BBC approach to gender-segregated events differs with location

On August 12th a report titled “The Kenyan dance parties where men are banned” appeared on the BBC News website’s ‘Africa’ page.

Readers of that sympathetic report were told that:

“The team behind a new event in Nairobi argues all-women’s dance parties can create safe nightlife spaces for women. […]

“You have to be so strict in a place with men. You just want to go out with your friends and men interfere,” says Jane, 26, who’s come to the party with her best friend Shani.

“So having a space where it’s all women immediately feels safe and you feel you are with people who understand you.””

And:

“Munira, 22 and Khadija, 25 are best friends. As practising Muslims, they often find themselves with minimal options when it comes to night life.

They say that, although women from all faiths attend the all-women parties, they particularly suit Muslims.

“Some of us have to remove our hijabs to blend in when we are out dancing. When they see you with a hijab, people are surprised and wonder what you are doing there.

“A space like this is also better because we are forbidden from freely mingling with men,” Khadija says.”

Apparently short of UK domestic news, on the following day – August 13th – BBC Radio 4’s ‘Six O’Clock News’ aired an item (from 27:16 here) introduced by presenter Corrie Corfield as follows: [emphasis in italics in the original, emphasis in bold added]

Corfield: “Israeli women’s rights groups are urging the mayor of Haifa to cancel a planned concert for a men-only audience by two popular ultra-orthodox Jewish singers. The controversy comes after one of the artists cancelled another event when a court ruled that organisers couldn’t force men and women in the audience to sit separately. Under a strict interpretation of Jewish laws, men and women are not supposed to mingle at social events. Our correspondent Yolande Knell sent this report from Jerusalem.”

Yolande Knell began her report with a claim which – coincidently or not – is also found in the opening lines of the singer’s Wikipedia page. Listeners discovered that Corfield’s reference to “groups” in the plural is inaccurate.

Knell: [Music] “Mordechai Ben David is often called the king of Jewish music. He’s due to perform in Haifa later this month with a younger star of Hassidic pop, Motty Steinmetz. Their concert, which is getting city funding and support, is meant to be for men only and that’s the problem. A rights group – Israel Women’s Network [Shdulat Ha Nashim B’Israel] – says it amounts to illegal discrimination.”

She went on:

Knell: “Its objections have infuriated members of the ultra-orthodox community. They came just days after legal action by the same organisation led to Motty Steinmetz pulling out of a concert in a public park in the city of Afula because men and women might not be separated. A judge ruled that while Haredi audience members were free to seat themselves as they wanted, keeping to their religious customs, the event organisers couldn’t force gender segregation on others.”

The judge’s ruling to which Knell refers was made two days before her report was aired, on August 11th. However the next day the political party Shas petitioned against that ruling and on August 14th a different judge at the same court gave a different ruling.

“The Nazareth District Court ruled to allow the Afula municipality to hold a gender-segregated concert Wednesday evening, accepting an appeal against a controversial decision it made just days earlier barring the northern city from putting on such an event. […]

As part of his Wednesday ruling, Judge Atef Eilabouni recommended that the municipality agree to a compromise in which the amphitheater be split in three for the concert, with a woman’s section above a men’s section as well as a mixed-gender area.”

The Motty Steinmetz concert in Afula – which both Corfield and Knell told listeners was cancelled – in fact took place on August 14th.

Knell continued, referencing a story from 2017 which was described by the local media at the time as “unusual” to support her claim of “not uncommon”:

Knell: “The decision sparked a heated political debate. One ultra-orthodox politician described it as evil while the head of a secular party praised it, saying Israel was not Iran. It’s not uncommon for musical events in Israel to lay bare the religious-secular divide. Two years ago another conservative singer stirred up controversy by blindfolding himself with duct tape on stage to avoid seeing women dancing to his song. But with the ultra-orthodox population here growing fast, it’s not just its pop stars becoming more influential. Its religious leaders are too and that’s having a cultural and political impact.”

While everyone is entitled to their opinion on gender-segregated events, the understanding of this story by the BBC’s British audiences would obviously have been enhanced had Knell bothered to inform them that in Afula that concert was:

“…the only one of over 300 events put on by the city over the summer to have segregated seating as it was aimed at the local ultra-Orthodox population.”

