The BBC Gaza interviewee and the dead terrorist conspiracy theories

Towards the end of February a fugitive Palestinian terrorist who had been hiding in the Palestinian Authority mission in Sofia, Bulgaria, died.

“Bulgarian radio reported that Omar Nayef Zayed, 51, had fallen from the fourth floor of the embassy. He died later in the hospital.

A senior Palestinian Authority official said he “was discovered with serious torso injuries and died before emergency services arrived,” official Palestinian news agency Wafa reported. PA officials said they were investigating the circumstances of his death.” […]

In 1986 Zayed was convicted in the murder of yeshiva student Eliyahu Amedi — whom he stabbed to death in Jerusalem’s Old City — along with two other Palestinian assailants. He was sentenced to life in prison.

Four years after beginning his sentence, Zayed began a hunger strike and was moved to a Bethlehem hospital facility, from which he managed to escape. He fled to Bulgaria in 1994 and married a local woman with whom he had three children.

In December of 2015, Israel submitted a request to Bulgarian authorities to extradite him. Late last year Bulgarian authorities agreed to examine the Israeli request but a December 14 hearing was postponed because Zayed was not at his address, the Bulgarian interior ministry said.

He had fled to the Palestinian Embassy to seek sanctuary there, and had been staying there ever since.”

Predictably, conspiracy theories soon sprang up.

“Zayed, a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), had been living in Bulgaria for the past 20 years. Even though the body bore no bullet wounds, the PFLP claimed he had been shot in the head.

Palestinian Ambassador Ahmed al-Madbuh told reporters Friday that the death was murder and said it was “a result of the continuing persecution by Israel.” He added: “Omar is one of the Palestinian fighters who led the struggle against the occupation and fulfilled his duty to his land and his people.””

Almost a month later, the Bulgarian Prosecutor dismissed the claim of murder.

“Bulgarian Prosecutor Sotir Tsatsarov on Monday dismissed suggestions that Omar Zayed, a Palestinian man whose dead body was found in front of the Palestinian Embassy in Sofia, might have been murdered.

He told reporters that the post-mortem examination of Zayed’s body had shown no signs of violence.

Instead, the man fell off a balcony on the third floor of the Embassy and it was that incident that cause his death, Tsatsarov explained.”

Prior to that announcement from the Bulgarian Prosecutor, a series of events were (and still are being) organized by a plethora of anti-Israel activists worldwide who had no need of an official investigation in order to determine what had happened to Omar Zayed – and who was to blame.

For example, an Iran linked website (which has recently been in the news in the UK for other reasons) promoted the image below on its Twitter feed and held some sparsely attended events in London.

In minds tweet

The day after Zayad’s death the US-based ‘Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network’ issued an appeal to members of the European Parliament in which it was claimed that Israel had murdered him and the day before that Samidoun’s New York based ‘organiser‘ Joe Catron had put out a statement in which – just hours after the event – he claimed that Zayad had been ‘assassinated’ by Israel.Tweet Catron

It was of course not in the least bit surprising to see ISM member and professional anti-Israel activist Joe Catron propelling the bandwagon of unproven defamatory smears against Israel.

It is however worth remembering that on two occasions during the summer of 2014, the BBC promoted content based on claims made by Catron without making any effort to comply with its own editorial guidelines on impartiality which stipulate that the agenda and ‘standpoint’ of interviewees should be made clear to audiences.Guerin ISM report

On July 31st 2014 the BBC World Service aired an interview with Catron in which he told BBC audiences that Hamas was not using Gaza hospitals for military purposes.

On August 13th 2014 BBC News aired a report by Orla Guerin which showcased an unsubstantiated video produced and promoted by Catron under the heading “Allegations of war crimes”.

As the story above shows, it is from time to time worth reminding ourselves of the types of sources the BBC considers legitimate and the agendas which are sometimes concealed behind ‘news gathering’.

 

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BBC WS radio shows pass off political activist as ‘woman in the street’

On October 14th the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newsday’ broadcast an item billed as “Israeli and Palestinian Voices” – ostensibly to provide listeners with answers to the question “what’s it like living in Israel with all of this going on?” – with “all of this” being the wave of terrorism perpetrated by Palestinian attackers.Newsday 14 10

In the first part of the item, listeners heard from two Israeli women who talked about their personal ways of coping with the wave of terrorism such as going out with pepper spray, not wearing high heels or standing in selected places at a bus stop.

The second part of the item featured a person identified as “a Palestinian woman called Mariam Barghouti” and listeners heard statements which included the following. [all emphasis added]

“…most universities that are getting attacked are ones like al Quds University in Abu Dis which is neighbouring to Jerusalem. Today Israeli forces raided the university, shot tear gas. Students had to be evacuated, professors had to drop their classes and go and make sure students are OK instead of teaching their lessons.”

(It is not clear to which incident Barghouti is referring in that claim but on October 13th a demonstration against the visiting Indian president did take place at that location, forcing the cancellation of a scheduled event. Other incidents have also taken place both recently and in the past, with al Quds University long known for extremism on campus.)

“I mean as we speak right now, two young girls 16 and 13 have been missing since four in the afternoon and there are fears that they may have been kidnapped by settlers.”

(According to Palestinian sources, the two sisters had been detained by the police.)

“At this point they’re [Barghouti’s friends] basically telling each other ‘don’t even look Palestinian’ because if you so much as sneeze and a settler feels frightened they can yell ‘shoot them, shoot them’ and soldiers will abide by that.”

(There are of course rules of engagement which clearly define the circumstances under which live fire can be used by the security forces.)

“This is the generation from 1994 onwards. All they’ve known is the Palestinian Authority’s failure. All they’ve known is the apartheid wall. All they’ve known is these checkpoints. You know, Israeli violence is not new – it’s only in the news now because there’s a Palestinian reaction to it.”

(No effort is made by the programme’s presenter to challenge the delegitimising and inaccurate term “apartheid wall” or to clarify to listeners that the anti-terrorist fence came about because of Palestinian terrorism.)

The October 14th edition of another BBC World Service radio programme – ‘Newshour’ – also aired (from 01:12 here) the obviously false claim from Barghouti (described as “a Palestinian student in Ramallah”) that:Newshour 14 10

“At this point they’re basically telling each other ‘don’t even look Palestinian’ because if you so much as sneeze and a settler feels frightened they can yell ‘shoot them, shoot them’ and soldiers will abide by that.”

Clearly the highly politicized and materially misleading account provided by Mariam Barghouti is very different from the personal stories told by two Israeli women but there is nothing surprising about that when one considers that, among many other things, Barghouti has been on tour with the International Solidarity Movement in Holland, is an active supporter of the BDS Campaign and is a contributor to the ‘Mondoweiss’ website.

The trouble is that neither of those BBC World Service programmes bothered to inform their listeners that the ‘woman in the street’ supposedly giving them a view of ‘what life is like’ is actually a seasoned political activist with a very clear anti-Israel agenda.

