Islamic Jihad unravels BBC amplification of Hamas claim

As we saw earlier in the week some recent BBC content unquestioningly amplified a statement made by Hamas blaming Israel for the death of a fourteen-month-old girl and her pregnant female relative in the Gaza Strip.

“Several Palestinians were killed and injured with a baby among those killed, officials in Gaza said.” BBC News website 5/5/19 (the original video was replaced by another at the same URL on May 6th following communication from BBC Watch)

“This evening the Palestinian health ministry said a 14-month-old girl was killed in an airstrike.” Tom Bateman, BBC Radio 4 5/5/19

Other BBC reports amplified the claim while adding some sort of ‘Israel says’ qualification. [emphasis added]

“…this evening the Palestinian ministry of health said that a 14-month-old girl was killed in an air strike in the east of the Gaza Strip. Now the Israeli military has said that it has no information on that but it says that it only targets…ah…what it describes as militant sites in the Gaza Strip.” Tom Bateman BBC World Service radio 5/5/19 

“One Israeli was killed by shrapnel, while Israeli fire killed four Palestinians, including a mother and her baby daughter, Gaza officials say.

However, Israel said the mother and baby were killed by a Palestinian rocket that fell short of its target.” BBC News website 5/5/19

“It [Hamas] says the dead include a woman and her 14-month-old daughter. But Israel says the mother and baby may have been killed by a Palestinian rocket that fell short of its target.” BBC News website 5/5/19

“Seven Palestinians were killed according to the Gaza health ministry including a fourteen-month-old baby and her pregnant mother. But the Israeli army said the family may have died as a result of what it called terrorist activities.” Tom Bateman, ‘Broadcasting House’ (from 3:56 here), BBC Radio 4, 5/5/19

“A Palestinian mother and baby in Gaza have also died but Israel insists that they were killed in some misguided fire by militants.” Alan Johnston, ‘The World This Weekend’ (from 02:20 here), BBC Radio 4, 5/5/19

“…Palestinian officials say four people were killed by Israeli strikes. An Israeli army spokesman has disputed the circumstances of the deaths of a Palestinian mother and her baby, suggesting saboteurs were to blame.” Julian Worricker, ‘Weekend’ (from 00:00 here), BBC World Service radio, 5/5/19

“Civilians, including a 12-year-old boy and two pregnant women, were also among those reportedly killed.

Israel has contested the account of the death of one woman and her 14-month-old niece on Saturday. They blamed their deaths on a Palestinian rocket that fell short of its target.” BBC News website 6/5/19

However, as the Jerusalem Post reports, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad has since admitted that the woman and child were killed by one of its own rockets.

“The Islamic Jihad, one of the terror organizations responsible for the recent wave of attacks against Israel, admitted that the baby that was killed in Gaza during the latest escalation died as a result of a misfired rocket, TPS reported on Monday. 

“A leak from the heroes of the [Islamic Jihad’s] Sarayat al-Quds (Jerusalem Brigades) on the circumstances of the death of the baby Saba Abu ‘Arar indicates that a rocket of the resistance exploded inside the family’s home due to a technical failure, and prematurely exploded,” a news item by Hamas’ al-Risala News said. […]

According to TPS, Islamic Jihad representatives met with the victims’ family on Sunday morning to offer them compensation and to qualify the baby as a “martyr” in exchange for their silence on the circumstances of her death.”

The BBC can therefore now clarify to its domestic and international audiences that the Hamas claim it elected to broadly amplify was false and inform them that not only ‘Israel says’ that the woman and child were not killed as a result of Israeli actions.

However with the corporation having already moved on from this story, it is doubtful that BBC audiences will ever be relieved of the inaccurate impressions they were given in numerous news bulletins and reports.

 

 

 

 

 

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BBC Radio 4 recycles an evasive report by Kevin Connolly

At the beginning of November 2016 the BBC World Service radio programme “On Background” ran an episode that included an item supposedly about antisemitism in Europe. As was noted here at the time:

“The item begins with Kevin Connolly revisiting the May 2014 shooting at the Jewish Museum in Brussels in which an Israeli couple, a French woman and a Belgian man were murdered. Notably – in light of the BBC’s record – the incident is accurately described on two occasions as a “terrorist attack”. However, the identity of the suspected attacker and his apparent Islamist motives are not mentioned at all in Connolly’s report.

