A terrorist defies the BBC’s narrative

Over the past two years visitors to the BBC News website have repeatedly read the following statement in reports usually – but not exclusively – concerning terror attacks:

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

Examples of such messaging in reports from the last few months alone include:

Israeli policewoman stabbed to death in Jerusalem June 16th 2017

Israeli police killed in attack near Jerusalem holy site July 14th 2017

Three Israelis stabbed to death in West Bank attack July 21st 2017

Palestinian gunman kills three Israelis in West Bank  September 26th 2017

Interpol approves Palestinian membership despite Israeli opposition  September 27th 2017

That narrative complies with ‘media guidance’ put out by the PLO in November 2015.

In addition to the fact that the BBC has made very little effort to explain to its audiences why Israeli officials cite Palestinian incitement as a factor underpinning the violence, it has also serially avoided the issue of the religious motivations behind some such attacks.

This week the Hamas affiliated perpetrator of an attack that took place three and a half years ago was sentenced to two terms of life imprisonment.

“Ziad Awad, the terrorist who was convicted of murdering Chief Superintendent Baruch Mizrahi and wounding his wife Hadas in April 2014, was sentenced to two life sentences on Monday.

The presiding judge also took into account that Awad had carried out the attack despite being one of the terrorists released as part of the Gilad Shalit deal.

Baruch Mizrahi was killed on the eve of Passover while driving with his wife Hadas and five children to the West Bank settlement of Kiryat Arba, to take part in the Passover Seder (feast).

Awad, who is a resident of the Palestinian West Bank town of Idhna, opened fire on the vehicle, killing Baruch, seriously injuring Hadas and lightly wounding one of their children.”

The BBC initially reported that attack in a belated thirty-four word paragraph and subsequent reporting failed to clarify that the incident was a terror attack. The terrorist’s arrest and indictment did not receive any BBC coverage and so audiences did not receive any information concerning the motive behind the murder.

“Before launching the attack, Awad confided in his son that he had religious motivation, saying that, “according to Islam, whoever kills a Jew goes to heaven.””

Such cases do not of course fit into the BBC’s chosen narrative of Palestinian terrorism caused by “frustration” at “decades of Israeli occupation” and audiences therefore do not get to hear about them.

 

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Facile BBC News report on PA’s Interpol membership

Visitors to the BBC News website’s Middle East page on September 27th were informed that “Interpol approves Palestinian membership” and:

“Palestinians hail a ‘victory’ made possible by the ‘principled position’ of the agency’s members”

The link led to an article titled “Interpol approves Palestinian membership despite Israeli opposition” in which the source of that BBC sub-heading was revealed.

“Interpol has admitted the Palestinian territories as a new member, despite opposition from Israel.

The international policing body backed membership for “the State of Palestine” at its annual general assembly.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki declared the news a “victory”, made possible by the “principled position” of most Interpol members.

Israel tried to delay the vote, arguing that Palestine was not a state and therefore ineligible for membership.”

Later on readers found another quote from al-Maliki:

“”On this joyous occasion, the State of Palestine reiterates its commitment to upholding its obligations and contributing to fighting crime and furthering the rule of law,” Mr Maliki said in a statement.”

That was followed by a quote from a Tweet sent by an Israeli politician:

“Israel’s Deputy Minister for Diplomacy, Michael Oren, criticised the vote, writing on Twitter: “By admitting ‘Palestine’, which praises terrorists of the past and refuses to condemn those of today, Interpol makes the world less safe.””

The BBC did not however provide readers with any information in its own words on obviously relevant issues such as the PA’s payment of financial rewards to terrorists and their families or the fact that alongside the new item of membership dues to Interpol, the PA’s annual budget includes salaries for convicted terrorists. Neither did the BBC consider it necessary to raise the question of Interpol membership for an entity currently negotiating power-sharing with a designated terror organisation.

Given the PA’s record on human rights, the question of the abuse of Interpol membership for factional score-settling is also relevant – particularly in light of a statement reported by the Times of Israel:

“A senior Palestinian official said there were no plans to sue any Israelis through Interpol. He said the purpose is “to pursue criminals who commit crimes here and escape.”

He said one target would be Mohammed Dahlan, a rival of Abbas.”

The tone of this report would have come as no surprise to anyone following regional BBC staff on social media.

