BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel – March 2020

The Israel Security Agency’s report on terror attacks (Hebrew) throughout March 2020 shows that throughout the month a total of 89 incidents took place: 50 in Judea & Samaria, 37 in Jerusalem and inside the ‘green line’ and two in the Gaza Strip sector.

In Judea & Samaria and Jerusalem the agency recorded 74 attacks with petrol bombs, five attacks using pipe bombs, three arson attacks, one shooting attack, one stabbing and three incidents of rock throwing and two grenade attacks. In the Gaza Strip sector two rocket attacks were recorded.

Five people – three civilians and two members of the security forces – were injured during March. Four of them were injured in attacks with petrol bombs in Jerusalem and one was injured in a rock throwing attack in the Binyamin district.

The BBC News website did not report any of the incidents which took place throughout the month, including the rocket attack from the Gaza Strip on March 27th.

Throughout the first quarter of 2020 visitors to the BBC News website saw coverage of 8.5% of the terror attacks against Israelis which actually took place.

Related Articles:

BBC News ignores rocket attack from Gaza Strip

Summary of BBC News website portrayal of Israel and the Palestinians – March 2020

BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel – February 2020

BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel – January 2020

BBC travel show brings in political activist on Jerusalem archaeology

The March 8th edition of the BBC World News and BBC News TV channels programme ‘The Travel Show’ included an item billed as “Jerusalem’s Underground History” (available in the UK here)

“This week, Rajan Datar explores the hidden treasure underneath the streets of Jerusalem. He walks on recently excavated 2,000 year old roads and discovers old church chambers from the time of the crusaders. “

At 38 seconds into the report viewers were told of a “controversial” archaeological excavation and Datar went to visit the City of David site, taking a tour of the Pilgrimage Road. Viewers heard that the site was “discovered by accident” in 2004 but were not informed that British archaeologists actually dug there in 1894 and that further excavations were conducted during the Mandate period and the Jordanian occupation.

Viewers heard that:

Datar: “The Pilgrimage Road runs from the ancient Siloam Pool to Temple Mount – also known as Haram esh [sic] Sharif in Arabic – at the top.”

They were not informed of the road’s purpose – who was making a pilgrimage and to where – and Datar went on to visit additional parts of the City of David site.

At 04:54, the item took a political turn. [emphasis in italics in the original]

Datar: “Whilst the project team insist upmost safety for the local residents is the priority, that isn’t quite how everybody feels, especially among the Palestinian community who live here in Silwan, above the City of David site, which they call Wadi Hilweh. Local residents say cracks and sloping like this to dozens of houses have been caused by the excavation, complaining it’s like enduring an earthquake. None the less, the Israeli Supreme Court rejected those claims.”

In fact, only a small part of Silwan lies “above the City of David” site and related legal cases have been rejected by the Supreme Court on more than one occasion.

At 05:27, Datar brought in “Aziz, a travel writer and guide” to give “the alternative Palestinian perspective”. Despite BBC editorial guidelines concerning contributors’ affiliations, viewers were not told that Aziz Abu Sarah is also (as the BBC should know, having interviewed him in 2018) an activist associated with political NGOs.

After viewers had heard Abu Sarah complain that a project documenting biblical Jerusalem does not “tell you the story of the Palestinian residents” in Jerusalem or “the history of the Islamic groups that have lived in Jerusalem” – without clarifying that the Muslim conquest in Jerusalem took place in the 7th century – they saw Datar visit a Crusader site underneath a business in the Old City. While Abu Sarah claimed that “we didn’t know this exists a year and a half, two years ago”, similar Crusader era structures were discovered long before that timeframe.

At the end of the item Datar told viewers:

Datan: “So here’s the rub: in Jerusalem any excavation is going to be both amazing and controversial at the same time.”

Obviously Jerusalem has multiple layers of history which visitors can explore at a variety of sites and museums in addition to the City of David. What makes archaeology ‘controversial’ however is politicisation of the topic and Datan appears to have bought into that with the help of an inadequately presented political activist whose “affiliations, funding and particular viewpoints” were not disclosed to viewers.  

Related Articles:

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BBC Travel Show inaccurate on Jaffa demography

BBC Radio 4 airs superficial report on Israel’s Coronavirus measures

The March 6th edition of the BBC radio 4 programme ‘The World Tonight’ included a report (from 16:48 here) which suggests that following the discovery of seven Coronavirus cases in Bethlehem on March 5th and the subsequent introduction of measures by the Palestinian Authority which included the closure of the Church of the Nativity, the BBC decided to send a reporter to that town.

Presenter Shaun Ley introduced the item. [emphasis in italics in the original]

Ley: “Now, as governments try to contain the spread of Coronavirus, some of the strictest quarantine measures anywhere in the world are in place in Israel, where 21 cases gave been reported. So far, it’s closed its borders to more than ten countries, and ordered travellers recently arrived from places like France Germany and Spain to self-isolate for fourteen days. Yesterday the first cases were confirmed in the West Bank in the town of Bethlehem. Within hours the main checkpoint from there into Israel had been shut down. The prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu said he’s unafraid to take harsh measures to try to contain the virus. But how stringently are they being followed and is there a wider economic impact to consider? Our Middle East correspondent Anna Foster begins her report in Bethlehem.”

