BBC R4’s ‘World at One’ misleads on the Holocaust

The January 23rd edition of BBC Radio 4’s ‘World at One’ included several items relating to the World Holocaust Forum event held on that day at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, one of which was an interview with Holocaust survivor Dr Martin Stern.

Presenter Sarah Montague introduced the run up to that item (from 07:36 here) as follows:

Montague: “The ceremony underway at the moment in Jerusalem is thought to be one of the largest gatherings of world leaders in Israel’s history. It’s being held at Yad Vashem and it’s brought representatives from all over the world to mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. Yad Vashem’s the country’s memorial to the six million killed in the Holocaust, the majority of whom were Jews. More than a million of those died in Auschwitz.” [emphasis added]

The Holocaust is defined as follows by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum:

“The Holocaust was the systematic, bureaucratic, state-sponsored persecution and murder of six million Jewish men, women and children by the Nazi regime and its collaborators.”

And similarly by Yad Vashem:

“The Holocaust was unprecedented genocide, total and systematic, perpetrated by Nazi Germany and its collaborators, with the aim of annihilating the Jewish people.”

Montague’s claim that Jews were “the majority” of “the six million killed in the Holocaust” – and the resulting implication that some of those killed in the Holocaust were not Jews – is hence inaccurate and misleading. As the USHMM goes on to clarify:

“During the era of the Holocaust, German authorities also targeted and killed other groups, including at times their children, because of their perceived racial and biological inferiority: Roma (Gypsies), Germans with disabilities, and some of the Slavic peoples (especially Poles and Russians). Other groups were persecuted on political, ideological, and behavioral grounds, among them Communists, Socialists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and homosexuals.”

If Montague’s intention was to refer to groups of people other than Jews who were targeted by the Nazis during the Second World War, then her quoted figure of six million is likewise inaccurate.

photo credit: USHMM

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BBC News again uncritically amplifies Iranian regime disinformation

BBC News again uncritically amplifies Iranian regime disinformation

On January 23rd the BBC News website published a report about the World Holocaust Forum event held that day at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. The report – which was originally headlined “World leaders gather in Israel for Holocaust forum” – was updated and amended throughout the day and its final version (which will remain online as “permanent public record”) was retitled “Holocaust forum: Netanyahu urges world to unite to confront Iran”.

The report opened by telling BBC audiences that:

“Israel’s prime minister has vowed that “there will not be another Holocaust” in a speech at a forum in Jerusalem marking the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp.

Benjamin Netanyahu also called on the international community to “join the vital effort of confronting Iran”.

“We have yet to see a unified and resolute stance against the most anti-Semitic regime on the planet,” he said.”

Later on readers were informed that in his speech the Israeli prime minister:

“…warned that, today, Iran “openly seeks to develop nuclear weapons and annihilate the one and only Jewish state”.

“Israel salutes [US President Donald] Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence for confronting the tyrants of Tehran, who subjugate their own people, who threaten the peace and security of the entire world,” he added.

“I call on all governments to join efforts in confronting Iran. Israel will do whatever it must do to defend its people and the Jewish future.””

BBC journalists then found it necessary to add the following:

“Iran has repeatedly called for the eradication of the State of Israel, but says that it is not anti-Semitic. It has also denied that it wants nuclear weapons.”

The IHRA working definition of antisemitism includes “Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination” as one possible manifestation of antisemitism. The BBC however did not bother to clarify to audiences that calling for “the eradication of the State of Israel” is hence antisemitic, despite the Iranian regime’s claim to the contrary.

BBC audiences are frequently exposed to the corporation’s unquestioning amplification of the Iranian regime’s denials of pursuit of nuclear weapons. The BBC continues to uncritically promote that mantra despite evidence to the contrary which includes a December 2015 report produced by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) which stated that:

“…the agency “assesses that a range of activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device were conducted in Iran prior to the end of 2003 as a coordinated effort, and some activities took place” up to 2009.”

Notably, the BBC’s ‘impartiality’ box ticking excluded any mention of the relevant subject of the Iranian regime’s longstanding record of Holocaust denial – a topic described by the corporation in 2013 as ‘taking issue’ with the Holocaust.  

The all too common BBC practice of uncritically promoting the disinformation of authoritarian regimes (such as Iran, Russia and Syria) without providing audiences with the background information necessary to put that propaganda into its correct perspective obviously obstructs the fulfilment of the BBC’s first public purpose of helping its funding public to understand and engage with the world around them”.

