BBC Radio 4’s statistics programme on Holocaust denial in the UK

The lead item (from 00:28 here) in the February 3rd edition of the BBC Radio 4 statistics programme ‘More or Less’ related to the results of a survey published a few days earlier by Britain’s Holocaust Memorial Day Trust that was previously covered on the BBC News website.

“Is it true that one in 20 adults in Britain don’t believe the Holocaust took place? Those are the findings of a survey commissioned by The Holocaust Memorial Day Trust. But Professor Peter Lynn of Essex University explains why the survey is unlikely to be accurate.”

Presenter Tim Harford introduced the item:

Harford: “Last Sunday was Holocaust Memorial Day; a day of solemn remembrance. But it was also a day of appalled surprise because a poll was published claiming that [recording] ‘as many as one in 20 adults in Britain don’t believe the Holocaust took place and 1 in 12 believe its scale had been exaggerated’.

One in 20 Britons: that would be about three million people not believing that the Holocaust happened. The survey said that many others were confused about the details.

So to clear up any uncertainty, at least here, the Holocaust is a name given to the genocidal murder of around 6 million Jews led by the German State under Adolf Hitler’s Nazi government and part of an even bigger policy of systematic murder of a variety of targets including the Roma, disabled people, political prisoners and many others.

We’ve always known that a few people love to claim that this never happened or happened on a dramatically smaller scale – but as many as one in twenty?”

Programme producer Ruth Alexander subsequently brought in Peter Lynn, Professor of Survey Methodology at the University of Essex.

Alexander: “Now when Professor Lynn heard about the results of this survey, he raised an eyebrow.”

Lynn: “Yes, I was immediately sceptical that this sounded a bit…ehm…unlikely.”

Alexander: “The number sounds too big?”

Lynn: “Yes.”

With no identification of the additional experts cited, listeners were told that survey participants may have unintentionally stated that the Holocaust did not happen:

Alexander: “In fact, I’ve spoken to three other survey design experts – they all agree, there are some serious flaws with this study. Now it’s true that 5% of people surveyed agreed or strongly agreed with the statement that the Holocaust never really happened. However, Professor Lynn thinks they may not all have done so deliberately.”

Lynn: “I guess the first thing that struck me was that the wording of the question about believing that the Holocaust happened seems to me to have some serious shortcomings and I think that may have caused some people to appear to agree that the Holocaust had never really happened when that wasn’t what they intended.”

Harford: “So the issue here is that people taking part in an online survey like this; they’re ticking boxes, maybe they’re not looking too closely; maybe they’re in a hurry, they’re distracted by what’s on TV; they’re thinking more about the shopping vouchers they might receive for doing the survey than what they’re actually agreeing or disagreeing with and some of them might make outrageous claims just for the fun of it.”

Later on listeners were told that the result may have come about by accident.

Lynn: “There is always a significant minority of respondents who take short cuts and I think that that could be the case here because the respondents here are presented with a series of statements. Now the first two items in this scale are firstly: ‘It is important to know about the Holocaust in today’s world’ and secondly: ‘More needs to be done to educate people about what happened during the Holocaust’. So, at that point you might be beginning to think, ah I can see a battery of statements about the Holocaust, seems like I’m the kind of person who tends to agree with them; I’ll just agree to the next few and assume that that represents my position.

But the item we’re talking about here, the third item ‘the Holocaust never really happened’ is worded the other way round – it’s what we call a reversed item – where if you believe that the Holocaust happened, you should now be disagreeing with the item. So you could easily fall into the trap of just assuming you agreed with all these items and, therefore, not giving a response to this third item that actually represents your true view.”

With the programme makers’ views of the intelligence of the British public abundantly clear, Harford continued:

Harford: “It seems like there is a lot of ignorance out there and clearly Holocaust denial is a real thing and it would be worth trying to measure how prevalent it is. So do we know of any other, perhaps more reliable, research that can give us a better sense of the true numbers?”

Alexander went on to cite a study conducted twenty-five years ago in the United States (which obviously has no bearing on the issue of Holocaust denial in Britain) and to quote yet more anonymous experts on Holocaust denial in an equally unrelated location.

Alexander: “…it turned out that the correct number of Holocaust Deniers in the US was more like 2% of the population. And experts have told me that studies in Europe have tended to give lower numbers still.”

