BBC’s Tom Bateman tells part of a story about a Palestinian house ‘in a cage’

On February 14th the BBC News website published a filmed report by the Jerusalem bureau’s Tom Bateman on its ‘Middle East’ page. Titled “Israel-Palestinian conflict: The family with its own checkpoint”, the report was apparently filmed a week earlier and its synopsis indicates that it falls under the category of BBC framing of the recent US ‘Peace to Prosperity’ proposal.

“How is President Trump’s plan to solve the Israeli Palestinian conflict being received on the ground?

The BBC’s Middle East correspondent Tom Bateman went to visit two homes in the occupied West Bank; starting with a Palestinian family whose house is in a fenced off enclave within an Israeli settlement.

Israel has said it intends to formally annex all settlements in the West Bank based on President Trump’s plan.

But the US proposals are rejected by the Palestinians, who say its vision of a state for them is unacceptable.

About 600,000 Jews live in about 140 settlements built since Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem in 1967.

The settlements are considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.”

The same report was apparently aired on the BBC News television channel and readers will no doubt note the use of hyperbole in the title used in both versions: “The house ‘in a cage’ surrounded by a settlement”.

Similar rhetoric is used by Bateman himself – “like being in a prison, inside a cage” – and by his Palestinian interviewee – “not left me air to breathe”, “we are living in a prison”, “under siege”, “confiscated my land”.

Bateman tells BBC audiences that:

“Israel declared ownership of the land around the Gharib’s house. The settlement was built and the family home was later fenced off as part of the separation barrier Israel said it built for security.”

In addition to failing to note the second Intifada terror war as the context for the construction of the anti-terrorist fence, Bateman does not bother to clarify that the land on which the ‘settlement’ – Giv’on HaHadasha – was built had been purchased by Jews long before the State of Israel came into being, that it had been the site of a Jordanian army camp after the 1948 Jordanian invasion and subsequent 19-year occupation or that claims by the Gharib family that they owned additional land were shown to be unsupported in several court cases.

Later on in the report Bateman interviews a resident of Giv’on HaHadasha. Pointing at the fence he asks her:

“What do you think when you see a Palestinian home behind all this?”

Ilanit Gohar replies: “He chose this, he chose this type of living” but BBC audiences would be incapable of understanding her reply because Bateman did not bother to inform them that the Gharib family refused an offer of compensation for relocation prior to the construction of the anti-terrorist fence in that area in 2008 and that their claims were rejected by the Supreme Court

The compromise reached in that court case was that the fence would be built around the Gharib house (which had been constructed, according to court documents, without building permits) and that the family would have a key to the gate shown in the film. Nevertheless, BBC audiences were told by Sa’adat Gharib that “we live in a prison where they [Israeli forces] can lock the gate [when they like]”.

The aim of Bateman’s report is amply apparent in his closing remarks at 05:26:

Bateman: “What strikes me, you know, when you look at this [fence] with the settlement on the other side, most of the rest of the world has always said, building them by Israel is illegal. But what has changed in the Trump plan is he says OK, they become a formal part of the State of Israel. And as soon as you say that, you then say well these fences and walls that have been built by the Israelis, they become the new borders.”

The story that Bateman has chosen to highlight in this report is of course very much an exception. But by using that atypical example and failing to provide all the relevant background information, Bateman is able to further promote the BBC’s one-sided framing of the US Administration’s proposals to the corporation’s audiences.

Perusal of some of the comments under Bateman’s video shows just how far removed the report is from meeting the BBC’s obligation to provide “accurate and impartial” reporting which will “build people’s understanding”. 

More tendentious BBC reporting on UNHRC blacklist

Last week we looked at the BBC News website’s simplistic reporting of the publication of a blacklist of companies by the UN Human Rights Council.

BBC News report on UNHRC blacklist conceals more than it reveals

Among the issues arising from that BBC report was the fact that at no point were readers informed that there is no prohibition in international law from doing business in occupied or disputed territories, as explained in this article by Orde Kittire:

“The blacklist also lacks a basis in international law. Indeed, international law does not prohibit business in disputed territories. Nor is doing such business inconsistent with the principles of corporate social responsibility (which are non-binding). That is the official view of the United Nations, expressed in its Global Compact document titled “Guidance on Responsible Business in Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas: A Resource for Companies and Investors.”

The same serious omission was found in a news bulletin aired on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Six O’Clock News’ on February 12th (from 18:04 here).

