BBC News promotes partisan political narrative on Old City

On the afternoon of January 22nd the BBC News website published a report headlined “‘Go outside’: France’s Macron berates Israeli police at Jerusalem church”.

The BBC’s description of that “Jerusalem church” is as follows:

“The Church of St Anne, which dates back to 1138, is the best-preserved Crusader church in Jerusalem. According to Christian tradition, the crypt enshrines the home of the Virgin Mary and her parents.

It is located in occupied East Jerusalem, to the north of the hilltop site known to Muslims as al-Haram al-Sharif and to Jews as the Temple Mount.” [emphasis added]

The Church of St Anne is located in Jerusalem’s Old City. As we see, the BBC continues its long-standing practice of promoting the partisan political narrative according to which the Old City is categorised as “occupied East Jerusalem” without the provision of any of the essential context concerning Jordan’s belligerent attack on parts of the city and the subsequent nineteen-year occupation.

Interestingly, it took the BBC until the following day to add details to the story which were already known at the time of the report’s original publication.

“An Israeli police spokesman said that as President Macron’s delegation arrived at the Church of St Anne there was a “discussion” between Israeli and French security guards about who would be allowed to enter the site.

“The French president requested that the guidelines be respected and, based on the terms agreed upon ahead of time, an Israeli guard and a policeman escorted the president and his delegation inside,” he added.

“When the president and the delegation finished the visit, he apologised about the incident and shook hands with the security personnel.””

As we noted earlier this week, BBC audiences were not informed of the call published in an official Palestinian Authority newspaper to use violence to disrupt the event commemorating the Holocaust which was the background to the French president’s visit to Jerusalem. Had that context been provided, readers would of course have been better placed to understand this story.

Related Articles:

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BBC’s Guerin gratuitously inserts ‘occupation’ into Holocaust remembrance coverage

BBC Watch prompts correction to report on French antisemitism resolution

Last week we noted the inaccurate portrayal of a resolution passed by the French parliament in an article which appeared on the BBC News website’s ‘Europe’ page.

BBC News misrepresents French parliament resolution

BBC Watch submitted a complaint concerning that report (including a link to the draft resolution passed by France’s National Assembly) and two days later we received a reply from the BBC News website:

“Thank you for getting in touch about our article France anti-Semitism: Jewish graves defaced with Nazi swastikas.

After considering your point further we have amended this section of the article and added a correction note at the bottom, advising readers of these changes.”

The original version of the report read as follows:

The amended version and the added footnote now read:

 

BBC News misrepresents French parliament resolution

On December 4th a report titled “France anti-Semitism: Jewish graves defaced with Nazi swastikas” was published on the ‘Europe’ page of the BBC News website.

Towards the end of that report – throughout which the BBC once again used the wrong spelling of the word antisemitism – readers were told that: [emphasis added]

“On Tuesday night, France’s National Assembly passed a draft resolution that includes hatred of Israel as an example of anti-Semitism.

The definition, by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, has already been adopted by the European Parliament and several other countries.

A number of MPs from President Emmanuel Macron’s ruling party voted against the resolution.”

The IHRA definition of course does not include “hatred of Israel” as an example of antisemitism. It does include the following:

    • Accusing the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust.
       
    • Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.
       
    • Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.
       
    • Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.
       
    • Using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis.
       
    • Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.
       
    • Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.

The resolution passed by the French National Assembly on December 3rd includes the following:

“Considering that it would constitute an effective instrument for combating antisemitism in its modern and renewed form, encompassing manifestations of hatred of the State of Israel justified solely by the perception of Israel as a Jewish community.” [emphasis added]

The preceding explanatory statement clarifies:

 “…anti-Zionist acts can sometimes obscure antisemitic realities. Criticizing the very existence of Israel as a community of Jewish citizens is tantamount to hatred of the Jewish community as a whole, as holding Jews collectively responsible for the policies of the Israeli political authorities is a manifestation of antisemitism. Such drifts are increasingly making anti-Zionism “one of the contemporary forms of antisemitism,” to use the words of the President of the Republic. To point to such drifts does not prevent any free criticism of the policies and positions taken by Israeli governments.” [emphasis added]

The BBC, however, chose to promote a dumbed-down portrayal of the resolution adopted by the lower house of the French parliament that is both inaccurate and misleading. Coming as it does after a series of failed BBC attempts to explain anti-Zionism and antisemitism to its audiences (see some examples in ‘related articles’ below), that lazy and inaccurate portrayal is not particularly surprising.