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BBC’s Bateman shoehorns ‘occupation’ into Holocaust remembrance report

January 22nd saw the appearance of an article titled ‘Holocaust row bubbles as leaders gather in Israel’ in the ‘Features’ section of the BBC News website’s ‘Middle East’ page.

Written by the BBC Jerusalem bureau’s Tom Bateman, the article’s main theme is what he describes as “a row about the distortion of history by rival nationalist leaders in Europe”.

Referring to the Polish president, Bateman tells readers that:

“Mr Duda has said he will not attend this week’s Holocaust remembrance ceremony at Yad Vashem, the official memorial centre in Jerusalem. […]

Mr Duda complained that he has not been allowed to address the audience, whereas Mr Putin and other leaders will speak.”

He goes on to claim that what he again describes as “the row” over speaking arrangements at the Jerusalem event “has aggravated a bitter dispute between Russia and Poland – whose leaders have been armflexing over the war’s legacy”.

Bateman gives an overview of that Russian and Polish “armflexing” – which of course has been going on independently of the Jerusalem conference and which, as the BBC has itself reported, has its roots in a European Parliament resolution dating from last September.

He then moves on to the topic of the Polish legislation of 2018:

“Two years ago the Polish government made it illegal to say that the country was complicit in Nazi crimes during the Holocaust.

After an international outcry it later deleted parts of the law, but the controversy then engulfed Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

He supported the partial u-turn by signing a joint statement with the Polish prime minister.

That move was condemned by Yad Vashem who said the statement contained “grave errors and deceptions” and harmed the “historical memory of the Holocaust”.

Mr Netanyahu defended his move saying he had consulted Yad Vashem’s chief historian.”

Bateman’s literal ‘bottom line’ to a story ostensibly about Russian and Polish polemics relating to World War Two and the Holocaust comes in a section sub-headed ‘Betrayal of the Holocaust’. There he manages to reframe the story by uncritically quoting a contributor whose highly relevant political opinions are not revealed to BBC audiences – in clear breach of BBC editorial guidelines relating to “Contributors’ Affiliations”.

“But among his [Netanyahu’s] critics was the Israeli historian Prof Zeev Sternhell, a Jewish survivor of the Holocaust in Poland who escaped the Warsaw Ghetto as a child with the help of two Polish families.

He accuses Mr Netanyahu of embracing ultra-nationalists in Europe because they provide a counterweight to the EU’s “liberal wing” of France and Germany who are critical of Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian Territories.

“In order to get that alliance working he’s ready to pay a heavy price… And the heavy price is a betrayal of the Holocaust,” he says.” [emphasis added]

Significantly, Bateman did not bother to remind readers of more recent events which can hardly be described as “embracing” the Polish stance.

Neither did he offer readers any contrasting view to the predictably controversial claim from Professor Sternhell that Israel’s prime minister is ‘betraying’ the Holocaust in order to counter criticism of “Israel’s occupation” and apparently neither did he offer the right of reply to that allegation. 

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BBC deletes Tweet promoting programme about Yiddish

A BBC World Service Tweet advertising a radio programme about Yiddish caused quite a stir on January 3rd.

Several hours later that Tweet was deleted.

Such crass euphemism is fortunately absent from the programme itself – “Yiddish: A story of survival” – and its synopsis states:

“At its height, Yiddish, the language of the European Jews, was spoken by more than ten million people, from Russia in the east to the Netherlands in the West. But by the mid -20th century, these numbers were severely depleted following the Holocaust, and then the creation of the modern-day state of Israel where the speaking of Yiddish was discouraged.”

From 20:35 listeners to the programme get a more comprehensive explanation of “the factors that led to the demise of Yiddish around the mid-twentieth century” from one of the programme’s contributors.

That of course raises the question of whether whoever was operating the BBC World Service Twitter account at the time actually bothered to listen to the programme or at least read its synopsis before composing that miserable Tweet.

BBC News turns media blunder into story about Israeli PM’s ‘comment’

On February 17th the BBC News website published a report titled “Poland PM cancels Israel trip after Netanyahu’s Holocaust comment”.

The story – which had in fact begun several days earlier – was presented to readers as follows:

“PM Mateusz Morawiecki has cancelled a trip to Israel following comments on the Holocaust by Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu.

Mr Netanyahu was quoted in Israeli media as saying “Poles co-operated with the Germans” during the Holocaust.

He later issued a clarification saying he was not referring to the Polish nation or all Polish people.”

Under the sub-heading “What were Mr Netanyahu’s comments?” readers were later told that:

“Mr Netanyahu was on a state visit to Poland on Thursday when his comments were reported in Israeli media, including Haaretz and the Jerusalem Post.

