Weekend long read

1) As noted here earlier, in an article published on the BBC News website on May 23rd the BBC’s Middle East editor told audiences that “Prime Minister Netanyahu said earlier this year that President Abbas lied to Donald Trump when they met in the White House”. Jeremy Bowen did not bother to provide readers with the information that would enable them to assess for themselves the Israeli PM’s words relating to Abbas’ May 3rd claim that the Palestinians “are raising our youth, our children, our grandchildren on a culture of peace”.

Palestinian Media Watch has produced a special report documenting Palestinian Authority glorification of terrorism in the month surrounding Abbas’ Washington visit.

“…in just one month surrounding the first Trump-Abbas meeting in Washington on May 3, Abbas’ Palestinian Authority and Fatah honored at least 44 terrorists who murdered 440 people. Those honored and praised included suicide bombers, bomb makers, hijackers, and planners of terror attacks. Some of the worst terrorists were honored multiple times. Abu Jihad, responsible for the murder of 125, was honored at least 10 separate times. Dalal Mughrabi, who led the bus hijacking and murder of 37 was honored at least 6 separate times.”

2) At the Tablet, Armin Rosen documents a US philanthropic fund’s financial support for organisations linked to the BDS campaign.

“Since 2013, at least $880,000 in RBF funding has also gone to groups working to advance a boycott of the world’s only Jewish state.

Supporters of the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel see the RBF funding as validation for their approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “It’s not just RBF. The R stands for Rockefeller,” said Rebecca Vilkomerson, the executive director of the pro-boycott Jewish Voice for Peace, which received a $140,000 two-year grant for general support from RBF in 2015. “I think that has particular resonance for people both in the philanthropic world and more broadly.”

RBF’s support for JVP and other pro-boycott groups, which is virtually unique among major American institutional funders, is either a sign that the movement is inching toward mainstream status on the American left—or evidence of a revealing drift within one of the most respected family foundations in America.”

3) Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi examines the question of what the loss of territory means for the future of ISIS.

“Today, we no longer speak of the Islamic State as expanding, but rather debate whether it will survive as it comes under increasing pressure on the main fronts in Iraq and Syria but also abroad: thus, in Libya, which was often assumed to be the “fallback” option for the Islamic State, the organisation’s affiliates no longer control any towns in the country.

Given that the Islamic State is now contracting, will any of it ultimately remain? Some of the Islamic State’s messaging has been devoted to this very topic, and predictably argues against the idea that loss of territory means the end of the Caliphate project. For example, in Tel Afar in northern Iraq, an Islamic State publication entitled “Caliphate will not vanish” was distributed as the Coalition campaign to retake Mosul began. The work argues that “many have forgotten that the Islamic State is not a state of land and geographic spaces, but rather the goal from it is to spread true Islam and restore jihad to the Ummah [global Muslim community] after decades of humiliation and degradation”.”

4) A video produced by CAMERA highlights the common use of the term ‘Arab East Jerusalem’ by Western media outlets – including the BBC.

 

BBC’s Bowen on CAMERA complaint result: still ‘indignant’ after all these years

The digital edition of the Radio Times recently included an interview with the BBC’s Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen which is part of the promotion campaign for his current BBC Radio 4 series ‘Our Man in the Middle East’.

Titled “Jeremy Bowen on reporting in the Middle East: “I kept getting dreams about having to bury the cameraman”“, the article opens with context-free presentation of a story which Bowen retells at every opportunity and an unverifiable allegation:

“When Jeremy Bowen offered to relive more than a quarter of a century of Middle East reporting for a new “personal” 25-part Radio 4 series, I wonder if he had bargained for the memories it would unleash. Death, depression, and years on the road in near-constant danger have all left their mark on one of the BBC’s most distinguished correspondents. 

Today is proving particularly tough because he’s writing about Abed Takkoush, his Lebanese driver who was killed by Israeli mortar fire in May 2000 while they were covering Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon. Bowen, 57, suffered “symptoms of PTSD”, and retreated from the field for a time to co-host a relaunched BBC Breakfast show with Sophie Raworth. 

