Dumbing down ME politics with BBC Monitoring

On June 1st the BBC News website’s Middle East page published a video by BBC Monitoring which purported to assist audiences in finding an answer to the question “Why can’t Lebanon elect a president?“.BBC Monitoring president Lebanon

The synopsis reads:

“On Thursday, for the 40th time in two years, the Lebanese parliament will attempt to fill the vacant position of the country’s president.

BBC Monitoring looks at why Lebanon has struggled to elect a leader.”

Sadly for BBC audiences, the video did not do what it said on the tin. Viewers were told that:

“Lebanon hasn’t had a president for the last two years. On Thursday parliament will try and elect one. It’s their 40th attempt. The president can’t be anyone. They need to be a Maronite Christian. To balance this the PM has to be a Sunni Muslim and the speaker of parliament must be a Shia Muslim. The last president blames Hezbollah for the stalemate. Hezbollah leads one of the main blocs in parliament. The group backs Syria’s President Assad and is supported by Iran. The other main bloc is pro-western and backed by Saudi Arabia. But two-thirds of MPs need to come together to elect a president. With this much disagreement, that’s a big ask.”

The Lebanese parliament again failed to elect a president the day after that video was published.   

“The Lebanese parliament failed again — on its 40th try — to choose a new president after only 39 members showed up for the electoral session Thursday, which was boycotted by parliament speaker Nabih Berri and most MPs from Hezbollah’s political bloc. The country has been without a president since May 2014.”

That ‘March 8 bloc’ boycott is nothing new, as Yalibnan reported in April:

“Since Sulaiman ended his presidential term in May 2014, Hezbollah and most of its March 8 allies boycotted 38 parliamentary  sessions that were allocated for electing a president

Without a two-thirds quorum, parliament sessions led to bickering, as Iran-backed Hezbollah insisted that it would only participate if it received solid guarantees that its candidate, Aoun, would be elected.”

In other words, this item refrained from informing BBC audiences that the reason Lebanon can’t elect a president according to its democratic process is because a religiously motivated proscribed terrorist organisation that is sponsored (and not just “supported”) by Iran is preventing it from doing so.

“Former prime minister Fouad Saniora told journalists after the failed Thursday session that he thought it was the pro-Iranian Hezbollah group that was preventing an election from taking place.

According to Saniora, Hezbollah says it is supporting General Michel Aoun for president but is, in fact, using the election as a bargaining chip with respect to sanctions on the group and the debate over its role in the region.”

Possible broader incentives for Hizballah’s stance have also been discussed by analysts – for example here and here.

In August 2014 the Middle East Institute published an article on the topic of the failure to elect a president in Lebanon which opened as follows:

“The presidential vacuum in Lebanon since May 24, when president Michel Sleiman’s term ended without the Lebanese parliament having elected a successor, is likely to continue until an electable candidate is found who respects Hezbollah’s military autonomy and does not challenge its Syria policy.

Parliamentarians in Hezbollah’s “Loyalty to the Resistance bloc” have played an instrumental role in delaying the election process by boycotting all nine presidential election sessions, contributing to the lack of quorum needed to select a president.  An anti-Hezbollah president cannot be elected because the March 8 bloc (of which Hezbollah is a part) can prevent parliament from achieving the required quorum.”

That article was written by Lamia Estatie who now works for BBC Monitoring and who is credited as having produced this video.

Estatie obviously knows full well why Lebanon can’t elect a president. Why then did BBC Monitoring elect to waste audiences’ time with a dumbed-down report which skirts around the real point rather than meeting the corporation’s obligation to “[b]uild a global understanding of international issues”?

 

Inaccuracies in BBC backgrounder on Sinai terrorists

An article by Kevin Connolly published on the BBC News website’s Middle East page on May 20th under the title “EgyptAir crash fuels fears and theories” tells readers that:

“Egypt sees itself as a regional power in the front line of a war against global jihadism and its strong-man President, Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, portrays himself as the hammer of political Islamism at home.

Privately many Egyptians appear to worry that might make their country an obvious target for jihadists – the fear being that a long-bubbling Islamist insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula might escalate elsewhere in Egypt.”

The link provided leads to a backgrounder produced by BBC Monitoring titled “Sinai Province: Egypt’s most dangerous group” which tells readers that:Sinai province

“Sinai Province started by attacking Israel with rockets, but after the removal of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in 2013 it focused on Egypt’s security services, killing dozens of soldiers.

