BBC News amplifies Balfour agitprop yet again

Last July the BBC News website chose to amplify Palestinian Authority agitprop in an article misleadingly titled “Palestinians plan to sue Britain over 1917 Balfour act” which was discussed here at the time.

Last October the BBC News website gave a whitewashed account of an event at the House of Lords at which veteran anti-Israel campaigner Jenny Tonge hosted a re-launch of the ‘Balfour Apology Campaign’ run by the Hamas-linked ‘Palestinian Return Centre’ (PRC).

In January 2017 the BBC refrained from reporting on related statements made by the Palestinian Authority’s Riyad al Maliki.

“When I met the British foreign secretary, I told him very clearly what we expect. We expect them to apologize, to accept their historical responsibility, to acknowledge [their culpability], and to pay reparations.” [emphasis added]

“So far, we haven’t heard from them. The current escalation on their part makes us consider [possible] Palestinian action with regard to all those issues, including our action with regard to the Balfour Declaration. I won’t be divulging anything by saying that we have made plans for action in the framework of our embassies and our communities in Europe and Britain, and plans to mobilize civil society institutions in Britain and elsewhere.” [emphasis added]

The British government has of course made it clear on several occasions that it has no intention of apologising for the Balfour Declaration.

On April 3rd the ‘UK Politics’ section of the BBC News website published an article titled “Britain should apologise for Balfour Declaration – peer” which describes a question tabled in the House of Lords on the same day as follows:

“A peer has called on the government to apologise for the “suffering” of Palestinians, 100 years after the Balfour Declaration.

The UK government declaration was the first commitment by a world power to a “Jewish national home” in Palestine.

Lord Warner said the UK had failed to protect the rights of non-Jewish people in the region and should apologise.

The government said there would be no apology but it would work for peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

During questions in the House of Lords, the Foreign Office Minister Baroness Anelay told the independent peer that the government “will mark the centenary of Balfour with pride” and had invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the UK.”

In the article’s third from last paragraph readers learn that:

“Lord Warner asked the question on behalf of absent independent peer Baroness Tonge, who quit the Liberal Democrats in 2012 over remarks she made about Israel.”

However, readers are not told that Lord Warner is a trustee of the Council for European Palestinian Relations (CEPR) according to the website of that Hamas-linked group which was outlawed by Israel in 2013. The CEPR’s director is Dr. Arafat Shoukri (aka Arafat Madi Mahmoud Shukri) who is also linked to the Palestinian Return Centre (PRC), which is likewise outlawed in Israel due to its links to Hamas.

Neither were readers of this report informed that Lord Warner has a long record of collaboration with delegitimisers of Israel and has previously made numerous anti-Israel statements in Parliament.

The BBC cannot claim to be providing its audiences with accurate and impartial coverage of the topic of the already redundant – yet ongoing – ‘Balfour Apology Campaign’ if it reports – and amplifies – support for that campaign from certain British parliamentarians without also clarifying to audiences their record on Israel and their links to organisations connected to a Palestinian terror group proscribed by the British government.

Related Articles:

Jenny Tonge & the Hamas Lobby  (UK Media Watch)

BBC News gives a whitewashed account of ‘controversial’ meeting in House of Lords

 

 

BBC News gives a whitewashed account of ‘controversial’ meeting in House of Lords

On October 27th the BBC News website’s UK Politics page ran an article headlined “Lib Dems suspend peer over controversial meeting“. Readers of the second version of the report were informed that:tonge-art

“A former Lib Dem MP has had her membership of the party suspended after chairing a meeting criticised as “shameful” by the Israeli embassy.

Baroness Tonge, who was already sitting as an independent peer, said she would now quit the party for good.”

Readers trying to understand why that meeting in the House of Lords was “controversial” and “shameful” had to make do with the following thirty-two word explanation:

“One person at the meeting reportedly compared Israel to so-called Islamic State. […]

The Jewish Chronicle reported that another audience member had implied an American rabbi had provoked Hitler into murdering Jews.”

A more comprehensive account of the proceedings is provided by David Collier, who was present at the event.

With regard to the purpose of the meeting, BBC News website readers were given the following vague description:

“The event, in the House of Lords, was organised by the Palestinian Return Centre as part of its campaign calling for the UK Government to “officially apologise for its past colonial crimes in Palestine”.”

In fact – as the PRC’s promotional material for the event clearly states – the meeting was part of an ongoing campaign by the PRC (and others – as the BBC has already partly reported) to get Britain to specifically ‘apologise’ for the Balfour Declaration rather than for any generalised “colonial crimes”.

“The Palestinian Return Centre is hosting an event inside the UK Parliament a week ahead of the 99th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration which will be on November 2nd. The Balfour Declaration, which had no basis of legal authority, promised the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine, where the indigenous Palestinians amounted to 90% of the total population.

After the Balfour Declaration Palestine became the victim of colonialism and Britain’s legacy is still evident today as Palestinians continue to be denied the right to self-determination and suffer from living under military occupation or as refugees. As the 100th year since the Balfour declaration approaches, the Palestinian Return Centre has decided to re-launch its campaign which started in 2013 called Balfour Apology Campaign which asks the UK Government to officially apologies for its past colonial crimes in Palestine.”

The BBC’s portrayal of the aim of the event therefore conceals the real agenda of the campaign of which this meeting was part: an agenda recently described by David Horovitz at the Times of Israel.

“The Balfour Declaration sought to restore a Jewish homeland while respecting the interests of the non-Jews who share this land. Thirty years later, the UN set out a specific framework for achieving this. This was not acceptable to the Arabs of Palestine and those who spoke for them at the time, since their desire for a first-ever Palestinian state was outweighed by their hostility to the notion of a revived Jewish state alongside them. And it is all too evidently not acceptable to the Palestinian leadership now.

