Why the accuracy and impartiality of BBC reporting matters

Last week a debate on the conditions and health of Palestinian children was held in the House of Lords.  As noted by NGO Monitor, a briefing paper was prepared ahead of that debate.HoL pic

“In July 2016, the UK House of Lords Library posted a briefing paper: “Living Conditions, Health and Wellbeing of Palestinian Children,” which was “withdrawn” without explanation on July 19, but is available on unofficial websites.” 

As NGO Monitor points out, that briefing paper relied heavily on information promoted by various political NGOs – but it also included information gleaned from several BBC reports.

Footnote 4 (and 11) referred readers to an article titled “Palestinian jailed for murder of Israeli teenagers” which was published on January 6th, 2015 as the source for the following information:

HoL doc 1

As was noted here at the time that article was published:

“The BBC report plays down Hamas involvement in the kidnappings and murders:

“The leader of Hamas, the Islamist group dominant in Gaza, said in an interview in August that a Hamas cell had killed the teenagers but had not acted on instructions from above.”

The article fails to adequately clarify that funding for the terror attack came from Hamas sources in the Gaza Strip or that high-ranking Hamas operative Saleh al Arouri admitted the organisation’s involvement in August 2014.”

Footnotes 14 and 15 referred readers to a BBC article dating from September 1st 2014 as the source of the information below:

HoL doc 2

Notably, no effort is made to distinguish Palestinian civilian casualties from combatants. That of course will not come as a surprise to those who are aware of the sources of those UN quoted figures. As was previously noted here in relation to that BBC article:

“Once again we see the BBC quoting “the UN” as though that body were impeccably objective, but with no effort made to inform audiences with regard to the very significant issue of the background to those UN statements and the political motivations involved.”

Footnote 16 referred readers to a BBC report from August 27th 2014 titled “Gaza conflict: Israel and Palestinians agree long-term truce”.

HoL doc 3

As was noted here at the time:

“The real story behind the August 26th ceasefire between Israel and Hamas is of course the fact that Hamas could have accepted the same terms six weeks earlier and thereby prevented hundreds of deaths, thousands of injuries, extensive damage to buildings and infrastructure and unquantifiable suffering for the people of the Gaza Strip.”

Footnotes 33, 34 and 36 referred readers to an article by Yolande Knell from July 8th 2015 titled “Why is Gaza reconstruction so slow?”

HoL doc 4

As was noted here at the time, that politicised campaigning article by Knell made no mention of Hamas’ misappropriation of construction materials or its renewed tunnel building and it misrepresented the topic of dual-use goods.

The BBC’s coverage of the conflict between Israel and Hamas and other assorted terrorist organisations in the summer of 2014 was highly – and consistently – problematic: not least for its serial misrepresentation of the topic of civilian/combatant casualty figures and the use of data supplied by Hamas and its supporters. Both during and after the conflict, the corporation adopted a campaigning role on the issue of the restrictions imposed on the Gaza Strip’s border with Israel in response to terrorism and presented a partisan view of the topic of reconstruction in Gaza.

It is obviously very disturbing to see reporting which did not meet the BBC’s professed editorial standards of accuracy and impartiality being promoted to members of the House of Lords ahead of a debate but the fact that the house’s researchers use such material as the basis for a briefing paper serves to highlight exactly why the British public, their politicians and public officials should be all the more concerned about the accuracy and impartiality of BBC journalism which later becomes “historical record“.  

 

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BBC Trending highlights anti-Israel social media campaign

h/t MD

The last few days have seen vigorous promotion on BBC Twitter accounts of an article by BBC Trending which appeared on the BBC News website on June 20th under the title “Israel’s ‘#BringBackOur…’ hashtag“. The item also appeared as a ‘related article’ on the website’s Middle East page on June 22nd.BBC Trending

Ostensibly reporting on the apolitical social media campaign organized by Israeli students to raise awareness about the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers, the article opens with yet another example of the BBC’s apparent policy decision not to report the incident as a clear-cut kidnapping case.

“The hashtag #BringBackOurBoys has been used 127,000 times since last Thursday when three Israeli teenagers, students from Jewish seminaries in the occupied West Bank, went missing. Israeli authorities believe they were kidnapped.”

But after quoting one of the campaign’s organisers, the article quickly moves on to devote nearly half its content to presentation of a counter campaign launched by anti-Israel activists which, in contrast, is highly political in nature. In doing so, BBC Trending of course adds its own wind to the sails of a delegitimising campaign designed to promote the notion of equivalence between the abduction of three teenage students and Palestinians who, following their decision to involve themselves in violent riots and rock-throwing, are detained by security forces.

