BBC News blindly repeats FT allegations

On February 14th an entry titled “Amazon accused of bias in the West Bank” appeared in the ‘updates’ section of the BBC News website’s ‘Middle East’ page.

Readers trying to click on the link in the first sentence would discover that they needed a subscription in order to read the Financial Times article that the BBC had chosen to summarise and therefore in most cases would not be able to judge its content for themselves. 

The BBC journalist who wrote this item clearly read the part of the FT article which quotes an Amazon spokesman as saying that if Palestinian customers enter their address and select Israel as the country, they can also receive free shipping through the same promotion, as indicated by the fact that he or she wrote:

“Customers in the territories could get the free shipping if they selected their address as “Israel”, but not if they selected “Palestinian Territories.””

Nevertheless, the BBC elected to blindly repeat the accusations of “bias” presented in the FT’s ‘investigation’ to its own audiences – without informing them that they came from three highly partisan and politically motivated sources: Michael Sfard, the NGO ‘Peace Now‘ and Diana Buttu

The BBC continues of course to claim that:

“Our website, like our TV and radio services, strives for journalism that is accurate, impartial, independent and fair.”

BBC’s Tom Bateman tells part of a story about a Palestinian house ‘in a cage’

On February 14th the BBC News website published a filmed report by the Jerusalem bureau’s Tom Bateman on its ‘Middle East’ page. Titled “Israel-Palestinian conflict: The family with its own checkpoint”, the report was apparently filmed a week earlier and its synopsis indicates that it falls under the category of BBC framing of the recent US ‘Peace to Prosperity’ proposal.

“How is President Trump’s plan to solve the Israeli Palestinian conflict being received on the ground?

The BBC’s Middle East correspondent Tom Bateman went to visit two homes in the occupied West Bank; starting with a Palestinian family whose house is in a fenced off enclave within an Israeli settlement.

Israel has said it intends to formally annex all settlements in the West Bank based on President Trump’s plan.

But the US proposals are rejected by the Palestinians, who say its vision of a state for them is unacceptable.

About 600,000 Jews live in about 140 settlements built since Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem in 1967.

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

The same report was apparently aired on the BBC News television channel and readers will no doubt note the use of hyperbole in the title used in both versions: “The house ‘in a cage’ surrounded by a settlement”.

Similar rhetoric is used by Bateman himself – “like being in a prison, inside a cage” – and by his Palestinian interviewee – “not left me air to breathe”, “we are living in a prison”, “under siege”, “confiscated my land”.

Bateman tells BBC audiences that:

“Israel declared ownership of the land around the Gharib’s house. The settlement was built and the family home was later fenced off as part of the separation barrier Israel said it built for security.”

In addition to failing to note the second Intifada terror war as the context for the construction of the anti-terrorist fence, Bateman does not bother to clarify that the land on which the ‘settlement’ – Giv’on HaHadasha – was built had been purchased by Jews long before the State of Israel came into being, that it had been the site of a Jordanian army camp after the 1948 Jordanian invasion and subsequent 19-year occupation or that claims by the Gharib family that they owned additional land were shown to be unsupported in several court cases.

Later on in the report Bateman interviews a resident of Giv’on HaHadasha. Pointing at the fence he asks her:

“What do you think when you see a Palestinian home behind all this?”

Ilanit Gohar replies: “He chose this, he chose this type of living” but BBC audiences would be incapable of understanding her reply because Bateman did not bother to inform them that the Gharib family refused an offer of compensation for relocation prior to the construction of the anti-terrorist fence in that area in 2008 and that their claims were rejected by the Supreme Court

The compromise reached in that court case was that the fence would be built around the Gharib house (which had been constructed, according to court documents, without building permits) and that the family would have a key to the gate shown in the film. Nevertheless, BBC audiences were told by Sa’adat Gharib that “we live in a prison where they [Israeli forces] can lock the gate [when they like]”.

The aim of Bateman’s report is amply apparent in his closing remarks at 05:26:

Bateman: “What strikes me, you know, when you look at this [fence] with the settlement on the other side, most of the rest of the world has always said, building them by Israel is illegal. But what has changed in the Trump plan is he says OK, they become a formal part of the State of Israel. And as soon as you say that, you then say well these fences and walls that have been built by the Israelis, they become the new borders.”