[emphasis in italics in the original, emphasis in bold added]

Newsreader: “The UN Human Rights Council has released a list of more then a hundred companies it believes are operating in Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Publication of the names is being seen as the first substantial step against settlements by the international community in years. Our Middle East correspondent Tom Bateman reports from Jerusalem.”

Listeners were not told by whom the UNHRC’s publication “is being seen” in that manner or what is the political agenda of organisations or individuals supposedly expressing such a view and hence were not able to judge that glib statement for themselves.

Bateman: “The list names 112 firms considered to help the development of Israeli settlements. The UN looked at companies who supplied building or surveillance equipment as well as banking, transport and travel services. Most of the firms named by the Human Rights Council are Israeli but others are large international companies including Airbnb, Booking.com and Motorola Solutions. The list also names the British construction company JCB and the travel booking firm Opodo. Settlements are seen as illegal under international law, although Israel disputes this. Its government has been deeply concerned about the release of the so-called blacklist, fearing it would be used to justify boycotts of its private sector. Tonight it called the publication a shameful surrender to those who want to hurt Israel, while the Palestinian Authority said it was a good day for peace and a rules-based order.”

Once again we see that BBC audiences were told nothing about the dubious composition and long-standing anti-Israel bias of the UNHRC or the fact that it has not complied similar lists of companies operating in other occupied or disputed territories anywhere else in the world. Likewise listeners were not informed of the role played by BDS supporting political NGOs in the compilation of the blacklist.

Most notably, however, while Tom Bateman specifically named several companies in his report – including two British ones – he did not bother to clarify that there is nothing illegal about their business activities before he immediately went on to recite the BBC’s standard partisan mantra concerning ‘international law’.

Related Articles:

BBC News report on UNHRC blacklist conceals more than it reveals

BBC News report on Airbnb backtrack follows usual recipe

The exception to the BBC rule on place names

A browse through the BBC News style guide reveals plenty of examples of the BBC’s policy of moving away from the use of place names introduced or preferred by foreign conquerors and past rulers.

“Belarus

formerly part of the Soviet Union as Byelorussia; now independent. Adjective, Belarusian.”

“Burma

The BBC has been moving towards calling the country Myanmar. We should use Myanmar rather than Burma in headlines and summaries. Inside the body of our stories, preferably on first mention, we should include the wording “Myanmar, also known as Burma”. Further references should be to Myanmar. We should talk about the main commercial city as “Yangon, also known as Rangoon”, and thereafter Yangon.” 

“Calcutta

As of early 2015, our style is to use Kolkata for the Indian city. It may be helpful for readers if we use this construction once high up in the story: People in the Indian city of Kolkata (Calcutta)…”

“Chennai

As of November 2011, our style is to use Chennai rather than Madras, but we should include the formulation Chennai (Madras) once high up in the body of the story.”

“eSwatini

The country formerly known as Swaziland. Add “previously known as Swaziland”, high up. It’s Swati when describing its people.”

“Kyiv not Kiev”

One entry specifically instructs BBC journalists not to use the terminology favoured by an invading country.

“Cyprus

The northern part, occupied by Turkey, is not internationally recognised, so do not refer to “North Cyprus” – the term the Turks have chosen. Instead, say northern Cyprus, describing it either as Turkish-occupied or Turkish-controlled. And we should speak of the Green Line – not “the so-called Green Line”.”

The exception to the rule in that BBC policy is of course its permanent employment of a term that the Jordanians invented some seventy years ago after they invaded, occupied and later annexed foreign territory – without recognition from the international community. The BBC refers to Judea & Samaria exclusively as “the West Bank” and its website even has a tag for that term.

So much for BBC consistency, impartiality and ‘progressiveness’. 

BBC News report on UNHRC blacklist conceals more than it reveals

On the evening of February 12th the BBC News website published a report headlined “UN lists 112 businesses linked to Israeli settlements” which, for reasons unknown, it chose to tag “Trump peace plan”.

The main image illustrating the report appears to show an Arab neighbourhood in Jerusalem near the anti-terrorist fence but is captioned “The settlements are seen as illegal under international law, although Israel disputes this”.

That partial but standard BBC mantra is of course repeated in the body of the article.

“About 600,000 Jews live in about 140 settlements built since Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem in 1967. The settlements are widely considered illegal under international law, though Israel has always disputed this.”

