BBC Teach to edit inaccurate educational video

Readers may recall that last month we noted some inaccuracies in BBC produced educational videos. Using BBC Watch’s post, Mr Dennis Levene contacted BBC Teach to raise the problematic points.

In the response received, BBC Teach’s producer denied that in the video titled “J is for Jesus“ viewers are told that the Jews “…turned against him [Jesus] and had him executed by the Romans; nailed to a cross.”

BBC Teach stated:

“We don’t […] say that ‘The Jews’ turned against Jesus and had him executed.  The script says: “Eventually, many of the religious teachers and the people… turned against [Jesus] and had him executed by the Romans’.  This is fair reflection of widely-accepted events.”  [emphasis added]

Apparently it is not sufficiently clear to BBC Teach that – like Jesus himself – those “religious teachers and the people” were Jews or that the ‘Jews killed Jesus’ calumny has been at the root of Christian antisemitism for centuries.

The video titled “T is for Temples” tells viewers that:

“Centuries later the Jewish people were able to rebuild, only to have the Second Temple destroyed by the Roman as punishment for a rebellion. But a small part – the Western Wall – still stands and it is the most sacred place for Jewish people.”

And:

“It’s [Jerusalem] also where the prophet Mohammed ascended to heaven. The rock he ascended from was incorporated into the Islamic shrine the Dome of the Rock. It’s built where the Jewish Temple used to stand and is sacred to both Jewish people and Muslims.”

BBC Teach’s response to Mr Levene’s email states:

“The Western Wall formed part of the second temple complex.  It was a section of the retaining wall of the temple plaza.  Because the terms ‘temple complex’ and ‘temple’ can be, and are, used interchangeably, the Western Wall could reasonably be described as part of the temple.” [emphasis added]

However, BBC Teach did concede two other points.

“The Rock is sacred to the Jewish and Muslim faiths.  But, as ‘BBC Watch’ points out, the Dome of the Rock isn’t sacred to Jewish people.  I don’t believe the script writers intended to say it was, but I can see how the phrasing of the sentence could give that impression.”

And:

 “‘BBC Watch’ is right to say that Temple Mount is the most sacred place for Jewish people, not the Western Wall. The Western Wall should have been described as the most sacred place where Jewish people can pray.”  

BBC Teach producer Sam Datta-Paulin added:

“The producers of this content consulted with specialist educational consultants throughout the film-making process.  The mistake about the most scared [sic] place was made in good faith and we apologise.

We are having the film edited to correct errors and confusion, and ensure it is correct in future.”

At the time of writing the film remains available in its original form and has not yet been edited.

 

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Cherry picking terror and ‘explaining’ radicalisation at the BBC

h/t RS

On August 30th the BBC News website published an updated version of a commissioned backgrounder which first appeared in June of this year. Titled “Who was behind the jihadist attacks on Europe and North America?“, the backgrounder is based on a study analysing 63 terror attacks in the 28 EU countries, Norway, Switzerland and North America over the past three years.

“A series of attacks in Europe over the summer months has raised the number of people killed in the West by jihadists during the past three years to more than 420, writes Dr Lorenzo Vidino.

The deaths of 16 people in Barcelona and Cambrils earlier this month highlighted the continued threat posed by Islamist militants.”

Along with many other countries, Israel does not fall into the geographic area covered by the study concerned and readers are told that:

“Although the vast majority of Islamist attacks are elsewhere in the world, an unprecedented number have taken place in Europe and North America since the declaration of a “caliphate” by the so-called Islamic State, in June 2014.”

The first link in that paragraph leads to a feature published on the BBC News website in December 2014 under the title “Jihadism: Tracking a month of deadly attacks”. Israel was not included in that study either for reasons discussed here at the time.

The BBC’s narrow focus on what it terms ‘jihadist attacks’, together with its long-standing refusal to classify attacks against Israelis as terrorism, means that while audiences are provided with a backgrounder concerning 63 terror attacks that resulted in 424 deaths in geographical areas with a combined population of some 883 million, a country with less than 1% of that population that saw over 70 people killed in acts of terror during the same time period (September 2014 to August 2017) remains off the radar.

At the foot of this backgrounder readers are provided with a link to the study upon which it is based. That paper includes analysis (from page 78) that does not appear in the backgrounder but is relevant in light of the BBC’s standard portrayal of the topic of radicalisation.