The last five paragraphs of this report include promotion of a link to the BBC News website’s recent report on the terror attack in Har Adar (which did not describe the incident as terrorism or the attacker as a terrorist) and standard recycled ‘background’ inserts that amplify PLO messaging on the topic of Palestinian terrorism.

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

While that paragraph has been seen in countless BBC News website reports over the last two years, audiences continue to be deprived of serious reporting on incitement to violence from official Palestinian sources or on the Palestinian Authority’s funding of terrorists – topics relevant to this particular story as well as numerous others.

Related Articles:

PA’s salaries for terrorists in the news again – but not at the BBC

BBC News silence on PA terror rewards continues

BBC WS report on Har Adar attack avoids narrative-conflicting issues

The September 26th edition of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newshour‘ included (from 33:54 here) a report supposedly about the terror attack that took place at Har Adar earlier the same day.

Unsurprisingly, presenter Julian Marshall portrayed the attack without using the words terror or terrorist: [emphasis in italics in the original]

Marshall: “Let’s go now to Israel where President Trump’s Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt has arrived in Jerusalem to try to revive Israel-Palestinian peace talks and shortly before his arrival there was a shooting incident on the occupied West Bank in which three Israelis were shot dead by a Palestinian gunman who was himself later killed by police. The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blamed the attack on what he called ‘Palestinian incitement’. The BBC’s Yolande Knell joins us now from Jerusalem and, Yolande, first tell us a bit more about that shooting incident.”

Knell: “Well the attack happened early this morning at Har Adar settlement. It’s just north-west of Jerusalem, just inside the occupied West Bank, and there are Palestinian workers there who were – with Israeli permits – going to work inside the settlement. They were queuing up for security checks. This man was among them and he had a work permit but his behaviour made security staff suspicious. When they asked him to stop he pulled out a gun and he shot and killed two of the private security guards from the settlement and one Israeli policeman as well. There was another security official who was badly injured and then the Palestinian man himself was shot dead. I was in the area just afterwards as an ambulance raced past. All surrounding roads were blocked off with a very heavy security presence.”

Marshall: “And…err…what has prompted the prime minister to blame the attack on ‘Palestinian incitement’?”

With BBC audiences being serially under-informed about Palestinian incitement, that question (notwithstanding the scoffing tone in which it was voiced) obviously provided an opportunity to enhance listeners’ understanding of the issue. Yolande Knell did not however step up to the plate.

Knell: “This is something that we have regularly seen from the Israeli prime minister. He also called on the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas to condemn the shooting and his deputy foreign minister Tzipi Hotovely linked this to the arrival of the US envoy Jason Greenblatt – he’s back here trying to revive the moribund peace process. She said that the Palestinians meant this as a reception for him and she suggested that the US should focus on getting the Palestinian leader to condemn such acts of violence before any peace initiative could be launched. And we’ve heard this a lot from Israeli leaders recently.”

In addition to side-stepping the very relevant topic of incitement, Knell also avoided a no less important subject raised by Tzipi Hotovely in the statement partly paraphrased by Knell.

“The terrible attack this morning in Har Adar is the reception that the Palestinians prepared for US envoy Greenblatt,” she [Hotovely] said in a statement. “The American efforts must focus first of all on stopping the murderous Palestinian terror before anything else. There can be no negotiations with those who only fan the flames of terrorism and continue to pay the families of terrorists.”

The issue of the PA’s payment of salaries to convicted terrorists, allocation of benefits to released prisoners and payments to the families of terrorists killed while carrying out attacks is one about which BBC audiences know next to nothing. Knell, however, sidelined that issue too and – choosing her words carefully – went on:

Knell: “Of course it’s very difficult for Palestinian leaders to come out..ehm…condemning individual attacks because many of these…err…attackers would be seen…by…many Palestinians as being heroes of some kind while the Israelis would see them as being terrorist. And there was actually a senior member of President Abbas’ Fatah movement who came out saying that Israel alone bears responsibility for what he called the crimes of the occupation. And then the…err…Palestinian militant group Hamas as well; their spokesman told the BBC…ahm…that this was a natural reaction – those were his words – to the occupation and he praised this attack.”

Knell did not bother to inform listeners that Abbas’ Fatah party glorified the terrorist on social media or that among the so-called “crimes of the occupation” cited by that Fatah “senior member” was “the incessant invasions by the herds of settlers of the Al-Aqsa Mosque plazas”. 