Given the chosen starting point of the attack on the Jewish museum in Brussels, listeners familiar with its background would perhaps have been rather surprised by the item’s focus on the unrelated topic of Christian antisemitism in Europe.”

For no obviously apparent reason, that report by Connolly was recycled four months later in the February 26th edition of the BBC Radio 4 programme ‘Broadcasting House’ which describes itself as discussing “the big stories of the week”.broadcasting-house-26-2

In the programme’s introduction listeners were told:

“Nearly three years on, we go back to the Jewish Museum in Brussels where four people were killed in a terror attack.”

They then heard a voice say:

“Today not only the Jew are afraid; everybody is afraid. Terrorism can attack everybody and today we have to help everybody to protect our society.”

Presenter Jane Garvey introduced the item itself (from 37:25 here) as follows:

“On the 24th of May 2014 a lone gunman walked into the Jewish Museum in the Belgian capital, Brussels, and opened fire. Four people were killed. The chief suspect was arrested in France and extradited back to Belgium. Kevin Connolly has been looking back at the impact of this attack on the museum, which reopened in the autumn of 2014.”

After the sound of archive recordings of news bulletins concerning the attack, Kevin Connolly opened his somewhat amateurishly edited report. [emphasis in italics in the original, emphasis in bold added]

Connolly: “We remember the scenes of terrorist attack like the Jewish Museum in Brussels just as they were at the moment when it all happened: intense and frozen like a flash photograph. For most of us, the sounds of daily life quickly surge back into the familiar streets and squares and wash away the horror. For the characters in the story though, at such a moment everything changes for ever. That’s how it feels now in the elegant streets and squares near the Jewish museum in Brussels where the cafés and antique shops are of course busy again two years after a lone attacker wandered in off the streets and opened fire.”

Listeners then heard a voice later identified as the museum’s director briefly telling how he was informed of the attack before Connolly went on to repeat a sentence heard only seconds earlier.

Connolly: “For the characters in the story though, at such a moment everything changes forever. Not just the dead and those who loved them but men like Philippe Blondin, the museum’s director who’d always believed that the absence of heavy security at the building sent a signal not of vulnerability but of openness.”

Connolly went on to interview the director of a Jewish community centre in Brussels, emphasising the employment of heavy security measures.

Connolly: “After every act of violence that makes the news and then fades from it, shock waves ripple outwards. At this Jewish community centre not far from the museum in Brussels there are soldiers on guard at the main entrance these days, double door entry systems, document checks and private guards inside.”

Connolly also spoke to another member of the community.

Connolly: “Philippe Markovitch [phonetic] – a lawyer and another leader of Belgium’s Jewish minority has thought deeply about the lessons of the attack on the Jewish museum too. He emphasises that this is not simply European history repeating itself; that in its modern form antisemitism is the prejudice of a minority – not the policy of a state – but that these days Jews are not alone in their vulnerability to terrorist attack.”

Connolly then told the story of how the Jewish museum’s director hid as a small child in Nazi-occupied France before telling listeners that:

Connolly: “Philippe believes that families like his that lived through the Holocaust in Europe had a tremendous joy and energy about them in the post-war years. And he applies in modern Brussels a lesson he learned in the Europe of the past: that the best response to adversity is to keep alive a sense of purpose.”

Connolly closed the item thus:

Connolly: “The Brussels attack has naturally faded from the headlines of course and from the streets of Sablon too but there are those whose lives it touched who still live with it every day and there are lessons it has to teach the rest of us – if we’re prepared to listen.”

Exactly what those “lessons” are supposed to be is unclear from Connolly’s cryptic commentary. However, one topic he and the BBC appear to be serially keen to avoid is the identity, ideology and motives of the terrorist who murdered four people at the Jewish Museum in Brussels, together with any serious discussion of the issue of contemporary Islamist antisemitism in Europe or examination of the question of why Jewish institutions and establishments such as the community centre he visited need to employ security measures that other groups in European society thankfully do not require.

