BBC News tells only part of an Israeli elections story

On the evening of March 17th the BBC News website published an article headlined “Israel elections: Court bans far-right candidate Ben-Ari” in which readers were told that:

“Israel’s Supreme Court has disqualified the leader of the far-right Jewish Power party, Michael Ben-Ari, from next month’s elections.

In doing so, it overturned an earlier decision by the electoral committee.

Mr Ben-Ari has faced criticism over his comments about Israeli Arabs. Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit has said they amount to “incitement to racism”.”

Under the sub-heading “What did the court rule?” the BBC provided readers with further information about the comments which led to Ben Ari’s disqualification.

“The court backed an appeal from left-wing politicians who argued that Mr Ben-Ari had made racist remarks.

The Times of Israel website reports that the appeal cited Mr Ben-Ari from August 2018, saying: “We have to change the equation regarding anyone who dares to speak against a Jew.

“[Such a person] is a dead man. He must not come out alive. No expelling him, no stripping him of his citizenship. He does not live! A firing squad takes him out as the Arabs understand [best].”

Mr Ben-Ari has claimed that he was referring to Hamas leadership – not all Arabs.”

Only readers who bothered to click on that promoted link would learn that:

“Michael Ben Ari, party leader of Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Power), has faced multiple appeals to outlaw his candidacy under Article 7A of the Basic Law: The Knesset, which lists “incitement to racism” as one of three actions that disqualify a candidate from running for Knesset.”

In addition the BBC’s report told readers that:

“The court also reinstated Israeli Arab parties previously banned from contesting the 9 April poll.

They had been barred from standing for their critical remarks about the state of Israel and the Israel Defense Forces.”

Notably those “Israeli Arab parties” were not named by the BBC and no further information was provided concerning their prior disqualification by the Central Elections Committee on the basis of what the BBC chose to euphemistically portray as “critical remarks”.

The parties concerned are Ra’am-Balad – currently running on a joint electoral list. BBC audiences were not informed that the Central Elections Committee had also earlier in the month “voted to disqualify Ofer Kasif, a Jewish member of the other Arab-Israeli party, Hadash-Ta’al”.

“The petition against Balad-Ra’am was filed by the Likud, Yisrael Beytenu and Otzma Yehudit parties, which claimed that the Arab-Israeli party is “seeking to eliminate Israel as a Jewish state, and supports the violent Palestinian resistance and Hezbollah, and most of its members are supporters and backers of terror.” […]

In addition to Ra’am-Balad, the committee accepted a petition to disqualify Kasif of Hadash-Ta’al, citing provocative comments he has made in the past, including calling the justice minister “neo-Nazi scum.”

Along with his comment against Ayelet Shaked, Kasif in the past was accused of comparing Israel and the IDF to the Nazi regime, of calling to fight against “Judeo-Nazis,” and voicing support for changing the national anthem.

Last month, in an interview with Haaretz, Kasif said Israel was carrying out a “creeping genocide” of the Palestinians.”

Kasif is also on record as having “voiced support for cancelling the Law of Return”.

In addition to incitement to racism, Israel’s election law – Basic Law: The Knesset – forbids any person or list that promotes “negation of the existence of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state” and/or “support of armed struggle, by a hostile state or a terrorist organization, against the State of Israel” from running in elections.

The Balad party rejects the existence of the Jewish State, promotes the ‘right of return’ for Palestinian refugees and aspires to a bi-national state.

However, while the BBC did provide its audiences with details of the racist comments which led to Ben Ari’s disqualification in this report (tagged, inter alia, racism) it chose not to supply an explanation of the background to the Central Elections Committee’s decision – later overturned by the Supreme Court – to ban other candidates, while euphemistically framing their negation of Jewish self-determination as mere “critical remarks”.

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BBC News ignores Hizballah terror designation development

Last week the BBC News website reported that the six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council – Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE – had decided to declare Hizballah a terrorist organization.GCC & Hizballah

The article states:

“The GCC’s designation of Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation brings it into line with the United States and the European Union, although the latter has only blacklisted the group’s military wing.”

That statement of course provides audiences with only a partial view of Hizballah’s terror designations: in addition to the EU, the so-called ‘military wing’ of Hizballah is also designated by Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. The entire organization is now designated by the six GCC member states, the US, Canada, France, the Netherlands and of course Israel.

It is obviously not in the least bit surprising that the following story is currently making waves in Israel.

“Hadash and Balad, two of the four parties that make up the mostly Arab Joint List in the Knesset, published condemnations Monday of Sunni Arab states that last week designated Shiite Hezbollah a terror organization. Both parties argued that the move serves Israel. […]

Hadash, which is helmed by Joint List leader MK Ayman Odeh, denounced the blacklisting, which it said came “in the service of occupation and the continued occupation of Arab land.” Hadash backs the continued rule of Assad in Syria.

Balad followed Hadash’s lead Monday, posting a condemnation of the Gulf Cooperation Council on its website on Monday afternoon. “Even if there is criticism of its activities, there is no justification to condemn the organization,” Balad said of Hezbollah.”

The Jerusalem Post adds:

“The Balad faction, whose MKs recently were at the center of controversy for meeting with the families of Palestinians killed while perpetrating terror attacks against Israelis, said in a statement that “the GCC’s (Gulf Cooperation Council) decision to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organization pours oil on the sectarian conflict and worsens the ordeal the Islamic nation has been witnessing.”

Balad argued that “no criticism of Hezbollah’s involvement in Syria justifies this dangerous decision, which serves Israel and her allies who do not hide their colonialist aspirations in Palestine, Lebanon and the rest of the Arabic homeland.”

Hadash, led by Joint List head Ayman Odeh, also condemned the decision, attacking Saudi Arabia for spearheading the effort to blacklist Hezbollah.

“After Saudi Arabia failed in its attempt to harness Lebanese society and political forces against Hezbollah by halting its military aid to Lebanon and after the Syrian people have succeeded in keeping Syria united, comes the decision to label Hezbollah as a terrorist organization that proves that Gulf States are totally loyal to neo-colonialist and Zionist forces, the enemies of Arabs.””

Readers may recall that last month the BBC World Service presented audiences with a very one-sided view of the sanctions placed by the Knesset Ethics Committee on three members of the Balad party after that meeting with the families of terrorists. Despite the fact that the same committee is likely to be called to address the topic of this latest support from Hadash and Balad for a terror organization designated by Israel, the BBC has not seen fit to report the story to date.

And – although it rarely misses an opportunity to amplify a speech by Hassan Nasrallah – BBC News also passed up on last month’s story of the Hizballah leader’s threat to deliberately fire missiles at ammonia storage tanks in the city of Haifa and thereby cause mass casualties – including of course among the 10% of Israeli Arab residents of that city.

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