The story that Bateman has chosen to highlight in this report is of course very much an exception. But by using that atypical example and failing to provide all the relevant background information, Bateman is able to further promote the BBC’s one-sided framing of the US Administration’s proposals to the corporation’s audiences.

Perusal of some of the comments under Bateman’s video shows just how far removed the report is from meeting the BBC’s obligation to provide “accurate and impartial” reporting which will “build people’s understanding”. 

The exception to the BBC rule on place names

A browse through the BBC News style guide reveals plenty of examples of the BBC’s policy of moving away from the use of place names introduced or preferred by foreign conquerors and past rulers.

“Belarus

formerly part of the Soviet Union as Byelorussia; now independent. Adjective, Belarusian.”

“Burma

The BBC has been moving towards calling the country Myanmar. We should use Myanmar rather than Burma in headlines and summaries. Inside the body of our stories, preferably on first mention, we should include the wording “Myanmar, also known as Burma”. Further references should be to Myanmar. We should talk about the main commercial city as “Yangon, also known as Rangoon”, and thereafter Yangon.” 

“Calcutta

As of early 2015, our style is to use Kolkata for the Indian city. It may be helpful for readers if we use this construction once high up in the story: People in the Indian city of Kolkata (Calcutta)…”

“Chennai

As of November 2011, our style is to use Chennai rather than Madras, but we should include the formulation Chennai (Madras) once high up in the body of the story.”

“eSwatini

The country formerly known as Swaziland. Add “previously known as Swaziland”, high up. It’s Swati when describing its people.”

“Kyiv not Kiev”

One entry specifically instructs BBC journalists not to use the terminology favoured by an invading country.

“Cyprus

The northern part, occupied by Turkey, is not internationally recognised, so do not refer to “North Cyprus” – the term the Turks have chosen. Instead, say northern Cyprus, describing it either as Turkish-occupied or Turkish-controlled. And we should speak of the Green Line – not “the so-called Green Line”.”

The exception to the rule in that BBC policy is of course its permanent employment of a term that the Jordanians invented some seventy years ago after they invaded, occupied and later annexed foreign territory – without recognition from the international community. The BBC refers to Judea & Samaria exclusively as “the West Bank” and its website even has a tag for that term.

So much for BBC consistency, impartiality and ‘progressiveness’. 

BBC News report on UNHRC blacklist conceals more than it reveals

On the evening of February 12th the BBC News website published a report headlined “UN lists 112 businesses linked to Israeli settlements” which, for reasons unknown, it chose to tag “Trump peace plan”.

The main image illustrating the report appears to show an Arab neighbourhood in Jerusalem near the anti-terrorist fence but is captioned “The settlements are seen as illegal under international law, although Israel disputes this”.

That partial but standard BBC mantra is of course repeated in the body of the article.

“About 600,000 Jews live in about 140 settlements built since Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem in 1967. The settlements are widely considered illegal under international law, though Israel has always disputed this.”

The report promotes a version of a partisan map produced by the political NGOB’tselem’ which has appeared in countless previous BBC News website reports. The map marks the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City as a “settlement” and fails to inform audiences that what are described as areas under “Palestinian civil control” and areas under “Israeli military and civil control” are in fact Areas A and B and Area C as designated under the Oslo Accords, to which the PLO was party.

Readers are told that:

“The UN human rights office has issued a long-awaited report on companies linked to Jewish settlements in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

The report names 112 business entities the office says it has reasonable grounds to conclude have been involved in activities related to settlements.

They include Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia Group and Motorola Solutions.”

The BBC does not clarify that the UNHRC’s blacklist also includes the Rami Levy supermarket chain (which is known as a model of co-existence between Israelis and Palestinians) and numerous companies providing services such as transport, water and telecommunications to both Israelis and Palestinians.  

Later on readers are told that:

“In 2016, the UN Human Rights Council mandated the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to produce a database of companies involved in specific activities relating to settlements. […]

Following what it said was a thorough review and assessment of all information available, the OHCHR presented a report on Wednesday identifying 112 business entities that it said, there were reasonable grounds to conclude, had been involved in one or more of those activities.”

