PA TV executives reveal goals of station partnered by BBC charity

Readers may recall that back in 2016 we noted the existence of a project run by the BBC’s international development charity ‘BBC Media Action’ and BBC Arabic in partnership with the Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation (PBC) between 2012 and 2016.

The BBC charity’s partnership with terror glorifying PA media

“The Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation (PBC) is controlled by the Palestinian Authority and its television (PA TV) and radio (Voice of Palestine) stations are the PA’s official media channels.

…both those stations have a long record of broadcasting material which negates Israel’s existence (including on children’s programmes), glorifies terrorism, spreads incitement, promotes antisemitic tropes and hate speechpropagates falsehoods about Israel and denies and distorts the Holocaust.”

A blog post written in 2013 (which includes a shout-out to Manal Tamimi – known for her Tweets lauding and encouraging Palestinian violence) by a person who was at the time employed at the BBC Media Action Ramallah office as a social media specialist states that in addition to producing content together with the PBC, the BBC charity also helped the corporation expand its presence on social media.

“Our social media team is working hand in hand with the Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation to develop the station’s Facebook page, and we are creating social media guidelines for the station, as well as using social media for production. Over the past six months Palestine TV’s Facebook page has seen rising numbers of fans and increasingly professional content.”

Recently two senior PBC officials provided some background (translated by Palestinian Media Watch) concerning the goals of the TV station with which BBC Media Action found it appropriate to collaborate over a period of several years.

In other words, a TV station that is described by its director as “a media outlet with a national cause” and portrayed by one of its senior executives as “a central part of the…struggle” was nevertheless chosen to partner a BBC charity funded to no small extent by the UK tax-payer.

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One sided reports from BBC Arabic’s Nida Ibrahim – part three

As we have seen in previous posts, reports by BBC Arabic’s Nida Ibrahim on the topic of the release of Ahed Tamimi from prison were seen by viewers of BBC television and visitors to the BBC News website on July 29th.

BBC World Service radio audiences also got a dose of Ibrahim’s partisan reporting in the July 29th evening edition of ‘Newshour‘. Presenter James Menendez introduced her report (from 19:25 here) as follows: [emphasis in italics in the original, emphasis in bold added]

Menendez: “Now a Palestinian teenager’s been released from prison after serving an 8 month sentence for kicking and slapping an Israeli soldier. Video footage of Ahed Tamimi slapping the soldier at her home in the West Bank was widely viewed. She was jailed after pleading guilty to charges that included assault and inciting violence.”

As has been the case in all the BBC’s coverage of this latest instalment of the Ahed Tamimi story, the fact that the charge of incitement was the most serious of the charges against her – and its details – was erased from audience view. Menendez continued:

Menendez: “Ahed’s village has long campaigned against land seizures by Israel, leading to confrontation with Jewish settlers and Israeli troops. Many Israelis regarded the incident as a staged provocation. Nida Ibrahim reports now on the teenager’s release.”

‘Newshour’ audiences of course heard nothing about the obviously relevant subject of Ahed Tamimi’s father’s role in organising those Friday riots or that, together with other family members, Bassem Tamimi and his brother run a ‘news agency’ called ‘Tamimi Press’ which produces and distributes footage and images from the weekly agitprop, often featuring children from the Tamimi clan. Neither were listeners told that Ahed Tamimi’s mother Nariman – who filmed and distributed the footage mentioned by Menendez – has collaborated (along with additional members of the family) with B’tselem’s ‘armed with cameras’ project.

Ibrahim: “It was a little after 9 a.m. when Palestinian teenager Ahed Tamimi was released. But it had already been a long day for her family. On the road since four in the morning, they were chasing the location where the Israeli soldiers would release her and her mother who had also been held. They kept going back and forth between two checkpoints that are nearly two hours apart. Finally one relative shouted that he could see Ahed in an Israeli military jeep passing the Rantis checkpoint near [sic] the city of Ramallah.

The crowd followed the jeep which finally stopped at the entrance of the teenager’s home town of Nabi Saleh. There was a teary reunion for Ahed, her mother and the father – the long-time activist Bassem Tamimi, himself jailed nine times by the Israeli authorities. Ahed, wearing the traditional Palestinian kefiyyeh, looked tired but defiant. Later addressing journalists in the little square in the middle of her village, she had a message for Palestinian women held in Israeli jails.”

Voiceover Tamimi: “I see resistance will continue until the occupation is removed. All female prisoners in jail are strong and I thank everyone who stood by me while I was in prison and who stood with all women prisoners.”

BBC audiences were of course not told that those “Palestinian women held in Israeli jails” include people such as  Marah Al-Bakri who stabbed an Israeli border policeman in Jerusalem in October 2015, Nurhan Awad who stabbed an elderly Palestinian man in Jerusalem in November 2015, Shorouq Dwayyat who stabbed an Israeli man in Jerusalem in October 2015 and Ibtisam Musa who attempted to smuggle explosives into Israel from Gaza.