Related Articles:

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BBC News ‘explanation’ of antisemitism promotes the Livingstone Formulation

BBC article on antisemitism report recycles problematic backgrounder

BBC again ignores the existence of accepted definitions of antisemitism

Another BBC antisemitism backgrounder promotes Livingstone Formulation

BBC News’ side-lining of French president’s anti-Zionism statement is no surprise

BBC report on UN SG’s Israel visit omits his statements on anti-Zionism

BBC report on antisemitism in France marred by its own record

Catching up with a story the BBC reported in 2015

Back in March 2015 the BBC News website published a report relating to the issue of arrest warrants for three men suspected of having been among those responsible for the 1982 terror attack on the Jo Goldenberg restaurant in Paris in which six people were killed and 22 wounded.

BBC News recycles three year old factual failures in Abu Nidal report

Three months later the BBC reported that one of the suspects had been arrested in Jordan. We have however not been able to find any follow-up BBC reporting on Jordan’s refusal to extradite that suspect and another one.

“The suspects in the Chez Jo Goldenberg attack were not formally identified until 2014, when two anonymous informants associated with Abu Nidal’s group supplied the French authorities with the missing information.

The following year, France’s top magistrate tasked with combating terrorism, Marc Trévidic, issued arrest warrants for several suspects, including Hamada and fellow Jordanian citizen Souhair Mouhamed Hassan Khalid al-Abassi — aka Amjad Atta — reputedly the mastermind behind the attack.

A French request to the Jordanian courts for al-Abassi’s extradition was similarly rejected in Oct. 2015 — just three months after the Hashemite Kingdom signed an extradition treaty with the French government.”

Neither have we been able to find any BBC coverage of a story which emerged around the 37th anniversary of that terror attack, for which no-one has stood trial. Several French, British and Israeli media outlets – including the BBC’s preferred paper, the Guardian – have reported that:

“Families of the victims of a 1982 terrorist attack in Paris are demanding a parliamentary inquiry after reports that the former chief of French intelligence made a secret pact with the perpetrators. […]

On Friday, Le Parisien newspaper reported that the former head of France’s intelligence service Yves Bonnet had admitted negotiating a “secret deal” with the [Abu Nidal Organisation] terrorist group. Now 83, Bonnet is said to have told investigators that he agreed the group’s members could continue travelling to France if they carried out no more attacks on French soil.

“We made a kind of verbal deal in which I said I don’t want any more attacks on French soil and in return I’ll let you come to France and I guarantee nothing will happen to you,” Bonnet reportedly said in an interview with investigating magistrates in January. […]

To date no reporting on that story appears on the BBC News website’s ‘France’ page.

 

 

BBC’s Paris correspondent misleads on Israel and extradition

h/t FS

On June 20th an article by the BBC’s Paris correspondent Hugh Schofield appeared on the ‘Europe’ page of the BBC News website under the headline “The fake French minister in a silicone mask who stole millions”.

Under the sub-heading “Whodunnit?” readers were told that:

“The case is now under judicial investigation in France, with suspicions centring on a convicted French-Israeli con-artist called Gilbert Chikli.

He is currently in jail in Paris following extradition from Ukraine and faces charges of organised fraud and usurpation of identity.

Chikli, of Tunisian Jewish background, grew up in the working-class Belleville neighbourhood of northeast Paris.

In 2015, Chikli was found guilty of scamming money out of French corporations by pretending to be their chief executive. But by this time he was living in the safety of Israel, which refuses to extradite its nationals.” [emphasis added]

As we see, Schofield found it appropriate to inform BBC audiences of the suspect’s ethnic and religious background even though that is of no relevance to the case.