“But Palestinian campaigners on social media saw the issue quite differently. They moved quickly and were accused of “hijacking” the hashtag by using it to publish pictures of detained or dead children to highlight what they said was the disparity in the treatment of Palestinian children and young people by Israeli authorities. A Palestinian blogger, for instance, tweeted: ‘Who will bring u back #AhmadAlSabarin 20 y/o …” in reference to a young Palestinian killed during clashes near Ramallah, which erupted after soldiers conducted house-to-house searches on Sunday night.

Amani Al-Khatahtbeh, Media Relations specialist at the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), who have used the hashtag to highlight the plight of Palestinians, told BBC Trending that the ADC decided to use the same hashtag because “we also want people that access #BringBackOurBoys wanting to learn about the missing Israelis to also learn about the Palestinian children that have been abducted, imprisoned, and killed by Israeli forces.” “

Readers will no doubt recall that the organization quoted and promoted above by BBC Trending – the ADC – is the same body which elected to honour journalist Helen Thomas after her anti-Semitic statement was made public.

Interestingly though, despite the fact that BBC Trending purports to bring audiences “[a] hand-picked selection of stories trending on social media around the world”, it – like the rest of the various BBC departments which have covered this subject so far – elected not to inform them of related topics such as the use of social media to promote Palestinian approval of the kidnappings, including on a Fatah Facebook page and threats against Mohammed Zoabi who posted his thoughts on the topic on Youtube and against another teenager from Umm el Fahm have likewise gone unreported by the BBC.  

Knell to BBC TV audiences: Israel ‘provoked’ Palestinians with search for kidnapped teens

On Friday June 20th a filmed report about the search for three kidnapped Israeli teenagers by the BBC Jerusalem Bureau’s Yolande Knell which appeared on BBC television news broadcasts was also posted on the BBC News website under the title “Thousands mourn Palestinian teen killed in clashes“.Knell filmed Dura incident

Knell opens her report thus:

“Grief and anger at this funeral for a fifteen year-old boy. Mohamed Dudin was shot in the chest in the latest clashes with Israeli soldiers. Across the West Bank young Palestinians have thrown stones when troops have tried to make arrests.”

Knell fails to point out that rock-throwing has not been the only method used to attack Israeli soldiers involved in the search: firebombs and pipe-bombs have also been employed and in at least one case, a grenade was thrown at troops, injuring a soldier. The incident in Dura on the night between June 19th and 20th in which Mohamed Dudin was killed also involved rock and firebomb throwing by youths, but Knell refrains from providing audiences with that vital context.

The report then cuts to images of Israeli soldiers walking up a street, with Knell informing audiences in the voice-over:

“And this is what provoked their anger: a massive Israeli search operation began in Palestinian neighbourhoods a week ago to try to find three missing Israeli teenagers.”

In other words, Knell affords no agency or free will to those rioting Palestinian youths; according to her patronising account, their “anger” is uncontrollably “provoked” by the very sight of Israeli soldiers conducting an operation to rescue three abducted teens.

Adhering to the BBC policy adopted around the middle of the first week of searches, Knell continues by suggesting that there is room for interpretation regarding whether the three teens were actually kidnapped.

“They’re believed to have been kidnapped. The city of Hebron has been virtually closed by the Israeli army.”

Knell does not explain to audiences why Hebron has been closed. She fails to inform them that Hebron is a major centre of Hamas activity and that intelligence assessments suggest that the abducted teens are still being held in Palestinian Authority controlled areas.

“Speaking to Channel 10, the official said that, based on security assessments, the teens were still somewhere in the West Bank and that their abductors were unsuccessful in moving them in the direction of Jordan, Gaza, or Sinai.

Troops were concentrated in large numbers in an area close to Hebron on Friday night, with soldiers searching house-to-house and the area was closed off to outside traffic.”

The BBC report then cuts to two short interviews with unnamed ‘Palestinians in the street’, with BBC editors having elected to include promotion (unchallenged by the BBC) and amplification of the inaccurate claim that an Israeli search for kidnapped teenagers is “collective punishment”, along with a DIY interpretation of ‘international law’.

Woman: “So many people are worried and afraid that…ah….they might lose somebody from the family, either being detained, either being killed.”

Man: “It’s a big violation of the international law by imposing a collective punishment on the Palestinian civilians who are living in Hebron.”

Knell goes on, again using the neutral term “disappeared” to describe the kidnapped youths.

“But outside this home in central Israel thoughts and prayers are for the students who’ve disappeared. We spoke to the aunt of sixteen year-old Naftali Frenkel.

After that short interview Knell continues, erasing Hamas’ terror designation from the picture and again steering audiences towards an equivalent view of statements made on the basis of intelligence reports by an official of a sovereign country and claims made by an internationally designated terrorist organization.

“Israel’s Prime Minister says the missing teenagers have been taken by his country’s sworn enemy; the Islamist movement Hamas, although Hamas hasn’t said it was involved.”