In other words, the BBC is amplifying Ahed Tamimi’s whitewashing of the perpetrators of violent acts in a fashion more usually seen on official Palestinian Authority TV and radio.

Ibrahim continued with context-free presentation of a story also told in one of her earlier reports:

Ibrahim: “Not far away from where Ahed was standing is the grave of her cousin Izz al-Din al Tamimi. He was killed by Israeli fire in June while she was serving her eight-month sentence. One of Ahed’s first tasks was to visit the grave.”

Yet again BBC audiences were not informed that Tamimi and others initiated the June 6th violent rioting that led to his death.

“Soldiers had entered the village to arrest a suspect, according to the IDF. A group of more than 10 Palestinians threw stones at them and the army responded with riot dispersal methods.

According to the army, Tamimi threw a stone that hit a solider in the head. That soldier responded by firing at Tamimi, who was then treated medically at the scene before being declared dead.”

Neither were they informed that a terror faction claimed him as one of its members:

“The Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) issued a death notice for him which claimed al-Tamimi joined the organization in 2014. He was imprisoned in Israel twice, once for six months and once for a year, on the grounds of membership in the DFLP’s youth organization and participating in “resistance” [i.e., terrorist] activities.”

Listeners then heard Ibrahim glorify Ahed Tamimi’s violence while once more failing to explain that “resistance” is a euphemism for Palestinian violence against Israelis.

Ibrahim: “Ahed Tamimi has become an icon for Palestinian resistance for many here in the Palestinian territories. But on the other side of the perimeter wall, Israelis accuse her and her family of staging Palestinian propaganda – something her father denies.”

Yet again BBC audiences were not given any objective information about the Tamimi family’s activities – even though Nida Ibrahim is familiar with their exploitation of children for propaganda purposes. Listeners next heard a version of Ibrahim’s interview with Bassem Tamimi at his home previously seen on the BBC News website.

B. Tamimi: “To resist is to be normal. Not to resist: to be abnormal. And you must feel guilty because you keep…keep silent under occupation. We’re fighting for our dignity and for our rights.”

Ibrahim: “So you won’t try keep her safe at home, for example? You won’t try to…”

B. Tamimi: “Is home safe? Is home safe? I don’t think it’s safe. Where is the safe place in Palestine? I don’t know. And also…eh…I think the safer place that when you are ready to face.”

Ibrahim closed her third Tamimi puff piece in one day with more use of overtly politicised terminology:

Ibrahim: “Ahed’s case put a new spotlight to Israel’s detention of Palestinian children. Ahed herself said she would continue to resist the occupation.”

While the BBC has repeatedly pinned its colours to the mast in the seven months it has been reporting this story (see ‘related articles’ below) and the use of partisan language by BBC Arabic staff is certainly nothing new, the airing of these three one-sided reports by BBC Arabic reporter Nida Ibrahim – replete with repeated glorification of Ahed Tamimi and amplification of her and her father’s propaganda – leaves no doubt that the BBC has chosen to abandon impartiality and accuracy completely and instead lend its voice and outreach to promotion of a blatantly political campaign.  

Related Articles:

One sided reports from BBC Arabic’s Nida Ibrahim – part one

One sided reports from BBC Arabic’s Nida Ibrahim – part two

BBC News one-sided reporting of Ahed Tamimi story persists

BBC News website promotes the Tamimi clan again

BBC News omits a relevant part of the Tamimi charges story

BBC radio’s inconsistent coverage of charges against Ahed Tamimi

BBC’s Knell reports on the Tamimi case again – and raises a question

BBC’s Bowen diverts Ahed Tamimi story with a disingenuous red herring

Jeremy Bowen’s Tamimi PR continues on BBC World Service radio

BBC continues its campaigning with eleventh report on Ahed Tamimi

BBC WS ‘Newshour’ continues to trivialise the Ahed Tamimi story

The BBC’s partisan coverage of the Ahed Tamimi case continues

BBC uses photo of exploited child to promote anti-Israel propaganda

Revisiting the BBC’s promotion of an anti-Israel activist

 

 

One sided reports from BBC Arabic’s Nida Ibrahim – part two

The BBC News website’s July 29th written report on the release of Ahed Tamimi from prison included a filmed report by BBC Arabic’s Nida Ibrahim which was also posted separately on the ‘Middle East’ page under the title “Palestinian teenager Ahed Tamimi released from prison“.

The filmed report’s synopsis erases the fact that the most serious charge against Tamimi – and one she admitted in her plea bargain – was the charge of incitement.

“Palestinian teenager Ahed Tamimi has been released from prison after serving an eight month sentence for kicking and slapping an Israeli soldier.”

