report on Palestinian culture exploited for one-sided political messaging

BBC World Service radio has a programme called ‘The Compass’ which describes itself as providing listeners with “the essential take on big ideas, issues and trends from the 21st century”.

Recently that programme ran a four-part series called “A Young World” that was presented to audiences as follows:

“What’s it like living in a country where most people are young? We look at four aspects in four countries across the world.”

That series included episodes from Uganda, Sierra Leone, the Philippines and – on June 4ththe Palestinian Territories.

“The Palestinian territories have the youngest population in the Middle East with a median age under 21. How do these young people express themselves culturally? Nida Ibrahim, the BBC’s Ramallah producer, finds the challenges of conservatism and poverty mean that artists and performers find they have to struggle to be recognised – with many only able to find an audience via new media.”

However, that report by Nida Ibrahim did not only relate to culture and society within areas currently controlled by the Palestinian Authority. Ibrahim made a clear political statement by also including parts of Jerusalem under her ‘Palestinian Territories’ umbrella, despite the fact that the standing of those areas is still subject to final status negotiations. Ibrahim also repeatedly strayed away from the topic of how young Palestinians “express themselves culturally” in order to promote a blatantly political narrative peppered with references to “the occupation”.

From 4:50 minutes into the programme Ibrahim visits a hip-hop artist in Shuafat refugee camp in Jerusalem.

“So we’re here at the Shuafat refugee camp that was initially built 50 years ago to host 500 refugees but now it has around 12,500 refugees registered at the United Nations but some say the real number is double that.”

In fact, as a visit to UNRWA’s website shows, the claim is not – as Ibrahim implies – that the “real number” of refugees in Shuafat is “double” but that the number of residents, not all of whom are refugees, is around 24,000. She continues:

“There is no proper garbage collection system. People have to put their garbage in…collect their garbage in skips awaiting for the UN to come and pick it up. There’s no police presence. The Israelis do not usually come here; they think it’s dangerous and there might be clashes with the Palestinians. And the Palestinian police is not allowed in because this is considered the Jerusalem area that they don’t have control over.”

Her interviewee gives a similarly context-free portrayal.

“Everything is hard over here, from walking in the street to wanting to go out at night, crossing checkpoint every time, being controlled by the situation. Sometimes I get depressed […] Young kids in my neighbourhood got shot and killed last year and it was terrible. It’s a very violent place. You have to show others that you’re tough enough so they don’t mess with you because there’s no police, there’s no ambulance.”

In fact, a police station was opened in Shuafat a month before Ibrahim’s report was broadcast. Listeners hear nothing of the violence regularly instigated by Shuafat residents or of the presence of Hamas in the camp.

Nida Ibrahim then goes to meet another musician in another part of Jerusalem and listeners hear an entire section of the report that has nothing whatsoever to do with cultural expression of Palestinian youth.

“While it’s very easy for Mohammed to go to that part [of Jerusalem], I as a West Banker – although I have a permit – I have to go through a checkpoint that involved long wait. Let’s see how that goes. Here we go. So it happened that I had to queue a little bit and then I was allowed in through a high turnstile. Only three people are allowed in at a time and then I put all of my belongings including my shoes in the metal detector and then I turned up at the window, showed my permit. They took my finger prints and they said I’m free to go. Had to go through a few other turnstiles.”

After speaking to that interviewee Nida Ibrahim goes to meet a woman who presents herself as Sireen Sawafteh – a volunteer with the ‘Jordan Valley Solidarity Campaign’ – from a small village in the north of the Jordan Valley”. That village is Tubas, which is located in Area A.

Listeners hear the following conversation between Nida Ibrahim and Sireen Khudiri Sawafteh after the latter states that she joined a theatre group after she was arrested in 2013.

Ibrahim: “Who arrested you and how long have you been arrested?”

Sawafteh: “I was arrested by Israeli forces for six month; four months in jail and two months home jail [house arrest]. Also it was two months isolation; that was the most horrible moment.”

