BBC ‘Global Questions’ from Jerusalem rescheduled

Readers may recall that last November the BBC invited members of the public to take part in an edition of ‘Global Questions’ to be broadcast from Jerusalem the following month. That broadcast was however subsequently cancelled.

Now the BBC is advertising that event – and another in Arabic – once again.

“Global Questions is your chance to put questions to a high-level panel of politicians and decision makers. Moderated by Zeinab Badawi, one of the BBC’s most respected journalists, the discussion is shaped by questions from the audience.

The Future for the Israelis and Palestinians

The Middle East awaits President Trump’s much vaunted peace plan – billed as the ‘deal of the century’. But the Palestinians say it was dangerously provocative to declare the disputed city of Jerusalem as the capital, and to move the American Embassy there. A quarter of a century on from the Oslo Accords, what chance is there now of the ‘two-state solution’, where an independent Palestinian state sits alongside Israel?

Having marked the 70th anniversary of its creation, Global Questions travels to Israel to ask what the next 70 years might bring.

Ever since its birth, the country has been mired in conflict with the Palestinians and its Arab neighbours. Is further conflict inevitable or could there be a lasting peace that allows the next generation to live without war

BBC Global Questions will record a debate in English on Wednesday 27 February followed by a debate in Arabic on Thursday 28 February. You are welcome to join one or both programmes.

On the panel:
Naftali Bennett Israel’s Minister of Education
Diana Buttu Palestinian lawyer and former PLO spokesperson
Jake Walles Former US ambassador and peace negotiator
Jawad Anani Former Deputy PM of Jordan”

Registration and further details here.

Related Articles:

BBC WS Newsday’s one-sided ‘peace process’ reporting – part one

Guardian op-ed by Diana Buttu claims Palestinians are arrested for ‘criticising Israel’  (UK Media Watch)

Diana Buttu is at it again, Harvard Edition  (CAMERA)

Countering Propaganda: Focus on Diana Buttu  (CAMERA)

 

 

 

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BBC Arabic’s tendentious Hebron feature – part two

As we saw in part one of this post, a BBC Arabic feature titled “Hebron: One street, two sides” included eight short videos which were largely taken from two much longer films made in Hebron.

The credits to both films mention BBC Arabic’s documentaries editor Christopher Mitchell – once in that capacity and once as ‘executive producer’. Both films are credited to Tom Roberts and one names Israel Goldvicht as its producer. Roberts and Goldvicht have previously collaborated on a number of projects relating to Israel.

The first of the two films is titled “Hebron: A War of the Narrative”.

“In a two-part investigation BBC Arabic goes deep inside the divided city of Hebron in the West Bank, the only place where Palestinian residents live alongside Jewish settlers. This first film reveals the world of one of the most controversial communities in Israel – the settlers of Hebron.

The holy city of Hebron is the most divided in the West Bank, the only place where Palestinian residents live cheek by jowl with Jewish settlers. It’s a scene of raw tensions and countless killings. Jews have lived in Hebron almost continuously for 4,000 years, enduring periods of repression and violence. But the settler community is little known outside Israel and widely stigmatised; to many, they’re a byword for fanaticism and stubbornness. Their mission is to re-establish a lasting Jewish community in the city, and – as this film shows – their mood is changing. Optimism is replacing the gloom. Today’s settlers are convinced they’re winning the struggle to stay, and that history is now on their side; violent incidents are on the wane, the government openly supports the expansion of settlements, and the US has recognised Jerusalem as capital of Israel.

Hebron’s settlers are busy delivering this new message of permanence and immovability to the hundreds of thousands of visitors who come to the city. This film, with its unique access to key individuals driving the new narrative, goes deep into the settlers’ world. Yet, under the surface, there’s disharmony amongst the voices emanating from the settlement. We meet Israelis who criticize the settlement because of its military domination of the Palestinians, and others who believe that Palestinians will never be real partners for peace – or even accept their presence in Hebron.”

The film’s ”Israelis who criticise the settlement” is in fact the spokesman of the foreign funded political NGO ‘Breaking the Silence’. Other than that viewers are presented with a monochrome portrait of extremist ‘settlers’, some of whom are identified not only by name but with the film-makers’ own labels such as “the agitator” or “the activist”.

The second film is titled “Hebron Exposed: A Weapon of Life”.