In declaring diplomatic and legal war on the Balfour Declaration, Palestinian leaders are telling the world — to their and our enduring misfortune — that nothing has changed in 100 years, that their opposition to our state in any borders remains greater than their desire for their own independent entity. A century later, they are affirming that their refusal to share any part of this land with the Jewish people remains absolute.”

Readers would of course also have been in a better position to understand that agenda had they been given any background information about the Palestinian Return Centre (PRC) and told of its connections to Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood or the additional activities of individuals connected to that London-based organisation which has been banned in Israel since 2010.

Neither were readers informed of Jenny Tonge’s record of previous collaboration with the PRC and its various spin-offs which, as the Times recently reported, included a 2009 PRC paid trip to Syria to meet Bashar al Assad.

“Lady Tonge accompanied Mr Corbyn on the PRC trip to Syria in 2009. Mr Corbyn used the visit to allege that “once again the Israeli tail wags the US dog”, an allegation popular with conspiracy theorists and antisemites. […]

The politicians met Assad and thanked him for housing half a million Palestinian refugees since 1948.”

Remarkably, this BBC report gives uncritical amplification to Jenny Tonge’s advancement of a well-worn trope concerning ‘powerful’ Jews:

“Speaking to the BBC, Baroness Tonge blamed the “power of the Israel lobby” and its sway over UK political parties for her suspension.”

As David Aaronovitch noted at the Sunday Times:

“Ten years ago the baroness did the old one about Jewish financial power in the form of “the pro-Israeli lobby has got its grips on the western world, its financial grips”. She got a reprimand from her party leader for it. Six years ago it was the ancient blood libel (Jews kill gentiles for their blood or body parts, see also under Shylock), when she demanded an inquiry into absurd allegations that an Israeli aid mission to Haiti was harvesting organs from Haitians. She lost a front bench job for that.”

One might therefore have expected the BBC to provide readers with some obviously relevant context concerning Tonge’s ignominious record of antisemitic statements – and to be able to recognise (and identify as such) a version of the Jewish lobby trope before promoting it in a quote. But sadly, the BBC’s own record on that particular topic has long been disturbingly dismal.

Related Articles:

BBC News, PA Balfour agitprop and British history

Jenny Tonge & the Hamas Lobby

BBC whitewashes Jenny Tonge

Hamas entryism at the UN

The UN, the PRC and Hamas: a postscript with a twist

BBC whitewashes Jenny Tonge

In an article dated November 28th 2012, located in the UK Politics section of the BBC News website and entitled “William Hague says UK may abstain in Palestinian UN vote”, we find the following passage:

“In a short debate in the House of Lords – the UK Parliament’s second chamber – to mark the 95th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, independent peer Baroness Tonge said the Palestinians had been “totally betrayed” by successive British governments.

The 1917 Declaration, in the form of a letter by the then foreign secretary Arthur Balfour to Lord Rothschild, is regarded as the first significant assertion by a world power of their support for a Jewish “national home” in what was then known as Palestine.

Baroness Tonge, a frequent critic of Israel who quit the Lib Dems earlier this year, added: “By making our government’s support for the UN bid conditional on Palestine not pursuing Israel through the ICC, is the government not admitting Israel has committed war crimes in Gaza and the West Bank and is seeking impunity for that country?”

But Labour peer Lord Turnberg said he thought the UN application was “more of a distraction than a help” to efforts for peace.”

The so-called “short debate”, which took place on November 28th 2012, was in fact a question posed by Jenny Tonge – as clearly shown in the records

HoL Tonge

Interestingly, of all the contributions made to the discussion, the BBC elected to extensively highlight that of Jenny Tonge, whilst   euphemistically describing her as “a frequent critic of Israel”.  

There is much that can be said about Jenny Tonge’s long and extensive involvement in anti-Israel campaigns and none of it is pleasant. 

Having been removed from her position as an MP by her party in 2004 following her claim that she might consider becoming a suicide bomber if she lived in the Palestinian territories, Tonge ‘graduated’ to the House of Lords in 2005 after having been made a life peer.

There she continued to use her public platform to promote offensive – and often antisemitic – tropes such as those of Jewish power, ‘apartheid‘ and organ stealing – with the latter resulting in her removal from the position of Health Spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats. In February 2012, she finally parted ways with that party after refusing to apologise for yet more offensive anti-Israel remarks and now sits in the House as a representative of no-one but herself.

Jenny Tonge is a patron of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign – an organization which supports and enables proscribed terror organizations such as Hamas and has frequently dabbled in antisemitism itself.  She used to be a patron of the ‘Palestine Telegraph’ – an antisemitic ‘newspaper’ run by Hamas supporter Sameh Habeeb – and she is a “supporting VIP” of the Hamas-linked, flotilla-organising ‘European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza’. 

Khaled Meshaal (center right) meets British and EU lawmakers, headed by Clare Short (center left), in Damascus on Saturday. Tonge visited Hamas leader Khaled Masha’al in Damascus in 2009 (pictured here second to Masha’al’s right) and has made frequent trips to the Gaza Strip, including some at the expense of the Hamas lobbying front known as the Council for European Palestinian Relations

To describe Jenny Tonge as a “frequent critic of Israel” is therefore akin to portraying the BNP’s Nick Griffin as having a passing interest in demography. 

It is incomprehensible why the BBC should choose to highlight Tonge’s malicious fringe agenda – whilst whitewashing her shameful racism in the process.