Ibrahim: “Could you give us a little bit of an idea why you were arrested? Is it related to your activism work?”

Sawafteh: “After two months of being in isolation I hear the reason in the court and I just laughed. They said you are arrested because you a threatening the security of Israel through ideas which you are sharing on Facebook. Could you imagine how many people they could arrest for that reason?”

Ibrahim: “Was it a specific sentence?”

Sawafteh: “No, no, no. They have nothing. Even there is no proof…nothing to say in the court.”

Listeners do not hear any official Israeli response to the allegations put forward by Sawafteh and of course they are not told that even according to Palestinian sources, her Facebook posts included a picture of her with a gun and contact with entities in Syria and Gaza.

The programme continues with Sawafteh telling a context-free story about a child she happened to meet that likewise has nothing at all to do with the topic of ‘cultural expression’.

Sawafteh: “He was working for four hours collecting stones. He did a line of stones. And I went closely to him and I asked him what are you doing? He said to me something I think you will not understand it. And then he said ‘OK, come follow me but if I will teach you why I do that you have to help me’. I said OK. Then he said ‘look at the thing which is under the stones’. I looked; it was an electricity cable. I said ‘OK it’s an electricity cable’ but I didn’t understand what I’m doing. He said ‘OK, listen; two days ago we received a demolition order and I am worried if the Israeli bulldozer will come and they destroy our house they will confiscate the electricity cable. So I wanted to hide these electricity cable to make it safe because I would like to watch TV’.

Ibrahim’s next interviewee is a graduate of the Academy of Arts in Ramallah who, despite presented as being “back on a break from studying his Master’s degree in France”, tells listeners that Palestinians cannot travel.

“Me working as an artist is a part of fighting, of resistance. Because you’re really controlled not just by the state also by the Israeli occupation because they all the time want to control your thoughts. They don’t want anyone to know there’s a life happening in Palestine…and this is one of the way we resist. You always scared of what they going to do with you. They don’t let you travel for example or they’re questioning you all the time.”

Clearly Nida Ibrahim went far beyond her remit of providing BBC World Service audiences with an insight into how young Palestinians “express themselves culturally” and instead exploited the platform to promote copious amounts of politicised messaging and delegitimisation of Israel without any right of reply being given.

The BBC cannot possibly claim that this report meets its supposed standards of accurate and impartial journalism.  

 

 

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

As noted here earlier in the week, in an item about the Six Day War aired on BBC World Service radio on June 3rd, BBC Arabic’s Sally Nabil mentioned that her department would be “marking this anniversary with a number of postcards [reports] from the different countries that were occupied during the 1967 war”.

“I’m here in Cairo. I’m filing a postcard with a veteran warrior.”

On June 6th that report appeared on the BBC Arabic website and apparently also on BBC Arabic TV.

The report’s synopsis repeats the claim made in Nabil’s World Service item according to which her interviewee was a prisoner of war ‘for about a year’. As noted here previously, according to the Israeli MFA, all prisoner exchanges with Egypt were completed by January 23rd 1968 and so that claim is obviously questionable.

In the report BBC Arabic’s audiences hear the following:

“I am Amin Abdul Rahman Mohammad Jumaa. I was born in the year of 1944. I am 72 years of age. I enlisted myself in the Egyptian army in 1964.

I was taken as a hostage by Israel for a year. I was released in the end of 1968.

The first day, I entered the camp and the thorns were between 6 to 10 cm.

I was walking barefoot on the thorns and the thorns went in my feet.

We were sitting in the camp, we were all Egyptians and all were starving. They give a quarter piece of toast and then he [the Israeli solider] start to beat you.

They start to investigate you and interrogate. After investigation they take the hostage and he never comes back.

An Israeli soldier then asked us ‘who is thirsty?’ One of the hostages said ‘I am’ so the Israeli solider will take him and kill him with fire [shoot him].