The term “sworn enemy” is defined as meaning  people who will always hate each other”. In using that term, therefore, Knell misleads BBC audiences by steering them towards a view of Israel’s operations against Hamas as motivated by emotion – rather than by the legal obligation to defend its citizens from terrorist activity, as in fact the case.

Knell continues by suggesting that Israeli efforts to locate and rescue three of its citizens will be to blame for any potential collapse of the PUG, but fails to inform viewers of that government’s obligation under existing treaties to prevent exactly this kind of attack on Israelis.

“But all the Palestinian factions are feeling the pressure. Fury over the Israeli raids threatens to open fresh divisions and could break their new unity government. What began as a personal crisis for three Israeli families has quickly turned into a deadly political drama.”

Of course what Knell describes to viewers as a “personal crisis” was, from the very beginning, a politically motivated act. Gil-ad Sha’ar, Naftali Frenkel and Eyal Yifrach were not random victims; they were kidnapped because they are Israeli Jews.

A written article on the same topic (the seventh consecutive one) also appeared on the BBC News website on the same day under the headline “Palestinian killed as hunt for Israeli youths continues“.

In that report too, rioting and attacks instigated against Israeli soldiers are depicted as some sort of force majeure which is beyond the control of unsuspecting Palestinians who perpetrate them.

“Mohammed Dudin, 15, was shot after violence flared following an arrest raid in village of Dora [sic].” [emphasis added]

Yet again, the BBC refrains from informing audiences that the three teens were kidnapped even though it does later on mention the phone call made by one of the boys.  

“A Palestinian teenager has been killed during clashes with Israeli troops searching for three Israeli teenagers believed abducted in the West Bank.

Hundreds of Palestinians have been arrested in the hunt for the teenagers, who went missing eight days ago.”  [emphasis added]

[…]

“Earlier this week, the Israeli police revealed that one of the students had alerted them by phone, minutes after being kidnapped.”

Like its predecessor, this report once again inaccurately informs readers that:

“No group has claimed to have taken the students.”

In fact, there have been three claims of responsibility: one the day after the kidnapping from a Salafist Jihadist organization called Dawat al Islam, one the following day from a group calling itself the Liberators’ Battalion of Hebron and one two days after that by Fatah’s Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade. Whilst all these claims are unverified, it is not accurate on the BBC’s part to state that no claims have been made.

As has been the case in all six previous reports on this topic, this article too makes no mention of Palestinian celebrations of the kidnappings or of the vast amounts of explosives and weapons discovered during the IDF’s searches. Concurrent missile attacks on Israeli civilians near the Gaza Strip are also not reported to BBC audiences in either of these reports.   

 

BBC’s ‘Echo Chambers’ blog promotes inaccurate information on kidnapped teens

h/t BK

The BBC News website blog titled ‘Echo Chambers’ (edited by Anthony Zurcher) purports to present audiences with “a review of the best commentary on and around the world”. Its June 18th edition included a section titled “BBC Monitoring’s quotes of the day” with the sub-heading:

“Israeli and Palestinian commentators offer their views on the three missing Israeli teens the Israeli government believes were kidnapped by Hamas militants.”

The first of those selected quotes comes from the pro-Fatah Palestinian daily Al Ayyam.

Echo Chambers 1

As we see, the words “of the three settlers” have been added to the quote in square brackets – presumably by BBC Monitoring.

The term “settlers” is of course used pejoratively by the BBC to describe people – specifically and exclusively Jews – living in towns and villages in geographical areas in which, according to the BBC’s political views, they should not be living. Those geographical areas are located on a particular side of the 1949 Armistice lines and apparently even children or teenagers whose parents decided to make their homes where the BBC thinks they should not have done so can be termed “settlers” , even if they had no part in that decision themselves or were actually born there.

In the case of the three kidnapped teenagers who are the subject of this quote, the assertion that they are “settlers” is not only loaded with political intent; it is also inaccurate. Sixteen year-old Gil-ad Sha’ar comes from Talmon: a village founded ten years before Gil-ad was born which is located in Judea & Samaria and hence would be classified as a ‘settlement’ by the BBC. Naftali Frenkel – also aged 16 – comes from Nof Ayalon and nineteen year-old Eyal Yifrach lives in Elad. Both those two latter communities are on the ‘right’ side of the 1949 Armistice lines according to the BBC world view.

map yishuvim

As we see, however, the BBC has chosen to describe all three of the kidnapped youths as “settlers” even though that description is both inaccurate and – quite frankly – irrelevant. Unless the BBC is trying to press a political point to readers of this blog post (and if it is, that is another topic altogether which goes far beyond mere inaccuracy), then the politically motivated epithet allocated according to the location (mistaken or not) of the family homes of the three missing boys is of no consequence to the story itself.