It has been involved in suicide bombings, drive-by shootings, assassinations and beheadings.”

Sinai Province (formerly known as Ansar Bayt al Maqdis) emerged in 2011 after the ousting of the former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak.  Its activities began with attacks on the oil pipelines running between Israel and Egypt and on July 30th of that year it attacked a police station in El Arish, killing six people. On August 14th 2011 the Egyptian army launched ‘Operation Eagle’ to tackle the insurgency and four days later a combined terror attack took place along the Israeli-Egyptian border resulting in the deaths of eight Israelis.

On August 5th 2012 – just over a month after Mohammed Morsi became president of Egypt – an Egyptian army post near Rafah was attacked and more than 15 Egyptian security personnel were killed. The terrorists proceeded to the Kerem Shalom crossing in stolen vehicles and briefly breached the border. Two days later the Egyptian army launched ‘Operation Sinai’. On September 21st Ansar Bayt al Maqdis launched a terror attack on the Israeli-Egyptian border in which an Israeli soldier was killed.

In other words, the BBC’s claim that “Sinai Province started by attacking Israel with rockets” is not accurate: serious cross-border attacks also took place. The claim that attacks on Egypt’s security services began “after the removal of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in 2013” is also clearly inaccurate.

The backgrounder gives typically scant information on the topic of collaboration between Sinai Province and Hamas.

“The border with Israel and the Gaza Strip has been a scene of tension over the past few years. The Egyptian authorities have created a buffer zone, demolishing houses and digging a trench to prevent smuggling between Egypt and Gaza – which they say is a source of weapons for the militants.”

Were that BBC backgrounder more accurate, perhaps Kevin Connolly would have been in a position to tell his readers that Egypt has been tackling the issue of Sinai-based terrorists since before its current president came to power, that attacks “elsewhere in Egypt” have already taken place and that Egypt was a “target for jihadists” even when it had a president in the “political Islamism” camp.  

BBC Monitoring uses Sykes-Picot anniversary to promote conspiracy theory

The 100th anniversary of the Sykes-Picot Agreement this week produced a rash of journalistic commentary, much of which succumbed to the fashion of lazily blaming that agreement for the Middle East’s contemporary ills.

That trend was not however confined to Western commentators and BBC Monitoring produced a report titled “Sykes-Picot marked with bitterness and regret by Arab media” which appeared on the BBC News website on May 16th.

Not for the first time, readers found BBC Monitoring using its platform for the amplification of baseless conspiracy theory.

BBC monitoring Sykes Picot

One of course presumes that before deciding that the above comment was worthy of translation and amplification to audiences worldwide, BBC Monitoring exercised due diligence and took the time to check out that Twitter feed. If so, then it would have realised that the so-called ‘Pencil192’ has something of a pathological obsession with ‘Zionists’.

pencil tweet 5 promoted

Pencil tweet 1

pencil tweet 2

pencil tweet 3

pencil tweet 4

Whilst that may not be much of a surprise coming from a social media user who appears to be a Baathist history buff and Saddam Hussein fan, what should raise eyebrows is the fact that BBC Monitoring apparently believes that the amplification of unchallenged conspiracy theories from an obscure social media account in some way contributes to meeting the corporation’s remit to “[b]uild a global understanding of international issues”.

BBC Monitoring digs up the dirt with cleaners non-story

In the financial year 2013-14, BBC Monitoring ceased to enjoy funding from sources such as the UK government’s Foreign & Commonwealth Office and Ministry of Defence and since then it has been funded by the licence fee payer. Members of the British public therefore clearly have an interest in knowing how that department uses their money.

Stating that “our unique capabilities are highly valued”, BBC Monitoring claims to “deliver the news you need, when you need it” to subscribers and to provide “deep local insight” and “hard to reach information that is often undetected”. The department also provides material for BBC programmes and content for the BBC News website.

One example of such content appeared in the website’s ‘News From Elsewhere’ section on February 8th under the headline “Anger as Israel company ‘prices staff by ethnicity’” and with an illustrative photograph which obviously has no connection to the article’s subject matter but indicates that BBC Monitoring’s “deep local insight” does not include the knowledge that Israelis do not have brass letter boxes.BBC monitoring cleaner story

The “hard to reach information” which forms the basis of that article was sourced from two English language Israeli media organisations and no particularly “unique capabilities” are required to access their sites online. Additional links to a Hebrew language news website and the Facebook account of the Israeli journalist/blogger Tal Schneider who first promoted the story are provided.