Apparently the ‘More or Less’ team would have the BBC’s domestic listeners conclude that a study conducted a quarter of a century ago in a country with a different culture, education system and population make up is more likely to reflect the percentage of people in their own country who do not believe that the Holocaust happened than a survey recently conducted in the UK.

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Another Abbas speech and more selective BBC reporting

Between December 2017 and February 2018 the BBC News website failed to provide audiences with a full account of speeches made by the Palestinian Authority president on three separate occasions:

BBC reports the parts of Abbas’ OIC speech that fit its narrative

BBC censors parts of Mahmoud Abbas speech once again

Another BBC makeover on a speech by Mahmoud Abbas

When Mahmoud Abbas made yet another offensive and historically illiterate speech at a rare PLO convention on April 30th (which was subsequently condemned by a wide range of parties including Israel, Germany, the UK, France, the UN, the EU, US envoys, Holocaust scholars and even the New York Times and the Guardian), the BBC’s coverage appeared at first glance to be more comprehensive.

On May 1st the BBC News website published a report headlined “Holocaust row: Abbas accused of anti-Semitism“. In the body of the report the BBC was similarly incapable of informing readers in its own words of the anti-Semitic nature of Abbas’ remarks and instead relied on observations from third parties.

“Remarks by Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas about the Holocaust have been condemned as anti-Semitic by Israeli politicians and rights activists. […]

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s spokesman said the remarks were “anti-Semitic and pathetic”. […]

In New York, the Anti-Defamation League condemned Mr Abbas’s “anti-Semitic assertions”.”

Under the sub-heading “What did Abbas say exactly?” the BBC report described Abbas’ statements as follows:

“Carried live on Palestinian TV, the 90-minute speech in Arabic included a section on the Palestinian leader’s view of the history of European Jewry, based on what he said were books by “Jewish Zionist authors”.

Jews in eastern and western Europe, he said, had been periodically subjected to massacres over the centuries, culminating in the Holocaust.

“But why did this used to happen?” he asked. “They say, ‘It is because we are Jews.’ I will bring you three Jews, with three books who say that enmity towards Jews was not because of their religious identity but because of their social function.

“This is a different issue. So the Jewish question that was widespread throughout Europe was not against their religion but against their social function which relates to usury [unscrupulous money-lending] and banking and such.”

Mr Abbas also denied that Ashkenazi Jews – Jews from Germany and north-eastern Europe – were actually Semitic, saying, “They have no relation to Semitic people.””

The BBC did not however bother to clarify that Abbas’ falsehoods did not stop there and it failed to inform readers that he also touted the long discredited claim according to which Ashkenazi Jews are descendants of the ‘Khazar kingdom’, that he denied historic Jewish links to Israel and described the State of Israel as a “colonialist enterprise”, that he promoted the falsehood that Jews in Arab lands had not suffered discrimination and persecution or that he claimed that a Jewish bank had collaborated with the Nazi regime.

In other words, rather than telling readers – as claimed – what Abbas said “exactly”, the BBC actually gave a selective account of his speech to audiences who have in the past repeatedly been denied information concerning similar outbursts from the Palestinian leader that the corporation frequently touts as a ‘moderate’.

Towards the end of that article readers found a typically euphemistic description of the background to the breakdown of the 2013/14 round of talks between Israel and the Palestinians:

“The last direct peace talks took place in 2014, when Barack Obama was in the White House. They broke down amid acrimony.”

As has so often been the case in the past, the BBC refrained from clarifying to readers that those talks came to an end after the Palestinian Authority chose ‘reconciliation’ with Hamas over an end to the conflict with Israel and breached agreements reached before the talks commenced.

Three days after the appearance of that report, on May 4th, the BBC News website published an additional article titled “Palestinian leader Abbas apologises for Holocaust remarks” which similarly presented a selective description of Abbas’ statements.

“His televised speech included a section on his view of the history of European Jewry, based on what he said were books by “Jewish Zionist authors”.

He said that, over the centuries, Jews in eastern and western Europe had been periodically subjected to massacres, culminating in the Holocaust.

“But why did this used to happen?” he asked. “They say, ‘It is because we are Jews.’ I will bring you three Jews, with three books who say that enmity towards Jews was not because of their religious identity but because of their social function.