The report promotes a version of a partisan map produced by the political NGOB’tselem’ which has appeared in countless previous BBC News website reports. The map marks the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City as a “settlement” and fails to inform audiences that what are described as areas under “Palestinian civil control” and areas under “Israeli military and civil control” are in fact Areas A and B and Area C as designated under the Oslo Accords, to which the PLO was party.

Readers are told that:

“The UN human rights office has issued a long-awaited report on companies linked to Jewish settlements in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

The report names 112 business entities the office says it has reasonable grounds to conclude have been involved in activities related to settlements.

They include Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia Group and Motorola Solutions.”

The BBC does not clarify that the UNHRC’s blacklist also includes the Rami Levy supermarket chain (which is known as a model of co-existence between Israelis and Palestinians) and numerous companies providing services such as transport, water and telecommunications to both Israelis and Palestinians.  

Later on readers are told that:

“In 2016, the UN Human Rights Council mandated the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to produce a database of companies involved in specific activities relating to settlements. […]

Following what it said was a thorough review and assessment of all information available, the OHCHR presented a report on Wednesday identifying 112 business entities that it said, there were reasonable grounds to conclude, had been involved in one or more of those activities.”

BBC audiences are not informed that members of the UNHRC at the time that the resolution (3136) requesting the compilation of that database was passed included human rights ‘beacons’ such as China, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Cuba, Qatar and Venezuela. Neither were they given any background information concerning the UNHRC’s infamous and long-standing bias against Israel.

The BBC’s report avoids all mention of the BDS supporting NGOs involved in the compilation of the blacklist. NGO Monitor notes that:

“The list was based on input from BDS groups, including Human Rights Watch. Many of the groups centrally involved receive significant funding from the EU and European governments. […]

Given that 85 of the 112 companies included on the blacklist are also found in the BDS NGO Who Profits’ database, and based on documentation seen by NGO Monitor,  it is clear that the UN relied on this and other BDS actors as its sources of information.”

In light of that serious omission, the BBC’s decision to include part of a quote from Human Rights Watch in its report is particularly notable.

“Human Rights Watch said the list “should put all companies on notice: to do business with illegal settlements is to aid in the commission of war crimes.””

Although the BBC’s report claims that “There were no immediate comments from the companies named on the list”, one such comment is available here.

The BBC report amplifies comments made by a PA official:

“The Palestinian Authority’s Foreign Minister, Riyad al-Maliki, said: “The publication of the list of companies and parties operating in settlements is a victory for international law.”

He also called on the Human Rights Council member states to “issue recommendations and instructions to these companies to end their work immediately with the settlements”.”

However at no point in the article did the BBC bother to inform readers in its own words that there is no prohibition in international law from doing business in occupied or disputed territories.

Neither does the report make any effort to inform audiences of the fact that the UNHRC has taken no such action against companies operating in other occupied or disputed territories anywhere else in the world.  

Given the BBC’s dismal record on informing audiences on the topic of UNHRC bias against Israel, its long-existing editorial policy of promoting a specific politically motivated narrative concerning ‘settlements’ and ‘international law’ and its promotion of the BDS campaign agenda, the serious omissions in this report come as no surprise whatsoever.

Related Articles:

BBC continues to obstruct audience understanding of UN bias

Disproportionate focus in BBC News report on UNHRC speech

BBC portrayal of US decision to leave UNHRC – part one

Does BBCsplaining of Palestinian aspirations stand up to scrutiny?

The BBC’s recent coverage of the US Administration’s ‘Peace to Prosperity’ proposals once again provided no shortage of examples of ‘BBCsplaining’ of alleged Palestinian aspirations.

“The Palestinians want an independent state of their own, comprising the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem.”

“The Palestinians insist on borders based on ceasefire lines which separated Israel and East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza between 1949 and 1967.” [source]

“The Palestinians have long sought to establish an independent, sovereign state in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, which were occupied by Israel during the 1967 Six Day War.”

“The Palestinians insist on borders based on ceasefire lines which separated Israel and East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza between 1949 and 1967.” [source]

“The Palestinians want an independent state of their own, comprising the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem.”

“The Palestinians insist on borders based on ceasefire lines which separated Israel and East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza between 1949 and 1967.” [source

We have in the past all too often had cause to note that the BBC’s implication that there is one unified and representative Palestinian voice which aspires to a two-state solution is inaccurate and misleading. Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad obviously do not hold that aspiration – their aim is the destruction of Israel. Readers may recall that three years ago, however, the BBC rejected a complaint on that issue.