The synopsis also glorifies Tamimi’s violence:

“While in jail, 17-year-old became the new face of Palestinian resistance, the BBC’s Nida Ibrahim reports.”

In the film itself the charge of incitement was likewise entirely erased from audience view. [emphasis in bold added]

“This is the moment the family of Palestinian teenager Ahed Tamimi were waiting for. She has been released from prison after serving an eight month sentence for slapping an Israeli soldier. The Palestinian teen had a few words to the crowd.

A. Tamimi: “I want to thank everyone for coming here today. I hope that everyone comes to the press conference so I can deliver my message and the message of all female prisoners who wanted me to speak for them.”

Viewers then saw footage marked “December 2017”.

“This is the incident Ahed was arrested for along with her mother, Nariman Tamimi. She was kicking the soldiers outside her home reportedly an hour after they shot her 15 year-old cousin in the head with a rubber bullet. Since the incident, Ahed has become a heroine in the Palestinian territories. But Israelis accuse her and her family of staging Palestinian propaganda. Her father, a long-time activist himself, denies it.”

BBC Arabic’s Nida Ibrahim was then shown interviewing Bassem Tamimi at his house in Nabi Saleh. Viewers were not told of the nature and extent of the Tamimi family’s ‘activism’.

B. Tamimi: “To resist is normal. Not to resist is abnormal. You must feel guilty that you keep silent under the occupation. We’re fighting for our dignity and our right.”

Ibrahim: “Do you want to try keep her safe at home, for example?”

B. Tamimi: “Is home safe? Is home safe? I don’t think it’s safe. Where is the safe place in Palestine? I don’t know.”

Remarkably, since January of this year Bassem Tamimi has been interviewed in his home by BBC Jerusalem bureau correspondent Yolande Knell, by BBC Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen and now by BBC Arabic’s Nida Ibrahim.

Viewers were then told that:

“Ahed’s village of Nabi Saleh has long been a point of confrontations. The residents organise weekly protests to oppose the neighbouring Israeli settlement built on Palestinian land.”

That “neighbouring Israeli settlement” is Halamish which is located in Area C and – in contrast to the BBC’s claim – was in fact established on state land.

Viewers then saw more of Nida Ibramim’s glorification of Tamimi.

Ibrahim: “During the time Ahed was in prison her father renovated a big part of the house to prepare for his wife and daughter’s release. The teenager comes to a new home and a new reality being the new iconic face of Palestinian resistance.”

The film closed with a noteworthy image of a Palestinian flag raised over Halamish and the words:

“But for now Ahed will enjoy being home, united with her family.”

Once again we see that Nida Ibrahim and her BBC Arabic colleagues have produced a filmed report for the BBC’s English language services which promotes inaccurate information, erases the main part of Ahed Tamimi’s conviction from audience view, whitewashes the Tamimi clan’s PR business and links to terrorism and glorifies Ahed Tamimi’s violence with propaganda straight out of the family playbook.

So much for the BBC’s obligation to provide “accurate and impartial news…of the highest editorial standards“.  

Related Articles:

One sided reports from BBC Arabic’s Nida Ibrahim – part one

BBC News one-sided reporting of Ahed Tamimi story persists

BBC News website promotes the Tamimi clan again

BBC News omits a relevant part of the Tamimi charges story

BBC radio’s inconsistent coverage of charges against Ahed Tamimi

BBC’s Knell reports on the Tamimi case again – and raises a question

BBC’s Bowen diverts Ahed Tamimi story with a disingenuous red herring

Jeremy Bowen’s Tamimi PR continues on BBC World Service radio

BBC continues its campaigning with eleventh report on Ahed Tamimi

BBC WS ‘Newshour’ continues to trivialise the Ahed Tamimi story

The BBC’s partisan coverage of the Ahed Tamimi case continues

 

 

One sided reports from BBC Arabic’s Nida Ibrahim – part one

Those watching the BBC World News television channel on the morning of July 29th saw a filmed report by BBC Arabic’s Nida Ibrahim in the English language about the release of Ahed Tamimi from prison. Ibrahim’s report is remarkable for its one-sided portrayal of that story and its wider background.

[emphasis in italics in the original]

Ibrahim: “…we’ve seen the father hugging his child and we’ve seen the mother who was actually in prison and was released with Ahed chanting slogans, remembering their cousin who was killed by Israeli fire in June in the village of Nabi Saleh where we are standing right now. Upon her release Ahed has come to this house over there which is the house of Izz al-Din al Tamimi – the cousin who was killed in June. She has paid her condolences to the family over there before leaving this actual place to go to Ramallah.”

BBC viewers around the world were not informed that Tamimi and others initiated the June 6th violent rioting that led to his death.

