BBC stays mum on convicted terrorist’s success in PA election

As regular readers know only too well, the BBC shows little interest in reporting internal Palestinian affairs – including domestic politics – to its audiences. Back in September 2016 we discussed the little reporting which did appear on the BBC News website on the topic of the fraught Palestinian Authority municipal elections which were supposed to have taken place last year.

“One might have assumed that coverage of the first election in a decade in which the rival parties Hamas and Fatah were set to take part would have been considered essential for the enhancement of BBC audience understanding of Palestinian internal affairs – especially as elections for both the Palestinian Legislative Council and the PA president have not been held during that time.

The BBC apparently thought differently and so audiences have received no insight whatsoever into the background to the municipal elections or the type of campaigning material put out by the parties involved. Neither have they been informed of stories such as Fatah’s nomination of a convicted terrorist as a candidate or the ‘concealment’ of some female candidates.”

On May 13th those long postponed municipal elections were finally held in Palestinian Authority controlled areas and Reuters reported that:

“…about 800,000 Palestinians were expected to vote for representatives in 145 local councils in the West Bank, but not in the Gaza Strip.”

However, the elections were boycotted by Hamas, the Islamic Jihad and the PFLP and turnout was relatively low.

“The vote provided Palestinians a rare chance to cast ballots, after over a decade without presidential or legislative elections, and Saturday’s election was seen as a test for Abbas’ embattled and nepotism-tainted party.

The results across the West Bank indicated a weak showing by the ruling Fatah party, even though the rival Islamic Hamas terrorist movement stayed out of the race.

Electoral commission chief Hanna Nasser said 393,572 ballots were cast — “nearly 50 percent of voters.” […]

Turnout was far lower in large cities than in surrounding communities, with the lowest in Nablus, the main city in the northern West Bank, where it was less than 21%. In Nablus, Fatah won 11 of 15 seats, but only after forming an alliance with Islamist candidates.

Ramallah, the Palestinian political capital, saw turnout of less than 40%.”

In Hebron the Fatah nominated convicted terrorist mentioned above was apparently elected as mayor.

“Tayseer Abu Sneineh, the convicted murderer of six Israelis, was reportedly elected mayor of the West Bank city of Hebron on Saturday as head of the Fatah Party list.

Abu Sneineh was one of four Palestinians behind the murder of six Israeli yeshiva students in 1980.

The students, included two American citizens and a Canadian national, were part of a group that had danced from the Cave of the Patriarchs to Beit Hadassah in Hebron when Abu Sneineh and his terror cell opened fire. The six students were killed and 16 others were wounded.

The Palestinians were convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison but were later released in various prisoner exchanges Israel carried out throughout the 1980s. Tayseer Abu Sneineh was released in a prisoner swap in 1983.”

Unsurprisingly, that terror attack has been glorified by Fatah in the past.

Equally unsurprisingly, the BBC – which consistently downplays or ignores Fatah and PA glorification of terrorism – has to date produced no reporting on this story.

 

BBC avoidance of term ‘terrorist’ in Israel stories surfaces again

h/t ML

As we have seen in previous posts, the BBC’s description of the man killed by Elor Azaria in Hebron last March have ranged from “Palestinian attacker” through “wounded Palestinian” to simply non-existent. None of the BBC’s reports used the word terrorist.today-21-2

BBC Radio 4, however, came up with different terminology.

Listeners to the 06:30 news bulletin in the February 21st edition of the ‘Today’ programme heard the following report (from 32:49 here) from newsreader Kathy Clugston: [emphasis added]

“A military court in Israel is due to sentence a soldier for the killing of a wounded Palestinian fighter. Elor Azaria was convicted of manslaughter last month in a case that’s caused division and strong feeling in Israel. He shot dead a man who was injured after he tried to kill members of the Israeli army.”

Once again we see that the BBC’s ineffectual editorial guidelines on ‘Language when Reporting Terrorism’ (adherence to which is entirely subjective and selective), together with the chronic failure to differentiate between the aims and actions of perpetrators of politically motivated violence, prevent the BBC from presenting a consistent, uniform approach to the subject of terrorism which adheres to editorial standards of accuracy and impartiality.