Related Articles:

BBC’s director of news discusses antisemitism – up to a point

 

 

 

In which a BBC Radio 4 guest compares Israel to a drug addict

Hosted as usual by Paddy O’Connell, the March 22nd edition of BBC Radio 4’s weekly current affairs programme ‘Broadcasting House’ (available here) included Lib Dem MP Menzies Campbell and actor David Schneider among its guests. At 53:50 listeners heard the following extraordinary conversation.Broadcasting House 22 3 15

Paddy O’Connell: “David Schneider […] I think you want to talk to us about Israeli politics.”

David Schneider: “Well, yes. So, I’m Jewish and I was very depressed this…ehm…this week because of the…Netanyahu’s re-election. Sometimes…I mean it’s very complex for me as a sort of Left-wing Jew and my attitude to Israel. Sometimes it feels like a sort of family member with a severe drug addiction.”

PO: “With that warning, what are you reading from?” […]

DS: “There was… there was a glimmer of hope – which is on page 33 of the Observer – that the Joint List – which is an Arab-Jewish alliance – has actually won 13 seats. So despite Netanyahu saying there’ll be no Palestinian state – which he’s now backtracked on slightly after the election – and saying Arabs are heading to the polls in droves on the day of the election – which was just chilling – ehm…there is a glimmer of hope in that, sort of, more Israeli Arabs voted and there is, you know…and Arab-Jewish parties were coming together.”

Beyond the very obvious point (although clearly, not to some) that an election in the Middle East’s most vibrant democracy is about rather more than the ennui of English chatterati, Schneider misleads with regard to the Joint Arab List and O’Connell makes no attempt to correct the inaccurate impression given to listeners.

That, of course, is not surprising: the BBC has failed to inform audiences in all of its coverage of the recent Israeli election that the Joint Arab List is made up of four existing political parties, only one of which can accurately be classified as a Jewish-Arab party. That party – Hadash – has one Jewish member (Dov Hanin/Khenin) on its list and there are no Jewish MKs in any of the other three parties comprising the Joint Arab List. Schneider’s inaccurate description of the Joint Arab List as an “Arab-Jewish alliance” is hence based on the fact that one of the four parties it includes has one Jewish MK. Working on that principle, Schneider would also have to categorise the Likud, the Zionist Union, Meretz and Israel Beiteinu parties as ‘Arab- Jewish alliances’ because each of those parties has one Arab MK. 

No less important is the fact that the Joint Arab List includes the anti-Zionist parties Balad and Ta’al and the Islamist ‘United Arab List’. That information – which has not been communicated to BBC audiences at any point in the corporation’s coverage of the election – is critical to appreciation of the remarkable fact that parties which oppose the existence of Israel as the Jewish state participate in Israeli elections and enjoy representation in the Knesset.

In addition to O’Connell’s failure to correct his guest’s inaccurate portrayal of the Joint Arab List, we also see that he refrains from clarifying to listeners that Schneider’s cherry-picked parts of statements made by Netahyahu on the subject of a Palestinian state and regarding the connection between the foreign-funded V15 campaign and Joint Arab List voters are not complete quotes. O’Connell similarly fails to challenge Menzies Campbell’s equally selective paraphrasing of one of those statements later on in the conversation.

Menzies Campbell: “Netanyahu – quite extraordinary to be as overtly right-wing as he was in the last 24 – 48 hours. The one thing you can be certain of: he caused yet more anxiety and annoyance in the White House. Relations between Obama and Netanyahu have never been good. Those last 24 hours before the election will really have been – forgive the vulgarity – right up the nose of the American president.”

DS: “There is an interesting comment in this article though; that one of the Israeli-Arab leaders says that in a way it’s good that Netanyahu’s won because it’ll be so bad now, it’ll increase international pressure on Israel to end the occupation. It could get so bad now that things will have to change.”

