Weekend long read

1) At the Tablet, Matti Friedman discusses media cooperation with repressive regimes.

“Western news organizations that maintain a presence in countries like Iran and Saudi Arabia, for example, make compromises in return for access and almost never tell readers what those compromises are. The result, in many cases, is something worse than no coverage—it’s something that looks like coverage, but is actually misinformation, giving people the illusion that they know what’s going on instead of telling them outright that they’re getting information shaped by regimes trying to mislead them. […]

The most relevant example from my own experience as an AP correspondent in Jerusalem between 2006 and 2011 is Gaza, which is controlled by Hamas, and where the AP has a sub-bureau. Running that sub-bureau requires both passive and active cooperation with Hamas. To give one example of many, during the Israel-Hamas war that erupted at the end of 2008, our local Palestinian reporter in Gaza informed the news desk in Jerusalem that Hamas fighters were dressed as civilians and were being counted as civilians in the death toll—a crucial detail. A few hours later, he called again and asked me to strike the detail from the story, which I did personally; someone had clearly spoken to him, and the implication was that he was at risk. […]

From that moment on, more or less, AP’s coverage from Gaza became a quiet collaboration with Hamas. Certain rules were made clear to the local staffers in Gaza, and those of us outside Gaza were warned not to put our Gazan staff at risk. Our coverage shifted accordingly, though we never informed our readers. Hamas military actions were left vague or ignored, while the effects of Israeli actions were reported at length, giving the impression of wanton Israeli aggression, just as Hamas wanted.”

2) Yaakov Lappin has a useful backgrounder on the Palestinian Islamic Jihad with a link to further information.

“In Gaza, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) is a quarter of the size of Hamas, but that has not stopped it from running its own rocket production centers, digging tunnels, training and arming its operatives.

Iranian assistance enables PIJ to be Gaza’s second biggest terrorist army. Ideologically, it is significantly closer to Tehran than Hamas. And unlike Hamas, PIJ faces none of the dilemas of sovereignty and governance over Gaza’s two million people.”

3) With Hizballah flags set to fly once again on London’s streets this coming Sunday, the FDD’s Tony Badran has a timely analysis of that terror organisation’s standing on its home turf.

“Unfortunately, the goals of strengthening the Lebanese state and disarming Hezbollah are at odds with each other. Hezbollah has completed its takeover of the Lebanese state, including and especially its political institutions and the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), along with other security agencies. Strengthening the Lebanese state today means strengthening Hezbollah.

Hezbollah’s control over Lebanon ensures that counting on the “Lebanese state” to disarm Hezbollah is a non-starter. The function of the Lebanese government is to defend Hezbollah, and to align its policies with the preferences of the group and of its patrons in Tehran.”

4) At the Tower, Seth Frantzman also takes a look at Hizballah and Lebanon – seventeen years after Israel’s withdrawal from south Lebanon.

“May 24 marked 17 years since Israel withdrew from southern Lebanon. The border is quiet now, but every day brings news of ill winds blowing from the north. In early May a man infiltrated Israel from Lebanon and wandered into the northern Israeli town of Kiryat Shmona before being apprehended—an incident that rocked the Israeli defense establishment. Reports indicate that new fencing costing 100 million NIS will be put up along the border, similar to the “smart fences” on the borders with Jordan, Egypt, and Gaza.

As Israel upgrades the fence, the terrorist group Hezbollah is ensconced in Beirut with more power and legitimacy than ever. On May 11 the group’s leader Hassan Nasrallah played the pragmatic moderate as he sought to allay Christian Maronite concerns over new elections. The Lebanese parliament’s term expires on June 20 and Christians fear their power is being eroded. Nasrallah isn’t worried, because for all intents and purposes his dream of being the main political and military power in Lebanon has come true. […]

The problem in Lebanon is that both the Christian and Sunni opposition are neutered. They gave up their weapons after the civil war and allowed Hezbollah to keep theirs. The likelihood that Jihadist and Salafi networks will put down roots in Lebanon grows in response to the power of Hezbollah. Whatever fantasies Israel once had for an alliance with Lebanese Christians and the idea that Lebanon, a formerly peaceful country seen as the “Paris” or “Switzerland” of the Levant, could be a good neighbor, is gone forever. Hezbollah will only grow. It is a key Iranian asset, one that is indispensable in the Syrian civil war. Nasrallah has taken to commenting on crises in Yemen and elsewhere, looking beyond Lebanon in hopes of playing a regional role.”

