Revisiting the BBC’s amplification of an NGO’s PR

The Guardian reports that the head of Oxfam GB has described the NGO’s 2014 campaign against the Israeli company SodaStream as having ‘backfired’.

“In a candid presentation to an audience of charity professionals on 14 December, Goldring said Oxfam had made high-stakes misjudgments […] in the row over the involvement of its then celebrity ambassador, Scarlett Johansson with a company operating in an Israeli settlement on the West Bank.

The Johansson furore had cost Oxfam America “literally thousands” of donors, Goldring revealed. […]

In the Johansson case, after a protracted stand-off, the actor ended her eight-year association with Oxfam over its criticism of her for endorsing fizzy drinks company SodaStream, which at the time had a factory in an Israeli settlement.

Goldring […] told a seminar on campaigning for less popular causes that in mishandling the Johansson affair, Oxfam turned what should have been a point of principle into “something of a PR disaster”.

Oxfam’s error, said Goldring, was letting the controversy drag on so that Johansson could eventually seize the initiative. “The judgment was when to be proactive, when to be forceful, and when to be balanced and reflective,” he said. “We got that wrong.”Today Connolly

As readers may recall, the BBC also played a very “proactive” role at the time, promoting Oxfam’s PR messaging (together with that of fellow BDS campaigners, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign) on a variety of platforms including the BBC News website, BBC Radio 4 and BBC television channels.

BBC News recycles second-hand SodaStream slur, fails to explain BDS

BBC’s ‘Today’ programme ‘should know better’ than to engage in covert promotion of the PSC’s agenda

BBC displays its campaigning colours in SodaStream story coverage 

Oxfam’s Ben Phillips on BBC Two’s ‘Newsnight’

BBC One serves up BDS at Breakfast

As was noted here at the time:

“As its coverage of this story shows, the BBC has abandoned its role as a provider of news and information regarding the anti-Israel BDS movement and emphatically tied its colours to the campaigning mast.”

 

 

Geographical inaccuracy in BBC’s ‘Planet Earth II’

h/t SP

The BBC is of course deservedly renowned worldwide for its consistently high quality nature programmes and the new series ‘Planet Earth II’ currently being shown on BBC One has been highly acclaimed.planet-earth-mountains

The episode titled ‘Mountains’ included footage showing baby Nubian Ibex in the Ramon Crater in southern Israel which seemed to capture the imagination of many viewers in the UK.

However, in some of the programme’s accompanying material promoted by the BBC, the location in which that footage was shot was inaccurately described as being in the ‘Arabian Peninsula’.

ibex-2

ibex-3

That geographical inaccuracy then received further promotion – for example in the Sun:

“When a red fox started to hunt baby Nubian Ibexes on the edge of a mountain in the Arabian Peninsula, viewers of Planet Earth Two knew which team they were cheering.”

The Arabian Peninsula of course comprises the states of Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates – but not Israel. 

BBC’s Nicky Campbell materially misleads on Jewish self-determination

Following its written and audio items relating to antisemitism and anti-Zionism, the BBC took the same topic to its British audience’s television screens. The May 1st edition of BBC One’s “moral, ethical and religious discussion series” titled ‘The Big Questions’ purported to address the question “Is anti-Zionism anti-Semitic?”.

What followed is perhaps best described as tabloid television; various pre-selected participants engaged in repugnant defamation of Israel by means of populist slurs such as ‘ethnic cleansing’, ‘colonisation’ and ‘apartheid’ and promoted falsehoods such as the baseless allegation that Israel ‘burnt’ Palestinian children with white phosphorus.

Of course nothing other than that was to be expected given the records and ideologies of some of the people the BBC chose to invite to the programme such as MPAC UK’s Raza Nadim, Tony Greenstein, Daphna Baram and Moshe Machover. Without doubt the programme’s producers got entirely predictable results.