The article relates to a flyer ‘collected’ by an acquaintance of Schneider which advertises cleaning services. In spite of BBC Monitoring’s use of the word “company” in its headline and its opening paragraph, as Ha’aretz pointed out: “the leaflet indicated no company name but only gave the phone number for someone called Irena”.

BBC audiences are told that:

“A flyer for a cleaning company in Tel Aviv has sparked anger and soul-searching after pricing its staff on the basis of their ethnicity, it seems.

Israeli journalist and political blogger Tal Schneider posted a photograph of the leaflet to her Facebook account with the statement “Blatant racism permeates Israel, pricing workers by race”…”

As distasteful as it may be, one flyer from an unknown source obviously does not support the hyperbolic sweeping allegation that “blatant racism permeates Israel”. Nevertheless, BBC Monitoring used licence fee funding to compile and promote this non-story – which actually provides more “deep local insight” into the BBC practice of swooping on any opportunity to promote a story of this genre than anything else. 

BBC Monitoring coverage of Ramadan soaps – the sequel

As was noted here last week, BBC Monitoring recently produced a written report for the BBC News website about the popular soap operas and dramas shown on television in the Middle East during Ramadan. That article refrained from informing audiences of the antisemitic and anti-Israeli content traditionally seen in many of those programmes.

On June 26th the BBC World Service radio programme ‘The Fifth Floor’ also devoted part of its content to the same topic.fifth floor

“It is the holy month of Ramadan – a month of prayer and fasting and for some also accompanied by a lot of television. TV soaps and dramas are commissioned for the season and often bring in the highest ratings. BBC journalist Doaa Soliman is something of a connoisseur of Ramadan TV. Not only has she watched a lot for pleasure, but in her current role with BBC Monitoring, she is also tasked with keeping a professional eye on the current selection. This is Doaa’s guide to what to watch this Ramadan.”

A clip of that segment of the programme can be found here and once again it is notable that the long tradition of antisemitic content in Ramadan entertainment is concealed from BBC audiences. 

BBC Monitoring euphemises terror, whitewashes antisemitism, claims Egyptian Jews ‘vanished’

On June 18th an article appeared in the features section of the BBC News website’s Middle East page under the title “Ramadan: Historical TV dramas break with past in Muslim world“. Written by BBC Monitoring, the piece correctly notes in its opening paragraphs that:Ramadan TV art

“The Islamic holy month of Ramadan is associated with TV dramas and soap operas across the Arab and Muslim world.

Millions of Muslims in the Arab World spend hours watching TV during and after breaking their fast.

It is during Ramadan that commercial TV channels get their highest ratings for the year. Egyptian and Syrian TV productions predominate.”

But how does the “break with past” described in the article’s headline manifest itself? The only very vague clue to that comes in this section of the report:

“Egypt goes further with historical dramas breaking tradition with a drama sympathetic to Egypt’s vanished Jewish community.

The Jewish Quarter depicts a time when Jews and Muslims lived together harmoniously.”

What BBC Monitoring refrains from telling readers is that in many cases, the television dramas produced for Ramadan are rife with antisemitic content and anti-Israel messaging. And whilst this new Egyptian series ‘The Jewish Quarter’ [Haret el Yahood] may indeed be “sympathetic” to Egyptian Jews – who did not mysteriously ‘vanish’ as this article suggests but were actually expelled or coerced to emigrate by Egypt – it too is apparently not without a specific political slant.

“The show, which presents the Jew­ish com­mu­nity in Egypt in the 40s through a love story between a Jew­ish girl and a Mus­lim Egypt­ian army offi­cer, attempts to present the dif­fer­ence between “good” Jews and “bad” Jews; the good Jews are the ones who are loyal to Egypt and sup­port its war against Israel while Zion­ist Jews, who are loyal to Israel, are depicted as wicked, liars, evil and try­ing to betray Egypt. Mid­hat Al-adl, who wrote the script for the show, told Al Jazeera that the show “con­demns Israeli Zion­ism and racism.””

Two additional segments of this article are also worthy of note. [all emphasis added]

“Another series – Darb al-Yasmin – takes place in a southern Syrian village during the late 1990s and focuses on the military and intelligence work of the resistance against Israel.”

