BBC WS news bulletins amplify HRW delegitimisation campaign

For some time now the Palestinian Authority’s Jibril Rajoub has been exploiting sport as a means of delegitimising Israel for political ends. In recent years he has, among other things, tried to get Israel expelled from the International Olympic community, threatened legal action against sponsors of the Jerusalem Marathon and pressured UEFA to disallow Israel’s hosting of a tournament. As president of the Palestinian Football Association, last year Rajoub turned his attentions to FIFA and the BBC produced a series of reports amplifying his campaign to get Israel suspended from world football.Connolly FIFA filmed

BBC frames anti-Israel delegitimisation campaign as a sports story

Wind in the sails of Jibril Rajoub’s anti-Israel campaign from BBC WS WHYS

Kevin Connolly continues the BBC’s amplification of anti-Israel delegitimisation

This week (as civilians in Syria continue to have their human rights violated by being killed en masse) one of the BBC’s most quoted and promoted NGOs found time to publish a report which yet again highlights both the links between the agendas of some so-called human rights organisations and anti-Israel campaigning – as well as the media’s relationship with such groups.

The Human Rights Watch report is titled “Israel/Palestine: FIFA Sponsoring Games on Seized Land” and sub-headed “Israeli Settlement Football Clubs Contribute to Human Rights Violations”. The flimsy arguments behind HRW’s claim that playing football in Area C is a violation of human rights have already been dismantled by Professor Eugene Kontorovich.

“The football-as-human rights-violation arguments against Israel are tendentious and prove too much. So those campaigning against Israel rely principally on a lawyerly claim about FIFA’s rules: The clubs “clearly violate FIFA’s statutes, according to which clubs from one member association cannot play on the territory of another member association without its and FIFA’s consent,” the members claim.

The problem is nothing in the FIFA statutes that equates “territory” with sovereign territory. Indeed, that would be impossible, since many FIFA members are not sovereign states at all. Instead, territory, as is often the case in international texts, means jurisdiction.

This is because the FIFA is not a border demarcation body. That is why FIFA clearly separates any question of sovereign statehood and territory from FIFA membership by not requiring that member federations be recognized states (i.e. Hong Kong, American Samoa, Faroe Islands, Northern Ireland, etc.). The claim that the acceptance of the Palestinian soccer federation into FIFA constituted a recognition of Palestine as a state and a recognition of its maximal border claims is unsupportable. FIFA membership does not imply statehood, nor has FIFA ever taken a position on preexisting border disputes.”

Nevertheless, as noted in a comment on a previous post (thanks to D), the BBC World Service found HRW’s political campaigning worthy of inclusion in some of its summaries of world news on September 26th.ws-hrw-amplification-news-26-9

Listeners to this news summary were told (at 01:47) that:

“…Human Rights Watch is calling on world football’s governing body to force the relocation of six Israeli football clubs located in West Bank settlements considered illegal under international law. The campaign group says that FIFA is breaking its own rules.”

Those who tuned in to a later news bulletin were informed (at 01:45) that:

“…Human Rights Watch has called on world football’s governing body FIFA to force the relocation of six Israeli football clubs based in West Bank settlements considered illegal under international law. The Israeli authorities say it’s not up to FIFA to rule on political questions.”

As usual, no attempt was made to conform to editorial guidelines on impartiality by clarifying to audiences the existence of legal opinions which contradict that well-worn BBC mantra on the alleged illegality of Israeli communities in Area C and parts of Jerusalem. Moreover, despite those same editorial guidelines, no effort was made to clarify the “particular viewpoint” of HRW in relation to Israel and listeners were therefore unable to assess the group’s claims in the appropriate context.

Although this latest example of unchallenged BBC amplification of HRW’s politicised agenda is entirely predictable, it is of course extremely disturbing to see it being promoted in supposedly factual news bulletins.

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BBC’s mantra on ‘international law’ becomes even less impartial

BBC News amends misleading portrayal of Israeli construction

Earlier this week we noted that a report titled “US approves record $38bn Israel military aid deal” which was published on the BBC News website’s US & Canada and Middle East pages on September 13th presented an inaccurate and misleading portrayal of Israeli construction. As was observed at the time:military-aid-art

“The employment of phrases such as “Israeli settlement building”, “construction of Jewish settlements” and “construction of settlements” obviously leads BBC audiences to mistakenly believe that Israel is constructing new communities rather than – as is actually the case – building homes in existing towns and villages, most of which would under any reasonable scenario remain under Israeli control in the event of an agreement.”