BBC and Sky News promote different headlines to English and Arabic speakers

Last October we documented a case in which the same story was presented with differing headlines on the BBC’s English language and Arabic language websites.

The practice reappeared on February 21st in reports concerning the sentencing of the Israeli soldier Elor Azaria.

Visitors to the BBC’s English language website found an article titled “Israeli soldier gets 18 months for killing wounded Palestinian attacker” and while the word terrorism was absent from the report, the opening paragraph also used the term “attacker”.

“An Israeli soldier who killed a wounded Palestinian attacker in a high-profile case that split opinion across the country has been jailed for 18 months.”

In contrast, the word “attacker” did not appear in the headline of the Arabic language version of same story which was published on the BBC Arabic website under the title “Israeli soldier sentenced to 18 months imprisonment for killing wounded Palestinian”.

azaria-english-arabic-bbc

Sky News also produces content in both English and Arabic and it too presented the story with differing headlines for different target audiences.  The headline of the English language version of the story read “Israeli soldier jailed for 18 months for killing wounded Palestinian attacker” while the article in Arabic was titled “Lenient sentence for the Israeli soldier who killed a wounded Palestinian.”

azaria-sky-english-and-arabic

Related Articles:

BBC headlines for same story differ according to target audiences

BBC’s double standard terror terminology on view again

BBC’s double standard terror terminology on view again

On the afternoon of February 21st the lead stories on BBC News website’s main homepage, World page and Middle East page were presented using the same headline:

“Israeli soldier gets 18 months for killing”

BBC News website homepage

BBC News website homepage

BBC News website 'World' page

BBC News website ‘World’ page

BBC News website 'Middle East' page

BBC News website ‘Middle East’ page

That headline failed to inform BBC audiences that the person killed was a terrorist and that information was likewise absent from the sub-heading on all three pages which told readers:

“Victim’s father calls sentence a “joke” in a case which split opinion in Israel on the use of force”

Although it is impossible to know how many of the people who read that headline clicked on the link to the article, those who did found a report which – in typical BBC style – refrains from using the terms terror, terrorist or terrorism in its portrayal of an Israel-related story. 

“An Israeli soldier who killed a wounded Palestinian attacker in a high-profile case that split opinion across the country has been jailed for 18 months.” [emphasis added]

In contrast, visitors to regional pages of the UK section of BBC News website on the same day did find such terminology used in the headlines and text of domestic stories.

uk-terror-story-1

terror-uk-art-2

Once again we see that the claims concerning “consistency” and “impartiality” made in the BBC’s editorial guidelines concerning ‘Language when Reporting Terrorism‘ do not hold water.

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BBC promotes political NGO in coverage of Azaria verdict

 

BBC promotes political NGO in coverage of Azaria verdict

On January 4th the BBC News website published two articles relating to the topic of the verdict in the Elor Azaria case: “Israeli soldier Elor Azaria convicted over Hebron death” and “Israeli PM Netanyahu backs pardon for manslaughter soldier“.azaria-art-1

The third version of the first article (which was promoted by the BBC in a push alert) included a quote from the political NGO Human Rights Watch and a link to a highly partisan report on its website.

“Human Rights Watch said on Monday that there had been more than 150 instances since October 2015 in which Israeli security forces fatally shot Palestinian adults and children suspected of trying to stab, run over, or shoot Israelis.” [emphasis added]

The superfluous and misleading term “suspected” (a quote from the linked report) was later removed by the BBC and from version four onward that section of the report read:

“Sari Bashi, Israel advocacy director at Human Rights Watch, described the verdict as “a positive step toward reining in excessive use of force by Israeli soldiers against Palestinians”.

The shooting happened during a wave of knife, gun and vehicle ramming attacks by Palestinians or Israeli Arabs in Israel and the West Bank that has killed at least 42 people since September 2015, according to the Israeli authorities.

Human Rights Watch said on Monday that video footage or witness accounts raised serious questions about many of the more than 150 instances in which Israeli forces have fatally shot Palestinians during attacks or attempted attacks on Israelis.”