Anna Foster commenced with the debatable claim that the Church of the Nativity is “the world’s oldest church” and by promoting the notion that Bethlehem – which has been under exclusive PA control for nearly a quarter of a century – is “occupied”.

Foster: “The sight of the ancient wooden door being firmly locked made headlines. The world’s oldest church where Christians believe Jesus was born, forced to close its doors as Coronavirus reached the occupied territories. I watched as the final visitors scrambled to touch the metal star that marks the spot. Hand after hand rubbing it without any soap and water in sight.”

Foster spoke to some German tourists who did not seem to be paying particular attention to instructions concerning self-isolation before going on:

Foster: “In Israel tens of thousands of locals and tourists are now in self-quarantine. But if you’re on holiday and not following the Hebrew media, how do you find out if you’re affected and what you should be doing?”

Listeners were not told that there are numerous non-Hebrew media outlets in Israel reporting daily on that topic or that both the Ministry of Health and the ambulance service provide information and help lines in English and other languages. Instead, Foster asked a worker at a hotel in Jerusalem:

Foster: “Should you be trying to tell them more though, because the government would want you to pass that information on for them, wouldn’t they?”

Moving on to the Old City in Jerusalem, Foster noted the reduction in the number of tourists.

Foster: “Israel is proud of its proactive approach to containing Coronavirus but shop owners like Mohammed can already see the impact of keeping tourists away.”

When her interviewee complained that business was already in decline because of “the situations between the Israel and the Palestinians” Foster did not explain to listeners the effects of Palestinian terrorism and violence on the tourism industry.

As we see, listeners to this superficial report did not in fact find out why the Israeli government has implemented “some of the strictest quarantine measures anywhere in the world” or what steps are being taken to help sectors impacted by the situation.

Neither did they hear anything of the co-operation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority which has included the evacuation of tourists from PA controlled areas and the supply of testing kits and training.

“COGAT has been working in the past two weeks to assist the Palestinian Authority in curbing and preventing a coronavirus outbreak in Judea and Samaria and in the Gaza Strip.  Under the stewardship of Civil Administration Health Coordinator Dalia Basa, 250 coronavirus test kits have been transferred from Israel to the PA. Furthermore, joint training sessions for Israeli and Palestinian medical personnel were organized for the professional study of the virus, the protection of medical personnel, and the testing of patients suspected of being virus carriers.

In addition, COGAT has made available to the Palestinian public through its digital platform – the unit’s website and Arabic language social media pages (Al-Munassiq) – the Israeli health ministry guidelines on prevention and protection from the virus spread and ways to deal with contagion and outbreak.  The information published in Arabic is available to the entire Palestinian public in Judea and Samaria and in the Gaza Strip.”

That information would of course have been far more useful to BBC audiences trying to understand how Israel is handling the situation than interviews with a couple of random tourist industry workers in Jerusalem.  

BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel – February 2020

The Israel Security Agency’s report on terror attacks (Hebrew) throughout February 2020 shows that throughout the month a total of 332 incidents took place: 142 in Judea & Samaria, 29 in Jerusalem and inside the ‘green line’ and 161 in the Gaza Strip sector.

In Judea & Samaria and Jerusalem the agency recorded 141 attacks with petrol bombs, 9 attacks using pipe bombs, ten arson attacks, two shooting attacks, one vehicular attack, four stabbings, two incidents of rock throwing and two grenade attacks.

Incidents recorded in the Gaza Strip sector included two shooting attacks, eighteen petrol bomb attacks, nine IED attacks, one incident of sniper fire, three pipe bomb attacks, one incident of anti-aircraft missile fire and 127 incidents of rocket fire.

Sixteen people – all but one members of the security forces – were wounded during February including one in a petrol bomb attack in Hebron on February 3rd, ten in a vehicular attack in Jerusalem on February 6th, one in a shooting attack in Jerusalem on February 6th, one in a shooting attack near Dolev on February 6th, one civilian in a stabbing attack in Jerusalem on February 21st, and two in rock-throwing incidents on February 10th and 21st.

The BBC News website published two reports relating to terrorism throughout February. In a report that appeared on February 6th – “Israeli-Palestinian violence flares up”, discussed here – readers were told of the vehicular attack and two shooting attacks which took place on that day. The report also made brief mentions of explosive devices being thrown in Jenin and a petrol bomb in Hebron. Readers saw a second-hand reference to attacks from the Gaza Strip which had not been reported by the BBC at the time:

“There were also further Israeli air strikes on militant sites in Gaza Strip after militants fired mortars into Israel. […]

Israeli warplanes also struck a number of Hamas positions in the Gaza Strip early on Thursday, including an underground complex and a maintenance facility, after mortars and balloons loaded with explosives were launched towards Israel, the Israeli military said. […]

On Wednesday, the military said 13 rockets had been fired from Gaza in a week.”