Marshall then gave Knell the cue for a typically tepid and obfuscating portrayal of the breakdown of negotiations in 2014.

Marshall: “Ahm…Yolande, you referred to those…err…peace talks as moribund. In fact so moribund you’re going to have to remind us when the two sides last sat down to talk to each other.”

Knell: “Well it’s now three years since…eh…the peace talks – the last round of peace talks – which were brokered by the US – ehm…fell apart. And Jason Greenblatt is back, trying to help President Trump work towards what he’s called the ultimate deal but there have been many signs that this is not gathering momentum. Palestinian leaders making complaints that the US is not pressuring Israel to curb its construction of Jewish settlements on land they want for their future state.”

Knell of course knows full well that the phrase “construction of Jewish settlements” is inaccurate and misleading, with no new communities having been constructed for decades. She closed her report with the BBC’s standard – yet partial – mantra on ‘international law’.

Knell: “Of course settlements are seen as illegal under international law, although Israel disagrees with that. And the other complicating factor that we have to remember are [sic] these fresh signs of reconciliation between the two main Palestinian political factions; between Hamas and Fatah. Ehm…they’ve just said in the last week or so that they want to work towards a unity government; expected to have more on that and Hamas of course is seen by the US, by Israel, by the EU and others as being a terrorist group.”

In conclusion, listeners to this report ostensibly about a terror attack against Israelis did not hear the words terror or terrorist used in the BBC’s portrayal of the incident. Neither did they learn anything about the three people murdered other than their job descriptions and Yolande Knell carefully avoided narrative-conflicting topics such as the Palestinian Authority’s incitement to violence, glorification of terrorism and financial rewards to terrorists.

However, BBC World Service listeners did hear two references to the “occupied West Bank”, five references to “settlements”, two references to “the occupation” and a one-sided portrayal of international law.

Related Articles:

BBC editorial policy on terror continues in Har Adar attack report

 

Northern Islamic Movement still not getting BBC coverage

During the last two weeks of July the BBC News website published seventeen reports concerning the July 14th terror attack at Lions Gate and the events which followed that incident.

Reviewing BBC ‘historical record’ of the July 2017 Temple Mount story – part one

Reviewing BBC ‘historical record’ of the July 2017 Temple Mount story – part two

Some of those reports were produced by, or included analysis from, two of the BBC’s locally based staff; Yolande Knell and Tom Bateman. Since July 28th, however, neither of those correspondents nor any other has produced any follow-up reporting relating to the events it covered so broadly at the time.

BBC audiences therefore remain unaware of the fact that an accomplice of the three terrorists from Umm al Fahm who carried out the attack that sparked two weeks of increased violence has been charged on counts including accessory to murder.

“Amjad Jabarin was arrested on July 23, nine days after the attack. On Thursday, he was formally charged in a Haifa District Court as an accessory to murder.

According to the indictment, Jabarin trained with the terrorists ahead of the attack, joining them when they went to practice shooting their improvised “Carlo” submachine guns.

The night before the attack, he also drove the three to a soccer field in Umm al-Fahm, which served as a pickup point for a shuttle to the Temple Mount, knowing that they were armed and planning to carry out the shooting, according to the charges against him.”

The BBC’s extensive July coverage did not include reporting on the funerals of the three terrorists in Umm al Fahm or the related incitement and glorification of terrorism on the part of the banned northern Islamic Movement. Given that the BBC has generally avoided the topic of the northern Islamic Movement’s connection to unrest surrounding Temple Mount in the past, those omissions were not particularly surprising. They are nevertheless relevant in light of the fact that the ISA’s investigation showed links between the terrorists and the northern Islamic Movement.

“The Shin Bet said the men came together to plan their attack at the mosque in Umm al-Fahm’s al-Malsaa’ neighborhood.

“The findings of the investigation pointed to a clear link between the al-Malsaa’ mosque and the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement, which was declared an illegal organization in November 2015 and is now considered a terrorist organization,” the agency said.

The Shin Bet noted that one of the gunmen was responsible for maintenance at the mosque and served as its muezzin, the person who performs the call to prayer.

“In addition, connections were found between the assailants and the Islamic Movement, including support for the ideas put out by the movement and through their involvement in organizations that have clear links to the Islamic Movement,” the Shin Bet said.

