Political NGO gets unreserved BBC amplification yet again

In October 2015 the BBC News website allocated just forty-two words to coverage of a terror attack in which four people were wounded near Kibbutz Gan Shmuel.

On August 7th 2017 the BBC News website devoted two hundred and ninety-eight words to amplification of statements made by a political NGO concerning a court ruling revoking the citizenship of the terrorist who committed that attack.

Titled “Israel decision to revoke attacker’s citizenship condemned” and illustrated with an unrelated image, the article opens with a description of the attack which predictably does not make use of the word terror because the BBC refuses to employ that term itself when reporting on attacks against Israelis.

“Human rights groups have criticised a decision by an Israeli court to remove the citizenship of an Israeli Arab who attacked people with a car and a knife.

It is thought to be the first time a judge has implemented a 2008 law under which perpetrators of “terrorist activities” can lose their citizenship.”

Later on in the report the word terrorism does appear in direct and indirect quotes.

“In his decision, Judge Avraham Elyakim of Haifa district court said victims’ right to life took precedence over “those who choose to violate the trust of the state of Israel and carry out acts of terrorism in its territory”.”

“The removal of citizenship for terrorism had been applied by Israel in rare instances prior to the 2008 law but the latest case could pave the way for similar rulings in the future, local media said.”

The report does not inform readers of an additional part of the court’s ruling:

“The court ruled that after Zayoud’s citizenship is revoked in October he will be given a temporary status, as exists in citizenship laws, and that it will be extended from time to time at the discretion of the interior minister after he has completed his sentence.”

As is made clear by its headline, the main aim of this article is amplification of statements from what the BBC coyly describes as “rights groups”.

“Israeli civil rights groups said the ruling set “a dangerous precedent”. […]

The court’s ruling was condemned by rights groups.

“The decision to revoke Mr Zayoud’s residence would render him stateless, in violation of Israel’s obligations under international human rights law,” said Sari Bashi of Human Rights watch.

“Citizenship is a precondition for a host of other rights, including the right to political participation and social and economic rights.””

Readers are not provided with any additional legal information beyond that simplistic portrayal and neither are they informed that numerous other countries have similar laws – as the BBC itself reported in relation to the UK only weeks ago:

“The 2014 Immigration Act granted the home secretary the power to strip citizenship from dual nationals or from immigrants who have become naturalised citizens and are now fighting overseas, even if that renders them stateless.”

As is usually the case, readers of this article find no mention of the obviously relevant issue of the political agenda of Human Rights Watch (HRW) and the fact that it engages in lawfare and campaigning against Israel.

Human Rights Watch was the foreign NGO most quoted and promoted by the BBC throughout 2016 and its reports, PR releases, campaigns and statements enjoyed similarly prominent amplification in previous years. Nevertheless, the BBC consistently fails to meet its own editorial guidelines on impartiality which state:

“We should not automatically assume that contributors from other organisations (such as academics, journalists, researchers and representatives of charities) are unbiased and we may need to make it clear to the audience when contributors are associated with a particular viewpoint, if it is not apparent from their contribution or from the context in which their contribution is made.”

Obviously that condition was not met in this latest article and so once again we see the BBC providing leverage for politicised messaging concerning Israel from an interested party touted as a neutral-sounding ‘human rights group’, without the required full disclosure to audiences of that political NGO’s anti-Israel activities and campaigns.

Forty two words of BBC News coverage for terror attack which injured four

On the evening of October 11th a terror attack took place near Kibbutz Gan Shmuel in northern Israel.

“Four Israelis were wounded Sunday evening in a knife attack on Route 65 at the entrance to the kibbutz of Gan Shmuel, near the northern city of Hadera. One of the four, a 19-year-old female soldier, is in serious condition. […]

The Shin Bet identified the suspect as Alaa Raed Ahmad Ziwad of Umm al-Fahm, originally from the village of Silat al-Harithiya [near Jenin], who received Israeli citizenship through his father’s family unification.

According to Army Radio, the attacker first ran over the 19-year-old woman, before getting out of the car and stabbing her and the three other victims. […]

“When we arrived at the scene we saw, in the trench beside the highway, an unconscious 19-year-old woman with multiple wounds. We gave her lifesaving first-aid treatment including CPR, bandages and fluids and rushed her to the hospital,” Magen David Adom paramedics Khaled Mura’i and Yehuda Haim said.”

The female soldier is still in critical condition.

“The female soldier, whose name has not been released for publication, was moved overnight to Sheba Hospital at Tel Hashomer near Tel Aviv, known for its neurological department and neurosurgery ward, after suffering stab wounds to the head and upper torso in the terror attack.”

There was no stand-alone reporting on that incident on the BBC News website. However, an amendment made to an existing article titled “Palestinians killed in Israel Gaza air strike” told readers:

“And later four Israelis were injured in the latest stabbing attack as tensions continued to escalate.”

Later on in the report, readers were provided with the following forty-two word description of the attack.

“Later in the day, an Israeli Arab drove his car at a group of people near the northern Israeli town of Hadera, then stabbed four of them, police said.

One, a 19-year-old female soldier, is said to be seriously injured.”Gan Shmuel attack

A caption to one of the photographs illustrating the article states:

“The latest stabbing attack against Israelis happened close to a kibbutz in northern Israel”

Apparently BBC editors believe that the phrase “drove his car at a group of people” is an accurate and adequate description of the terrorist’s attempt to kill a young woman by first deliberately running her over and then getting out of his car to further inflict multiple stab wounds.