“It was a really, really awful event, Abed’s death and its repercussions,” he says. “His wife died not long after, sadly; she had cancer and I’m sure it was related to the grief. Some of his kids went off the rails for a while… they were teenage boys and suddenly they didn’t have a dad.” He still sometimes works with Abed’s nephews, who are also drivers.” [emphasis added]

Later on in the article, readers find the following:

“As well as being attacked physically – in 2013 he was caught in crossfire from the Egyptian military in Tahrir Square in Cairo – the veteran reporter is regularly ambushed verbally. He remains indignant about being ticked off eight years ago by the BBC Trust for breaching the corporation’s guidelines on accuracy and impartiality during his reports on the history of 1967’s Six Day War. A pro-Israel group in the US accused him of bias on 24 occasions; the BBC Trust fully or partially upheld three of the allegations.

“That was totally unjust. The complaints were made by professional complainants, including one in the United States… [who] intended to give ammunition to [the BBC’s] enemies. I was backed very well in private by the management; I wasn’t backed well enough in public by them.””

One of the two complaints which eventually reached the BBC Trust’s Editorial Standards Committee was submitted by CAMERA. The aim of that complaint was of course to ensure that BBC audiences were provided with accurate and impartial information in a report concerning a particularly significant Middle East event. However, Jeremy Bowen is clearly unable to accept that fact, preferring instead to promote the bizarre notion that it was “intended to give ammunition to [the BBC’s] enemies” – whoever they are supposed to be.

Eight years have passed since that BBC Trust ESC ruling about which Bowen “remains indignant” and remarkably, his ability to accept and embrace criticism does not appear to have improved over the years. As was noted by CAMERA in 2009:

“Instead of admitting error, Bowen and others in the BBC redoubled their commitment to the flawed article, spending their time (and British stakeholder resources) coming up with disingenuous defenses to the article’s distortions.”

The subject has been raised by Bowen in interviews before and as we can see from this latest one, the man entrusted with ensuring that all BBC reporting on Israel meets standards of accuracy and impartiality has made no progress whatsoever in the decade since the article which was the subject of the complaint was published – and is still apparently entirely convinced of his own infallibility.

Related Articles:

BBC Radio 4 launches a new ME series by Jeremy Bowen

BBC’s ME Editor misrepresents the Hussein-McMahon correspondence

Article ruled not impartial by ESC five years ago remains on BBC website

An Inside Look at the BBC Ruling Against Jeremy Bowen (CAMERA)

BBC’s Bowen revives five year-old grudge in Indy interview

 

An upcoming event for UK based readers

UK-based readers may be interested in an upcoming event in the North Manchester area.

On Wednesday December 28th 2016 at 7 pm, the Managing Editor of our sister site UK Media Watch, Adam Levick, will address the question “What can you do today to promote accurate coverage of Israel in the UK media?”.

Admission is free but those interested in attending should register at:  zcc.man@zen.co.uk or office@jewishmanchester.org

adam-event-manchester

 

BBC’s Gaza correspondent amplifies Hamas’ version of a story

On September 9th a group of Palestinians from the Gaza Strip initiated a violent riot at the border fence east of al Bureij. The BBC did not report on the incident but later the same evening its Gaza correspondent Rushdi Abualouf sent the following Tweet:

abualouf-tweet-1-9-9

Around half an hour later, he sent a second Tweet relating to the same incident. 

abualouf-tweet-2-9-9

Abualouf’s followers would of course have understood from those Tweets that Israel was responsible for the youth’s death. But is the amplified claim from the Hamas-controlled health ministry accurate and does Abualouf’s Tweeted report tell the whole story?

Ha’aretz reports:

“Gaza health ministry spokesman Ashraf Al-Qidra said Abdel-Rahman Al-Dabbagh was killed by an Israeli bullet to the head during the border clash in the central Gaza Strip.

The Israeli military said troops had sought to contain the violence on the other side of the border fence and had used only tear gas.

“Dozens of rioters breached the buffer zone and attempted to damage the security (border) fence. … Forces stationed at the border used tear gas that led to the dispersal of the riot. Following a preliminary review, the Israel Defense Forces did not conduct the reported shooting,” a military statement said.”

