BBC criticised over debate programme participant

The evening of June 18th saw a televised debate titled ‘Our Next Prime Minister’ on BBC One.

“Emily Maitlis presents a debate between the candidates vying to succeed Theresa May as leader of the Conservative Party.”

Among the members of the public selected to present questions to the five candidates was a man presented as “Abdullah Patel, Imam of a mosque” (which was identified by different BBC departments as being in both Gloucester and Bristol) who brought up the topic of Islamophobia.

Writing at the Spectator, journalist Stephen Daisley continues the story:

“Shortly after the programme concluded, someone tweeting under the name Abdullah Patel (@AbdullahPatel94) claimed on Twitter to be the imam from the programme. His Twitter bio describes him as an ‘imam, primary deputy head, teacher, youth worker [and] trainee counsellor’ with a degree in psychology and counselling. He offered a critique of each candidate’s answer to the question posed on-air […]

The BBC News website embedded his Twitter thread in a follow-up article, meaning the Corporation either knows @AbdullahPatel94 to be the same man featured in the debate or its journalists assumed this to be the case and republished his comments without checking.

It’s important to establish these facts because, if @AbdullahPatel94 is, as he claims and the BBC seems to believe, the Abdullah Patel from the debate, the Corporation has some serious questions to answer about how extensively it vetted him. Guido Fawkes tweeted, before heading to bed, that those interested should have a gander at @AbdullahPatel94’s tweets about Jews. I did and what I found wasn’t pretty. Many of the tweets have now been deleted, so what follows is the screen grab. It was there for anyone to read.”

As well as the offensive Tweets highlighted by Stephen Daisley (including some suggesting an equivalence between Auschwitz and the Gaza Strip), additional information not limited to social media appears in an article by David Toube at the Quilliam Journal.

Stephen Daisley closed his article:

“…if @AbdullahPatel94 is who he claims to be, there could scarcely be a less suitable person to question anyone about prejudice. If the man who interrogated the Tory leadership candidates is the author of these tweets, the BBC has catastrophically failed in its editorial duties by giving him air time. The Corporation will have to account for this grave lapse in broadcasting standards and work to rebuild trust with viewers as well as the Conservative party. They have let both down badly.”

BBC Radio 5 live Breakfast’s Nicky Campbell apologised for interviewing the same person the morning after the debate.

The BBC put out a statement:

BBC editor Rob Burley added:

However the Guido Fawkes website pointed out that a search showed that the BBC’s interviewee had been active on Twitter as recently as two days before the debate.

The BBC is claiming that an apparently very last-minute check did not turn up anything to preclude Mr Patel from taking part in the programme and one of the Tweets the BBC says it did not see was this one:

Readers may recall that in April 2016 the BBC was incapable of recognising that same image as antisemitic when it was found to have been promoted by a Labour MP and only described it as such after Naz Shah herself defined it in that term.

The question that therefore arises is even if the BBC had seen Mr Patel’s Tweets before the BBC One debate, would it have been capable of recognising their offensive nature? The BBC’s past record and the fact that the corporation does not work according to the accepted definition of antisemitism unfortunately makes that debatable.

Related Articles:

Another BBC antisemitism backgrounder promotes Livingstone Formulation

 

 

 

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BBC News amplifies Balfour agitprop yet again

Last July the BBC News website chose to amplify Palestinian Authority agitprop in an article misleadingly titled “Palestinians plan to sue Britain over 1917 Balfour act” which was discussed here at the time.

Last October the BBC News website gave a whitewashed account of an event at the House of Lords at which veteran anti-Israel campaigner Jenny Tonge hosted a re-launch of the ‘Balfour Apology Campaign’ run by the Hamas-linked ‘Palestinian Return Centre’ (PRC).

In January 2017 the BBC refrained from reporting on related statements made by the Palestinian Authority’s Riyad al Maliki.

“When I met the British foreign secretary, I told him very clearly what we expect. We expect them to apologize, to accept their historical responsibility, to acknowledge [their culpability], and to pay reparations.” [emphasis added]

“So far, we haven’t heard from them. The current escalation on their part makes us consider [possible] Palestinian action with regard to all those issues, including our action with regard to the Balfour Declaration. I won’t be divulging anything by saying that we have made plans for action in the framework of our embassies and our communities in Europe and Britain, and plans to mobilize civil society institutions in Britain and elsewhere.” [emphasis added]

The British government has of course made it clear on several occasions that it has no intention of apologising for the Balfour Declaration.