We have also noted the BBC’s failure to inform its audiences of the existence of voices from within the Palestinian Authority and Fatah which do not align with the narrative it promotes.

Examining the BBC’s claim of Palestinian support for the two-state solution

Fatah officials contradict the BBC’s ‘two-state’ narrative

Palestinian Media Watch has documented another such recent example provided by a member of Fatah’s central committee, Tawfiq Tirawi.

“Who said that we are for a state [on the borders of] 1967? Who said this? In Fatah, this does not exist in our constitution and our charter! They [Israel] want Beit El and Ma’ale Adumim (i.e., Israeli towns in the West Bank) to be Israeli, and we say that Nazareth, Haifa, and Acre (i.e., Israeli cities) are Palestinian, and they will remain Palestinian! Our Palestinian land is from the [Jordan] River to the [Mediterranean] Sea. I dare any Palestinian, any senior Palestinian official, or any Palestinian leader to reduce the Palestinian map to the West Bank and Gaza! He would not be able to walk one meter in the streets of our Palestinian cities among our people! … Arab brothers… Be with the Palestinian people, the people that lives on land that is all holy and that is all waqf land (i.e., land that is an inalienable religious endowment in Islamic law.)” [Facebook page of Fatah Central Committee member Tawfiq Tirawi, Feb. 2, 2020]

BBC audiences will of course continue to be denied knowledge of such views because they contradict the politically motivated narrative that the corporation has chosen to advance.

Related Articles:

Reviewing BBC News website coverage of the US ‘Peace to Prosperity’ plan

A review of the impartiality of BBC radio coverage of the US ‘Peace to Prosperity’ plan

Why is the BBC’s failure to properly report the Jewish state issue important?

BBC News silent on Abbas’ rejection of Jewish state

BBC Complaints: inaccurate portrayal of Palestinian leadership is not a ‘significant issue’

BBC Radio 4 promotes a redundant comparison

The February 5th edition of BBC Radio 4’s ‘The World Tonight’, presented by Shaun Ley, included a pre-recorded interview with David Miliband, president and CEO of the NGO the International Rescue Committee.

During that interview (from 24:42 here) Miliband spoke about the humanitarian crisis in Idlib, Syria, which is under attack from the Assad regime and its Russian allies along with Iranian militias. He noted that hospitals and health centres are being bombed and that vehicles “carrying displaced people are also being targeted”. Ley raised the topic of war crimes in relation to ambulances being targeted and Miliband referred to “international humanitarian law” and “war crimes”.

However in the course of that interview, Miliband also made the following statement (from 26:43):

Miliband: “I want to say to your listeners, we already have one Gaza in the Middle East, in Gaza itself, with about two million people crammed in. There’s a new Gaza being created in the west of Syria with three and a half million people, with terrorist groups in control and with civilian life at daily risk from bombardment and other fighting.”

One can of course find several points on which to take issue with Miliband’s simplistic, if not sensationalist, comparison of Idlib to the Gaza Strip. For example, in that province in Syria hospitals have – as the BBC knows – been deliberately bombed by Russian jets. In the Gaza Strip, not only is that not the case but hospitals receive medical supplies transferred by Israel (139 tons in the week in which this programme was aired alone) and additional products such as food and building materials are also supplied.

For the producers of ‘The World Tonight’, however, that redundant comparison was apparently the most important thing that Miliband said during his five-minute interview – as shown by the fact that it was used to promote the item in the programme’s introduction (from 00:55) along with a reference to war crimes.

Ley: “Also in the programme, the UN Security Council meets tomorrow to discuss the humanitarian crisis in Idlib, the last rebel-held province in Syria. The former foreign secretary David Miliband tells me that Western indifference has contributed to a situation in which war crimes are being committed.”

Miliband: “There’s a new Gaza being created in the west of Syria with three and a half million people, with terrorist groups in control and with civilian life at daily risk from bombardment and other fighting.”

Apparently the BBC considers that invalid and irrelevant comparison to be consistent with its supposed editorial standards of accuracy and impartiality.

Related Articles:

Comparing BBC reporting on strikes on hospitals in Syria and Gaza

BBC Sounds relaunches 2017 series by Middle East editor

The BBC recently re-uploaded the 2017 audio series by its Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen called ‘Our Man in the Middle East’.