The Jerusalem Post said its version used the term “Polish nation”, which it said it quickly amended.

Mr Netanyahu’s office issued a clarification, saying: “In a briefing, PM Netanyahu spoke of Poles and not the Polish people or the country of Poland.””

Linking to a Tweet, the BBC’s report went on to state that:

“Mr Morawiecki took to Twitter to say there was “no Polish regime” during the Nazi occupation of Poland.”

The BBC did not bother to explain that it was not clear whether that Tweet from the Polish prime minister related to Mr Netanyahu’s misquoted statement or to a different story involving an American journalist.

The BBC’s portrayal obviously does not provide readers with a clear understanding of the story. The Times of Israel explains what actually happened:

“Top Polish politicians were thrown into a frenzy Thursday after reports emerged that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in Warsaw for an international conference on the Middle East, had said that “the Poles cooperated with the Nazis” during the Holocaust.

Warsaw was apparently particularly riled by a story in The Jerusalem Post, which initially mischaracterized the Israeli leader’s quote as saying the Polish nation had cooperated with the Nazis. […]

Several reporters in the room reported Netanyahu had said “the.” But the Prime Minister’s Office spokeswoman Shir Cohen later played reporters a recording of the conversation in which it was clear the prime minister had indeed not used the definite article.

As for The Jerusalem Post’s error, Cohen told The Times of Israel: “The prime minister’s comments concerning Poland were misquoted by The Jerusalem Post, which quickly issued a correction clarifying that an error had been made in the editing of the article.””

So this is in fact a story about Polish politicians jumping to conclusions following a media accuracy error.

BBC audiences unfamiliar with the story would however have been unlikely to understand that from the report’s headline – “Netanyahu’s Holocaust comment” – and opening paragraphs which refer to “comments on the Holocaust…by Benjamin Netanyahu”.  

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Antisemitic smear in BBC employee’s HMD tweet

On Holocaust Memorial Day – January 27th – the results of a survey showing among other things that 5% of UK adults do not believe that the Holocaust happened were published by the UK’s Holocaust Memorial Day Trust.

In a Tweet relating to that survey BBC employee Masoud Behnoud wrote (as confirmed by a professional translator):

“This [lack of knowledge about the Holocaust] happens in a situation where the financial and political power of Jews has been publicising/promoting it [i.e. knowledge about the Holocaust] for half a century.” [emphasis added]

As we have unfortunately had cause to note here on numerous occasions in the past, the BBC has editorial guidelines on the personal use of social media.

While those guidelines do not include any specific mention of the topic of the promotion of antisemitic themes on microblogs run by BBC employees – apparently because the BBC does not expect to be employing people who engage in that or any other form of racism – they do state that people “identified as a BBC staff member or BBC talent…should not post derogatory or offensive comments on the Internet”.

Despite promoting his own BBC programmes in his timeline, Masoud Behnoud however does not identify himself as a BBC employee in his Twitter profile.

 

 

Weekend long read

1) At the Times of Israel Julie Masis tells “The unknown story of Moroccan Holocaust survivors“.

“Between 1940 and November of 1942 when the Americans landed in Morocco, Moroccan Jews also had to abide by discriminatory laws: Jewish children were expelled from schools, Jews were fired from government jobs, and there were quotas on how many Jews could attend universities or work as doctors, lawyers and pharmacists, said Robert Satloff, the executive director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, who wrote a book about the Holocaust in Arab countries. […]

Historians also say that had American troops not landed in North Africa in 1942, Moroccan Jewry — which numbered approximately 250,000 during WWII — may have also been sent to the death camps.

According to documents that outline the Final Solution, Hitler had planned to exterminate 700,000 French Jews – a number that makes sense only if the Jews in French North Africa are included, Satloff said.”

2) Terry Glavin documents “The untold story of the dramatic, Canadian-led rescue of Syria’s White Helmets“.

“It started with a telephone call, just before the Canada Day weekend. It was Nadera Al-Sukkar from Mayday Rescue, the British-based foundation that serves as the Syria Civil Defence White Helmets’ administrative agency in Jordan. “She sounded really scared,” is the way Peter MacDougall, Canada’s ambassador to Jordan, remembers the call. Al-Sukkar wasn’t the type of person who scared easily. “She’s usually really impressive, but really low key.”