The second selected quote promoted in this post comes from ‘Filastin Online’ and there the three abducted youths are inaccurately described as “soldiers”.

Echo Chambers 2

No effort is made by the BBC to clarify to readers that this “quote of the day” includes inaccurate and misleading information.

As a reminder, BBC editorial guidelines on accuracy and impartiality apply to all BBC content. 

Nicky Campbell ‘contextualises’ kidnapping of Israeli teens on BBC radio 5 live

Listeners who tuned into BBC Radio 5 live’s ‘World Cup Breakfast’ programme on June 16th for coverage of the football also got to hear presenter Nicky Campbell’s promotion of a comparison between convicted terrorists and illegal infiltrators into Israel and three Israeli teenagers kidnapped on June 12th.World Cup Breakfast R 5 live

The item (available for a short period of time here from around 01:47:53) was also promoted in part on the BBC News website under the title “‘Maximum effort’ in search for kidnapped Israeli teens“.

In his introduction of the item, Campbell neglects to clarify to listeners Hamas’ designation as a terrorist organisation:

“Israeli troops have arrested the speaker of the Palestinian Parliament Aziz Dweik as they investigate the kidnapping of three Israeli students in the West Bank. Ah…Aziz Dweik is a member of the militant group Hamas which denies seizing the students and says Israel’s claims that it has are silly.”

Campbell’s co-presenter Rachel Burden continues the item, with the BBC’s pronunciation unit apparently not having been available at that early hour in order to help with correct pronunciation of some of the names mentioned.

“Naftali Frenkel and Gil-ad Sha’ar, both sixteen, disappeared from the West Bank along with nineteen year-old Eyal Yifrach last Thursday. The Foreign Secretary William Hague has condemned the abductions. Naftali Frenkel’s mother Racheli is hoping for their safe return.”

The item then cuts to a recording of Racheli Frenkel speaking, after which Nicky Campbell continues by introducing the spokesman for Israel’s Prime Minister’s office, Mark Regev.

NC: “Why have you arrested the Speaker of the Parliament?”

Mark Regev: “He’s one of the most senior Hamas operatives in the West Bank and as such, the assumption is that he has knowledge of where these three boys are. Ultimately, we’re conducting at this moment obviously a very large police and security operation to try to locate these three kidnapped boys. That’s our obligation: to try to find them.

NC: “Can you tell us anything more about that Palestinian report of a man being killed by Israeli soldiers – reports from Ramallah?”

MR: “I know that as our people went in to look for places of…suspicious places where these boys might be being hidden, there were some places of violence where our troops were attacked, but we’re not trying to hurt anyone. We’re just trying to get our three teenagers back home.”

Campbell then goes on to quote some unsourced numbers, critically failing to inform audiences that most of the people to whom he refers are convicted terrorists.Campbell item on website

NC: “Well, at the end of April 2014 – many would point this out – 5,021 Palestinian security detainees and prisoners were held in Israeli prisons – 373 of them from the Gaza Strip. An additional 1,333 Palestinians were held in Israeli Prison Service facilities for being in Israel illegally. You know, the Palestinians would say perhaps these people were in the West Bank illegally. But those figures; there are those that would argue that gives this some perspective.”

MR: “I beg to disagree. When someone has been convicted and tried through a due process of law, you can’t compare that with a terrorist coming up to a bus stop in the West Bank and kidnapping three youngsters. It’s just no comparison; morally, legally, it just doesn’t compare. We have a situation where there’s a huge operation for these three young men – or boys, I should say – that we’re looking for. We’re very concerned about their lives, we’re very concerned what is happening to them now and what could happen to them in a short time and so of course we’re making a maximum effort to try to find them. Now this is a terrorist kidnapping and I don’t think it can be compared with anything else.”

The item ends at that point. Campbell’s attempt to compare the kidnapped Israeli teenagers with convicted terrorists, his claim that the issue of those terrorists convicted by a due process of law “gives…some perspective” to the topic of three youths kidnapped whilst travelling home from school,  his odious implication that the teens were in fact to blame for their own abduction because they “were in the West Bank illegally” and that their being forcefully held by parties unknown is comparable to the detention of Palestinian illegal infiltrators into Israel, clearly calls into question the impartiality of this item. 

 

 

Two more misleading BBC News reports on search for kidnapped teens

After a slow start the BBC News website has, since June 14th, produced an article a day on the subject of the extensive search for three Israeli teenagers kidnapped last Thursday night (see ‘related articles’ below for the first four reports).

On June 18th the website’s fifth article on the topic appeared under the heading “Israel holds ex-Palestinian prisoners in teenagers hunt“.kidnapping art 5

Continuing a theme promoted in the previous report, the article opens with a description of the kidnapped youths as “missing”, despite the fact that one of them managed to make a phone call reporting the abduction – a point which the BBC has so far failed to report in any of its articles on the topic.