Other media outlets made amendments to their reporting on the story after being contacted by CAMERA.

CAMERA Elicits Times of Israel Correction on Disputed Gaza Death

AFP, Reuters Add IDF’s Account to Captions on Disputed Gaza Death

As readers may know, the BBC’s editorial guidelines apply to social media postings by its journalists as well as all other content and the corporation also has specific guidance relating to the use of social media.

“…when someone clearly identifies their association with the BBC and/or discusses their work, they are expected to behave appropriately when on the Internet, and in ways that are consistent with the BBC’s editorial values and policies.” […]

“Impartiality is a particular concern for those working in News and Current Affairs. Nothing should appear on their personal blogs or microblogs which undermines the integrity or impartiality of the BBC.”

Abualouf’s amplification of Hamas’ claim should obviously therefore have been balanced with an additional Tweet informing his followers of the IDF’s statement concerning the incident.

Related Articles:

News from Hamas – via the BBC’s Gaza office

BBC’s Abualouf promotes Hamas “fishermen” PR line

BBC’s Gaza journalist Tweets PA propaganda story

 

 

Investigative report highlights BBC’s NGO impartiality fail

Over the past fourteen months we have documented several cases in which the BBC has amplified the messaging of what it labels an “Israeli activist group” but failed to comply with its own editorial guidelines on impartiality by informing audiences of the agenda and ideology that lies behind the political NGO ‘Breaking the Silence’.BtS written

BBC editorial guidelines flouted in promotion of ‘Breaking the Silence’ booklet

Another breach of editorial guidelines in yet more BBC promotion of ‘Breaking the Silence’

The context of the BBC’s promotion of ‘Breaking the Silence’

BBC’s ME Editor gives unchallenged amplification to Palestinian defamation

What the BBC World Service edited out of a ‘Boston Calling’ report

Last week Channel 10’s investigative journalism programme ‘HaMakor’ presented an interesting report on ‘Breaking the Silence’ in which the issue of the reliability of the NGO’s ‘testimonies’ was examined.

Our colleague Gidon Shaviv has now translated the results of that investigation in an article titled “Breaking the Silence Gets Failing Grade in Channel 10’s Fact-Check“.

 The findings of Channel 10’s investigation show that the BBC’s repeated unquestioning and uncritical amplification of ‘Breaking the Silence’ is not conducive to meeting its public purposes and yet again underscore the urgent need for the corporation to adhere to its own editorial guidelines on impartiality when quoting and promoting that – or any other – political NGO. 

A media story the BBC ignored surfaces again

Back in 2013 we noted the BBC’s silence concerning restrictions on foreign journalists introduced by the Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Information and the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Journalist’s Syndicate (PJS). Khaled Abu Toameh reported at the time that:PJS

“The new decision is directed primarily against Israeli journalists who cover Palestinian affairs. […]

The Palestinian Journalist’s Syndicate has long been opposed to “normalization” with Israel, and bans its members from holding meetings with Israeli colleagues. Some Palestinian journalists who defied the ban were recently expelled from the syndicate.”

In February 2016 the PJS went a step further and decided “to boycott any Palestinian official who gives an interview to Israeli reporters or media organizations”. Despite its logical, long-standing interest in the topic of press freedom, the BBC similarly refrained from reporting that story.

Our colleague Tamar Sternthal of CAMERA has now published an article concerning one of the instigators of this latest PJS boycott, titled “‘Rigorous Neutrality’?: Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate’s Nasser Abu Baker Moonlights For AFP”.

“Objectivity is a difficult goal to achieve. The mere unavoidable organisation of facts can influence a reader’s judgement. However, this does not prevent us from pursuing our policy of rigorous neutrality. According to its remit, AFP is independent of the French government and all other economic or political interests.” So state the lofty principles enshrined in “Agence France Presse’s Values.”

How, then, does one explain the fact that Nasser Abu Baker, the chairman of the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate, the leading force for the boycott of Israeli journalists and media, also writes for the influential French news agency? […]

According to an Israeli journalist who frequently reports from the Palestinian areas, Abu Baker “is without a doubt among the leaders in the boycott movement against Israeli journalists.” The Israeli, who refused to be named because of his ongoing work in Palestinian-controlled territory, maintained that Abu Baker “carries out a witch hunt against Palestinian journalists who don’t abide by this policy” by harassing and smearing them.