In November 2012 the BBC’s ECU reconfirmed “the importance of clearly summarising the standpoint of any interviewee where it is relevant and not immediately clear from their position or the title of their organisation” – in accordance with the corporation’s editorial guidelines on impartiality.

Passing off a known political activist as a random woman and providing her with a platform to promote what the BBC knows full well to be blatant propaganda is clearly not in keeping with the spirit of those editorial guidelines on impartiality or the accompanying editorial guidelines concerning accuracy.

Related Articles:

Thinly disguised promotion of anti-Israel activism on BBC WS ‘Boston Calling’

Donnison’s ‘woman in the Ramallah street’: professional anti-Israel campaigner

 

BBC WS amplifies former ISM activist’s falsehoods about Gaza blockade

The August 16th edition of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newshour’ included an item (available here from 38:32 or here as an abridged clip) on 3D printed stethoscopes developed by a person described in the introduction by presenter Julian Marshall as “a Canadian-Palestinian physician.”Newshour stethoscopes

At the beginning of the item listeners hear the following false claim from Dr Tarek Loubani:

“I had attended the war in Gaza in 2012. I’ve been working there for about the last five years and while I was there we had patients coming in – no equipment because the siege has gotten so bad even though it’s medical equipment – and we had to listen to patients’ chests by putting our ears to their chests which is exactly what we would have done 200 years ago.” [emphasis added]

There is of course no “siege” on the Gaza Strip and no restrictions are imposed by Israel on the entry of medical equipment. As it has unfortunately been necessary to point out here on numerous prior occasions due to inaccurate BBC reporting on that issue, shortages of medications and medical equipment in the Gaza Strip are due to long-standing disputes between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas.

Julian Marshall however made no effort to relieve audiences of the inaccurate impression created by his interviewee – who, in response to a question concerning the material used to make his stethoscope, later promoted a similar inaccuracy.

“It’s made of plastic. So the plastic that it’s made of is available anywhere. In the Gaza Strip because it’s such a closed system, because things are not allowed in, they have a very rich culture of recycling their plastic….” [emphasis added]

The only restrictions on materials entering the Gaza Strip are of course on weapons and dual-use goods which can be diverted to the purposes of terrorism.

One presumes that before this item was recorded and broadcast the production team exercised due diligence by researching their interviewee. If that is the case, then the BBC will be aware of the fact that in addition to being a doctor, Kuwait-born Tarek Loubani (who moved to Canada at the age of ten) is a veteran political activist who in 2003 was arrested near Jenin and deported from Israel due to his activities with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM). Loubani was also arrested in Egypt in 2013 whilst trying to enter the Gaza Strip and in 2014 was detained at Ben Gurion airport.

Tarek Loubani’s promotion of the Hamas narrative of a “siege” on the Gaza Strip and his promotion of the falsehood that Israel does not allow the import of medical equipment therefore does not come as a surprise.

However, adherence to the BBC’s editorial guidelines on accuracy should obviously have prevented that falsehood from being broadcast literally worldwide and the editorial guidelines on impartiality should have ensured that listeners were made aware of Loubani’s political agenda and the fact that he is rather more than just a “physician”. 

Related Articles:

The reality behind the BBC’s promotion of information from medics in Gaza

Resources:

BBC World Service contact details

BBC WS radio’s partisan portrayal of ‘The Church of the Nativity siege’

As readers may be aware, a production by the ‘Freedom Theatre of Palestine’ is currently on tour in the UK.

“The theater company, based in the West Bank town of Jenin, structured the play around the April 2002 siege of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. The company, whose mission is “generating cultural resistance,” is bringing the play to the United Kingdom in May and is set to perform in a number of locales with large Jewish communities. According to the theater’s website, “The Siege” is supported by the EU, the British Council and the Roddick Foundation.

It will open in Manchester at Salford’s Lowry Theatre on May 13 and 14, and will then tour Britain, with performances at London’s Battersea Arts Centre and major stages in Leeds, Birmingham, Nottingham and Glasgow, as well as some smaller venues.”

Not surprisingly, the play has received rave reviews from the ISM (International Solidarity Movement) which at the time had members acting as voluntary human shields for the wanted terrorists inside the church. The ISM also provides some insight into the aims behind both the production itself and its British tour.

“At the Freedom Theatre, Cultural Resistance is their way of defying the occupation. Ahmed Jamil Tobassi, one of the actors from the show, explained that among many other things, theatre creates a context that can support other forms of resistance. It revives stories, gives people a way of expressing themselves and ultimately frees the mind. The idea of cultural resistance is to work alongside other forms of resistance, not against. Yet “if you cannot start by deconstructing the occupation within yourself, how are you going to be able to free the country from the bigger, external occupation?” argues Jonatan Stanczak, managing director of the Theatre.

During the months of May and June, this play will be touring the United Kingdom, a country the theatre group has not yet been too. It is also as a message for the British to take responsibility for their prominent role in the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians and the ongoing occupation.”

Coincidentally, or not, the BBC World Service chose to revisit the story of the 2002 events at the Church of the Nativity in two recent radio programmes.Siege Witness

The May 12th edition of ‘Witness‘, presented by Louise Hidalgo, was devoted to accounts from a Franciscan priest and an American photographer who were both present at the time. Among the many notable features of the programme (not least the chosen illustrative image) is the lack of essential context in Hidalgo’s inserts of ‘background’.

“Today we go back to May 2002 and one of the most dramatic sieges of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. For 38 days a group of Palestinian gunmen and civilians and nuns and monks have been holed up inside one of Christianity’s most holy sites – the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem – surrounded by the Israeli army.” […]

“The stand-off had begun in early April when Israeli tanks had entered Bethlehem as part of a series of raids across the West Bank. As the Israeli army moved into the town, local civilians and Palestinian militants fled into Manger Square. When troops opened fire there, many of them ran into the church to seek sanctuary.”

What Hidalgo describes as “a series of raids” was in fact Operation Defensive Shield. She makes no mention of the fact that by the time that operation began, the second Intifada had been underway for a year and a half and around 300 Israelis had already been murdered in terror attacks. Neither does Hidalgo clarify that the catalyst for the operation was the terror attack on the Park Hotel in Netanya on Pesach Eve, in which thirty civilians were murdered and 140 injured. As far as BBC audiences are concerned, the Israeli army simply woke up one morning and decided to carry out “raids”.

Contrary to the impression given by Hidalgo’s account, the Israeli army was not the only side to open fire before the wanted terrorists broke into the Church of the Nativity by shooting off the door lock. As the Guardian reported at the time:

“Witnesses described desperate close quarter fighting in the old part of Bethlehem, a warren of narrow alleys and stone streets behind Manger Square, as Israeli forces went from house to house and entered religious buildings searching for Palestinian fighters.

Outgunned, the Palestinians fought desperately to keep Israeli troops out of Manger Square itself. Palestinian gunmen have frequently used the area around the Church of the Nativity as a refuge, with the expectation that Israel would try to avoid fighting near it.”