“Israeli troops have arrested another 65 Palestinians, including 51 freed in a 2011 prisoner swap, as they search for three missing teenagers.

The total number of people detained since the Jewish seminary students went missing last Thursday is now 240.” [emphasis added]

Moreover, the report continues:

“Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the arrests in the West Bank had sent an “important message” and dealt a substantial blow to Hamas.

He has accused the group of abducting the students, but not provided proof.” [emphasis added]

Like its predecessors, this report juxtaposes statements made by Israeli officials during an ongoing operation with those made by leaders of an internationally designated terrorist organization.

“Hamas has dismissed the allegation that it is involved as “stupid”.”

Also like previous reports, this one reports inaccurately on the location of the kidnapping as being “near” Hebron.map Alon Shvut

“Many of those held were arrested during raids on houses in the northern West Bank city of Nablus and Hebron, in the south, near where Naftali Frenkel and Gilad Shaar, who are both 16, and 19-year-old Eyal Yifrach went missing as they hitchhiked their way home.”

Notably, the article describes Hamas’ Al Aqsa radio station as a “civilian” institution, despite the fact that the Al Aqsa media operations are controlled by senior Hamas operative Fathi Hamad.

“Troops raided institutions that provide civilian support for Hamas, including its radio station, al-Aqsa, which has offices in Ramallah and Hebron. Computers and documents were seized.”

The report goes on to amplify a baseless claim made by Qadoura Fares, providing no background information to BBC audiences concerning the terms of the 2011 prisoner release deal, including the provisos for re-arrest.

“Palestinians accused Israel of reneging on the prisoner-swap deal.

“What Israel is doing has nothing to do with security, but is a policy of revenge,” said Qadoura Fares, chairman of the Palestinian Prisoners Club, which assists Palestinians in Israeli jails.”

June 19th saw the appearance of a sixth report on the topic titled “Missing Israeli teenagers: Jenin clashes follow arrests“.

In that report too, the teenagers have been downgraded from kidnapped to “missing” and, seeing as this is the third consecutive report to do so, it must be assumed that this is now BBC editorial policy. Once again, no mention is made of the fact that one of the boys managed to report the kidnapping by phone.

“Israel’s military says its soldiers have exchanged gunfire with Palestinians during raids in the West Bank in the hunt for three missing teenagers. […]

Clashes erupted after 30 Palestinians were arrested in the investigation over the missing Jewish seminary students.” [emphasis added]

Likewise, the report once again promotes the notion of equivalence between intelligence-based Israeli statements and the denials of a designated terror organization.kidnapping art 6

“The total number of Palestinians detained in the search is now 280.

Israel says 200 of these were “operatives” of Hamas, who Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has accused of abducting the students.

Hamas has dismissed the allegation that it is involved as “stupid”.”

The article then goes on to mislead audiences with inaccurate information on another topic.

“No group has claimed to have taken the students, who disappeared last Thursday.”

In fact, as previously noted here, there have been three separate claims of responsibility, including one by Fatah’s Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, although their credibility has not been established. In addition – and unreported by the BBC – Hamas’ Salah Bardawil stated on June 19th that what he termed “the Palestinian resistance” had carried out the kidnappings.

The report again misleads audiences with an inaccurate description of the site of the kidnapping (Alon Shvut junction) as being “near” Hebron even though the two locations are some 27 kms apart. It also once again fails to identify Hebron as a centre of Hamas activity.

“Naftali Frenkel and Gilad Shaar, who are both 16, and 19-year-old Eyal Yifrach went missing at a junction near the city of Hebron as they hitchhiked their way home.”

Towards the end of the report, audiences are presented with selected quotes from two recent statements by the PA president.

“Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, in a statement, has criticised Israel for using the teenagers’ disappearance “a pretext to impose tough punishment against our people and besiege them” in violation of international humanitarian law.

Mr Abbas said on Wednesday that the Palestinian Authority was co-ordinating efforts with Israel in the search, comments that drew sharp condemnation from Hamas, which said the remarks were “unjustified” and “harmful” to the Palestinian reconciliation deal between it and Mr Abbas’s Fatah faction.”

That second paragraph relates to a statement made by Abbas whilst in Saudi Arabia (also mentioned in the report from the previous day). The statement referred to in the first paragraph came the following day and – possibly in light of reactions from assorted Palestinian factions to the previous one – its full text shows rather more than mere ‘criticism’ as the BBC would have readers believe.

Yet again, neither of these articles informs BBC audiences of the vast amounts of explosives and weapons uncovered by the IDF during the operation to find the three abducted youths or of the Palestinian celebrations of various descriptions in reaction to the kidnappings.