The way Al-Sukkar remembers it, the situation was desperate, and calling MacDougall was a long shot. Hundreds of thousands of civilians were streaming out of the towns and cities of Dara’a and Quneitra, Syria’s southern governorates. Medical clinics were being targeted and bombed. The White Helmets—Syria’s famous civilian emergency first responders—were in Bashar al-Assad’s crosshairs again, just as they had been in the hellholes of Aleppo, Douma, Ghouta and Homs.”

3) At the Algemeiner Shiri Moshe reports on a new study of Palestinian Authority school books.

“Israel is routinely referred to as the “Zionist Occupation” within the curriculum, including in contexts before the 1967 Six-Day War, in which it came to control the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and eastern portions of Jerusalem.

Various areas within Israel are described as Palestinian, with a geography textbook for 12th graders stating that the “Negev Plateau is located in southern Palestine,” while a entrepreneurship textbook for the same grade claims that the Israeli city of Nazareth is located in the “Palestinian North.””

4) Amos Yadlin, Zvi Magen and Vera Michlin-Shapir analyse “The Crisis over the Downed Russian Plane” at the INSS.

“The downing of the Russian Il-20 plane by the Syrians on the night of September 17, 2018 has become one of the most complex incidents in the framework of Russia-Israel relations, at least since the start of Russia’s intervention in Syria in October 2015. Following an Israeli attack in the Latakia region, a Syrian SA-5 anti-aircraft battery struck a Russian reconnaissance plane, which crashed into the sea, killing its crew of 15. Although it was Syria that failed to identify the Russian plane, Russia chose to blame Israel for the incident. However, it appears that both Russia and Israel still have a fundamental interest in continuing the good relations between them and maintaining their understandings in Syria. The recent announcement by the Russian Ministry of Defense about the transfer of advanced S-300 systems to Syria changes little in this regard, since Israel is well-equipped to withstand this challenge. However, it puts Russia and Israel on a precarious path and may signal that Russia has broader political motivations in this crisis.”

 

BBC News website omits key information in Polish Holocaust law report

In late January and early February of this year the BBC devoted quite a lot of reporting to what was described in one programme as “Poland’s controversial WW2 death camps law”.

BBC ignores its own previous reporting in coverage of Polish bill

BBC R4 ‘Today’ impartiality fail in item on Polish Holocaust bill

BBC WS tells listeners to go online for part of a story it didn’t tell

As was noted here at the time, the BBC elected to present that story largely through the context-free narrow perspective of the objections of Israeli politicians.

When the lower house of the Polish parliament passed amendments to that law on June 27th the BBC News website published a report titled “Poland Holocaust law: Government U-turn on jail threat“.

“When Poland made it a criminal offence this year to accuse it of complicity in Nazi war crimes, there was an outcry in Europe, Israel and the US. […]

Five months later, the right-wing prime minister has moved to change the law to decriminalise the offence, describing it as a “correction”.

An amendment to the Holocaust law was quickly backed by the lower house of parliament and now moves to the Senate.”

A section of the report headed “Why has Poland backtracked on Holocaust law?” explained the move to readers as follows:

“The government was surprised, however, by the widespread outrage the law caused, especially from two key Polish allies, Israel and the US, which saw it as an attempt to deny historical truth and muzzle testimony and research into the period.

The law also provoked a brief explosion of anti-Semitic feeling on social media and elsewhere in Poland.

But it’s the harm the dispute has done to Poland’s relations with the US and Israel that has caused the government to take this step.”

Despite the BBC having reported in early March on “talks in Jerusalem”, readers of this article were not told of the joint statement put out by the Israeli and Polish prime ministers on June 27th or of the fact that – as Ha’aretz reported – task forces established by the two governments brought about in the amendment passed by the Polish parliament.

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Polish counterpart Matthias Morawiecki issued a joint statement on Wednesday, following Poland’s decision to amend a controversial law that criminalized anybody accusing the Polish nation of complicity in Nazi crimes

Netanyahu stated that in recent months Israel had been in contact with Poland about the law and that the two countries reached an agreement on an amended version of the law. “I am pleased that they have decided to completely cancel the clauses that have caused uproar and dissatisfaction in Israel and the international community. […]

Netanyahu added that Israel and Poland had established task forces to reach a compromise acceptable to both countries following Israeli criticism of the law and Polish defense of it.” 

Obviously that information is essential to audience understanding of why the Polish government made the “U-turn” described in this report’s headline.

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 WS tells listeners to go online for part of a story it didn’t tell

The February 17th evening edition of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newshour‘ included an item described in its synopsis as being about “Poland’s controversial WW2 death camps law”.