Then another solider comes and asks the same question. Three of us answered him, while one did not give an answer. The solider asked him ‘so you are not thirsty?’ The Egyptian solider replies ‘no’. Then the Israeli solider will take him and tell him ‘so you have dignity, then I am going to kill you’.

They used [a] bulldozer to bury the Egyptian soldiers alive. They do not have values.

I said to myself, I want to take my right but Camp David does not allow me to sue the Israeli state.” 

Obviously Sally Nabil can not have independently verified those claims and allegations before publishing this item. However, as indicated in its synopsis, her agenda in this report (as well as in her World Service item) also includes promotion of attempts by some parties to claim compensation on the basis of such unproven allegations. In the English language item broadcast on June 3rd she told listeners that her interviewee:

“…said ‘I tried to get a compensation from Israel’ but you know there is a peace treaty between Egypt and Israel that was signed in the late ’70s. He said that according to the Camp David peace treaty that each country should compensate its own citizens, so it was the Egyptian government that was supposed to compensate him for what happened to him but he said that the government paid him nothing. He said ‘my pension now it’s about 500 Egyptian pounds’ which is less than $50.”

The court ruling mentioned in the synopsis relates to a case that has been going on for years. While similar allegations have been made throughout more than two decades, that court case rests largely on an Israeli documentary called ‘Ruah Shaked’ from 2007 which caused a diplomatic incident at the time. The fact that the film-maker later admitted that he had made a series of mistakes that created the inaccurate impression that Israeli soldiers had killed Egyptian prisoners of war in 1967 does not interest those pursuing that case in the Egyptian courts.

Obviously it does not interest Sally Nabil either; as we see she is quite happy to promote unverified claims and to amplify allegations that have never been proven to BBC Arabic’s audience of 37 million people.

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

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

The June 3rd edition of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘The Fifth Floor’ included an item (from 27:13 here) billed as follows in the synopsis:

“Egypt’s Naksa Day 
Next Monday is the 50th anniversary of Naksa day, or Day of the Setback. The “setback” for Egypt was their crushing defeat by Israel in the Six Day War. BBC Arabic reporter in Cairo, Sally Nabil, tells us how the day is viewed there now.”

At the start of the programme presenter David Amanor described the upcoming item as follows:

“…and a six-day war with consequences much greater. We’re finding out what young Egyptians today know about the events of June 1967.”

He introduced the segment itself thus:

Amanor: “Now most countries don’t relish their defeats and I guess Egypt is no different. Next week sees the 50th anniversary of what’s generally called the Six Day War in June 1967 but its impact remains much bigger than its short time span might suggest. It was a humiliating defeat for Egypt and its Arab nationalist leader Gamal Abdel Nasser. Israel took forces…took possession of the entire Sinai peninsula, leaving Egyptian forces to make a chaotic retreat. In Egypt the war is called the ‘naksa’. Sally Nabil of BBC Arabic tells me the story behind that name.”

What is most noticeable about this item is its complete abdication of responsibility to supply background information and context concerning a fifty year-old event that many listeners will not remember first hand and in particular, the failure to provide audiences worldwide with the facts concerning the Egyptian actions that led up to the war.  

Nabil: “It’s, you can say, an understatement of the word defeat. It’s like literally a setback so it seems that the Egyptian regime at that time did not want to recognise that the army has been defeated. So they used the word ‘naksa’ – or setback – instead of defeat to try to sugar-coat a bit or to convince the people that this is not the end of it; we lost a battle but we did not lose the war.”

Answering Amanor’s question as to whether that is the history taught in Egyptian schools, Nabil told listeners that:

Nabil: “Yeah, absolutely. I remember when I was at school we used to know it as the 1967 ‘naksa’ and they didn’t elaborate much on it, as much as they did on the 1973 war because the Egyptian government and the Egyptian people as well they glorify the 1973 when Egypt managed to take part of Sinai back from Israel and then they made a political settlement and took all of Sinai back.”