Following communication from BBC Watch, the version of the article currently available online has now been amended.

The passage which previously stated “Pro-Palestinian groups criticised the deal, saying it rewards Israel despite the ongoing construction of Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank” now reads as follows:

“Pro-Palestinian groups criticised the deal, saying it rewards Israel despite the ongoing construction in Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank.”

The sentence which previously read “Last month, the White House warned that the construction of settlements posed a “serious and growing threat to the viability of a two-state solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict” has also been amended:

“Last month, the White House warned that the construction in settlements posed a “serious and growing threat to the viability of a two-state solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

[All emphasis added]

The amendments to the article can be viewed here.

Unfortunately, no footnote was added to explain the changes made and the continued absence of a dedicated corrections page on the BBC News website means that those who read the report in the week before it was amended will not be aware that they received inaccurate and misleading information.

BBC News pushes settlements narrative in report on another topic

On September 13th an article titled “US approves record $38bn Israel military aid deal” was published on the BBC News website’s US & Canada and Middle East pages. The next day – for reasons unknown – the article was rewritten and its date stamp changed.military-aid-art

Notwithstanding its declared subject matter, the original article told BBC audiences that:

“It [the agreement] was approved despite frustration within the Obama administration at Israeli settlement building.”

And:

“Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem have also been a sticking point between the allies.

Only last month, the White House chided Israel for a “dramatic acceleration” in such building on occupied Palestinian territory.”

The amended version tells readers that:

“Pro-Palestinian groups criticised the deal, saying it rewards Israel despite the ongoing construction of Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank. […]

Last month, the White House warned that the construction of settlements posed a “serious and growing threat to the viability of a two-state solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The settlements are considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.”

The employment of phrases such as “Israeli settlement building”, “construction of Jewish settlements” and “construction of settlements” obviously leads BBC audiences to mistakenly believe that Israel is constructing new communities rather than – as is actually the case – building homes in existing towns and villages, most of which would under any reasonable scenario remain under Israeli control in the event of an agreement.

The use of the phrase “building on occupied Palestinian territory” of course prevents audiences from understanding that all construction takes place in Area C or in Jerusalem and that under the terms of the Oslo Accords – signed by the recognised representatives of the Palestinian people – the future of those areas is to be determined in final status negotiations and in the meantime, no limitation on construction in those areas is imposed by the Accords.

The sentence “[o]nly last month, the White House chided Israel for a “dramatic acceleration” in such building…” clearly does not clarify to readers the real story behind that hyperbole and in fact actively misleads audiences with regard to the pace of building compared to previous years.

Construction completesThe insertion of the mantra concerning ‘international law’ as ever conceals from BBC audiences the existence of legal opinions which do not conform to the BBC’s chosen narrative.

Ostensibly, this is an article about a subject other than ‘settlements’ but as we see, a highly partial and misleading view of that topic – which does not serve the BBC’s remit of “enhancing audience understanding” but rather advances a specific political narrative – is nevertheless shoehorned into the report.  

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Examining the BBC’s claim that Israeli building endangers the two state solution

BBC reports on three terror attacks without using the word terror

A number of terror attacks which took place on Friday, September 16th were the topic of an article published on the BBC News website’s Middle East page on that day under the title “Spate of attacks on Israelis leaves three assailants dead“.art-terror-16-9

The report relates to three separate attacks. An attempted stabbing at Damascus Gate in Jerusalem by a Jordanian national who had entered Israel the previous day is described thus:

“In East Jerusalem, a Jordanian man was killed by security forces after trying to stab police outside Damascus Gate, according to Israeli authorities.

The site has been the scene of multiple attacks on Israelis, and killings of assailants, in previous months.”

A vehicular attack near Kiryat Arba by a Palestinian couple is described as follows:

“In one [attack], a Palestinian was shot dead after ramming his vehicle into civilians at a bus stop near the Israeli settlement of Kiryat Arba, the military said. Three people were wounded.

Another Palestinian who was involved in the attack was shot and wounded, officials said.”

A stabbing attack at a checkpoint in Hebron is portrayed as follows:

“Hours later, a Palestinian who stabbed and wounded a soldier at a junction near Hebron was shot dead, officials said.”

Notably – but entirely predictably – despite the fact that it describes three separate terror attacks, the word ‘terror’ does not appear in this report at all.