“…it is not uncommon for many voices within the media, the policymaking community and the general public to make sweeping statements about what causes radicalization, often attributing the phenomenon to one causal factor. Arguably the most common factors utilized in these mono-causal approaches is integration – or, more specifically, the lack thereof – and socio-economic deprivation. While variations of this argument abound, at its core the theory argues that radicalization is simply the byproduct of the marginalization that plagues large cross-sections of Muslim communities, particularly in Europe. The theory argues that a lack of access to opportunities education, and jobs, alongside a general level of disenfranchisement, that drive young Muslims to lash out at the societies in which they were born and embrace an ideology that enables them to avenge their frustrations and offers new meaning to their lives.

This theory applies the broader axiom that extremism and terrorism are byproducts of poverty and exclusion to the specific case of Western Muslims. The issue has been debated for decades and has polarized both the academic and policymaking communities. While it is not this report’s aim to enter this debate, it can be safely said that a large body of evidence has refuted the existence of a clear and linear link between poverty and terrorism. Rather, many studies analyzing radicalization dynamics throughout the world have shown that contrary to commonly made assumptions, higher degrees of sympathy for extremist ideas and involvement in terrorist groups are found in individuals with higher degrees of education or economic success.” [emphasis added]

Following last month’s attacks in Spain, the half-hourly news bulletin ‘BBC Minute’ told audiences around the world that:

“The factors pushing people towards groups advocating violence are familiar. Unemployment, a feeling of exclusion from Spanish society, a certain degree of racial prejudice. There is a class that feels it’s excluded from normal society.”

Similar messaging was seen at the time of the 2015 attacks in Paris when the BBC heavily promoted the message that the terror attacks were attributable to radicalisation prompted by socio-economic factors and alienation.

On the BBC Teach website, a video titled “E is for Extremism” (intended for pupils aged 11 to 14) answers the question “what causes extremism?” as follows:

“…when someone becomes an extremist later in life, it’s called radicalisation. Why does this happen? Well, life can be hard. Complicated problems to do with politics, economics, culture, jobs, environment, jobs, government, can overwhelm us. When life feels unfair extremists attract other angry people by giving them someone to blame.”

Obviously the BBC’s presentation of the issue of radicalisation is rooted in a chosen political narrative rather than being based on the evidence found in studies such as those cited in Dr Vidino’s report and elsewhere. 

 

BBC resource for teachers spreads inaccuracies about Judaism

Last year the BBC launched a project called ‘BBC Teach’ which it describes as follows:

“With the increased use of the internet in classrooms, teachers now have unprecedented access to a whole range of resources to help with delivering the curriculum. While there is plenty of content available to access, teachers come to the BBC because we are a trusted brand and recognised provider of quality teaching resources. We wish to build on our reputation with BBC Teach, a new and exciting platform for schools and teachers.  

BBC Teach aims to support teachers by curating the best of BBC videos, clips and other curriculum-related resources for use in the classroom. The BBC Teach brand is a dedicated teaching resource site hosted on YouTube.”

Along with lots of other material, the BBC Teach website currently offers a new series titled “A to Z of Religions and Beliefs” that is described as “an animated A to Z guide exploring and introducing a variety of religious topics for students aged 11 – 14”.

One would of course expect material touted as “quality teaching resources” produced by a self-described “trusted brand” to take particular care to be accurate and impartial and to refrain from propagating archaic religious stereotypes. That, however, is not the case in all the videos in that series.

In the video titled “J is for Jesus“, the target audience of 11 to 14 year-olds is told that the Jews:

“…turned against him [Jesus] and had him executed by the Romans; nailed to a cross.”

The video titled “T is for Temples” tells viewers that:

“Centuries later the Jewish people were able to rebuild, only to have the Second Temple destroyed by the Roman as punishment for a rebellion. But a small part – the Western Wall – still stands and it is the most sacred place for Jewish people.”

The Western Wall is of course not a “part” of the Second Temple but a section of the retaining wall of the plaza on which the Temple stood. Neither is it “the most sacred place for Jewish people”: that title belongs to Temple Mount.

Later in the same video, pupils are told that:

“It’s [Jerusalem] also where the prophet Mohammed ascended to heaven. The rock he ascended from was incorporated into the Islamic shrine the Dome of the Rock. It’s built where the Jewish Temple used to stand and is sacred to both Jewish people and Muslims.”

The Dome of the Rock is of course not “sacred” to Jews as suggested by that wording: Temple Mount – on which it and additional structures stand – however is.

Obviously any teacher considering using BBC Teach material needs to carefully fact check its content before doing so.  

Related Articles:

What does the BBC Academy teach the corporation’s journalists about Judaism?

BBC R4 and WS inaccurate on Western Wall yet again

BBC Radio 4’s ‘Sunday’ misleads on Western Wall and the Waqf

BBC ‘explains’ its claim that Western Wall is Judaism’s holiest site