Neither does Hidalgo inform listeners of the existence of accounts which suggest that the terrorists’ use of the holy site was pre-planned and tactically motivated.

“As confirmed by a senior Tanzim commander, Abdullah Abu-Hadid, “The idea was to enter the church in order to create international pressure on Israel….We knew beforehand that there was two years’ worth of food for 50 monks. Oil, beans, rice, olives. Good bathrooms and the largest wells in old Bethlehem. You didn’t need electricity because there were candles. In the yard they planted vegetables. Everything was there.””

And:

“The conspiracy was to make a siege and put all the fighters inside the church so Israel would make the siege. People from the Palestinian Authority collaborated with this conspiracy,” said Eiman Abu Eita, Fatah’s representative in the Bethlehem satellite town of Beit Sahour who at the time of the siege was Beit Sahour’s al-Aqsa Brigades chief.”

Remarkably, at no point throughout this whole programme are listeners told that the people described variously as “gunmen”, “militants” or merely “men” were in fact wanted terrorists. That coy approach to an essential part of the story is reinforced in the account given by photographer Carolyn Cole.

“I do remember when the men were saying goodbye to the leaders of the Al Aqsa Martyr Brigade who was going into exile in Cyprus – Ibrahim Abayat – and I had taken a portrait of him earlier in the week. I didn’t really know his background. I had no idea why he was the most wanted man in the church but there was a group of them who left the church first and so all the other men were gathering around them. They made a line and everyone was hugging as those men left.”

Despite having had thirteen years to find out about Abayat’s “background”, Cole and her host Hidalgo refrain from telling BBC audiences the facts.

“Abayat was born in 1973, and is a resident of the city of Bethlehem. He is head of the Fatah Tanzim terrorist organization in the city.

After the death of Atef Abayat, Ibrahim took over as the Bethlehem commander of the Tanzim. In this capacity, he was involved in dispatching and executing dozens of shooting and bombing attacks, which resulted in the death and injury of scores of Israelis. Abayat also orchestrated and participated in the shooting and mortar attacks on the Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo and on the Bethlehem bypass roads.

Aside from the shooting and mortar attacks, Ibrahim Abayat was also involved in the following murderous terrorist attacks:

20 September 2001 – A shooting attack on an Israeli vehicle near the community of Tekoa, in which Sarit Amrani was killed.

16 July 2001 – The detonation of an explosive charge on the Beit Safafa -Talpiot bridge, Jerusalem.

15 January 2002 – The abduction and murder of Avi Boaz, a US citizen residing in Israel. Boaz was stopped at a Palestinian roadblock near Beit Sahour. There he was abducted by Abayat’s operatives, who took him to Bethlehem, and upon Abayat’s instructions, shot him to death.

18 February 2002 – The detonation of a car bomb at the Zaim checkpoint, resulting in the death of an Israeli policeman.

25 February 2002 – A shooting attack at an Israeli vehicle close to the Tekoa junction. Avraham Fisch and Aharon Gorov of Nokdim were killed in the attack, and Tamar Lipschitz, in an advanced stage of pregnancy, was wounded in the attack.

2 March 2002 – A shooting attack at a vehicle on the ‘Tunnel Route’ south of Jerusalem. Devorah Friedman was killed in the attack.

June 14, 2002 – Involvement in the planning and execution of the terrorist murder of Israeli intelligence officer, Yehuda Edri.

In addition, incriminating evidence has been found linking him to an attempt to detonate an explosive charge, in the Jerusalem suburb of Tzur Haddassah, on 31 January 2002. The explosive charge was discovered and neutralized by Israeli police sappers.”

According to some accounts from the time, Abayat also murdered Palestinians.

“Residents also said that Mr. Ja’ara and another top leader, Ibrahim Abayat, took nine Muslims whom they suspected of collaborating with Israel into an apartment near Manger Square and fatally shot them.
The executions took place shortly before the April 2 gunbattle between Israeli troops and Palestinian fighters that sent more than 200 Palestinians fleeing into the church, where they remained for 39 days.
Abayat, in a phone interview from inside the church while the siege was under way, said he was personally responsible for the killings.
He said there was no need for a trial because “it was a well-known fact that these people were linked to Israel.””

No less euphemistic is the programme’s presentation of the terrorist supporting ISM with which Cole entered the church and which she was apparently covering at the time.

Hidalgo: “Then one day, photographer Carolyn Cole had the kind of break that journalists can only dream of. It was late afternoon, she was standing at the barricade when she spotted a group of foreign protesters sneaking around the side of the church.” […]

“The protesters had coordinated by mobile phone with some of the Palestinians inside.”

Interestingly, Hidalgo makes no attempt to clarify what those so-called “foreign protesters” were actually doing in a war zone but the ISM’s press release from the time does supply some of the missing background.

“BETHLEHEM (May 2, 2002) – Ten members of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) entered the besieged Church of Nativity at about 5:45 pm, walking past Israeli occupation soldiers. A further thirteen persons, working as decoys were arrested by the Israeli soldiers. All those inside are determined to remain until the Israelis lift their siege on the city of Bethlehem.

The ISM conceived of an intricate plan to move past Israeli soldiers outside the Church in several separate but coordinated groups carrying placards denouncing the ongoing Israeli occupation. In a move orchestrated with contacts within, two ISM teams were able to reach the Church and enter its main door before Israeli soldiers could respond. Every member carried with them food and other critical supplies badly needed by the Palestinians holed up inside. The Israeli army has denied the Palestinians, besieged since April 1, 2002, sufficient amounts of food.

This constitutes the latest in a series of success by the ISM to defy the Israeli occupation and to demonstrate to the world that the international community takes a firm stance against the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory. In light of the failure for the international community, namely the United States and the United Nations to act to help protect the Palestinian people and secure their universal rights, the ISM has had to operate on its own. Prior to this, the ISM has twice circumvented Israeli occupation forces to place activists inside of President Arafat’s compound in Ramallah.”

Hidalgo’s context-free, romanticized presentation of events was broadcast yet again to BBC World Service listeners in the May 16th edition of ‘The History Hour’ and also promoted as a podcast. There it was introduced by presenter Max Pearson as follows:Siege History Hour

“But we begin in that hotbed of historical drama; the Middle East. Ever since the creation of Israel after the Second World War – carved out of land previously inhabited by the Palestinians – there’s been tension between Jews and Arabs. This tension is frequently expressed in violence; sometimes in war. And the holy shrines of three great religions – Judaism, Islam and Christianity – have not escaped unscathed. So it was in May 2002 when one of the most dramatic sieges of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict unfolded in Bethlehem.” [emphasis added]

Pearson makes no attempt to explain to listeners what “have not escaped unscathed” meant in this particular case.

