Weekend long read

1) The Kohelet Forum has published the second part of a report on “The Scope of European and Multinational Business in the Occupied Territories”.

“There are numerous territories around the world currently under belligerent occupation, where the occupying power has allowed or facilitated the movement of settlers into the occupied territory.
In all these cases, this is done over the vigorous objection of the occupied party and is at odds with its sovereignty or self-determination.
Among the most salient examples are Morocco’s occupation of Western Sahara and Turkey’s of northern Cyprus. Both of these have seen massive government-backed settlement enterprises that dwarf anything in the West Bank. The majority of the population in these territories now consists of settlers, fundamentally undermining the possibility of self-determination or a political solution. There are also settlers in Armenian-occupied Nagorno-Karabakh and the Occupied Ukrainian Territories. In all these cases, foreign companies actively support the various settlement enterprises. These activities include extracting natural resources from the territories, providing infrastructure support to the occupying power, and in general, making the settlement enterprises more economically viable.”

2) The ITIC reports on a Palestinian Islamic Jihad rally held in the PA controlled town of al Bireh.

“On November 10, 2018, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) held a rally to mark the anniversary of the founding of the organization and the death of its founder, Fathi Shqaqi. The rally was held in a large hall in al-Bireh where a recorded speech by Ziyad al-Nakhalah, the newly elected PIJ leader, was played. Al-Nakhalah stressed the importance of the armed struggle against Israel and called on the residents of the West Bank “to lead the armed resistance against Israel as they did in the [second] intifada in 2000” [during which the PIJ was one of the most prominent organizations in carrying out suicide bombing attacks].

Al-Bireh is next to Ramallah (and about 15 kilometers, or about nine miles, from Jerusalem). It is an important administrative center for the Palestinian Authority (PA) in Judea and Samaria, and some of the PA’s offices are located there. It can be assumed that al-Nakhalah’s speech could not have been given in al-Bireh without the authorization, or at least the prior knowledge, of the PA’s security services.”

3) MEMRI takes a look at reports concerning claims of efforts to change Syrian demography.

“Throughout the Syria war, websites opposed to the Assad regime have repeatedly claimed that this regime and its ally Iran were using the war to change Syria’s demography by expelling Sunni populations, deemed a potential threat to the regime, and bringing in Shi’ites, who are more likely to support it. According to these reports, the Assad regime and Iran use a variety of methods – including threats, siege and starving – to compel Sunnis to emigrate and then seize their property and replace them with elements loyal to the regime, including non-Syrians. President Assad outlined this policy in a July 2015 speech, saying, “The homeland does not belong to those who live there, nor to those who hold a passport or are citizens. The homeland belongs to those who protect and guard it.” In the recent months, several websites reported that the regime was naturalizing thousands and even millions of Shi’ites, members of Iranian and Iran-backed militias that are fighting alongside the Syrian army.”

4) On Universal Children’s Day PMW reviewed Palestinian Authority messaging to children.

“Today, November 20th, is known as Universal Children’s Day because it is the day the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child (1959) and the Convention of the Rights of the Child (1989). 

The PA joined the UN’s Convention of the Rights of the Child in 2014. […]

The PA and Fatah leadership is abusing Palestinian children by presenting terrorists as heroes, “Martyrs” as role models, and glorifying the murder of Jews and Israelis. Sports tournaments, names of schools, school books, cultural events, and even music videos glorify terrorist murderers and urge Palestinian youth to aspire to kill and be killed.” 


When the BBC News website reported an enduring conflict without a narrative

In addition to covering the conference on the topic of the Arab-Israeli conflict held in Paris earlier this month, the BBC News website also reported on talks, held in Geneva, relating to another long-standing conflict.cyprus-art

Hope for a fresh settlement in Cyprus James Landale, January 8th 2017

Cyprus peace talks begin on future of divided island January 9th 2017

Cyprus peace talks ‘resolve many issues’ January 11th 2017

Cyprus peace talks: Can Cypriots heal their divided island? Selin Girit, January 12th 2017

Cyprus peace deal close, says UN chief after Geneva talks January 12th 2017

With one exception, all the reports concerning the Cyprus talks included an impartial and nuanced explanation of the main issues underlying the dispute:


In contrast to BBC coverage of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, audiences reading the coverage of the Cyprus talks did not find any pronouncements allocating disputed territory to one side or the other in the style of the frequently seen terminology “occupied Palestinian land” and “Palestinian territory”.

