BBC amplifies the unproven claims of anti-Israel political NGO

Nearly fourteen years have passed since the instigation of the second Intifada by the Palestinian Authority in the wake of failed negotiations with Israel. A major factor in whipping up fervour on the Palestinian street at the time was the Al Dura incident of September 30th 2000. Then, as in subsequent events such as the fabricated ‘Jenin massacre’ and more recently the Masharawi affair, the BBC was at the forefront of those media outlets which unquestioningly promoted and amplified the lethal narratives supplied by interested parties, with little or no regard for its general journalistic obligation to check facts and its particular commitment to BBC editorial guidelines on accuracy and impartiality.

Perhaps most disturbingly of all, in all three of the cases mentioned above (and others) there is no evidence to suggest that universally human considerations were taken into account regarding the likely effects of misleading and inaccurate media reports on the lives – literally – of persons associated with the group at which an accusatory finger was pointed by hasty journalists in a region in which the violent consequences of rumour spread like bush-fires.

On May 20th – just weeks after the latest round of failed negotiations came to its déjà vu end – the BBC News website published an article on its Middle East page titled “Video ‘shows shootings of Palestinian protesters’“. Notably, the BBC’s previously promoted and extremely problematic article on an Amnesty International report was one of the ‘related stories’ offered to readers together with that article.

Beitunia on MEHP

What really happened at Beitunia on May 15th to lead to the deaths of two Palestinian youths is as yet unknown and the incident is currently under investigation. What we do know, however, is that the edited video upon which the BBC article is based took five days to appear and that it was circulated and promoted by an organisation which the BBC misrepresents in the opening sentence of this report as a “human rights group”. 

“A human rights group has released a video it says shows two teenage Palestinians being shot dead by Israeli security forces at a protest last week.”

Defence for Children International – Palestine (DCI- Pal) is a radical political NGO with an agenda which includes anti-Israel campaigning and support for the anti-peace BDS movement. Its website still promotes the myth of the ‘Jenin massacre’ and a member of its board of directors, Shawan Jabarin, allegedly has ties to the PFLP terror organization.

Later on in the BBC’s report, the executive director of DCI-Pal is quoted and his classification of rioting seventeen year-olds (although some sources report them as being older) as ‘children’ is promoted.

” “The images captured on video show unlawful killings where neither child presented a direct and immediate threat to life at the time of their shooting,” said Rifat Kassis, executive director of DCI-Palestine.”

Rifat Odeh Kassis in fact wears many different hats for his political campaigning.

“The director and founder of DCI-Pal is Rifat Odeh Kassis – another seasoned anti-Israel campaigner who is active in a number of organisations (some of which he founded), including OPGAI, The World Council of Churches, EAPPI, the Alternative Tourism Group, and the Alternative Information Centre (also known for links to the PFLP).  Kassis is the co-author of the notorious Kairos Document, which promotes BDS and suggests that Jewish sovereignty is an affront to God’s plan for humanity.”

What we also know about this incident is that later the same day, one of the youths killed was claimed by Hamas as one of its activists on its Al Aqsa TV station and that at their funerals, one was wrapped in a Hamas flag and the other in a Fatah flag. Hamas members featured prominently at the funerals and the subsequent protests and one of the youths was photographed beforehand wearing a Hamas flag and headband. The BBC neglects to provide audiences with that information.

Beitunia rioting Hamas flag

Beitunia funeral flags

As the BBC notes in its report: [emphasis added]

No Israeli troops can be seen in the video, which begins with a youth throwing a stone from the end of a street, beside a row of shops.”

This BBC report does not, however, bother to inform readers that Israeli troops are far from the only ones who carry guns in that area and with the BBC having repeatedly failed in past months to adequately report the rise in Palestinian terrorism in Judea & Samaria, audiences will be unaware of that factor.Beitunia art

Neither does this BBC report inform readers of the fact (significant particularly in light of the recent Hamas-Fatah reconciliation deal) that the spokesman for the Palestinian security forces, Adnan al Damiri, told AFP that “…this prompts the [PA] leadership to seriously consider a halt to security coordination with the Israeli side”.

