BBC Music again covers a BDS story without explaining that campaign’s agenda

On July 12th a link to an article by BBC Music’s Mark Savage appeared on both the Middle East and Entertainment and Arts pages of the BBC News website under the heading “Radiohead continue to defend Israel gig”.

That link leads to an article headlined “Radiohead on Israel gig: “Playing a country isn’t the same as endorsing its government”” which opens:

“Thom Yorke has continued to defend Radiohead’s decision to play a concert in Israel.”

BBC Music has been promoting this story since February when it also amplified (albeit with inaccuracies) the efforts of supporters of the BDS campaign calling themselves ‘Artists for Palestine UK’ – including Roger Waters – to get Radiohead to cancel their upcoming concert in Israel. Fifty-five words of this 642 word report are similarly dedicated to amplification of that group including – once again – a link to its website.

“In April, the group were [sic] petitioned by Artists For Palestine, who asked them to reconsider performing in a country “where a system of apartheid has been imposed on the Palestinian people”.”

A further 54 words describe a “protest” by a small number of BDS campaign supporters in Scotland at a recent Radiohead show.

One hundred and sixty-seven words (26%) of the article and a link are dedicated to amplification of efforts by Ken Loach to persuade Radiohead to cancel their Tel Aviv appearance. That generous exposure is perhaps more comprehensible when seen in the context of the BBC’s decision last month to mark Loach’s birthday with a Tweet and a re-promoted blogpost highlighting his “strong ties to the BBC”.

“On Tuesday, filmmaker Ken Loach wrote an open letter, accusing Radiohead of ignoring “human rights violations”. […]

“None of us want to see them make the mistake of appearing to endorse or cover up Israeli oppression. If they go to Tel Aviv, they may never live it down.”

Loach continued: “I don’t know who is advising Radiohead, but their stubborn refusal to engage with the many critics of their ill-advised concert in Tel Aviv suggests to me that they only want to hear one side – the one that supports apartheid.””

With a total of 276 words assigned to amplification of those protesting Radiohead’s show in Israel and 256 words allotted to a member of the band’s reaction to those calls, the article’s remaining 110 words are devoted to BBC supplied background to the story.

As usual in BBC content relating to this topic, that ‘background’ does not however include an explanation of the BDS campaign’s aims and agenda and Mark Savage does not provide any factual information that would enable audiences to put the unchallenged allegations – such as “human rights violations”, “oppression” and “apartheid” – made by the showcased BDS supporters into their correct context.

“The band have [sic] repeatedly been urged to call off the show as part of a cultural boycott over Israel’s policies towards the Palestinians. […]

Radiohead have performed in Israel eight times – most recently in 2000 – but next week’s show is the first time they’ve visited since the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement began in 2005.”

As readers may recall, two years ago the BBC claimed that it is not its job to inform audiences what the BDS campaign is actually all about when reporting on related stories. More recently, the BBC has taken to bizarrely describing that campaign to eradicate Jewish self-determination as a “human rights group”.

Clearly though, BBC audiences cannot make up their own minds about Radiohead’s response to calls to join the boycott against Israel if they are not given the full information concerning that boycott campaign’s ultimate aim.

Related Articles:

BBC Music promotes falsehoods and BDS campaign website

Scottish BDS activists who protest Radiohead also promote Holocaust denial (UK Media Watch)

Radiohead’s Thom Yorke responds to Ken Loach’s pro-BDS op-ed in the Indy (UK Media Watch)

BBC Radio 4 provides a stage for anti-Israel activist’s agitprop and defamation 

 

 

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Sourcing an anti-Israel libel promoted on BBC Radio 4

When anti-Israel campaigner Ken Loach appeared on BBC Radio 4’s ‘The World Tonight’ on February 25th, one of the more delusional allegations heard by listeners (and the competition was tough) was that during the 2014 conflict between Israel and Hamas, Israeli troops “executed” Hebrew speakers in the Gaza Strip.The World Tonight 25 2

“Will they go to Gaza and see the rubble? Will they see the schools that were bombed by Israel in 2014? Will they see the hospitals that were targeted by Israel? Will they see the places where families were herded together and then executed? Will they hear about the people who were asked if they spoke Hebrew and if they spoke Hebrew they were executed?”

Not only was that allegation – and the many others – not questioned or challenged by the BBC’s Ritula Shah but Loach was not even asked to provide a source for such a serious charge. Hence, we decided to look for its source ourselves and the search did not take very long.