“Soldiers had entered the village to arrest a suspect, according to the IDF. A group of more than 10 Palestinians threw stones at them and the army responded with riot dispersal methods.

According to the army, Tamimi threw a stone that hit a solider in the head. That soldier responded by firing at Tamimi, who was then treated medically at the scene before being declared dead.”

Neither were they informed that a terror faction claimed him as one of its members:

“The Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) issued a death notice for him which claimed al-Tamimi joined the organization in 2014. He was imprisoned in Israel twice, once for six months and once for a year, on the grounds of membership in the DFLP’s youth organization and participating in “resistance” [i.e., terrorist] activities.”

Ibrahim went on to recount that Tamimi was expected to “visit the grave of the late Palestinian president Yasser Arafat before heading back to the village of Nabi Saleh where she is expected to hold a presser”. Viewers then heard the programme presenter  – apparently Ben Brown – come up with the following questionable pronunciation on “international law”.

Presenter: “This isn’t a one-off case, is it? Children are often tried in military courts and imprisoned in adult jails. It’s against international law. What is Israel’s explanation for that?”

Of course if Palestinians accused of security offences were tried in Israeli civil courts, the BBC would be the first to be jumping up and down shouting ‘annexation!’ because that would mean that Israeli sovereignty had been extended to Judea & Samaria.

Unable to give a coherent fact-based answer to that question, Nida Ibrahim proceeded to tell BBC audiences – wrongly – that the reason is “deterrence”.

Ibrahim: “As you know Palestinians live under Israeli occupation and this means that even minors are being tried in military courts – not in civil courts like their Israeli counterparts or like even settlers in the West Bank. Israel definitely says that this is a form of deterrence. They want to deter more Palestinians from doing these acts. Many Israelis have argued that the image of the Israeli army has been…ah….ah…hurt really badly by the slap of Ahed Tamimi which went viral on social media. So it’s seen as an act of preventing more Palestinians from pursuing this act and of course they are saying that there are many Palestinians who might see Ahed as a heroine and they might try to imitate her. She’s…remember she celebrated her 17th birthday in jail so she’s still young. She has a lot upcoming for her and she might be inspiring many Palestinians like her.”

So in addition to a context-free story about a member of the Tamimi clan “killed in June” and some dubious messaging concerning “international law”, viewers also got a hefty dose of one-sided glorification of Ahed Tamimi’s violent actions from BBC Arabic’s Nida Ibrahim. But as we will see in part two of this post, that was not Ibrahim’s only English language filmed report of the day.

Related Articles:

BBC News one-sided reporting of Ahed Tamimi story persists

BBC News report on Syrian plane interception won’t say where it happened

Roughly an hour after the interception of a Syrian aircraft that had entered Israeli airspace on the afternoon of July 24th the BBC News website published a report initially headlined “Israel shoots down Syrian warplane”. The report was amended seven times over the next eight hours and now goes under the title “Israel shoots down Syrian fighter near Golan Heights” – with the reason for the confusing use of the word “near” unclear.

Version 8

Refraining from informing audiences exactly what had happened in the BBC’s own words, the report opened with a ‘he said-she said’ account which obviously did not contribute to audience understanding of the events.

“Israel says it has shot down a Syrian warplane which entered its airspace – a rare incident between the two foes.

Two surface-to-air missiles were fired at the Sukhoi fighter jet, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) tweeted.

According to Israeli reports, it happened over the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. The pilot’s fate is not clear.

Syrian news agency Sana said Israel had targeted the jet over Syrian airspace, but did not say whether it was hit.” [emphasis added]

With readers none the wiser where – and therefore why – the incident took place, the report continued:

“Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later said that Syria had committed a “blatant violation” of a 1974 ceasefire agreement, which defines the lines of separation between the two sides’ forces on the Golan Heights.”

The UN witnessed 1974 ‘Separation of Forces Agreement Between Israel and Syria’ was also mentioned (though not by name) in a subsequently added insert of ‘analysis’ from BBC Jerusalem bureau correspondent Tom Bateman.

“Israel and Syria fought their last war 45 years ago and later agreed to separate their forces either side of a 50-mile-long buffer zone – a boundary that had remained Israel’s quietest since.”

Bateman did not clarify to readers that what he described as a “buffer zone” is actually a demilitarized zone or that the agreement states that “Air forces of the two sides will be permitted to operate up to their respective lines without interference from the other side” [emphasis added].

In addition to aiding BBC audiences to understand the story, that information may also have helped BBC Arabic’s Feras Kilani to avoid an embarrassing Tweet.

Amplifying the Assad regime’s baseless propaganda, Bateman also told readers that:

“…Syria will see the Sukhoi’s downing as proof of its belief that Israel has been prepared to help rebel groups to stop the government’s advances.”

In the fourth version of the article, BBC audiences found yet more promotion of Syrian regime propaganda highlighted in two previous reports.