On the same day the driver of a bus travelling from Jerusalem to Ma’ale Adumim was injured in an additional attack. The next day – September 17th – a soldier was wounded in a stabbing attack in Tel Rumeida in Hebron. Early on the morning of September 18th, a soldier was wounded in additional attack in Efrat. Despite still being available online, the BBC’s report was not updated to include any of those attacks and no stand-alone reporting of them was published.

Although the BBC has had almost a year in which to independently verify the circumstances of the deaths of Palestinian terrorists, it continues to employ the qualifying “Israel says” formula and erases from audience view the four foreign nationals also killed during terror attacks since last October.

“Thirty-five Israelis been killed in a wave of knife, gun and car-ramming attacks by Palestinians or Israeli Arabs since last October.

More than 200 Palestinians – mostly attackers, Israel says – have also been killed in that period.”

The article closes with another now standard BBC mantra that amplifies PLO messaging:

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

As regular readers will be aware, the corporation has failed to provide its audiences with any meaningful reporting on the topic of incitement and glorification of terrorism by official Palestinian bodies throughout the past year. It has also refrained from informing them of the existence of additional factors underpinning the violence such as religious ideology.

One of the perpetrators of the vehicular attack reported in this article clarified her motivation in writing.

“A Palestinian woman who took part in a car-ramming attack that injured three Israeli teenagers last week left a note stating her motive: to atone for her premarital relationship with the driver of the vehicle.

Raghad Khadour, 20, detailed her reasons for joining her boyfriend — who drove a pickup truck on Friday into a group of Israelis waiting at a bus stop outside the Kiryat Arba settlement in the West Bank — in a written testament, Arabic media sources said.”

Since that motive does not fit in with the BBC’s much promoted mantra of “frustration rooted in decades of Israeli occupation”, it is of course highly unlikely that BBC audiences will be informed of the real background to an attack the corporation cannot even bring itself to accurately define as terrorism.

BBC R4 and WS inaccurate on Western Wall yet again

On September 8th the BBC promoted a radio report as follows on Twitter:

tweet-promoting-crossing-continents-8-9

In fact, David Baker’s radio report “Torah & Tech in Israel” – which was broadcast both on ‘Crossing Continents’ on BBC Radio 4 and on the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Assignment’ on September 8th  – is far more interesting and nuanced than that Tweet suggests.crossing-continents-8-9

“Can you learn to code if you have spent your life studying religious texts? Can you be part of the fast-paced, secular world of technology and start-ups if you are from a conservative religious community? Israel has been called the ‘Startup Nation’, with a flourishing technology sector playing a big role in the country’s economy. But one group who have not traditionally been involved are ultra-Orthodox Jews, known as Haredim. They often live apart from mainstream Israeli society and adhere to strict religious laws covering everything from diet to dress and technology. Many men don’t work or serve in the army, spending their lives studying the Torah, subsidised by the government. It is a way of life that leaves many Haredim in poverty, and other Israelis resenting picking up the tab. But in recent years, the ultra-orthodox have been increasingly joining the high-tech world, working in big international tech companies and founding their own start-ups. David Baker travels to Israel to meet the new breed of high-tech Haredim, and find out how they reconcile taking part in the ‘Startup Nation’ with traditional Torah life.”

Unfortunately, that otherwise accurate and impartial report is marred by a rather basic – but for some reason not uncommon – inaccuracy in its introduction.

“This is the Wailing Wall and it’s Tisha B’Av: a day of mourning in the Jewish calendar. And thousands of Jews have gathered here to remember the destruction of the Jewish Temple in this very place 2,000 years ago. There are many here pushing up against these stones. This is the wall that was the original Temple which was destroyed here in 70 AD.” [emphasis added]

As has been noted here before:

“The term ‘Wailing Wall’ is of course a British invention, appearing in nineteenth century English travel literature and employed by the British after their conquest of Jerusalem in 1917. It is not used by Israelis or Jews: the much older place-name HaKotel HaMa’aravi – translated as the Western Wall – is the one used by the people for whom the site has cultural and religious significance. And yet, despite the fact that the BBC is conscientious about employing place-names such as Mumbai and Beijing rather than the old Anglicised terms Bombay or Peking, it continues to promote the anachronistic term ‘Wailing Wall’ even in its style guide.

“Western Wall – (in Jerusalem) avoid ‘Wailing Wall’ except after a first reference – eg: The man attacked tourists near the Western Wall (the so-called Wailing Wall).””

And – as noted last year in an article documenting inaccuracies in a filmed guide to Judaism provided to journalists by the BBC Academy:

“Standing in front of the Western Wall, Buchanan tells viewers:

“This is the remains of the outer wall of the Jewish Second Temple, built by King Herod the Great.”