The inventor of that defamation is a man who has made a career out of lying about IsraelMax Blumenthal – and in 2014 he touted it at the so-called ‘Russell Tribunal on Palestine’, with further amplification from Rania Khalek at ‘electronic Intifada’

“Blumenthal described in vivid detail the grisly executions he documented of civilians, paramedics and fighters carried out by invading Israeli soldiers. He also highlighted several instances of Israeli soldiers summarily executing older men in Gaza after learning they spoke Hebrew, leading to speculation that soldiers were ordered to eliminate anyone capable of understanding their commands.”

Another fan of Blumenthal’s unsubstantiated allegations is Asa Winstanley who told readers of the Hamas-linked MEMO website that:

“According to several different eyewitnesses he spoke to, offering corroborating accounts of different incidents, it seems that Israeli soldiers were executing a new practice during this latest Gaza war. As Max puts it: “wanton targeting of Palestinian civilians who spoke Hebrew”.”

The fact that Radio 4 apparently did not see anything problematic about broadcasting that and additional spurious allegations without question or challenge of course prompts the question of what it is that supposedly differentiates the BBC from Hamas-supporting websites which promote and amplify the same defamation – but without demanding a licence fee.

Related Articles:

BBC interviewee and source banned from German parliament

Move over Galloway: BBC Radio Ulster airs pro-Assad & anti-Israel propaganda

Racist Alliance: Behind the scenes of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine and Pluto Press (UK Media Watch) 

BBC Radio 4 provides a stage for anti-Israel activist’s agitprop and defamation

h/t @Sussex Friends

“If it is established during a live programme that a factual error has been made and we can accurately correct it then we should admit our mistake clearly and frankly. Saying what was wrong as well as putting it right can be an important element in making an effective correction. Where the inaccuracy is unfair, a timely correction may dissuade the aggrieved party from complaining. Any serious factual errors or potential defamation problems should be referred immediately to Programme Legal Advice.” (BBC editorial guidelines – Live Output – How To Deal With A Serious Incident In A Live Broadcast)

When BBC Radio 4 producers invited long-time anti-Israel activist Ken Loach to appear on the February 25th edition of ‘The World Tonight’ to talk about a campaign in which he is involved there can be little doubt that they knew in advance exactly what they were going to get. It was therefore to be expected that listeners to the item concerned (from 32:52 here) would hear the tirade of inaccurate statements, crude distortions and downright lies which included the following:The World Tonight 25 2

“Israel has been oppressing the Palestinians for 70 years. They steal their land. They destroy their houses. They kill them with impunity. They break international law. They disregard United Nations resolutions and they break the Geneva conventions. They’re constructing an apartheid state.”

“If you look in the West Bank, for example, you’ll see settlements that are only available to Israeli Jews. The Palestinians live in villages at the foot of those settlements. You’ll see roads that only Israelis can travel on. The Palestinians, in their own land, cannot travel on those roads. You’ll see checkpoints that only Palestinians are forced to go through. Israelis don’t have to go through checkpoints. […] it satisfies the United Nations definition of apartheid.”

“Will they go to Gaza and see the rubble? Will they see the schools that were bombed by Israel in 2014? Will they see the hospitals that were targeted by Israel? Will they see the places where families were herded together and then executed? Will they hear about the people who were asked if they spoke Hebrew and if they spoke Hebrew they were executed?”

And in addition to all that, listeners also heard promotion of the BDS campaign – once again without their being told what that campaign really seeks to bring about.

So what efforts were made by presenter Ritula Shah to counter the inaccurate and misleading information promoted by her interviewee? Her first interjection – as usual – failed to meet BBC editorial guidelines on impartiality.  

“You can object to Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, to settlements that are defined as illegal under international law, but that’s not the same as an apartheid state. That’s a very serious and particular accusation to be levelling.”

No serious attempt was made by Shah to challenge the specific lies and inaccuracies promoted by Loach and she confined herself to generalized “there are those who would say” statements on Israeli Arab citizens, Israeli democracy and the lack of justification for boycotts. The second half of the item included an interview with a representative from the Israeli Government Tourist Office which was presumably intended to tick the impartiality box and will no doubt be cited in response to any complaints about this item.

Significantly though, no substantial effort was made to relieve Radio 4 audiences of the multiple inaccurate impressions they received from listening to Ken Loach’s vulgar agitprop and the real issue with this item is that despite its various nods to ‘impartiality’, the programme’s producers must have known in advance that the defamatory messaging in Loach’s three and a half minutes of unchallenged propaganda was exactly what listeners were going to take away from this item.