Indeed, when he was deputy chairman of the syndicate, Abu Baker recently threatened:

“I call upon all male and female colleagues/journalists to boycott any Palestinian official, regardless of how senior he/she is, who conducts an interview with Israeli journalists and Israeli media…this poisonous media whose only goal is to broadcast dissent and incite against our people. Their media, which is directed by their government, is one of the tools of the occupation. Therefore, the time has come for a comprehensive boycott of their media. The Syndicate will have a clear position on this and I plead with all the journalists to abide. We will publish the name of any official who gives an interview to their media from this moment.” 

Read the whole report here.

 

 

 

 

BBC Watch London community event on video

The BBC Watch community event held at Kinloss Shul on November 10th can be found in full on video here.

Also available are separate videos of the talks given at the event:

Dr Denis MacEoin speaking about the media in the Middle East:

Lesley Klaff speaking about how media coverage of Israel affects attitudes towards British Jews:

Jonathan Turner on the topic of the legal aspects of the BBC’s charter and how the complaints system can be used effectively:

Hadar Sela outlining BBC Watch’s submission to the public consultation on the subject of charter review:

Related Articles:

BBC Watch submission to the DCMS BBC Charter Review consultation

 

Thank you from BBC Watch

After a very busy week on the road in the UK, BBC Watch is now getting back to normal.

The response to our four events held in London and Manchester last week was way beyond expectation and we would like to thank the hundreds of people who attended them, our host in Parliament Mike Freer MP and our wonderful speakers Baroness Deech, Professor Richard Landes, Dr Denis MacEoin, Lesley Klaff and Jonathan Turner. London 2

The high participation in all the events indicates just how relevant the topic of the BBC’s coverage of Israel is to the British community and it was a pleasure to meet so many BBC Watch readers and supporters from far and wide in person.

Special thanks go to the many individuals and organisations who volunteered their help in organising the events: without them, they simply could not have taken place.

Security was of course a big part of the organisation of the events and we are grateful to the wonderful Community Security Trust and the police for taking such professional care of that aspect.

Sincere thanks go to Murray Freedman for artwork and design, Sharna Kinsley and Nizza Fluss for photography, Tony Jacobs and Richard Galber for security, Jenny Scott and Nadine Dobrik for organisation, Ellie Bar-On; first-aider and computer operation and Ambrosine Shitrit and Rachel Dobrik of Campaign for Truth for logistics and organisation.

Thanks too to the community of Northwood Synagogue and the Zionist Central Council in Manchester for hosting us.  Unfortunately, a very tight schedule meant that we were not able to accept the additional invitations from many other communities in the UK this time around.  

We are grateful for the many offers of help with hospitality and transport and special thanks go to Sharon Lagnado for a very wet and windy drive up the M1.

An especially big thank-you goes to Sharon Klaff of Campaign for Truth who was instrumental in organising the first two events in London and whose boundless energies and meticulous attention to detail made them such a success.

BBC Watch on the road

Throughout the coming week BBC Watch will be on the road in the UK with events in London and Manchester.pic BBC

“Studies by groups such as the Community Security Trust and the All-Party Parliamentary Group against Antisemitism following last year’s Gaza conflict highlighted the inescapable connection between media coverage of a war thousands of miles away and antisemitic incidents in Britain.

In July this year, Prime Minister David Cameron made a speech outlining the government’s five-year strategy for dealing with extremism. In it he raised issues including the promotion of conspiracy theories relating to Israel and Jews, and the dissemination of antisemitic tropes.

With its unparalleled outreach and worldwide influence, the BBC has an obvious obligation to exercise responsibility regarding these issues.

The upcoming review of the BBC’s charter presents a once-in-a-decade opportunity to address the question of whether that obligation is being met, and to examine the wider effects of BBC coverage of Israel, Jews and antisemitism on community cohesion in
Britain.”

We would of course be delighted to meet as many of our UK-based readers as possible at those events – registration details are available here.