From its third version, the second article – published later on the same day – was amended to include the same three paragraphs, together with the link to the HRW report.

As usual (and in breach of BBC editorial guidelines on impartiality) readers were not provided with any information concerning HRW’s political agenda or the fact that it engages in lawfare against Israel.

Both articles included sections relating to the reactions of Israeli politicians to the verdict. In the earlier article readers were told that:

“…a right-wing member of the governing coalition, Naftali Bennett, has called for an immediate pardon for the soldier.

The final decision lies with President Reuven Rivlin, who said in a statement that he would only deal with the issue once the judicial process had run its course.

Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who expressed support for Sgt Azaria before taking office in May, said the verdict was “difficult” and that the defence establishment would “do everything it can to assist the soldier and his family”.

But he also called on the public to respect the court’s decision.”

The second article opened:

“Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called for a pardon for a soldier convicted of manslaughter for killing a wounded Palestinian attacker.”

It went on:

“Mr Netanyahu issued his call on Facebook, writing: “I support giving Elor Azaria a pardon.”

“This is a difficult and painful day for all of us – and first and foremost for Elor and his family, soldiers and for the parents of our soldiers, and me among them.”

In March, the prime minister called Azaria’s family to express sympathy for their predicament.

He joins some other members of the governing coalition in calling for a pardon, including right-wing Education Minister Naftali Bennett.

But centre-left politician and former Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said the verdict should be accepted.

“Only that way can we stop the bleeding within Israeli society since the event occurred and reunite around the military and Israel as a state of laws, whose army is outside political discourse.”

President Reuven Rivlin said he could only deal with the issue of a pardon once the judicial process had run its course. […]

Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who expressed support for Azaria before taking office in May, said the verdict was “difficult” and that the defence establishment would “do everything it can to assist the soldier and his family”.

But he also called on the public to respect the court’s decision.”

BBC audiences were not informed that those “calling for a pardon” were not exclusively “members of the governing coalition”. Opposition MK and former Labour party leader Sheli Yachimovich made the same call and other coalition MK’s opposed a pardon, meaning that the ‘Right-Left’ picture painted by the BBC is simplistic, inaccurate and misleading.

 

BBC reports on three terror attacks without using the word terror

A number of terror attacks which took place on Friday, September 16th were the topic of an article published on the BBC News website’s Middle East page on that day under the title “Spate of attacks on Israelis leaves three assailants dead“.art-terror-16-9

The report relates to three separate attacks. An attempted stabbing at Damascus Gate in Jerusalem by a Jordanian national who had entered Israel the previous day is described thus:

“In East Jerusalem, a Jordanian man was killed by security forces after trying to stab police outside Damascus Gate, according to Israeli authorities.

The site has been the scene of multiple attacks on Israelis, and killings of assailants, in previous months.”

A vehicular attack near Kiryat Arba by a Palestinian couple is described as follows:

“In one [attack], a Palestinian was shot dead after ramming his vehicle into civilians at a bus stop near the Israeli settlement of Kiryat Arba, the military said. Three people were wounded.

Another Palestinian who was involved in the attack was shot and wounded, officials said.”

A stabbing attack at a checkpoint in Hebron is portrayed as follows:

“Hours later, a Palestinian who stabbed and wounded a soldier at a junction near Hebron was shot dead, officials said.”

Notably – but entirely predictably – despite the fact that it describes three separate terror attacks, the word ‘terror’ does not appear in this report at all.

On the same day the driver of a bus travelling from Jerusalem to Ma’ale Adumim was injured in an additional attack. The next day – September 17th – a soldier was wounded in a stabbing attack in Tel Rumeida in Hebron. Early on the morning of September 18th, a soldier was wounded in additional attack in Efrat. Despite still being available online, the BBC’s report was not updated to include any of those attacks and no stand-alone reporting of them was published.

Although the BBC has had almost a year in which to independently verify the circumstances of the deaths of Palestinian terrorists, it continues to employ the qualifying “Israel says” formula and erases from audience view the four foreign nationals also killed during terror attacks since last October.

“Thirty-five Israelis been killed in a wave of knife, gun and car-ramming attacks by Palestinians or Israeli Arabs since last October.