The second report – “Israel-Gaza sees surge of cross-border violence”, discussed here – appeared on February 24th. BBC audiences were told that:

“On Sunday [February 23rd], more than 20 rockets were fired from Gaza into southern Israel, causing some damage. […]

On Monday [February 24th], the Israeli military carried out further air strikes on PIJ targets in Gaza, after at least 14 rockets were launched from the territory into southern Israel.”

Although BBC audiences would therefore have concluded from that report that around 34 projectiles were fired from the Gaza Strip on February 23rd and 24th, the actual number of attacks was over 110.

Hence, it can at best be said that the BBC News website reported around 55 of the 332 attacks which took place during February and that during the first two months of the year its audiences saw coverage – sometimes in the form of a brief second-hand mention – of less than 10% of the Palestinian terror attacks which took place.

Related Articles:

BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel – January 2020

Summary of BBC News website portrayal of Israel and the Palestinians – February 2020

 

More BBC News promotion of its politicised narrative on Jerusalem

A report headlined “Jerusalem: Jordan condemns Israeli Western Wall railway plan” was published on the BBC News website’s ‘Middle East page on February 18th.

The apparent purpose of the report is to inform BBC audiences of the objections of another country to plans to extend a railway in Jerusalem.  

“Jordan has condemned a decision by Israel to advance a plan to build a railway line and station underneath the heart of Jerusalem’s Old City. […]

Jordan called the move a “flagrant violation of international law”.

Foreign ministry spokesman Daifallah al-Fayez urged the international community to “assume its responsibilities to resist the illegitimate and illegal Israeli steps”.”

Readers were not informed by the BBC which particular “international law” relates to the construction of railways.

They did however see one-sided portrayal of parts of the city of Jerusalem, including a frequently used map sourced from the political NGO B’tselem.

“A 3km (2-mile) tunnel will lead to the Western Wall – one of Judaism’s holiest sites – in the city’s occupied east.”

“The status of Jerusalem goes to the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Israel regards Jerusalem as its “eternal and undivided” capital, while the Palestinians claim East Jerusalem – occupied by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war – as the capital of a future state.” [emphasis added]

Predictably however, readers were not told that what the BBC chooses to call “East Jerusalem” was invaded and occupied by Jordan nineteen years earlier or that in June 1967 it was Jordan which opened the hostilities on that front. Neither were they provided with any significant background information concerning the Waqf and its status before being informed that:

“Jordan has special responsibility for overseeing the Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem – including the compound behind the Western Wall, known to Muslims as al-Haram al-Sharif (the Noble Sanctuary) and to Jews as the Temple Mount – via an Islamic trust called the Waqf.”

The BBC is obliged under the terms of its Charter to “provide impartial news and information to help people understand and engage with the world around them”. Its adoption and exclusive promotion of one-sided politicised narratives which deliberately omit relevant information cannot possibly be claimed to serve audiences in accordance with those obligations.

Related Articles:

BBC News report on Jerusalem planning fails to meet impartiality guidelines

A politicised BBC report on a new train line

Continuing documentation of the BBC’s B’Tselem map binge

BBC News portrayal of Palestinian violence sticks to the narrative

On February 6th a report concerning the recent increase in terror attacks perpetrated by Palestinians appeared on the BBC News website’s ‘Middle East’ page under the headline “Israeli-Palestinian violence flares up”.  

The false equivalence implied in that headline was repeated in the report’s opening lines.

“There has been a flare-up in violence in Israel and the Palestinian territories, days after US President Donald Trump unveiled his peace plan.”

In addition to failing to adequately clarify to audiences that the “flare-up” is the result of decisions made by Palestinians to engage in violence, the report uses frequently seen themes such as the negation of Palestinian agency and the portrayal of incidents using the superfluous “Israel says” formula. 

The report portrays a number of incidents which took place on February 6th, the first of which was a vehicular attack on a group of Israeli soldiers in Jerusalem. Readers were told that: [emphasis added]

“Twelve Israeli soldiers were meanwhile hurt in Jerusalem in what the army said was a Palestinian car-ramming attack.”

“The first [attack] took place shortly before 02:00 local time (00:00 GMT) near the First Station entertainment venue in central Jerusalem.

The Israeli military said a “Palestinian rammed his car” into a group of soldiers who were marching along a pavement towards the Western Wall, one of Judaism’s holiest sites, for an induction ceremony.

One of the soldiers was seriously hurt and required surgery at the Shaare Zedek Medical Centre, while the others were lightly injured.”

The word ‘marching’ was added to the second version of the report with the original using the word ‘walked’. According to Israeli media the IDF spokesperson did not use the word marching as claimed by the BBC.

“IDF Spokesperson Hidai Zilberman said the troops were members of the Golani Brigade who were at the First Station during a “heritage tour” ahead of an early morning swearing-in ceremony at the Western Wall. […]

According to Zilberman, an initial investigation into the attack found that the soldiers were standing on the sidewalk next to the station when the car rammed them suddenly at high speed.”

The BBC’s report goes on to state that “The driver fled the scene and the car was later found abandoned near Beit Jala, a suburb of Bethlehem.”

Readers were not informed that:

“Small-scale clashes broke out in the village and the surrounding area as Israeli troops searched for the driver, who had fled the scene after hitting the soldiers.”