Regarding the 30,000 or so Turkish troops in northern Cyprus, audiences were told that “Greek Cypriots see them as an occupying force” but not that (with the obvious exception of Turkey) the rest of the world views them in the same way and considers that occupation illegal.

None of the reports concerning Cyprus informs readers of the fact that it was Turkish state policy to facilitate and encourage the immigration of Turkish nationals to the northern part of island during the latter half of the 1970s and – in contrast to BBC reporting on Israel and the Palestinians – the words ‘settlers’, ‘settlements’ and ‘international law’ do not appear in any of the reports.

Obviously the BBC is able to report on the enduring conflict in Cyprus in a manner which refrains from promoting a particular politically-motivated narrative and provides audiences with an impartial view of the issue – just as BBC editorial guidelines demand. Unfortunately for BBC audiences seeking to understand the Arab-Israeli conflict, the same standards are not evident.

Related Articles:

Not all ‘occupied territories’ are equal for the BBC


BBC remains silent on Hizballah terrorism in Europe

Earlier this week the Times of Israel reported the following news:No news

“The foreign minister of Cyprus confirmed Monday that bomb-making equipment discovered last month with a Lebanese-Canadian suspect was linked to the Hezbollah terrorist group and was intended for attacks against Israeli and Jewish targets on the island.

Cypriot forces arrested the 26-year-old suspect last month when a stash of ammonium nitrate, a common bomb-making component, was discovered in the basement of the place where he was staying in the southeastern city of Larnaca, Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides told reporters.”

As has been noted here previously, the BBC has shown no interest whatsoever in informing its audiences of this latest case of Hizballah terrorist operations in Europe. So much for building “a global understanding of international issues“.

Related Articles:

BBC News again ignores Hizballah operations in Cyprus

Still no BBC reporting on developing Cyprus explosives story

Still no BBC reporting on developing Cyprus explosives story

As we noted here last week, the BBC refrained from reporting on the arrest in late May in Cyprus of a 26 year-old Canadian-Lebanese man with suspected Hizballah links.No news

“The Phileleftheros newspaper said the 26-year-old man, who was remanded in custody Thursday, belonged to the Lebanese organization’s military wing and had personal links to Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah.

The daily said the man, who has not been named, arrived in Cyprus last week for what he described as a holiday.

He was arrested on Wednesday following a period of surveillance and more than 400 boxes of ammonium nitrate – a fertilizer that when mixed with other substances can be used to make explosives – was discovered at his home in Larnaca.”

Even more recently, the Cypriot police announced the arrest of a second man in connection with the same case.

“A second Lebanese man has been arrested in connection with the seizure of five tonnes of possible bomb-making material ammonium nitrate, police said Saturday.

The 62-year-old from Lebanon, said to have Cypriot identity documents, was detained in the capital Nicosia.

According to the official Cyprus News Agency, police believe he imported the nitrate in ice packs as part of first aid kits.”

Apparently, the amount of ammonium nitrate found was larger than first thought.

“The man was arrested in possession of what authorities said at the time was two tons of ammonium nitrate — a fertilizer that when mixed with other substances can be used to make explosives.

Police said closer inspection showed the man’s home to contain more than five tonnes of the material.”

The Jerusalem Post adds:

“Under Cyprus anti-terrorism laws, anything that can be used potentially as an explosive, with probable cause, is an offense.”

Remarkably, there has to date been no BBC coverage of this story on the BBC News website’s Europe or Middle East pages.



BBC News again ignores Hizballah operations in Cyprus

Last week the authorities in Cyprus announced the arrest of a dual nationality Canadian-Lebanese ‘tourist’.No news

“The Phileleftheros newspaper said the 26-year-old man, who was remanded in custody Thursday, belonged to the Lebanese organization’s military wing and had personal links to Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah.

The daily said the man, who has not been named, arrived in Cyprus last week for what he described as a holiday.

He was arrested on Wednesday following a period of surveillance and more than 400 boxes of ammonium nitrate – a fertilizer that when mixed with other substances can be used to make explosives – was discovered at his home in Larnaca.”

According to local media, the police suspect that Israeli tourists in Cyprus were among the likely targets and the Jerusalem Post reports that:

“Security sources in Israel say they believe the apartment in which the suspect was captured was an explosive materials storeroom that belonged to Hezbollah and was supposed to constitute an outlet for carrying out a large-scale series of terrorist attacks across Europe against Jewish, Israeli and Western targets.”

Readers may recall that just over two years ago it took the BBC over a month to get round to reporting on a similar case in which a Hizballah operative was arrested and tried in Cyprus. Currently this latest story has received no coverage on the BBC News website’s Middle East or Europe pages. 