One particularly notable feature of the programme, however, came not from the invited guests but from the show’s presenter Nicky Campbell who twice introduced the following theme into the discussion.

“Benjamin Netanyahu – the prime minister – he wanted to pass this law saying Israel is the nation-state of one people only – the Jewish people – and no other people. If any other country in the world said that, people would be jumping up and down saying that’s racist.”

The bill to which Campbell refers was in fact first proposed by the Kadima party’s Avi Dichter in 2011 and additional versions were subsequently proposed by several other members of the Knesset – including Netanyahu. In 2013 the then Minister of Justice, Tsipi Livni, commissioned Professor Ruth Gavison to examine the issue and compile recommendations. To date the bill has not passed a preliminary reading.

Campbell’s twice stated claim is based on partial representation of the Israeli prime minister’s words during a debate in the Knesset in 2014.

““Ladies and gentlemen, Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people and the Jewish people alone,” Netanyahu said, with rights for its non-Jewish minority. He added, however, that critics of his bill want a Palestinian national state which would be empty of Jews, but that Israel should be a bi-national state.

He outlined the general principles of his draft of the “Jewish state” bill, echoing elements of Israel’s Declaration of Independence and Basic Laws: “The land of Israel is the historic homeland of the Jewish people and the site of the state of Israel’s establishment. The state of Israel is the national homeland of the Jewish people and it embodies the right of self-determination. The right to exercise self-determination in the state of Israel is exclusive to the Jewish people. The state of Israel is a democratic state, and it executes the rights of all of its citizens according to the law.””

Campbell not only claims that the proposal to enshrine Jewish self-determination in Israeli law is “racist” but also implies that no “other country in the world” has done such a thing. That of course is an inaccurate claim – as Professor Eugene Kontorovich pointed out in 2014 – and one which materially misleads BBC audiences.

“Seven EU states have constitutional “nationhood” provisions, which typically speak of the state as being the national home and locus of self-determination for the country’s majority ethnic group. This is even the case in places like the Baltics, with large and alienated minority populations.

For example, the Latvian constitution opens by invoking the “unwavering will of the Latvian nation to have its own State and its inalienable right of self-determination in order to guarantee the existence and development of the Latvian nation, its language and culture throughout the centuries.” It continues by defining Latvian “identify” as “shaped by Latvian and Liv traditions, Latvian folk wisdom, the Latvian language, universal human and Christian values.”

Or consider the Slovak constitution, which opens with the words, “We the Slovak nation,” and lays claim to “the natural right of nations to self-determination.” Only then does it note the “members of national minorities and ethnic groups living on the territory of the Slovak Republic,” which are not part of the “We” exercising national self-determination.”

There are numerous additional examples of nation-states but of course BBC audiences do not hear presenters claim that the enshrinement of Japanese, Egyptian or French self-determination in those countries’ laws is “racist”.

Obviously then the BBC, Nicky Campbell and the Mentorn Media production team need to explain why they got this so wrong and to clarify their error to audiences.

Related Articles:

BBC News tries – and fails – to explain antisemitism and anti-Zionism

BBC’s Jeremy Bowen misrepresents a CST statement

Resources:

‘The Big Questions’ – Twitter account

‘The Big Questions’ – Facebook  

One to watch on BBC One

Via the BBC Media Centre we learn that a programme titled “Never Again: Fear And Faith In Paris” will be broadcast on BBC One on Tuesday, April 26th at 22:45. Matsa

“The end of April marks the Jewish Passover festival, when Jews remember the Israelites escaping slavery in ancient Egypt. This documentary will explore a much more recent phenomenon, the decision of 8,000 Jews to leave France in 2014, concerned about terror attacks and rising anti-Semitism in the country.

We will hear from the families most affected, and explore the reasons behind the rise in anti-Semitism. With insight from those who live in the notorious Paris suburbs, often accused of being a breeding ground for anti-Semitism, and from Lassana Bathily, a Muslim from the suburbs who saved Jewish lives during the kosher supermarket attack in 2015.

