BBC News and BBC Sport ignore Judo tournament anti-Israel bigotry

A major Judo tournament organised by the International Judo Federation is taking place in Abu Dhabi between October 26th and 28th.

However – and not for the first time – members of the Israeli team taking part in that tournament have been barred from displaying the Israeli flag.

“The blue-and-white delegation to the final Grand Slam competition of the year is set to include 12 athletes, but Israel Judo Association chairman Moshe Ponte was informed by the organizers that they won’t be able to have the Israel flag on their judo uniform, as they do in every other event across the world. Instead of having ISR (Israel) by their names on the scoreboard and on their backs, they will have to take part in the contest as representatives of the IJF (International Judo Federation). The national anthem will also not be played, should an Israeli win a gold medal.”

And on the competition’s first day that is exactly what happened.

“An Israeli judoka won a gold medal on Thursday at the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam judo tournament, but had to sing his own private “Hatikvah” because the organizers refused to play the Israeli national anthem.

He also had to celebrate his victory under the International Judo Federation’s flag, because the emirate banned the display of Israeli symbols.

Tournament organizers did not play Israel’s national anthem as Tal Flicker stood on the podium after receiving his medal in the men’s under-66 kilograms (145 pounds) category.

With the medal around his neck, Flicker sang his own “Hatikvah” while the International Judo Federation’s (IJF) anthem played in the background.”

The BBC Sport website (which usually displays an interest in reporting bigotry and discrimination in sport) has no coverage of that story either on its home page or on its Judo page. The BBC News website’s Middle East page similarly did not find this story of blatant discrimination in sport newsworthy.

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Reviewing the language used in BBC reports on the Munich Olympics Massacre

This week will mark the 45th anniversary of the Munich Olympics Massacre and the dedication of a new memorial in the city.

This week also marks 45 years of BBC News failure to describe the members of the PLO faction that perpetrated the attack as terrorists.

The BBC’s ‘On This Day’ archive includes an item dated September 6th 1972 and titled “Olympic hostages killed in gun battle“. In that report the BBC described the perpetrators as “guerrillas” (despite the fact that their victims were civilians), “militants”, “kidnappers” and “gunmen”- but not terrorists.

That editorial policy continued to dominate BBC News coverage of topics linked to the Munich Olympics attack throughout the years that followed, as seen in the examples below. [all emphasis added]

Athens 2004 remembers Munich 1972“, August 20th 2004:

“Thirty-two years ago, 11 Israeli athletes were killed at the Munich Olympics, after Palestinian militants stormed the Israeli team headquarters. […]

On 5 September, 1972, eight members of the Palestinian militant group Black September raided the Israeli team headquarters.[…]

Over the next 24 hours, the tense stand-off between gunmen and police was played out in front of television viewers worldwide.

Three helicopters provided by the German authorities took the Israelis and the gunmen to a military airfield outside Munich, supposedly to catch a flight out of Germany.”

Last Palestinian linked to 1972 Munich massacre dies“, August 18th 2010:

“Two Israelis were killed by the group at the athletes’ village, and nine more died in a botched rescue attempt by the German police. A German policeman and five Palestinian gunmen were also killed.”

Israeli widow of 1972 Munich Olympics massacre slams IOC“, August 7th 2012:

“Eleven athletes and officials, including Mrs Spitzer’s husband fencing coach Andre Spitzer, died during the attack at the Munich Olympics, after the Black September Palestinian militant group kidnapped Israeli team members. […]

Five Palestinian hostage takers were killed. Others were later killed by Israeli intelligence forces.”

The Munich massacre remembered“, September 5th 2012:

“The 1972 summer Olympics are mostly remembered for tragedy, rather than sporting achievements. It was there that 11 Israelis were killed after being taken hostage by members of a Palestinian militant group, Black September, on 5 September.

Two died in the athletes’ Olympic village in Munich. The others were killed during a gun battle with West German police at a nearby airfield – as the militants tried to take them out of the country.” 