Had they been provided with that information, listeners may have been able to make up their own minds about the validity of Knell’s closing claims concerning “cultural and political impact” and reach their own conclusions about why two BBC reports on gender-segregated events on consecutive days were so different in tone.

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BBC WS ‘World Have Your Say’ misleads on Israeli buses

Terror attack in Afula ignored by BBC News

Those getting their news from the BBC will not be aware that a secondary school student on her way to sit an exam was the victim of a terror attack in the northern Israeli town of Afula on June 11th.

“Shuva Malka, from the northern city of Migdal Ha’emek, was on her way to a matriculation examination in citizenship when the stabber approached, her mother, Michal, told Hadashot news on Monday. […]

Malka was stabbed shortly before noon on the street and collapsed outside a local coffee shop, police said.

“When we arrived at the scene, it was very chaotic. There was an 18-year-old girl sitting on a chair at the entrance to a store. She was conscious and suffering from multiple stab wounds to the upper body,” one of the medics who treated her said.

She was taken to the nearby HaEmek Medical Center in serious condition, according to the Magen David Adom ambulance service.”

Although the attacker tried to flee, police subsequently apprehended him.

“The Shin Bet security service on Tuesday declared a stabbing attack, in which an 18-year-old Israeli high school student was seriously injured in the northern city of Afula the day before, to be a terror attack.

On Monday, Shuva Malka was stabbed on the street in Afula shortly before noon. Her attacker fled the scene.

A short while later, police officers arrested the suspected terrorist, identified as Nour al-Din Shinawi, a Palestinian man in his 20s from the West Bank city of Jenin, who had entered Israel without a permit, police said.”

None of the BBC’s numerous platforms have produced any reporting about that attack.

Last week the trial of the perpetrator of another terror attack ignored by the BBC came to a close.

“An Arab Israeli man was convicted Tuesday of carrying out a pair of shooting attacks in the northern city of Haifa in January 2017, killing an Israeli man and seriously wounding another.

Muhammad Shinawi, 22, was convicted of all the charges against him after admitting to all the facts laid out in the indictment, according to a statement from the Justice Ministry.

The Haifa District Court found Shinawi guilty of murder out of a religious, nationalist or ideological motive, attempted murder, possessing and transporting a gun for terror purposes, attempted robbery and theft of a car, and possessing a knife. […]

Yehiel Iluz, 48, a senior judge on a Haifa rabbinic conversion court, was wounded at 9:30 a.m., in the first shooting on the city’s Haatzma’ut Road. A few minutes later, the shooter opened fire at a Jewish woman, but missed. And a few minutes after that, Guy Kafri, 47, a van driver from Haifa’s Nesher neighborhood, was shot and killed on the nearby Hagiborim Street.

Shinawi was caught several days later after a large manhunt.”

As was noted here at the time:

“In a shooting attack which took place in Haifa on January 3rd, one civilian was murdered and one wounded. Although the background to that incident was not initially clear and the perpetrator was identified only two days later, the subsequent investigation confirmed that it was a terror attack. BBC News has not covered that incident at all.”

One month later, in February 2017, the BBC took umbrage on behalf of the media community when the US president “accused the media of under-reporting terror attacks“.

While Mr Trump’s claim – and the BBC’s response – related to attacks carried out or inspired by ISIS, the BBC News website’s record of reporting on terror attacks in Israel shows that in 2015 3.2% of the total attacks and 77% of the fatalities were reported, in 2016 2.8% of the total attacks and 100% of the fatalities were reported and in 2017 0.92% of the total attacks and 89% of the fatalities were reported. In the first four months of 2018, the BBC News website reported 1.6% of the total attacks and 100% of the fatalities.

As we see above, the trend continues.

 

 

 

 

BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel – January 2017

The Israel Security Agency’s report on terror attacks (Hebrew) during January 2017 shows that throughout the month a total of 100 incidents took place: eighty-two in Judea & Samaria, sixteen in Jerusalem, one in Haifa and one attack from the Gaza Strip.