“Also popular this Ramadan is The Soil and Salt – a Lebanese TV series about Islamic resistance against Israel.”

As veteran Arab affairs analyst Ehud Ya’ari has pointed out:

“The literal translation of the Arabic word muqawama is “resistance,” but that does not reflect the full meaning of the term. A more correct translation would be “the doctrine of constant combat,” or “persistent warfare,” which is how Hizballah’s Hassan Nasrallah and Hamas’s Khaled Mashal define it.” 

‘Resistance’ is in fact an English language euphemism for violence and terrorism conducted by those negating Israel’s existence. The fact that the mainstream BBC chooses to adopt and amplify the term uncritically and without any proper explanation to audiences of what that euphemism really means is as worthy of note as its concealment of the long tradition of antisemitic content in Ramadan television programmes.

BBC Monitoring plays down Saudi concerns over Iranian nuclear programme

As was noted here last week, the BBC’s coverage in the run-up to the Israeli prime minister’s recent address to the US Congress on the subject of the Iranian nuclear programme was remarkable for the fact that its framing steered BBC audiences towards the inaccurate view that Israel is the only country in the region with concerns on that issue.

In what might at first glance appear to signal an attempt to correct that distortion, the BBC News website published an article in the ‘Features & Analysis’ section of its Middle East page on March 6th under the title “Saudi and Israel Iran anxieties align“. Written by BBC Monitoring media analyst Steve Metcalf, the piece opens as follows:Metcalf art on ME pge

“That Saudi commentators should make approving remarks about a speech by an Israeli prime minister – as they did this week – is not surprising given the subject of Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to the US Congress on Tuesday: the threat from Iran.

Despite their many differences, Saudi Arabia and Israel have long shared a common concern about Iran’s growing regional influence and increasing military capabilities.”

Oddly, no link is provided to the articles written by Saudi commentators and no quotes from them are included in order to provide audiences with a sense of the actual nature of those “approving remarks”.

Moreover, having presented a very soft, misleading – but revealing – portrayal of Iran’s assorted interventions across the Middle East which notably excludes its material support for terrorist organisations, Metcalf closes his article with the suggestion that those Saudi commentators may actually be concerned about issues other than the Iranian nuclear programme.

“It is debateable [sic] whether Iran’s increased profile and military involvement across the region is the result of a grand strategic design, an opportunistic exploitation of events, or an indication of the desperate straits that some of its allies find themselves in.

Although there few signs [sic] of public domestic opposition, it must be taking its toll on a budget that also has to cope with the cost of international sanctions and falling oil prices.

So Saudi support for the Israeli prime minister’s warnings about a deal on Iran’s nuclear programme could be as much about concern over an Iran freed from sanctions as about its nuclear capability.”

But is Metcalf’s assertion supported by the statements made in the op-eds which are the basis for his article and his theory?

In a March 2nd article for the Saudi Arabian daily Al-Jazirah, Dr Ahmad Al-Faraj wrote:

“Since Obama […] is working to sign an agreement with Iran that will come at the expense of the U.S.’s longtime allies in the Gulf, I am very glad of Netanyahu’s firm stance and [his decision] to speak against the nuclear agreement at the American Congress despite the Obama administration’s anger and fury. I believe that Netanyahu’s conduct will serve our interests, the people of the Gulf, much more than the foolish behavior of one of the worst American presidents.”

Obviously the Iranian nuclear programme is of concern to that particular Saudi commentator.Metcalf art

On March 3rd Faisal J. Abbas – the Editor-in-Chief of Al Arabiya English – wrote:

“The Israeli PM managed to hit the nail right on the head when he said that Middle Eastern countries are collapsing and that “terror organizations, mostly backed by Iran, are filling in the vacuum” during a recent ceremony held in Tel Aviv to thank outgoing IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz for his role during “challenging” times.

In just a few words, Mr. Netanyahu managed to accurately summarize a clear and present danger, not just to Israel (which obviously is his concern), but to other U.S. allies in the region. […]

Just to be clear, nobody disagrees that ridding Iran of its nuclear ambitions is paramount. And if this can be achieved peacefully, then it would be even better. However, any reasonable man CAN’T possibly turn a blind eye to the other realities on the ground. […]

… the real Iranian threat is not JUST the regime’s nuclear ambitions, but its expansionist approach and state-sponsored terrorism activities which are still ongoing.”

Clearly Mr Abbas is concerned not only about Iran’s regional interventions but also about its nuclear programme.