Our analysis of the episodes relating to Israel can be found below:

BBC’s ME Editor misrepresents the Hussein-McMahon correspondence

A predictable view of Jerusalem from the BBC’s ‘Man in the Middle East’

BBC ME editor gives context-free, omission rich potted history of Israel’s creation

BBC’s Bowen tells his annual Lebanon story on Radio 4

BBC’s Bowen resurrects the ‘Arafat was poisoned’ canard on Radio 4

In which the BBC’s Jeremy Bowen repeats his ‘no human shields in Gaza’ claims

BBC News ‘explains’ Israeli gesture with a Tweet from an American

On February 3rd the BBC News website published a piece by Tom Gerken of BBC News Washington on its ‘US & Canada’ page titled “The many meanings of the pinched fingers emoji”.

As the title suggests Gerken attempted to explain the different meanings of a hand gesture in various countries.

“Is it a way to show disbelief, a way to ask others to be quiet, or a cute gesture popularised by a K-Pop star?

It’s called “pinched fingers” and depending on where you are in the world, a new emoji announced by the Unicode Consortium, which approves standard emojis worldwide, could have a completely different meaning.”

Gerken obviously concluded that the best person to explain the meaning of that gesture in Israeli culture was an American journalist who lived in the country for just three years rather than an actual Israeli.

He also apparently did not bother to read the rest of that thread on Zetter’s Twitter feed.

Gerken’s sloppy portrayal of Israeli culture to the BBC News website’s North American audiences, based on a claim which he obviously did not bother to verify made in one Tweet from a person who has “no patience with Israelis”, is sadly not unrepresentative of the BBC’s commitment to fact checking.

 

Reviewing BBC News website coverage of the US ‘Peace to Prosperity’ plan

Last week we looked at the impartiality of BBC Radio 4 and BBC World Service radio coverage of the US Administration’s ‘Peace to Prosperity’ plan.

A review of the impartiality of BBC radio coverage of the US ‘Peace to Prosperity’ plan

But did visitors to the BBC News website fare any better?

Below is a summary of the relevant content published on the BBC News website’s ‘Middle East’ page between January 27th and January 30th – eleven items in all.

Many of the reports promote talking points also evident (including before anyone at the BBC had actually read the proposal) in BBC radio and television coverage:

  • Description of the proposal as a “surrender document” for the Palestinians which does not meet their demands.
  • Presentation of the document as fully meeting Israeli demands.
  • Presentation of the timing of the launch of the document as being related to political and legal processes in the US and Israel.
  • Amplification of the talking points of the PLO and political NGOs, including the ‘apartheid’ trope.
  • Portrayal of the Palestinians as having no agency and predictions of ‘inevitable’ violence.

January 27th:

Trump’s Middle East peace plan: ‘Deal of the century’ is huge gamble by the BBC’s Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen. Although now dated January 29th, the article was originally published on January 27th – the day before the US proposal was launched – as part of the BBC’s cross-platform preemptive framing of the story.

“…the Trump plan gives Mr Netanyahu all he wants – and offers Palestinians very little; a sort-of state that will be truncated, without proper sovereignty, surrounded by Israel’s territory and threaded between Jewish settlements.”

“Israel argues the Palestinians turned down a series of good offers. The Palestinian negotiators say they made huge concessions, not least accepting Israel’s existence in around 78% of their historic homeland.”

“The timing of the announcement of the Trump initiative suits the political and legal needs of Mr Trump and Mr Netanyahu. Both men face elections. As well as that, Mr Trump gets a distraction from his impeachment, and from his trial in the US Senate for high crimes and misdemeanours. Mr Netanyahu faces criminal charges of corruption, bribery and breach of trust.”

“Essentially the Palestinians have been told to take it or leave it. They are being given a surrender document, told to accept that Israel has won, and with its American friends will shape the future. If Palestinians refuse, the message continues, Israel will still get what it wants and they will be even worse off.”

“There is a chance Palestinians will be afflicted by more anger, despair and hopelessness. In a combustible part of the world, that is dangerous. The Trump plan is a gamble.”

January 28th:

Netanyahu: Trump Middle East peace plan ‘deal of the century’  (video without commentary)

Trump outlines Middle East peace plan  (video without commentary)

Abbas on Trump peace plan: ‘Conspiracy deal won’t pass’  (video without commentary)

Trump releases long-awaited Middle-East peace plan  with analysis from Jonathan Marcus and a link to the website of a political NGO which engages in ‘lawfare’ against Israel.