That Israeli-Arab ‘leader’ is Balad branch secretary Sami Abu Shehadeh – a popular source for the Guardian and an unsurprising interviewee for the writer of the article promoted by Schneider, who previously cut her activism-cum-journalism teeth at 972 Magazine and two political NGOs. Paddy O’Connell however makes no attempt to clarify the political background to Schneider’s article of choice. Menzies Campbell continues with the following debatable declaration:

MC: “The problem is – the settlements. And you can’t…there’s no leader of the Palestinians who could possibly accept a settlement which didn’t include East Jerusalem as the cabinet of a Palestinian state. The settlements are proceeding at such a pace that it will soon be impossible for that to be the case.”

O’Connell interjects:

PO: “And I certainly make the point that the Israelis did vote so that although you’ve got your disagreements, he was returned, wasn’t he, against the odds.”

Campbell: “But look at…you know…him saying the Arabs are coming to the polls; you’ve got to get out. I mean imagine if a politician here had said the black vote is coming out; you’ve got to do something, or the Jews or, you know… it’s just impossible to conceive.”

The item ends there but what is actually inconceivable is that none of the people in that BBC studio were aware of the very relevant context that the bulk of parties making up the Joint Arab List oppose the existence of Israel as the Jewish state. Perhaps if they widened their own media consumption beyond the Guardian/Observer and the BBC, they would be able to come up with informative and relevant commentary more useful to BBC audiences than the obviously politically partisan and inaccurate caricature presented in this programme. 

BBC’s Arab-Israeli conflict obsession distorts history

Over the past week or so the BBC has devoted quite a lot of coverage to the subject of the reburial of the ashes of Lt. Col. John Henry Patterson in Israel, in accordance with his last wishes.

Tel Hai

Tel Hai

That coverage has included:

An interview with adventurer John Henry Patterson” November 28th.

Benjamin Netanyahu recalls adventurer John Henry Patterson” November 28th.

Broadcasting House – BBC Radio 4, November 30th – Kevin Connolly from 34:33 here.

The lion-killer who became an Israeli hero” November 30th, Kevin Connolly.

Briton hailed as ‘Godfather’ of Israeli army reburied” December 4th.

Israel reburies ashes of British WW1 commander” December 4th.

The lion-killer who became an Israeli hero to be reburied in Israel” BBC World Service radio, December 4th

Much of that coverage was provided by the BBC Jerusalem Bureau’s Kevin Connolly and it once again provided an example of Connolly’s obviously keen interest in history and his ability to produce interesting, impartial and accurate reporting on related topics. Unfortunately though, BBC audiences do not get to read or hear such informative contributions from Kevin Connolly very often.

However, one inaccuracy did appear in an insert to Connolly’s November 30th feature article which profiled two members of the Zion Mule Corps commanded by Patterson.

Insert Connolly patterson article

SONY DSC

Tel Hai

The battle of Tel-Hai on March 1st 1920 was of course not “an early battle of the Arab-Israeli conflict”. Jewish settlement had begun there some fifteen years earlier on land purchased in 1893 by Baron Rothschild and in 1918 it became a kibbutz and was named Tel Hai. After the defeat of the Ottoman Empire, the British withdrew from the area in 1919, handing it over to the French mandate authorities in accordance with agreements between the two powers. Local Arabs loyal to the Arab Kingdom of Syria rebelled against the French and the Jewish farming villages in the Upper Galilee – Metulla, Kfar Giladi, Hamara and Tel Hai – despite remaining neutral in the dispute, became regular targets for pillaging from December 1919 onwards, with two residents of Tel Hai killed in separate incidents in December 1919 and February 1920. The large group of armed Arabs who arrived at the gate of Tel Hai on March 1st 1920 led by Kamal Effendi demanded entry – not for the first time – in order to search for French soldiers. In the ensuing battle, six more residents of Tel Hai were killed, including Joseph Trumpeldor.

Hence, whilst Jews and Arabs were involved in that battle, its simplistic and inaccurate categorisation as part of the Arab-Israeli conflict detracts from the broader historic picture and misleads audiences. 