BBC audiences are not informed that members of the UNHRC at the time that the resolution (3136) requesting the compilation of that database was passed included human rights ‘beacons’ such as China, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Cuba, Qatar and Venezuela. Neither were they given any background information concerning the UNHRC’s infamous and long-standing bias against Israel.

The BBC’s report avoids all mention of the BDS supporting NGOs involved in the compilation of the blacklist. NGO Monitor notes that:

“The list was based on input from BDS groups, including Human Rights Watch. Many of the groups centrally involved receive significant funding from the EU and European governments. […]

Given that 85 of the 112 companies included on the blacklist are also found in the BDS NGO Who Profits’ database, and based on documentation seen by NGO Monitor,  it is clear that the UN relied on this and other BDS actors as its sources of information.”

In light of that serious omission, the BBC’s decision to include part of a quote from Human Rights Watch in its report is particularly notable.

“Human Rights Watch said the list “should put all companies on notice: to do business with illegal settlements is to aid in the commission of war crimes.””

Although the BBC’s report claims that “There were no immediate comments from the companies named on the list”, one such comment is available here.

The BBC report amplifies comments made by a PA official:

“The Palestinian Authority’s Foreign Minister, Riyad al-Maliki, said: “The publication of the list of companies and parties operating in settlements is a victory for international law.”

He also called on the Human Rights Council member states to “issue recommendations and instructions to these companies to end their work immediately with the settlements”.”

However at no point in the article did the BBC bother to inform readers in its own words that there is no prohibition in international law from doing business in occupied or disputed territories.

Neither does the report make any effort to inform audiences of the fact that the UNHRC has taken no such action against companies operating in other occupied or disputed territories anywhere else in the world.  

Given the BBC’s dismal record on informing audiences on the topic of UNHRC bias against Israel, its long-existing editorial policy of promoting a specific politically motivated narrative concerning ‘settlements’ and ‘international law’ and its promotion of the BDS campaign agenda, the serious omissions in this report come as no surprise whatsoever.

Related Articles:

BBC continues to obstruct audience understanding of UN bias

Disproportionate focus in BBC News report on UNHRC speech

BBC portrayal of US decision to leave UNHRC – part one

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

Weekend long read

1) At the FDD Svante Cornell and Brenda Shaffer analyse ‘Selective Policies on Occupations, Protracted Conflicts, and Territorial Disputes’.

“Setting policies toward territories involved in protracted conflicts poses an ongoing challenge for governments, companies, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Since there are multiple zones of disputed territories and occupation around the globe, setting policy toward one conflict raises the question of whether similar policies will be enacted toward others. Where different policies are implemented, the question arises: On what principle or toward what goal are the differences based?

Recently, for example, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) decided goods entering the European Union that are produced in Jewish settlements in the West Bank must be clearly designated as such. At the same time, however, neither the ECJ nor the European Union have enacted similar policies on goods from other zones of occupation, such as Nagorno-Karabakh or Abkhazia. The U.S. administration swiftly criticized the ECJ decision as discriminatory since it only applies to Israel. Yet, at the same time, U.S. customs policy on goods imports from other territories is also inconsistent: U.S. Customs and Border Protection has explicit guidelines that goods imported from the West Bank must be labelled as such, while goods that enter the United States from other occupied zones, such as Nagorno-Karabakh, encounter no customs interference.”

2) At the Tablet Liel Leibovitz gives his view of the US administration’s peace proposal.

“There’ll be time enough, in the days and weeks to come, to parse the fineries of President Trump’s so-called Deal of the Century. For now, though, one thing must be said: The plan introduces an element that’s been sorely missing from Washington’s approach to the Middle East for at least two decades—reality.

Talk to any of our best and brightest diplomats, analysts, and pundits, and you may be forgiven for thinking the region was reached not by plane but by wardrobe. Like a sandy Narnia, the land imagined in Foggy Bottom was one governed not by people and interests but by concepts and frameworks, best understood not by hitting the ground but by visiting the Council on Foreign Relations.”

3) The JCPA documents Iranian opposition to the US proposal.