“This is a different issue. So the Jewish question that was widespread throughout Europe was not against their religion but against their social function which relates to usury [unscrupulous money-lending] and banking and such.””

The article failed to clarify to readers that Abbas did not retract any of the false claims made in his speech or that his belated ‘apology‘ was directed at “people of the Jewish faith” rather than the Jewish people because he and others of his ilk continue to deny that the Jews are a nation.

Once again we see that the BBC has sidestepped an opportunity to enhance its audiences’ understanding of factors such as the Palestinian erasure of Jewish history and refusal to recognise the Jewish state that do not fit into the narrative it has chosen to promote regarding the ‘reasons’ for the failure of the so-called peace process to yield results.

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BBC reporter revealed to be member of secret anti-Israel Facebook group

The indefatigable David Collier has published a long two-part report about a secret Facebook Group called ‘Palestine Live’ that includes among its membership Holocaust deniers, antisemites and conspiracy theorists. 

Part one of the report can be found here and part two here.

The group was founded in 2013 by a London-based anti-Israel activist called Elleanne Green.

“The group is listed as ‘secret’. This means you cannot find it by using the Facebook search function and need to be invited or added by someone inside the group who has permissions to add new members. It changed from ‘Closed’ to ‘Secret’ in early November 2014.

Elleanne Green is an admin of the group, and the most prolific contributor. She is well-linked with other activists across the globe. Possessing an impressive networking skillset, Elleanne Green turned Palestine Live into one of the largest, and well-connected of the anti-Israel groups. Palestine Live contains high-placed representatives, from almost every anti-Israel activist organisation.

There are two other admins to the group. Tony Gratrex (added by Elleanne Green on 15 November 2013) and Carol Foster (added by Elleanne Green on 10 August 2015). Gratrex was at one time, an organiser of the Reading Branch of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign. Foster was co-chair of the Greater London Branch of the ‘Labour Representation Committee’ and was at the PSC 2016 AGM selling pamphlets such as ‘In defence of Trotskyism’ for ‘Socialist Fight’.

The aim of the group:

‘Created not so much for long and detailed discussion of words used and semantics but to gather together a group of good friends all of whom wholeheartedly support the people of Palestine in their struggle’

Among the members of that group are several people who have appeared on BBC programmes such as Avner Gvaryahu of ‘Breaking the Silence’, Rebecca Vilkommerson of JVP, Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi, Tony Greenstein, Haim Bresheeth and Glyn Secker.

Additional members of the group featured in other BBC content include Deborah Fink, David Ward, Jenny Tonge and Richard Falk.

However the name of one member of that secret Facebook group where antisemitic material, Holocaust denial and anti-Israel propaganda is regularly posted may come as a surprise (see Pt 2, p. 175).

The item promoted by Green appears to be Knell’s April 23rd 2016 report from Gush Etzion.

Whether or not Yolande Knell’s editors know about her membership in a secret group of anti-Israel activists where discussions are rife with anti-Israel conspiracy theory, gross antisemitism and Holocaust denial is unclear. What is however once again very obvious is that Knell’s position as an ‘impartial’ BBC correspondent reporting from the corporation’s Jerusalem bureau is severely compromised. 

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Revisiting a BBC News website story from 2014

Back in May 2014 the BBC News website reported a story from Belgium involving a politician and a banned rally that the corporation had difficulty describing accurately to its audience.

As was noted here at the time:

“The BBC report ‘balances’ its reporting of statements made by Belgian officials and an anti-racist organization on the subject of the convention by quoting a Facebook post from its organiser.

“Writing on his Facebook page, Laurent Louis said it was laughable that his movement “Debout Les Belges!” (Stand up, Belgians!) was seen as anti-Semitic, simply because its members had adopted Dieudonne’s trademark “quenelle” gesture.”

However, the BBC refrains from informing audiences that Louis’ repeated use of the quenelle is just the tip of the iceberg of his history of antisemtism and extremism, which includes making that gesture in the Belgian parliament, Holocaust denial and analogies and accusing Zionists of having “set up and financed” the Holocaust. Last year Louis was photographed at a pro-Assad rally trampling an Israeli flag and holding a portrait of Bashar al Assad and a Hizballah flag, telling Syrian TV that “Europe is being used in the conflict [against Syria] as a tool in the hands of Israel, the rogue state”.”