More than 200 Palestinians – mostly attackers, Israel says – have also been killed in that period.”

The article closes with another now standard BBC mantra that amplifies PLO messaging:

“Israel says Palestinian incitement has fuelled the attacks. The Palestinian leadership has blamed frustration rooted in decades of Israeli occupation.”

As regular readers will be aware, the corporation has failed to provide its audiences with any meaningful reporting on the topic of incitement and glorification of terrorism by official Palestinian bodies throughout the past year. It has also refrained from informing them of the existence of additional factors underpinning the violence such as religious ideology.

One of the perpetrators of the vehicular attack reported in this article clarified her motivation in writing.

“A Palestinian woman who took part in a car-ramming attack that injured three Israeli teenagers last week left a note stating her motive: to atone for her premarital relationship with the driver of the vehicle.

Raghad Khadour, 20, detailed her reasons for joining her boyfriend — who drove a pickup truck on Friday into a group of Israelis waiting at a bus stop outside the Kiryat Arba settlement in the West Bank — in a written testament, Arabic media sources said.”

Since that motive does not fit in with the BBC’s much promoted mantra of “frustration rooted in decades of Israeli occupation”, it is of course highly unlikely that BBC audiences will be informed of the real background to an attack the corporation cannot even bring itself to accurately define as terrorism.

BBC’s Knell whitewashes terror in re-run of Palestinian teacher story

When the BBC reported back in March on a prize-winning Palestinian teacher, it managed to omit some relevant information from the story. Over four months later, the BBC chose to return to that topic with a report from the Jerusalem bureau’s Yolande Knell which was aired (from 41:07 here) on the July 29th edition of the BBC Radio 4 programme ‘PM’ and this time audiences were told – albeit very briefly and belatedly – about the teachers’ strike which Knell and her colleagues had previously ignored.PM 29 7

“Back in March there were angry scenes during a four-week walk-out over pay. Monthly salaries here are just 430 to 600 dollars; that’s less than many other public workers. Schools are badly under-resourced.”

Predictably, Knell did not bother to inform listeners that the Palestinian Authority’s budgetary priorities do include spending millions of dollars a year on monthly stipends for convicted terrorists, some of whom receive more than the teachers’ salaries she quotes.

Knell’s account of the ceremony at which Hanan al Hroub received her award was as follows:

“Ecstatic, she took to the stage at the ceremony in Dubai and lifted the trophy for herself and all Palestinians.”

[recording] “I did it! I won! Falastin [Palestine] won!”

As in the previous BBC report, no mention was made of this:teacher prize story

“Associated Press staff in Dubai where the award ceremony took place reported that:

“As al-Hroub accepted her award, Palestinians in the audience waved their country’s flag and some chanted, fists pumping in the air, “With our souls, our blood, we sacrifice for you Palestine.””

Knell went on to give listeners a sanitised account of the surge in terror attacks which commenced last autumn, erasing all Palestinian responsibility from the picture.

“It was a victory that gave Palestinians hope at a miserable time. Since October last year violence here has flared. [recording of riot] These were recent clashes with Israeli soldiers at the Qalandiya checkpoint in Ramallah. This is a tough environment to grow up in.”

Listeners were then told that:

“Hanan herself comes from this Bethlehem refugee camp. She decided to go into teaching after her family was caught up in a shooting. Her daughters were left traumatised and didn’t get the extra help they needed at school. Now Hanan specialises in working with troubled children. Her classroom is a peaceful place where teamwork, trust and respect are rewarded.”

Although it is not clear why the BBC found it necessary to revisit this story at this time, it is obvious that Yolande Knell found nothing new to add. That is particularly remarkable given that after the peace-loving teacher made the headlines in March, details emerged of her husband’s involvement in terrorism.

“A Palestinian teacher who won a $1 million prize for teaching nonviolence will keep her award even though her husband participated in a terror attack that killed six Israelis.

Hanan al-Hroub received the UK-based Varkey Foundation’s Global Teacher Prize at a ceremony in Dubai earlier this month for a curriculum she called “No to Violence.”