“The 39 day standoff in Bethlehem ended yesterday when 13 of the militiamen camped in the church were flown to Cyprus on their way to exile in Europe. Another 26 militiamen were released into the Gaza Strip, where they fired assault rifles in the air to acknowledge cheers from crowds lining the streets. Seventy-three Palestinian policemen and civilians were set free.

Israeli bomb experts swept the church at the request of the priests and found 40 explosive devices, several booby-trapped and hidden in corners and behind cupboards, the army said. The sappers neutralised 25 devices and an American bomb squad with sniffer dogs disarmed the rest, according to a military source.

In their joy over having control over the shrine again, Greek and Franciscan priests conducted a service, and bells rang for several minutes.

When Israeli troops later withdrew from Bethlehem, hundreds of residents who had been trapped in their houses by curfew during much of the standoff entered the church. Many lit candles near the birth grotto.

”This is the place where Jesus was born. I can’t believe this is the house of God, just look at it,” 18-year-old Sandy Shaheen, a Bethlehem Christian, said crying.

The shrine reeked of urine and dirty dishes, blankets, cigarette butts and a mass of other garbage lay about. But the building was largely unscathed by the standoff.”

Despite the lack of important background information and context and regardless of the absence of any input on this story from the Israeli side, the BBC chose to present this clearly partisan anecdotal version of events as ‘history’. That would be bad enough at any time, but in a month in which BBC audiences in the UK will likely be hearing a lot about the Jenin Freedom Theatre’s agitprop, it is all the more striking that the organisation tasked with building “a global understanding of international issues” has elected to put politics before the provision of accurate and impartial information.

Related Articles:

BBC WS ‘Witness’ erases Arafat’s terrorism  

BBC News website coverage of Operation Protective Edge: part four

In the first three installments of this post (see ‘related articles’ below) we documented BBC News website coverage of the first thirty days of Operation Protective Edge. Part four relates to the next ten days: August 7th to August 16th 2014 inclusive.

Content on the website included written news reports and written ‘Features and Analysis’ articles as well as filmed items presented as stand-alone reports and additionally often embedded into the written articles. Those filmed items also appeared on BBC television news programmes and hence give us an idea of what worldwide audiences were being shown and to what extent the BBC lived up to its claims of “equal coverage” of the two sides to the conflict.

A small amount of content which appeared on the BBC News website at the time has since become unavailable, but below are the vast majority of the reports offered to the website’s visitors. We are not including here the many reports concerning demonstrations relating to the conflict in Europe and elsewhere which appeared on the Middle East page: that topic will be covered separately. Also not included in this chapter are three separate filmed reports about NHS activities (delegations to the region, donations of equipment) which appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page on August 9th, 11th and 12th.

August 7th:Chart Aug 7

Written:

Israel offers Gaza truce extension but Hamas has yet to agree

DEC launches Gaza emergency appeal

Israel Gaza: Mediators seek to extend truce in Cairo

Features:

Israelis along the Gaza Border keep calm and carry on  Lyse Doucet (discussed here)

Filmed:

Israeli army say main objective in Gaza achieved ‘completely’  Lyse Doucet in Israel (discussed here)

 Israel’s military strategy in Gaza under scrutiny  Paul Adams (discussed here)

Gaza awaits Israeli-Hamas truce talks verdict   Orla Guerin in Gaza

August 8th:Chart Aug 8

Written: (discussed here)

Gaza ceasefire ends as Israel reports rocket fire

Israel air strikes resume in Gaza amid rockets  

Features:

Graphic content: How media differ on use of Gaza images  BBC Monitoring

After the Gaza ceasefire: Hyper-tense and under fire   Wyre Davies (discussed here)

Caution needed with Gaza casualty figures  (discussed here, later amended, date changed – discussed here)

Gaza conflict: The hundreds who lost their lives  (discussed here)

Filmed:

Air strikes and rocket attacks after Gaza ceasefire ends  Orla Guerin in Gaza

BBC reports from blockaded Israel-Gaza border crossing   Wyre Davies at Kerem Shalom (discussed here)

‘We’ve seen and heard a number of explosions here in Gaza’  James Reynolds in Gaza (discussed here)

August 9th:Chart Aug 9

Written:

Gaza conflict: US and UN condemn new Gaza violence

Gaza air strikes ‘kill five’ as rockets hit Israel

Filmed:

Strikes resume in Gaza as ceasefire ends  Kevin Connolly in Gaza (discussed here)

Violence resumes is Gaza as truce comes to an end  James Reynolds in Gaza (discussed here)

Israel ‘very restrained’ with its offensive in Gaza  Danny Ayalon

August 10th:Chart Aug 10

Written:

Gaza conflict: Egypt seeks new Israel-Hamas ceasefire

Gaza conflict: New three-day ceasefire begins

Filmed:

New truce agreed in Gaza conflict  Orla Guerin in Gaza

Gaza conflict: Israel refuses to negotiate while ‘under fire’  Kevin Connolly in Gaza

Gaza crisis: Fears that talks in Cairo could collapse  Lyse Doucet

August 11th:Chart Aug 11

Written:

Gaza conflict: New three-day ceasefire holds

Gaza conflict: Fresh talks begin in Egypt

Filmed:

Gaza conflict: Families return home as Gaza ceasefire holds  Yolande Knell in Gaza (discussed here)

Mid-East crisis: Gazans hope for ‘open seas and borders’   Orla Guerin in Gaza (discussed here)

August 12th:Chart Aug 12

Written:

Israel export licences warning from UK

August 13th:

Written:

Six dead as Gaza disposal team tackles Israeli missile

Rocket fired from Gaza hits Israel

Filmed:Chart Aug 13

Former Israeli President Shimon Peres ‘seeks peace’ over Gaza  Wyre Davies interview with Shimon Peres

Gaza conflict: Allegations of war crimes  Orla Guerin in Gaza (discussed here)

Mid-East crisis: The blockade of Gaza – in 60 seconds  Michael Hirst (discussed here)

Israel, Palestinians ‘extend Gaza truce by five days’  Yolande Knell

August 14th:Chart Aug 14

Written:

Israel and Palestinians begin tense five-day Gaza truce  (discussed here)

Filmed:

Gaza conflict: Ceasefire extended by five days  Yolande Knell in Gaza

August 15th:

Written:Chart Aug 15

Jewish Chronicle apologises after running Gaza appeal advert   later amended and date changed (discussed here)

Filmed:

Yolande Knell meets Gazans working to restore utilities  Yolande Knell in Gaza (discussed here)

August 16th:

Features:Chart Aug 16

Dutchman returns Holocaust medal after family deaths in Gaza  (discussed here and here)

Clearly the most striking aspect of this period of coverage of the conflict is the sudden decline in the number of reports produced by the BBC in comparison with the previous thirty days. Two factors contributed to that drop: like much of the foreign media the BBC apparently assumed that the August 5th ceasefire was going to hold and began moving journalists who do not normally cover the region, but had been ‘parachuted in’ to provide back up to its Jerusalem Bureau team, out of the area. Concurrently, the ISIS story in Iraq and Syria began to gather pace and resources were diverted to covering that issue.

