Looking beyond the BBC Berlin correspondent’s framing

On October 13th a report titled “Germany protest: Tens of thousands march against far right” appeared on the BBC News website’s ‘Europe’ page.

“More than 100,000 people have been marching in the German capital Berlin to protest against xenophobia and the increasing influence of the far right.

Rights groups organised the rally, as marchers held placards reading “Indivisible” and “United against racism”.

The BBC’s Jenny Hill in Berlin says even the organisers seemed surprised by the turnout.”

Readers found the following portrayal of the event:

“Marchers walked through central Berlin, rallying at the Brandenburg Gate.

Many said they were defending human rights and tolerance, particularly of migrants.

“I’m worried that we are not there for the others, and that we just don’t bother or care about loads of people who really need our help,” said one demonstrator.

“Nobody just comes because they are bored.”

One woman said: “There are so many people who believe they can abuse human rights and questions of equality and so on, and it’s time to say no, there are other people who just want to be open and open-minded.””

The BBC’s Berlin correspondent Jenny Hill added her own analysis:

“The mass protest – officially aimed at promoting an open society – was organised by hundreds of groups with different agendas and political affiliations.

But most of the participants were united by their concern about the influence of the far right on German politics and society.”

However, a report that appeared in the Jerusalem Post three days later suggests that the BBC’s Berlin correspondent seriously overlooked parts of the rally which were not quite so committed to tolerance and open-mindedness.

“Speakers urged the obliteration of the Jewish state and support for the BDS campaign against Israel.

The Jerusalem Post reviewed a video showing two speakers who called for the “liberation of all of Palestine 48” and “We must take a stand and boycott Israel. BDS.” The slogan to “liberate all of Palestine” refers to the founding of the Jewish state in 1948, and is widely considered a euphemism to cleanse Israel of Jews. […]

Demonstrators at the march hoisted symbols in support of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, according to observers and German media reports. 

The European Union and the US have designated the PFLP a terrorist group. 

The speakers who call for genocidal antisemitism against Israel and BDS delivered their talks under the banner of the pro-BDS and pro-PFLP organization International Alliance. […]

The Iranian-regime controlled Islamic Center of Hamburg was present at the march. The city-state of Hamburg’s intelligence agency monitors the Islamic Center of Hamburg because it is considered a threat to Hamburg’s democratic system. The Islamic Republic of Iran-dominated center in Hamburg plays a key role in the annual al-Quds Day rally in Berlin, calling for the elimination of Israel.

The Central Council of Muslims, which is an umbrella organization for groups with ties to the fascist Turkish Grey Wolves and anti-Western Islamic entities, participated in the march. 

The prominent German-Turkish lawyer and liberal Muslim Seyran Ates told BILD, “It is a very naïve idea of tolerance when one demonstrates with people on the street who do not want tolerance.”

The Palestinian NGO ‘Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network’ also took part in the rally.

“Palestinian and Palestine solidarity activists joined the mass #Unteilbar (“Indivisible”) demonstration in Berlin, Germany on 13 October, organizing a contingent in support of the Palestinian struggle against racism, colonialism and oppression and for the freedom of Palestinian political prisoners. […]

The Palestine bloc marched in a left/revolutionary group with the Internationalist Alliance, including the MLPD (Marxist-Leninist Party of Germany), Rebell youth organization, ATIF (Association of Turkish Workers in Germany) and many other groups.”

The people described as ‘political prisoners’ include of course the convicted terrorists who are supported by that NGO.

“Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network participated in the contingent, carrying signs and posters demanding freedom for all Palestinian prisoners. The protest action also came as part of the week of action for Georges Ibrahim Abdallah, the Arab Communist struggler for Palestine jailed in France for 34 years, with actions in cities across Europe, in Palestine, Lebanon and throughout the Arab world.

BDS Berlin activists marched for Palestine as part of the bloc, while organizers from Coup Pour Coup 31 in Toulouse, France, joined the protest in Berlin, carrying signs and posters for Georges Abdallah. Palestinian youth led the contingent, carrying the Palestinian flag high while carrying the group’s lead banner calling for Abdallah’s liberation.”