“On Monday, the Syrian government condemned the evacuation by Israel over the weekend of the White Helmets civil defence group from a war zone in the south of the country.

Damascus described the move as a “criminal operation” by “Israel and its tools”.

Version 1

With much of this article based on IDF statements as well as local and agency news reports, it is notable that the BBC News website did not inform its readers that Israel had tried to contact the pilot or that due to the fighting in Syria close to the border, earlier in the day the IDF had put out warnings.

“The IDF said it had noticed increased air force activity in southwestern Syria, near the border, since the morning.

“We have issued numerous warnings through numerous channels and in various languages to make sure that no one on the other side violates Israeli airspace or threatens Israeli civilians or sovereignty,” IDF spokesperson Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus told reporters.”

Obviously the basic task of any journalist reporting this story was to inform members of the public what happened and where. Rather than doing that, the BBC News website chose to present two conflicting versions of where the aircraft was located when it was intercepted and leave readers to decide which one they prefer to believe. Apparently the BBC is of the opinion that passes as journalism.

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A ‘BBC Minute’ backgrounder misleads on Palestinian refugees

Yesterday we saw how a backgrounder on Jerusalem produced by the BBC World Service’s ‘BBC Minute’ misled its target audience of “young people” with regard to the 1949 armistice lines.

Last month BBC Minute produced two more of the items that it portrays as “making sense of the news” – this time relating to the Gaza Strip.  In those two items – still available online – once again a BBC Arabic journalist misled audiences with inaccurate information and presented context-free portrayals.

The first item is titled “BBC Minute: On Gaza clashes” and was published on May 16th.

“Gaza witnessed what’s described as the deadliest day of violence since 2014. Some 58 Palestinians were killed and Palestinian officials say around 2,700 were wounded during clashes with Israeli troops. It comes amid weeks of rising tension. We hear from the BBC’s Nida Ibrahim, who is in Gaza.”

BBC audiences around the world hear the following:

Ibrahim: “I’m Nida Ibrahim from BBC Arabic reporting from Gaza.”

Presenter: “This is BBC Minute on Gaza. For the last few weeks Palestinians have been protesting at Gaza’s border with Israel. It’s seen some of the deadliest clashes since the 2014 war.”

Ibrahim: “We’re talking about 60 people who were shot dead and 2,000 people who were injured. Some people are saying that the authorities here are not interested in any more protests. Things were supposed to culminate because it is considered Nakba or catastrophe which is the day Palestinians commemorate as the 70th anniversary for the creation of Israel and their being forced off their lands in 1948.” [emphasis added]

Presenter: “Gaza has been one of the key issues in the conflict between Israel and Palestinians. Israel accuses Hamas, that controls Gaza, of perpetrating attacks on its soil and have imposed barriers to reduce infiltration from the region.”

Ibrahim: “So I’ll say what one protester said to me the other day: he said life in Gaza equals death. One of the biggest barriers is actually having no future.”

Obviously that account does nothing to explain the real background to the pre-planned violence that has been taking place along the Gaza Strip-Israel border since the end of March. Neither does it contribute anything to audience understanding of the context to the situation in the Gaza Strip. But in that one-minute item Nida Ibrahim did find the time to misinform the BBC’s young audiences by inaccurately claiming that the sole reason Palestinians left their homes was because they were “forced off their lands”.

On May 17th ‘BBC Minute On’ produced another backgrounder featuring BBC Arabic’s Nida Ibrahim, titled “BBC Minute: On life in Gaza“.

“About 75% of Gaza’s population is under the age of 25. They live in what Unicef says is one of the most densely populated areas in the world. Israel says a boundary is needed for national security and the violence there is as a result of them defending its sovereignty and citizens. The BBC’s Nida Ibrahim in is Gaza and speaks to us about what’s life like for young people there.”

BBC audiences first hear a recycled version of the story that closed the previous edition.

Presenter: “BBC Minute on life in Gaza. Nida Ibrahim has been speaking to us about the deadly protests in the Hamas-controlled Palestinian territory. Here’s what one protester told her.”

Ibrahim: “He says life in Gaza equals death so it doesn’t really matter if we go on the front lines.”

Presenter: “About 75% of its population is under the age of 25.”

Ibrahim: “You don’t have electricity but for four hours. You don’t have hope. You don’t have jobs. So apart from the physical barriers that they might face they’re not allowed to travel: the borders are closed most of the time. Even the sea is contaminated by sewage water that have nowhere else to be released.”

Presenter: “The World Bank says a lack of progress towards peace and reconciliation has created an unsustainable economic situation.”

Ibrahim: “So if you are a 20-year-old you would want to know what kind of future you have here and this is the hardest to answer.”

Presenter: “Israel says the boundary is needed for national security.”

