Weekend long read

1) Writing at the Jerusalem Post, Maurice Hirsch examines “The UK-PA partnership to reward terrorists”.

“Despite having positive knowledge that the PA used a considerable amount of its financial resources to implement its terrorism-rewarding policy, the DFID, via the World Bank, provided the PA, over a seven-year period, with over £430 million to be used as the PA saw fit. While DFID has adamantly claimed no UK funds were used to fund “pay for slay”, it did so relying on narrow audit reports that cannot and do not support its assertion.

Created in 2008, the World Bank’s Palestinian Recovery and Development Program – Multi-Donor Trust Fund (PRDP-MDTF) pooled the funds of multiple donor countries, including the UK, and provided steady and reliable quarterly cash flow to the PA. As the PRDP-MDTF clearly states, the donor funds were provided to the PA “untied and unearmarked.””

For more information on that topic see this post from UKLFI.

2) At the JCPA Nadav Shragai explains “The Unique Status of the Jerusalem Suburb
of Wadi Hummus
” – information which was lacking in BBC reporting on that story last month.

“In the area of Sur Baher, the state planned to locate the security fence on the route of the jurisdictional boundary. But vigorous lobbying activity, including an appeal to the Supreme Court by residents who opposed detaching Wadi Hummus from Sur Baher, brought about a change in the decision. The result was that Wadi Hummus was included within the route of the fence even though it is not part of Jerusalem.

Some of the Wadi Hummus residents are originally from Sur Baher and hold Israeli residency cards. Others are from the West Bank and are not Israeli residents. The result is a legal and bureaucratic imbroglio in which Wadi Hummus, a tract of only a few hundred dunams, is surrounded by the Israeli fence, is not an official part of Jerusalem, and includes areas of three kinds: A, B, and C. In Area A, security and civilian control belong to the Palestinian Authority; in Area B, security control belongs to Israel and civilian control to the Palestinian Authority; in Area C, official security and civilian control belong to Israel.”

3) At the Tablet Liel Leibovitz takes a look at “The Long History of Politically Motivated Travel Bans”.

“American law […] goes on at length regarding the various categories of people who may be barred from entering the United States, including those with communicable diseases, those convicted of certain crimes, and—drumroll, please—anyone who “seeks to enter the United States to engage solely, principally, or incidentally in… any activity a purpose of which is the opposition to, or the control or overthrow of, the government of the United States by force, violence, or other unlawful means.”

Israel has similar laws. Its argument that avid supporters of a movement, BDS, whose overtly stated goal is the destruction of Israel as a Jewish state represent a threat to the country may not be politically savvy, but nor is it unprecedented or indefensible.”

4) As the BBC continues to promote the notion that the Palestinian Authority aspires to a two-state solution to the conflict, at the Washington Institute David Pollock analyses a recent Palestinian public opinion poll.  

“…when asked about ending the conflict with Israel permanently, only a minority would approve a two-state solution: 30 percent of West Bankers, and 42 percent of Gazans. Instead, the narrow majority in both territories–56 percent in the West Bank, and 54 percent in Gaza, say “the conflict should not end, and resistance should continue until all of historic Palestine is liberated.” This marks a hardening of West Bank views compared to previous polls. And under half of the Palestinian public say “we should recognize that we will never defeat Israel, and that fighting just makes things worse”: 40 percent of West Bankers, and 49 percent of Gazans.”

 

 

BBC Radio 4 ‘Today’ Gaza Strip special – part two

As we saw in part one of this post, one of the themes promoted during the first fourteen minutes of a live broadcast from the Gaza Strip in the December 17th edition of the ‘Today’ programme was the claim that the “deplorable” situation in the Gaza Strip is essentially the result of the “blockade” imposed by Israel and Egypt. 

An additional theme which is not new to BBC reporting and was again promoted in this broadcast is that of US cuts in donations to UNRWA – but, as ever, without any explanation of the issues at the root of the long-standing debate surrounding the UN agency that are vital to proper understanding of that story.

The second part of the ‘Today’ programme’s live broadcast from the Gaza Strip (from 36:07 here) was introduced by Mishal Husain with a reference to an announcement from the UK government mentioned earlier by the BBC’s economics correspondent Darshini David. [emphasis in italics in the original, emphasis in bold added]

Husain: “The government has announced £5 million worth of emergency food aid for Palestinians in Gaza as the UN appeals for funds to prevent 2 million people who live here slipping deeper into poverty.”