Schofield’s claim that Israel “refuses to extradite its nationals” is inaccurate.

Under the terms of Israel’s Extradition Law Israeli nationals can be extradited to countries with which Israel has an extradition agreement or treaty such as Holland, the UK and the US. Although France is not one of those countries, extraditions from Israel to France have taken place. In the past France has refused to extradite French citizens to Israel.

As noted on the website of Israel’s Ministry of Justice:

“One of the main functions of the Department of International Affairs is the location and extradition of criminals who have escaped from Israel, as well as the location and extradition of criminals who have escaped to Israel from abroad. Within this framework the Department maintains day-to-day contact with the parallel authorities in other countries from all over the world, and also with the enforcement agencies in Israel – including investigation and prosecution units and the Interpol Unit at the Israel Police. […]

During recent years, offenders who have committed serious and sophisticated crimes, sometimes within the framework of organized crime, have been extradited from Israel to different countries, notwithstanding that they committed the crimes without leaving Israel’s borders.”

Clearly Schofield’s materially misleading claim requires correction.

 

 

 

BBC report on antisemitism in France marred by its own record

On February 21st a report titled “Macron announces crackdown on anti-Semitism in France” appeared on the BBC News website’s ‘Europe’ page. Readers were told that:

“French President Emmanuel Macron has announced new measures to tackle anti-Semitism, following a spate of attacks.

He told Jewish leaders that France would recognise anti-Zionism – the denial of Israel’s right to exist – as a form of anti-Semitism. […]

Mr Macron added: “Anti-Zionism is one of the modern forms of anti-Semitism. This is why I’m confirming that France will put forward the definition of anti-Semitism as drawn by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.””

Readers may recall that this is not the first time that Mr Macron has addressed the issue of anti-Zionism: he previously did so in July 2017.

““We will never surrender to the messages of hate; we will not surrender to anti-Zionism because it is a reinvention of anti-Semitism,” Macron said an event in Paris marking the mass deportation of French Jews during World War II.”

As documented here, the BBC chose to sideline that statement at the time and subsequently failed to report a similar one made by the UN Secretary General. Two days after Mr Macron’s 2017 statement, BBC Radio Ulster held a phone-in presented as follows:

“We debate the very controversial claim by the French president that anti-Zionism is simply another form of anti-Semitism” [emphasis added]

Now that the BBC has got round to accurately reporting Mr Macron’s position on anti-Zionism it is worth taking a look at what its audiences have been told about that subject to date.

Although the BBC does not work according to the IHRA definition of antisemitism (which was adopted by the British government in 2016), in April 2016 it nevertheless considered itself sufficiently qualified to produce a backgrounder titled “What’s the difference between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism?“.

As was noted here at the time, that article promoted the Livingstone Formulation, failed to inform readers what anti-Zionism actually means and focused on promoting the inaccurate and misleading notion that anti-Zionism is the same thing as expressing criticism of the policies and actions of the Israeli government, even while advancing the ‘Zionism is racism’ canard.

“The UK Labour Party has been at the centre of a row over anti-Semitism, including its relationship to anti-Zionism. What do these terms actually mean?

Anti-Semitism is “hostility and prejudice directed against Jewish people” (OED).

Zionism refers to the movement to create a Jewish state in the Middle East, corresponding to the historic land of Israel – anti-Zionism opposes that.

But some say “Zionist” can be used as a coded attack on Jews, while others say the Israeli government and its supporters are deliberately confusing anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism to avoid criticism.” [emphasis added]

And:

“Some anti-Zionists say Zionism itself is a racist ideology, because of how, in their view, the Palestinian people have been treated by the Israeli state.”

Since publishing that unsatisfactory and unhelpful backgrounder, the BBC has continued to amplify those themes.

Given the BBC’s record on reporting the issue of anti-Zionism, its audiences obviously lack the background knowledge necessary for proper understanding of the French president’s statement reported in this article.