On April 3rd the ‘UK Politics’ section of the BBC News website published an article titled “Britain should apologise for Balfour Declaration – peer” which describes a question tabled in the House of Lords on the same day as follows:

“A peer has called on the government to apologise for the “suffering” of Palestinians, 100 years after the Balfour Declaration.

The UK government declaration was the first commitment by a world power to a “Jewish national home” in Palestine.

Lord Warner said the UK had failed to protect the rights of non-Jewish people in the region and should apologise.

The government said there would be no apology but it would work for peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

During questions in the House of Lords, the Foreign Office Minister Baroness Anelay told the independent peer that the government “will mark the centenary of Balfour with pride” and had invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the UK.”

In the article’s third from last paragraph readers learn that:

“Lord Warner asked the question on behalf of absent independent peer Baroness Tonge, who quit the Liberal Democrats in 2012 over remarks she made about Israel.”

However, readers are not told that Lord Warner is a trustee of the Council for European Palestinian Relations (CEPR) according to the website of that Hamas-linked group which was outlawed by Israel in 2013. The CEPR’s director is Dr. Arafat Shoukri (aka Arafat Madi Mahmoud Shukri) who is also linked to the Palestinian Return Centre (PRC), which is likewise outlawed in Israel due to its links to Hamas.

Neither were readers of this report informed that Lord Warner has a long record of collaboration with delegitimisers of Israel and has previously made numerous anti-Israel statements in Parliament.

The BBC cannot claim to be providing its audiences with accurate and impartial coverage of the topic of the already redundant – yet ongoing – ‘Balfour Apology Campaign’ if it reports – and amplifies – support for that campaign from certain British parliamentarians without also clarifying to audiences their record on Israel and their links to organisations connected to a Palestinian terror group proscribed by the British government.

Related Articles:

Jenny Tonge & the Hamas Lobby  (UK Media Watch)

BBC News gives a whitewashed account of ‘controversial’ meeting in House of Lords

 

 

BBC News gives a whitewashed account of ‘controversial’ meeting in House of Lords

On October 27th the BBC News website’s UK Politics page ran an article headlined “Lib Dems suspend peer over controversial meeting“. Readers of the second version of the report were informed that:tonge-art

“A former Lib Dem MP has had her membership of the party suspended after chairing a meeting criticised as “shameful” by the Israeli embassy.

Baroness Tonge, who was already sitting as an independent peer, said she would now quit the party for good.”

Readers trying to understand why that meeting in the House of Lords was “controversial” and “shameful” had to make do with the following thirty-two word explanation:

“One person at the meeting reportedly compared Israel to so-called Islamic State. […]

The Jewish Chronicle reported that another audience member had implied an American rabbi had provoked Hitler into murdering Jews.”

A more comprehensive account of the proceedings is provided by David Collier, who was present at the event.

With regard to the purpose of the meeting, BBC News website readers were given the following vague description:

“The event, in the House of Lords, was organised by the Palestinian Return Centre as part of its campaign calling for the UK Government to “officially apologise for its past colonial crimes in Palestine”.”

In fact – as the PRC’s promotional material for the event clearly states – the meeting was part of an ongoing campaign by the PRC (and others – as the BBC has already partly reported) to get Britain to specifically ‘apologise’ for the Balfour Declaration rather than for any generalised “colonial crimes”.

“The Palestinian Return Centre is hosting an event inside the UK Parliament a week ahead of the 99th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration which will be on November 2nd. The Balfour Declaration, which had no basis of legal authority, promised the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine, where the indigenous Palestinians amounted to 90% of the total population.

After the Balfour Declaration Palestine became the victim of colonialism and Britain’s legacy is still evident today as Palestinians continue to be denied the right to self-determination and suffer from living under military occupation or as refugees. As the 100th year since the Balfour declaration approaches, the Palestinian Return Centre has decided to re-launch its campaign which started in 2013 called Balfour Apology Campaign which asks the UK Government to officially apologies for its past colonial crimes in Palestine.”

The BBC’s portrayal of the aim of the event therefore conceals the real agenda of the campaign of which this meeting was part: an agenda recently described by David Horovitz at the Times of Israel.