Not all ‘occupied territories’ are equal for the BBC

As readers are no doubt well aware the BBC rarely, if ever, passes up on an opportunity to remind its audiences that certain geographical areas appearing in its coverage are “occupied territories” or “occupied Palestinian land” and that “settlements are illegal under international law”. The BBC’s ‘style guide’ on “Israel and the Palestinians” has instructions for its journalists on the topic – including:Style Guide

“Israel occupied East Jerusalem in 1967. A law in 1980 formalised an administrative measure tantamount to the annexation of land taken as a result of the 1967 War. The claim to East Jerusalem is not recognised internationally. Instead, under international law, East Jerusalem is considered to be occupied territory. […]

The BBC should say East Jerusalem is ‘occupied’ if it is relevant to the context of the story. For example: “Israel has occupied East Jerusalem since 1967. It annexed the area in 1980 and sees it as its exclusive domain. Under international law the area is considered to be occupied territory.”” 


“The phrase ‘Occupied Territories’ refers to East Jerusalem, the West Bank and strictly speaking the Golan Heights. However, it is common usage for this phrase to refer to the West Bank as a whole and not the Golan Heights (unless it is in a story specifically on the 1967 War or Syrian/Israeli relations).    

This is our preferred description. It is advisable to avoid trying to find another formula, although the phrase ‘occupied West Bank’ can also be used. It is, however, also advisable not to overuse the phrase within a single report in case it is seen as expressing support for one side’s view.”  

Apparently though, no comparable instructions are available to BBC journalists writing about Cyprus – at least if an article which appeared on the BBC News website on April 26th under the title “Mustafa Akinci wins northern Cyprus presidential election” is anything to go by.

The word ‘occupied’ did not appear in that report at all: readers are merely told that Turkey ‘controls’ the northern part of Cyprus.

“Voters in Turkish-controlled northern Cyprus have elected Mustafa Akinci as their new president.”

Audiences are also informed that:

“The island was divided in 1974 by a Turkish invasion staged in response to a short-lived Greek-inspired coup staged to secure a union with Greece. In 1983 the Turkish-held area declared itself the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.”

No mention is made of the fact (noted in the BBC’s Cyprus profile) that the only country to recognize the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is Turkey and of course there is no reference in the report(or the profile) to “illegal settlements” or “international law” despite the fact that it was Turkish state policy to facilitate and encourage the immigration of Turkish nationals to the island during the latter half of the 1970s.

Can it really be that the BBC has only issued specific guidelines on the ‘correct’ terminology to be used when reporting on one of the world’s many conflicts?  

BBC continues to be ‘impartial’ on terror

With the recent sentencing of Hizballah operative Hossam Taleb Yaacoub by a court in Cyprus, the BBC has finally broken its long silence on the subject of that trial.

A short report appeared on the Europe and Middle East pages of the BBC News website on March 28th, stating that Yaacoub had been sentenced to three years imprisonment, although other media outlets report a four year sentence being handed down. 

Hizb op Cyprus

The BBC report – true to form – continues to euphemistically describe Hizballah as “the Lebanese militant Shia movement”. Laconic as it is, the article also manages to include some remarkable contortions and distortions – presumably inserted in the name of “impartiality”. 

Israel says Hezbollah has been behind a string of attacks against Israeli and Jewish targets around the world.” [emphasis added]

Of course Israel is far from the only country to recognize Hizballah’s long-standing connections to terrorism, but the BBC seems to be trying to imply otherwise, as well as appearing to wrongly suggest that Hizballah activity is confined to attacks on “Israeli and Jewish targets”.

The next sentence of the report – together with another towards its end – is a fine example of an instance in which the BBC employs its obligation to impartiality in order to promote the absurd. [emphasis added]

Hezbollah, which has been designated a terrorist organisation by a number of governments, has denied the accusations.”

“Yaccoub was arrested days before a bomb exploded on a bus carrying Israeli tourists at an airport in Bulgaria, killing six people. Israel and Bulgaria accused Hezbollah of carrying out the attack. Hezbollah said it was not involved.”

In other words, the BBC juxtaposes the results of investigations into Hizballah’s terrorist and criminal activities, carried out by various countries and international bodies, with predictable denials from the terrorist organization itself – as though they were of equal weight.

The BBC’s contrived show of ‘impartiality’ with regard to this terrorist organization are a sinister product of its warped interpretations of the term “value judgements” – interpretations which are ultimately detrimental to BBC audiences’ understanding of the issues.