As an example, the agency noted that the terrorist who served as the al-Malsa’a mosque’s muezzin was once active in the Mourabitoun, a group that often clashed with Israeli security forces on the Temple Mount and was declared illegal in September 2015 over its ties to the Islamic Movement and Hamas.”

Additionally, the BBC has not informed its audience of the public glorification of the terrorist who murdered three members of a family in Halamish on July 21st and severely wounded another. As well as being lauded by PLO and Palestinian Authority officials and in official PA media, the terrorist’s acts were justified by the spokesman for PA’s security forces, who has previously been quoted in BBC content.

Related Articles:

BBC News ignores Northern Islamic Movement ban – in English

The part of the Temple Mount story the BBC refuses to tell

Another Temple Mount related story ignored by the BBC 

 

 

 

A BBC terror indoctrination feature highlights longstanding omission

Last month the BBC website published a special feature by Quentin Sommerville and Riam Dalati titled “An education in terror“.

“On the streets of Europe, we meet teenage boys trained by IS. Their testimony reveals wide-ranging plans to turn children into killers.”

“First came the grooming, then the recruitment and training to create a new army of child jihadists, who might grow into adult militants. The Islamic State’s next generation of hate.”

“Many armed groups across Africa, the Middle East and South America, have trained children for battle. Recruiting child soldiers is a war crime. But few have refined the process so efficiently as the Islamic State group.”

As well as personal stories the feature includes a section with the heading “Curriculum of hate”.

“IS not only concentrated its attention on recruits for the battlefield, it reached deeper into society, into the homes, classrooms, and minds of the youngest children. […]

Just like the Hitler Youth movement indoctrinated children to serve the Nazis’ 1000-year Reich, IS developed a feeder apparatus to regularly inject new blood into its veins. By the time it took full control of Raqqa in the winter of 2014 and turned it into its de-facto capital, the plan to subvert the education system was set in motion.”

Readers learn that ISIS’ focus on indoctrination through ‘education’ began three years ago.

“By July 2014, Mosul had fallen and the caliphate had been declared. The rich Iraqi city, six times bigger than Raqqa, had a lot more to offer in terms of human resources and infrastructure. Now, the Islamic State had both the expertise and the assets to take on the formidable task of drafting its own curriculum from scratch.

“They started in earnest during the fall of 2014, but the Diwan [ministry of education] had been recruiting loyal, ideologically aligned experts all throughout that summer,” Yousef, a Moslawi teacher who lived through that phase, told the BBC. […]

The IS curriculum was finally rolled out for the 2015-2016 school year. Children would enrol at the age of five and graduate at 15, shaving four full years off the traditional school life. They would be educated in 12 various disciplines, but these would be steeped in Islamic State’s doctrine and its world vision.”

This feature – described as a ‘resource’ in its URL – provides the BBC’s audience with information that will enhance their understanding of the ISIS terror group’s ideology and methodology. Interestingly though, the same audience has never been provided with such a resource on a comparable system that pre-dates the ISIS curriculum in Raqqa or Mosul.

The BBC did not report on the topic of child soldiers recruited by Hamas during the 2014 conflict. The paramilitary ‘summer camps’ run by Palestinian factions such as Hamas, Fatah and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad as well as by the PA and PLO have rarely received any BBC coverage. When Lyse Doucet visited a Hamas-run winter camp in Gaza in January 2015, the result was a mere one minute of coverage in her film ‘Children of the Gaza War’, with Doucet telling viewers that:

Hamas summer camp, Gaza 2016

“Some boys as young as Abdul Rahman [phonetic] take part in this first youth camp organized by Hamas’ military wing. It’s for men [sic] aged 15 to 21. Some are clearly younger and at the closing ceremony there’s younger still. For the outside world it’s hard to comprehend why parents would put children in situations like this. Hamas says the camps keep boys off the street and teach values and martial arts for defence. But the young also learn about weapons and hatred: it’s what Hamas calls a culture of resistance.”

Neither have BBC audiences seen any comprehensive reporting on the issue of the incitement and glorification of terrorism found in Palestinian schoolbooks, official PA radio and TV children’s programmes and Hamas’ online children’s ‘magazine’.

So as we see, while the BBC did consider a feature on “the Islamic State’s next generation of hate” editorially justifiable, it continues to avoid providing its audiences with information about the very similar indoctrination and abuse of Palestinian children.  