The “part of Sinai” gained by Egypt in the Yom Kippur war was of course two small areas to the east of the Suez Canal which were later joined under the terms of a cease-fire agreement that also saw Israel withdraw from areas captured west of the canal. 

Later on Amanor gave Nabil the cue for her next topic:

Amanor: “This is seen as one of the shortest yet most decisive wars in the modern era but it wasn’t just six days for a lot of the soldiers, was it? And there were a lot of casualties.”

Nabil went on to tell an unverifiable story about an unidentified former soldier.

Nabil: “I mean I met a veteran soldier who was caught by Israel. He remained in Israeli detention for about a year and he was sentenced to death but he managed to escape and he said that this year he was detained by the Israeli soldiers has haunted him for years and years to come so for him the 1967 war it’s a lifetime memory.”

According to the Israeli MFA, all prisoner exchanges with Egypt were completed by 23 January 1968 and so Nabil’s claim that the man was “in Israeli detention for about a year” is highly dubious, as are her unsupported claims that he “managed to escape” and that he “was sentenced to death”.

Nabil’s item continued with a description of the man’s dire financial situation and criticism of “the fact that the government turned a blind eye to people like him”. She then digressed to a topic outside the item’s declared subject matter, comparing the current Egyptian government to the Nasser regime, before closing by telling listeners that BBC Arabic will be “marking this anniversary with a number of postcards [reports] from the different countries that were occupied during the 1967 war”.

In conclusion, in this item BBC World Service audiences heard over seven minutes of entirely context-free reporting that included unverifiable and highly dubious hearsay. How the programme’s producers can claim that is accurate and impartial reporting which enhances audience understanding of the topic of the Six Day War is anyone’s guess.  

Meet CAMERA’s new media monitoring project

As regular readers know, BBC Watch has on occasion secured corrections to articles published on the BBC Arabic website – see, for example, here and here . However, regular monitoring of BBC content produced in the Arabic language (which according to the BBC reaches some 37 million people a week) is beyond our remit and capabilities.

Recognising the absence of monitoring of Arabic language content produced by Western media organisations including the BBC, CAMERA has initiated a new project, as recently reported by the JNS.

“The Boston-based Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) recently announced it has hired Syrian-born researcher Ahed al-Hendi to spearhead the organization’s new Arabic-language media department.

According to CAMERA, the new department will monitor Arabic versions of major Western media outlets including the BBC, Sky News, CNN, Agence France-Presse, France24, The Associated Press, Reuters, the Huffington Post and Al Jazeera.

“No organization currently monitors Arabic-language media for accuracy and adherence to professional codes of journalistic practice,” CAMERA Executive Director Andrea Levin said. “Other excellent organizations monitoring Arabic-language media, such as MEMRI (the Middle East Media Research Institute), are doing vital but different work, providing translations of Arabic-language media reports. CAMERA’s Arabic project has an entirely different objective and will complement but not overlap with MEMRI and other related groups.”

CAMERA hopes to build off its decades of work holding English, Hebrew and Spanish media accountable for bias and misreporting when it comes to Israel. 

“My staff and I will begin by addressing influential outlets such as the BBC and CNN, reviewing their Arabic coverage of the Arab-Israeli conflict and communicating with editors to promote accurate, complete news,” Hendi told JNS.org.”

We will of course keep readers updated about the launch of this new project.

 

BBC Watch secures another correction to a BBC Arabic article

Back in March we noted that a report on the BBC Arabic website included an inaccurate description of nine victims of a Hamas terror attack that took place nearly fifteen years ago.

“In paragraph 15 of that report the victims of the 2002 Meron Junction terror attack are described as “nine Jewish settlers”.

Four of the nine people murdered in the attack were not Jewish. None of them lived in what the BBC would term ‘settlements’.