Her husband, Omar, served 10 years in an Israeli prison after being convicted as an accomplice in a deadly 1980 bombing attack in Hebron in which the victims were walking home from Friday night Sabbath prayers, The Associated Press reported. Omar al-Hroub was a chemist who provided chemicals needed for making the bombs, the AP reported.”

Since the BBC last reported on this story in March, the terror attack in which the man who became its protagonist’s husband participated has been glorified by Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party on Facebook and in an official Palestinian Authority newspaper.

That, however, is a story which BBC audiences will never hear.

Related Articles:

Tortuous headlines for BBC report on Palestinian teacher’s prize

Will Guardian amend ‘feel-good’ Palestinian teacher story to note husband’s terror attack?  UK Media Watch

 

BBC’s ‘In Pictures’ showcases an anti-Israel activist

“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.” (BBC Editorial Guidelines, Impartiality, section 4.4.14 – emphasis added)

Like the BBC Editorial Guidelines as a whole, that section applies to all BBC content. However, on May 17th the ‘In Pictures’ page of the BBC News website published an item headlined “Hard Work” (which also appeared in the ‘features’ section of the website’s Middle East page) which failed to conform to that clause.

In Pictures Hard Work

That link leads to a photo essay titled “Traditional industries in the West Bank” in which audiences are told:

“In the West Bank, several traditional Palestinian industries are still utilising historical techniques fine-tuned through generations – but once flourishing industries, such as shoemaking in Hebron or olive oil soap production in Nablus, are barely surviving, with a fraction of their former workforces.

Photographer Rich Wiles has been documenting these industries, some of which may not survive much longer in the current political and economic climate.”

Rich Wiles, however, is not only a photographer: he is also a professional political activist who uses his camera as a tool for the advancement of his chosen political cause – as is apparent from an interview he gave to a local UK newspaper in 2014.

“It might not be an easy place to live, but Rich Wiles feels at home in Palestine.

The Hull-born photographer has spent the past decade in this unsettled part of the world, getting married and starting a family along the way.

Now his latest exhibition – chronicling life in parts of this frequently war-torn region – is on show in London.

“It is never an easy place to live, but it is a beautiful place to live at the same time,” said Rich, who lives in Ramallah with his wife, Cyrine, and their baby daughter, Nadia-Sue. […]

In 2001, at the age of 27, he decided to study for an HND at Hull School of Art and Design.

After becoming involved in the anti-war movement in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, he was invited by friends from the movement to join them on a trip to Palestine.

He went on to work with Creative Partnerships in Hull, where he organised photographic projects with children here and in the West Bank.

In 2005, moved by what he had witnessed, he decided to move to the Aida Camp for Palestinian refugees, which is located just outside of Bethlehem.

Since his arrival in Palestine, Rich has helped to establish the Lajee Centre Arts & Media Unit in the camp.

He now works at BADIL, the Resource Centre for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights in Bethlehem.”

In addition to his involvement with the anti-Israel NGO ‘Badil’, Wiles can regularly be found promoting his campaigning photography at outlets such as Al Jazeera, the Hamas-linked MEMO (which, interestingly, describes him as “MEMO photographer Rich Wiles”) and other Hamas-linked outfits such as the ‘Palestinian Return Centre’.

“In the past Wiles has referred to his photography as a tool of activism. “A photograph is never going to give Palestinians their rights,” he says, “though art is part of a culture of change.”

“History shows us that all liberation struggles have involved elements of armed struggle, they’ve involved elements of popular struggle, demonstrations, they’ve involved art, they’ve involved culture and they’ve involved literature. All these things combined make an effective resistance movement.”” (MEMO, 20/8/14)

Little wonder then that the portrayal of  “traditional industries” in Palestinian Authority controlled areas presented to BBC audiences only briefly touches upon the issue of competition with mass production (a difficulty faced by artisan manufacturers worldwide), but does point audience attentions in one particular direction.

“Several olive-oil soap factories were destroyed by an earthquake that hit Nablus in 1927. More recently, during the second Intifada, which began in 2001, Israeli military attacks on Nablus caused further destruction to the historical buildings. And, today, only three factories remain in production.”