“As expected, President Trump’s peace plan received widespread condemnation from official Iranian spokesmen as well as most media outlets in Iran. […] Iranian media emphatically broadcast the condemnations of the plan by the Palestinian organizations (Hamas and Islamic Jihad) and by the Palestinian Authority Chairman, Mahmoud Abbas, and Hizbullah. The press called for a unified Muslim front against the plan.

Iranian leader Khamenei webpage presented an updated eight-minute video on January 29, 2020, describing all the “traitorous” peace treaties signed between Israel and the Arab states, including the Oslo Accords, Camp David (2000), the Arab Peace Initiative, and the “Deal of the Century.” At the end of the video, the Iranian solution is presented in which the Iranian leader stressed that the “military, political, ethical, and cultural activities must be continued in order to liberate Palestine until those who oppressed the Palestinians will agree to a Palestinian referendum.””

4) The ITIC provides a profile of the new leader of ISIS.

“British daily The Guardian has recently disclosed the identity of ISIS’s new leader who succeeded Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (who died in a targeted killing by the United States on October 27, 2019). According to The Guardian, the new leader’s name is Amir Mohammed Abdul Rahman al-Mawli al-Salbi, and his codename is Haji Abdullah or Abdullah alQardash (The Guardian, January 20, 2020). The decision on the appointment of the new leader was taken by the Shura Council, ISIS’s supreme body authorized to take significant decisions of this kind. The change in leadership has so far passed quite smoothly. ISIS still refrains from revealing the name or the codename of the new leader, apparently due to security reasons, mentioning only the codename Abu Ibrahim al-Hashemi al-Qurashi.”

 

 

 

Weekend long read

1) At the INSS Tomer Fadlon, Sason Hadad and Elisheva Simon discuss ‘Lebanon’s Political-Economic Crisis’.

“The two deep problems weighing on Lebanon’s economy are inter-linked. The first is endemic corruption: the organization Transparency International ranks Lebanon 138 among 175 countries assessed. Corruption in Lebanon is manifested especially in nepotism and budget-inflation to line the pockets of those close to power. Thus, for example, in July 2017 public sector salaries rose by dozens of percentage points, while private sector salaries did not enjoy any increase. The only way to fund the higher salaries and inflated budgets is through taxes on the population, which have ballooned in recent years and burdened the private sector.

The second problem is political instability, which is linked to Lebanon’s community structure and greatly limits the Lebanese government’s freedom of action and ability to implement reforms. The instability makes it hard for the government to meet the public’s basic demands, including sanitation services and electricity supply. As a result, there is a burgeoning market in private generators, though even this phenomenon is arguably linked to corruption: politicians are aligned with the generator suppliers, and thus, in fact, profit from government inaction.”

2) At the JCPA Yoni Ben Menachem takes a look at ‘New Tensions between Egypt and Hamas’.

“In recent days, signs of new tensions between Egypt with Hamas in the Gaza Strip have intensified in light of the recent assassination of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani by the United States.

This new rift was created following a surprise move by Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, who decided to take a senior Hamas delegation to Tehran to attend Qasem Soleimani’s funeral. He met and comforted the Iranian leadership and Soleimani’s family.

Qasem Soleimani’s assassination caught Ismail Haniyeh during his visit to Qatar. Haniyeh left the Gaza Strip two weeks ago with special permission from Egyptian authorities. The Egyptian authorities had prevented him from going abroad for the past three years in an attempt to prevent Iranian and Turkish influence that would endanger Egypt’s efforts to calm the Gaza Strip and move towards national reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas.

Egyptian authorities had put conditions on Ismail Haniyeh before his trip, and he pledged to comply. They included a ban on travel to Iran or Lebanon and meetings with Iranian and senior Hizbullah officials.”

3) The ITIC presents an overview of Palestinian terrorism in 2019.

“Two main trends in attacks characterized Palestinian organized and popular terrorism in 2019: in Judea and Samaria, the annual decline in the scope of popular terrorism and its lethality continued; in the Gaza Strip there was a significant rise in the scope and intensity of terrorism and violence, especially rocket fire. In 2019 1,403 rockets and mortar shells were fired at Israel, an almost unprecedented number (with the exception of Operation Protective Edge, 2014).