Many French Jews are coming to London, and one synagogue has been transformed recently by French arrivals, with their congregation in a few years becoming 90 percent French. Is the climate for Jews any better in Britain?”

One to watch out for on BBC One

The BBC’s Easter weekend schedule includes a programme titled “In The Footsteps Of Judas” which will be shown on BBC One at 09:00 local time on Friday, March 25th.In the footsteps of Judas

“To mark Good Friday this one-hour documentary sees one of Britain’s best-loved vicars, Kate Bottley, re-open the case against the Bible’s most notorious villain – Judas Iscariot.

Kate’s journey takes her from her parish in Nottingham to Jerusalem, where she pieces together the events leading up to the Crucifixion. Why did Judas betray his Master at his most desperate hour? And on a day when we remember that Jesus died for all our sins, is Judas excluded from that forgiveness?

A number of leading theological experts contribute to Kate’s investigation, as she visits the Upper Room of the Last Supper; Gethsemane – the scene of Judas’ treacherous kiss; and the Field of Blood, where, according to Christian tradition, Judas hanged himself.

Ultimately, Kate demonstrates why Judas matters and why he is central to our understanding of the Christian message today.”

Hopefully the programme will avoid politics – not least because, after her first ever visit to Jerusalem, Ms Bottley appears to have come away with some very clichéd and inaccurate impressions.

“But it [Jerusalem] was a place that also broke my heart – because here is a place that the three main religions share a site, Jews Christians and Muslims – one of the holiest places for those three religions and yet they literally and metaphorically miss each other in the street. You know we share a geography there we share a commonality there, even the same god some would argue, and yet Jerusalem is a place that is completely divided. And that’s really sad because if we can’t get it together there where can we get it together?” 

BBC continues to mainstream extremist group

h/t Sussex Friends of Israel

The January 31st edition of BBC One’s “moral, ethical and religious debate” programme ‘The Big Questions’ included a revival of the ‘Mossad stole my shoe’ story from last year.

The inventor of that story, Asghar Bukhari, has apparently since relocated to the UAE but the organization he previously headed – MPACUK – was represented on this BBC programme by a former assistant to the controversial ex-MP for Bradford East – who is apparently not averse to doing a bit of fund-raising for extremists in his spare time.

As readers can see in the clip from the full programme below, Raza Nadim obviously still buys into that story and unfortunately host Nicky Campbell only adds credence to the outlandish conspiracy theory.  

Of course what is really disturbing about this programme is that fact that even after the spotlight placed on MPACUK’s long-known racism and extremism by Bukhari’s ridiculous claim and despite the UK government’s recognition of conspiracy theories and antisemitism as precursors to extremism, the BBC still continues to provide a platform for an organization flagged up in the All Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Antisemitism a decade ago (from paragraph 140, page 29, here) and included on a list of proscribed organisations holding “racist or fascist views” by the National Union of Students.

Related Articles:

Muslim Public Affairs Committee UK spokesman: “Zionists are most vile animals to walk the earth”  (UK Media Watch)

BBC One comes up trumps with documentary on Ethiopian Jews

It is always a pleasure to be able to document some good BBC reporting on an Israel-related story – especially when the subject matter has been the topic of less than satisfactory journalism in the past.Saving the Forgotten Jews

On December 13th BBC One screened a documentary titled “Saving the Forgotten Jews“.

“In the 1980s and 1990s a Manchester textiles merchant, a Mossad spy and a seasoned diplomat saved the forgotten Ethiopian Jewish community in two unprecedented and record-breaking airlifts. Flying out of Sudan and war-torn Ethiopia, they went undercover and negotiated with dictators to save the forgotten Jews in peril.”

The Jewish News reports:

“Describing the rescue mission as “impressive and admirable”, producer Richard Pearson said he was intrigued by “how far people would go in rescuing others at a time when East Africa was not the top of people’s agendas.”