The second intifada of course began in September 2000 – not in 2001 – and this portrayal conveniently erases the very relevant fact that it was initiated by the Palestinian Authority and that Israeli military activity in towns such as Nablus (Schem) came after – and as a result of – over eighteen months of Palestinian terror attacks which resulted in the deaths of hundreds of Israeli civilians.

“Historically, Palestinian tanneries got hides from neighbouring Arab states. More recently, supplies suffered from Israel’s economic embargo against Gaza’s Islamist rulers, which together with a ban on chemicals for security reasons has brought Zarai tanneries in Hebron to the brink of closure, its managers say.”

The terrorism which brought about restrictions on the entry of dual-use goods into the Gaza Strip (inaccurately described here as an “economic embargo”) and the terrorism of the second intifada which brought about the (later rescinded) ban on the import of sulfuric acid “due to its potential dual use as an ingredient in explosives-making” are predictably erased from audience view.

In the world of propagandists such as Rich Wiles, Palestinians are exclusively portrayed as passive, lacking in agency and free of any responsibility for the outcomes of their choices.

Whilst that approach may be good enough for outlets with a casual relationship with facts and truth such as Al Jazeera and MEMO, the editorial guidelines quoted above were put in place precisely in order to ensure that BBC audiences get accurate and impartial news rather than politically motivated propaganda.

That means that Rich Wiles’ “particular viewpoint” should have been clarified to readers of this article – and no: the link to his personal website right at the bottom of the page does not suffice.

 

What the BBC World Service edited out of a ‘Boston Calling’ report

The May 7th edition of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Boston Calling’ included an item (from 09:44 here) described by presenter Marco Werman in the introduction to the show as follows:Boston Calling 7 5

“This week: taking a stand – from an Israeli-born author writing about the occupation of the West Bank.”

That simplistic sound bite “the occupation” was repeated in Werman’s introduction to the item itself, with no effort made to inform listeners of the background history and context to the subject which is essentially at the story’s core.

“So here are a couple of lines you hear all the time when American politicians talk about the Middle East: ‘the United States stands with Israel’ and ‘Israel is America’s most important ally in the region.’ It’s a topic that both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will surely have to address quite a bit in the coming months. And so too will the Israeli-born author Ayelet Waldman. Waldman is a writer best known for her frank essays and books about love, motherhood and abortion but her latest project is a stark departure from all that. She’s collaborating with her husband, the novelist Michael Chabon, on a book of essays coming out next year to mark fifty years of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank. Daniel Estrin sat down with Waldman on a recent trip to the region to talk about her complicated relationship with her homeland.”

Estrin’s report begins with portrayal of Waldman’s background, including the following description of her short-lived return to the country she had left as a toddler.

DE: “After she graduated from Wesleyan she moved to Israel to live on a kibbutz.”

AW: “And that’s when the kind of the cracks started appearing in the wall.”

DE: “As a feminist she noticed there wasn’t true gender equality on her kibbutz. She moved back to the US and enrolled in Harvard Law School.”

Notably, that portrayal bears little resemblance to the one Waldman gave in an interview with Haaretz two years ago.

“She was born in Jerusalem in 1964, and even though her parents returned to Canada when she was two and a half years old, she had several encounters with Israel, including a failed six-month attempt at aliya in 1986. “The kibbutz killed me,” she says. “It was a kibbutz of yekkes — Jews of German origin. It was a lovely place with nice people, but yekkes pass each other without saying hello.””

Later Estrin tells listeners:

“Things changed two years ago when Waldman was invited to a writers’ conference in Jerusalem. She went on her first trip to the West Bank city of Hebron. What she saw shocked her; the reality of many hard-line Israeli settlers living among the Palestinian urban population.”

Estrin makes no effort to provide BBC World Service audiences with any information concerning Hebron’s long Jewish history (including the 1929 massacre) or to bring in the very relevant context of the Oslo Accords which would enable them to understand why Israelis live in Hebron. Neither does he inform listeners that the trip Waldman took to Hebron in 2014 was organised by the foreign-funded political NGO ‘Breaking the Silence’.