The second incident was described by the BBC as follows:

“Hours after the car-ramming attack, a man opened fire at several Israeli police officers stationed near Lion’s Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City, wounding one of them in the hand, a police spokesman said.”

As usual the BBC refrained from describing the incidents as terrorism in its own words and the only use of that term came in direct quotes from Israeli officials.

“”The terrorist himself was shot and neutralised at the scene,” he added. […]

Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan praised the officers for acting “quickly, determinedly and professionally” and said Israeli security forces would “act in any way possible to thwart the plans by the terror groups to escalate tensions”.”

The BBC report described the third incident thus:

“In the third attack, an Israeli soldier was lightly wounded in a drive-by near the Jewish settlement of Dolev, north-west of the West Bank city of Ramallah. The assailant fled the scene and a manhunt is continuing.”

What the BBC termed “a drive-by” was a shooting attack in which a soldier was wounded in the head.

The BBC report continued with a description of an incident in Jenin:

“Meanwhile, two Palestinians were killed in the northern West Bank town of Jenin early on Thursday.

Palestinian medics said Yazan Abu Tabikh, 19, was shot during clashes that erupted when Israeli troops demolished the home of a man convicted of involvement in the killing of a rabbi in 2018.

The Israeli military said its forces “identified a number of armed terrorists who hurled explosive devices and fired towards them”. […]

Hours later, Palestinian medics said a Palestinian police officer had also died after being hit by Israeli gunfire.

Palestinian security officials said Tareq Badwan, 25, was shot while inside the courtyard of a police station that was close to where the clashes occurred.

Israeli military spokesman Lt Col Jonathan Conricus said it was investigating Badwan’s death.

“The specific situation is unclear,” he told reporters. “Whether he fired at Israeli troops and then they retaliated and he was injured, or somebody else fired at Israeli troops and they retaliated and he was caught in the middle.””

Readers were not informed that Abu Tabikh was a Palestinian Authority police cadet.

An earlier incident was portrayed by the BBC thus:

“On Wednesday a 17-year-old Palestinian, Mohammed al-Haddad, was shot and killed by Israeli forces in the southern West Bank city of Hebron.

The Israeli military said that there had been a “violent riot”, during which “troops identified a Palestinian who hurled a Molotov cocktail at them”. “The troops responded with fire in order to remove the threat,” it added.”

At the end of the report readers found a brief mention of the rocket and mortar attacks from the Gaza Strip which the BBC has been ignoring since mid-January.

“Israeli warplanes also struck a number of Hamas positions in the Gaza Strip early on Thursday, including an underground complex and a maintenance facility, after mortars and balloons loaded with explosives were launched towards Israel, the Israeli military said. […]

On Wednesday, the military said 13 rockets had been fired from Gaza in a week.”

The BBC’s explanation for the surge in violent attacks is as follows:

“A spokesman for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas warned that Mr Trump’s plan “caused such escalation and tension by trying to impose fake facts on the ground”.

“We have repeatedly warned that any deal that doesn’t answer the minimum of Palestinian rights and that doesn’t aim to make a just and lasting peace will definitely lead to the tension we are witnessing today,” Nabil Abu Rudeina said.”

The possibility that Palestinians could oppose the US proposal without resorting to violence does not appear to occur to the BBC, which went on to promote the view of a terrorist organisation it refrains from describing as such.

“The militant group Hamas, which controls Gaza, said: “The spreading resistance and clashes by our people in the West Bank and their resistance in the heart of occupied Jerusalem is an active response against the destructive Trump deal.””

BBC audiences were of course told nothing about the incitement to violence promoted by Fatah and the Palestinian Authority which is part of the backdrop to incidents such as those described in this report. 

BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel – January 2020

The Israel Security Agency’s report on terror attacks (Hebrew) throughout January 2020 shows that throughout the month a total of 225 incidents took place: 143 in Judea & Samaria, 30 in Jerusalem and inside the ‘green line’ and 52 in the Gaza Strip sector.

In Judea & Samaria and Jerusalem the agency recorded 153 attacks with petrol bombs, 9 attacks using pipe bombs, four arson attacks, one shooting attack, two vehicular attacks, three stabbings and one grenade attack.

Incidents recorded in the Gaza Strip sector included five shooting attacks, 27 petrol bomb attacks, three IED attacks, one grenade attack, one incident of sniper fire, four pipe bomb attacks, one incident of anti-tank missile fire, one incident of anti-aircraft missile fire, one incident of mortar fire and eight incidents of rocket fire.

Three people were wounded during January: a member of the security forces was injured by a petrol bomb on January 2nd near Karmei Tzur, a civilian was stabbed near Hebron on January 18th and a civilian was injured by a petrol bomb on January 22nd.

The BBC News website – described by the corporation as “permanent public record” – did not report any of the terror attacks which took place in January, including the incidents of rocket and mortar fire from the Gaza Strip. Even the injury of a three-week-old baby during a rocket attack on Sderot on January 30th did not get any BBC coverage. 

Throughout 2019 the BBC News website reported under a third (32%) of the terror attacks which actually took place and 72.7% of the fatalities resulting from terror attacks received BBC coverage. As we see, the BBC News website began 2020 by ignoring Palestinian terrorism entirely.