This is not the first time that BBC Arabic has portrayed Israeli victims of terror attacks to its audiences as “Jewish settlers” regardless of their ethnicity and place of residence. Clearly that description is neither accurate nor impartial.”

BBC Watch submitted a complaint to the BBC on that issue. Having failed to receive a reply during the designated time period, we sent a second complaint. The response received from BBC Complaints reads as follows:

As recently as February of this year BBC Watch had another complaint upheld concerning the use of partisan language in a report published on the BBC Arabic website. In his response to that complaint the editor of the BBC Arabic Service stated:

“We apologise for this editorial mistake which we take very seriously and will be addressing it formally with the journalist responsible for publishing the article.”

Whether or not the same journalist is responsible for both these articles is unclear but it is certainly obvious that BBC Arabic (which is of course part funded by British taxpayers through FCO grants) has yet to satisfactorily address the issue of the use of inaccurate and politically partisan language by its Arabic-speaking employees. 

Related Articles:

Following complaint, BBC Arabic corrects partisan terminology

Why is BBC Arabic feeding its audiences politicised terminology?

BBC Arabic inaccurately portrays 2002 terror attack victims

Identifying the BBC’s anonymous “mother of a Palestinian inmate”

As noted in a recent post, the April 17th edition of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newsday’ included a monologue from a person described as “the mother of a Palestinian inmate”. The monologue was also promoted to the BBC World Service Twitter account’s 303,000 followers and those who listened to the clip heard the following in a voice-over:

“I haven’t seen or visited my son for around maybe ten months. Israeli security won’t let me see him. When I used to visit Diya I felt as if I owned the world. Every visit request I put in only comes back with rejection, rejection, rejection. I’m 67 years old. What risk am I to Israel’s security? I am of no danger. All I want is to see my son, to check on him and he can check on me. This is all I want but they deprive even a mother from seeing her son and a son from seeing his mother.”

While BBC audiences are no strangers to the promotion of pathos-rich stories from the elderly mothers of convicted terrorists, the fact that listeners were not told who the speaker is or why her son is in prison and did not hear any response to her allegations from the Israeli authorities obviously does not inspire confidence in the BBC’s commitment to impartial reporting of this story.

So who is this “mother of a Palestinian inmate”? A clue to that question comes in a video that appears on the BBC Arabic website and is also embedded in an Arabic language article titled “More than a thousand Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails begin hunger strike” that, like its English language equivalent, promotes the notion that Palestinian “detainees” might be seen as “political prisoners”.

The woman extensively profiled in that BBC Arabic video is called Najat al Agha and she lives in Khan Younis in the Gaza Strip. Mrs al Agha is by no means publicity shy: she recently told a very similar story to the one promoted by ‘Newsday’ to ‘Amnesty International’ which, predictably, is supplying publicity for the current Fatah hunger strike.

“Najat al-Agha, a 67-year-old woman from Khan Younis in the Gaza Strip, told Amnesty International that her son, Dia al-Agha, 43, has been imprisoned in Israel for the past 25 years. At the age of 19 he was sentenced to life in prison after being convicted on murder charges.  He is being held in Nafha prison in Mitzpe Ramon in the south.

“I don’t know why I get rejected. I am 67 years old. What security threat am I to Israel? All I want is to see him and make sure he is well. I don’t know how long I will live, any visit can be my last. I am scared of dying without seeing him,” his mother said.

“Every time I apply for a permit I get rejected. It is almost a year that I haven’t seen my son, it is devastating. They are punishing us, they are trying to break us.””

Moreover, Najat al Agha – who actually has had two sons serve time in prison in Israel – appears to come forward to tell her story quite frequently and – perhaps not unrelatedly – has been the recipient of ‘honorary gifts’ from the Palestinian Authority and the PLO.

The son she names in the ‘Newsday’ clip is Diya Zakariya Shaker Al-Agha “Al-Faluji”. He was convicted of the murder of Amatzia Ben Haim from Kibbutz Yad Mordechai in a greenhouse in Ganei Tal in October 1992.