The most obvious effect of those changes is that after the withdrawal of Israeli ground troops from the Gaza Strip on August 5th and despite the breakdown of the ceasefire of that date and the continuation of missile fire into Israel, BBC audiences saw only one filmed report depicting the situation as far as civilians in Israel were concerned between August 7th and August 16th. They did, however, see twelve filmed reports from the Gaza Strip during that period.

 Graph Aug 7 to Aug 16

By August 16th visitors to the BBC News website (and television audiences) had seen almost three times as much filmed coverage from the Gaza Strip as they had from Israel (37.5 reports compared to 100.5) since the beginning of the conflict.  

Graph Jul 8 to Aug 16

The major theme dominating BBC reporting during the period from August 7th to August 16th remained the vigorous amplification of Hamas’ demands concerning the lifting of border restrictions and the construction of a seaport. Missile attacks on Israel were severely under-reported or ignored and ceasefire violations by terrorist groups downplayed or distorted. The amplification of the agendas of NGOs engaged in political warfare against Israel continued, as did the promotion of claims of ‘war crimes’.

A particularly notable event during this period was the appearance of the article by the BBC News Head of Statistics on the issue of Gaza casualty figures after an entire month of context-free BBC citation of Hamas-supplied data. The fact that the article soon underwent changes which diluted its original message as a result of the application of outside political pressure is highly significant and of course reflects very badly on the BBC’s supposed commitment to accuracy and impartiality.

Related articles:

BBC News website coverage of Operation Protective Edge: part one

BBC News website coverage of Operation Protective Edge: part two

BBC News website coverage of Operation Protective Edge: part three

BBC WS ‘Newshour’: a test case for BBC claims of ‘equal coverage’

The BBC’s pictorial portrayal of conflict in Israel and the Gaza Strip

‘From Our Own Correspondent’: a test case for BBC claims of ‘equal coverage’

 

 

 

 

 

Jeremy Hardy promotes stereotypes of Israelis on BBC Radio 4

Judging by our inbox, quite a few of the people listening to BBC Radio 4 whilst in the midst of preparations for Rosh HaShana eve on September 24th were not amused by the BBC’s decision to air the polemics of anti-Israel activist Jeremy Hardy in an episode of the programme “Jeremy Hardy Speaks to the Nation” titled “How to Define Oneself in Terms of Regional, Cultural and Geopolitical Identity Without Tears”.R4 Jeremy Hardy

Although Hardy’s show is ostensibly a comedy programme, even he describes the relevant parts of the programme (available for a short period of time here, mostly between 08:50 – 13:00 and 16:32 – 17:09 and also scheduled for repeat) in terms of his ability to “pontificate pompously”. On that point at least Hardy is not wrong; his ensuing monologues are however considerably less accurate. [all emphasis added]

“People who don’t have the right to national self-determination are likely to want it. Tamils, Tibetans, Basques, Kurds, Palestinians. And to take one of the more talked-about territorial disputes of our age, the State of Israel came about because some Jewish people wanted somewhere that a widely persecuted, dispersed, ethno-religious group could have a national home. Sadly one of the things that shapes our identities is other people being bastards to us. […] Zionism was a mixture of secular nationalism, religious separatism and desperation. The main problem with the plan was that the place chosen already had people living there. Palestine was ruled by Turkey until the First World War, after which it fell under British colonial administration. Yes – I’m afraid it’s another one of ours: we who have been responsible for so many partitions and nearly got our comeuppance last week.

The first British governor of Jerusalem, Sir Ronald Storrs, described the idea of the new Jewish homeland as ‘a little loyal Jewish Ulster in a sea of potentially hostile Arabism’. A prescient warning you might think, but this was a man speaking in favour of the idea. And the British encouraged significant Jewish migration on taking charge. There is the narrative that Palestine had been an empty wasteland – which is a lie. Yes, the new arrivals were industrious: you’re not gonna get that many people turning up from Poland without seeing a lot more construction than the British would get. But there were already Palestinian towns, villages and farms, mosques and churches that had been there for centuries.

Nevertheless, even some of Israel’s most passionate critics today are people who supported its founding in 1948. They argue that although Israeli governments are increasingly racist and colonial, the founding principles were noble. Other critics would see even that view as rosy-spectacled but whatever you think about that period, the State of Israel exists and one of the frequent demands of its government is that others recognize its right to exist. I’m not sure any state has rights. Whether a person has rights is a moral question – they’re not like kidneys – but at least ethical judgments apply more sensibly to human beings. We’d all say a person has a right to a house. We wouldn’t say the house has rights. No-one thinks a house has a right to exist: certainly not an Israeli driving a bulldozer.

Let’s imagine that all Israel’s critics recognize its right to exist as a de-facto state. That wouldn’t guarantee its continued existence in its present form or any other. Even now we don’t even know where its borders are supposed to be, so what are we ratifying? That’s what happens when you’re greedy: you keep getting bigger and bigger and bigger – people have trouble recognizing you.

And there might be a two-state or one-state solution. Over time states come and go. Yugoslavia doesn’t exist – it lasted 70 years and broke up disastrously on ethnic lines. Czechoslovakia lasted about the same length of time and split peacefully on ethnic lines. But Belgium was formed 140 years ago and still exists – if you can call it that. The Israeli government further complicates matters by insisting the country is not only recognized as a state, but as a Jewish state. But most Jewish people don’t live there; thankfully because we need them. One of the most popular voices on Radio 4 is that of Michael Rosen – the non-Zionist Jewish poet and children’s author. It would have been our loss if his parents had decided to raise him in Israel rather than north London and what a horrible book ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’ might have been. How many bears might have died on the pretext of the one he was looking for? Moreover, many Israelis have only little Jewish ancestry or none. Even without the occupied territories, a fifth of the population is Palestinian and demographics change and ideas about who we are change. […]

Speaking of food, Israelis famously insist the falafel is their national dish. Now you can lay claim to a two thousand year-old wall, but that’s just taking the piss. Of course falafels have always been eaten by Middle Eastern Jews – they were Middle Eastern people. That underlines the differences between those Jews and the Europeans who came to the region. And yes – we white Britons say the curry is our national dish, but we say it in a self-mocking way that acknowledges and thanks the various cultures that have improved ours. We don’t say it to celebrate the lasting trauma we brought to the Indian sub-continent. Well the BNP claims that we invented the curry during the Raj, but they are founded on an ideology that gave quite a boost to the idea that Europe’s Jews might be safer in a Middle East hotspot.”

So as we see, in addition to inaccuracies such as the representation of the Mandate for Palestine as a British colonial project, the claim that the British “encouraged Jewish migration”, the (obviously) unsupported claim that Israeli governments are “racist and colonial” and the falsehood that “greedy” Israel is “getting bigger and bigger”, Hardy aims for cheap and easy laughs by using offensive stereotypes of Israelis as being violent and aggressive.

