BBC News report on PSC and BDS fails to explain either

On March 13th an article headlined “UK pro-Palestinian activist deported from Israel” appeared on the BBC News website’s UK and Middle East pages.

The first two paragraphs of the later version of the report summarise the story as follows:

“A UK activist has been blocked from entering Israel because of his support for a movement urging a boycott of the country, Israeli officials say.

Hugh Lanning, chairman of the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign, was deported after arriving on Sunday.”

Readers are next told that:

“It comes days after Israel passed a law barring entry to foreign backers of the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.

The PSC says the law violates basic “freedoms essential to democracy”.”

Rather than referring merely to “backers” of the BDS campaign as the BBC claims, the amendment to the ‘Entry to Israel Act’ which was passed on March 6th in fact states: (translation BBC Watch)

“A visa or residence permit of any sort will not be granted to a person who is not an Israeli citizen or holder of a permanent residence permit in Israel, if s/he, or the organisation or body on behalf of which s/he acts, knowingly issued a public call to boycott the State of Israel as defined in the Prevention of Damage to the State of Israel Caused by Boycotts Act of 2011, or pledged to take part in any such boycott.”

However, having amplified the PSC’s opinion on the subject of legislation in a foreign country, the BBC report then goes on to state that the amendment concerned is not connected to the story.

“Israel’s Immigration Authority said Mr Lanning was not stopped due to the new law, but instead on the discretion of Interior Minister Aryeh Deri and Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan.

It also released an image showing Mr Lanning in a meeting with the then-leader of the Palestinian militant group Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, in 2012.”

Nevertheless, later on in the report readers find further amplification of the PSC’s politicised messaging and repetition of the notion that Lanning was denied entry to Israel under the new legislation.

“Ben Jamal, director of the PSC, said Mr Lanning was “the first victim” of the new law and that he believes he is now “permanently barred” from the country.

He added: “If Israel believes that by introducing these draconian undemocratic laws it will intimidate its critics into silence it is mistaken.”

Mr Jamal called on the UK government to condemn the ban of a British citizen “whose only crime is to advocate for human rights”.”

As has been noted here on numerous occasions in the past, when reporting on the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel, the BBC consistently refrains from informing its audiences what that campaign aims to achieve and in August 2015, we learned that the BBC considers the provision of such background information “not our role“. It is therefore unsurprising to see that this report similarly fails to provide readers with the context – obviously relevant to the story’s subject matter – of what lies behind the anti-Israel BDS campaign that the PSC promotes.

As regular readers are aware, members of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign sometimes appear in BBC content (most recently on BBC One just a few weeks ago) and in 2014 the PSC was the foreign NGO that received the most promotion in BBC Israel-related content – in part because of the BBC’s generous but selective coverage of anti-Israel demonstrations organised by the group that summer.

In 2011, while reporting on the banning of an Israeli from the UK on the grounds that his presence in that country was “not conducive to the public good”, the BBC was able to describe one of the opponents to the Home Secretary’s decision as follows:

“Sheikh Salah’s supporters in Britain include the radical Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), which has promoted an annual march attended by supporters of the Iranian Hezbollah group and Hamas and which has also given a platform to the extremist Hizb ut-Tahrir group.” [emphasis added]

London, January 2014. Right to Left: Hugh Lanning PSC, Mohammad Sawalha, Mohammad Kozbar, Zaher Birawi (see last two ‘related articles’ below)

In this latest report, however, the BBC avoids informing audiences in its own words of the PSC’s activities, despite there being plenty of information available in the public domain concerning the group’s links to Hamas and its supporters, its perennial delegitimisation of Israel and its promotion of the BDS campaign.

Instead, this report provides readers with a ‘he said/she said’ account of the PSC’s raison d’être – and directs them to the PSC website via a link.

“His [Lanning’s] organisation, the PSC, says it campaigns for “justice and equality for Palestinians”. However Israel says its true aim is to delegitimise the Jewish state.