In contrast to Husain’s claim that all two million residents of the Gaza Strip are living in poverty, the UN office for the coordination of humanitarian affairs reported in June of this year that 53% of the territory’s residents were actually defined as such. Husain then introduced her Jerusalem based colleague Yolande Knell.

Husain: “The economic position in Gaza has long been dire, Yolande, is international concern now growing?”

Knell: “It does seem to be and there is this report that’s been published by the UN humanitarian office here talking about how there are deepening needs among Palestinians. But what’s really interesting is the fact it’s launching this appeal for $350 million today for humanitarian relief for Palestinians but it says that it’s actually targeting fewer people – half a million fewer – than it targeted here just in this last year. And the report is very frank about how it is because of record low funding and of course over the past year what’s happened is the US has slashed its funding to the Palestinians including to the UN agency that provides services to 5 million refugees across the Middle East. It has promised $365 million but ended up paying just $60 million and on top of that it cut aid – 200 million – to development projects. And that really links to this other announcement that we’re seeing this morning from the UN agency for Palestinian refugees – UNRWA – where the UK’s Department for International Development saying it’s going to give this money – £5 million – to provide emergency food to over 60,000 Palestinian refugees in Gaza at risk of hunger.”

Later on in the same programme (2:06:21 here) listeners heard a news bulletin which also included a report from Knell.

Newsreader: “The United Nations is launching an appeal to raise £280 million for people living in the Palestinian territories. It says that many are in critical humanitarian need after a big drop in funding from the United States. Here’s our Middle East correspondent Yolande Knell.”

Knell: “This report describes a worsening situation in the Palestinian territories. In Gaza health services have been overwhelmed by casualties from protests along the perimeter fence with Israel. But the UN humanitarian affairs office says that next year it will target just 1.4 million people here – half a million fewer than this year. Its local head points to record low funding and what he calls attacks to delegitimise humanitarian action. This year as tensions grew with Palestinian leaders, Washington cut hundreds of millions of dollars in aid for development and for the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA. Through an emergency appeal much of UNRWA’s deficit has been filled and today the UK says it will provide new funds for over 60,000 refugees in Gaza at risk of hunger.”

The UNOCHA press release on which this news item is based can be seen here.

As is usual in BBC content we see uncritical amplification of UN claims and campaigns with no effort made to provide audiences with background information concerning questions such as why there are “5 million [Palestinian] refugees across the Middle East”, why people living under the rule of the Palestinian Authority and Hamas are still classified as refugees or what were the reasons behind the US administration’s decision to cut donations to UNRWA.

Entirely predictably Yolande Knell’s reporting failed to inform BBC audiences that the sum cited in the appeal launched by UNOCHA and the PA’s Minister for Social Development (who Knell apparently ‘forgot’ to mention) is similar to that allocated by the Palestinian Authority in its 2018 budget to payments to convicted terrorists and terrorists’ families. As PMW points out:

“Instead of the UN asking donor countries to contribute $350 million to provide for Palestinian humanitarian needs, the UN should be joining the unequivocal call from many governments that the PA immediately stop squandering the $355 million dollars of its own funds on its “Pay for Slay” policy that incentivizes and rewards terrorism, and instead spend that money on needy Palestinians.

Were the UN to adopt this basic and elementary moral requirement, it would strengthen the international forces that are mobilizing against the PA’s terror support.  

Abolishing the “Pay for Slay” policy would re-open the door for the PA to receive the approximately $215 million dollars of US aid to the PA withheld by the Taylor Force Act. Abolishing the PA’s “Pay for Slay” policy would also avert the imminent deduction by Israel of the PA’s expenditure on the salary program from the tax revenues Israel collects and transfers to the PA. Moreover, it would ensure that the PA would not lose its Australian funding and part of its funding from The Netherlands.”

The story told to BBC Radio 4 audiences, however, excludes any mention of the Palestinian Authority and Hamas shared priority of funding and rewarding terror over meeting the needs of their people. Instead Yolande Knell and her colleagues prefer to promote a simplistic story about poor, hungry Palestinians.