The reduction in the scope of terrorism and the level of its lethality during the past year again illustrated Hamas’ failure to export terrorism to Judea and Samaria, while at the same time prompting a lull arrangement with Israel through Egyptian mediation. The main reason for Hamas’ failure was the great effectiveness of the counterterrorism activities of the Israeli security forces (with the contribution of the counterterrorism activities of the PA security services). In November 2019 Nadav Argaman, head of the Israel Security Agency, said that in 2019 the Agency had prevented more than 450 significant terrorist attacks, among them showcase attacks which were liable to have had many victims. Thus it can be determined that the relative quiet in Judea and Samaria in 2019 was to a great extent misleading, while beneath the surface attempts to carry out terrorist attacks continued.”

4) The ITIC also provides a profile of the Iraqi militia headed by Qais Ghazali who was featured in a BBC World Service radio programme three days after his designation by the United States.

“On December 6, 2019, the US Department of State announced the imposition of sanctions on Qais al-Khazali, the leader of the militia of Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq (“League of the Righteous”), and on two other senior militia operatives. According to the American statement, members of the militia headed by Qais al-Khazali opened fire at Iraqi demonstrators which resulted in the killing of civilians. Furthermore, it was stated that Qais al-Khazali was handled by the Iranian Qods Force and authorized the use of deadly weapons against demonstrators in order to sow terror among Iraqi civilians.

Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq (“League of the Righteous”) is an Iraqi Shiite militia handled by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps’ Qods Force. It is one of the three most important Shiite militias which are prioritized by the Qods Force in terms of military and financial support. […] In recent years, these militias were handled by Iran in various missions promoting Iranian interests, including support of the Syrian regime, fighting against ISIS, and the suppression of protesters against the Iraqi regime. The US has imposed sanctions on all three militias.”

 

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

The Israel Security Agency’s report on terror attacks (Hebrew) during December 2019 shows that throughout the month a total of 116 incidents took place: 75 in Judea & Samaria, 31 in Jerusalem and inside the ‘green line’ and ten in the Gaza Strip sector.

In Judea & Samaria and Jerusalem the agency recorded 81 attacks with petrol bombs,19 attacks using pipe bombs, four arson attacks and two shooting attacks.

Incidents recorded in the Gaza Strip sector included two shooting attacks, one petrol bomb attack, one IED attack, one grenade attack and five incidents of rocket fire.

There were no fatalities or injuries during December.

The BBC News website reported just one of those 116 incidents – a rocket attack on Ashkelon on December 25th which was mentioned 14 hours later in an article on another topic. Previous rocket attacks on December 7th and December 19th did not receive any BBC coverage.

Throughout 2019 the BBC News website reported under a third (32%) of the terror attacks which actually took place and most of that reporting appeared in months (March, May and November) in which a high number of rocket attacks took place. In five of the year’s twelve months, no reporting on terrorism was produced at all and 72.7% of the fatalities resulting from terror attacks received BBC coverage.

Related Articles:

BBC News belatedly reports rocket fire for the first time in a month

BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel – November 2019

Summary of BBC News website portrayal of Israel and the Palestinians – December 2019

BBC Complaints contradicts BBC News website article

Last month we noted that in a report by Aleem Maqbool which was aired on the BBC Radio 4 programme ‘The World Tonight’ on November 18th listeners were told that the announcement made by the US Secretary of State concerning the US administration’s change of position regarding Israeli communities in areas that came under Israeli control during the Six Day War “breaks four decades of State Department policy”. [emphasis added]

Listeners also heard Maqbool say that:

“…the timing has surprised some people because, you know, many Palestinians will feel – even over those four decades during which the United States did consider the building of settlements inconsistent with international law, it never really stopped those settlements expanding at a rapid rate to the point now where some of them are as big as cities.”

And:

“One of them in particular – Ma’ale Adumim – cuts the West Bank in half.”

BBC Watch submitted a complaint concerning those two inaccurate claims which included a link to a BBC News website report from the same day in which it was explained that:

“In 1978, the Jimmy Carter administration concluded that the establishment of civilian settlements was inconsistent with international law. In 1981, President Ronald Reagan disagreed with that conclusion, saying he did not believe the settlements were inherently illegal.

Since then, the US adopted a position of describing the settlements as “illegitimate” – though not “illegal” – and sheltering Israel from condemnatory resolutions on the issue at the United Nations.