Given Hardy’s track record of collaboration with the ISM, one would probably not have expected anything other than the exploitation of a ‘comedy’ show for the promotion of his own embarrassingly uninformed politics. That, of course, is a factor of which Radio 4 editors must have been aware in advance but, as we have seen before, the BBC seems to think that the promotion of inaccurate information and crude national stereotypes is perfectly acceptable – just as long as a ‘comedy’ label is appended. 

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Crude stereotyping of ‘expansionist’ Israelis in BBC 3 comedy show

 

 

 

 

Orla Guerin’s parting shot breaches BBC editorial guidelines

“We apologize for this and would like to assure you that the matter has been raised with the relevant editorial staff at the BBC News Channel, who have been reminded of the need to clearly describe the ideology of such organizations in our coverage.”

According to the Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s Amena Saleem, the above words appeared in an email from the BBC in response to a PSC complaint to the effect that the organization to which an interviewee on BBC News belongs was not adequately described to viewers as stipulated in the BBC’s editorial guidelines and reaffirmed by the BBC ECU in October 2013. However, the BBC’s commitment to the need to “clearly describe the ideology” of organisations to which interviewees are linked obviously lacks consistency – as yet another recent example shows.

On August 13th Orla Guerin filed her parting shot just prior to her departure from the Gaza Strip. That filmed report for BBC television news programmes also appeared on the BBC News website under the title “Gaza conflict: Allegations of war crimes” and was promoted on Twitter by its producer Nicola Careem.

The bulk of Guerin’s report is based on a video put out by the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) last month which has of course not been authenticated by the BBC. Guerin opens with a euphemistic description of the ISM as “international activists” which of course in no way informs viewers of that organisation’s ideology: a particularly relevant topic seeing as Guerin’s claims are based on the ISM’s claims.

“This is one of many cases Palestinians want the UN to investigate. International activists searching for the dead and wounded during a brief ceasefire. In the green T-shirt a 22 year-old local man Salem Shemali – looking for relatives. A shot rings out – apparently from an Israeli sniper. Salem was hit but was still calling out, still alive. After two more shots he was dead.”

Guerin of course has no proof (for example, ballistic evidence) that whoever shot Shemali was “an Israeli sniper”, but she also has no qualms about amplifying the ISM’s allegations. The video was filmed in Shuja’iya on July 20th; a neighbourhood which, as readers no doubt recall, civilians had been advised to evacuate several days previously and which was the location of the entrances to cross-border tunnels and considerable Hamas infrastructure.  After hours of fierce fighting there, Hamas requested a short ceasefire via the Red Cross and medical teams and journalists – including the BBCmoved in.Guerin ISM report

Guerin goes on to interview Rina Andolini with the caption on screen reading “International Solidarity Movement”. Again, no effort is made to inform viewers what that organization is or of its close ties to Hamas.

Guerin: “British activist Rina Andolini is the woman in the video – an eye-witness to the killing.”

Andolini: “I mean I’ve never seen anyone pretty much just shot dead in front of me. Erm…and no reason, you know, no reason whatsoever. A young lad, just wanting to look for his family, clearly distressed, as anyone would be in that situation, you know. You go to find your family and you end up dead. Where’s the justice?”

Guerin continues with more amplification of unverified, context-free claims.

“In hospital we found Salem’s uncle Nasser who was injured a week later. He told us Israeli soldiers forced their way into his home and an officer shot him at close range. ‘His face was painted’ he says, ‘but I’d know him anywhere from his eyes’.”

Guerin then goes on to join the ranks of her Middle East Editor in the department of denial of Hamas’ use of human shields.

“While there are growing allegations against Israel, it claims civilians here have been used by militants as human shields but so far there’s been no evidence of that.”

What Guerin’s obviously inadequate understanding of the term human shields does include is not made apparent to viewers, but she then goes on to describe just such a case – although without expanding on the topic of how 20,000 Hamas terrorists firing well over 3,000 missiles managed to “avoid the cameras” for over a month.

“During this conflict Palestinian militants have kept a low profile, avoiding the cameras. But we know that at times they have operated from civilian areas. A rocket was fired from this waste ground about ten days ago. There was no ceasefire at the time. But you can see that just across the road there are people living in these apartments. These images were filmed by Indian TV just up the road. They appear to show militants firing rockets near their hotel.”

The footage which Guerin tells BBC audiences ‘appears’ to show missile fire from a residential area can be seen here. She continues:

“Hamas is accused of breaking international law by firing its rockets indiscriminately into Israel. Hamas says it’s fighting Israel’s occupation.”

Guerin makes no effort to inform viewers that Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip nine years ago or that what Hamas actually says it is fighting is Israel’s existence. She closes:

“Back in the rubble Salem’s mother is calling on Hamas to avenge her son who was about to graduate from college. The Israeli army told us it cannot verify any of the circumstances in the video but is reviewing the case. It says it does not target civilians in any circumstances.”

But by that time of course, Guerin’s amplification of this ISM story has left its impression on BBC viewers who, in contradiction of BBC editorial guidelines, are still none the wiser with regard to the ideologies of the organisation which made, broke and promoted the video. 

They have no idea, for example, that one of the people involved in producing and publicising the video upon which her report is based is Joe Catron of the ISM who was given equally opaque promotion on the BBC World Service on July 31st when he was interviewed about his role as a human shield at Gaza hospitals. They have no idea that one of Catron’s fellow human shields at Wafa hospital was the 32 year-old optical dispenser from the West Midlands Rina Andolini and that both Catron and Andolini have peviously lied to the media about Hamas’ use of that hospital. Viewers are also not told that Ms Andolini’s activities in the Gaza Strip include distributing aid funded by a British charity called Al-Fatiha Global (featured by the BBC in the past in connection to convoys to Syria) which is currently under investigation by the Charity Commission due to “serious concerns about the governance and financial management of the charity”.

And of course most importantly, as a result of all Guerin’s gross omissions viewers are unable to grasp that what she is actually doing in this report is promoting and amplifying the agenda of an organization which since the early days of the second Intifada has been providing financial, logistic and PR support to terrorist organisations which attack Israeli civilians. That information is obviously critical to viewers if they are to be able to put Guerin’s none too veiled accusations of Israeli ‘war crimes’ into objective perspective.

This report’s serious omissions, however, would suggest that neither Guerin nor her producer were keen to allow BBC audiences the privilege of making up their own minds.  

 

 

 

 

 

BBC WS presenter: filmed evidence of Hamas’ misuse of hospitals is ‘rumours on the internet’

The International Solidarity Movement (ISM) is – as readers are most likely aware – an organisation which since the early days of the second Intifada has been providing financial, logistic and PR support to terrorist organisations which attack Israeli civilians.

One of the ISM’s activists currently located in the Gaza Strip is American Joe Catron who has been very busy in the past three weeks giving interviews to the Iranian regime-run Press TV, putting out propaganda material and acting as a voluntary human shield. Catron’s “standpoint” can be discerned very easily from his use of social media.