Related Articles:

BBC Radio 4 ‘Today’ Gaza Strip special – part one

One to listen out for tomorrow on BBC Radio 4

Mishal Husain does ‘life in Gaza’ for BBC One TV

Documenting BBC amplification of an UNRWA campaign

 

 

 

PA TV executives reveal goals of station partnered by BBC charity

Readers may recall that back in 2016 we noted the existence of a project run by the BBC’s international development charity ‘BBC Media Action’ and BBC Arabic in partnership with the Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation (PBC) between 2012 and 2016.

The BBC charity’s partnership with terror glorifying PA media

“The Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation (PBC) is controlled by the Palestinian Authority and its television (PA TV) and radio (Voice of Palestine) stations are the PA’s official media channels.

…both those stations have a long record of broadcasting material which negates Israel’s existence (including on children’s programmes), glorifies terrorism, spreads incitement, promotes antisemitic tropes and hate speechpropagates falsehoods about Israel and denies and distorts the Holocaust.”

A blog post written in 2013 (which includes a shout-out to Manal Tamimi – known for her Tweets lauding and encouraging Palestinian violence) by a person who was at the time employed at the BBC Media Action Ramallah office as a social media specialist states that in addition to producing content together with the PBC, the BBC charity also helped the corporation expand its presence on social media.

“Our social media team is working hand in hand with the Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation to develop the station’s Facebook page, and we are creating social media guidelines for the station, as well as using social media for production. Over the past six months Palestine TV’s Facebook page has seen rising numbers of fans and increasingly professional content.”

Recently two senior PBC officials provided some background (translated by Palestinian Media Watch) concerning the goals of the TV station with which BBC Media Action found it appropriate to collaborate over a period of several years.

In other words, a TV station that is described by its director as “a media outlet with a national cause” and portrayed by one of its senior executives as “a central part of the…struggle” was nevertheless chosen to partner a BBC charity funded to no small extent by the UK tax-payer.

Related Articles:

The BBC, the British Council and BDS: what Simon Cox didn’t report

The BBC World Service, the partner radio station and the terror-glorifying cartoon

The BBC charity’s partnership with terror glorifying PA media

BBC News report on Hamas infiltration of a charity downplays UK angle

The story of an international charity allegedly having been infiltrated by a terrorist organisation was covered by the BBC News website in a rather short-lived report which appeared on its Middle East page on August 4th and 5th under the headline “Israel: World Vision Gaza boss diverted cash to Hamas“.World Vision art

The report opens: [emphasis added]

“Israel has charged the Gaza head of an international charity with diverting millions of dollars of foreign funds to the Palestinian militant group Hamas.

The Shin Bet security service said about 60% of all funds sent to Gaza by the World Vision charity was being diverted to the Islamist movement.

It said Hamas recruited the charity’s head of Gaza operations, Mohammed Halabi, more than a decade ago.”

Readers have to proceed to paragraph seven in order to learn about the obviously very relevant topic of Hamas’ terrorist designation and readers of the original version of the report were told that:

“Israel and a number of other countries consider Hamas a terrorist group.”

Some three hours later that sentence was amended:

“Hamas is designated a terrorist group by Israel, the US, EU, and UK among other countries.”

The BBC report states:

“World Vision said it had no reason to believe the allegations were true.

It said it carried out regular audits of its Gaza programmes and was “shocked” by the charges.

“We will carefully review any evidence presented to us and will take appropriate actions based on that evidence,” a statement said.”

Readers are not informed that World Vision International has been registered as a church in the US since 2007 meaning that its reporting obligations to the tax authorities there are different from those of 501 c 3 registered non-profit organisations.

The BBC report goes on to amplify a predictable statement from the terrorist organization concerned:

“A Hamas spokesman, Sami Abu Zuhri, said the group had “no connection to [Mr Halabi] and therefore, all Israeli accusations are void and aim to suppress our people,” Reuters news agency reported.”

From the point of view of the BBC’s funding public, perhaps the most remarkable feature of this report is its downplaying of the story’s British angle. Readers are informed that:

“The security service said these funds were used, amongst other things, for the digging of tunnels intended to be used for attacks on Israeli civilian communities, the building of military bases and for the purchase of weapons.

It said one base costing $80,000 was paid for in cash from UK donations.”DEC appeal on BBC

World Vision is one of the thirteen charities which make up the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC). The DEC’s Gaza Crisis Appeal (which raised some £19 million) was broadcast on BBC channels in 2014 and the British government pledged matched funding for the first £2m raised. Whether or not the $80,000 used to construct Hamas’ military facility in Jabaliya came from donations to that DEC appeal is unclear but as Sir Eric Pickles recently noted:

“Worryingly, the UK – via the Department for International Development – reportedly gave £2 million to groups in Gaza in 2014, including World Vision, when they matched charitable contributions pound for pound made by well-meaning Brits to a Disaster Emergency Committee appeal. The Department has conceded that it cannot guarantee that British taxpayers money has not been given to Hamas.” 