“…his [Trump’s] “take it or leave it offer” will appal many long-standing students of the region. The question now is not so much what benefit this deal might bring but how much damage it may do by over-turning Palestinian aspirations.”

“Israeli human rights group B’Tselem said the proposals envisaged a form of apartheid.

It said Palestinians would be relegated “to small, enclosed, isolated enclaves, with no control over their lives”.

Israel’s Peace Now organisation said the plan was “as detached from reality as it is eye-catching”.

“The plan’s green light for Israel to annex the settlements in exchange for a perforated Palestinian state is unviable and would not bring stability,” it said.”

Trump’s Middle East peace plan: Smiles and sorrow on the ground Tom Bateman discussed

“The Trump document says applying Israeli sovereignty to the settlements would be compensated by land swaps to Palestinians. It would also recognise Israeli sovereignty over the strategically important Jordan Valley, a key swathe of land in the West Bank important for agriculture running along the border with neighbouring Jordan. […]

But Palestinians say the move will entrench apartheid.”

January 29th:

What does Trump’s Middle East plan say on key issues? Backgrounder

“The Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) said the US plan “recognises Israel’s illegal colonisation and annexation of occupied lands belonging to the State of Palestine”, while Israeli human rights group B’Tselem warned that Palestinians would be “relegated to small, enclosed, isolated enclaves, with no control over their lives”.”

Trump Middle East plan: What he gets out of it  Aleem Maqbool

“Israeli opposition figures have not shied away from suggesting that the timing of the proposal’s release was aimed at helping Benjamin Netanyahu in a general election to be held on 2 March.”

“The impeachment allegations [against Trump] suggest sordid and dishonourable use of his powerful position for personal political gain; withholding hundreds of millions of dollars of military assistance to Ukraine until Kiev opened investigations into Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.

Mr Trump might hope the unveiling of his proposal would offer Americans a contrasting narrative of his skills as a statesman, delivering “the deal of the century”.”

“There are also Evangelicals within the Trump administration itself, like Vice-President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who have reportedly been pushing for the kind of support for Israel’s expansionist aspirations as detailed in the new plan.

Those aspirations all but do away with the notion of having sovereign Palestinian and Israeli states existing side by side, as previous US administrations had said they wanted.

Evangelical Christians were huge financial backers of the Trump campaign in 2016, but there were others who would have wanted to see some return on the support they gave during the last election reflected in this proposal.

Aipac, the powerful pro-Israel lobbying group, has already endorsed Mr Trump’s Middle East plan, saying it appreciated the efforts of the president.”

“Whether the plan and the timing of its release is about backing Mr Netanyahu, distracting from impeachment troubles, playing domestic politics or if it is indeed driven by ideology, it comes with huge risks.

It can be seen as a proposal that gives Israel the authorisation to broaden its occupation, already a source of misery for so many. The fear is that a proposal that gives Palestinians so little hope is one that also strengthens hard-liners across the region.”

Why Trump’s Middle East plan is so divisive  Jeremy Bowen (video with commentary)

“The BBC’s Middle East Editor Jeremy Bowen explains why the proposal is so divisive.”

Trump Middle East plan: Palestinians reject ‘conspiracy’

“Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said the Trump administration had simply “copied and pasted” the steps that Mr Netanyahu wanted to see implemented.

“It’s about annexation, it’s about apartheid,” he said. “Moving to the de jure annexation of settlements is something that was given the green light yesterday.””

January 30th:

Palestinian PM defends stance on Trump Middle East plan Orla Guerin interview with Mohammad Shtayyeh (video)

As we see the BBC elected to interview the Palestinian Authority prime minister but not any senior Israeli official. The BBC chose to showcase political NGOs and a PLO official promoting the baseless ‘apartheid’ trope but did not provide an alternative viewpoint. The reports written by the BBC staff presented a disturbingly uniform negative view of the topic and audiences were not provided with a balanced “range of views”.

The purpose of the editorial guidelines is of course to enable the BBC to meet its public purpose obligations, including the provision of “duly accurate and impartial news, current affairs and factual programming to build people’s understanding of […] the wider world”. It is once again abundantly obvious that BBC journalists were far more intent on establishing a specific narrative than they were committed to providing accurate and impartial news reports offering a “wide range of significant views”. 

