Comparing BBC reporting on English and Israeli football hooligans

Last month the BBC’s Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen found it appropriate to respond to an Israeli spokesman’s statement concerning the very real problem of incitement and glorification of terrorism sanctioned and organized by the Palestinian Authority and its main party Fatah by promoting an irrelevant comparison – and false equivalence – between that and the behaviour of a specific group of Israeli football hooligans. 

“The Israeli prime minister’s spokesman told me that “teaching Palestinian children to hate is one of the primary causes of the terror attacks against Israeli civilians today… their impressionable minds should not be poisoned with hatred by the Palestinian Authority.”

“Hate-filled Palestinian rhetoric against Israel is not hard to find. It cuts the other way too.

Fans of one of Jerusalem’s professional football clubs, which has roots in a right-wing Zionist youth movement, are notorious for chanting “Death to Arabs” during games.”

Previous BBC reports concerning a group of Beitar Jerusalem fans (of which there have been far more than necessary) have also alleged a connection between certain political ideologies and racism.

“Beitar Jerusalem is traditionally seen as the club of Israel’s political right wing.

Many politicians, past and present, from the conservative Likud party are lifelong fans.”

BBC audiences have also been told that the actions of a specific group of fans from one particular club prompt general “Football racism fears in Israel”.Davies Beitar

Interestingly, the not entirely novel behaviour of a group of English football fans in Marseille this last week were not deemed by the BBC to prompt ‘football violence fears in England’ or ‘football inebriation fears in England’.

None of the plethora of BBC articles and reports on the topic alleged a link between the rioting fans and any particular UK political party and neither did they suggest linkage between the violent fans’ political views and their actions. And of course no BBC reporter tried to paint the behaviour of a few hooligans as being representative of English society as a whole.

In fact, BBC audiences were told that “there is a small minority who drink too much and get involved in some anti-social behavior”, that “only a “handful” of England fans had been involved” and that “the England fans had done nothing wrong”. In addition, BBC audiences learned that “reports of England football fans being involved in fights in Marseille have been “blown out of proportion” and that “it’s just a small minority who go to cause trouble really”.

Compare and contrast.