“The Balfour Declaration sought to restore a Jewish homeland while respecting the interests of the non-Jews who share this land. Thirty years later, the UN set out a specific framework for achieving this. This was not acceptable to the Arabs of Palestine and those who spoke for them at the time, since their desire for a first-ever Palestinian state was outweighed by their hostility to the notion of a revived Jewish state alongside them. And it is all too evidently not acceptable to the Palestinian leadership now.

In declaring diplomatic and legal war on the Balfour Declaration, Palestinian leaders are telling the world — to their and our enduring misfortune — that nothing has changed in 100 years, that their opposition to our state in any borders remains greater than their desire for their own independent entity. A century later, they are affirming that their refusal to share any part of this land with the Jewish people remains absolute.”

Readers would of course also have been in a better position to understand that agenda had they been given any background information about the Palestinian Return Centre (PRC) and told of its connections to Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood or the additional activities of individuals connected to that London-based organisation which has been banned in Israel since 2010.

Neither were readers informed of Jenny Tonge’s record of previous collaboration with the PRC and its various spin-offs which, as the Times recently reported, included a 2009 PRC paid trip to Syria to meet Bashar al Assad.

“Lady Tonge accompanied Mr Corbyn on the PRC trip to Syria in 2009. Mr Corbyn used the visit to allege that “once again the Israeli tail wags the US dog”, an allegation popular with conspiracy theorists and antisemites. […]

The politicians met Assad and thanked him for housing half a million Palestinian refugees since 1948.”

Remarkably, this BBC report gives uncritical amplification to Jenny Tonge’s advancement of a well-worn trope concerning ‘powerful’ Jews:

“Speaking to the BBC, Baroness Tonge blamed the “power of the Israel lobby” and its sway over UK political parties for her suspension.”

As David Aaronovitch noted at the Sunday Times:

“Ten years ago the baroness did the old one about Jewish financial power in the form of “the pro-Israeli lobby has got its grips on the western world, its financial grips”. She got a reprimand from her party leader for it. Six years ago it was the ancient blood libel (Jews kill gentiles for their blood or body parts, see also under Shylock), when she demanded an inquiry into absurd allegations that an Israeli aid mission to Haiti was harvesting organs from Haitians. She lost a front bench job for that.”

One might therefore have expected the BBC to provide readers with some obviously relevant context concerning Tonge’s ignominious record of antisemitic statements – and to be able to recognise (and identify as such) a version of the Jewish lobby trope before promoting it in a quote. But sadly, the BBC’s own record on that particular topic has long been disturbingly dismal.

Related Articles:

BBC News, PA Balfour agitprop and British history

Jenny Tonge & the Hamas Lobby

BBC whitewashes Jenny Tonge

Hamas entryism at the UN

The UN, the PRC and Hamas: a postscript with a twist

BBC pussy-footing around British antisemitism again

Here is the BBC’s report  from March 14th on the subject of the suspension of Lord Ahmed from the Labour Party pending investigation of his alleged remarks made during a television interview in Pakistan, as reported by The Times

BBC Lord Ahmed

What on earth possessed the BBC to describe those alleged remarks as “Jewish claims”?

The terminology used on Twitter was little better:

Lord Ahmed tweet

According to the Times article:

“Lord Ahmed claimed that his prison sentence for dangerous driving resulted from pressure placed on the courts by Jews “who own newspapers and TV channels”. Britain’s first male Muslim peer also alleged that the judge who jailed him for 12 weeks was appointed to the High Court after helping a “Jewish colleague” of Tony Blair during “an important case”.

He claimed, falsely, that Mr Justice Wilkie was hand-picked and sent from London to carry out the 2009 sentencing at Sheffield Crown Court because no other judge was willing to handle his case. The alleged plot to punish him stemmed, Lord Ahmed claimed, from Jewish disapproval of his support for the Palestinians in Gaza. His comments were made during a television interview on a visit to Pakistan.”

The EUMC Working Definition of antisemitism clearly states that one of its manifestations is:

“Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as collective — such as, especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions.”

The Labour Party is obviously aware of the implications of the alleged remarks, having stated:

“The Labour Party deplores and does not tolerate any sort of anti-Semitism. Following reports in The Times today we are suspending Lord Ahmed pending an investigation.”

According to The Telegraph, Labour Party leader Ed Milliband added:

“There’s no place for anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, and frankly anybody who makes those kinds of comments cannot be either a Labour lord or a Labour member of Parliament.” 