Ibrahim: “I heard somebody saying the other day that if they open the border you won’t find anybody else left in Gaza.”

Obviously that superficial portrayal again contributes nothing whatsoever to audience understanding of the factual background to the situation in the Gaza Strip – including the Hamas-Fatah rift that has exacerbated the electricity shortages and sewage treatment crisis. Listeners hear nothing at all about Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip 13 years ago and the crucially relevant topic of Hamas terrorism is not seriously addressed. Moreover, listeners are steered towards the understanding that “a lack of progress towards peace” is behind Gaza’s dire economic situation but no mention is made of the fact that it is Hamas that completely rejects “peace” and continues to aspire to destroy Israel.

These particular ‘BBC Minute’ backgrounders clearly go no way at all towards meeting the corporation’s public purpose of providing “accurate and impartial news, current affairs and factual programming of the highest editorial standards so that all audiences can engage fully with issues across the UK and the world”. 

Readers can judge for themselves whether BBC World Service funding (supplied by the British public both directly to the BBC and via the Foreign Office) could in fact be better employed to provide young people with news of the standard that they actually deserve, rather than content that is superficial, serially inaccurate, politically partial and dumbed down to the point of being irrelevant.

Related Articles:

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BBC’s Jerusalem backgrounder for young people breaches style guide

In September 2017 the BBC World Service launched a new project aimed specifically at younger audiences.

“Stephen Titherington, Sr Commissioning Editor of BBC World Service English, says: “BBC Minute has turned News on its head. Young people are information hungry, but only if it’s done in a way which matches their own energetic curiosity. With new BBC Minute Video, partners can now share vision as well as sound with their audience. We are delighted to have two new partners in Egypt and Jordan, bringing BBC Minute’s fresh sounding news coverage to more audiences in the region.”

Broadcast in the English language, BBC Minute bulletins are vibrant audio summaries of the news headlines and topical stories delivered in a high-energy style that entertains as much as it educates and informs. It is broadcast twice an hour, 24 hours a day, seven days a week by a team of young journalists in London. The team also produce BBC Minute On… which focus on a single subject or key story in more detail and is broadcast twice daily.”

Those ‘BBC Minute On’ backgrounders – billed as “making sense of the news” – are available online and hence potentially the subject of editorial complaints.

In early December 2017 one edition appeared under the title “BBC Minute: On Jerusalem“. Its synopsis states:

“The US President Donald Trump is expected to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The Palestinians said it would be a “kiss of death” for the Middle East peace process, but an Israeli minister urged other countries to follow the US lead. But how did the city become so politically important for both sides? The BBC’s Yolande Knell and BBC Arabic’s Hadya Al-alawi explain.”

The ‘explanation’ given to the target audience of “young people” around the world is as follows: [emphasis in italics in the original]

Presenter: “This is BBC Minute on Jerusalem. The city’s holy to Jews, Christians and Muslims. But why is it politically significant for Israelis and Palestinians? Here’s the BBC’s Yolande Knell.”

Knell: “Not long after the modern state of Israel was created in 1948, the Israeli parliament was set up in the west of the city. But it wasn’t until the 1967 war with neighbouring Arab countries that Israel captured East Jerusalem and then later annexed it in a move that’s not recognised internationally.”

Presenter: “Now about a third of the people of Jerusalem are Palestinians. But what do Palestinians in general want? Here’s BBC Arabic’s Hadya Al-alawi.”

Al-alawi: “So Palestinian authorities have been negotiating a two-state solution which means returning to the 1967 internationally recognised borders. Also they want East Jerusalem to be their capital. However Palestinians on the ground might not agree. They want the whole of Jerusalem and also returning to the historical Palestine.”

As we see, the BBC’s audiences around the world – including in Middle Eastern countries – are not given any information concerning either the status of Jerusalem before 1948, the 19-year Jordanian occupation of parts of the city or the circumstances that caused Jordan to enter the Six Day War and loose its hold on that territory.

Worse still, BBC audiences are presented by Hadya Al-alawi with a partisan portrayal of the two-state solution which promotes and amplifies the PLO’s interpretation of it as meaning a Palestinian state on all of the territory occupied by Jordan and Egypt between 1948 and 1967.

Moreover, Al-alawi promotes the inaccurate notion that the 1949 armistice lines are “internationally recognised borders” when in fact the armistice agreement that created them specifically states that they are not borders – as does the BBC’s ‘style guide’.  

“The Green Line marks the boundary between Israel and the West Bank. It is properly referred to as the 1949 Armistice Line – the ceasefire line of 1949. […]

In describing the situation on the ground, take care to use precise and accurate terminology. The Green Line is a dividing line or a boundary. If you call it a border you may inadvertently imply that it has internationally recognised status, which it does not currently have.” 