The following year Laurent Louis was convicted of Holocaust denial by a Belgian court and barred from running for office for six years. Following an appeal, Louis (who subsequently paid a visit to Hizballah) had his sentence changed.

“A former lawmaker in Belgium convicted of Holocaust denial in 2015 was handed an unusual sentence this week: The Brussels Court of Appeal ordered him to visit one Nazi concentration camp a year for the next five years and write about his experiences, according to the former lawmaker and local news reports. […]

Mr. Laurent [Louis] was given a six-month suspended jail sentence and fined over $20,000 at his 2015 trial, which centered on online statements he made that questioned the number of Jews killed in gas chambers during the Holocaust.”

However, all anyone searching for information about the European MP convicted of Holocaust denial on the BBC News website will find is amplification of Louis’ denials of antisemitic activity along with a tepid and unhelpful ‘explanation’ of the quenelle gesture.

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Former BBC interviewee on antisemitism resurfaces on Holocaust denial list

Via the CST we learn of the compilation by an Israeli government department of a list of social media accounts promoting Holocaust denial.   

“On the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day, anti-Semitism on the Internet is thriving, completely undeterred. The Ministry of Diaspora Affairs published today (Sunday) worrisome information regarding Holocaust denial on social networks on the internet, including a list of the most virulently anti-Semitic Holocaust deniers, which was determined in turn by the number of their posts, the number of their followers, the frequency with which they posted and “virility” of the various accounts. […]

According to data provided by Ministry of the Diaspora, over 7,500 tweets purporting denial and ridicule of the Holocaust have been posted on Twitter in English over this past month, and more than seven million visitors have been exposed to them. The average number of followers garnered by anti-Semitic posters is 4,500, a number indicating that the networks of incitement are rapidly expanding.”

Number seven on that list of antisemitic Holocaust deniers is Alain Soral and number eight is Dieudonné.

Readers may recall that in early January 2014 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 follows:

“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.’ “

The ‘Newsnight’ item 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”.

On BBC Radio 4’s ‘Today’ programme, Sarah Montague introduced recycled sections of that interview thus:

“Well a number of French cities have now banned the comedian and although Dieudonné has vowed to appeal against those bans. His close friend Alain Soral told ‘Newsnight’ last night that Dieudonne’s words had been taken out of context; that he’s anti-establishment, not antisemitic.”

As was noted here at the time, in spite of BBC editorial guidelines on impartiality, no effort was made to inform audiences of the far-right background and political agenda of the interviewee selected to supposedly enhance their understanding of the story.

The BBC’s funding public never did find out why in the first place ‘Newsnight’ editors considered the airing of Soral’s antisemitic conspiracy theories and whitewashing of the racism of his ‘close friend’ to be of any contribution to the public’s understanding of the issue under discussion.

Nearly two years after his ‘Newsnight’ interview, Soral was convicted by a French criminal court in a case relating to antisemitism and Dieudonné also since been convicted on similar charges. Nevertheless, in a 2015 report on one case , BBC News found it appropriate to inform audiences that the latter “insists he is not anti-Semitic” and as recently as April 2017 visitors to the BBC News website were informed that:

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

It of course comes as no surprise whatsoever to find Soral – together with his associate  – on a list of antisemitic Holocaust denying social media accounts. What is still chilling, however, is that the BBC even considered inviting him to appear as a commentator on antisemitism.

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BBC ignores Iranian Holocaust denial yet again

Back in September 2013 the BBC’s diplomatic correspondent Jonathan Marcus was to be found promoting the notion of ‘moderated’ Iranian Holocaust denial on the corporation’s website. As was noted here when translations knocking the bottom out of that claim later came to light:

“Marcus’ conclusion was apparently reached after listening to the linguistic gymnastics of Iranian president Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Zarif, with the latter having claimed that Holocaust denial appearing on the official website of Iran’s Supreme Leader was a case of ‘lost in translation’.”

More recently, when the BBC’s Stephen Sackur  asserted that BBC audiences are in a position to “judge for themselves” the validity of Iranian denials of antisemtism and Holocaust denial, we noted that the BBC has made no effort to inform audiences of this year’s Tehran municipality organized Holocaust denial cartoon contest.