Also absent from either of these reports is news of the ongoing missile fire from the Gaza Strip targeting civilian communities in southern Israel. On the night of June 18th one of those missiles hit a home in an agricultural community near the border, fortunately causing no injuries.

Related Articles:

BBC News website ignores search for missing Israeli teens

Don’t mention the baklava: BBC reports on kidnapping of Israeli teens

Still no BBC reporting on Palestinian celebrations of kidnappings

A fourth BBC report on kidnapping refrains from reporting Palestinian celebrations

A fourth BBC report on kidnapping refrains from reporting Palestinian celebrations

On June 17th the BBC News website published its fourth article about the search for three Israeli teenagers who were kidnapped last Thursday night on its Middle East page. The report is titled “Israel detains dozens more in search for missing teens” and after three opening sentences, two examples of ‘last-first’ reporting appear.kidnappint art 4 main

“Meanwhile, Israeli warplanes bombed weapons manufacturing and storage sites in the Gaza Strip in response to rocket fire, the Israeli military said.

Soldiers also shot a Palestinian who tried to set fire to a fence surrounding a Jewish settlement in the West Bank, it added. Palestinian medics said he was being treated at a hospital in Ramallah.”

Both those incidents, along with numerous others, occurred the night before the publication of this report. A missile fired from the Gaza Strip landed near Ashkelon, fortunately without causing injury. The other incident mentioned by the BBC was actually an attempted infiltration of the village of Kochav Ya’akov by three Palestinians.

The article continues:

“The latest arrests took place in the northern West Bank city of Nablus.

Members of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah faction were reportedly among those detained on Tuesday. Several were Palestinian security forces personnel who were previously active in a militant offshoot of Fatah, according to the Associated Press.”

Notably, the BBC refrains from informing audiences of the vast amounts of explosives, weapons and ammunition discovered during the searches in Nablus or that what it euphemistically terms “a militant offshoot of Fatah” – the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades – had earlier in the day issued a claim of responsibility for the kidnapping of Eyal Yifrach, Naftali Frankel and Gil-ad Sha’ar. Whilst it is not known whether that claim (like the other two which have appeared) is credible, it is nevertheless important context to the arrests which the BBC conceals from audiences.

The report goes on to describe Hebron as being “near” the Alon Shvut junction where the abductions took place, despite the fact that the two are some 27 kms apart. It neglects to inform readers that Hebron is one of Hamas’ main strongholds in the PA controlled territories.

map Alon Shvut

Having earlier described the three teens as “believed kidnapped”, the report goes on to state:

“The Israeli authorities have blamed Hamas for the apparent abductions.” [emphasis added]

It then goes on to give an inaccurate description of Hamas’ designation as a terror organization and yet again (as was the case in previous BBC articles on the same topic) to promote to audiences the notion of equivalence between intelligence-based statements made by the government of a sovereign country and claims made by an internationally designated terrorist organization.kidnapping art 4 Hamas

“The Islamist movement, which Israel regards as a terrorist group, has dismissed the accusation that it is involved as “stupid”. It has also said the detention of its members, including several leaders in the West Bank, “will not stop it and it will not change its path”.” [emphasis added]

The article ended by promoting speculation from anonymous sources.

“Commentators in Israeli media said Israel might be seeking to bring about the collapse of the newly formed Palestinian unity government, which is backed by Hamas, and weaken the Islamist movement ahead of the planned Palestinian presidential and legislative elections.”

A remarkably similar – but distinctly less coy – observation in an AFP article suggests that the BBC is actually referring to articles by Amos Harel in Ha’aretz and Alex Fishman in Yediot Aharonot. The BBC provides no facts or evidence to back up its amplification of second-hand speculations.

Interestingly though, reports which appeared in another Israeli media outlet did not appear to interest the BBC – presumably due to the fact that they fit in less well with the narrative it elects to promote.

“Following statements made Monday by a senior Palestinian official, who told The Times of Israel that if it was proved that Hamas was behind the kidnappings the PA would reevaluate the unity pact, the Palestinian government convened on Tuesday and decided that it would continue to refrain from paying the salaries of former Hamas government officials, some 40,000 in number.”

Five days and four BBC reports after this incident began, the BBC still has not informed its audiences of the celebrations and other expressions of support for the kidnappings on the Palestinian street, along with the inflammatory rhetoric from Hamas, the PA and Fatah. Clearly, BBC audiences cannot understand this particular “international issue” if they continue to be told only selected parts of the story.

