BBC coverage of Sarona Market terror attack – part two

As was noted in part one of this post, while news of the terror attack at the Sarona Market in Tel Aviv on June 8th was emerging, the head of the BBC’s Jerusalem bureau took to Twitter to inform his followers that such attacks are “rare”.

Sarona complex, Tel Aviv

Sarona complex, Tel Aviv

Despite the fact that this was the sixth terror attack in the Tel Aviv district in less than nine months and that its four victims bring the number of civilians murdered in the city in that time to ten, that theme was also in evidence in the report produced by the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newshour’ on the evening of June 8th.

Presenter Tim Franks described the terrorists (from 14:11 here) as follows:

“…we’re able to bring you up to date on that story that broke just before we came on air and that’s news of a shooting attack in the Israeli city of Tel Aviv. The police say that…eh…three people have died, that two assailants were involved in the attack….” [emphasis added]

During the conversation with his interviewee – Ben Hartman of the Jerusalem Post – Franks promoted the notion that terrorism in Tel Aviv is “rare”.

“I guess…ah….some of the striking things about this attack, Ben, are the…as you mentioned…I mean Tel Aviv has been relatively free of…of violence…ah…in recent months.”

He later introduced further misleading and inaccurate claims into the conversation.

“And I suppose also, Ben, ahm…the attacks that we’ve got used to reporting – at least… ahm… within Israel, within Jerusalem – have been…tended to be…those people…ahm… going after – Palestinians going after – maybe members of the security forces with things like screwdrivers or in cars; that sort of thing and not this rather sort of…ahm…bigger attack using weapons. Err…err…guns, rather.”

As readers can see for themselves in the monthly reports produced by the Israeli Security Agency, the number of civilians killed and wounded in terror attacks since October 2015 is considerably higher than the number of members of the security forces, meaning that Franks’ implication that the terrorists primarily target soldiers and policemen is false and materially misleading to audiences. The same reports show that his attempt to suggest to audiences that the weapons of choice have been confined to “screwdrivers” or “cars” is no less misleading: while the agency recorded 96 stabbing attacks (mostly with knives rather than screwdrivers) and 20 vehicular attacks between October 2015 and May 2016, it also recorded 77 attacks using firearms and 132 attacks using IEDs.

Franks also made an unexplained reference to a building in the proximity of the Sarona Market.

Sarona complex, Tel Aviv

Sarona complex, Tel Aviv

“Ahm…this was an open-air mall as well. I mean one normally associates these malls, these shopping areas, as having fairly heavy security and it’s pretty close to the main defence HQ, isn’t it?”

The mention of the proximity of the site of the attack to the offices of the Ministry of Defence was also a feature of additional BBC reporting, including the BBC News website’s written report on the attack.

“The attacks took place in two locations in Sarona Market, close to Israel’s defence ministry and main army HQ.”

There too, the BBC refrained from informing audiences why it apparently perceives that information to be relevant. 

Listeners to the 10:30 p.m. news bulletin on BBC Radio 5 live (from 01:58 here) heard that same theme promoted:

“Police in the Israeli city of Tel Aviv say they’ve made two arrests after a shooting at a popular shopping and restaurant area that’s left four people dead. The attack happened near the country’s defence ministry.”

Later bulletins on that same station at midnight (from 01:30:00 here) and at 01:00 (from 00:47 here) similarly failed to clarify to listeners that the “shooting” was a terror attack.

Listeners to the BBC’s most popular radio station – Radio 2 – on the evening of June 8th may have noticed an interesting editorial decision in news reports on the attack.

The third item in the station’s 9 p.m. news bulletin (from 01:00:59 here) informed listeners that:

“Three people have been killed and five wounded in a shooting in Tel Aviv. The attack happened in an area of bars and restaurants. Two suspects are in custody. Police are still looking for a possible third gunman.”

However, an hour later in the 10 p.m. news bulletin (from 00:06 here), the report was changed.

“Three people have been killed and five seriously wounded in a shooting attack in the Israeli city of Tel Aviv. The attack happened near the country’s defence ministry. Police say two suspects are in custody, one of whom is undergoing surgery.”

At 11 p.m. listeners to the news (from 00:08 here) were told that:

“Israeli police say two Palestinian gunmen have opened fire in Tel Aviv, killing at least four people. Thirteen others were wounded in the incident near the Israeli defence ministry. Both suspected attackers were arrested; one was injured by gunfire.”

In other words, not only were Radio 2 listeners not informed that this was a terror attack but the BBC decided to erase the information which previously enabled them to understand that the victims were customers frequenting cafés and restaurants and instead shifted the focus over to a location unrelated to the story.