 

 

 

A BBC backgrounder claims ‘sketchy’ evidence of PA terror rewards

In January 2007 the BBC News website published a backgrounder titled “Analysis: Palestinian suicide attacks“. Over a decade later that item (apparently prompted by a terror attack in Eilat on the same day) is still available online and that means that audiences still encounter BBC content which tells them that:

“Israel has accused the Palestinian Authority of funding some suicide attacks and rewarding the families of attackers. Evidence for this has been sketchy.” [emphasis added]

In order to make that latter statement, the anonymous writer of this backgrounder had to ignore a wealth of evidence that had at the time already been in the public domain for several years including documentation of PA funding of terrorism seized during the second Intifada.

Evidence of the Palestinian Authority’s financial rewards to the families of terrorists was also abundant by the time those words were written and payments to terrorists in Israeli prisons and their families were enshrined in PA legislation more than two years before that 2007 backgrounder was published.

As regular readers are no doubt aware, that practice has continued throughout the last decade and salaries for convicted terrorists, benefits for released prisoners and payments to the families of terrorists killed while carrying out attacks have become part of the PA’s annual budget.

However, rather than carrying out any serious reporting aimed at informing audiences of the facts surrounding this issue, the BBC has, with very few exceptions, chosen to ignore it and on occasion has even amplified the Palestinian Authority’s PR messaging.

“He [Netanyahu] was referring to a Palestinian Martyrs’ fund. It pays pensions to people it regards as victims of the occupation, including the families of individuals who have been killed attacking Israelis. There is also a fund to support Palestinians who have been imprisoned by Israel. The Palestinians have compared the payments to the salaries Israel pays to soldiers.” [emphasis added] Jeremy Bowen, BBC News website, May 23rd 2017.

The BBC’s guidance on online content states that:

“However long ago our online content was first published, if it’s still available, editorial complaints may legitimately be made regarding it.”

Obviously then the inaccurate and misleading claim that there is only “sketchy” evidence of Palestinian Authority financing of and rewards for terror in that 2007 backgrounder needs to be corrected in order to avoid the waste of public resources on justified complaints. Clearly too BBC audiences’ understanding of the the background to the frequently recurring topic of Palestinian terrorism would benefit from some accurate, impartial and comprehensive coverage of this much neglected issue.  

Related Articles:

PA’s salaries for terrorists in the news again – but not at the BBC

BBC News silence on PA terror rewards continues

 

 

 

 

 

More PA incitement the BBC will not report

As has been noted here on many occasions, the BBC serially avoids any serious reporting on the issue of Palestinian Authority incitement – including that relating to the sensitive issue of al Aqsa mosque.

For some years now the PA has been exploiting the anniversary of an incident that took place in 1969 when a mentally ill Christian Australian tourist set fire to the mosque. As the Times of Israel reported, this year was no exception.

“The Palestinian Authority and Hamas both revived the lie that a Jew or Jews were behind the 1969 arson of the Al-Aqsa Mosque by a Christian fundamentalist, which took place 48 years ago.

Marking the August 23 anniversary, both parties again blamed Jews and tied the old incident to recent conflict at the Temple Mount, which saw weeks of protests and violence. […]

Dr. Mahmoud Habbash, Supreme Sharia Judge in the Palestinian Authority and a close adviser to PA President Mahmoud Abbas said Tuesday, in statements published by the official PA news site Wafa, that “the fires that erupted in the Al-Aqsa Mosque 48 years ago by a Jewish terrorist of Australian origin are still burning today, as long as the noble sanctuary and the holy city [of Jerusalem] are violated by the Israeli occupation.””

Palestinian Media Watch reports that in addition, official PA television aired a ‘documentary’ on the topic that was also shown in previous years.