No – that is a retaining wall of the Temple Mount plaza: not a remnant of the Temple itself.”

It is perhaps not surprising that journalists, producers and editors making content for the BBC repeatedly promote inaccurate information when one of their references on this topic is in itself inaccurate. The BBC Academy has however done nothing to correct the inaccuracies in its filmed guide to Judaism.

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Thumbs up for BBC News’ Temple Mount archaeology report

Thumbs up for BBC News’ Temple Mount archaeology report

On September 6th the BBC News website published its own version of a story currently making headlines in Israel under the title “Jerusalem Biblical Temple floor designs ‘restored’“.temple-mount-flooring-story

Given the BBC’s record of inaccurate reporting on Temple  Mount, it was encouraging to see that this article avoided many of the issues seen in the past.

Earlier this year we documented changes in the terminology used by the BBC to describe the site and the replacement of the title Haram al Sharif with the politicised term ‘Al Aqsa Mosque compound’. This latest report adhered to the guidelines set out in the BBC Academy’s ‘style guide’.

“Archaeologists in Jerusalem say they have for the first time reconstructed likely designs of a Biblical Jewish temple floor using original fragments.

Experts reassembled pieces of tiles found amid tons of earth from the site known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif.”

In the past we have also seen BBC reports in which audiences were inaccurately led to believe that the Western Wall is Judaism’s holiest site. This article gave readers an accurate representation of the significance of the site to Jews and Muslims.  

“The plateau where the temples stood is the most sacred site in Judaism. It is joined by the Western Wall, venerated by Jews as part of the original supporting wall of the temple compound.

Haram al-Sharif (Noble Sanctuary) is also the place where the Koran says the Prophet Muhammad ascended to Heaven, and is the third holiest site in Islam.”

The article even provided a reasonable – and rare – account of why the Temple Mount Sifting Project came into being.

“The Temple Mount Sifting Project was established by Israeli archaeologists in 2004 to examine debris dumped by Islamic authorities following expansion work at an underground mosque on the compound.”

One can but hope that the standard of accurate reporting seen in this report concerning archaeology will also find its way into BBC News’ reporting on political stories concerning Temple Mount.

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Mapping changes in the terminology used by the BBC to describe Temple Mount

BBC News continues to ignore Palestinian glorification of terror

Throughout the past year BBC audiences have on countless occasions been provided with an ‘explanation’ of Palestinian terror attacks on Israelis which goes along the following lines:

“The recent rise in violence is blamed by Palestinians on the continued occupation by Israel of the West Bank and the failure of the Middle East peace process.

Israel accuses Palestinian leaders and Islamist groups of inciting the violence.”

However, as has been noted here on equally numerous occasions, audiences have been serially denied information which would enhance their understanding of the topic of the incitement and glorification of terrorism propagated by official Palestinian sources.

Last October the BBC reported the terror attack on a public bus in Jerusalem in which two Israelis were murdered. A third person severely wounded in the same attack succumbed two weeks later but his death was not reported by the BBC. One of the two terrorists who carried out that attack was killed at the scene and his subsequent glorification by the Palestinian Scout Association has prompted the son of one of the victims of that attack to approach the World Organisation of the Scout Movement.PMW Alyan scouts

“The Palestinian Scout Association, which was accepted six months ago as a full member of the World Organization of the Scout Movement, named its leadership training course that started last week after the killer of Richard Lakin.

Publicity for the Martyr – Leader Baha Alyan Course shows Alyan in a Palestinian scouts uniform. The Palestinian branch had been a non-voting conditional member of the world body for 10 years.

“Should you allow the Palestinian Scout Association to keep its membership in the World Organization of the Scout Movement at the same time as they are presenting a murderer as a role model for future scout leaders, then your organization is effectively a co-sponsor of this terror promoting course,” Micah Lakin Avni wrote to the world scouting organization in a Times of Israel blog post.”

The BBC has to date not reported that example (or others) of the manner in which terrorists are glorified by official Palestinian bodies and hence continues to deny its audiences the ability to understand why “Israel accuses Palestinian leaders and Islamist groups of inciting the violence”.

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More BBC promotion of the ‘Peace Now’ narrative on construction

A report on preliminary planning permission for a housing project for senior citizens would not normally make front page news on the BBC News website. That, however, is precisely what happened on August 31st and the reason for that is the fact that the planning permission was granted by an Israeli body.