 

BBC’s Kevin Connolly comes good on kibbutz caviar

With Radio 4 being one of the departments of the BBC which appears disturbingly frequently on these pages, we’ll file this one under SONY DSC‘credit where credit is due’.

The February 16th edition of the BBC Radio 4 programme Broadcasting House included an item by the BBC Jerusalem Bureau’s Kevin Connolly (available here from about 51:10) in which he travelled to Kibbutz Dan in the northern Galilee to report on its production of caviar – and managed to do so accurately and impartially.

Bon appetit! 

 

Jeremy Bowen promotes Sabra & Shatila lies on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Broadcasting House’

The January 12th edition of the BBC Radio 4 programme ‘Broadcasting House’, hosted by Paddy O’Connell and available here, includes (from around 28:00) a contribution by the BBC’s Middle East Editor Jeremy Bowen on the subject of Ariel Sharon who had died the previous day.

Broadcasting House 12 1

O’Connell introduces the item thus:

“The convoy with Ariel Sharon’s coffin has in fact just arrived at the Israeli parliament – the Knesset – where his body is now being moved to a podium. Israelis will be able to pass by to pay their last respects. The funeral of Areil Sharon takes place tomorrow in his family farm close to Gaza as we’ve been hearing in the news. World leaders will attend a ceremony although President Obama is not going; his vice president will represent the USA.”

Before informing listeners of any Israeli reactions to the news of Sharon’s death, O’Connell – in line with much of the rest of the BBC’s coverage of the subject – then finds it necessary to tell them what the Palestinians think of the death of somebody else’s former prime minister. 

“Palestinians see Ariel Sharon as a criminal and have condemned his record. As for Israelis, they will have their chance to pay their respects as his body lies in state in Jerusalem. Well I’ve discussed this with the BBC’s Middle East Editor Jeremy Bowen.

Bowen begins:

“Now he hasn’t been a political factor of course in eight years. Israelis are very good at absorbing shocks and they did that in 2006 when he had his stroke and went into a coma. But he’s a very symbolic character as far as Israelis are concerned. He goes right back to their independence war in 1948; he fought in that and was wounded. Shimon Peres the former prime minister, now the president, who was a politician right back in 1948 himself, gave this tribute.”

Listeners then hear a recording of Shimon Peres speaking in English, after which O’Connell says:

“It’s notable when you look at the tributes that have come in – if you compare this to what happened when Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated, when Yasser Arafat paid tribute and himself went to a commemoration for the assassinated prime minister – this is not the case at all this time round.”

Bowen: “Yeah. Rabin was seen as a tough guy, a military commander who had – from the Palestinians’ point of view – certainly from Arafat’s point of view – who had changed. Ariel Sharon – as far as the Palestinians were concerned – was never going to change. 1982 Sharon as Defence Minister presided over an invasion of Lebanon. During the siege of Beirut there was a terrible massacre of Palestinians in a refugee camp. Hundreds dead – maybe thousands dead. Now they were killed by Lebanese Christian militiamen who were in alliance at the time with the Israelis and there was an official inquiry into all this afterwards in Israel itself. That commission of inquiry found that Sharon was personally responsible and he was forced to resign as Minister of Defence.” [emphasis added]

Bowen’s account – and his implication that Sharon was found to be responsible for the massacres themselves – is of course not accurate. The Kahan Commission in fact found that Sharon (and others) bore indirect personal responsibility for not anticipating the possibility of Phalangist violence.

“On 7 February 1983 the Kahan Commission published its recommendations: Report of the Commission of Inquiry into the Events at the Refugee Camps in Beirut. The report attributed direct responsibility for the massacre to the Phalangists. However, the commission determined that indirect personal responsibility fell on several Israeli office holders. It stated that: “in our view, everyone who had anything to do with events in Lebanon should have felt apprehension about a massacre in the camps, if armed Phalangist forces were to be moved into them without the IDF exercising concrete and effective supervision and scrutiny of them “.”

Not content with misleading listeners on the findings of the Kahan Commission, Bowen goes on to present a recording which he has clearly selected in order to advance the impression he wishes to create. 