Related Articles:

BBC predictably silent on Fatah incitement

Don’t mention the baklava: BBC reports on kidnapping of Israeli teens

Still no BBC reporting on Palestinian celebrations of kidnappings

BBC’s Evan Davis promotes notion that search for kidnapped teens is ‘collective punishment’

Listeners to the June 16th edition of the BBC Radio 4 ‘Today’ programme (available here for a limited period of time) heard the following during the news bulletin two hours into the programme.Today 16 6

“Reports from the West Bank say Israeli soldiers searching for three teenagers who haven’t been seen since Thursday, have shot dead a Palestinian man near the city of Ramallah. Palestinian medical officials say he was killed during clashes that started after soldiers conducted house to house searches in a refugee camp.”

Of course when that announcement was broadcast – around 08:00 GMT – that report had not been confirmed. 

Later on in the programme, from around 02:36:08 in the recording above, listeners heard presenter and Wikipedia fan Evan Davis introduce an item ostensibly on the subject of the kidnappings of the three Israeli teenagers. As readers will soon see, that item rapidly became a platform for political campaigning, both by his first guest and by Davis himself, with his adoption and use of the language and narrative used by anti-Israel campaigners quickly dispelling any impression of that famed BBC ‘impartiality’.

Evan Davis: “Three Israeli teenagers are missing. The three are students at a seminary on the occupied West Bank and they were taken while hitch-hiking on Thursday night. Israel blames Hamas and in searching for the three, Israeli troops did kill a Palestinian youth overnight.”

Again, Davis repeats an unconfirmed report and gives no context regarding what the “youth” was doing at the time. He continues:

“With me in the studio is the Israeli Ambassador to the UK, Daniel Taub, but first let’s talk to Dr Mustafa Barghouti who’s an independent member of the Palestinian Legislative Council and joins us on the phone. Good morning.”

So, in an item supposedly about three kidnapped Israeli citizens, the BBC elects to open not by providing listeners with factual information about the incident or how it is affecting the families of the missing boys or Israel as a whole, but by giving a platform to one of its favorite serial Palestinian propagandists.

Mustafa Barghouti: “Good morning.”

ED: “Do you have a suspicion as to where these teenagers are or who would have taken them?”

MB: “Well there is no…nobody has any idea about where they are but I think Mr Netanyahu’s government is jeopardizing the lives of these young people by putting them in illegal settlements inside the West Bank. And the whole situation is very explosive because of the fact that 260 Palestinian prisoners who are detained without charges by Israel for…some of them for more than two years, are now on hunger strike for over 50 days and some of them might die at any moment. Eh…if Israel did release these prisoners and had a way to solve the fact that five thousand Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails could be released, I think we would have avoided all these problems.”

Failing to meet BBC editorial guidelines on accuracy by neglecting to clarify to listeners that Barghouti’s statement omits any mention of the terror offences of which the prisoners he promotes were convicted, Davis goes on.

ED: “Right. So listening to you, sorry, Dr Barghouti.  Listening to you I would – if I knew nothing about this case – would assume that someone on the Palestinian side had abducted these..err…youngsters as a political – an act – a political act of some kind. Because you’ve mentioned the settlements – the illegal settlements – you’ve mentioned the desire to release prisoners; that would suggest…I mean anyone thinking like you…that you’d take the teenagers, maybe as a bargaining chip or you’d take the teenagers as some kind of revenge.”

Note that Davis fails to meet BBC guidelines on impartiality by presenting audiences with the notion of “illegal settlements” without any accompanying clarification of the fact that there exist many differing views of that topic.

MB: “It could be the case that some Palestinian…it could be the case – nobody has the proof of course – but it could be the case that some Palestinians decided that the only way to release the prisoners whose life is at stake is to have Israeli prisoners as well…”

ED: “Mmm…”

MB: “…like has happened with Gilad Shalit before, after which Israel had to release the one thousand prisoners who were in jail for more than 30 years or 25 years.”

Again, Davis makes no attempt to clarify to listeners that those released under the terms of the Shalit deal were convicted terrorists.

MB: “So, but the original root of the problem is the fact that Israel is maintaining illegal occupation…”

Davis interrupts with another display of deliberate and active breach of editorial guidelines on impartiality:

ED: “Illegal settlements.”

MB: “..for 47 years and this occupation has transformed into a system of apartheid and discrimination…”

ED: “Doctor…”

MB: “….and the solution to this problem is not by conducting what Israel does now which are acts of collective punishment against the whole people including killing people as happened this morning in Ramallah.”

Not only does Davis fail to challenge Barghouti’s use of the defamatory and inaccurate ‘apartheid’ trope or his ridiculous promotion of the notion of “collective punishment” to describe an ever increasingly urgent search and rescue operation but – as readers will soon see – he adopts and promotes the latter propaganda himself.

ED: “Ah, Dr Barghouti; thank you for that and maybe wait on the line and listen to Daniel Taub the Israeli Ambassador. Good morning to you.”

Daniel Taub: “Good morning.”

ED: “And I know you weren’t willing to discuss with Dr Barghouti in this case. Has Israel any evidence that Hamas is actually the guilty party in this case?”