Presenter Rebecca Kesby introduced the item (from 14:06 here) as follows: [emphasis in italics in the original, emphasis in bold added]

Kesby: “Last month the Polish parliament approved a bill to make it illegal to accuse Poland of complicity in the crimes of the Nazis during the Second World War. At least six million Poles were killed – about half of them Jewish. Many more fled the country. There’s no question that the country suffered horribly but lately a row has erupted about those Poles who may have colluded with the Nazis and why that word – colluded – is so contentious. Today at a panel discussion at the International Security Conference in Munich, an Israeli journalist challenged the Polish prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki about the new law. Here’s part of Ronen Bergman’s challenge.”

Listeners then heard a recording of Ronen Bergman speaking during the Q&A session.

Bergman: “Both my parents were born in Poland – my late mother and my father. My mother received a special prize for good Polish from the Polish minister of education when she was five. Then the war started and they lost much of their family because their neighbours – their Polish neighbours – snitched to the Gestapo that they are holding Jews. My mother was able to save much of her family because she heard during the night that the neighbours are going to tell that they have Jews in their vicinity to the SS the next morning. And after the war my mother swore that she will never speak Polish for the rest of her life – not even a single word. If I understand correctly, after this law is legislated I will be considered a criminal in your country for saying this. What is the purpose, what is the message that you are trying to convey in the world? You are creating the opposite reaction and just attracting more attention to these atrocities. Thank you.”

However, BBC World Service listeners did not hear the Polish prime minister’s response (which can be seen here) and so they did not know that he began by saying:

“It’s extremely important to first understand that, of course, it’s not going to be punishable, not going to be seen as criminal to say that there were Polish perpetrators – as there were Jewish perpetrators, as there were Russian perpetrators, as there were Ukrainian…. not only German perpetrators.” [emphasis added]

Kesby made no effort to inform listeners of that obviously crucial part of the story before going on to introduce Ronen Bergman.

Kesby: “Well a short time [sic] we managed to get through to Ronen Bergman and he told us more about his challenge.”

Listeners then heard Bergman’s comments on the Polish prime minister’s remarks – without having heard the statements themselves and without it being clarified that “he” refers to Morawiecki.

Bergman: “[….] He did not admit that there were Polish collaborators. He did not use that word; he said perpetrators and the use of that word  – while saying in the same line, in the same sentence, that there were Polish as well as Jews – so like making one line connecting all of them – he said these were perpetrators – meaning criminals – who mushroomed – that was the word that he said – who mushroomed in the sense…so the subtext is basically this: there were criminals in Poland, some of them were Jews, some of them were Poles, and they were the ones who gave Jews to the Gestapo. This is nothing but Holocaust denial and an outrageous lie.”

Kesby then asked:

Kesby: “These terrible events are seventy years old. Why is this such a current issue now?”

Bergman: “Because Poland – or elements in Poland as well as in some other Eastern European countries – are trying to rewrite the history of the Holocaust and there should not be any debate. […] But the Nazi Germans they were the ones who initiated the extermination and they were the ones who managed it. But there were many, many people of some of the local countries that were under German occupation who assisted them and much of the Holocaust could not have been executed without them. Now some of these countries are now trying to say that they were nothing but victims and the Polish government have gone to a much further extent to say that if someone says anything else he’s a criminal.”

Kesby: “And why do you think that it the case? Why do you think there is this sensitivity to admitting what has happened in the past?”

Bergman: “Well I think that nobody wants to admit that he was part of the most vicious crime in the history of humanity. And I think that these countries basically are trying to say that the Germans – and only the Germans – are to blame. They want retribution – meaning compensation – and taking from their shoulders any kind of guilt. […] You know this sort of narrative is something that we always suspected still exists but I think that we have never heard from such a senior official of these countries speaking this language.”

Obviously having belatedly realised that listeners had not heard the remarks from the Polish prime minister’s that were the subject matter of this interview, Kesby closed the item by saying:

Kesby: “That was Israeli journalist Ronen Bergman there and apologies – there wasn’t the full exchange there as I anticipated, of his exchange with the Polish prime minister but it is available online if you’d like to do a search and see both sides of the argument.”

The newly appointed Director of the BBC World Service group recently claimed that BBC World Service radio’s English services “remain the gold standard for international news” and that:

“With global concern growing about disinformation, ‘fake news’ and media literacy, the World Service Group has never been in a stronger position to show the way forward. We spot the stories, see the patterns and make sense of the world for our audiences.”

Obviously sending audiences to “do a search” on the internet in order to find for themselves the crucial part of a story is hardly “the gold standard” of news provision.