“…Amatzia worked as an engineer in the fledgling electronics factory of the kibbutz. The final product was a computer controlled irrigation and liquid fertilization system sold to farmers who owned greenhouses, small plots of land, who grew tomatoes, peppers, strawberries, and flowers.

Amatzia would go to these farms, install the systems, and often go back to maintain them or to troubleshoot them if needed.  Some of these farms were in the Gaza Strip, prior to the Israeli evacuation of all farms and settlements in Gaza.

It was on one of these trips that Amatzia was helping one such farmer in the Gaza strip, focused entirely on an irrigation line that may have been clogged, or a computer lead that may have malfunctioned. He did not pay attention to the young teen working nearby with a hoe, weeding the furrows. It was to be Amatzia’s last day on earth, as the teen brought the hoe down on Amatzia’s head, killing him instantly, widowing Amatzia’s wife, and orphaning his children.”

A media organisation truly committed to accurate and impartial journalism would of course have provided its audiences with information concerning the “Palestinian inmate” and the act of terror he committed. The BBC World Service, however, chose to give completely context-free amplification to his mother’s claim that Israel is ‘depriving’ her of seeing her son, without any mention of the fact that her son deprived three children – the youngest of whom was only five years old at the time – from ever seeing their father again.

That, of course, is not accurate and impartial journalism but self-conscription to a political campaign.

Related Articles:

BBC fails to provide crucial background in reports on Fatah prisoners’ strike

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BBC News ignores another missile attack by ISIS Sinai – in English

On the morning of April 10th residents of the Eshkol district in the Western Negev had to scramble for cover as the ‘code red’ siren warned of an incoming missile.  

“A rocket fired from Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula struck a greenhouse in southern Israel on Monday morning, the police said.

Though no one was struck by the rocket, a 50-year-old man who was nearby when it landed suffered an anxiety attack as a result of the attack, the Magen David Adom ambulance service said. […]

Just after 11:30 a.m., the incoming missile alarm known as a “Code Red” sounded in the Eshkol region, near Israel’s westernmost edge, at the border with Egypt and the Gaza Strip.”

The attack was later claimed by the ISIS affiliate in Sinai.

While the BBC chose not to report that attack to its English-speaking audiences, a brief mention of the incident did appear at the end of an article on the BBC Arabic website.

Since the beginning of the year eight missile attacks against Israel have taken place – five from Gaza and three from Sinai – none of which have been reported by the BBC’s English language services. Israel’s response to three of the attacks launched from the Gaza Strip has however been the subject of coverage on the corporation’s Arabic language website.

The pattern of reporting whereby the majority of missile attacks from the Gaza Strip are not covered in the English language but Israel’s response to those attacks is reported in Arabic has been in evidence since the end of the summer 2014 conflict. Throughout 2016 just one of the ten attacks that took place received BBC coverage in the English language.

A similar policy of omission appears to have been adopted regarding missile attacks perpetrated by a terrorist group located in a neighbouring country, with all three of the attacks by ‘Wilayat Sinai’ that have taken place since the beginning of 2017 having been ignored by the BBC’s English language services.

Related Articles:

BBC continues to conceal Gaza missile attacks from its audience

BBC Arabic inaccurately portrays 2002 terror attack victims

On the morning of August 4th 2002 a terror attack took place on a bus travelling to Tsfat. Nine people died and some 40 were wounded in that suicide bombing near Meron Junction. Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack, which was reported by the BBC at the time.

Among those murdered in that attack were two foreign nationals from the Philippines, two members of the Galilee Druze communities of Sajur and Maghar, a resident of Ramat Beit Shemesh and residents of the Galilee towns and villages Karmiel, Safsufa, Mitzpe Adi and Mitzpe Aviv.