“In a two-part investigation BBC Arabic goes deep inside the divided city of Hebron in the West Bank, the only place where Palestinian residents live alongside Jewish settlers. This second film follows a unique project in which Palestinian teenagers are taught how to use video cameras to capture suspected abuses of human rights in the streets around them.

The holy city of Hebron is the most divided in the West Bank, the only place where Palestinian residents live among Jewish settlers. It’s a scene of raw tensions and countless killings. In March 2016 human rights activist Emad Abushamsiya filmed the shooting of a wounded Palestinian by the Israeli soldier Elor Azaria. The video went viral, landing Azaria with a manslaughter conviction and turning Abushamsiya into a figure of hate for the Israeli right. As this film shows, he received dozens of death threats, his house was firebombed and he was harassed continually. The pressure became too much for his eldest son, splitting the family apart.

Abushamsiya’s response was to assert the importance of non-violent resistance and the necessity of submitting to the rule of law. He formed a group called the Palestinian Human Rights Defenders and began training a group of local teenage activists, some as young as 12, to use video cameras in order to document alleged human rights abuses. His ultimate ambition – to alter the course of the Israeli occupation – may or may not be realised, but as this film shows, the video camera has given him and his young trainees a new sense of power and purpose. We follow Abushamsiya as he prepares his team for the intense reality of confronting violence with video cameras. The film includes several extended examples of their work, revealing the hostility between the two communities with rare immediacy.”

Like that synopsis, the film itself presents Palestinian residents of Hebron as peace-loving individuals engaged in “non-violent resistance”. Viewers are not informed that the aim of ‘Palestinian Human Rights Defenders’ is – according to their own Facebook page – to secure the “Removal of all illegal Israeli settlements from Hebron” by means of a campaign they call “Dismantle the Ghetto, take the settlers out of Hebron”.At no point during the 51 and a half-minute film are any of the PHRD interviewees asked how their alleged concern for ‘human rights’ aligns with their campaign for the ethnic cleansing of Jews from Hebron.

PHRD Facebook campaign

In contrast to the first film’s portrayal of ‘extremist settlers’, viewers of the second film are not told of the PHRD’s support for the BDS campaign, its use of extremist language such as ‘apartheid’ and ‘colonisation’ or its whitewashing of terrorism.

At no point during the 51 and a half-minute film are any of the PHRD interviewees asked how their alleged concern for ‘human rights’ aligns with their campaign for the ethnic cleansing of Jews from Hebron.

In two different showcased examples of PHRD filming, the BBC’s ‘documentary’ promotes the falsehood that Israeli soldiers planted knives next to Palestinians in order to frame them as terrorists. The aim of that falsehood is to promote the notion of ‘extra-judicial killings’. 

The two main protagonists in this film are PHRD founder Emad Abu Shamsiya (with viewers not told that he spent several years in prison) and Zidan Sharabati. No mention is made of both those men’s links to the political NGO B’tselem and specifically its ‘camera project’ which has also included Palestinian political activists such as the Tamimi family. At no point are viewers informed of the origins of PHRD’s funding.  

Notably the BBC commissioned film crew did not interview any Palestinians involved in terror attacks against Israelis in Hebron or any members of that city’s armed factions and so the story told in these two ‘documentaries’ is one of extremist settlers and non-violent Palestinian victims protected only by children carrying video cameras.

In other words the BBC did not try to give audiences an accurate and impartial picture of the “two sides” of the story of Hebron but rather framed that story in a manner conducive to the amplification of its chosen political narrative.

Related Articles:

BBC Arabic’s tendentious Hebron feature – part one

BBC WS radio programme on Hebron omits vital background

BBC stays mum on convicted terrorist’s success in PA election 

 

 

BBC Monitoring’s Warsaw Summit hashtag ‘research’ gets mixed reception

On February 12th BBC Monitoring put out a Twitter thread about a hashtag relating to the Warsaw Middle East Summit.

Interesting use of a photograph which is not related to the Warsaw summit at all but was in fact one of several taken in Tel Aviv in April 2018 is seen in the second Tweet.

As can be seen in the replies to those Tweets, many disagreed with BBC Monitoring’s analysis and one response was particularly detailed.

Interestingly, BBC Monitoring’s thread was taken up by an outlet called ‘Persia Digest’ which told its readers that BBC Monitoring revealed that “these tweets are artificial and not the real view of Iranians”. The founder of that outlet, Mohammad-Hossein Khoshvaght, was formerly head of Iran’s international press bureau and is apparently related by marriage to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

At least now we know who does appreciate BBC Monitoring’s ‘research’.