By the time the actual facts surrounding the deaths of the two youths in Beitunia on May 15th come to light, it will of course hardly matter. The symbiotic relationship between the media – BBC included – and political NGOs will have created and established a narrative which, like the past examples of the Al Dura case, the so-called ‘Jenin massacre’ and the Masharawi story, will remain etched in the minds of audiences (and available on the BBC News website for decades to come) regardless of what any investigation proves or disproves.

That is surely something which should be seriously considered by any responsible journalist before a report based upon so far evidence-free third-party claims and opaque edited video sequences is promoted to BBC audiences.

Related Articles:

Myths and lethal narratives on the BBC website

Another lethal narrative on the BBC website

Where’s the BBC coverage? Journalists beaten up in Beitunia






Where’s the BBC coverage? Journalists beaten up in Beitunia

On April 7th 2014 the BBC Media Centre published a “Joint statement issued at the BBC’s Safety of Journalists Symposium” which, inter alia, included the following:BBC Media Centre

“In too many countries journalists are facing serious intimidation and violence, which in turns leads to disturbing patterns of censorship and self-censorship. We stand against these abuses and today we call on the governments concerned to investigate each one of those crimes promptly and effectively so as to bring those responsible to justice.”

As regular readers of the BBC News website’s Middle East page will know, the subject of abuses against journalists is sadly not an infrequent topic there, with current articles on that page addressing the topic of two Times journalists attacked in Syria and the ongoing trial of the Al Jazeera journalists in Egypt, which has received a lot of BBC coverage. The same issue is also often addressed in other sections of the BBC News website, with some of the more recent reports having come from Hong Kong, Ukraine and Crimea.  

But what happens when the instigators of violence against journalists are members of the same profession? On May 16th two journalists working for the Israeli outlet Walla News were attacked in Beitunia. Avi Issacharoff writes:

“I found myself seconds away from being beaten to death by a mob of Palestinian masked men during clashes in the West Bank town of Beitunia, north of Jerusalem, on Friday

I’m not prone to exaggeration. It was a case of life and death, and I was within moments of falling victim to the kind of lynch that saw two Israeli soldiers who strayed into Ramallah in 2000 beaten to death by a baying mob. […]

I was there to report on the Nakba Day protests with a cameraman colleague from Walla News. He was some distance from me when he was approached by several Palestinian journalists who told him to “Get out.”

I walked toward them, and told them that if they had a problem, they should be talking to me. One of the Palestinian journalists, a young woman, then called over to a group of masked men, who swiftly surrounded me and began attacking me.”

It is worth revisiting an article written by Khaled Abu Toameh just over a year ago on a subject which, despite its clear stance on abuses of journalists elsewhere, the BBC did not see fit to cover at the time.

“In recent weeks, Israeli journalists who cover Palestinian affairs have been facing increased threats from Palestinian reporters.

On a number of occasions, the threats included acts of violence against the Israeli journalists, particularly in Ramallah.

Human rights organizations and groups claiming to defend freedom of media have failed to condemn the campaign of intimidation waged by Palestinian journalists against their Israeli fellow-journalists.

It is one thing when governments and dictators go after journalists, but a completely different thing when journalists start targeting their counterparts.

An Israeli journalist had his microphone damaged during an assault, while another was thrown out of a press conference. Behind the two incidents were Palestinian journalists, angered by the presence of Israelis in Ramallah and other Palestinian cities.

The threats and harassment came as more than 200 Palestinian journalists signed a petition, for the first time ever, calling on the Palestinian Authority to ban Israeli correspondents from operating in its territories “without permission.” “

And there have been additional similar incidents since. 

To date, the attack on Avi Issacharoff and his colleague (which is further detailed in this article) has not been reported by the BBC.