Related Articles:

Radio 4 gives insight into BBC avoidance of the use of the term ‘terror’ in Israel

BBC claims attacks on Israelis in Judea & Samaria are “rare”

BBC Complaints: terror attacks in Jerusalem and Tunisia are “very different”

Telegraph thinks it’s important that attack on Israelis occurred “near the defense ministry”  (UK Media Watch)

BBC Radio 2’s Jeremy Vine fails to challenge another Galloway lie about Israel

h/t JS

The December 14th edition of BBC Radio 2’s Jeremy Vine show included an item (from 01:38:30 here) about British resident and former Guantanamo detainee Shaker Aamer who had previously appeared on a BBC Two television programme.Jeremy Vine

The item included discussion with George Galloway and a former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, Col. Richard Kemp, who happened to be speaking from Jerusalem.

On two occasions during the conversation Galloway made gratuitous references to Kemp’s location:

01:44:37 – “That is a libel. It’s defamatory. It’s a deliberate smear and lie and no wonder it’s coming from Jerusalem.”

01:48:13 – “Well I really don’t think we should be putting Shaker Aamer on trial here on the radio; least of all with the prosecutor being in Jerusalem – that well-known torture centre.” [emphasis added]

Presenter Jeremy Vine made no effort to challenge that inaccurate, off-topic and deliberately defamatory statement from a man infamous for his anti-Israel agenda.

Seeing as only recently the BBC Complaints department went out of its way to defend another inaccurate claim from the same interviewee, it may be unrealistic to expect a satisfactory outcome to any complaints made about this programme.

Unfortunately for the BBC’s reputation as a serious, accurate and impartial broadcaster, the precedent set by that obfuscation of its editorial guidelines on accuracy means that it has relegated itself to being the street-corner sandwich-board for the Israel-obsessed Galloway’s opportunistic lies – even when completely different topics are under discussion.

Related Articles:

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

BBC Complaints conflates opinion with facts


Jeremy Vine show contact details

Jeremy Vine on Twitter

BBC Radio 2’s Jeremy Vine equates Israeli defence with Paris terrorism

h/t tb

One of the items appearing in the January 19th edition of the BBC Radio 2 Jeremy Vine show (available for a limited period of time from 36:57 here) was built around discussion of the following irrelevant – and frankly crass – question put by the host in his introduction.Jeremy Vine

“Now, is it more difficult being a Jew or a Muslim in the UK?”

After having presented the reactions of some British politicians to issues arising from the recent terror attacks in Paris, Jeremy Vine goes on to yet again advance the ridiculous notion that British Jews and British Muslims are engaged in some sort of competition for the title of ‘most suffering’.

Vine [38:43]: “So is it more difficult being a Jew or a Muslim in the UK right now? Let’s speak to Angela Epstein – Jewish writer, speaks to us from Salford – and David Cesarani is with me; the professor of history at Royal Holloway University of London; a particular expert on Jewish history as well. Angela, do you feel under pressure as a British Jew?”

Angela Epstein’s answer to that question includes the following statement:

“We are targets of Muslim terror because we are Jews and the same does not happen the other way round even in the face of heinous provocation…”

Vine quickly jumps in:

“You say it doesn’t happen the other way round – there will be people who say wait; when you look at the State of Israel and what it does in the occupied territories, that’s the…that’s the other side of the argument.”

In other words, Jeremy Vine apparently believes it justifiable to promote equation of actions taken by Israel to defend its civilians with those of terrorist organisations and at the same time implies that the motivation for any Israeli actions in “the occupied territories” is the religion of the people living there. He also apparently believes that it is legitimate to amplify the antisemitic canard that British Jews bear responsibility for the actions of the Israeli government. Although Angela Epstein protests Vine’s redundant analogy, he persists, asking David Cesarani:

“…does this stem from Israel’s actions and the way they’re perceived or is there something deeper afoot or is it actually not a problem, David?”

Cesarani does not provide a coherent response to that question.

 At 42:09 Vine downplays the nature of the terror attack on the Hyper Cacher supermarket in Paris.

“And Angela, even if you look at the Paris attacks, what they went for first were the cartoonists. They were not going for French Jews. The kosher supermarket was secondary.”

Angela Epstein tries to correct Vine on that topic too, citing the murder of Ilan Halimi and the attack on the Jewish school in Toulouse in 2012. From 46:05 listeners hear David Cesarani making the dubious suggestion that British Jews who emigrate to Israel might be seen as ‘running away’ and ‘disloyal’.

“This is not the time to suggest the Jews are going to run away. The Jews are afraid, the Jews need special protection. We’re citizens of this country. It is our country and I’m going to stand shoulder to shoulder with people to defend that. And I’m not going to give the impression to anyone that Jews are not loyal to this country; that they really have their loyalty in Israel and at the least sign of trouble they’re all going to rush off to Netanya or Tel Aviv.”

