BBC R4 presenter portrays response to violent rioting as “attack”

The July 23rd edition of the BBC Radio 4 programme ‘Today’ included an item (from 02:51:43 here) concerning an incident which had taken place the previous night. In her introduction, presenter Martha Kearney described the alleged shooting of a Palestinian youth during violent rioting that included the use of IEDs, rocks, petrol bombs and grenades as an “attack”. [emphasis in bold added]

Kearney: “Israeli soldiers have shot dead a Palestinian teenager during a raid in the West Bank. Tom Bateman is our Middle East correspondent and Tom – tell us a bit more about this attack.”

Bateman: “Well this was the Deheishe refugee camp. It’s a big refugee camp in Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank. The Israeli military went in for a raid during the night – I mean these are things that happen frequently. They say they’re often looking for suspects or for weapons manufacturing sites.”

Readers may recall that in May the BBC failed to report the murder of an Israeli soldier during such an operation in another location. Tom Bateman did not clarify to listeners that the places he described as “occupied” – Bethlehem and the Deheishe camp – have been under Palestinian Authority control for well over two decades. He continued:

Bateman: “They went into the camp looking for two people. They say this triggered clashes The Israelis say that they came under fire with rocks and firebombs and grenades and say they responded using live fire. And in that incident a 15 year-old boy was shot in the chest and died. His name was Arkan Mezher. Following that there were some protests; residents of the camp marching to the local government hospital.”

Bateman failed to inform listeners that the incident is under investigation or that the youth was wrapped in the flag of the PFLP terror faction at his funeral.

Martha Kearney went on:

Kearney: “And this comes at a time of increased tensions throughout the region.”

Once again the BBC avoided informing its audiences that Staff Sgt. Aviv Levi was killed by a Palestinian sniper.

Bateman: “Well this is the West bank and I mean there has been, you know, increasing simmering tension on the Gaza boundary between Gaza and Israel. At the…on Friday there was yet another flare-up – really the third in a couple of months – between Hamas in Gaza and Israel. There was an Israeli soldier who was shot dead near to the fence. Israel then responded with a wave of airstrikes killing four Palestinians and I mean at the time the UN envoy to the region Nickolay Mladenov was warning that Gaza was on the brink of war. Now over the weekend there seems to have been a relative calm restored but yes; I think the context is about heightened tension.”

Bateman likewise failed to clarify that at least three of those “four Palestinians” were members of Hamas’ militia or that Palestinians subsequently launched three rockets into Israeli territory.

Kearney: “Relative calm and what about ceasefires?”

Bateman: “Well a ceasefire was announced by Hamas on the early hours of Saturday morning. There has been mediation by Egyptian intelligence, by the United Nations. I mean Israel never really comments on these ceasefires but clearly there appears to be some kind of agreement that does for the time being seem to be holding.”

Bateman of course made no effort to inform listeners that Hamas’ July 20th announcement of a ceasefire came just six days after the previous one it announced – and broke.  

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Tortuous headlines for BBC report on Palestinian teacher’s prize

For over a month BBC News managed to assiduously avoid telling its audiences about the strike by more than 25,000 teachers in the Palestinian Authority controlled areas which affected over 540,000 pupils and even saw some teachers detained by PA security forces. The day after that strike was suspended however, the corporation did find a story about a Palestinian teacher which it considered newsworthy.

That article by the BBC’s education correspondent Sean Coughlan was originally published on the BBC News website on March 13th under the accurate and informative headline “Palestinian wins $1m global teaching prize”. For reasons unknown the title was changed several hours later to “Ex-refugee wins $1m global teacher prize” but then the following day it was again amended and the article now appears under headline “Palestinian refugee camp teacher wins $1m global prize“.teacher prize story

How – in the space of less than 24 hours – Ms Hanan Al Hroub went from being a Palestinian to an “ex-refugee” and then to a “Palestinian refugee camp teacher” is unclear but clearly some confusion is evident among BBC headline writers for whom her pedagogic achievements all too obviously take a back seat.  

Readers of the report are informed that:

“Hanan Al Hroub grew up in a Palestinian refugee camp and now is a teacher of refugees herself.

She specialises in supporting children who have been traumatised by violence. […]

Growing up in a refugee camp near Bethlehem, Ms Al Hroub now works with refugee pupils, with an approach using play that is aimed at resolving violence and tension.”

The Dehisheh refugee camp where Ms Al Hroub grew up and Al Bireh where she now works have of course both been under the full control of the Palestinian Authority for more than two decades and no effort is made to explain to readers why – unlike other descendants of refugees around the world – Ms Al Hroub’s pupils are still classified as refugees.

Associated Press staff in Dubai where the award ceremony took place reported that:

“As al-Hroub accepted her award, Palestinians in the audience waved their country’s flag and some chanted, fists pumping in the air, “With our souls, our blood, we sacrifice for you Palestine.””

That part of the story did not however appear in the BBC’s version of events.

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BBC silent on ‘Fatah Day’ celebrations

Last year the BBC gave wide – albeit meticulously airbrushed – coverage to the ‘Fatah Day’ rally held in the Gaza Strip. This year, however, the annual events marking the anniversary of Fatah’s first terror attack against Israel have so far been ignored.

In addition to controlling the Palestinian Authority, Fatah is also of course the largest faction in the PLO which is currently conducting talks with Israel, supposedly with the aim of bringing the Arab-Israeli conflict to a peaceful resolution. 

The BBC News website offers its visitors several profiles of Fatah. In both this one from 2009 and this one from 2011, readers are informed that:

“With international pressure mounting, Fatah – though notably not the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades – signed a declaration rejecting attacks on civilians in Israel and committing themselves to peace and co-existence.”

So let’s take a quick look at how an organisation committed – according to the BBC – to “peace and co-existence” with its Israeli neighbours celebrated ‘Fatah Day’ this year, as the US Secretary of State arrived in the region once more and talks continue. 

These two photographs were taken at a Fatah rally held on January 1st in Deheishe near Bethlehem by Channel 10’s Roy Sharon.

Roi Sharon Tweet 1

Roi Sharon Tweet 2

The image below appeared on Fatah’s Facebook page, together with the logo also pictured.

Ofir Gendelman tweet

Fatah logo

Notably, that “peace and co-existence” touted by the BBC is reflected neither in the stylised map which erases Israel completely or the gun barrel (for more information on Fatah logos, see here). Rifles also featured in an image chosen by PLO chief negotiator Saeb Erekat for his Facebook page on December 29th 2013.

Erekat Facebook

And during his speech given at the official ‘Fatah Day’ event in Ramallah, PA president and head of Fatah Mahmoud Abbas took a leaf out of Ahmadinejad’s handbook, calling Israeli communities in Judea & Samaria and Jerusalem neighbourhoods “cancer”. 

BBC audiences aspiring to “build a global understanding of international issues” such as the ongoing talks and the Middle East peace process in general would no doubt find the information above very useful. The BBC, however, is staying silent.