Bowen: “From the Palestinian point of view it made the man [Sharon] absolutely beyond the pale as far as they were concerned. And they are still very angry about what happened there. There are memorials there to the people who died and one of the survivors of the massacre – a man called Mohammed Srour spoke about that and he said that he wished Mr Sharon had been punished for his actions.”

Listeners then hear a recording of Mohammed Srour speaking in Arabic, with a BBC translation overlaid.

Srour: “Sharon has passed away but we didn’t wish him to die in such a way. I am one of the victims whose parents died in the Sabra and Shatila massacre. I was hoping he would be killed by the hand of a Palestinian child or a Palestinian woman because when he entered Sabra and Shatila and carried out the massacre, he killed the children and the women.”

Of course Sharon did not enter Sabra and Shatila and did not carry out the massacre, but  neither Bowen nor O’Connell make any subsequent effort throughout the whole of the rest of the item to correct the misleading impression created by the interviewee Jeremy Bowen deliberately chose to showcase.

Notably, given Bowen’s introduction to the interview with Srour, we can apparently conclude that the latter’s call for the murder of Ariel Sharon “by the hand of a Palestinian child or a Palestinian woman” is what Bowen regards as ‘punishment’. 

The BBC’s coverage of Ariel Sharon’s death has included considerable quantities of misleading, inaccurate and defamatory statements by assorted interviewees. The BBC cannot, however, hide behind the claim that these are not the words of its own employees as all BBC produced content is subject to its editorial guidelines.   

Related Articles:

BBC’s Knell invents ‘settlements’, amplifies anti-Israel activist

Breaches of editorial guidelines in BBC WS ‘Newshour’ special Sharon broadcast

Loving the hate: BBC coverage of Sharon’s death

Multiple breaches of editorial guidelines in Sharon report by BBC’s Paul Adams

BBC exploits Sharon’s death for more promotion of second Intifada falsehood

 

 

 

 

BBC guest champions Hass’ advocacy of violence against Israelis

h/t JK

The Sunday April 7th 2013 edition of the BBC Radio 4 programme ‘Broadcasting House’ – presented by Paddy O’Connell – included, as usual, a review of the papers by visiting guests.

Broadcasting House 7 4

In this particular edition, however, rather than its usual focus on British news or world affairs featuring prominently in the UK papers, the “press panel” segment of the broadcast included a dishonest diatribe by guest journalist Charles Glass. 

Glass – the former ABC head of news in the Middle East between 1983 and 1993 – will no doubt be a familiar figure to readers of The Guardian (which recently published Glass’ article on the subject of his “hero” Noam Chomsky) and the Arts Council (i.e. British taxpayer) funded London Review of Books  – the systemic  anti-Israel bias of which was the subject of a 2010 report by ‘Just Journalism.

At 45:44 in this recording of the programme Glass says:

“Well, speaking of hate mail, I want to talk about Amira Hass who’s one of the best journalists in Israel. She’s a correspondent in the occupied territories for Ha’aretz and she wrote a column recently about ways for the Palestinians to resist military occupation – the illegal military occupation. She wrote ‘steadfastness and resistance against the physical, and even more so the systemic, institutionalised violence, is the inner syntax of Palestinians in this land’. For that, the Yesha Council – which represents the illegal settlers in the occupied territories – has filed a complaint. They want her to be prosecuted.”

Host Paddy O’Connell then makes a distinctly tepid interjection – presumably in the name of BBC ‘impartiality’ box-ticking.

16 month-old child hurt in stone-throwing attack near Tapuach junction, September 2012

PO’C: “And when you use the word ‘illegal settlers’, do you mean that you find the settlers to be illegal or…

Glass swiftly interrupts the docile O’Connell by saying:

CG: “I mean that under international law, they’re not allowed to take other people’s land and then put people on there.”

O’Connell immediately folds, failing to point out that Glass is not an expert on international law and neglecting to inform listeners that Glass’ verbal caricature in no way reflects either the complexity of the subject or the diversity of genuine legal opinion pertaining to it. He continues:

PO’C: “And the whole settler question…she’s in trouble in the newspaper, is she? What’s happening with her own publishers?