Related Articles:

Snark and speculation on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Today’

BBC’s Tom Bateman misleads on the Oslo Accords

BBC Two ‘Newsnight’ viewers misled on 1949 Armistice lines

The BBC’s Middle East editor’s framing of the US peace plan

Inadequately presented interviewees and an anonymous quote in BBC One Guerin report

BBC Radio 4’s preemptive framing of the ‘Peace to Prosperity’ plan

BBC’s ‘Newshour’ serves up ‘rumours and leaks’ with one-sided analysis

BBC Radio 4 news implies previous existence of Palestinian state in US plan report

BBC radio interviews same PA representative three times in one day

BBC WS radio promotes US peace plan commentary from partisan lobbying group

A review of the impartiality of BBC radio coverage of the US ‘Peace to Prosperity’ plan

 

BBC News again recycles Syrian regime propaganda

On February 6th the BBC News website published a report titled “Syria war: Israel ‘hits Iran-backed fighters near Damascus’” (and bizarrely tagged “Syrian civil war”) on its Middle East page.

At the beginning of the report the two sources upon which it is based are noted:

“Israeli warplanes have fired missiles at targets near Syria’s capital, Damascus, Syrian state media report.

The Sana news agency said air defences intercepted most of the missiles, but that eight people were wounded.

A monitoring group said Syrian army positions and those of Iran-backed militias were hit, killing 23 people.”

Only in the article’s ninth paragraph is it clarified that the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group is based in the UK.

As has often been the case in the past, readers found unqualified promotion of propaganda from Syrian regime media – including a link – such as the standard claim that “air defences intercepted most of the missiles”.

“Sana cited a Syrian military source as saying that Israeli warplanes flying over Lebanon and the occupied Golan Heights launched two waves of missiles at southern Syria early on Thursday.

The first wave targeted military positions in the suburbs of Damascus, while the second targeted those in Deraa, Quneitra and Damascus Countryside provinces, according to the source.

“[The] vigilance of our air defence personnel contributed to destroying large numbers of the hostile missiles and the aggression caused the injury of eight fighters, in addition to a material damage,” the source added.”

The BBC’s report even provided (not for the first time) amplification for the Syrian regime’s conspiracy theories:

“The Syrian military accused Israel of launching an “aggressive escalation” in an attempt to “save the armed terrorist organisations which have been collapsing in Idlib and western Aleppo in front of the strikes of the Syrian Arab Army”.”

At no point in the report were readers provided with any warning concerning the lack of reliability of reports put out by the Syrian regime and its mouthpieces and their history of lying about events in Syria.

Readers of the BBC’s report were told that:

“The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based monitoring group, said strikes on Iran-backed militia positions in Kiswa, Muqaylabiya, Jisr al-Baghdad and Izra killed 15 fighters, including five Syrians and at least three Iranians.

And eight Syrian soldiers were killed by missiles that hit air defence batteries near Damascus, it added.”

The SOHR’s report also includes the claim that some of those killed were Iranian-backed militia fighters.

Curiously, the BBC’s 2017 report concerning Iran’s establishment of a military base in Kiswa (also al Kiswah) was not included in the related reading appended to this report but readers were directed to an article about cats. Although readers learned nothing about Iranian military assets in Syria – including the IRGC base near Izra in southern Syria which according to reports includes a base for surface-to-air missiles – they were told that:

“Israel did not comment, but it has acknowledged carrying out hundreds of strikes in Syria in recent years to stop Iranian “military entrenchment”.”

So while the BBC saw fit to qualify the topic of Iranian military entrenchment in Syria by means of punctuation, it did not bother to provide any objective background information concerning that issue.

Once again we see that BBC newsgathering for this report consisted mainly of repeating claims from Syrian state media linked to the regime’s Ministry of Information and from the Syrian regime itself without any evidence of independent confirmation by the BBC.

Given the record of those sources, one would expect a serious media outlet (especially one which promotes itself as an authority on ‘fake news’) to be considerably more cautious about promoting their unverified statements and conspiracy theories to its funding public in supposedly factual news reports.

Related Articles:

BBC News yet again promotes conspiracy theories

Looking behind a BBC News website tag

BBC News website tones down Assad regime propaganda

Despite evidence, the BBC won’t let go of Assad propaganda

More false balance in BBC News report on Douma chemical attack

BBC newsgathering again relies on Syrian state outlets