That state of affairs will continue as long as the BBC continues to ignore the existence of accepted definitions of antisemitism which long since answered the question of whether anti-Zionism – i.e. the denial of the right of the Jewish people to self-determination – is an expression of antisemitism.

Related Articles:

BBC Radio Ulster promotes ‘Zionism is racism’ and the ‘apartheid’ smear

BBC News tries – and fails – to explain antisemitism and anti-Zionism

BBC again ignores the existence of accepted definitions of antisemitism

More promotion of the Livingstone Formulation from BBC News

Past BBC interviewee on antisemitism gets jail term for antisemitic incitement

Long-time readers may recall that five years ago both BBC Two’s ‘Newsnight’ and BBC Radio 4’s ‘Today’ covered a story that was portrayed by the then ‘Newsnight’ presenter Jeremy Paxman as a ‘free speech’ issue:

“Now a French comedian has managed to short-circuit his country’s professed commitment to free speech. President Francois Holland, with support from both Right and Left, today encouraged local authorities to ban performances by Dieudonné M’bala-M’bala – usually known just as “Dieudonné”. It’s being done on grounds of public order because his alleged antisemitism has tested to destruction Voltaire’s supposed belief that ‘I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.’ “

That ‘Newsnight’ report included an interview with a man introduced by Paxman as “the French writer and film-maker Alain Soral” and “a close friend of Monsieur Dieudonné” who “helped him popularise the infamous quenelle gesture”. BBC audiences were told nothing of Soral’s far-Right affiliations and record of antisemitism before they heard him whitewashing the antisemitism of his “close friend” by means of antisemitic conspiracy theories.

In April 2017 Soral was featured in an article about the French elections on the BBC News website with readers told that “what makes him so controversial are the anti-Semitic views he is accused of peddling – under the guise of “anti-Zionism” – on his hugely successful website” and that:

“…on one issue Alain Soral undoubtedly has a point: speech is being policed with increasing zeal in France.”

Last week the man the BBC found it appropriate to interview on the subject of antisemitism was sentenced to a year in prison.

“A French court on Thursday sentenced far-right Holocaust denier Alain Soral to one year in prison for insulting a magistrate and making anti-Semitic comments on his website.

On the site, which is called “Equality and Reconciliation,” Soral wrote that Jews “are manipulative, domineering and hateful.”

Soral, 60, has been convicted multiple times of incitement to hatred over a constant stream of anti-Semitic comments over the years.”

While this latest conviction will come as no surprise to those familiar with Soral, five years on it is still unclear how BBC editors could have been so uninformed as to consider the airing of his antisemitic conspiracy theories and whitewashing of the racism of his “close friend” to be any kind of contribution to audience understanding of antisemitism.

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BBC again dithering (impartially, of course) over antisemitism

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BBC double standards on terrorism on view again

BBC News website coverage of the March 23rd terror attack in south-west France included two reports – “France hostage crisis: ‘Two dead’ in Trèbes supermarket” and “France shooting: Police kill supermarket gunman” – featuring an insert titled “Major terror attacks in France”.

Obviously the BBC’s description of those attacks as acts of terror is appropriate – notwithstanding the corporation’s supposed editorial policy of avoiding the word ‘terrorist’ without attribution in order to avoid “value judgements”.

However, as regular readers will be aware, while its reports on attacks in certain locations (especially Europe and North America) do use such terminology, the BBC consistently refuses to use the word terror in its reporting on comparable attacks against Israelis and audiences have never been provided with an insert titled “Major terror attacks in Israel”.

While previous responses to complaints on the issue of inconsistent terminology have included the claim that terror attacks in Israel are “very different” to those in other locations, almost a year ago the BBC complaints department provided a new ‘explanation’ for that double standard. [emphasis added]

“Where there is an ongoing geopolitical conflict – as in the Middle East – to use the term “terror attack” or similar might be seen to be taking sides. There are those who might consider the actions of the Israeli government to be considered as terrorist acts.