CG: “Well Ha’aretz has two excellent correspondents – Gideon Levy and Amira Hass – who write regularly about the occupation. Ha’aretz has so far withstood all the pressure to fire them and both continue to write. Ha’aretz is a.. really is a good paper.”

Whilst it is hardly surprising to find a person of Glass’ opinions promoting Levy, Hass and their paper in such glowing terms, the BBC must be called to account for allowing his deliberately disingenuous representations publicity – in obvious breach of its own editorial guidelines on accuracy and impartiality. 

Ramallah resident Amira Hass’ March 3rd article, which Glass so enthusiastically defends, opened with a clear call for Palestinians to engage in violence.

“Throwing stones is the birthright and duty of anyone subject to foreign rule. Throwing stones is an action as well as a metaphor of resistance.”

וייס המשיכה בנסיעה, למרות האבנים (צילום: AFP)

Beit Ummar, February 2012

Later on in the article she excuses the attempt to cause physical harm by writing:

 “But in the inner syntax of the relationship between the occupier and the occupied, stone-throwing is the adjective attached to the subject of “We’ve had enough of you, occupiers.” “

Hass even suggests in her article that “basic classes in resistance” should be taught in Palestinian schools. “Resistance” – as someone as familiar with the Middle East as Charles Glass should well know – is the Western public opinion-orientated euphemism for terror.

In other words, not only does Amira Hass find it perfectly acceptable for Palestinians to attack Israeli civilians with rocks, stones and who knows what else – she thinks that it is their duty to do so. Apparently, so does Charles Glass.

It is this incitement to violence which prompted the Yesha Council to complain about Hass’ article – not the sentence which Glass disingenuously elected to quote. His dishonest characterisation of that complaint as “hate mail” reveals much about both Glass’ political sympathies and his moral stance.

By providing a platform for Glass to whitewash Hass’ call for what is – let’s be perfectly frank about this – the organized and pre-meditated attempted murder of Israeli civilians, the BBC has rendered itself complicit to that incitement. Although it fairly successfully avoids reporting on the majority of the dozens of incidents in which Israelis are attacked – and sometimes killed – by Palestinian stone-throwers, it would not be too difficult for the BBC to apprise itself of the consequences of such shockingly frequent acts of terror. 

We cannot, surely, imagine the BBC playing host to the champion of an inciter of violence against any other group of people, but this brief broadcast shows how the lazy delegitimisation and dehumanization of Israelis has become commonplace in BBC discourse. 

Ahikam Simantov in 1990 after a rock thrown by Palestinians at the family car struck his head. Photo: Simantov family.

Glass’ use of the term “illegal settlers” – and O’Connell’s repetition of it – is an example of the way in which language is used to advance a politically motivated value judgement. That term deliberately categorises the people to whom it refers as “illegal”. It does not refer to the legal status of the communities in which they happen to live or to the actions and decisions of their government, but to the actual human beings it seeks to dehumanize and delegitimize. From there it is of course not a great leap to defending those who encourage the throwing of rocks at an “illegal” adult, child or baby. Ironically, it is all too frequently the same people dubbed ‘illegal’ by this BBC journalist and his guest who bear the brunt of what the BBC is so reluctant to name as terror. 

The same BBC which is so sensitive about making “value judgements” on the subject of terrorism apparently has no such qualms when it comes to making judgments about a specific sector of Israeli society. Its kangaroo court of language censors appears to have nothing to say about the designation of certain human beings as ‘illegal’ purely on the basis of their post code – with all that entails.

The vast majority of listeners to this programme will have no idea of the real content of Amira Hass’ article. Neither will they know much about the suffering caused to those on the receiving end of the types of “resistance” which Hass advocates. What they will have come away with, however, is the impression that a bunch of “illegal settlers” have made an unjustified complaint against an “excellent” journalist from a “good” paper.

That is about the most inaccurate and partial way this story could have been spun and the BBC collaborated with the broadcast of that spin to millions of listeners. In doing so – intentionally or not – it also became party to helping incitement along.