A statement from the Embassy of Israel in London said PSC “leads the campaign in the UK to demonise and boycott Israel”.

It added: “Lanning is associated with the leaders of Hamas, which is designated as a terror group across the European Union; a group whose anti-Semitic charter calls for killing all Jews.”

Clearly this report does not provide BBC audiences with the range of information necessary for their complete understanding of the story.

Related Articles:

BBC Breakfast’s Jenny Hill enables PSC antisemitism washing

BBC’s ‘Today’ programme ‘should know better’ than to engage in covert promotion of the PSC’s agenda

Hugging Antisemitism and Holocaust Denial. Welcome to the PSC! (David Collier – Harry’s Place)

BBC’s capitulation to political pressure on Gaza casualty figures: tip of a bigger iceberg?

BBC Radio 4 fails to clarify the agenda of the BDS campaign and the PSC

CiF Watch Special Report: Extremists & terror supporters organizing ‘Global March to Jerusalem’ (UK Media Watch)

CiF Watch Special Report on extremists behind ‘Global March to Jerusalem’: Pt 2, Europe Chapter  (UK Media Watch) 

 

BBC Breakfast’s Jenny Hill enables PSC antisemitism washing

Has the Western media’s chosen focus and style of coverage of the hostilities in Israel and the Gaza Strip contributed to the spike in recent antisemitic incidents in Europe in general and the UK in particular? That question could probably keep several doctoral students busy for quite some time, along with the equally relevant question of whether or not events in the Middle East actually foster antisemitism or if in fact racist reactions to those events are really the product of pre-existing antisemitic attitudes.

Here is a report produced by Jenny Hill of BBC Breakfast News on August 7th – “Gaza conflict: UK police record rise in anti-Semitism” – which edges audiences towards the view that it is the events themselves which cause antisemitism. Hill opens:Jenny Hill 7 8

“So many deaths. So much misery. A conflict whose consequences are felt worldwide.”

The item then cuts to an interview with the CST’s Mark Gardner, followed by other interviews with members of the Jewish community and then footage from a London demonstration with a speaker almost screaming:

“The death toll is increasing. It’s over sixteen hundred now. Most of them are young children.”

That latter claim is obviously not true but nevertheless, whoever edited this report elected to include it anyway and Hill follows that section of footage by saying:

“Of course there is tension.”

Her closing words clarify the message further:

“For now, difficult questions: how to stop what’s been described as an endless cycle of suffering. How to calm the hatred it engenders.”

Remarkable too is the fact that the report includes an interview with Hugh Lanning of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign – one of the organisers of several demonstrations in the UK during the last few weeks. Lanning says:

“We’re very clear that…err… antisemitism or any form of racism isn’t tolerated on any of our protests and actually be a distraction from the main purpose. Our opposition is to what the Israeli government with the support of the US and the UK government is doing and that’s where we want the focus to be.”

Leaving aside the issue that the PSC’s logo itself eradicates the one and only Jewish state from the map, the fact that the BBC provides Lanning with an unchallenged platform from which to airbrush the antisemitism which has been seen (not for the first time by any stretch of the imagination) at three London demonstrations it helped organise which took place prior to this interview is obviously a problem.

The picture below was taken by Richard Millett at the July 11th demonstration organized, inter alia, by the PSC.

London demo 11 7

These photographs were taken at the demonstration organized by the PSC and others on July 19th in London by Michael Ezra – see more on his Twitter feed here.

London demo 19 7

London demo 19 7 b

London demo 19 7 c

The PSC and fellow travellers also organized another demonstration in London on July 26th and these pictures were taken by Michael Ezra at that event.

London demo 26 7 a

London demo 26 7 b

London demo 26 7 c

And yet, Jenny Hill – who of course works for an organization committed to editorial standards of accuracy – saw no reason to challenge the obvious falsehoods promoted by Lanning and even provided them with backwind and the BBC’s stamp of reliability.