Related Articles:

BBC Monitoring claims to take on the ‘manipulation of messaging’

‘Ensuring accuracy’ at the BBC Monitoring Jerusalem office

 

 

BBC Thai omits and erases vital information in report from Israel

A filmed report published on the BBC News website’s ‘Middle East’ page on November 23rd was presented with the headline “Thai labourers in Israel tell of harrowing conditions“.

“A year-long BBC investigation has discovered widespread abuse of Thai nationals living and working in Israel – under a scheme organised by the two governments.

Many are subjected to unsafe working practices and squalid, unsanitary living conditions. Some are overworked, others underpaid and there are dozens of unexplained deaths.”

In the middle of that three-minute and ten second long product of “a year-long BBC investigation” viewers are rightly told that:

“Under Israeli law, Thai workers’ rights are well protected.”

However the film goes on:

“But they depend on the farmers for food, shelter and a work visa. Many are too scared to complain as they fear losing their income.”

Viewers are not told that under Israeli law (p.17):

“The law prohibits an employer from dismissing an employee or reducing his salary or terms of employment due to any complaint or claim filed by the employee, or due to the fact that he assisted another employee, in good faith, to file such a complaint or claim. An employer who behaves in this manner towards his foreign worker has performed a criminal offense for which a complaint can be filed as above.”

The film next goes on to clarify that – presumably on the basis of complaints made by workers to the Ministry of Labour’s Foreign Workers’ Rights Ombudsman – in the past five years the ministry has carried out “more than 1,500 investigations…into pay and working hours” and that the ministry has issued 3,000 warnings and 200 fines.

While – as the ministry’s statement bears out – there are undoubtedly cases in which Thai workers are abused despite the existence of laws protecting them, the makers of this film did not bother to clarify that “unsanitary living conditions” such as the cooker shown in parts of the film also depend on the workers themselves.

Despite that factual interlude, the overall messaging of this film by BBC Thai’s Issariya Praithongyaem is to imply a link between the workers’ conditions and what are described as “unexplained deaths”. Viewers are told that:

“Workers also told us that they were afraid of spraying chemicals. Israel’s use of pesticides is among the highest in the world. Long term exposure has been linked to several illnesses. Many workers told us they regularly spray chemicals without proper protection.”

No source is given for the BBC’s claim that the use of pesticides in Israel “is among the highest in the world” and viewers get no information whatsoever on the subject of the types of pesticides in use in Israel. With the Ministry of Agriculture having initiated a process banning pesticides an insecticides containing organic phosphates, triazines and hydrocarbon chlorides five years ago, the question of which pesticides the Thai workers are spraying and whether or not protective clothing is mandated for the specific chemical is obviously relevant.

While indeed long-term exposure to some pesticides has been linked to “several illnesses”, the BBC’s film does not bother to clarify which pesticides or which illnesses and viewers are not informed that the appearance of most of those illnesses would take considerably longer than the maximum 63 month stay of foreign workers in Israel.

In the later part of the film viewers are told that:

“Wicha Duangdeegaew is one of 172 workers who’ve died since 2012. In Wicha’s case and many other cases, the cause of death is “undetermined”. Doctors don’t have answers and autopsies are rarely carried out.”

As was clarified in an article that appeared in Ha’aretz last year, autopsies are conducted at the request of the police when there is a suspicion that the cause of death is not natural. Additionally, the Thai embassy can request an autopsy either on its own behalf or on the family’s behalf. Ha’aretz reported that it was told by the Thai embassy that in every case of the death of a Thai worker in Israel, the embassy contacts the family, asks what their wishes are and acts accordingly.

Viewers of this film are not told whether or not Wicha Duangdeegaew’s family actually requested an autopsy.

Perhaps most significantly, this film makes no effort to inform BBC audiences that some 40% of the deaths of Thai workers in Israel are attributed to Sudden Unexpected Nocturnal Death Syndrome (SUNDS) – a condition predominantly affecting young men from Southeast Asia.

As the BBC itself reported three years ago, additional causes of death in the years 2008 to 2013 “ranged from accidents, alcohol poisoning, heart failure and suffocation, to fire, suicide, beating and stabbing, Israel’s Ministry of Health says”. In that period of time autopsies were not performed in 18% of the cases – a figure which hardly bears out the BBC’s current claim that “autopsies are rarely carried out”.