In a situation where a country that is not involved in a direct physical combat comes under attack, it may be reasonable to construe that as a terrorist incident.

The use of such terminology is never an exact science but where a continuing conflict exists, it is reasonable that the BBC would not wish to appear to be taking sides.”

France is of course part of the coalition involved in military action against ISIS in Iraq and Syria but once again the BBC apparently does not consider that to be “direct physical combat” and is not inclined to promote the notion that France’s actions against jihadist terrorism might be “considered as terrorist acts”.

Sadly, that contorted excuse for the double standards seen in the language used in BBC coverage of terrorism in different locations was given the OFCOM rubber stamp later last year.

As has been noted here on numerous occasions the double standard evident in the BBC’s use of terminology is rooted in the fact that it chooses to conflate means with ends, claiming that if a person commits an act of violence against civilians with the purpose of furthering a political or religious agenda in a country in which there is “an ongoing geopolitical conflict”, that is not terrorism but if he does the exact same in a country where there is no such ongoing conflict, it does fit that description.

And so, while the BBC regularly uses appropriate language in its coverage of terror attacks in France (and elsewhere), its reporting on attacks against Israelis does not employ the same terminology.

Related Articles:

BBC Complaints: terror attacks in Jerusalem and Tunisia are “very different”

BBC Complaints clarifies discrepancies in terminology when reporting terrorism

Radio 4 gives insight into BBC avoidance of the use of the term ‘terror’ in Israel

BBC News finds terror (without quotation marks) in Europe

BBC finds a ‘working definition’ for terrorism in Europe

BBC’s double standards on terror get OFCOM rubber stamp

 

 

 

BBC News website does stealth makeover on fact check fail

On the morning of March 19th the BBC News website’s Middle East page published an apparently hastily written short report titled “French consulate worker ‘smuggled arms to Gaza'” which read as follows: [emphasis added]

“A French national employed at the country’s consulate in Jerusalem will appear in court on Monday charged with smuggling weapons to the Gaza Strip.

Israel’s Shin Bet security agency said the unnamed man, in his 20s, was arrested in February while crossing into Gaza from Israel.

One of the suspect’s jobs at the consulate was as a driver, involving regular trips to Gaza, reports say.

Israel has long tried to prevent arms reaching Gaza’s militant Hamas group.

A spokesman for the French embassy in Tel Aviv told AFP news agency: “We take this case very seriously and are in close contact with the Israeli authorities.”

Shin Bet said the suspect had smuggled more than 70 pistols and two assault rifles into Gaza over a period of five trips. It said he used a consulate vehicle to elude detection.

Hamas has fought three conflicts with Israel and carried out thousands of rocket [sic] and bombings against it.

Israel and Egypt maintain a blockade on Gaza to prevent weapons smuggling and attacks by militants.”

In fact, that story is about an employee of the French consulate in Jerusalem (who, despite the BBC’s claim, was named) allegedly smuggling weapons from the Gaza Strip to Judea & Samaria.

“Two French embassy workers have been arrested by Israel’s Shin Bet internal security agency on suspicion of smuggling dozens of weapons from the Hamas-run Gaza Strip to the West Bank, the agency cleared for release on Monday.

One French citizen, Romain Frank, worked at the French consulate in Jerusalem, and is suspected of belonging to a cell which smuggled 70 pistols and 2 assault rifles through the Erez crossing on the Israel-Gaza border on five different occasions. […]

According to the Shin Bet investigation, Frank received the weapons from a Palestinian resident of the Gaza Strip employed at the French Cultural Center in the Gaza Strip and he transferred the weapons to a cell in the West Bank who sold them to arms dealers.

The Shin Bet investigation clearly showed that Frank was acting in return for financial gain, of his own volition, and without the knowledge of his superiors. The investigation also found that several Palestinians arrested in relation to the case were also involved in the smuggling of money from Gaza to the West Bank. […]

In addition to Frank, a resident of east Jerusalem who works as a security guard at the French consulate in Jerusalem as well as several Palestinians from the Gaza Strip who were living in the West Bank illegally were arrested and will be indicted on Monday.”