Following the attack Israeli forces arrested Hamas commander Mazen Fuqaha, who was responsible for dispatching the suicide bomber, in his home town of Tubas in Area A. In 2003 Fukha was sentenced to nine life sentences for his role in the attack. He was released from prison in 2011 as part of the Shalit deal prisoner exchange and deported to the Gaza Strip.

On March 24th 2017 Fuqaha was assassinated outside his home in Gaza City by unidentified gunmen.

While that story did not receive any coverage on the BBC’s English language services, on March 25th a report about Fuqaha’s funeral did appear on the BBC Arabic website. In paragraph 15 of that report the victims of the 2002 Meron Junction terror attack are described as “nine Jewish settlers”.

Four of the nine people murdered in the attack were not Jewish. None of them lived in what the BBC would term ‘settlements’.

This is not the first time that BBC Arabic has portrayed Israeli victims of terror attacks to its audiences as “Jewish settlers” regardless of their ethnicity and place of residence. Clearly that description is neither accurate nor impartial.

Related Articles:

Following complaint, BBC Arabic corrects partisan terminology

Why is BBC Arabic feeding its audiences politicised terminology?

BBC ignores Gaza missile in English but reports response in Arabic

Late on the evening of March 15th a missile launched from the Gaza Strip exploded in the Western Negev district.

“A rocket fired from the Gaza Strip landed late Wednesday in an empty field in the Sdot Negev Regional Council near Netivot.

The rocket exploded on impact. No one was hurt and no damage was reported from the explosion.”

Hours later the IDF responded with strikes on two Hamas installations in the Gaza Strip.

No coverage of the attack appeared on the BBC’s English language website despite the fact that a member of staff at the BBC’s Gaza bureau knew it had taken place. However, the BBC Arabic website did publish a report concerning the Israeli response to the attack.

Since the beginning of the year six missile attacks against Israel have taken place – four from Gaza and two from Sinai – none of which have been reported by the BBC’s English language services. Israel’s response to three of the attacks launched from the Gaza Strip has however been the subject of coverage on the corporation’s Arabic language website.

The pattern of reporting whereby the majority of missile attacks from the Gaza Strip are not covered in the English language but Israel’s response to those attacks is reported in Arabic has been in evidence since the end of the summer 2014 conflict. Throughout 2016 just one of ten attacks received BBC coverage in English.

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BBC News silent again on Gaza missile attack

Contrasting BBC portrayals of the Gaza Strip in English and in Arabic

At the beginning of February Tim Franks produced a report from the Gaza Strip (see here and here) which was part of a special feature for the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newshour’.

Citing “stifling border closures […] the people here say are for collective punishment”, Franks painted a monochrome picture of dire poverty and deprivation:

“Gaza’s everyday problems don’t stop though with unreliable electricity; the rest of the infrastructure is shot. A lot of recent war damage lies unreconstructed. The economy is lifeless, unemployment sky-high.”

“But there’s a more immediate point I think…ahm…which is that, you know, the people here have far more direct concerns. It’s about the next meal, when is the power going to go off, how do you make money, what’s the water supply like – answer: not terribly good. So it’s those sort of much more quotidian dreary concerns that are driving people rather than any grand thoughts about a solution to all of this.”

Franks’ did not, however, clarify to audiences that his portrayal does not represent the whole picture.memri-gaza-restaurants

MEMRI has translated a filmed report (available here) produced by BBC Arabic in December 2016 on the topic of Gaza restaurants.

“BBC Arabic recently broadcast a TV report on restaurants in Gaza, in which it showed “an aspect of luxury, vibrancy, and riches” to life in Gaza. Restaurant owners and patrons talked to the reporter about eating out, describing the menus and the prices. A group of women sitting at a restaurant said that they would often come for “a coffee and a chat,” and that dinner would come to 250-300 dollars. The report aired on December 20, 2016.”

Notably, we have found no evidence of that report having been shown to English-speaking BBC audiences.