Clearly – despite being a year in the making – this film fails to provide the full range of information necessary for audiences to understand its subject matter. Instead viewers (and at least one fellow BBC journalist) have been steered towards an overall impression of “abuse” and the speculation that there is a connection between the “undetermined” deaths of Thai workers and the use of pesticides, with no evidence whatsoever provided to support that claim and the most frequent cause of death among those workers – SUNDS – completely erased from audience view.

Related Articles:

BBC News does its convincing impression of HRW PR department yet again

 

More context-free BBC portrayal of Gaza construction imports

Since the end of the summer 2014 conflict between Israel and terror groups including Hamas, the BBC has repeatedly told its audiences of “tight border restrictions” affecting the import of construction materials into the Gaza Strip.

“And there are no new building materials that are coming in. Israel has long imposed tight border restrictions on Gaza, saying they’re needed for security and since the ceasefire nothing’s changed. Aid agencies say a rethink is urgently needed. There would still be a housing crisis even if Israel fully opened its one commercial crossing.” [emphasis added] Yolande Knell, BBC News, September 2014

“…but the Israeli blockade of Gaza remains in place. Now that is a blockade by air, land and sea. It is Israel which decides which trucks and how many and carrying what goods are allowed in and out of Gaza. There are serious concerns being expressed by aid agencies about whether or not Israel will allow enough construction materials in. A temporary mechanism has been agreed and that will involve monitoring by the United Nations but they are literally almost at the level of counting the grains of sand going in and out of Gaza and there are serious fears that the volume of cement and construction materials that would be required will simply not be allowed in. Israel of course views cement as a dual-use item and it has been used by Hamas to build tunnels right out of Gaza under the ground into Israeli territory, so cement is particularly carefully monitored.” Orla Guerin, BBC World Service radio, October 2014

“Donors have pledged more than $5bn but Israel strictly regulates the import of building materials and equipment into the Palestinian territory. They say that militants could use the equipment to carry out attacks.” Yolande Knell, BBC News, December 2014

“Israel and Egypt maintain tight border restrictions on the coastal enclave, which have severely hampered reconstruction efforts. They say these are needed for security.” [emphasis added] Yolande Knell, BBC News, July 2015

As has been noted here on numerous occasions, millions of tons of construction materials have in fact been transported into the Gaza Strip since the summer of 2014.

However, the BBC has shown considerably less interest in informing its audiences of important factors which have affected the pace of repair and reconstruction in the Gaza Strip such as the failure of many donors to meet their pledges, the black market in building supplies, the lack of Palestinian Authority cooperation and Hamas’ theft and misappropriation of building materials for the purpose of terror – not least cross-border attack tunnels.

On November 2nd the BBC World Service put out a filmed report concerning a building material developed by a Gaza civil engineer which was also promoted on the BBC News website’s ‘World’ and ‘Middle East’ pages.

Titled “What is ‘Green Cake’ and why did this woman invent it?“, the report by Richard Kenny informed BBC audiences that “[a] young Palestinian entrepreneur, Majd Mashharawi, has redesigned the plain old concrete block to help Gaza rebuild its infrastructure”.

Viewers were told that “[w]ars with Israel have led to widespread destruction” and that the concrete blocks conventionally used for building:

“…are usually made from cement, sand and gravel (or aggregate). But all that has to come from Israel which tightly restricts imports on security grounds.”

In other words, the only information provided to BBC audiences regarding the background to this story refrained from informing them of any of the factors affecting repair and reconstruction in the Gaza Strip which are not connected to Israel and failed to clarify that the supervision of imports of dual-use goods – rather than “imports” in general – had to be put in place as part of counter-terrorism measures.

Had BBC audiences been informed of the complete story behind the topic of building in the Gaza Strip over the past four years, they may have been able to fill in the gaps in this film for themselves. Unfortunately, that has not been the case.

Related Articles:

How Hamas put a tax on building materials the BBC told audiences don’t exist

Even the Guardian goes where the BBC refuses to tread

Hamas man spills beans on appropriation of construction materials: BBC silent

BBC News ignores yet another story about Hamas appropriation of construction materials

A side to the Gaza reconstruction story the BBC isn’t telling

Some context to the BBC’s ‘reporter in the Gaza rubble’ features

BBC ignores Hamas theft of construction materials yet again

 

 

BBC Monitoring claims to take on the ‘manipulation of messaging’

On November 1st the BBC put out the following Tweet:

The link leads to a blog post titled “BBC Monitoring: spotting fake news since the Second World War” written by the director of BBC Monitoring, Sara Beck.