The agency recorded 81 attacks with petrol bombs, 11 attacks using explosive devices, five shooting attacks and one vehicular attack in Judea & Samaria and Jerusalem as well as one shooting attack in Haifa and one shooting attack from the Gaza Strip.

Five people – one civilian and four members of the security forces – were murdered in attacks in January and sixteen people  – one civilian and 15 members of the security forces – were wounded.terror-attack-jlem-8-1

The BBC News website covered the vehicular attack in Jerusalem on January 8th in which four soldiers were murdered and thirteen were wounded in two written and four filmed reports.

In a shooting attack which took place in Haifa on January 3rd, one civilian was murdered and one wounded. Although the background to that incident was not initially clear and the perpetrator was identified only two days later, the subsequent investigation confirmed that it was a terror attack. BBC News has not covered that incident at all.

Additional attacks which did not receive any BBC coverage include an IED attack on January 23rd in which a soldier was injured, an incident in Jenin on January 26th in which another soldier was wounded and a shooting attack near Nili on January 27th.  

In all, just one of the 100 attacks which took place during January received coverage on the BBC News website.

table-jan-17

Related Articles:

BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel – December 2016 and year summary

BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel – December 2015 and Q4 summary

 

BBC News website corrects Carmel fire inaccuracy

As noted here previously, multiple versions of a BBC News website article concerning the forest fires in Israel which ran on November 24th and 25th included an inaccurate portrayal of the number of people who died in the fire on Mount Carmel in 2010.haifa-fires-art

“All versions of the written report – which is currently headlined “Israel fires: Tens of thousands flee as fires hit Haifa” – inform BBC audiences that:

“In 2010, 42 people died in a fire on Mount Carmel, just south of Haifa.”

In fact, as the state ombudsman’s report into that disaster and many additional sources note, the number of fatalities was forty-four.”

Following communication from BBC Watch that inaccuracy was corrected.  

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BBC coverage of fires in Israel misleads on Carmel casualties

On the third day of the wave of fires currently afflicting Israel the BBC News website produced its first reports on the story. Originally titled “Israel forest fires: Hundreds evacuated as flames reach Haifa”, a written article was published on the afternoon of November 24th and has since been frequently updated to reflect some – though not all – of the developments.

In addition, a filmed report (without commentary) and a feature titled “In pictures: Israel wildfires force evacuations in Haifa” appeared on the BBC News website.

All versions of the written report – which is currently headlined “Israel fires: Tens of thousands flee as fires hit Haifa” – inform BBC audiences that:haifa-fires-art

“In 2010, 42 people died in a fire on Mount Carmel, just south of Haifa.”

In fact, as the state ombudsman’s report into that disaster and many additional sources note, the number of fatalities was forty-four.

Later versions of the written report open as follows:

“About 80,000 people have been told to evacuate their homes as wildfires swept into Israel’s third largest city of Haifa.

The fires follow a two-month drought and are being fanned by strong winds in the north of the city.” [emphasis added]

The winds causing the fires to spread rapidly are evident country-wide and of course are not limited to the “north” of Haifa: some of the more badly affected neighbourhoods are in fact located in the central and southern parts of the city.

Later versions of the report promoted unqualified Fatah propaganda claiming that Israeli territory (and forest) is ‘Palestinian’.

“….Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah movement, […] said Israeli officials were “exploiting the fire” to accuse Palestinians.

“What is burning are our trees and our land of historical Palestine,” it said in a statement.”

Readers were then correctly informed that:

“On social media, the Arabic-language hashtag #Israel_on_fire began trending, with most tweets expressing pleasure over the outbreak.”

The article does not however note that similar expressions were also seen in the English language – including in response to a Tweet promoting the written report from the BBC Breaking News Twitter account.

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Impressions of Israel from BBC WS radio’s ‘The Cultural Frontline’

The November 6th edition of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘The Cultural Frontline’ (“where arts and news collide”) included an item (from 07:30 here) described in its synopsis as follows:cultural-frontline-ws-6-11

“Reporter Sahar Zand meets a member of the Broken Fingaz street art collective from Israel. Against the colourful backdrop of his latest mural in Hackney, east London, they discuss the controversial group’s international presence and deep roots in their native Haifa, Israel.”