Germany and Israel mark Munich massacre in ceremonies“, September 5th 2012:

“Wreaths were laid earlier inside the Olympic Village where Palestinian gunmen seized the athletes. […]

On 5 September 1972, eight gunmen burst into the Israeli athletes’ quarters, killing two immediately and taking nine athletes and coaches hostage. […]

During the fighting that followed, the gunmen killed their remaining nine hostages. Five of the gunmen were killed, as was one German policeman.”

Israeli Mossad spy Mike Harari dies, aged 87“, September 22nd 2014 (discussed here):

“Mike Harari, 87, orchestrated missions including the targeting of militants whom Israel held responsible for the massacre of its Olympics team in 1972. […]

The group had killed two Israeli athletes in the Olympic Village in Munich. Nine others whom they had also taken hostage were killed during a gun battle between the militants and West German police at a nearby airfield. The group was trying to take the hostages out of the country.”

This week in history: 31 Aug – 6 Sept“, August 28th 2015 (discussed here):

“The week that 11 Israeli athletes were killed by Palestinian extremists at the Munich Olympics…”

Widow welcomes Munich massacre memorial“, August 2nd 2016:

“The killing of 11 members of the Israeli team at the Munich Games of 1972 remains the darkest chapter in Olympic history.

They died after being taken hostage by Palestinian militants inside the Olympic village.”

Widow’s wish sees ceremony mark killings of Israeli athletes“, August 3rd 2016:

“In the early hours of 5 September, Palestinian militants from the Black September group clambered over security fences at the Olympic Village, made their way to the Israelis’ quarters and took a group of them hostage. […]

The militants, who murdered two of the Israeli athletes, demanded the release of more than 200 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.”

One exception to that editorial policy is found in an article on the BBC Sport website written by the veteran BBC sports reporter Barry Davies in 2012:

“At the Munich 1972 Olympics, Palestinian terrorists calling themselves Black September attacked members of the Israeli Olympic team in their quarters at Block G, 31 Connollystrasse, in the Olympic Village. […]

The terrorists had asked for the release of 234 people from jails in Israel, but Israel would not negotiate. Eventually, there was supposedly an agreement that the group would be flown out of the country and helicopters were brought in. In reality, the Germans’ plan was to ambush the kidnappers.

However, they made a big mistake. They thought there were only five terrorists – but there were eight.”

Another BBC sports journalist – Peter Scrivener – also used accurate language in a blog post written in 2008 which is still available on the BBC Sport website:

“The 1972 Games in Munich were into their second week when, in the early hours of 5 September, Palestinian terrorists gained access to the Olympic village and killed two members of the Israeli team. […]

Negotiations led to the terrorists taking the hostages, by helicopter, to a military airfield at Fürstenfeldbruck, where they believed they would be boarding a plane to Egypt.”

An additional exception to the rule appears in the synopsis to an edition of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Sporting Witness’ that was broadcast in April 2016.

“Shaul Ladany is a long-distance Israeli race-walker who set world records that stand to this day. But, even more remarkably, he survived a childhood in the Belsen concentration camp and then the terrorist attack on the Israeli team at the Munich Olympics in 1972.”

And when the BBC aired the film ‘One Day in September’ in the year 2000, an accompanying article on the BBC Sport website used appropriate language:

“The world looked on in horror 28 years ago as Israeli athletes were taken hostage by Palestinian terrorists in the Olympic Village. Eleven were murdered. […]

But the picture darkened on 5 September when a group of eight Palestinian terrorists raided the Israeli team headquarters. […]

Over the next 24 hours, the tense stand-off between terrorists and police was played out in front of TV viewers worldwide.”

Notwithstanding those exceptions (and the impression that BBC sports journalists make a better job of using accurate terminology than their counterparts in the news department), the dominant BBC editorial policy over the years has been to refrain from describing the 1972 attack on the Israeli Olympic team as terrorism and its perpetrators as terrorists.