Listeners then hear the following stereotyping of Jewish residents of Hebron from Ayelet Waldman:

“This graffiti. These horrific gr…this graffiti, you know, ‘death to Arabs’. Vicious, angry, thugs wearing yarmulkes. I mean, they’re thugs. Like – and I know from [sic] thugs. I was a public defender. Like, I know what a thug looks like. I know what a bully looks like. I know what a criminal looks like. Those are thugs.”

It is of course difficult to imagine that the BBC would broadcast such a crude – and entirely unchallenged – stereotype were it to relate to other ethnic/religious groups but not only did it do just that in this programme; it also saw fit to include the same segment in a clip from the item promoted separately on Twitter.Boston Calling 7 5 clip

So what BBC World Service listeners were fed in this item is the context-free story of an author with links to Israel who, together with her husband and other writers, is in the process of compiling what Estrin describes as “a collection of essays from top writers with something new to say about a military occupation fifty years in the making”.  But what is really interesting about this BBC report is what it did not tell listeners.

Daniel Estrin was of course not the only journalist accompanying Waldman et al on their much publicised road-show-cum-book promotion. The Washington Post’s William Booth was also there and, despite the many issues arising from his report, he did at least bother to inform his audience of the involvement of ‘Breaking the Silence’ in Waldman’s project. So did the Guardian and – particularly remarkably – so too did Daniel Estrin in the almost identical version of this report broadcast on the BBC’s partner station PRI.

The part of Estrin’s report which was cut from the BBC World Service programme tells listeners that:

“The book project is organised in part by ‘Breaking the Silence’ – an Israeli veterans group that’s controversial here because it’s critical of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank. And Waldman herself has stirred up controversy among some American Jews on Twitter this month, drawing rebukes from prominent journalist Jeffrey Goldberg.”

(Details of that latter story concerning Waldman’s stereotyping of Israel’s “national character” as “dickish” can be found here.)

Whilst Estrin’s explanation of why ‘Breaking the Silence’ is considered controversial in Israel is whitewashed to the point of inaccuracy, he does at least clarify the political NGO’s involvement in this project, enabling informed listeners at least to comprehend that Waldman’s “collection of essays” is not a literary exercise but political agitprop.

The question that therefore arises is why did the BBC World Service edit out that very relevant piece of information from its promotion of this project?

Related Articles:

Washington Post’s Letter from Israel Should be Marked ‘Return to Sender’  (CAMERA)

Thinly disguised promotion of anti-Israel activism on BBC WS ‘Boston Calling’

 

BBC’s Connolly amplifies Ha’aretz columnist’s fallacious claims

On March 24th the BBC News website published an article headlined “Israeli soldier ‘shot wounded Palestinian attacker dead’” which concerns an incident that took place on that day after a terror attack in Hebron. That article remained on the website’s Middle East page for two consecutive days.

On March 31st an additional report concerning developments in the case appeared under the title “Israeli soldier ‘faces manslaughter’ for killing wounded attacker” and it too remained on the website for two days.

Although the soldier concerned has yet to be indicted and the investigation into the incident is still ongoing, on April 11th a third article on the same topic appeared in the ‘Features’ section of the BBC News website’s Middle East page. Written by the BBC Jerusalem Bureau’s Kevin Connolly, the article is titled “Video of Israeli soldier’s killing of Palestinian attacker fuels debate” and it opens in Connolly’s trademark style.Connolly Hebron shooting art

“Almost everything about the shooting of Abdul Fatah al-Sharif made it a very modern moment of news.

There was the time and the place.

It occurred on the edge of the Jewish sector of the divided city of Hebron in the Israeli-occupied West Bank – a kind of crucible of the troubles here, where so many of the stabbings and shootings in the latest wave of violence have happened.”

Connolly makes no effort to inform his readers that Hebron is “divided” because the representatives of the Palestinian people agreed to such an arrangement nearly two decades ago.

But for all its repeated promotion of one-sided politicized terminology such as “the occupied West Bank”, the real aim of Connolly’s piece is to reinforce a theme that has been frequently promoted by the BBC in the past: a supposed political shift to the Right in Israeli society.