“BBC Monitoring is a specialist part of BBC News, part of the World Service group. We have experienced journalists and linguists who follow and track international media in foreign languages, in over 150 countries and about 100 languages.

We monitor that information, we report and analyse it, and we work on a subscription website basis. All our content is available to the BBC and to the UK Government and we also have commercial customers. […]

BBC Monitoring was set up to counter propaganda from Nazi Germany in the war, explaining propaganda and spotting messaging in media. Verification – and then the reporting of stories where fake news is part of the media, is still part of what we do.

I’m pleased that the World Service is pulling together all its coverage of fake news. Monitoring is a central part of that, and we’re also developing a small team that is solely going to be dedicated to disinformation and the manipulation of messaging in the media in certain parts of the world.”

However, past stories produced by BBC Monitoring have themselves not always been free from “disinformation and the manipulation of messaging”.

BBC WS airbrushes terror out of a story about Palestinian prisoners

BBC Monitoring steers clear of key parts of the Jerusalem story

Dumbing down ME politics with BBC Monitoring

Inaccuracies in BBC backgrounder on Sinai terrorists

BBC Monitoring uses Sykes-Picot anniversary to promote conspiracy theory

BBC Monitoring digs up the dirt with cleaners non-story

BBC Monitoring euphemises terror, whitewashes antisemitism, claims Egyptian Jews ‘vanished’

BBC Monitoring plays down Saudi concerns over Iranian nuclear programme

BBC Monitoring amplifies Iranian Charlie Hebdo conspiracy theory

On BBC Monitoring’s fantasy ‘ban’ and short skirt syndrome

BBC Monitoring’s news: repetition of an anonymous BTL comment

No translation necessary, but BBC Monitoring embroiders

BBC Monitoring amplifies PA outlet’s propaganda

A service announcement for BBC Monitoring

BBC Monitoring puffs wind in the sails of professional anti-Israel campaigners

Let’s hope that the first of those “certain parts of the world” will be BBC Monitoring’s own new offices in Broadcasting House.

 

CAMERA Arabic prompts BBC Arabic correction on US and Jerusalem

Last month the BBC Arabic website published a report about the relocation of the Paraguayan embassy from Jerusalem back to Tel Aviv (“Paraguay returns its embassy to Tel Aviv”, September 6th), which included the following phrase (translated):

 “the recognition of the United States in Jerusalem as Israel’s united capital”

original

However, the American administration has not in fact recognised Jerusalem as the united capital of Israel but rather considers the municipal borders of Jerusalem – as well as its permanent status – a matter dependent on the future results of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. This was made clear in a statement issued by the State Department on its official website. Notably, no similar phrase appeared in the corresponding report that was published on the English language BBC News website.

CAMERA Arabic wrote to BBC Arabic in Arabic to point out the error but did not receive a reply. CAMERA Arabic then wrote a second letter in English – this time to the BBC World Service, which is responsible for the corporation’s foreign language content – informing them of the erroneous statement. This second attempt was successful: a quick response was received and the word “united” was deleted from the report.

However, no footnote has been added to advise audiences of the removal of that previously inaccurate and misleading statement.

How did BBC Minute illustrate a series on street art in India, Nigeria and Iran?

On June 22nd the BBC World Service’s BBC Minute announced a three-part series on street art in its “On Life” section which was described to its target ‘younger audiences’ as:

“A BBC Minute series featuring British, Nigerian and Iranian artists”

One might have assumed that such an announcement would have been illustrated using the work of the Indian, Nigerian or Iranian artists featured in the series.

However, the BBC World Service instead chose to use an image completely unrelated to any of the featured artists or the countries in which they work.

 

A ‘BBC Minute’ backgrounder misleads on Palestinian refugees

Yesterday we saw how a backgrounder on Jerusalem produced by the BBC World Service’s ‘BBC Minute’ misled its target audience of “young people” with regard to the 1949 armistice lines.