However, in a Radio 4 programme broadcast earlier this year, BBC audiences were told that:

“Terrorism can mean different things to different people; it isn’t black and white. States allegedly resort to it too, as Israel did to avenge the 1972 Munich Olympic Games massacre. Eleven Israeli athletes died following an attack by Palestinians from a shadowy group known as Black September. In revenge, Israel’s intelligence agency, the Mossad, covertly assassinated those suspected of involvement in the attack.”

After forty-five years it is clearly high time for BBC News to ensure that reports relating to the 1972 Munich Olympics Massacre use accurate and consistent terminology which clarifies to audiences that the incident was an act of terror perpetrated by terrorists.  

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BBC Sport ‘overlooks’ BDS linked agitprop in Glasgow

Sky News’ reporter noticed them. So did journalists from the Guardian, the Telegraph, the Daily Mail, the Mirror and numerous other media organisations.  In fact, one might well have concluded that only BBC Sport failed to spot the Palestinian flags which were part of a pre-planned political provocation at the Champion’s League match between Celtic and Hapoel Be’er Sheva in Glasgow on August 17th.Celtic match

In its three separate reports on the match – here, here and here – BBC Sport apparently did not find the breach of UEFA rules by a group of Celtic fans and the potential punishment of the football club worthy of mention. The only coverage of incident came in the form of a cryptic mention on BBC Sport’s ‘Football gossip’ page on August 18th and in the BBC News website’s coverage of the Scottish papers:

“Meanwhile, the Daily Record says that Celtic face another UEFA “rap” after their fans flew Palestine flags during the Champions League clash with Israelis Hapoel Beer Sheva.”

A week before the match took place the Jerusalem Post reported that:

“Celtic fans are waiting to greet the Israeli team and its fans with Palestinian flags. A Facebook page set up in honor of the occasion has already attracted 837 “interested” Facebook users. The page, entitled “Fly the flag for Palestine, for Celtic, for Justice,” was set up by a group that goes by the name Celtic Fans for Palestine.

The group says an Israeli soccer team should not be allowed to participate in the soccer competition “due to the system of apartheid laws and practices including religious- and ethnic-based colonization, military occupation and segregation of what remains of Palestinian land and over 90 laws which discriminate against indigenous Palestinians who make up 20 percent of the population of current-day Israel.”

“When someone is representing Israeli state institutions it is sadly never merely a game; football, UEFA and Celtic FC are being used to whitewash Israel’s true nature and give this rogue state an air of normality and acceptance it should not and cannot enjoy until it’s impunity ends and it is answerable to international law and faces sanctions for the countless UN resolutions it had breached,” the Facebook page states. […]

The Celtic group affiliates itself with the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement, which it hails as “inspiring and unstoppable.”

The BBC’s funding public (and even some politicians) in Scotland might of course have an interest in being fully informed about the background to this and other fringe groups tarnishing their country’s reputation as a hospitable tourist destination year after year with agitprop based on falsehoods and propaganda. 

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BBC News website whitewashes attack on Israeli footballers

BBC Sport whitewashes Islamist bigotry with a euphemism

An article by BBC Sport titled “Rio Olympics 2016: Egyptian judoka Islam El Shehaby sent home for handshake snub” appeared on the BBC News website’s homepage and Middle East page on August 15thReaders of the report were told that:Egyptian judoka story

“The Egyptian had come under pressure from some conservative voices in his homeland to withdraw from the bout.”

The same euphemistic statement appeared three days earlier in BBC Sport’s previous article on the same topic (in which, at the time of writing, the Israeli judoka’s name has still not been corrected).

Other media outlets were less coy about informing their audiences of the ideologies behind the pressure on the Egyptian judoka to withdraw from the competition against an Israeli.

Times of Israel:

“The 32-year-old Egyptian, a world championship medalist in 2010, had faced pressure on social media and from hardline Islamist groups in his homeland to withdraw from the fight.”

Telegraph:

“The athlete, who is an ultraconservative Salafi, had come under pressure from hardline Islamists on social media and from television pundits not to participate in the match.

“You will shame Islam. If you lose, you will shame an entire nation and yourself,” one comment read.”