Related Articles:

BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel – December 2019 and year end summary

BBC News ignores rocket fire at school children

A BBC journalist’s portrayal of an armed infiltration from the Gaza Strip

BBC radio interviews same PA representative three times in one day

As we have already seen, preemptive framing of the US administration’s “Peace to Prosperity” plan by both BBC Radio 4 and BBC World Service radio on January 28th included the provision of a platform for the Palestinian Authority’s (and Fatah’s) Husam Zomlot from which to promote his mostly unchallenged talking points.

BBC Radio 4’s preemptive framing of the ‘Peace to Prosperity’ plan

BBC’s ‘Newshour’ serves up ‘rumours and leaks’ with one-sided analysis

Just hours after the launch of the US initiative – and his previous appearance on BBC World Service radio’s ‘Newshour’ – Zomlot was given yet another slot on the evening edition of that programme.

Describing it as returning to “our main story” (listeners had previously heard from a BBC correspondent in Washington and from one of the authors of the US initiative, Jason Greenblatt), presenter Tim Franks introduced (from 14:06 here) the four-minute and 22 second segment: [emphasis in italics in the original]

Franks: “President Trump is unveiling what he describes as his win-win peace deal for the Israelis and Palestinians. We’ve heard about the delight from the Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu. From the Palestinians though there’s been a fierce rejection of the proposal.”

Refraining from informing listeners that the Palestinian Authority had rejected the proposal long before it was completed and before they or anyone else had seen its contents, Franks introduced Zomlot as “the Palestinian ambassador in London” despite the fact that the BBC corrected a similar misrepresentation of Mr Zomlot’s title in 2018 after BBC Watch pointed out that according to its definition, the title ambassador means that the individual represents a state and that – as the BBC’s own style guide rightly says – there is no Palestinian state at this time. 

Zomlot’s near monologue recycled many of the talking points and themes BBC World Service radio audiences had heard just hours earlier.

Zomlot: “That was a scam really. It has nothing to do with deals or plans or peace for that matter. It was really a political circus if I may use the term. Peace is very well known. The parameters for it has been established by the international order, international legitimacy, including the UK. The world has really required from us to recognise the two-state solution, to recognise Israel, and the path was very well crafted up till President Trump this morning has killed three birds with one lethal stone.”

Clearly not finding it necessary to inform audiences that the Palestinians have repeatedly refused offers of statehood based on the two-state solution, that the Palestinians have a specific interpretation of that concept, that by no means all Palestinian factions embrace the two-state solution or that Zomlot’s boss has repeatedly refused to recognise Israel as the Jewish state, Franks allowed the diatribe to continue uninterrupted.

Zomlot: “The first bird was the prospects of a negotiated two-state solution because there will not be an Israeli prime minister in the future who would negotiate a genuine peace if Netanyahu has just pocketed Jerusalem, the refugees, the borders, all the settlements and the Jordan Valley. And the second bird that President Trump killed today is [the] international system itself, is the post-Second World War order – rules-based order – that has been established exactly for that; to prevent the acquisition and annexation of territory by force.”

Obviously not perturbed by the dissonance of a representative of an entity which literally pays salaries to terrorists lecturing listeners about “international order” and having nothing to say about the Jordanian acquisition and annexation of territory by force upon which Palestinian claims are constructed, Franks continued to stay silent.

Zomlot: “And the third bird that was killed today is the hope that Israel will not fast walk into the apartheid – full-fledged apartheid. We believe today President Trump has given Israel the full green light to actually embrace a full-fledged apartheid of the occupied territories.”

With nothing to say about that propaganda smear either, Franks changed the subject.

Franks: “What do you make of the fact that the ambassadors from Oman, Bahrain and the UAE turned up to this event at the White House? Does it not suggest that perhaps you’re losing what was once the full square support of all Arab countries?”

Zomlot: “No we’re not and let me…let me hear the Omani or the Emirati or the Bahraini people saying that they are fine with Jerusalem not being under Palestinian sovereignty.”

Franks: “Well it suggests that their governments are fine with it.”

Zomlot: “No I don’t think so. And we…”

Franks: “Why do you think they turned up to the White House then?”

Zomlot: “Well this is their business. This is their business. But we know the official position of the Arab world, the official position of the governments and nothing has changed so far…”

Franks: “Well I wonder…I just…no but too significant. I just wonder if you are really that confident that you retain the…the undiluted support of all these governments and one wonders also about what will be the reaction from Saudi Arabia, for example.”

Zomlot: “We retain the support of the majority of the international community. We heard from the Arab summits all along the last few months and years and we heard from the Saudi king several times who actually named the last summit the summit of Jerusalem. Jerusalem is not just a political issue. It also has to do with the identity, the history, the civilisation, the religion: all that we share with the Arab world and…”

Having apparently nothing to tell listeners about Jewish and Christian identity, history, civilisation and religion in Jerusalem, Franks went on:

Franks: “The Americans say that they will be offering parts of eastern Jerusalem, as they put it, as your capital.”