Last month BBC Minute produced two more of the items that it portrays as “making sense of the news” – this time relating to the Gaza Strip.  In those two items – still available online – once again a BBC Arabic journalist misled audiences with inaccurate information and presented context-free portrayals.

The first item is titled “BBC Minute: On Gaza clashes” and was published on May 16th.

“Gaza witnessed what’s described as the deadliest day of violence since 2014. Some 58 Palestinians were killed and Palestinian officials say around 2,700 were wounded during clashes with Israeli troops. It comes amid weeks of rising tension. We hear from the BBC’s Nida Ibrahim, who is in Gaza.”

BBC audiences around the world hear the following:

Ibrahim: “I’m Nida Ibrahim from BBC Arabic reporting from Gaza.”

Presenter: “This is BBC Minute on Gaza. For the last few weeks Palestinians have been protesting at Gaza’s border with Israel. It’s seen some of the deadliest clashes since the 2014 war.”

Ibrahim: “We’re talking about 60 people who were shot dead and 2,000 people who were injured. Some people are saying that the authorities here are not interested in any more protests. Things were supposed to culminate because it is considered Nakba or catastrophe which is the day Palestinians commemorate as the 70th anniversary for the creation of Israel and their being forced off their lands in 1948.” [emphasis added]

Presenter: “Gaza has been one of the key issues in the conflict between Israel and Palestinians. Israel accuses Hamas, that controls Gaza, of perpetrating attacks on its soil and have imposed barriers to reduce infiltration from the region.”

Ibrahim: “So I’ll say what one protester said to me the other day: he said life in Gaza equals death. One of the biggest barriers is actually having no future.”

Obviously that account does nothing to explain the real background to the pre-planned violence that has been taking place along the Gaza Strip-Israel border since the end of March. Neither does it contribute anything to audience understanding of the context to the situation in the Gaza Strip. But in that one-minute item Nida Ibrahim did find the time to misinform the BBC’s young audiences by inaccurately claiming that the sole reason Palestinians left their homes was because they were “forced off their lands”.

On May 17th ‘BBC Minute On’ produced another backgrounder featuring BBC Arabic’s Nida Ibrahim, titled “BBC Minute: On life in Gaza“.

“About 75% of Gaza’s population is under the age of 25. They live in what Unicef says is one of the most densely populated areas in the world. Israel says a boundary is needed for national security and the violence there is as a result of them defending its sovereignty and citizens. The BBC’s Nida Ibrahim in is Gaza and speaks to us about what’s life like for young people there.”

BBC audiences first hear a recycled version of the story that closed the previous edition.

Presenter: “BBC Minute on life in Gaza. Nida Ibrahim has been speaking to us about the deadly protests in the Hamas-controlled Palestinian territory. Here’s what one protester told her.”

Ibrahim: “He says life in Gaza equals death so it doesn’t really matter if we go on the front lines.”

Presenter: “About 75% of its population is under the age of 25.”

Ibrahim: “You don’t have electricity but for four hours. You don’t have hope. You don’t have jobs. So apart from the physical barriers that they might face they’re not allowed to travel: the borders are closed most of the time. Even the sea is contaminated by sewage water that have nowhere else to be released.”

Presenter: “The World Bank says a lack of progress towards peace and reconciliation has created an unsustainable economic situation.”

Ibrahim: “So if you are a 20-year-old you would want to know what kind of future you have here and this is the hardest to answer.”

Presenter: “Israel says the boundary is needed for national security.”

Ibrahim: “I heard somebody saying the other day that if they open the border you won’t find anybody else left in Gaza.”

Obviously that superficial portrayal again contributes nothing whatsoever to audience understanding of the factual background to the situation in the Gaza Strip – including the Hamas-Fatah rift that has exacerbated the electricity shortages and sewage treatment crisis. Listeners hear nothing at all about Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip 13 years ago and the crucially relevant topic of Hamas terrorism is not seriously addressed. Moreover, listeners are steered towards the understanding that “a lack of progress towards peace” is behind Gaza’s dire economic situation but no mention is made of the fact that it is Hamas that completely rejects “peace” and continues to aspire to destroy Israel.

These particular ‘BBC Minute’ backgrounders clearly go no way at all towards meeting the corporation’s public purpose of providing “accurate and impartial news, current affairs and factual programming of the highest editorial standards so that all audiences can engage fully with issues across the UK and the world”. 