“With Palestinian-Israeli tensions over Jerusalem’s Old City and the Temple Mount still simmering, the Palestinian Authority has chosen to intensify Palestinian anger and hate by repeating one of its most dangerous libels – that “senior Jews of high position” planned the arson of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in 1969. In a documentary broadcast on PA TV, it was presented as fact that not only did Jews plan the arson of the Mosque but also that after the fire started Israel shut off the water supply, preventing fire fighters from efficiently putting out the fire. […]

“PA TV’s decision to broadcast this Al-Aqsa libel now, follows its ongoing attempts to keep Palestinian hatred of Israel simmering over the Temple Mount issue. Last month the Palestinian Authority Minister of Religious Affairs told Palestinian viewers on television that Israel was planning to destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque…”

The BBC frequently tells its audiences that ‘tensions’ in Jerusalem are caused by the belief on the part of Palestinians that Israel intends to alter the status quo on Temple Mount or even that al Aqsa mosque itself is ‘in danger’. It does not however bother to inform audiences why such baseless beliefs are so enduring and widespread and how they are nourished by incitement in the PA media and from even the highest of PA officials.

Without that crucial information, BBC audiences clearly cannot properly understand the recurring story of ‘clashes’ in Jerusalem.

BBC ignores another Northern Islamic Movement story – in English

Last week the leader of the illegal Northern Islamic Movement, Raed Salah, was arrested at his home in Umm el Fahm.

“In a statement, police said Tuesday morning that they had arrested for questioning under caution “a central instigator” of the Islamic Movement on suspicion of incitement to violence and terror, as well as supporting and being active in a banned organization. The statement was apparently referring to the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement that split from the main organization.

“The investigation is being conducted together with the Shin Bet and was authorized by the State Attorney’s Office, as required in incitement cases, with the consent of the attorney general,” police said and added that the Haifa district state prosecutor is handling the case.

“On a number of occasions, all of them after the movement was made illegal [in 2015], the inciter made statements before an audience and saw his statements quoted in the media. These statement are linked to the movement’s worldview. An examination of the [statements] raise the suspicion that some of the things said [by Salah] meet the criteria for the stated crimes.” […]

Salah has spearheaded campaigns asserting that “Al-Aqsa is in danger,” focusing on the claim that Israel intends to change the status quo at the contested Temple Mount holy site in Jerusalem. The allegation, denied by Israel, was at the heart of last month’s violence and tensions surrounding the site.”

Salah’s detention was extended on August 17th.

BBC coverage of the two weeks of violence that followed the murder last month of two Israeli policemen by three terrorists from Umm el Fahm did not inform audiences that Salah conducted prayers for the attackers just hours later. Neither were BBC audiences told of the scenes at the terrorists’ funerals or of the incitement from the Northern Islamic Movement during that period of violence.

In November 2015 the BBC refrained from reporting in the English language on the banning of the Northern Islamic Movement and it has also serially ignored stories relating to that group’s networks of activists paid to disrupt visits by non-Muslims to Temple Mount. In 2013, Yolande Knell provided BBC audiences with a tepid portrayal of the Northern Islamic Movement as a “conservative” group.

While at least one BBC staff member has Tweeted about it, the BBC has not covered Raed Salah’s latest arrest for its English-speaking audiences. The story has, however, been the subject of a report on the BBC Arabic website, which also provided its readers with a profile of Salah.

English speakers interested in reading more about Raed Salah and the Northern Islamic Movement can find a useful backgrounder at the Times of Israel

 

BBC’s Israel-Al Jazeera row reporting displays double standards – part two

As was noted in part one of this post, BBC News website reporting on the Israeli government’s intention to bar Al Jazeera from reporting and broadcasting in Israel failed to provide any examples of the incitement broadcast by the network that prompted that move – in sharp contrast to its coverage of a recent similar case in the UK.  

The story was also covered in the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newshour‘ on August 6th with presenter James Menendez introducing the item (from 38:30 here) as follows:

Menendez: “The Israeli government says it wants to take the Qatar funded broadcaster Al Jazeera off the air. The move was announced by the country’s communications minister Ayoub Kara at a news conference in Jerusalem today.”

Listeners then heard a voice-over translation of a small part of the minister’s statement.

Voice-over: “We have identified media outlets that do not serve freedom of speech but endanger the security of Israel’s citizens and the main instrument has been Al Jazeera which has actually caused us to lose the best of our sons and has been the source of incitement.”

Menendez: “So what exactly did he mean and why now? Questions for our Middle East correspondent Tom Bateman.”

Those two questions are obviously crucial to audience understanding of the story but did Tom Bateman actually provide any answers?