Zomlot the ‘diplomat’ replied:

Zomlot: “Who…who…an American president who is so arrogant and ignorant of the situation. He couldn’t even pronounce the word al Aqsa mosque; he didn’t know how to say it today in his speech and then he would draw the future of 13 million Palestinians without having one of the 13 million Palestinians in the audience of his ceremony to release his peace plan? I mean how more of a circus this could be?”

Franks again did not bother to inform listeners that there were no Palestinians in that audience because they refused to take part in the process before Zomlot went on to promote the false notion that Palestinians have settled for 22% of what is rightly ‘theirs’.

Zomlot: “We Palestinians have accepted the international compromise. We have accepted the logic of establishing a state on 22% of historic Palestine. We have recognised the State of Israel. But we will not accept our full giving up of our rights and our full submission and living second class citizens on our own land. I mean this is not a formula anybody would accept. Not the UK [laughs], not any other people, my friend. And we are not being difficult here. We are just being principled. We are being patient. We genuinely want to see a peace process that would deliver our rights and the rights of our neighbours and will have peace and security for all. But peace and security cannot be built on the skulls of an entire nation.”

With no effort made whatsoever to challenge that propaganda Franks closed the item, once again referring to a person being interviewed precisely because a Palestinian state does not exist as an ‘ambassador’.

Franks: “Husam Zomlot, the Palestinian ambassador to London.”

As we see, Husam Zomlot appeared on no fewer that three BBC radio programmes on January 28th. In all three of those items remarkably little effort was made by BBC presenters to question the distortions, falsehoods and outright propaganda that he set out to peddle to audiences both in the UK and around the world. While it is no doubt extremely convenient for BBC producers to have such a wiling commentator on their doorstep, they have apparently not given much thought to the question of how the repeated airing of his unchallenged propaganda damages their obligations as set out in the BBC’s public purposes.

Related Articles:

BBC News plugs PA rejection of US peace initiative

Examining the BBC’s claim of Palestinian support for the two-state solution

Snark and speculation on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Today’

BBC’s Tom Bateman misleads on the Oslo Accords

BBC Two ‘Newsnight’ viewers misled on 1949 Armistice lines

The BBC’s Middle East editor’s framing of the US peace plan

Inadequately presented interviewees and an anonymous quote in BBC One Guerin report

BBC Radio 4’s preemptive framing of the ‘Peace to Prosperity’ plan

BBC’s ‘Newshour’ serves up ‘rumours and leaks’ with one-sided analysis

BBC Radio 4 news implies previous existence of Palestinian state in US plan report

 

 

BBC news prises Palestinians into item about Israeli talks with Uganda and Sudan

On February 3rd Israel’s prime minister visited Uganda where he met with that country’s president as well as the leader of Sudan.

“Israel and Sudan will work to upgrade their diplomatic relations, following Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to Uganda on Monday.

The prime minister and Sudan’s leader, Chairman of the Sovereignty Council of Sudan Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, met on Monday for two hours in Entebbe, Uganda, at the invitation of Uganda’s President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni.

The leaders agreed to start cooperation leading to the normalization of relations between the two countries.

Netanyahu said he believes that Sudan is moving in a new and positive direction, and that he said this to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Al-Burhan said he would like to help his country modernize by taking it out of isolation. […]

Potential relations between Sudan and Israel indicate the country is taking a more pro-Western tack, as does an invitation extended by Pompeo to al-Burhan to Washington.”

The US State Department issued a related statement.

Sudan’s regional alliances have undergone shifts in recent years as analysts have pointed out.

“Tehran gained access to Port Sudan on the Red Sea for its naval forces. Iranian ships would leave the Persian Gulf and enter the Red Sea, moving up to Sudanese ports. Frequently they carried shipments of Iranian weapons that were carried by trucks northward into Sudan and Egypt, destined for the Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip. This was one of the key supply routes for Hamas as it built up its capacity to wage war against Israel. As a result of the Yemen war, Sudan decided that it would no longer maintain a pro-Iranian orientation; it now aligned its foreign policy with Saudi Arabia. As a result, Hamas lost its Sudanese line of supply.”

The Times of Israel notes that:

“Sudan is desperate to lift sanctions linked to its listing by the US as a state sponsor of terror — a key step toward ending its isolation and rebuilding its economy after the popular uprising that toppled longtime dictator Omar al-Bashir last year.”

Visitors to the BBC News website’s ‘Middle East’ page on the evening of February 3rd and the morning of February 4th did not find any coverage of that story among its main items. However if they scrolled down to read the ‘Latest Updates’ they came across an entry titled ‘Netanyahu in historic talks with Sudan’s leader’ taken from the website’s ‘Africa live’ page.

BBC audiences were told that:

“Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Nethanyahu has held a historic meeting with Sudan’s sovereign council head Gen Abdel Fattah al-Burhan.

This is the first sign of the thawing of relations between the two nations following the overthrow of Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir last year.

He was a fierce opponent of Israel, and his government was accused of helping arm militant Palestinian group Hamas.”