DT: “The answer is yes. Obviously I can’t share intelligence with you, but we can point to a number of things. The fact is, since the beginning of 2013 we’ve had tragically over 64….64 attempts to kidnap Israelis and we know that the majority of those were actually orchestrated by Hamas. We have Hamas leaders who have been calling for an increase in attempts – not just general terrorist attacks – but attempts to kidnap Israelis. And of course we have the Hamas leadership which still today is calling the people that perpetrated this atrocity as heroes.”

ED: “If you know it’s Hamas, and you appear to – in your own mind – be clear about that, why would you be arresting people or going into the West Bank and taking people, searching places, that are not related to Hamas – which is certainly the accusation the other side is making.”

DT: “What we’re doing at the moment is what I think any government in this situation would be doing. We are detaining for questioning anybody that may have any intelligence that can help us identify the whereabouts of these three teenagers.”

ED: “Including non-Hamas people?”

DT: “We are detaining the people that we think may have any intelligence.”

ED: “Right, but if you know it’s Hamas, why would you be detaining non-Hamas people?”

DT: “You know I’m not going to go into the details of intelligence gathering operations. As the British intelligence services know, those are complicated.”

ED: “Right, but…”

DT: “Our only goal is to bring these three boys home.”

ED: “What you do get into though is the notion of collective punishment for a whole community for the sins of maybe a few people within that community…”

DT: “I don’t think…it’s not a question of collective punishment but there is a question of collective responsibility. The fact is we have a leadership here in the Palestinian Authority which has engaged in a national unity government with Hamas. You know, they assured us, they assured the international community that in fact that Hamas would become more moderate, would sign up to the international principles of the Quartet, would renounce violence; that we would see Gaza becoming more like the West Bank, and tragically what we’re seeing is actually the West Bank becoming more like Gaza. And if President Abbas wants to be the president of a unity government the first thing that he has to do is ensure that he has a monopoly on the use of force; that he exercises responsibility over all parts of his government; dismantles Hamas and exercises authority over Gaza as well.

Once more breaching BBC guidelines on impartiality, Davis then also suggests to audiences that the blame for the kidnapping of the three teenagers lies with Israel.

Found in Nablus area, 16/6/14

Found in Nablus area, 16/6/14

ED: “Do you think your approach is working? Illegally settling those areas and having young people wandering around them. Is that working for Israeli security?

DT: “Ahm…the youngsters that we’re talking about were people that were born in this situation. These are not youngsters that you can blame for having moved somewhere. Obviously, the solution that we would like to see is a peaceful negotiation…”

ED: “You’re not denying though…it would generally have been regarded as Palestinian territory until the Israelis…”

DT: “I tell you I don’t accept that that has anything to do with this case because we know that Hamas makes no distinction. Think about it: since the beginning of this year we’ve had from Gaza over two hundred missiles fired on towns and villages inside Israel. Just yesterday we has two more…two more missiles found…people who are not living over the green line, but living in Ashkelon.”

Davis then takes it upon himself to act as telepathic pollster of the Palestinian people and yet again finds a way of promoting the notion that Israel is to blame for terror attacks against its citizens.pic Avi M

ED: “Hamas may not make the distinction that you draw between the occupied and the unoccupied territories, but the rest of the Palestinian community may make that distinction and the ability of Hamas to operate in the way that you say it is operating may have been enhanced by the fact that you’re occupying what would generally have been regarded as Palestinian…”

DT: “I have to say that if you look at the experience of recent years, what Dr Barghouti is advocating doesn’t make sense to most Israelis. We have today 170,000 missiles that are directed at Israel and the vast majority – almost all of those – are located in areas that Israel has pulled out of, whether it’s in South Lebanon or the Gaza Strip. The notion that pulling out of these areas without a responsible authority that is going to take control, do what any responsible government would do, is not an intelligent move. It’s unfortunately much closer to suicide.”

The item ends at that point, with Radio 4 audiences none the wiser about how the kidnappings took place, who the kidnapped boys and their families are, how the incident is being dealt with at an operative level or what is the reaction of the Israeli public. Neither, of course, are listeners told anything about the celebratory reactions on the Palestinian street and the inflammatory statements made by Hamas and Fatah officials – as has indeed been the case in all BBC coverage of this incident so far.

As three families endure a tortuous wait for news of their loved ones and an entire nation stands anxiously between hope and fear, Davis’ politically motivated attempts to place the blame for their abduction upon Israel and frame search efforts as “collective punishment” are frankly obnoxious. The BBC has no editorial guidelines concerning its presenters’ good taste and social skills, but it does have guidelines on accuracy and impartiality which Evan Davis, in his rush to amplify his own chosen political narrative, tramples just as much as he does plain old common decency. 

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