Given Al-alawi’s subsequent use of the politically loaded term ‘historical Palestine’ and promotion of the notion of ‘return’ without clarifying to listeners that what that actually means is the destruction of Israel, it is hardly surprising that her portrayal of the 1949 ceasefire lines is likewise intended to promote a specific political narrative and agenda.

Nevertheless, one would obviously expect a BBC journalist participating in a project declared to be aimed at “making sense of the news” for young people around the world to stick to the BBC’s style guide as well as its supposed editorial standards of accuracy and impartiality.

 

 

Former Hizballah journalist returns to BBC Arabic

On April 30th the BBC News website published a report that now goes under the headline “Syria war: Missile strikes on military sites ‘kill pro-Assad fighters’“. Later versions of that article were amended to include an insert of commentary from “Ali Hashem, Iranian affairs correspondent, BBC Arabic, Beirut”.

As can be seen in his ‘Linkedin’ profile, Ali Hashem joined BBC Arabic in February of this year – but not for the first time: he was also with BBC Arabic between 2007 and 2011.

In May 2013 we noted on these pages that prior to being hired by BBC Arabic in 2007, Ali Hashem worked for the Hizballah TV station Al Manar – the self-proclaimed “station of the resistance” – which was declared a Specially Designated Global Terrorist Entity by the United States during the period of Hashem’s employment. Al Manar was also banned by France on the grounds of its incitement of racial hatred, as well as by Germany and other countries.

More recently (2012 – 2018) Hashem worked for Al Mayadeen TV – an outfit known for its links to Hizballah and support for Bashar al Assad.

Five years ago we noted that:

“The fact that at the time, the BBC apparently did not consider there to be anything inappropriate about recruiting a recent employee of a terrorist organisation’s media arm is frankly amazing, especially as Mr Hashem’s newest gig suggests that his political sympathies and affiliations have not changed vastly since he worked for Hizballah.

One can only hope that the BBC’s Human Resources department has reviewed its hiring policy since then.”

Obviously that is not the case – and that of course means that the reporting on “Iranian affairs” that BBC audiences will be receiving from Ali Hashem will be ‘interesting’.

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BBC Arabic producer breaches social media guidelines again

Few would have been surprised to see Ha’aretz publisher Amos Schocken’s March 22nd Tweet promoting the notion that Israel is guilty of ‘apartheid’: he has, after all, touted such  allegations on the pages of his paper for years.

“Of the characteristics of apartheid: one legal system for Jews and another for natives”

Members of the BBC’s funding public may, however, have been disturbed to see a clearly identified BBC Arabic producer retweet that controversial smear to his own Twitter followers.

The BBC’s Editorial Guidelines on impartiality state:

“Presenters, reporters and correspondents are the public face and voice of the BBC – they can have a significant impact on perceptions of whether due impartiality has been achieved.  Our audiences should not be able to tell from BBC output the personal prejudices of our journalists or news and current affairs presenters on matters of public policy, political or industrial controversy, or on ‘controversial subjects’ in any other area.  They may provide professional judgements, rooted in evidence, but may not express personal views in BBC output, including online, on such matters.” [emphasis added]

Additionally, the BBC’s editorial guidelines on “Social Networking and Other Third Party Websites (including Blogs, Microblogs and Personal Webspace): Personal Use” include the following:

“…when someone clearly identifies their association with the BBC and/or discusses their work, they are expected to behave appropriately when on the Internet, and in ways that are consistent with the BBC’s editorial values and policies.”

Impartiality is a particular concern for those working in News and Current Affairs. Nothing should appear on their personal blogs or microblogs which undermines the integrity or impartiality of the BBC. For example, News and Current Affairs staff should not: […]

advocate any particular position on an issue of current public controversy or debate.” [emphasis added]

Clearly that retweet of an ‘apartheid’ smear by BBC Arabic producer Michael Shuval certainly does have an impact on public perceptions of impartiality in BBC reporting on Israel. 

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BBC Arabic film on collaborators promotes Hamas messaging – part two

In part one of this post we looked at the first half of a programme in the ‘Our World’ series that was recently broadcast on the BBC News Channel and the BBC World News Channel under the title “Working for the Enemy”.

After presenter Murad Batal Shishani had uncritically amplified Hamas’ claim that Israel was behind the assassination of one of its senior operatives last year and had been given access to a Hamas-run prison to interview a contrite collaborator, he turned to the topic of the alleged recruitment of Mazen Fuqaha’s assassin by Israel.

Shishani: “But would the Israeli security forces really recruit a jihadi – someone dedicated to the violent destruction of Israel? It seemed an extraordinary risk”.

Shishani then went to interview the former Shin Bet director and current member of the Knesset Avi Dichter, asking him:

Shishani: “Would you recruit a jihadist to kill a Hamas operative?”

Dichter: “Well everything is possible in this fight against terrorists.”