He therefore has to explain the Israeli Chief of Staff’s description of the incident as coming “from a slightly unusual source” – although in fact there is of course nothing ‘unusual’ at all about a senior IDF commander giving an accurate account of an incident. Connolly then touts the conclusion that “this appears to be an issue on which the army is out of step with Israeli society” and the ‘evidence’ he presents for that conclusion is based on a factor of which (given their past experiences of  burnt fingers) one might have thought he and his colleagues would be rather more wary: an opinion poll.

“In one opinion poll, only 5% of those questioned thought the soldier’s actions amounted to murder – and more than 80% expressed at least some degree of support.”

Connolly brings in two interviewees to support his theory, the first of whom is a representative of B’tselem which earlier on in the article he has already described as “an Israeli human rights organization”. The person who filmed the incident in Hebron on behalf of B’tselem is similarly portrayed as “the human rights activist”.

“There are some Israelis who see B’Tselem as the villain of the piece – a view that does not surprise Sarit Michaeli, who speaks for the group.

“I don’t lose any sleep over being called a traitor,” she told me. “What I do lose sleep over is whether we’ve done enough every day to expose the harms of the occupation… We’re in the run-up to the 50th year of military control over the Palestinian people… this is the meaning of occupation.””

Connolly makes no attempt to conform to the BBC’s editorial guidelines on impartiality by clarifying that B’tselem is one of the foreign funded political NGOs involved in the lawfare campaign against Israel.

Connolly’s second interviewee is Ha’aretz journalist Ari Shavit. 

“But Israeli liberals, like the columnist from the Haaretz newspaper Ari Shavit, appear a little taken aback at the strength of right-wing sentiment surrounding the case and are inclined to attribute it to a change in the nature of right-wing politics here from old-fashioned conservatism to radical populism.

“The new kind of populist right-wingers don’t respect the rule of law and human rights in the way the old conservative right used to,” Mr Shavit told the BBC.

“You have a very complex surprising situation where there is a lot of positive popular pressure in the wrong way, while the military establishment in many ways is trying to keep Israel’s old values.””

Ari Shavit (who clearly does not see a need to wait for completion of the investigation into the incident before pronouncing judgement) bases his premises on his recollections of the ‘Bus 300’ affair from 1984 as outlined in an article he published in Ha’aretz in Hebrew on March 31st and in English on April 1st.  

“But this time the uproar was very different. There was a total role reversal. The security establishment tried to maintain the image of the State of Israel, while the pressure from the media and the public supported the brutality. While the defense minister, the chief of staff and the IDF acted in a cultured and upright fashion, the Facebook society demanded that they not conduct a fair and orderly legal procedure. With a deafening roar, the masses applauded cruelty.

In many ways the Bus 300 case was a far more serious and complicated affair than what happened in Tel Rumeida. But the similarities between the cases and the polar opposite response to them cast a revealing and cruel light on the changes we’ve undergone in the past few decades. They indicate what is happening to us. Where we were then and where we are now. What we were and what we have become. And where we are going.”

Our colleagues at Presspectiva took a look at Shavit’s claims (Hebrew) and found that they do not however match the historical record.

 “From a poll by ‘Yediot Aharonot’ which was published on 30.5.1986, two years after the incident, it emerges that most of the public (61%) was against the interrogation of the head of the Israel Security Agency in connection with the circumstances of the killing of the terrorists. […] Another poll which was taken on 11.7.1986 and published in the paper showed that although there had been a fall in the percentage of those opposed to the investigation, the majority (57%) were still against it.”

In other words, Shavit’s analysis is a fiction of his own selective memory.

Kevin Connolly echoes Shavit’s fallacious conclusions in his closing words:

“But slowly the political debate that surrounds the case whatever the outcome will help to define how Israeli attitudes towards such cases are changing over time.”

Were Kevin Connolly able to read Hebrew or had he consulted one of his colleagues who can, he could have saved himself the embarrassment of promoting that redundant theory based on Ari Shavit’s inaccurate memories. However, given the BBC’s record of repeated promotion of the theme of an ominous ‘shift to the Right’ in Israeli society, the question is whether or not accuracy would even then have trumped agenda. 

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