In other words, this ‘tolerance’ rally was allowed to become a stage for ‘protest action’ on behalf of a terrorist convicted for the murders of an American military attaché and an Israeli diplomat in Paris.

The Jerusalem Post reports that organisers of the event were aware of the presence of anti-Israel participants in the rally:

“A spokeswoman for Indivisible, Theresa Hartmann, told the Berlin-based paper B.Z that the event’s organizers rejects hatred of Israel and that the anti-Israel agitators “did not speak on the official stage but the organization has responsibility for what took place at our demonstration.”

She said Indivisible distances itself from the anti-Jewish state speeches because its departs from the “joint consensus” of the demonstration.” 

The BBC’s Berlin correspondent however did not report that part of the story and so BBC audiences – along with the ‘historical record’ – saw the event framed exclusively as one which defended human rights, tolerance, equality and open-mindedness.

Related Articles:

BBC Breakfast’s Jenny Hill enables PSC antisemitism washing

 

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BBC ‘Newshour’ presenter Donnison decides an Israeli’s identity

According to a study carried out last year by the Israel Democracy Institute just 14% of the Arab citizens of Israel define their primary identity as Palestinian. However, even in the contemporary era of race and gender self-identification, one BBC World Service radio presenter appears to have granted himself the prerogative of deciding how Israel’s Arab citizens should be defined.

On June 3rd an edition of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newshour‘ included an interview with the Program Director of the Jewish Museum in Berlin. Presenter Jon Donnison introduced the item (from 19:34 here) as follows:

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

Donnison: “To Germany now and at the Jewish Museum in Berlin a kippa – the skullcap worn by many religious Jewish men – has gone on display. Nothing too unusual about that you might think but this is a specific kippa. It was worn by a young secular Palestinian Israeli man Adam Armoush in Berlin who put it on to show solidarity with his Jewish friends. Things went badly though. He was violently set upon in the street by a Syrian refugee in an anti-Semitic attack. Video footage of the attack went viral on social media and led to widespread demonstrations with thousands of people of all faiths or none wearing kippot in support of Adam Armoush. His kippa is going on display in the Jewish Museum’s new ‘rapid response’ gallery which aims to highlight contemporary issues in the news.”

As Adam Armoush explained in interviews given to German and Israeli media after the attack, the reason he walked down that Berlin street wearing a kippa was not the one given by Donnison.

“The 21-year-old victim of an anti-Semitic attack on the streets of Berlin has told German media that, despite the fact that he was wearing a traditional Jewish skullcap, he was not Jewish, but an Israeli Arab wearing the kippa as an experiment.

“I’m not Jewish, I’m an Israeli, I grew up in Israel in an Arab family,” the man told German broadcaster Deutsche Welle. 

He was conducting what he termed an “experiment” in response to a warning from a friend that wearing a kippa in Germany was unsafe, saying he refused to believe this. […]

Armoush told German broadcaster Deutsche Welle that he himself is an Israeli Arab, not Jewish, and that he wore the skullcap to make a point to a friend who said it was risky to do so in Germany.

“I was saying it’s really safe and I wanted to prove it, but it ended like that,” he said.”

The BBC itself reported at the time that:

“In a twist to the story, the Israeli victim later told German media that he had grown up in an Arab family in Israel and was not himself Jewish. He had been given the kippah a few days before by a friend from Israel who had told him it was dangerous to wear one in Berlin and he wanted to see if that was true.”

In addition to Donnison’s inaccurate portrayal of the reason why Armoush wore the kippa, he presented the subsequent rallies in Germany as being “in support of Adam Armoush” when in fact they were advertised as having a broader aim:

“As a sign against anti-Semitism, people in several German cities have taken to the streets with the traditional Jewish headgear, the Kippa. Jews and non-Jews gathered on Wednesday in Berlin, Cologne, Erfurt, Magdeburg and Potsdam for solidarity rallies.”