However one of the last acts of the Obama administration, at the end of 2016, was to break with US practice by not vetoing a UN resolution that urged an end to illegal Israeli settlements.”

On December 2nd we received a response telling us that BBC Complaints had “referred your complaint to the relevant people and regret that it may take a little longer before we can reply”. On December 21st BBC Complaints informed us that “we’ve not been able to reply to your complaint within the time period we aim for”.

On December 30th we received the following reply:

“Thank you for contacting us The World Tonight on November 18. Firstly, we apologise for the delay in replying here – it’s taken longer than normal and we’re sorry for the undue delay. Your concerns about accuracy and impartiality were raised at the time and the programme team respond here as follows:

‘We stand by the assertion that President Trump’s policy is a significant change of a decades-long approach by the State Department to the issue of the legality of settlements in the West Bank.

Successive US administrations have largely avoided the expression of a public opinion on the issue of legality, although in 1980 the US voted for UN Security Council resolution 465 and in 2016 the US did not veto a UN resolution that declared Israeli settlements had “no legal validity and constitute[s] a flagrant violation under international law”.

With regards to Ma’ele [sic] Adumim and the settlements around Jerusalem: it is clear that their expansion has made a significant change to the 1949 armistice line, significantly reducing the width of the remaining West Bank.’”

UN SC resolution 465 dates from the time of the Carter presidency and the 2016 resolution (2334) from the end of the Obama administration. In other words, the BBC has chosen to ignore the interim thirty-six years during which – according to the BBC itself – “the US adopted a position of describing the settlements as “illegitimate” – though not “illegal” – and sheltering Israel from condemnatory resolutions on the issue at the United Nations”.

Obviously Israeli construction in Ma’ale Adumim or other locations has not “made a significant change to the 1949 armistice line” at all. That line remains as it was when drawn and is specifically defined in that agreement as being “agreed upon by the Parties without prejudice to future territorial settlements or boundary lines or to claims of either Party relating thereto.”

However Aleem Maqbool did not claim that construction in Ma’ale Adumim had had the effect of “significantly reducing the width of the remaining West Bank” – he claimed that it “cuts the West Bank in half”. That statement of course remains inaccurate, as does the claim that the US Secretary of State’s announcement “breaks four decades of State Department policy”.

Related Articles:

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

Political advocacy journalism distorts coverage of US policy on settlements  (CAMERA)

 

 

 

 

More BBC multi-platform exploitation of Christmas

The December 28th edition of BBC Radio 4’s ‘From Our Own Correspondent’ – titled “The Meaning of Home” – included another example of the BBC’s decidedly desperate exploitation of Christmas for the promotion of politicised reporting. The item is described in the synopsis as follows:

“The story of the nativity often inspires people to show compassion to the homeless around Christmas. Pregnant women and new mothers are particularly vulnerable. But the challenges of new life don’t end with finding a safe place to stay. On the occupied West Bank, Jeremy Bristow recently travelled with a group of female medics to visit the minority Arab Bedouin population.”

Presenter Kate Adie introduced the item (from 22:23 here) thus:

Adie: “Far from home, vulnerable and nowhere to stay, the Christmas story reflects what is still a worldwide problem and acts as a reminder to us all to help. But the challenges of a new life don’t end with finding a safe haven. On the occupied West Bank Jeremy Bristow recently travelled with a group of medics to visit a community from the minority Arab Bedouin population.”

Quite what the BBC imagines is the connection of Bedouin tribes from the Arabian Peninsula, who took over parts of the Judean Desert during the period of Ottoman rule, to the nativity story is unclear. 

The story told by Jeremy Bristow to Radio 4 listeners is almost identical to that appearing in an article published on the BBC News website’s ‘Middle East’ and ‘Stories’ pages on December 25th under the headline “The Christians helping Bethlehem shepherd families give birth safely”.

“Jeremy Bristow discovers that an ancient Christian order is providing maternity services for some of the poorest people in the Bethlehem area – the sheep-raising Bedouin.”

Both the written and audio accounts begin with the promotion of artificial linkage between the Christmas story and the topic of Bristow’s report – a Bedouin tribe located a 25 kilometre drive away from Bethlehem.