Another recent story which the BBC has refrained from reporting is that of the release by the Iranian ‘Supreme Leader’ of a Holocaust denial video on January 27thInternational Holocaust Remembrance Day.

“As the global community marked International Holocaust Remembrance Day Wednesday, Iran’s supreme leader uploaded a video to his official website questioning the magnitude of the Nazi regime’s mass murder campaign against the Jewish people during World War II.

In a video titled “Are the Dark Ages Over,” a series of photos showing killed or injured Palestinian children is displayed on screen, while a Farsi-speaking man, presumably Ayatollah Ali Khamenei himself, can be heard condemning the nations of the world for offering support to Israel.

It is Western powers headed by America that are [supporting Israel],” the narrator says. “This is while they say in their slogans that they are opposed to terrorism and [the Islamic State terrorist group].”

The speaker goes on to accuse European nations of silencing any view that does not conform to the historically accepted account of the genocide against the Jews by Nazi Germany.

“No one in European countries dares to speak about the Holocaust, while it is not clear whether the core of the matter is reality or not,” the narrator continues. “Even if it is reality, it is not clear how it happened. Speaking about the Holocaust and expressing doubts about it is considered to be a great sin. If someone does this, they stop, arrest, imprison and sue him. This is why they claim to be supporters of freedom.””MEMRI clip

An English language translation of that video can be found at MEMRI.

Unlike other mainstream media outlets such as the Telegraph, the BBC did not produce any stand-alone reporting on the story. Neither did the corporation’s extensive coverage of the Iranian president’s visit to Europe at the same time as the video was released include any mention of the Iranian regime’s Holocaust denial. And whilst BBC coverage of International Holocaust Remembrance Day services and events was comprehensive, it would appear once again that the BBC is not of the opinion that its audiences also need to know about this contemporary manifestation of anti-Jewish hatred.   

Are BBC audiences positioned to ‘judge’ Iranian denials of antisemitism?

The January 16th edition of ‘Hardtalk’ was devoted to an interview with two people described as “respected political analysts” from Iran and Saudi Arabia. The programme is available in the UK on iPlayer here and an audio version broadcast on BBC World Service radio is available here.

“There’s a faultline that lies beneath much of the current turmoil in the Middle East, and it runs between Riyadh and Tehran. Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shia Iran are locked in a series of conflicts by proxy. It’s a dangerous and costly struggle for regional supremacy that weaves from Lebanon to Yemen by way of Syria and Iraq. Stephen Sackur talks to Mohammad Marandi in Tehran and Jamal Khashoggi in Jeddah. Is there any way to take the heat out of the Saudi-Iranian confrontation?”

Oddly for a programme with that synopsis, at around seven minutes or so in, the discussion took another turn.

But does host Stephen Sackur’s claim that audiences listening to that Iranian propaganda from Marandi can “judge for themselves” really hold water? In order for that to be the case, the BBC would have had to report, for example, on the subject of this year’s Holocaust denying cartoon contest.Hardtalk 16 1 filmed

“Iran has announced that it will be holding a cartoon contest aimed at creating caricatures denying the Holocaust. This year, the contest’s grand prize has been increased from $12,000 to $50,000.

The contest, organized by the Teheran municipal authority, is calling for cartoonists worldwide to send in works denying and satirizing the Holocaust. Unlike previous contests of this kind, this one is especially significant due the fact that it is organized by official authorities of the Iranian capital, and has an international emphasis. The prize money is also several times what it was before.”

Not only has the BBC not covered that contemporary story but in the past it has downplayed similar events.  It has also distorted the results of a poll on antisemitism in Iran, promoted the false notion of ‘moderated’ Iranian Holocaust denial, airbrushed statements concerning the Holocaust made by Rouhani and in general done its level best to promote the chimera of a ‘moderate’ Iranian regime.

Contrary to Sackur’s claim, it is therefore highly unlikely that BBC audiences would be able to “judge for themselves” the authenticity of the claims made by the gently spoken Mr Marandi because the BBC has for the past two and a half years consistently avoided fulfilling its obligation to “keep them in touch with what is going on” in that field.