Shishani quickly moved on to his next interviewee who he described as “a reserve officer from Israeli military intelligence”. The fact that the interviewee remained anonymous and his voice unheard, together with Shishani’s claim that “he has to be careful about what he says in order to avoid arrest”, raises the unanswered question of how BBC Arabic made contact with this particular interviewee and whether or not a ‘middle-man’ such as the political NGO ‘Breaking the Silence’ was involved.

That interviewee – presented as Aaron – apparently gave Shishani the money quotes he was obviously looking for.

Voiceover: “We know so much about people’s personal lives. Their romantic affairs, their sexual affairs, their health problems, everything. So if you want to gain cooperation from people it’s obviously best if we can blackmail this person.” […]

Shishani: “But it’s not just sexual orientation that makes people targets.”

Voiceover: “If someone’s daughter has cancer, for example, and he wants to get treatment in one of the Israeli hospitals – which is no doubt better treatment than in Palestinian hospitals – and if we know about it, maybe we can stop him and tell him OK you can have this but only if you cooperate.”

That led Shishani conveniently on to his next story.

Shishani: “Salwa Saidni [phonetic] knows all about this coercion. Today she is with her grandchildren. A year ago their mother Kholoud needed urgent treatment for cancer. The Israeli authorities granted her permission to go to a hospital in Jerusalem. It was six o’clock and barely light when Salwa and her daughter Kholoud arrived here at the Erez Crossing one morning in January 2017. […] The officers wanted information about a man married to Kholoud’s cousin. She said he was an olive tree farmer.”

Salwa: “He said ‘yes but he plants rockets. He plants rockets with Hamas.’ She said ‘if you know he plants rockets what’s that got to do with me? I’m sick and need treatment. I want to be able to raise my kids.'”

Shishani: “Salwa says her daughter was not able to give any information about the man.”

Salwa: “He told her ‘there’s the bus you need’. Only a glass screen separated us from it.”

Shishani: “But the Israeli authorities did not allow Kholoud to board the bus. […] Three weeks later Kholoud died.”

After having given extensive amplification to allegations that have been used by anti-Israel activists to delegitimise Israel – and with nothing to suggest any independent verification by the BBC – Shishani once again ostensibly ticked the BBC’s impartiality box with a one-liner.

Shishani: “The Israeli authorities told us that entry to Israel is not conditional on providing information or cooperation and they denied any irregularities in their dealings with Kholoud.”

Notably, Shishani made no effort to inform BBC audiences that the party responsible for medical services in the Gaza Strip is the Palestinian Authority and it is that body which in 2017 exacerbated the chronic crisis affecting  the healthcare system in Gaza by severely cutting medical aid and referrals for treatment in Israel. 

Shishani’s next interviewee was presented as follows:

Shishani: “Some Palestinians work with Israel because they genuinely believe this is the right way to protect their own people. I have come to a tiny village in the far south of Israel. It is the home of a Bedouin community of around 20 families that were moved from Gaza, where they had devoted their lives to working with the Israeli state. […] Hassan is the community leader here – a role he inherited from his father, a Bedouin Sheikh from the Sinai desert. Hassan’s father sided with the Israeli state after Arab nations were defeated in the 1967 war and Israel occupied his land. […] How do you feel when you or your father are called a traitor or a spy?”

The programme’s last interview – once again anonymous – took place in “a provincial Israeli town” with a man described as having “worked in Gaza for the Israelis from the age of 17 – but that was before he had to get out.”

Unsurprisingly, Shishani’s final interviewee stated that “my past is haunting me” and Shishani then closed the report.

Shishani: “Normality, more than anything, is what people in Gaza crave but for most here, it’s out of reach. Constant scrutiny, suspicion and human need mean that collaboration will keep shaping and poisoning lives and some will continue to work for the enemy.”

Clearly Murad Batal Shishani had a specific story to tell in this programme and nothing was going to get in its way. His uncritical amplification of the stories and interviews – in part obviously Hamas approved – that make up the bulk of the programme was not balanced by his token interview with Avi Dichter or his tepid one-liner presentations of responses from “the Israeli authorities”.

For years Hamas has periodically run campaigns targeting ‘collaborators’ and its extra-judicial executions of people branded as such are a subject only rarely covered by the BBC. Given the cooperation from Hamas that Shishani obviously enjoyed in the making of this programme, it is hardly surprising to see that Hamas’ use of the ‘collaborator’ tag as an excuse for extrajudicial executions did not get any coverage whatsoever in Shishani’s one-sided report.  

Related Articles:

BBC Arabic film on collaborators promotes Hamas messaging – part one

BBC Arabic inaccurately portrays 2002 terror attack victims

BBC Watch secures another correction to a BBC Arabic article

A Gaza border closure not deemed newsworthy by BBC News