AP:

“Islam El Shehaby, an ultraconservative Salafi Muslim, had come under pressure before the games from Islamist-leaning and nationalist voices in Egypt to withdraw from the first-round heavyweight bout against Or Sasson. […]

On Thursday, Moutaz Matar, a TV host of the Islamist-leaning network Al-Sharq, had urged El Shehaby to withdraw.

“My son, watch out. Don’t be fooled, or fool yourself, thinking you will play with the Israeli athlete to defeat him and make Egypt happy,” he said. “Egypt will cry; Egypt will be sad and you will be seen as a traitor and a normalizer in the eyes of your people.””

The Oxford dictionary defines ‘conservative’ as:

“Averse to change or innovation and holding traditional values”.

Clearly the BBC’s portrayal of “conservative voices” is not conducive to full audience understanding of the story. It would of course be very surprising to see the BBC describe anyone urging an athlete not to compete against a gay or black opponent as “conservative” and such bigotry portrayed as a ‘traditional value’.

But – not for the first time – we see that the BBC is reluctant to explain discriminatory Islamist ideology to its audiences in clear and precise language.  

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BBC Sport reports snub to Israeli judoka – but gets his name wrong

On August 13th BBC Sport produced a report which was billed “Egyptian refuses to shake Israeli’s hand” on the BBC News website’s Middle East page.

However, those following the link to the article titled “Rio Olympics 2016: ‘Not what the Olympics are about’ – judo player refuses to shake hands” were inaccurately informed that the latest Israeli sportsperson to encounter racist snubs from fellow Olympians is called “Os Sasson”. The judoka’s first name is of course Or.

Or Sasson art Sport

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Tepid BBC report on Lebanese Olympic team’s bigoted agitprop

Tepid BBC report on Lebanese Olympic team’s bigoted agitprop

On the morning of August 7th an item billed “Lebanon and Israel teams in bus dispute” appeared on the BBC News website’s homepage and Middle East page.

Olympics bus story on HP

The link led to a short report by BBC Sport which is more accurately headlined “Rio 2016 Olympics: Lebanese athletes refuse to travel with Israel team“.

“Lebanese athletes refused to share a bus with the Israel team to get to Friday’s Rio Olympic Games opening ceremony, members of both teams said.

Lebanon and Israel are officially at war and have no diplomatic relations.

The incident happened as the Lebanon team sat on the bus waiting to head to the Maracana stadium, before demanding the Israeli athletes must not board.

Israel’s athletes insisted on doing so, but the two teams were eventually taken to the ceremony in different buses.”

Much of BBC Sport’s report appears to have been recycled from an article by AFP, including the spelling of the name of the head of the Lebanese delegation, named elsewhere as Salim al Haj Nakoula.

“Head of the Lebanese team Salim al-Haj Nicolas told AFP news agency he demanded that the door be closed on the Israeli team, but they “insisted on getting on”.”

BBC audiences were not informed that Nakoula’s actions were lauded in Lebanon.

“Lebanese Minister of Youth and Sport Abdel Motaleb Hannawi told a Lebanese news site that this was not the first time Israel has attempted to embarrass a Lebanese delegation in this kind of circumstance. He praised the delegation’s behavior, Nakoula’s specifically. “His stance was principled and patriotic,” he said.

Nakoula became the hero of the day in Lebanon after the incident was publicized. The Al Mayadeen and Al-Manar news networks, both associated with Hezbollah, gave Nakoula praise, with the latter also interviewing him. Hezbollah supporters and officials praised him on social media, with one Al-Manar broadcaster tweeting, “The Israelis were sent away from the bus because normalization (with Israel) is not to be had in any form, and because the Lebanese identity (is that of) resistance. Be proud to be Lebanese.””

Neither were they informed that a similar incident occurred at the previous Olympic Games.

“The Lebanese judo team at the 2012 London Olympics refused to practice next to the Israeli one on Friday afternoon, and a makeshift barrier was erected to split their gym into two halves.”