Bateman: “The communications minister in this press conference today said that it was about a long-running dispute that they have with the network, accusing it of inciting violence – he said – siding with extremist organisations. And this has been a refrain we’ve heard from the Israeli government repeatedly; not least from the prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu who last month launched an outspoken attack on the network. He said that it was inciting violence, particularly around the recent security crisis over the holy site of Haram al Sharif – Temple Mount – in the old city of Jerusalem. Now this was a particularly violent episode that lasted a couple of weeks and the prime minister had effectively suggested that the network’s reporting of that event – the events surrounding it – was leading people to violent attacks or at least suggesting that they carry them out.”

Failing to provide any examples of such incitement or to clarify the term “extremist organisations”, Bateman then swiftly moved on to the technicalities.

Bateman: “I mean the specific measures being suggested this afternoon are that the Israeli government will seek to force cable and satellite providers to block the signal in Israel and also to revoke the press accreditation – the press cards – for Al Jazeera reporters in Israel, which will effectively make it impossible for them to work here. The network itself has been covering this extensively today and recently its bureau chief in Jerusalem said that in effect Israel and its prime minister was siding with Arab autocratic states who similarly had sought to ban the network.”

Menendez: “Yeah, that was gonna be my next question. Is this Israel just doing it for its own reasons or is it acting – perhaps not in conjunction – but at least siding with those countries who’ve been demanding that Qatar shut Al Jazeera down? And I’m thinking of course of, you know, countries like Egypt and Saudi Arabia.”

Bateman: “Well certainly that would be the view of the network itself who’s, you know, have said that amid this furious diplomatic rift between a number of Sunni Arab states – including Saudi Arabia and Egypt – and Qatar, which of course funds Al Jazeera, that they believe Israel is simply siding with them because it’s politically convenient to do so. I mean its editor also pointed out what he called was the irony of Al Jazeera being one of the very few media networks in the Middle East that is prepared to air, you know, Israeli voices – Israeli government voices – and yet they believe that a self-proclaimed functioning democracy has sided with dictatorships, as he put it.”

Listeners then heard the following garbled portrayal of the core story which obviously did nothing to inform listeners about the kind of incitement broadcast by Al Jazeera and also confused bias and one-sided reporting with the very serious issue of incitement.  

Bateman: “I think the Israeli government view will be simply that it’s had enough and in their view they, well, believe, you know, particularly the Arabic facing service they believe has, you know, been biased against Israel. They will say it’s failed to give, you know, sufficient credence to the Israeli argument – the Israeli side of arguments – in these situations and therefore that that is, you know, that incitement is so serious that it merits closure.”

Bateman went on, returning to the technical topics with which he is clearly more comfortable:

Bateman: “Having said all of that, this will have to go through the Israeli parliament and that may be easier said than done because I, you know, particularly with the desire to block transmissions, that it likely to require parliamentary approval so there’s no time scale on this. It is simply at the moment a desire of intent.”

Menendez: “And just to be clear, is it both the Arabic and English networks?”

Bateman could at this point have clarified the significant differences between Al Jazeera’s English language and Arabic language content but declined to do so.

Bateman: “Well certainly they both operate from…they have correspondents of both language services in Israel – in Jerusalem – and so I think the assumption must be that it will be…will be both. I don’t think, you know, the Israeli government sees a distinction.”

As with the BBC News website’s written article, this report failed to adequately explain the story to audiences because it refrained from providing them with any examples of the kind of incitement that is at its core. That editorial policy turns the story into no more than a list of competing claims which audiences then have to judge for themselves without the benefit of factual information. Clearly that approach does not meet the BBC’s remit of providing “accurate and impartial news […] so that audiences can engage fully with issues” and it stands in sharp contrast to its own reporting of the recent similar story concerning the closure of a UK radio station on the grounds of incitement. 

Related Articles:

BBC’s Israel-Al Jazeera row reporting displays double standards – part one

Al Jazeera English (CAMERA)

Al-Jazeera America (CAMERA)

Looking back at the sourcing behind BBC reports on Qatar – part two 

BBC’s Israel-Al Jazeera row reporting displays double standards – part one

When Britain’s media regulatory authority OFCOM suspended and later revoked the licence of a local radio station in the UK last month, the BBC News website provided audiences with an accurate and comprehensive explanation of the reasoning behind that decision in two articles titled “Sheffield-based radio station Iman FM suspended over ‘terror talks’” and “Sheffield-based radio station Iman FM loses licence“.

“A community radio station has had its licence revoked for broadcasting more than 25 hours of lectures by an alleged al-Qaeda leader.