Obviously this story will be of considerable interest to any media organisation intending to serve the British public interest by carrying out investigative reporting into the question of why legal safeguards appear to have failed the donating public and taxpayers – especially as the problem shows signs of being by no means limited to one NGO alone.

However, seeing as the BBC has over the last two years put considerable effort into persuading its audiences that the dire economic and social conditions in the Gaza Strip are primarily attributable to Israel – while serially ignoring Hamas’ abuse of its civilian population and misappropriation of resources intended to better their lives – it is perhaps unlikely that it will be found at the forefront of such investigative reporting. 

Related Articles:

BBC’s Matthew Price produces superficial report on charity audit

BBC amends article on DEC Gaza appeal concerns

The BBC charity’s partnership with terror glorifying PA media

The Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation (PBC) is controlled by the Palestinian Authority and its television (PA TV) and radio (Voice of Palestine) stations are the PA’s official media channels.

As is regularly documented by Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), both those stations have a long record of broadcasting material which negates Israel’s existence (including on children’s programmes), glorifies terrorism, spreads incitement, promotes antisemitic tropes and hate speech, propagates falsehoods about Israel and denies and distorts the Holocaust.

One might therefore assume that for organisations from liberal Western countries, the Palestine Broadcasting Corporation would not meet the required criteria for partnership on joint projects – but that is apparently not the case.BBC Media Action

The BBC’s international development charity ‘BBC Media Action’ is officially “legally, financially and operationally independent from the BBC” although according to its website, some of its trustees are also BBC employees. It does not receive funding from the licence fee “except through the provision of office space and a small donation from BBC World Service to support co-production of content with their language services” and the majority of its income is provided by DfID – the UK government’s Department for International Development.

Despite the Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation’s record, BBC Media Action (in collaboration with licence fee funded BBC Arabic) began partnering it in 2012. The charity claims to be “promoting accountability” through the governance projects – of which that partnership is one – and states that:

“BBC Media Action’s governance and rights programmes support more accountable, inclusive and peaceful states and societies.” 

Clearly the investment by British tax-payers did not have that effect upon the Palestinian Authority, which continues to promote hate, incitement and glorification of terrorism (mostly unreported by the BBC) via BBC Media Action’s partner the Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation.

Related Articles:

The BBC, the British Council and BDS: what Simon Cox didn’t report

The BBC World Service, the partner radio station and the terror-glorifying cartoon

UK government halts funding to BBC quoted and promoted charity

The Telegraph informs us that:

“The government has ceased funding a British charity which sponsored events accused of promoting hatred and violence against Jews. 

The Department for International Development (Dfid) said that it no longer supported War on Want, which helped pay for “Israeli Apartheid Week” in February this year. […]

War on Want, whose logo appears on publicity materials for Israeli Apartheid Week and the meeting, has received £260,000 in funding from Dfid over the last two years.

The subsidy is doubly embarrassing because the Government has recently banned local authorities and other public bodies from implementing boycotts of Israel.

A Dfid spokesman said last night that it has ceased funding of War on Want, apart from a small project with a distinct branch of the charity in Northern Ireland.”

As was reported here last year, this is not the first time that ‘War on Want’ has been active in the organisation of ‘Israel Apartheid Week’ in British universities and its activities include additional forms of anti-Israel campaigning.WoW 1

Among the other bodies funding ‘War on Want’ is the charity ‘Comic Relief which – as has been noted here before – receives considerable support from the BBC. In addition, BBC Radio 4’s charity appeals slot has featured ‘War on Want’ on several occasions.

In light of the circumstances which prompted the decision taken by the Department for International Development, one would of course expect that ‘Comic Relief’ and additional funders of ‘War on Want’ will be reviewing their position.

That same background should of course also prompt the BBC to ensure that on the fairly frequent occasions upon which it hosts representatives of ‘War on Want’ on its programmes, care should be taken to meet the existing BBC editorial guidelines on impartiality which require that audiences be made aware of the association of contributors with a “particular viewpoint”.