Source of the BBC’s three 2013 Iron Dome reports gets cosy with a Holocaust denier

h/t Adam Holland Twitter

On July 10th 2014 – soon after the commencement of Operation Protective Edge – the BBC News website’s Middle East page included an article by diplomatic correspondent Jonathan Marcus in its ‘Features & Analysis’ section which was titled “What weapons are being used in the Israel-Gaza conflict“. In that article, Marcus wrote:Marcus 10 7

“As important in determining Israel’s strategic outlook as its offensive operations is the reliance that it places on missile defence – the Iron Dome system – to defend its civilian population. Indeed, as long as it is successful it is a powerful factor in crisis limitation. […]

Israel rigorously guards detailed data on Iron Dome’s performance. Its earlier use has prompted some debate among experts on its seemingly extraordinary success rate. But whatever the basic data, the evidence from its use suggests that it is having a significant effect in preventing Israeli casualties.”

The link inserted by Marcus leads to an earlier article he wrote in March 2013 promoting the claims of MIT professor Theodore (Ted) Postol which was discussed on these pages at the time. Jonathan Marcus did not like our post concerning his report and chose to respond in the comments section, informing us that:

“The report on Ted Postol’s work (with two other scientists cited) first ran in Ha’aretz. I saw this but waited until I had a chance to speak to Postol – who despite your rather nasty insinuations, is a highly respected scientist with a distinguished track record in this field. You will remember that he correctly questioned the performance of the initial Patriot system in the war to liberate Kuwait. His concerns about Iron Dome certainly merits an airing rather than criticism.”

Six weeks after the appearance of Marcus’ report – in April 2013 – the BBC Jerusalem Bureau’s Kevin Connolly produced two additional reports on the same topic promoting the same claims advanced by Postol.

Well now it appears that Jonathan Marcus’ “highly respected scientist” has found a new outlet via which to promote his theories.Iron Dome

Towards the end of August 2014 Ted Postol gave two interviews to a person named Ryan Dawson who uploaded them to his Youtube channel which is titled ANC Report – “Anti-neocon Report”. In the first of those interviews Postol again promotes his claims regarding the Iron Dome (as well as his opinions on Israel in general and American domestic politics) and in the second he takes issue (as he has before) with the fact that the Syrian regime used chemical weapons against civilians in Damascus in August 2013. Both interviews provide very revealing insight into Postol’s political views – and his motivations.

So who is the person with whom this “highly respected scientist” agreed to chat in such a chummy manner for an hour and a half? Adam Holland has more details on Ryan – or Ry – Dawson.

“The man behind the podcast promoting those videos, Ryan Dawson, has for over a decade used the internet to spread some pretty horrid ideas: ideas about Jews making up or exaggerating crimes committed by Nazi Germany, ideas about Israel carrying out the 9/11 attacks, even claims that the Jewish religion sanctions pedophilia, rape and ritual murder. Dawson has made clever use of the free publicity-generating possibilities provided by social media to promote some of the worst forms bigotry and conspiracy theories. On Facebook, he does this under the name “antizionist”. He’s “Anti-neocon,” “Super anti-neocon” or just “ANC” for his blog, web-forum and his podcast, the “ANC Report”.”

Perhaps Jonathan Marcus would be kind enough to tell us in the comments below whether he thinks it appropriate for the BBC to still be promoting on its website the bizarre claims of someone who collaborates with a known antisemitic Holocaust denier?  

 

 

How did the BBC frame Mahmoud Abbas’ remarks on the Holocaust?

On April 27th – the eve of Holocaust Memorial Day in Israel – an article appeared on the Middle East page of the BBC News website under the title “Palestinians’ Mahmoud Abbas calls Holocaust ‘heinous crime’“.Abbas Holocaust statement

Let’s take a look at how the BBC report represents the statement made by Abbas.

“Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has called the Holocaust “the most heinous crime” in modern history. […]

In his statement, Mr Abbas “expressed his sympathy with the families of the victims and many other innocent people who were killed by the Nazis”.

“The Holocaust is a reflection of the concept of ethnic discrimination and racism which the Palestinians strongly reject and act against,” he went on.

He also urged the Israeli government to use “the incredibly sad commemoration of Holocaust day” to take the chance to find a “just and comprehensive” peace with his people, based on a two-state solution.”

Now let’s look at Abbas’ entire statement as published by the Wafa News Agency.