And despite there being no record of Adam Armoush having self-identified as a “Palestinian” in the various interviews he gave to the media, Jon Donnison took it upon himself to portray him as such to BBC World Service radio listeners.

All that in just one hundred and thirty-seven words.  

 

 

 

 

BBC coverage of Berlin terror attack again highlights double standards

The BBC’s coverage of the vehicular terror attack in Nice on July 14th 2016 highlighted the differences in the terminology used to describe and define that attack as opposed to the language used when reporting similar attacks against Israelis.Attack Nice website Europe pge

When a vehicular attack occurred in Berlin on the evening of December 19th, the BBC News website’s initial report on the incident – oddly titled “Berlin Breitscheidplatz: Lorry kills 12 at Christmas market” – was amended less than two hours after its initial publication to include a sub-heading posing the question “Terror attack?”

“We are investigating whether it was a terror attack but do not yet know what was behind it,” a police spokesman told AFP news agency.”

A later version of the report used the sub-heading “Was it a terror attack?” and informed readers that:

“German politicians have been unwilling to call the deadly crash a terrorist attack at this stage, while many of the details remain unverified or unclear.”

All but the first two versions of the report created linkage with an attack previously defined by the BBC as terrorism, telling readers that the incident:

“…evoked memories of the lorry attack on Bastille Day crowds in the French city of Nice on 14 July, when 86 people were killed. That attack was claimed by so-called Islamic State (IS).”

Later versions added:

“Both IS and al-Qaida have urged their followers to use trucks as a means to attack crowds.”berlin-attack-art-2-main

Early on the morning following the attack, the BBC News website published a second article which soon had its headline updated to read “Berlin attack: Police say lorry crash ‘probably terror attack’“.

“German police are investigating a “probable terrorist attack” after a man ploughed a lorry into a Christmas market in the heart of Berlin, killing 12 people and injuring 48. […]

Politicians had avoided branding the bloodshed a terror attack in the hours immediately following, but Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere told ARD television, “there are many things pointing to one”.”

Readers were provided with a link billed “A year of terror in Germany”.

berlin-attack-art-2-insert

The updated article to which that link leads was originally published in July 2016 and now opens:

“After suffering a series of attacks in the summer, Germany has been in fear of further terrorist violence.

Those fears were realised on Monday, when a lorry ploughed into a Christmas market in Berlin, killing 12 people and injuring 48.”berlin-attack-on-europe-pge-20-12

The same link was promoted as a stand alone item on the BBC News website’s ‘Europe’ page and in an article titled “Berlin lorry attack: What we know” which informed readers:

“A lorry smashed into a crowded Christmas market in central Berlin, killing 12 people and injuring 48, with many of them in a critical condition.

German police are treating it as a terror attack. It has already been compared with the July lorry attack in Nice, southern France, which killed 86 people. […]

Germany was shocked by four terror attacks in the summer, two of which – by asylum seekers – were claimed by IS.”

Also on December 20th, BBC television viewers were told by reporter Jenny Hill that:

“There is of course a sense of utter horror here this morning and that is compounded by the fact that the police here are now describing this as a suspected terror attack. So not only do they believe that that lorry was deliberately driven into the crowd here, they believe that this was a terror inspired attack too.”

In conclusion, BBC audiences were alerted to the probability that the incident at the Berlin Christmas market was a terror attack from the early stages of the BBC’s coverage, with use of the terms terror and terrorist made by the BBC itself, as well as in quotes from officials.

With the corporation having consistently refrained from describing vehicular attacks (and all other types of attacks) against Israelis as terrorism, the double standards so often evident in its reporting of terrorism in different locations are once again on display to BBC audiences – who of course have never seen a BBC article billed ‘A year of terror in Israel’.   

Related Articles:

Reviewing BBC reporting of vehicular attacks in France and Israel

More mapping of BBC inconsistency in terrorism reporting

BBC News finds terror (without quotation marks) in Europe