Interestingly, the BBC failed to note the all important Iranian connection to that supply of weapons via Sudan to the terrorist organisation Hamas. The item continues:

“Sudan is also on the US list of “state sponsors of terrorism” because it once gave refuge to al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

Mr Nethanyahu [sic] has been on a one-day visit to Uganda, where he was hosted by President Yoweri Museveni. Gen Burhan flew to Uganda to meet the Israeli leader.

In a tweet in Hebrew, Mr Netanyahu said he and Gen Burhan had “agreed to start a cooperation that will normalise relations between the two countries. History!”.

Meanwhile, Mr Museveni said he would “study” a request by Mr Netanyahu to open an embassy in Jerusalem.

Following talks between the two leaders in Uganda’s capital, Kampala, Mr Netanyahu told Mr Museveni: “You open an embassy in Jerusalem and I will open an embassy in Kampala. We hope to do this in the near future.”

Mr Museveni replied: “If a friend says I want your embassy here rather than there I don’t see why there would be …” before trailing off and adding: “We are really working, we’re studying that,” Reuters news agency reports.”

Readers then came across the 23.7% of this report which shoehorns the Palestinians into a story about the Israeli prime minister’s talks with the leaders of two African countries:

“Only the US and Guatemala have opened embassies in the disputed city of Jerusalem, despite strong condemnation from Palestinians.

The decision put the US and Guatemala at odds with the rest of the international community’s view on Jerusalem’s status.

The Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state, and according to the 1993 Israel-Palestinian peace accords, its final status is meant to be discussed in the latter stages of peace talks.

But the latest peace plan from US President Donald Trump promised to keep Jerusalem as Israel’s undivided capital.

The Palestinian leadership has rejected this.”

The item closes:

“Mr Museveni has been under pressure from a lobby group, the Uganda Christian Coalition for Israel, to resume full diplomatic ties between the two nations, including the opening of embassies in Kampala and Jerusalem.

Many Ugandans go to Israel to walk in Jesus’ footsteps. Having full diplomatic relations would make it easier,” said Rev Canon Rebecca Nyegenyehe, Uganda’s state-owned New Vision newspaper reported.

Uganda enjoyed full diplomatic relations with Israel until they were cut by Idi Amin’s regime in 1972.”

So as we see, while BBC audiences learned nothing at all about the Sudanese shifting regional alliances which are the context to this story, they did hear – yet again – about the Palestinian wish-list concerning Jerusalem.

So much for that “range and depth of analysis” promised to BBC licence fee payers.

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BBC Radio 4 news implies previous existence of Palestinian state in US plan report

Over seven minutes of the January 29th edition of the half-hour Radio 4 programme ‘Midnight News’ was given over to the topic of the US administration’s “Peace to Prosperity” plan which had been made public several hours previously.

The first item in the programme’s introduction was presented using the absurd but long-promoted BBC myth that the result of resolution of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians would be “peace in the Middle East”. [emphasis in italics in the original, emphasis in bold added]

Newsreader: “President Trump has set out his plan for peace in the Middle East which has immediately been embraced by the Israeli prime minister but rejected by Palestinian leaders.”

The same myth was repeated when the newsreader commenced that lead item (from 00:59 here).

Newsreader: “President Trump has set out what he has called the most detailed peace plan ever offered for the Middle East, saying it’s a win-win for both Israelis and Palestinians. He announced his plan at the White House alongside Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu but the Palestinians were not there as they had not been part of the process. Mr Trump’s proposal gives Israel sovereignty over all its settlements in the occupied West Bank while promising Palestinians statehood in the future if they meet certain conditions. Our Washington correspondent Aleem Maqbool has this report.”

Listeners were not told that the reason the Palestinians “had not been part of the process” was because they refused to take part. Neither were they given any clue as to what the “certain conditions” for Palestinian statehood (e.g. dismantling their system of salaries to terrorists and disarming Hamas) actually are

Aleem Maqbool began by repeating BBC framing seen in reports (see ‘related articles’ below) broadcast even before the US proposal had been revealed.

Maqbool: “At a raucous news conference at the White House standing beside the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Donald Trump launched a plan the like of which, he said, had never been seen before. [recording Trump speaking] But as soon as the details started to be revealed it was very clear the win is really Israel’s alone.”

Listeners then heard a recording of Trump saying “…Jerusalem will remain Israel’s undivided – very important – undivided capital”.  

Maqbool: “Something that would have surprised few but would have made Palestinian hearts sink all the same. They have been wanting the return of occupied East Jerusalem to establish their own capital. Under Donald Trump’s plan Israel would not even have to give up any Jewish settlements it illegally built on occupied land. But the knife for Palestinians was twisted further when the US president released a map of his vision for a future Palestinian state. Large swathes of the most fertile West Bank land annexed for Israel. Palestinians no longer having a border with Jordan and relying entirely on Israel for access. The West Bank becoming in effect a cluster of tightly-controlled islands.”

Maqbool’s use of the phrase “the return of occupied East Jerusalem” inaccurately suggests to listeners that that location had previously been under Palestinian control (rather than under Jordanian occupation for 19 years). His partial portrayal of “Jewish settlements…illegally built on occupied land” denies listeners information concerning alternative views of that topic. His reference to “the most fertile…land” dovetails perfectly with PLO descriptions of the Jordan Valley. But it is his reference to “Palestinians no longer having a border with Jordan” which – even taking into account Maqbool’s previously displayed lack of knowledge of the region’s geography – perhaps misleads listeners most. None of the areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority since 1994 have a “border with Jordan” and a Palestinian entity with such a border has never existed.