Readers can judge for themselves whether BBC World Service funding (supplied by the British public both directly to the BBC and via the Foreign Office) could in fact be better employed to provide young people with news of the standard that they actually deserve, rather than content that is superficial, serially inaccurate, politically partial and dumbed down to the point of being irrelevant.

Related Articles:

BBC’s Jerusalem backgrounder for young people breaches style guide

 

 

BBC’s Jerusalem backgrounder for young people breaches style guide

In September 2017 the BBC World Service launched a new project aimed specifically at younger audiences.

“Stephen Titherington, Sr Commissioning Editor of BBC World Service English, says: “BBC Minute has turned News on its head. Young people are information hungry, but only if it’s done in a way which matches their own energetic curiosity. With new BBC Minute Video, partners can now share vision as well as sound with their audience. We are delighted to have two new partners in Egypt and Jordan, bringing BBC Minute’s fresh sounding news coverage to more audiences in the region.”

Broadcast in the English language, BBC Minute bulletins are vibrant audio summaries of the news headlines and topical stories delivered in a high-energy style that entertains as much as it educates and informs. It is broadcast twice an hour, 24 hours a day, seven days a week by a team of young journalists in London. The team also produce BBC Minute On… which focus on a single subject or key story in more detail and is broadcast twice daily.”

Those ‘BBC Minute On’ backgrounders – billed as “making sense of the news” – are available online and hence potentially the subject of editorial complaints.

In early December 2017 one edition appeared under the title “BBC Minute: On Jerusalem“. Its synopsis states:

“The US President Donald Trump is expected to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The Palestinians said it would be a “kiss of death” for the Middle East peace process, but an Israeli minister urged other countries to follow the US lead. But how did the city become so politically important for both sides? The BBC’s Yolande Knell and BBC Arabic’s Hadya Al-alawi explain.”

The ‘explanation’ given to the target audience of “young people” around the world is as follows: [emphasis in italics in the original]

Presenter: “This is BBC Minute on Jerusalem. The city’s holy to Jews, Christians and Muslims. But why is it politically significant for Israelis and Palestinians? Here’s the BBC’s Yolande Knell.”

Knell: “Not long after the modern state of Israel was created in 1948, the Israeli parliament was set up in the west of the city. But it wasn’t until the 1967 war with neighbouring Arab countries that Israel captured East Jerusalem and then later annexed it in a move that’s not recognised internationally.”

Presenter: “Now about a third of the people of Jerusalem are Palestinians. But what do Palestinians in general want? Here’s BBC Arabic’s Hadya Al-alawi.”

Al-alawi: “So Palestinian authorities have been negotiating a two-state solution which means returning to the 1967 internationally recognised borders. Also they want East Jerusalem to be their capital. However Palestinians on the ground might not agree. They want the whole of Jerusalem and also returning to the historical Palestine.”

As we see, the BBC’s audiences around the world – including in Middle Eastern countries – are not given any information concerning either the status of Jerusalem before 1948, the 19-year Jordanian occupation of parts of the city or the circumstances that caused Jordan to enter the Six Day War and loose its hold on that territory.

Worse still, BBC audiences are presented by Hadya Al-alawi with a partisan portrayal of the two-state solution which promotes and amplifies the PLO’s interpretation of it as meaning a Palestinian state on all of the territory occupied by Jordan and Egypt between 1948 and 1967.

Moreover, Al-alawi promotes the inaccurate notion that the 1949 armistice lines are “internationally recognised borders” when in fact the armistice agreement that created them specifically states that they are not borders – as does the BBC’s ‘style guide’.  

“The Green Line marks the boundary between Israel and the West Bank. It is properly referred to as the 1949 Armistice Line – the ceasefire line of 1949. […]

In describing the situation on the ground, take care to use precise and accurate terminology. The Green Line is a dividing line or a boundary. If you call it a border you may inadvertently imply that it has internationally recognised status, which it does not currently have.” 

Given Al-alawi’s subsequent use of the politically loaded term ‘historical Palestine’ and promotion of the notion of ‘return’ without clarifying to listeners that what that actually means is the destruction of Israel, it is hardly surprising that her portrayal of the 1949 ceasefire lines is likewise intended to promote a specific political narrative and agenda.

Nevertheless, one would obviously expect a BBC journalist participating in a project declared to be aimed at “making sense of the news” for young people around the world to stick to the BBC’s style guide as well as its supposed editorial standards of accuracy and impartiality.