The report also fails to note that no statement regarding the Lebanese team’s bigoted behaviour has been issued by the Olympic organising committee.

BBC responds on use of inappropriate flag picture – and posts another

h/t S

Readers no doubt recall that the BBC’s coverage of the football match between Israel and Wales last weekend included the gratuitous use of an image showing a flag belonging to neither of the countries participating in the game.BBC Wales vs Israel flag

A member of the public who complained about the use of that photograph received a response from BBC Complaints which includes the following:

“During our coverage of the Wales v Israel match on the sport website on Sunday, a picture of a man holding a Palestinian flag was used by mistake. The image appeared for a very short period of time before we removed it.” [emphasis added]

So is the BBC telling us that its staff managed to confuse a red, green, black and white flag with a blue and white one or was it that they did not notice that the flag pictured was missing a rather large mythical creature in the middle?

Luckily, the BBC managed to avoid repetition of that “mistake” when, just days later, it devoted a filmed report, a written report and a report in Arabic to the topic of the UNGA vote to allow the flags of holders of non-member observer status to be flown alongside those of its member states at its headquarters. In that case the BBC managed to illustrate the written article appearing on its website’s Middle East page with the correct flag. 

UN flags written

Over at the BBC Arabic website, however, their version of the story was illustrated as follows: 

UN flags Arabic report

Yes – apparently the only image of a Palestinian flag which BBC Arabic staff could find was a Reuters picture depicting armed Israeli soldiers. Perhaps that is a “mistake” too. 

 

A sports story which did not interest the BBC

Whilst the BBC News website’s Sport section (along with BBC television news and BBC World Service radio) has recently invested energies in the context-free promotion of Jibril Rajoub’s latest exploitation of sport for the political delegitimisation of Israel, no coverage of another recent Israel-related sports story has been seen on its pages.No news

The Israeli delegation to the World Masters Judo competition held in Rabat on May 23rd and 24th was unnecessarily detained upon arrival in Morocco.

“The members of the Israeli delegation were held up at the airport for more than eight hours, in a large room with no chairs, food or water. […]

Only after the International Judo Federation chairman threatened to call off the entire competition, the Israeli delegation members were allowed into the country, and were escorted to their hotel by the king’s security unit.

 On the first day of the competition, the Israeli judokas experienced hostility again, and the Israeli flag was nowhere to be seen. In response, a representative of the International Judo Federation demanded that all the flags of the participating countries be removed.”

In addition:

“The Israeli team was also not mentioned on the tournament’s website. The spectators waved Palestinian flags, shouted “We’re going to kill you,” and booed each time a member of the Israeli team appeared.”

No report on those events appears on the BBC’s dedicated Judo page or elsewhere in the sports section of the BBC News website and neither was it covered on the website’s Africa or Middle East pages. 

 

BBC frames anti-Israel delegitimisation campaign as a sports story

An article about the FIFA presidential election which appeared in the Sport section of the BBC News website on May 4th ended with the following paragraphs:

“The Palestinian Football Association is seeking the suspension of Israel from world football.

A proposal to that effect has been included on the agenda for Fifa’s annual congress in Zurich and would need a 75% majority to succeed.

Palestine has complained that Israel has continued to hamper its football activities through restrictions on the movement of their athletes between the Gaza Strip and the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

Israel cites security concerns for restrictions it imposes but says it has eased travel for Palestinian athletes between the territories.”

On May 20th another report on that topic appeared in the website’s Sport section under the title “Fifa: Israel football faces possible suspension vote” and in addition that article was also promoted on the BBC News website’s Middle East page on May 20th and 21st.FIFA art

Neither of the reports provides BBC audiences with the all-important context of past and present cases of Palestinian football players with connections to terrorist organisations.

“There are numerous examples of Palestinian soccer players who have been publicly acknowledged by terrorist groups to have been members of their organizations. Jabalia Youth Sports Club player Ayman Ahmad al-Kurd was a member of the Qassam Brigades (which acknowledged his martyrdom on their website) and was wearing combat gear when he died during Operation Cast Lead. PIJ admitted—to Reuters, no less—that Wajih Mushtahi, a member of the Palestinian Olympic team who also died in Cast Lead, was a fighter in their organization. Shadi Sbakhi, who played for al-Nuseirat and once earned a spot on the national team, was not just an operative in the Qassam Brigades, but a commander.