The Times article also quotes a British lawyer:

“Katie Wheatley, a criminal law expert and partner at the London solicitors’ firm Bindmans, said that if Lord Ahmed had made such claims in Britain he could have faced prosecution for a hate crime.

“If these words had been spoken or broadcast publicly to an audience in the UK it is certainly possible that they could lead to an investigation as to whether an offence of incitement to racial hatred under the Public Order Act 1986 had been committed,” she added.”

So why did the BBC elect to airbrush the racist nature of Lord Ahmed’s alleged remarks by using the ambiguous terms “Jewish claims” and “anti-Jewish remarks”? Coming hot on the heels of the BBC’s previous attempts to downplay the antisemitic nature of remarks made by David Ward MP (see here, here, here and here), this really does suggest an endemic problem at the BBC.   

Light bulb moment at the BBC

Eureka! At long last the BBC finally seems to have got the message on the subject of its to date inaccurate presentation of the remarks made by David Ward MP last month. 

In its latest article on the subject from February 13th, the BBC correctly reports that:

“Lib Dem MP David Ward has been summoned to a meeting with Nick Clegg following a series of controversial comments he has made about Jews.”

In numerous previous reports on the subject, the BBC had inaccurately presented Ward’s remarks as having referred to “the Jews in Israel”.

Ward article 13 2

Better late than never. 

Meanwhile, this entry on the CST blog regarding Ward’s latest digging escapade is well worth a read. 

BBC tones down British MP’s comments on Jews and the Holocaust

As readers may have heard, the Liberal Democrat MP for Bradford East – David Ward – made a reprehensible comparison between the Holocaust and the Arab-Israeli conflict just days before Holocaust Memorial Day is marked in his country and others on January 27th

The Commentator, which first broke the story, has the details:

“British Member of Parliament David Ward has issued a statement to the ‘Asian Image’ magazine, juxtaposing the Middle East Conflict with the Holocaust.

As Holocaust Memorial Day is to be observed on Sunday, the Liberal Democrat MP, upon signing the Holocaust Educational Trust’s Book of Commitment in the House of Commons, stated:

“Having visited Auschwitz twice – once with my family and once with local schools – I am saddened that the Jews, who suffered unbelievable levels of persecution during the Holocaust, could within a few years of liberation from the death camps be inflicting atrocities on Palestinians in the new State of Israel and continue to do so on a daily basis in the West Bank and Gaza.” “

Ward later gave a statement to the Commentator in which he said:

“The Holocaust was one of the worst examples in history man’s inhumanity to man. When faced with examples of atrocious behaviour, we must learn from them. It appears that the suffering by the Jews has not transformed their views on how others should be treated.”

The situation worsened as Ward gave an interview to Sky News and another interview with him emerged from last November – during Operation Pillar of Cloud – on BBC Radio Leeds, in which he said:

“If all the illegal settlements were vacated and the land given back there wouldn’t be any rocket attacks.”

For more details of, and commentary on, the incident see the Telegraph, the Commentator, Paul David Evans, the Jewish Chronicle, the Independent, Harry’s Place and the Guido Fawkes blog

So how did the BBC relate to the story? Well, it interviewed Ward on Radio 5 live (which can be heard via the link below) – although with nowhere near the tenacity of the Sky News interviewer. It also published an article about the incident on the UK Politics page of the BBC News website. There, it stated that: [emphasis added]

“He accused “the Jews” in Israel of “inflicting atrocities on Palestinians… on a daily basis”.

Ward 2

Except he didn’t. Ward referred to “the Jews” in general. 

So why did the BBC think it appropriate to try to tone down and ‘contextualise’ Ward’s abhorrent remarks? 

Update: read Chas Newkey Burden’s commentary on the subject here.

Update 2: David Ward has now issued an apology. The BBC has published another article on the subject in which it repeats the use of the same phrasing employed in its first report.  

Ward 3

Likewise, the BBC News Twitter account also phrased Tweets promoting its latest report in a manner which clearly suggests that Ward’s remarks related to Israelis instead of “the Jews” as a collective.  

BBC News tweets 26 1

Once again, one must ask why the BBC appears to be trying so hard to blur the antisemitic nature of Ward’s remarks and why in doing so, it seems to be unaware that “drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis” is also defined as antisemitism under the EUMC working definition