One has to wonder whether Cesarani would suggest that Britons – Jewish or otherwise – emigrating to any other countries in the world might be perceived in a similar light.

After a break, Jeremy Vine purports to discuss the other side of his chosen subject matter (from 51:00) with two Muslim interviewees.

“So we were discussing whether British Jews are under threat; now we’re talking about British Muslims and whether things are better or worse for Muslims and Jews in this country in the wake of what’s happened in the last few weeks.”

If one wished to inform listeners on topics relating to terrorism and antisemitism, it would of course be beneficial to bring into the conversation an interviewee who has not shown public support for Islamist terrorism and for a notorious Holocaust denier and who represents a lobbying organisation previously banned from university campuses by the NUS because of antisemitism. Nevertheless, Radio 2 selected Asghar Bukhari from MPAC UK as one of its contributors to this discussion. Here is what the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Antisemitism had to say about MPAC UK in 2006:

“The activities of the Muslim Public Affairs Committee, MPACUK, have given cause for concern. Although its rhetoric is often extremist, MPACUK identifies itself as part of the mainstream British Muslim community, describing itself as “the UK’s leading Muslim civil liberties group, empowering Muslims to focus on non-violent Jihad and political activism”. Originally set up as a web-based media monitoring group, MPACUK’s declared first mission was to fight the perceived anti-Muslim bias in the media and to redress the balance. However, MPACUK has been criticised for publishing material on its website promoting the idea of a worldwide Zionist conspiracy, including the reproduction of articles originally published on neo-Nazi and Holocaust Denial websites, and is currently banned from university campuses under the NUS’s ‘No Platform’ policy. MPACUK are known to have removed an offensive posting from their website on one occasion, after complaints were made, but thereafter continued to publish similar material.”

Listeners already aware of the background to Bukhari and his organization would not have been surprised to hear him talking about Jihadist terrorism in the following terms:

“And I take exception….that this extremism is due to some sort of antisemitism – it’s not. Terrorism – every single act of terrorism against Western targets – has been due to the foreign policy of our government according to research and according to most of the experts out there. And the government is trying to blame the Muslim community and say oh it’s your problem. No: it’s your problem – the government has caused this problem. We cannot solve it unless you change your foreign policy.”

The trouble is, of course, that most listeners will not know who Bukhari and MPAC UK are or what sort of ideologies they stand for and Jeremy Vine made no attempt whatsoever to inform them on that issue when introducing him despite the existence of relevant BBC editorial guidelines. Notably too, the entire item avoids any real attempt to discuss the topic of Jihadist terrorism and its underlying ideologies.

At the end of the segment, Vine reads out a couple of e-mails from listeners and one of those picked out for promotion to listeners includes the ‘Jewish lobby’ trope.

“Aziz Najmuddin [phonetic] is in Southampton. He’s listening; he says I’m a Muslim man. I don’t feel threatened at all. British society is a fair society. But what I find disgraceful is that there’s no perceived threat to the Jews but there’s been so much police allocation to it. It is David Cameron playing up to the Jewish lobby in America.”

If the BBC aspires to provide its audiences with factual information and meaningful discussion on the topic of Jihadist terrorism of the type seen recently in Paris and the concerns of European Jews relating to that issue and rising antisemitism in general, one obviously basic requirement is to avoid contributors with a record of antisemitism.

No less crucial is that the corporation’s own presenters should understand the significance – and illegitimacy – of amplification (even with the ‘some might say’ caveat) of the antisemitic premise that terror attacks against Jews in Europe can be ‘explained’  by their being collectively responsible for the actions – real or imagined – of Israel. Obviously too, BBC content should be free from the promotion other antisemitic tropes such as the ‘Jewish lobby’ and ‘dual loyalties’. Unfortunately, what should go without saying is clearly not sufficiently understood by some BBC employees.

Related Articles:

BBC’s Tim Willcox in Paris: a new low

BBC response to Willcox complaints: he sent a Tweet

BBC R2 promotes and mainstreams anti-Israel Greenbelt Festival

The Sunday August 25th edition of the BBC Radio 2 programme ‘Good Morning Sunday’ hosted by Clare Balding featured a two-hour live broadcast from Cheltenham Racecourse where the Greenbelt Festival was being held over the bank holiday weekend. The programme can be heard here for a limited period of time.

Good Morning Sunday Greenbelt

In the above synopsis the event is described as “an arts, faith and justice festival” – with that portrayal having come straight from the festival’s own tin – but as many readers probably know, there is a lot more to the Greenbelt Festival than just happy clappy music gigs and some of the event’s other strata raise the very serious question of why the BBC spent two hours putting lipstick on this event.