He added: “It’s a very poignant story given the severe refugee issues we are witnessing at the moment.””

The programme is available in the UK on iPlayer or here.

BBC Complaints conflates opinion with facts

As readers may recall, during an edition of BBC One’s ‘This Week’ broadcast on November 19th, studio guest George Galloway was given an unfettered platform for the promotion of inaccurate information concerning Israel.This Week Galloway on HP

“Along with his guests Michael Portillo and Labour’s Liz Kendall, Andrew Neil sat in total silence as veteran anti-Israel activist Galloway opportunistically promoted the blatant lie that Israel employs a ‘shoot to kill’ policy to BBC audiences.

In addition to Neil’s failure to comply with BBC editorial guidelines on accuracy – which state “We should normally acknowledge serious factual errors and correct them quickly, clearly and appropriately” – by correcting the materially misleading claim from Galloway immediately after it was made, the BBC has further promoted that uncorrected clip for view by audiences who did not see the programme’s original broadcast.”

The response received from the BBC Complaints department by a member of the public who submitted a complaint on that topic includes the following:

“We understand that you were angered by comments made by George Galloway regarding Israel having a ‘shoot to kill policy’ as you believe he should have been challenged on this statement.

Although we appreciate your feelings, the fact is that George Galloway is well known for his views on Israel and the Middle East and it would be reasonably be expected for him to make his strident views on the situation known to viewers, however, we do recognise that you feel Andrew should have interjected at that point regarding his remarks.

Having watched the discussion on your behalf, George Galloway was asked what he thought about Jeremy Corbyn’s response to the planned attacks on Syria. Mr Galloway made his views about the situation in a strident and articulate manner, clearly setting out his own views and opinions. We do not make editorial comment or judgement on the views expressed by contributors to our programmes, and our aim is simply to provide enough information for viewers to make up their own minds.

The show’s policy is to invite guests from all political persuasions to get a fully rounded view on the day’s issues, in this instance the vote on Syria.”

George Galloway is indeed “well known for his views on Israel and the Middle East” and that should have been all the more reason for the programme’s presenter to be alert to the probability of attempts by his interviewee to exploit the platform provided for the promotion of gratuitous, opportunistic and off-topic falsehoods.

Despite that, BBC Complaints now defends the presentation of inaccurate information to audiences by disingenuously claiming that a statement presented as though it were fact was actually an opinion – and hence BBC editorial guidelines on accuracy do not apply.

 

 

 

 

 

BBC One fails to correct George Galloway’s lie about Israeli policy

h/t LV

Among the promoted segments on the webpage of the BBC One programme ‘This Week’ one finds a clip from the November 19th edition featuring former MP George Galloway. 

This Week Galloway on HP

About six and a half minutes into that clip, host Andrew Neil asks Galloway for his reaction to the UK Labour party’s response to the recent terror attacks in Paris.

Galloway: “One has to say if anyone comes here with guns and bombs, our police will shoot them down and stop them. There’s no room for equivocation about that at all. Err…of course a shoot to kill policy in general…”

Neil: [interrupts] “That’s a different thing of course. That could give back thoughts of Northern Ireland.”

Galloway: “Indeed – Northern Ireland or what Israel does in the occupied territories and so on. Apart from being wrong, they don’t work. They make more terrorists.” [emphasis added]

Along with his guests Michael Portillo and Labour’s Liz Kendall, Andrew Neil sat in total silence as veteran anti-Israel activist Galloway opportunistically promoted the blatant lie that Israel employs a ‘shoot to kill’ policy to BBC audiences.

In addition to Neil’s failure to comply with BBC editorial guidelines on accuracy – which state “We should normally acknowledge serious factual errors and correct them quickly, clearly and appropriately” – by correcting the materially misleading claim from Galloway immediately after it was made, the BBC has further promoted that uncorrected clip for view by audiences who did not see the programme’s original broadcast.