BBC News amplifies a false story of the ‘dark Israel’ genre

On July 12th the BBC News website’s Middle East page ran an article headlined “Israel army names new chief rabbi criticised over rape comments” which opened by informing readers that:Chief Rabbi art

“Israel’s military has nominated a new chief rabbi criticised for remarks he made in the past that seemed to condone the rape of non-Jewish women in war.

In an answer to a religious website in 2002, Rabbi Colonel Eyal Karim implied that such an act was permissible.”

The link in that second paragraph directs BBC audiences to the English language version of an article published by Yediot Aharonot in Hebrew on its Ynet website, as well as in print, on the day that this BBC News article appeared.

As the respected media watchdog website ‘The Seventh Eye’ showed on the same day, Yediot Aharonot’s story – including the alleged ‘quotes’ it promotes – is false.

The BBC has enough Hebrew speakers working in its Jerusalem bureau to have been able to determine that amplification of Yediot Aharonot’s false claims is not in line with the BBC’s professed standards of accuracy and that is perhaps why the subsequent paragraph read as follows:

“He [Rabbi Karim]  clarified in 2012 that his words had been taken out of context and that rape was forbidden “in any situation”.”

Nevertheless, the next 96 words of the article were devoted to the amplification of vacuous reactions to the non-story which were lifted directly from the linked Ynet article.chief rabbi art on hp

“But his appointment, which requires the defence minister’s approval, was condemned by a top female politician.

Zehava Galon, leader of the Meretz party, described Rabbi Karim as “not suitable to represent Jewish morality in any way whatsoever”.

“His appalling, racist and violent statement makes women fair game,” she added.

The head of the Israeli parliament’s Committee on the Status of Women and Gender Equality, Aida Touma-Sliman of the Joint Arab List, said: “Col Karim’s ruling on permitting raping non-Jewish women is similar to the fatwa of a murderous organisation that’s not so far from Israel’s borders.””

That was followed by a response from the IDF.

So what was the point of the BBC’s amplification of this second-hand non-story? Obviously it certainly wasn’t to report news or contribute to audiences’ “understanding of international issues” because the ‘news’ is false and the issue non-existent.

Rather, this is yet another BBC report belonging to the ‘dark Israel’ genre: the succession of stories which – often with little or no regard for accuracy – paint a portrait of a country parting ways with democracy that is rife with racism, sexism, xenophobia, government censorship and more.  

The publication of articles such as this of course does nothing to support the BBC’s claim that its reporting from Israel reporting is “impartial” and professional. 

Which country is absent from the BBC’s list of international aid efforts in the Philippines?

On November 10th a lead team of experts in search & rescue and medicine from the IDF’s Home Front Command left Israel and travelled the 6,000 miles to the typhoon-stricken Philippines in order to assess the needs of the local population.

On the basis of that lead team’s assessments, a delegation set out for the Philippines on the morning of November 13th. In addition to around 100 tons of humanitarian aid and medical supplies, the mission includes 150 team members from the IDF Home Front Command’s Search & Rescue Unit and from the IDF Medical Corps. A field hospital is being set up and live updates are available here and here

IDF mission to Philippines

Among the BBC’s coverage of the disaster appearing on the homepage of its website is an article from November 13th titled “Typhoon Haiyan: UK’s Philippines appeal raises £13m“.

The article includes a side-box headed “Aid From Around the World”, another version of which also appears in this report and in this one. As readers can see for themselves, one country’s contribution – already present on the ground – is absent from that list. 

Aid from around the world

BBC WS programme on women in military combat roles ignores one country

The synopsis of a BBC World Service radio programme titled “Women on the Frontline” which was broadcast on October 22nd 2013 informs audiences that its presenter Emma Barnett:

“…examines which countries in the world do allow women to serve, and contrasts the experiences of these three women to present a picture of life for women on the military front line.” [emphasis added]

Women on the Frontline BBC WS

Whilst the list of countries in which women serve in combat roles as provided by Barnett is extensive and numbers some fourteen states, the only country in which women are conscripted and in which 92% of positions are open to them is excluded from her list.