“We drove through Beit Sahour, a suburb of Bethlehem. “Beit” in Arabic means ”house”, and “sahour” means “night watch”. As tradition has it, this is close to the place where an angel once appeared before three star-struck shepherds and announced the imminent birth of a saviour. But today’s shepherds, the Bedouin, live further out of town.”

Ignoring the fact that sheep rearing is by no means confined to the Bedouin sector, Bristow goes on to tick the BBC’s boxes with an entirely unrelated reference to ‘settlements’.

“The rock-strewn desert landscape is occasionally overlooked by glistening white Israeli settlements straddling the high ground above.”

BBC audiences are told that:

“All the women and children seeking treatment from the mobile medical team on this occasion were Bedouin from the al-Rashaydah tribe, whose members are scattered across a dozen countries from Tunisia to Oman. They gave their name to this village when they were moved here by the Israeli authorities, in their third resettlement since they were forced to leave historic grazing grounds near the Dead Sea in the early 1970s. […]

Al-Rashaydah, like many villages in the occupied West Bank, is surrounded by land controlled by Israel. The Bedouin are forbidden to graze their livestock there.”

Bristow does not bother to inform his audiences that under the terms of the Oslo Accords, the village of Al-Rashaydah is under Palestinian Authority control or that the proximate area to the east is a nature reserve established under the same agreement. He does not explain how the claim that they are “forbidden to graze their livestock” squares with his previous description of the Al-Rashaydah Bedouin as “today’s shepherds”. In fact a Palestinian website’s description of a nature reserve to the west of the village states that it used for grazing sheep and goats (as well as tourism) and mentions Al-Rashayda by name.

BBC audiences are told that:

“In both Israel and the West Bank the once self-sufficient Bedouin have become increasingly dependent on outside support. They see themselves as second-class citizens. Unemployment is high, educational achievement is low and there are high rates of infant mortality, premature births, anaemia, and stunted growth in children…”

However no information is provided concerning the cultural aspects of such phenomena – for example:

“…Bedouins largely remain a traditional society organized into tribes in which men are responsible for decision-making. There are high rates of consanguinity (60%), often between first cousins, and polygamy (25%). Women are often undereducated and do not work outside of the home. In some families, women are restricted from leaving the home without a male chaperone, which may interfere with timely utilization of health services. Many Bedouin women suffer from nutritional deficiencies, putting them at risk for delivering prematurely and for certain congenital malformations. In addition, Bedouin children suffer from nutritional deficiencies, especially anemia, which together with crowded living conditions is a risk factor for contracting infectious diseases. Bedouins have a high fertility rate and nearly half of the births in the Negev are in this population despite comprising 30% of the population. Women tend to give birth frequently and the interpregnancy interval is short, which can lead to preterm delivery, low birth weight, an increased risk for congenital malformations, and infant mortality.”

A sub-heading in the written report poses the question “Were ancient shepherds male or female?” and is accompanied by an image of the nativity scene.

Readers once again find the suggestion that the Bedouin are somehow connected to the nativity story. [emphasis added]

“The gospel of Luke says: “And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them.”

It wasn’t only nomadic Bedouin who kept sheep in ancient times, villagers did too, says Joan Taylor, professor of Christian Origins and Second Temple Judaism at King’s College London. The shepherds could be male or female, “and often in antiquity, as today, they were children”.

The Greek word used by Luke to refer to the shepherds is “gender-inclusive”, she adds.”

At the bottom of the written article readers are offered a link to a highly problematic article first published in 2014.

“A Palestinian Christian family that preaches non-violence from a farm in the West Bank is battling to hold on to land it has owned for a century. Now surrounded by Israeli settlements, the family is a living example of the idea of peaceful resistance.”

As we see, the BBC’s brazen multi-platform exploitation of Christmas for the promotion of one-sided political narratives continues apace.

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The BBC’s biased Bethlehem binge continues

BBC politicisation of Christmas continues on WS radio

BBC News again self-conscripts to Banksy’s Israel delegitimisation

BBC WS radio airs anti-terrorist fence falsehoods

BBC Radio 4 religious show airs anodyne report on Palestinian Christians

Documenting five years of BBC politicisation of Christmas