Abbas Holocaust statement Wafa

As we see from the Wafa report and as is supported by other sources, Abbas’ statement apparently came as the result of a question from an American Rabbi active in interfaith work; a fact which is not noted in the BBC report.

As we also see, the very significant part of Abbas’ statement which, through use of the words “the world must do its utmost to fight racism and injustice”, promotes the notion of linkage between the Holocaust as “a reflection of the concept of ethnic discrimination and racism” and “the Palestinian people, who suffer from injustice, oppression” is also not reported by the BBC.

Although it once again downplays Hamas’ terror designation by numerous countries, the BBC article notes correctly that:

“Hamas officials have made statements denying the Holocaust, and in 2009 objected to a UN proposal to teach children about it in UN-run schools in Gaza.”

It goes on to state:

“Mr Abbas’s comments were the strongest that he has made publicly on the Holocaust and appear to be an attempt to reach out to a mistrustful Israeli public, the BBC’s Yolande Knell reports from Jerusalem.”

In fact, Abbas has made numerous public remarks in the past regarding the Holocaust, which Knell’s adjective “strongest” might also be used to describe – though in a decidedly different sense. The Israeli public is of course aware of the fact that Mahmoud Abbas’ PhD dissertation was based on a form of Holocaust denial.

“His 1982 dissertation, published as “The Other Side: the Secret Relationship Between Nazism and Zionism,” famously argues that the Zionists collaborated with the Nazis in order to spur more Jewish immigration to Palestine. “The Zionist movement,” it explains, “led a broad campaign of incitement against the Jews living under Nazi rule, in order to arouse the government’s hatred of them, to fuel vengeance against them, and to expand the mass extermination.” The Zionists, the work asserts, were the Third Reich’s “basic partner in crime.” It also claims that the figure of six million dead has been exaggerated for political gain, and suggests one million as a more reasonable estimate. Abbas has never unreservedly repudiated the document, and has in fact regularly reaffirmed its core argument, saying in 2013 that he had “70 more books that I still haven’t published” proving the Zionist-Nazi partnership.”

Had BBC audiences also been made aware of that fact, they might have been better equipped to understand Yolande Knell’s description of the Israeli public as “mistrustful” and to understand why this prompted statement from Abbas – and the inappropriate political messaging it includes – is not the news item it is framed to be in this report. 

Bang goes the BBC diplomatic correspondent’s theory of ‘moderated’ Iranian Holocaust denial

Readers may remember that back in October 2013 the BBC’s Diplomatic correspondent Jonathan Marcus came up with a theory of ‘moderated’ Iranian Holocaust denial. 

“Prime Minister Netanyahu instructed Israeli diplomats to absent themselves from the UN chamber when President Rouhani was speaking. Iranian comments moderating their long-standing denial of the Holocaust perpetrated against the Jews by the Nazis during World War II won Tehran few brownie points in Israel.” [emphasis added]

Marcus’ conclusion was apparently reached after listening to the linguistic gymnastics of Iranian president Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Zarif, with the latter having claimed that Holocaust denial appearing on the official website of Iran’s Supreme Leader was a case of ‘lost in translation’.

 “This is the problem when you translate something from Persian to English,” he said. “You may lose some of the meaning. This has unfortunately been the case several times over. The point is, we condemn the killing of innocent people whether it happens in Nazi Germany or whether it is happening in Palestine.”

Over to MEMRI:

“In a September 29, 2013 interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, in which Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was questioned about Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s statements that the Holocaust is a “myth,” Zarif claimed that Khamenei is not a Holocaust denier and that the statements – which can be found in English on his official English-language website – were a “bad translation” and “out of context.” Khamenei had made the statements in a February 2006 speech to Iranian Air Force officers.

However, a MEMRI investigation reveals that FM Zarif’s claim is false; in Khamenei’s original statements, which can be accessed on Khamenei’s official Persian-language website, Khamenei did indeed call the Holocaust a “myth.”

Furthermore, in mid-December 2013, Khamenei’s office re-released Khamenei’s 1998 statements of praise for the work of the late convicted French Holocaust denier Roger Garaudy, on the occasion of the anniversary of Garaudy’s 1998 trial in France.”

Read the rest of MEMRI’s report – including the original statements in Farsi – here.