The BBC at some point realised its error and the report was republished under the amended headline “French consulate worker ‘smuggled arms from Gaza’” – but without a footnote clarifying the previous errors. [emphasis added]

“A French national employed at the country’s consulate in Jerusalem will appear in court on Monday charged with smuggling weapons from the Gaza Strip.

Israel’s Shin Bet security agency said the unnamed man, in his 20s, was arrested in February at the Erez border crossing.

One of the suspect’s jobs at the consulate was as a driver, involving regular trips to Gaza, reports say.

Israel has long tried to prevent arms reaching Palestinian militants.

A spokesman for the French embassy in Tel Aviv told AFP news agency: “We take this case very seriously and are in close contact with the Israeli authorities.”

Shin Bet said the suspect had smuggled more than 70 pistols and two assault rifles from Gaza into the West Bank over a period of five trips. It said he used a consulate vehicle to elude detection.

Hamas has fought three conflicts with Israel and carried out thousands of rocket [sic] and bombings against it.

Israel and Egypt maintain a blockade on Gaza to prevent weapons smuggling and attacks by militants.”

A third version of the report has since appeared in which the consulate employee was named and further details of the story provided.

As regular readers know, the BBC has in the past ignored attempts to smuggle goods into the Gaza Strip for the purpose of terrorism as well as numerous stories related to efforts to build up the Hamas terror infrastructure outside Gaza.

How unfortunate then that when the BBC did finally produce a report on that issue, it passed up on basic fact checking. How unfortunate too that those who read the initial version of this article have once again not been informed that they were given inaccurate information. 

Related Articles:

BBC silence on Gaza smuggling continues

 

 

BBC News’ side-lining of French president’s anti-Zionism statement is no surprise

At the July 16th event in Paris marking the 75th anniversary of the deportation of French Jews to Auschwitz, the French president made a significant statement.

“French president Emmanuel Macron on Sunday condemned anti-Zionism as a new form of anti-Semitism, in what observers said was an unprecedented statement from the leader of France in support of the Jewish state.

“We will never surrender to the messages of hate; we will not surrender to anti-Zionism because it is a reinvention of anti-Semitism,” Macron said an event in Paris marking the mass deportation of French Jews during World War II. He was directly addressing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who attended the event.” [emphasis added]

Macron’s statement is of course in step with the IHRA working definition of antisemitism that was adopted in recent months by the British government and the EU parliament as well as in accord with the US State department’s definition. His words were reported by numerous media outlets including the Independent, the Times, the Washington Post and the New York Times.

However, the BBC News website’s report on the ceremony made no mention whatsoever of the French president’s recognition of anti-Zionism as a manifestation of antisemitism.

Should we be surprised at the omission of that statement from the BBC’s coverage of the event? Not really.

Last April – despite the fact that it still does not work according to an accepted definition of antisemitism – the BBC considered itself sufficiently qualified to produce a backgrounder titled “What’s the difference between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism?“.

As was noted here at the time, that article promoted the Livingstone Formulation, failed to inform readers what anti-Zionism actually means and focused on promoting the inaccurate and misleading notion that anti-Zionism is the same thing as expressing criticism of the policies and actions of the Israeli government while advancing the ‘Zionism is racism’ canard. Subsequent BBC reporting again amplified similar themes.

The BBC’s funding public should therefore not be overly surprised that a statement from the French president that contrasts starkly with the BBC’s repeated woolly misrepresentations of anti-Zionism and spotlights the corporation’s calculated disregard for accepted definitions of antisemitism was sidelined by BBC News.  

Related Articles:

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IHRA adopts working definition of antisemitism: when will the BBC?

The BBC must tell its audiences how it defines antisemitism

The BBC and the need for a definition of antisemitism

BBC again ignores the existence of accepted definitions of antisemitism

BBC News tries – and fails – to explain antisemitism and anti-Zionism