The article – titled “Israel ‘approves 464 settlement homes in West Bank’” – was published on the BBC News website’s main homepage, on its ‘World’ page and on its ‘Middle East’ page. As has often been the case in past BBC reporting on Israeli construction, the article opens with amplification of messaging from the political NGO ‘Peace Now’.construction art 31 8

“Israel has approved the construction of 285 new homes at Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, according to the settlement watchdog Peace Now.

A 234-unit nursing home in Elkana, 30 houses in Beit Arye and 20 in Givat Zeev got the go-ahead on Tuesday.

Retrospective permits were also issued for 179 existing homes in Ofarim.”

Further ‘Peace Now’ messaging – together with a link to its website – appears later on in the article.

In addition, the 387 word report devotes over a quarter of its word count – one hundred and seven – to the portrayal of the reaction of an unnamed “senior US official”.

“The US said it was “deeply concerned” and warned that settlement expansion posed a “very serious and growing threat” to peace with the Palestinians. […]

A senior US official told the AFP news agency that settlement expansion – as well as continuing demolitions of Palestinian homes – “fundamentally undermines the prospects for a two-state solution and risks entrenching a one-state reality of perpetual occupation and conflict”.

“We are particularly troubled by the policy of retroactively approving illegal outposts and unauthorised settlement units,” the official said.

“These policies have effectively given the government’s green light for the pervasive advancement of settlement activity in a new and potentially unlimited way.””

A further seventy-seven words are allocated to reporting “similar criticism” from a UN official while the Israeli response is allocated 47 words.

“A spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Mr Mladenov of distorting history.

“Jews have been in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria for thousands of years and their presence there is not an obstacle to peace,” David Keyes said, using the biblical names for the West Bank.” [emphasis added]

Readers are not informed of the politicised origins of the term ‘West Bank’ or of the fact that until the area was occupied by Jordan in 1948, it was known – even by the British Mandatory authorities and the UN – as Judea & Samaria.

At no point are readers made aware of the fact that all the locations mentioned in this report are situated in areas which under any realistic scenario (such as those laid out in the Clinton plan or the Olmert plan) would remain under Israeli control in the event of a negotiated agreement with the Palestinians.

map beit arye

map G Zeev

The report predictably includes the standardyet partial – BBC mantra that is found in any report concerning the topic of construction.

“About 570,000 Israelis live in more than 100 settlements built since Israel’s 1967 occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The settlements are considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.”

The article closes with an over simplified portrayal of the end to the last round of talks between Israel and the PLO.

“There have been numerous rounds of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians since the early 1990s, with the last collapsing in acrimony in 2014.”

That account of events has of course become a standard inclusion in BBC content.

Once again we see that the BBC does not even pretend to produce impartial reporting on the topic of Israeli construction in Judea & Samaria and certain districts in Jerusalem. Instead, audiences are herded towards a monochrome view of the subject in an article which is less concerned with enhancing audience understanding than with contributing to the advancement of the political narrative the BBC has chosen to adopt.

Related Articles:

Examining the BBC’s claim that Israeli building endangers the two state solution

The return of the BBC’s political narrative on Israeli construction

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Flaws in BBC’s ‘explanation’ of Palestinian terror again exposed

Despite at least one BBC News producer being aware of the incident, the corporation chose not to report a narrowly averted terror attack against travellers on the Jerusalem light rail system last month.

“Police in downtown Jerusalem on Sunday morning arrested a Palestinian man who was found to be carrying explosives and knives in his backpack.

The suspect, identified as a West Bank resident, was detained near the light rail stop on Jaffa Road after he raised the suspicions of a security guard.

Police said the man was standing “behind the stop, with a bag in his hand.” When the guard asked to examine the contents of the bag, he noticed a bomb and called police.”

Over the past ten months the BBC has promoted a standard ‘explanation’ for Palestinian terrorism which funnels audience attentions towards the subject of ‘the occupation’. As has been noted here throughout that time, that selective framing removes from view issues such as official Palestinian Authority incitement and glorification of terrorism and downplays or erases the often relevant factor of religious ideology.

The investigation into the thwarted attack on users of the Jerusalem light rail system revealed the would-be bomber’s motive.

“On July 15, Ali Abu Hassan entered Israel through a valley outside of the eastern Tsur Baher neighborhood, with the intention of carrying out an attack in the capital as a form of “revenge for visits by tourists and Israeli Jews to the Temple Mount,” police said in a statement.

He was armed with three pipe bombs he had linked together into one large explosive and had covered with nails and screws dipped in rat poison. “In his bag there were also two knives and a cellphone,” police said Tuesday.”

