BBC Business ‘forgets’ to clarify that quoted academic is BDS campaigner

An article headlined “How tech is bringing Israelis and Palestinians together” appeared in the ‘features’ sections of the BBC News website’s ‘Middle East’ and ‘Business’ pages on the morning of April 30th. Written by Melissa Jun Rowley, most of the article focuses unremarkably on various “technology partnerships” but some interesting framing is also in evidence.

Paragraph three of the article tells readers that:

“…Israeli-Palestinian relations have been relentlessly grim ever since the foundation of Israel in 1948 and the subsequent Arab-Israeli conflict that has been rumbling on ever since.”

The word subsequent of course means “coming after something in time” but “grim” Israeli-Palestinian relations and the Arab-Israeli conflict of course did not commence following – and as a result of – “the foundation of Israel in 1948” as Rowley’s framing suggests.

Another notable point concerns some of the six images used to illustrate the article. Three of the photographs show people who participate in some of the programmes it features. One is a video first published by the BBC in December 2018. One is an image of torn Palestinian and Israeli flags captioned “In a fractured land, many young people from opposite sides never meet each other”. The final image shows buildings (in Givat Ze’ev, but readers are not given the location) with the caption “Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank are one of many contentious issues in the region”.

Interestingly, out of “many contentious issues” the BBC chose to exclusively highlight “Israeli settlements” rather than, say, Palestinian terrorism or the Palestinian refusal to accept the existence the Jewish state.

Rowley’s take-away messaging comes at the end of the article.

“But will such collaborations lead to a stronger economy for the region and potentially a resolution of the conflict?

That remains unlikely, believes Magid Shihade, faculty member at the Institute for International Studies at Birzeit University on the West Bank, while onerous trade restrictions remain in place.

Under the Paris Protocol between the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli government, Palestinians cannot import what they like from abroad and are prevented from developing their own products freely.

“The first step for change is to remove all Israeli restriction in trade, thus letting Palestinian and Israeli businesses collaborate on an equal footing,” says Mr Shihade.

But Israel believes such restrictions are necessary to maintain its security in the troubled region.”

The 1994 Paris Protocol was of course signed by the PLO rather than “the Palestinian Authority” and was incorporated into the Oslo II agreement of 1995. Rowley fails to provide any proper explanation of her dubious claim that “Palestinians cannot import what they like from abroad and are prevented from developing their own products freely” which apparently relates to restrictions on dual-use goods which can be used for terrorism.

Neither does Rowley bother to inform readers that while her quoted ‘authority’ Magid Shihade is not an economist, he is a ‘one-stater’ who co-founded the ‘US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel’ as well as (together with his wife) another pro-BDS group called ‘Pakistanis for Palestine’.

The Paris Protocol is seen by the BDS movement as part of the cooperation with Israel which it rejects and in 2007 PACBI (The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel) recommended that the BDS campaign “Build pressure on PA officials for ending normalization with Israel (end security coordination, rescind Paris Protocol on economic cooperation, etc.)”. It therefore comes as no surprise to see BDS campaigner Magid Shihade advocating the annulment of that treaty.

Unfortunately it is equally unsurprising to see the BBC amplifying a position taken by the anti-peace BDS campaign without full disclosure – as required by BBC editorial guidelines on impartiality – of the ‘particular viewpoint’ of the sole academic ‘expert’ quoted in this article.  

Related Articles:

BBC News’ ‘different side’ to Gaza is much of the same

Reviewing BBC reporting on the BDS campaign in 2018

BBC promotes selective narrative on PA economy

 

 

 

 

 

 

Diplomat hounded out of university: this time, the BBC reports

Well well: it transpires that the BBC is not, after all, averse to reporting the hounding out of diplomats from universities at which they have been invited to speak – just as long as the diplomat concerned happens to come from their own country. 

In sharp contrast with its failure to report on the February 20th incident at Essex University in which the deputy Israeli ambassador to the UK had to be evacuated under threat, as well as its previous failure to report a similar incident in 2010 at Manchester University, the BBC has produced two items so far (here and here) relating to the incident on March 5th 2013 in which the British Consul General  in Jerusalem was hounded out of Birzeit University near Ramallah. 

Fean Birzeit

In a glaring fail of accuracy, the written version of the report states:

“Some held up posters of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails and placards condemning the Balfour Declaration of 1917 – a British imagepledge of support for the establishment of a Jewish “national home” in Palestine, then under a British mandate.” [emphasis added]

Of course there was no such thing as a mandate – British or otherwise – in November 1917 when the Balfour Declaration was made, because the mandate for Palestine was allocated to Great Britain at the San Remo conference on April 24th 1920, with the draft of the mandate being approved by the League of Nations on July 24th 1922 when the 51 member countries unanimously declared:

“Whereas recognition has been given to the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country;”

The mandate’s terms became operational on the 29th of September 1923, so in this above statement the BBC has jumped the gun by almost six years. 

One trusts that a correction will be made. 

Update: One day after the appearance of this post, the above paragraph was amended to remove the ahistoric claim and now reads:

“Some held up posters of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails and placards condemning the Balfour Declaration of 1917 – a British pledge of support for the establishment of a Jewish “national home” in Palestine.”