The most egregious case, though, was that of 23-year-old Omar Abu Rwayyis (also spelled Rois or Ruis), a native of the Amari refugee camp near Ramallah, who in addition to being the goalkeeper of the Palestinian Olympic team was also an employee of the Red Crescent, the local version of the Red Cross. Abu Rwayyis was arrested in April 2012, along with 12 other Amari residents, for participating in a Hamas plot to attack IDF soldiers. Abu Rwayyis, along with other Red Crescent employees, helped transport Kalashnikovs that were used to fire on IDF vehicles.”

Likewise, at no point are readers of these two articles informed of the fact that this latest politically motivated assault on Israel’s legitimacy is led by the same man who in recent years has also tried to get Israel expelled from the International Olympic community, threatened legal action against sponsors of the Jerusalem Marathon and pressured UEFA to disallow Israel’s hosting of a tournament. Moreover, the second article amplifies the following disingenuous statement from Jibril Rajoub:

“This is nothing to do with politics, this is a sport issue.”

Readers are not told of Jibril Rajoub’s own terrorist past or of the numerous on record statements clarifying his use of sport for political ends.

“He also voiced strong opposition to any form of normalization with Israel, particularly in the field of sports.
The term “normalization” does not exist in the Palestinian sports dictionary, Rajoub stressed during a seminar in Ramallah.
He added that sports in the Palestinian territories was “one of the methods of resistance” against Israel. […]
“The youth sector in Palestine is the basic fuel for the liberation project,” Rajoub said. He also emphasized the youth’s role in maintaining a “permanent state of confrontation” with Israel.”

And:

“The year 2014 is the year of decision; we either go to a state or to a confrontation,” Rajoub said. “The confrontation would be on three fronts: launching and escalating resistance; boycotting and isolating Israel; and halting all forms of normalization [with Israel] on the political, academic, trade and economic levels.” […]

 “The option of armed resistance is also on the table,” he added. […]

“We are entitled to knock on all doors and seek all channels to recruit regional action in favor of our cause,” he said. “Our goal is to create elements of pressure on the international community.”

In addition to framing this story as sports related rather than the political issue it in fact is, the BBC fails to provide its audiences with the full range of information necessary for them to understand this transparent attempt to cynically exploit an organization supposedly committed to eliminating racism and discrimination from football for the purpose of delegitimisation.

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BBC Sport promotes context-free political statements

Visitors to the BBC News website’s Middle East page on January 12th found an article by BBC Sport.

football story on HP

The article (“Palestine lose 4-0 to Japan in first Asian Cup match“) did not however confine itself to the topic of football.

“Defender Tamer Salah said that their participation is as much about politics as it is about sport.

“Our people they just want to send a message for all over the world; we are human beings. It is our right to play football and we are not terrorists,” he told the BBC.”

The writer of this report however refrained from providing BBC audiences with the context that his decision to highlight that political statement (obviously irrelevant to the topic of the story itself) makes necessary. In fact, several former players for the Palestinian national squad have in the not too distant past been shown to have links to some of the numerous Palestinian organisations classified as terrorist groups – see here, here and here.

Linking to the BBC’s Palestinian territories profile, the original version of the report went on to tell readers:

“Efforts to create a Palestinian state on the West Bank of the River Jordan and Gaza on the Mediterranean coast have been frustrated by the continuing conflict with Israel.

The context of terrorism – including of course that of the second intifada – as a factor which has played a major part in ‘frustrating’ the establishment of a Palestinian state and has perpetuated the conflict was missing from that statement, perhaps explaining its later disappearance and replacement with the one below, which includes a dead link.

“More than 20 years of on-and-off peace talks with Israel have failed to secure an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.”

If only BBC Sports writers would stick to sport.

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