Tweet Catron

 

As readers also know, the BBC’s editorial guidelines oblige it to inform audiences of an interviewee’s “standpoint” so that his or her contribution can be understood in its correct context. However, when the BBC World Service’s Dam Damon interviewed Joe Catron for the July 31st edition of ‘World Update’ (available here for a limited period of time from around 43:21, or here as a separately promoted podcast), he failed to inform listeners that Catron is a member of the Hamas-supporting ISM and made no attempt whatsoever to “summarise” his “standpoint” with the result being that listeners were subjected to over three and a half minutes of undiluted Hamas propaganda, supposedly from a ‘neutral’ source.World Update Catron

Catron was introduced by Damon thus:

“Nine foreigners are in Gaza’s main hospital al Shifa. They are volunteering as human shields. They take turns sitting in the wards on 12 hour shifts. They think that their presence will help deter military attacks by Israeli forces. Other hospitals have human shields – so called human shields – as well. I’ve been speaking to one of these at al Shifa. He’s Joe Catron – 33 years old. The line wasn’t great. I think you’ll be able to hear though everything that is in Joe’s mind. Here’s what he told me.”

Catron: “In terms of aerial assaults they’ve gotten very close. Ahm…the other night I was here for the overnight shift from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. and there were repeated airstrikes all around the building. I stepped outside. I could see flares as well as smoke coming from a short distance away. In terms of the ground invasion they haven’t pushed that close.”

Damon: “And has the hospital been hit at all?”

Catron: “The hospital has been hit peripherally. Ah…one wall was damaged by a shell the other day. I think there were a couple of injuries from that but it has not been targeted per se.”

Damon: “Because you will know that there have been all kinds of rumours on the internet about hospitals being used to hide men and indeed weapons. Any evidence?”

Catron: “Oh yes; I’ve heard all these…all kinds of these rumours. I’ve seen numerous claims that al Wafa hospital where I stayed for a week in Shuja’iya was the centre of a Hamas and Islamic Jihad militant command centre. Now every journalist that came into the hospital from every major news agency had full run of the place. They could go anywhere in it they liked. How none of them ever noticed this command centre…. Shifa as well is thick with reporters at the moment and I’ve seen no reports of anything like that from any of them.”

Damon: “Are you making a difference being there as a human shield?”

Catron: “You know, that’s difficult to say. Obviously the operational logic is that Israel is much more reluctant to target foreigners than it is Palestinians. Now it’s difficult to say. Ahm… I had a number of expectations at the beginning of this escalation about how far the Israelis were willing to go and what they were willing to do. They’ve already proven a number of those expectations wrong. So how safe we are here and how much of a deterrent we offer, I can’t offer a firm answer to that. All we can do is sit and hope.”

Damon: “Do you have any understanding of Israel’s position that the rockets are flying from Gaza, err…those rockets are intended to kill civilians, they’re entitled to respond?”

Catron: “Well I think it’s very clear looking at the outcomes who intends to kill civilians. Israel has now killed over a thousand of them while Hamas has targeted its attacks on Israeli soldiers and it’s been doing fairly well on that front considering the circumstances.”

Damon: “I guess you don’t mean to deny that the rockets fired by Hamas are targeting civilian areas inside Israel?”

Catron: “Well, Israel places many of its military assets in civilian neighbourhoods. The headquarters of the Israeli military is located in a large civilian block of buildings in Tel Aviv. Ahm…but Hamas has always made it clear that its rockets are aimed at these military assets. [unintelligible] also knowledge is that they’re unfortunately imprecise.”

Damon: “What about the people back home, Joe? Don’t they think that you’re being foolhardy?”

Catron: “I’m sure some of them do and they may have a point. [Damon laughs] Ahm…they’re a mix of course. America has a broad range of opinions.”

Damon: “What about your family?”

Catron: “Ahm…they’re a political mix when it comes to the situation. You would hear various perspectives from them.”

Damon closes the item by saying:

“That’s Joe Catron; described as a human shield at the al Shifa hospital in Gaza.”

So what did World Service radio audiences learn here and did anything in this interview contribute to fulfilling the BBC’s obligation according to its constitutional document to “build a global understanding of international issues”?

Well, they discovered that the BBC considers filmed and photographed evidence of the discovery of weapons, missiles, explosives and tunnel entrances in at least one hospital in the Gaza Strip to be “rumours on the internet”.

They got to hear the BBC provide a platform for Joe Catron’s obviously dishonest claim that Wafa hospital was not used by Hamas for military purposes and his promotion of the notion that the hospital in which he is currently located – Shifa – is not used by Hamas either. That of course is especially ridiculous in light of the fact that the BBC has interviewed at least one member of Hamas at that location.

Audiences also discovered – for the second time in two days – that not only has the BBC no intention of informing them about what really went on at Wafa hospital in Shuja’iya, but that it will actively hinder that information from coming to light, along with any other documentation of the use of civilians in Gaza as human shields.

They were also misled by Catron’s assertion that the foreign media in Gaza is able to report freely and that there cannot be any Hamas abuses of hospitals because the foreign media has not reported them. Increasingly, evidence coming out of the Gaza Strip shows that claim to be patently untrue. 

Listeners were exposed to Catron’s unchallenged and inaccurate assertion that over one thousand civilians have been killed in the Gaza Strip.

They were misled with regard to the civilian targets of Hamas missiles as Catron spouted propaganda straight from the Hamas handbook claiming that it targets military installations.

Clearly, the broadcasting of this interview with a Hamas supporter fails to contribute anything to the fulfilment of the BBC’s public purposes and the fact that his “standpoint” and affiliations were not declared to listeners breaches editorial guidelines.

No less worrying for the BBC should be the fact that it has rendered itself utterly indistinguishable from the Iranian regime’s media mouthpiece which Joe Catron usually frequents.

 

 

BBC’s Paul Adams amplifies Nazi analogy in coverage of Gaza ground op

One of several BBC journalists ‘parachuted in’ to the region recently in order to cover Operation Protective Shield is Paul Adams – usually based in London as a World Affairs correspondent.OP PE Adams vers 1

On July 18th the BBC News website published an article by Adams initially titled “Gaza casualties mount amid Israeli ground campaign” but later renamed “Hospital on Gaza conflict’s front line”. In his fourth paragraph Adams adheres to what has been standard BBC practice since the beginning of its reporting on this operation: the quotation and promotion of figures supplied by the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza without any qualifying statement regarding the fact that they have not been independently verified by the BBC and with no attempt made to distinguish between civilian and combatant casualty figures.

“But a new phase of operations inevitably brought a new wave of casualties – more than 20 dead, according to Gaza’s ministry of health. Among them at least three more children.”

Depending on the time at which Adams wrote those words, he should of course have pointed out to BBC audiences that at least fourteen terrorists were among the casualties on the first day of Israel’s ground operation.

