Extremist links of charities ignored in BBC reports

The BBC’s Julia Macfarlane recently showcased a trip to the Gaza Strip by four British surgeons in a series of reports across a variety of BBC platforms.Macfarlane art main

On October 10th a feature titled “A war within a war: The battles fought by Gaza’s medics” appeared on the BBC News website where it remained for five consecutive days. A filmed version of the report – which also appeared on BBC television news – was posted on the same webpage on the same day under the title “Gaza conflict: UK surgeons help treat wounded“. On October 11th the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newshour’, presented by Julian Marshall, included an audio version of Macfarlane’s report – available from 12:25 here.  

The subject of the organizations behind the doctors’ trip to the Gaza Strip is not raised at all in the radio version of the report. In the televised version, one of the doctors says:

“I think myself as part of a charity like Ideals and MAP can actually now start setting something to try to sort these people out.”

Very few viewers of course are likely to be aware of the fact that the acronym MAP is in fact Medical Aid for Palestinians. The written version of Macfarlane’s report states:

“The surgeons belong to the charity Ideals, and were sent to Gaza by Medical Aid for Palestinians to visit the main hospitals there to carry out assessments and to perform post-traumatic, reconstructive surgeries.”

The same written feature also includes the following graphic displaying information provided by MAP.

Macfarlane art graphic

Like the rest of the content in all of Macfarlane’s context-free reports, this graphic makes no attempt to inform BBC audiences of the real reasons behind the information presented. There is of course nothing novel about that: from the very first day of the seven-week conflict the BBC misled its audiences by stating or implying that shortages of medical equipment in the Gaza Strip are a consequence of border restrictions imposed by Israel. On no occasion has any effort been made to clarify to BBC audiences that the permanent shortage of drugs and medical supplies in the Gaza Strip is the result of ongoing disputes between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority and that Israel does not place any restrictions whatsoever on the entry of such items into the Strip.

Notably, the same context-free theme was also promoted by the BBC during Operation Pillar of Defence in 2012, including in an interview with the then WHO representative Tony Laurance who has since become the chief executive of MAP.

All of these reports by Julia Macfarlane were obviously made with the collaboration of the charities involved in organizing and funding the doctors’ trip.

The charity ‘Ideals‘ states on its website that its ‘donors/supporters’ include Interpal – a UK charity with known connections to Hamas which is designated a terrorist entity by the United States and was the subject of a ‘Panorama‘ programme in 2006.

Macfarlane art Ideals

 

One of Interpal’s associates is Dr Paola Manduca who, together with MAP founder and honorary patron Dr Swee Chai Ang, was at the centre of a recent controversy caused by their publication (with others) of a highly defamatory and politicized letter in The Lancet. That controversy further escalated after the discovery of their promotion of antisemitic material.

According to Julia Macfarlane, the UK doctors’ trip was jointly funded by the British tax-payer (via DFID). The MAP website states that more such DFID-funded missions are planned in the future and that “… MAP will continue to work with the Ministry of Health in Gaza to identify key areas of need and offer specialised medical interventions”.

Both the issue of public funding and the collaboration, via MAP, with the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry should have made the extremist links of the charities showcased by the BBC even more of a matter of public interest, but yet no effort was made whatsoever to inform audiences of those links or MAP’s political agenda in any of Macfarlane’s reports. 

BBC misleads in article on refugees in Lebanon

On April 3rd the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) announced that the number of Syrian refugees in Lebanon had passed the one million mark. That news apparently prompted the appearance on the same day of two items on the BBC News website’s Middle East page on the topic of Syrian refugees in Lebanon by Julia Macfarlane – one filmed and one written – both of which focus on Syrians now living in Sabra and Shatila. Macfarlane art

Perhaps a function of the choice of location, Macfarlane’s otherwise informative written report ends with a statement likely to mislead BBC audiences.

“As the conflict rages on though, many Syrians living with Palestinian refugees – whose community has now been in Lebanon for more than 60 years – fear they could share the same fate in years to come.”

Of course the reason there are still Palestinian refugees in Sabra, Shatila and the other ten refugee camps in Lebanon is that the Lebanese government adheres to Arab League policy dating from 1959 according to which:

“Arab states will reject the giving of citizenship to applicants of Palestinian origin in order to prevent their integration into the host countries.”

Hence, for well over six decades those refugees have been deliberately kept in that artificial status for purely political reasons, suffering severe discrimination throughout the entire time.

The fears of Syrian refugees with regard to being forced to remain in Lebanon for an extended period of time in refugee status are undoubtedly well-founded. According to the UNHCR:

“Lebanon has not signed the 1951 Refugee Convention, although it has signed most other human rights treaties relevant to the protection of refugees. Constitutionally, the latter take precedence over domestic law but this is rarely observed by the courts, and there is no domestic legislation or administrative practice to address the specific needs of refugees and asylum-seekers.”

However, the political motivations and strategies of the Arab League which have kept Palestinian refugees in that status for so many years do not apply to Syria and refugees under the care of the UNHCR are not entitled to the same hereditary refugee status as those under the authority of the designated agency for Palestinian refugees – UNRWA – and so the two cases are not, as Macfarlane suggests, in any way comparable.  

 

 

The BBC’s Macfarlane and the Vulture Club

On May 20th 2013 the BBC News website ran an article on its Middle East page about the release of a new Israeli government report on the subject of the September 30th 2000 incident involving Jamal and Mohammed Al Dura at the Netzarim junction, as featured in a controversial television report by Charles Enderlin of France 2. 

The report itself can be read here

In response to a complaint, the BBC acknowledged three years ago that France 2’s claims of Israeli responsibility for the incident were far from water-tight.

“I think that, in stating as fact that Muhammed Al-Durrah was killed by the Israeli Army, the programme went beyond what could be said with certainty. …

 I hope you will accept my apologies, on behalf of the BBC, for the breach of standards in relation to accuracy which we have identified.” “

Nevertheless, the BBC News website continues to this day to promote dubiously captioned images and inaccurate articles relating to the event, suggesting that not all BBC journalists have embraced the BBC Editorial Complaints Unit’s definition of accuracy with regard to this issue. 

That impression was further entrenched by the participation of the BBC World Service’s Julia Macfarlane in a revealing Facebook discussion by a private forum of journalists and human rights workers calling itself ‘the Vulture Club’ shortly after the release of the new Israeli government report. 

Macfarlane 1

Macfarlane 2

The BBC article on the subject of the new report concludes:

“This controversy around the Dura case has rolled on for more than a decade and is unlikely to stop here, says the BBC’s Jon Donnison in Jerusalem.

As with much of the Israel-Palestinian conflict both sides have entirely different interpretations of what happened on that day, and each side’s version of the truth will likely never be accepted by the other, he adds.”

Donnison’s submissive relativism and Macfarlane’s obvious unwillingness to find the curiosity to look beyond the accepted narrative within her own peer group portend pretty gloomily for the BBC’s ability to meet the standards of accuracy and impartiality to which it claims to adhere.  

Related articles: Another lethal narrative on the BBC website.