Had readers been provided with links to both those articles, they would have been able to judge for themselves the relevance of Steve Metcalf’s rather transparent attempt to downplay Saudi (and wider Gulf region) concerns about the Iranian nuclear programme. But they weren’t – and so BBC audiences remain inadequately informed with regard to that issue. 

BBC Monitoring amplifies Iranian Charlie Hebdo conspiracy theory

On January 8th the BBC News website published an article titled “Charlie Hebdo attack: World press united in defiance” in which BBC Monitoring presented a round-up of media reactions to the previous day’s terror attack in Paris, opening thus:Monitoring Hebdo

“Newspapers around the world have united in defiance against the attack on French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

In Arab countries, some papers wonder whether the West has done enough to counter the spread of such terror attacks.

Some papers in Muslim countries fear an anti-Islam backlash in Europe.”

The article highlights the reactions in some newspapers in France, Germany, Spain, Italy and Russia before moving on to the Turkish and Arabic language print media. Towards the end of the article the Iranian press is reviewed and the writer and editor of the report found it appropriate to include the following: 

Monitoring Hebdo 2

Yes, really: somebody at the BBC News website found that ridiculous conspiracy theory newsworthy and fit for amplification to audiences worldwide. 

How the BBC cherry-picked its Jihadist terrorists

In recent days quite a few people have let us know via e-mail or social media that they were surprised to find that a BBC special feature on “Jihadist attacks” during the month of November did not include Israelis murdered during that month by terrorists linked to organisations such as Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.countries Jihadists

After all, in a fourteen day period during that month, nine Israelis were killed by Palestinian terrorists and a tenth victim injured in the November 5th attack died of his wounds a month later. Despite that fact, Israel does not appear on the list of countries in which, according to the study carried out by the BBC and the ICSR, Jihadist attacks took place. Notably too, the word terrorism does not appear in the BBC’s main feature on the topic – “Jihadism: Tracking a month of deadly attacks“, December 11th – although it is evident in the complimentary article by Professor Peter Neumann, “Jihadist violence: The devastating cost“.

The reason for the absence of any data concerning Israel in that study is to be found in a document detailing the study’s methodology. There, the interpretation of the term Jihadism used in the study is explained as follows:

definition Jihadism

Neither Hamas nor the PIJ are of course Salafists or Wahhabists and they do not belong to the Deobandi or Ahl e Hadith traditions. Hence, those two Palestinian terrorist organisations are not included in the BBC’s study despite the fact that Israel is cited as a ‘motive’ and even though some of their aims and ideologies dovetail neatly with those of groups which are defined as Jihadists and they have certainly proved their “readiness to kill” to achieve their religiously motivated aims.

It is, of course, much easier to promote (even by omission) the notion of a fundamental difference between Hamas and Salafist Jihadists such as Ansar Beit al Maqdis which does appear in this study if one ignores the relationship between them (as the BBC has largely done) and if one presents (as the BBC consistently does, according to its own politically motivated narrative) the Hamas raison d’être exclusively as politically inspired ‘resistance’ to ‘occupation’ whilst ignoring the religious elements underpinning it as demonstrated, for example, in article 11 of the Hamas charter.

“The Islamic Resistance Movement believes that the land of Palestine is an Islamic Waqf consecrated for future Moslem generations until Judgement Day. It, or any part of it, should not be squandered: it, or any part of it, should not be given up. Neither a single Arab country nor all Arab countries, neither any king or president, nor all the kings and presidents, neither any organization nor all of them, be they Palestinian or Arab, possess the right to do that. Palestine is an Islamic Waqf land consecrated for Moslem generations until Judgement Day. This being so, who could claim to have the right to represent Moslem generations till Judgement Day?

This is the law governing the land of Palestine in the Islamic Sharia (law) and the same goes for any land the Moslems have conquered by force, because during the times of (Islamic) conquests, the Moslems consecrated these lands to Moslem generations till the Day of Judgement.”

It is probably pretty safe to assume, therefore, that we will not be seeing the outcome of acts by Palestinian terrorist organisations classified as “Jihadist violence” by the BBC anytime soon and hence its audiences will continue to lack crucial information on the issue of terrorism against Israelis. 