Listeners then heard a recording of President Trump describing a letter he had sent to the PA president explaining that “the territory allocated for his new state will remain open and undeveloped for a period of four years. During this time Palestinians can use all appropriate deliberation to study the deal, negotiate with Israel, achieve the criteria for statehood and become a truly independent and wonderful state.”

Once again failing to explain to listeners that the decision not to be “at the negotiating table” was taken by the Palestinians themselves, Maqbool went on:

Maqbool: “Not how Mahmoud Abbas will see it. Of course Palestinians feared, given that only one side was at the negotiating table presided over by a historically partisan peace-broker, that the deal would be biased towards Israel. But some may have hoped for more concessions from the other side. Instead what they got was a clear US seal of approval for much that Israel has been trying to achieve. Prime Minister Netanyahu, who smiled and clapped through Donald Trump’s speech, could barely contain his pleasure when he spoke, saying the day was as historic as the one in 1948 on which US president Truman became the first world leader to recognise his country. [recording Netanyahu] The fear among some critics of this plan is that there is so little, if anything at all, that Palestinians can put their name to, that it could strengthen the hand of hard-liners in the region. Given the reaction already, Donald Trump’s so-called deal of the century is a pivotal moment but not one that brings Palestinians and Israelis together. Rather one that gives Israel the authorisation to continue and even broaden its occupation.”

Listeners were not informed exactly how Israel’s so-called “occupation” could be ‘broadened’ and neither were they told of the part of the plan which offers areas today under full Israeli sovereignty to a future Palestinian state.

Newsreader: “There were protests in Gaza and the West Bank with demonstrators burning posters of Donald Trump. In a televised speech the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas said the proposals were impossible to accept. [recording Abbas] The militant group Hamas which controls Gaza called Mr Trump’s announcement aggression and nonsense. Khalil al Hayya is one of the group’s leaders.”

Al Hayya voiceover: “We warn all countries of the world and all entities who cooperate with this deal because we reject it as a Palestinian people and we will resist this deal in all forms.”

Listeners then once again heard the inaccurate suggestion that a Palestinian state with “borders” had existed before 1967. They were not told that no “borders” existed “before the 1967 war” or that the lines were actually the 1949 Armistice lines which were specifically defined as not being borders.

Newsreader: “Jordan said the only path to peace in the Middle East was to establish an independent Palestinian state based on its borders before the 1967 war. But Egypt urged both sides of the conflict to consider President Trump’s plan carefully, with a view to resuming negotiations and the former Middle east envoy Tony Blair said the Palestinians would be able to make progress if they engaged with the proposals. [recording Blair] With his thoughts on the deal, here’s our Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen.”

Bowen’s “thoughts” were of course exactly the same as those he had two hours earlier promoted on BBC television.

Bowen: “President Trump says he’s found a new way to make peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Israel will get the security it needs, Palestinians will get the state they crave. So far so good. Except that the Trump plan gives Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanayhu all he wants and offers Palestinians very little. A sort of state that will be truncated without proper sovereignty, surrounded by Israel’s territory and threaded between Jewish settlements. Essentially the message to the Palestinians is take it or leave it. They’re being told to accept that Israel has won and – with its American friends – will shape the future. If Palestinians refuse, the message continues, Israel will still get what it wants and they will be even worse off.”

Listeners then heard Bowen’s partisan interpretations of UNSC resolution 242 and ‘international law’, although he predictably had nothing at all to say about the “inadmissibility” of Jordan’s capture and subsequent occupation of territory assigned to the creation of a homeland for the Jewish people.  

Bowen: “The Trump document ignores UN resolution 242 that emphasizes the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war. It also sweeps aside international law saying that occupiers cannot settle their people on occupied land.”

Bowen closed – once again – with promotion of the view that the inevitable result of “anger, despair and hopelessness” for Palestinians he apparently believes to be non-actors devoid of agency is violence.

Bowen: “There is a chance Palestinians, whose leaders immediately rejected the plan, will be afflicted by more anger, despair and hopelessness. In a combustible part of the world, that is dangerous. The Trump plan is a gamble.”

Once again we see that – under Jeremy Bowen’s baton – BBC audiences were given an overwhelmingly one-sided view which promoted serious inaccuracies and deprived the corporation’s funding public of essential information necessary for them to make up their own minds about the US proposals.

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Snark and speculation on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Today’

BBC’s Tom Bateman misleads on the Oslo Accords

BBC Two ‘Newsnight’ viewers misled on 1949 Armistice lines

The BBC’s Middle East editor’s framing of the US peace plan

Inadequately presented interviewees and an anonymous quote in BBC One Guerin report

BBC Radio 4’s preemptive framing of the ‘Peace to Prosperity’ plan

BBC’s ‘Newshour’ serves up ‘rumours and leaks’ with one-sided analysis

BBC Radio 4 promotes the ‘four decades of US policy’ myth – part one