Near the beginning of the programme Clare Balding remarks on the “lovely feel” to the festival and her interviewee, the festival’s creative director Paul Northup, describes the event as “inclusive” and engaging”. However, any stray Israelis who happened to stumble upon it would probably find the event decidedly less than inclusive.

Balding makes no mention of the fact that one of the festival’s ‘attractions’ was a “giant interactive floor game for all ages” titled “Occupation”.

“Our installation in the Centaur foyer aims to give a glimpse of the challenges faced by ordinary Palestinians living under Israeli occupation. There’ll be a giant, interactive floor game – Occupation! – for all ages. Roll the dice and make your way through checkpoints and challenges, permit denials and poverty. On your journey, you’ll learn about the issues affecting the West Bank and Gaza and find out how you can help Embrace the Middle East to make a positive difference to the lives of marginalised people.

Occupation! is just a game, and you can walk freely away whenever you want, but the message behind it is a serious one. In the West Bank and Gaza, injustice continues to weave through the fabric of Palestinian life. Join us as we embrace the work of our Palestinian Christian brothers and sisters in their determination to be agents of change.”

The organizer of that exercise in the indoctrination of the hundreds of children who attended the festival is ‘Embrace the Middle East – a Greenbelt associate partner – which might be better known to some readers under its former name of ‘Bible Lands’ and which continues to be headed by anti-Israel campaigner Jeremy Moodey

An additional Greenbelt event organized by ‘Embrace the Middle East’ was the official launch of a document titled ‘Kairos Britain: A Time for Action’, which purports to be a ‘response’ to the 2009 ‘Kairos Palestine’ document.

The ‘Kairos Britain’ document is replete with far too many distortions and downright lies to mention in this brief article, as readers can see for themselves here. Those familiar with the Christian anti-Israel scene in the UK will recognize many of the names endorsing it (see the ‘related articles’ section below) and this screenshot of the document’s first page – illustrated with the infamous ‘maps’ which would be avoided like the plague by anyone with an honest agenda – gives some idea of how this document makes a mockery of the commandment “thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour” to which its authors presumably supposedly adhere. 

Kairos Britain

Clare Balding refrains from asking Paul Northup about his signature’s appearance on that decidedly non-inclusive ‘Boycott Divestment and Sanctions’ promoting document. She also ‘forgets’ to tell audiences that her musical guest Garth Hewitt is another signatory or that he is a patron of the Hamas-supporting Palestine Solidarity Campaign and heads the anti-Israel campaigning ‘charity’ ‘Amos Trust’ which even exploits Christmas to spread anti-Israel propaganda. 

Amos Trust 1

Amos Trust 2

Balding’s main guest is Jim Wallis, but again she neglects to mention his anti-Israel agenda and his organisation’s magazine’s repeatedly problematic portrayal of Christianity in the Middle East. 

Of course the vast majority of Christians in the UK have no time for the type of anti-Israel agenda promoted by the organisers of the Greenbelt Festival, but nevertheless BBC Radio 2 not only saw fit to devote an entire programme to this fringe event, but also completely whitewashed its anti-Israel campaigning with astounding efficiency, with the result that listeners would get the impression that this is no more than a cuddly extended church coffee morning with live music.

Beyond the obvious issues of accuracy and impartiality, it will clearly be of concern to many a licence fee payer to discover that the BBC is complicit in promoting and sanitising an event which stigmatises an entire nation, hence mainstreaming that delegitimisation.

Related articles:

Beyond Belief: Political Propaganda in the Anglican Church

‘Friends of Sabeel UK’ : promoting BDS and harming interfaith relations

The Great Methodist BDS Hijack

Lessons from the York Pogrom of 1190

Pacifist Aggressive: the Quaker echo chamber which empowers terrorism

The ‘flytilla’ – a cameo appearance by bigots and extremists within the anti-Israel campaign in the UK


Upcoming BBC programmes

Readers may like to have prior notice of a couple of Middle East-related BBC programmes scheduled for Sunday, December 23rd 2012. 

At 09:00 GMT on BBC 1 (and again on BBC HD on Sunday, December 30th at 18:00 GMT), the first of a two-part documentary entitled “In the Footsteps of St Paul” with actor David Suchet will be shown. 

“In this first episode, David visits Jerusalem to discover Paul’s early life as a devout Jew and his subsequent, life-changing, conversion to the new Jesus Movement.”

Suchet prog

Also on Sunday, December 23rd 2012, at 19:00 GMT on BBC Radio 2, Hardeep Singh Koli will be presenting a programme entitled “Follow the Star” . 

Hardeep Singh Kohi prog