 

On BBC Monitoring’s fantasy ‘ban’ and short skirt syndrome

On June 16th BBC Monitoring informed audiences – in an article titled “Israel: Hitchhiking continues despite kidnap dangers” on its ‘News From Elsewhere’ page on the BBC News website – that the Israeli prime minister had ‘banned’ hitchhiking.BBC Monitoring hitchhiking

“Travellers are likely to ignore a directive from Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that “bans” hitchhiking in the wake of the disappearance of three teenagers, it seems.

According to the Ma’ariv Hashavu’a newspaper, the prime minister has directed “all settlers and travellers in Judea and Samaria [West Bank] not to take rides offered by strangers”. The order comes as Israel makes scores of arrests and blames Hamas for the disappearance of one 19-year-old and two 16-year-old youths near an Israeli settlement in the West Bank on their way home from lessons.”

The link to Ma’ariv Hashavua appearing in BBC Monitoring’s piece leads to its main page rather than to the source of that quote, but the same website did report on June 13th that:

“The Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, today requested to convey a guidance to residents not to travel by hitchhiking, following the disappearance of three youths from Judea and Samaria.”

Other media outlets reported “Netanyahu to residents of Judea & Samaria: don’t travel by hitchhiking” (Ynet) and “Netanyahu also expressed his sympathies to the families in Judea and Samaria and urged its residents not to hitchhike” (Jerusalem Post). So – in contrast to the claims made by BBC Monitoring (which apparently seriously over-estimates the Israeli prime minister’s authority)  – no “ban”, no “order” and no “settlers”.

The more remarkable aspect of this article, however, is its promotion and amplification of an ‘analysis’ piece which appeared in Ha’aretz less than 72 hours after the kidnappings.

“However, as Anshel Pfeffer points out in Israeli newspaper Haaretz, neither the fact that people have gone missing nor any government discouragement will stop young Israelis from hitchhiking. The culture of “tremping” (hitchhiking) is deeply ingrained in the country’s youth, despite the dangers of accepting lifts from strangers. Tremping, Pfeffer says, is a “hallowed institution”, and teenagers are more likely to continue tremping in defiance.”

The link provided by BBC Monitoring to Anshel Pfeffer’s article lies behind a pay wall, meaning that the majority of readers will not be able to view it in full. Most will therefore be unaware that, beyond the curious suggestion that hitchhiking is a mode of transport used only by “teenagers” (in fact, many people who have long since ceased to belong to that category also hitchhike in Israel) as a form of “defiance”, Pfeffer also has some additional cod psychology theories which BBC Monitoring apparently saw fit to amplify.

“But there are much deeper reasons, that go beyond logistical necessity. For mitzvah-observant adolescents who have been going to gender-segregated schools since before puberty, there are few places where they can feel as free and as unregulated as on the road. And for them, the roads of Judea and Samaria — the West Bank — are not the dangerous, ominous regions they seem to most Israelis. To them it’s home, and no one, certainly not the IDF officers who periodically warn the settlement elders of the perils of allowing their children to hitch rides, will tell them they can’t travel freely throughout their homeland. Trempim to them aren’t just a way of getting around — they’re a rite of passage, a way of life, a declaration of independence and of ownership of the land.”

Whilst Pfeffer does point out in his pay-walled article that (as is the case in many countries) public transport in remote rural areas is often infrequent, inadequate and expensive, BBC Monitoring does not adequately clarify that point to audiences, stating only that hitchhiking continues to be “attractive” rather than, in many cases, necessary.  Neither does it bother to remind readers that not too long ago, a bus ride anywhere in Israel (not only in Judea & Samaria) was literally a life and death gamble due to the appalling frequency of attacks by suicide bombers and that Israeli public transport is still a target for terror attacks.

But what is really interesting is the decision by the BBC – an organization one presumes would define itself as holding liberal and progressive values – to promote Pfeffer’s ‘short skirt syndrome’ approach to this topic.

The fact that a person carries the title ‘journalist’ does not of course immunize him or her from producing content intended to advance a particular political viewpoint or mean that every notion promoted is written in stone. One can be fairly certain that the BBC – which as we know defines itself as “the standard-setter for international journalism” – would not see fit to promote and amplify an article from another country claiming that despite past incidents of rape, young women continue to wear short skirts “in defiance”.

Remarkably though, BBC Monitoring elected to focus audience attentions on the ‘short skirt’ presentation of hitchhiking in Israel rather than any of the numerous articles or opinion pieces dealing with the actual problem – Palestinian terrorism – which have appeared in the Israeli media concurrently.