Since last autumn the BBC has consistently avoided informing its audiences about the Temple Mount related incitement propagated by even the highest Palestinian Authority officials.Abbas filthy feet

“The Al-Aqsa [Mosque] is ours… and they have no right to defile it with their filthy feet. We will not allow them to, and we will do everything in our power to protect Jerusalem.” [Official PA TV, Sept. 16, 2015 and official website of PA Chairman Abbas, Sept. 16, 2015]

That BBC policy however goes back further than the particular wave of terror which began last autumn, with the corporation long having refrained from providing its audiences with any meaningful reporting on the religious ideology which lies behind the frequently seen violent opposition to visits by non-Muslims at a site of significance to all three Abrahamic religions. 

As long as the self-styled “standard-setter for international journalism” continues to employ that policy of self-censorship, this is obviously one “international issue” on which BBC audiences will continue to be sold short.

Another Temple Mount incident ignored by BBC News

BBC reporting of confrontations on Temple Mount has often been selective in the past and so it came as little surprise to see that the corporation elected to ignore this story:Kotel at night 2

“Two members of the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf were arrested Wednesday after allegedly attacking Israeli archaeologist Zachi Dvira on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem.

A group of six Israeli archaeologists were attacked by eight Waqf members as they toured the holy site, the Hebrew language Ynet website reported. The clash began after the Israeli group refused to leave the compound when ordered to do so by the Waqf personnel.”

A first-hand account of that incident can be found here.

“The Waqf’s demands were unsolicited and absurd, especially when they prevented us from seeking out the police. Officially, the Waqf guards have no authority upon tourists walking in the open courts of the Mount. Their only authority is inside the Mosques, in which tourists are not allowed. The only official authority are the police, and it is sad that these types of incidents are often overlooked due to political concerns and that the Waqf guards can harass innocent tourist.”

Once again we see that audiences do not receive news which does not tie in with the BBC’s prevailing narrative.

Relatedly, we noted here last month that a BBC Trust adviser handling an appeal concerning a BBC report wrote:

“…the Al-Aqsa Mosque is situated very close to, and on the same raised platform as, the Dome of the Rock (under which the ruins of the two Jewish temples are assumed to be buried – although there was ongoing debate about this)” [emphasis added]

We remarked:

“One can only hope that the bolded statement above does not suggest that the BBC subscribes to or accommodates the narrative of ‘Temple denial’ propagated by some PA officials and others.”

The Times of Israel recently published an interview with the Palestinian Authority’s “top cleric”.

“But regarding the holiest site in Judaism, the Temple Mount — known to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif — Habbash said the idea that ancient Jewish temples stood where the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem stands today is a myth.

Habbash was unfazed by a 1925 pamphlet on the Temple Mount produced by the Supreme Islamic Council, the body in charge of Muslim community affairs during the British Mandate in Palestine from 1920 to 1948, that states that the Temple Mount is indisputably the former site of Solomon’s temple. While he respects the Jews’ right to their own narrative, Habbash said, there is a “reality on the ground.” […]

Pressed on this point — wasn’t it once the Waqf’s own narrative that Solomon’s temple was on the mount? — Habbash’s response, in short, was this: forget narratives and concentrate on the status quo. “Please, please, don’t push us against the wall” and make this a religious war, he said, in which Israel would find “two billion Muslims as well as two billion Christians against you.” This unveiled threat was delivered in the calmest, nicest way imaginable.

Following the interview, Habbash asked for a copy of the pamphlet. In a statement to The Times of Israel, he questioned the document’s authenticity, saying he has “plenty of reasons to believe that some of the sentences were altered and new phrases and terms were injected in order to make it look like it endorses the Jewish narrative that the area where Haram al-Sharif stands used to be the site of the Temple Mount.””

The ability of BBC audiences to understand the frequently reported tensions surrounding Temple Mount would obviously be enhanced were they informed of the motivations that lie behind the Palestinian tactic of negation of Jewish history in Jerusalem. However, with the BBC increasingly compromising its own impartiality by adopting PLO approved terminology and narrative, it seems unlikely that audiences will be provided with objective information which would contribute to their understanding of that issue anytime soon.

Related Articles:

A Temple Mount incident ignored by BBC News

BBC News ignores latest Temple Mount rioting

BBC News ignores Northern Islamic Movement ban – in English

BBC ignores Jordanian cancellation of US brokered Temple Mount plan

Mapping changes in the terminology used by the BBC to describe Temple Mount