Sheffield-based Iman FM’s licence had already been suspended by Ofcom for playing the lectures by radical American Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki. […]

“We have strict rules prohibiting harmful content in programmes likely to incite crime,” the Ofcom spokesperson added. […]

It followed “extremely serious breaches of the Broadcasting Code, after it aired material likely to incite or encourage the commission of crime or to lead to disorder”, said Ofcom. […]

In 2011 the United Nations Security Council described Awlaki as a “leader, recruiter and trainer for al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula”.

His sermons are thought to have inspired terrorist attacks including the attack on the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris in 2015 in which 12 people died and the 2009 Fort Hood shootings, in which 13 US soldiers were killed.”

That standard of clear and informative reporting was not however in evidence on August 6th when the BBC News website published a report now titled “Al Jazeera: Israel seeks to shut offices and take network off air“. [emphasis added]

Version 1

“Israel is seeking to close Qatar-based broadcaster Al Jazeera’s offices in the country and revoke its journalists’ media credentials.

Communications Minister Ayoub Kara alleged that the channel supported terrorism, and said both its Arabic and English-language channels would be taken off air.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accuses the broadcaster of “incitement”. […]

Mr Netanyahu had accused the pan-Arab TV channel of fuelling a recent crisis around a holy site in Jerusalem known to Muslims as al-Haram al-Sharif and to Jews as the Temple Mount. […]

The Israeli prime minister vowed in late July to “expel Al Jazeera” for its reporting of the issue, which he said had incited violence. […]

Israel has however frequently accused it [Al Jazeera] of being biased in reporting the Israel-Palestinian conflict.”

The BBC’s report refrained from providing its audiences with any examples of the kind of Al Jazeera material that has prompted such ‘allegations’ and ‘accusations’ past and present.

Readers were not informed, for example, that two days after the terror attack that sparked the recent violence in Jerusalem and elsewhere, Al Jazeera aired an interview with the deputy head of the banned northern Islamic Movement in which – as documented by MEMRI – he was given an unchallenged platform to promote pernicious incitement.

“Kamal Khatib: 22 years ago, we said that the Al-Aqsa Mosque was in danger. At the time, we said that throughout the excavations, the occupation used chemical substances that have a long-term effect. These substances could eat away at the rocks and pillars, but its effect would not show immediately, and afterwards they would be able to claim that the cracks in Al-Aqsa [walls]… It has happened. There are fissures and sinkholes in some places. [Their plan was that] they would be able to claim that it was the working of nature. It seems… Actually, I shouldn’t say “seems”…

Interviewer: Sorry to interrupt you, Sheikh, but did [Israel] do it now, when the mosque was closed? Did it execute this secret scheme?

Kamal Khatib: Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. I fear – I am almost convinced – that the goal of Israel in closing the mosque was not just to search for weapons, as the [Israelis] claimed. They know that there are no weapons inside the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque.”

Neither were readers told, for example, that in 2008 Al Jazeera threw a birthday party for the convicted terrorist Samir Kuntar (for which it later apologised) or that the Muslim Brotherhood’s Yusuf al Qaradawi has a regular Al Jazeera slot from which he has been inciting against Jews – and others – for years.

While failing to provide readers with any such examples, the BBC’s article does however report various Al Jazeera statements on the story, even amplifying the unquestioned claim that the network is “independent” despite the fact that it does not report on the autocratic regime that is the source of its funding.

“Al Jazeera has condemned the decision. […]

An Al Jazeera official in the Qatari capital Doha told AFP that the channel “deplores this action from a state that is called the only democratic state in the Middle East, and considers what it has done is dangerous”. […]

The Al Jazeera official defended its coverage, saying it was “professional and objective”.

The network’s editor in Jerusalem has accused Mr Netanyahu of collusion with his autocratic Arab neighbours in an attack on free and independent media.”

Obviously in order to understand this story properly, BBC audiences needed to be provided with information concerning the kind of material broadcast by Al Jazeera that has sparked the objections – just as they were in the case of the Sheffield radio station. The BBC News website failed to provide that essential background information but did other BBC platforms do any better? That question will be answered in part two of this post.

Related Articles:

Al Jazeera English (CAMERA)

Al-Jazeera America (CAMERA)

Looking back at the sourcing behind BBC reports on Qatar – part two