Seeing as some of Zand’s questions were clearly intended to prompt responses relating to Israel, it is interesting to take a look at the unchallenged impressions of that country received by audiences.

For example, listeners were informed that Israelis “don’t have much of a history”.

Zand: “How does your work reflect where you come from; your society?”

Unga: “The chaos and like the colours and the intensity. But at the same time we are very open to be influenced by other cultures – maybe because we don’t have much of a history then we are more open to search for something new.”

Audiences also heard that one “cannot avoid propaganda” in Israel.

Zand: “How do you think that Broken Fingaz murals are responding to what’s going on in Israel at the moment?”

Unga: “Anyone who’ve [sic] been to Israel know that it’s one of the most political places in the world and you cannot avoid propaganda. There are specific works that really talks about it and they are more political.”

Listeners were told that the anti-terrorist fence is “not normal” – but not why it had to be erected – when the artist described a mural in Haifa which shows:

“….Prime Minister Bibi and his wife in vacation clothes with the polo shirt and everything nice and they’re with a selfie stick posing next to the separation wall. It’s all about this normality and, like, trying to portray this like everything is normal, nothing really happening, but obviously it’s not normal – it’s not supposed to be like this…”

Audiences were inaccurately informed that Haifa is the only place in which Jews and Arabs live together.

Unga: “It is really a special place. In this crazy area called the Middle East we create our own community in Haifa the city that we live. There is this thing of Arabs and Jews living together which you don’t see anywhere else, not in this way.”

And listeners also learned that the Israeli media ‘glorifies death’.

Unga: “I can say about death that it’s always surprising for us that people in Israel can be shocked about drawing of skeletons while the whole place is just surrounded by death and they keep talking about death. That’s the only thing that they talk about in the news; is, like, glorifying it. But then when they see this they will suddenly get offended; like, how dare you, like.”

The BBC Trust states that:

“The BBC’s journalism for international audiences should share the same values as its journalism for UK audiences: accuracy, impartiality and independence. International audiences should value BBC news and current affairs for providing reliable and unbiased information of relevance, range and depth.”

Clearly this item intended for “international audiences” did not meet those standards.

BBC News passes up on an unusual Middle East story

Eighteen months have passed since the BBC last reported on the topic of the sick and wounded Syrians receiving medical care in Israel and so its audiences may not be aware of the fact that the provision of that humanitarian aid continues.

One of the patients arriving at the border earlier this year presented a particular challenge to the medical teams.

“The girl arrived at Rambam Medical Center in Haifa in recent weeks with very serious wounds that she received after finding herself caught in a firefight between rival militias […]

Some two weeks after she arrived at the hospital, after her wounds had nearly healed, Rambam doctors discovered the young girl had cancer.

They refused to release her, insisting that they could not let her cancer go untreated. […]

And so a search began for a bone marrow donor, a search that led to a relative living in a Middle Eastern country designated an “enemy state” under Israeli law, a designation that prevented the relative from entering Israel.

It was at this point that Israel’s security services stepped in, mounting a secret operation in the enemy country that helped smuggle the relative out of that country and into Israel.”

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Photo credit: Rambam hospital

The treatment was successful and this week the little girl was discharged from hospital.

“Rambam Health Care Campus has treated 140 Syrian civilians, men, women and children over the past three years. However, the departure, yesterday, of a six-year-old girl, “B”, was especially emotional for everyone.  Wearing a white dress, white shoes, and a little silver crown, “B” was the guest of honor at a farewell party held by an entire department, where Jews, Muslims, Christians, and Druze stood together with tears in their eyes, surrounding her with love and concern for the future that awaits her. […]

After all the parting messages, some of which were painstakingly read in Arabic by Jewish doctors and nurses, the mother asked to read her own thank you wishes. In a small voice, she said “I would lie if I said that I expected the kind of humanity I discovered here. I am grateful for your care and sensitivity; may God protect you. And we will always remember what you did for us.””

To date, BBC audiences have not been told this unusual story.