A considerable proportion of Adams’ report relates to the Wafa rehabilitation hospital in the Shuja’iyeh neighbourhood of Gaza City which, incidentally, also accommodated members of the International Solidarity Movement with the staff’s knowledge and consent, although Adams refrains from mentioning that fact. 

“I found the patients and staff from the Wafa rehabilitation hospital sheltering in a Gaza City clinic.

The Wafa has been hit repeatedly in the past week. It’s close to the border and very close to some of the latest Israeli military activity.

Basman al-Ashi, the hospital’s executive director, said everything seemed quiet on Thursday night, until shelling intensified in the hours before troops entered the Gaza Strip.

With artillery rounds hitting the hospital once more, Basman decided to evacuate everyone.”

Leaflet distributed in Gaza Strip 16/7/14

Leaflet distributed in Gaza Strip 16/7/14

In fact, the hospital’s staff were directly alerted to the need to evacuate the premises by the IDF on the evening of July 15th –47 hours before the ground operation commenced – even according to B’Tselem.  General warnings were also issued to residents of that neighbourhood and others on the morning of July 16th. Contrary to the impression which readers receive from Adams’ report, the actual reason for the evacuation warning was the presence of terrorist infrastructure located near to the hospital.

Perhaps unwittingly, Adams provides evidence of the practice of locating weapons stores and missile launchers in the vicinity of medical facilities and other civilian structures when he goes on to write:

“As he recalled the scene, surrounded by his evacuated patients, two deafening salvoes of rockets took off from somewhere very close by – rockets fired by fighters from Hamas or one of the other armed factions.” [emphasis added]

No attempt is of course made by Adams to clarify to BBC audiences the legal significance of the practice he witnessed and he later goes on to deliberately mislead audiences by writing:

“Israel says rockets have been fired from Basman al-Ashi’s hospital, a charge his staff deny completely.”

Significantly, he does not ask the hospital’s director about the actual situation – i.e. that areas near the hospital have been used for the purposes of terrorism.

Adams does, however, take the opportunity to promote and amplify the hospital director’s use of a Nazi analogy.Op pe Adams vers 2

“Basman’s eyes closed for a moment in weary resignation, but opened wide in defiance when I suggested the actions of Hamas might simply make matters worse.

“It’s a very natural response for the Palestinians to respond, to defend themselves,” he insisted.

Israel, he said, had made “a concentration camp of 1.8 million people”.

“No air. No land. No sea. You’re trying to tell the people what? I’m putting you in prison and I want you to obey, eat, sleep and that’s it. We’re human.” ” [emphasis added]

One of the definitions of antisemitism according to the EUMC working definition is:

“Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.”

Even if that is what an executive director of a Gaza hospital with close links to the ISM actually said, there is no justification and no excuse for the BBC’s amplification and propagation of Nazi analogies.

It would have been helpful to BBC audiences’ understanding of the reality of the situation had Adams bothered to explain to readers that – contrary to al Ashi’s inaccurate claim – Israeli policy concerning the Gaza Strip is the result of the terrorism perpetrated by Hamas and other groups rather than the other way round. However, it is perfectly clear that Paul Adams did not set out in this article to provide BBC audiences with accurate and impartial information which really would enhance their “understanding of international issues“.   

Mainstreaming extremism on BBC Radio 4

BBC Radio 4 and the British Library collaborate on the collection of recordings for ‘The Listening Project’.

The following description of that project comes from the synopsis of a segment of one of the BBC’s recordings which was broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on April 25th 2014.

“The Listening Project is a Radio 4 initiative that offers a snapshot of contemporary Britain in which people across the UK volunteer to have a conversation with someone close to them about a subject they’ve never discussed intimately before. The conversations are being gathered across the UK by teams of producers from local and national radio stations who facilitate each encounter. Every conversation – they’re not BBC interviews, and that’s an important difference – lasts up to an hour, and is then edited to extract the key moment of connection between the participants. Most of the unedited conversations are being archived by the British Library and used to build up a collection of voices capturing a unique portrait of the UK in the second decade of the millennium.”The Listening Project

Titled “Adie and Ruth – Adventure in the Blood“, that particular edition of ‘The Listening Project’ featured a topic which the two participants had certainly “discussed before” – not least on BBC local radio in 2009, as is shown here.

Ruth: “We were on the phone to you one day and you said ‘Hi Mum, I’m in Cyprus painting a boat getting ready to go off to take things to Gaza’ – yeah? We had no idea, I don’t think, of the danger that you were going into and of course you didn’t tell us, did you?”

Adie: “No, I mean well, you know, you feel a bit powerless and it was something I really wanted to do, seeing this isolated people, was go out there. And one of the ways of doing that was through these boats and we were ready to set off.”

Ruth: “It wasn’t a very big boat, was it?”

Adie: “It was very small, very slow; about eight miles an hour. We were going like really slow in this sort of windy way and suddenly we’ve got about eight Israeli gunships surrounding us and as we got near the land in Gaza we were attacked and err…these military speedboats came running out as we were all standing there, not entirely sure what was gonna happen and they threw us to the ground and they came on in full military gear, they beat us up a bit.”

Ruth: “Literally threw you to the ground?”

Adie: “Absolutely and they dragged us in and we were in prison for a week. I remember calling you. I got one call from our lawyer and I spoke to you briefly.”

Ruth: “You said to me ‘Piece of cake, Mum – don’t worry about it; piece of cake’. I shall never forget that. When in fact it was nothing like a piece of cake but you didn’t tell us until when you got home afterwards.”

The Listening Project’s slogan is “It’s surprising what you hear when you listen”. What is most notable about this broadcast though is what audiences – despite listening – did not hear.

They did not hear the words ‘Free Gaza Movement’, or ‘International Solidarity Movement’ or ‘Hamas’ or ‘terror attacks on Israeli civilians’. They likewise did not hear anything about Adie Mormech’s involvement with both of the organisations mentioned above or his history of anti-Israel campaigning which includes support for the anti-peace BDS movement’s campaign to bring about the demise of Israel as the Jewish state.

And they certainly were not informed about the interview below which Mormech gave to Iran’s Press TV last year (not a one-off event, by any stretch of the imagination). Mormech’s fact-free rant in that interview, and others, raises serious questions regarding his reliability and credibility as a raconteur of anything intended to be described as ‘oral history’ to an institution such as the British Library.

But as we see, Adie Mormech’s extremism has been repackaged by the BBC into a whimsical mother and son anecdote and archived by the British Library as part of “a collection of voices capturing a unique portrait of the UK in the second decade of the millennium”.

Notably, whilst the BBC has shown interest in serious reporting of the subject of extremism in the form of British Islamists travelling to fight in Syria, it not only continues to ignore the extremism of organisations such as the International Solidarity Movement, the Free Gaza Movement, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and the BDS campaign, but repeatedly lends its voice to the mainstreaming of those organisations and others with similar extremist ideologies.