 

 

Why BBC accuracy matters for its funding British public

Not for the first time, the annual Al Quds Day march held in London earlier this month did not receive any coverage on the BBC News website. As the Jewish Chronicle reported, the event included the inevitable Iranian sponsored defamation and demonisation of Israel, calls for the eradication of that UN member state and glorification of terrorism.Al Quds day London

“Signs accusing Israel of genocide were handed out at the start of the protest, with a banner at the front of the rally reading: “Dismantling of Zionist State = End Of Bloodshed.” One man carried a homemade placard which said: “Israel is a cancer. We are the cure.””

Although the BBC did not apparently find the hate-fest going on under its own nose newsworthy, there was something novel about this year’s event.

“Approximately 500 pro-Israel activists mounted a counter-demonstration, chanting “Shame! Shame! Shame!” and “Terrorist scum: off our streets” when the Al-Quds Day marchers collected outside the United States embassy in Grosvenor Square. […]

Joseph Cohen, who runs the Israel Advocacy Movement grassroots group, said the day had been “incredible.

“Last year my wife and I were the only people opposing the rally, when there were people marching with Hizbollah flags calling for the genocide of Israel.

It’s amazing today to see hundreds of people coming out to oppose Hizbollah terrorism. Every year they march unopposed. Not this year.””

Since then, a debate has begun on the topic of the display of the flag of a terrorist organisation proscribed by the UK on London’s streets with Dr Matthew Offord MP raising the issue in Parliament.

The Mayor of London also spoke on the topic when it was raised at the London Assembly but, as the Jewish News reports, the issue is not straightforward.  

“The confusion appears to centre on the fact the armed wing of Hezbollah is listed as a terrorist group while the political wing is not, yet the two elements share the same flag. The home office has said “the context and manner in which the flag is displayed must demonstrate that it is specifically in support of the proscribed elements of the group”.”

Obviously some of that confusion could have been avoided had the UK’s national broadcaster adhered to its remit of building an “understanding of international issues” rather than spending years cultivating that same myth of separate ‘wings’ of Hizballah, whitewashing the fact that it is a terrorist organisation by means of euphemisms such as “Lebanese Shia group”, misrepresenting its terror designation by numerous countries and misleading BBC audiences with regard to its activities.

BBC News ignores Al Quds Day – in English

As the P5+ 1 talks with Iran in Vienna dragged on past yet another scheduled deadline, the BBC News website’s report on the subject included the habitual promotion of the notion of a benign Iranian nuclear programme.

“The so-called P5+1 – US, UK, Russia, France, China and Germany – said talks would go on until at least Monday.

The powers suspect Iran of seeking nuclear weapons, which Iran denies.

Iran says its nuclear programme is for purely peaceful purposes.”

Notably, however, neither that July 10th article nor any other English language BBC report informed audiences about the annual day of Iranian state sponsored hate known as Al Quds Day which this year fell on that same date – even as negotiations continued.

The BBC News website’s UK and regional pages were also devoid of reporting on the British version of that event which took place near BBC premises. Apparently the flying of a terrorist organisation’s flag, calls for the eradication of a member state of the United Nations and the negation of Jews’ right to self-determination on London’s streets is not news these days.

BBC Persian’s audiences were, however, provided with an album of photographs from the events in Iran (attended by the president the BBC persists in portraying as ‘moderate’) and those visiting the BBC Arabic website found an article about Al Quds Day in Yemen.BBC Persian Quds Day 

Reporting on the Al Quds Day event in Tehran, the WSJ’s Sohrab Ahmari wrote:

“Regime leaders joined in the festivities. The government’s representatives included the reputedly moderate President Hasan Rouhani, not-so-moderate former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani, his brother Sadeq, the head of the judiciary, and Gen. Ahmad Reza Pourdastan, commander of the Iranian army’s ground forces.

Mr. Rouhani said in a Persian-language statement on his website: “With unity, resistance, jihad and sacrifice, the Muslims, including the Palestinian people, will reach their lofty goals.” He didn’t specify those goals, but the “Death to America!” and “Death to Israel!” banners held up by marchers around him, seen in photographs published by regime media outlets, drove home the point. Mr. Rouhani went on to blame “the Zionist regime and the Global Arrogance”—a favorite regime nickname for Washington—for “bankrolling the strife” roiling the Muslim world.

Tehran’s Kayhan newspaper also weighed in. Iran’s 1979 revolution, the newspaper wrote in an English-language editorial, “busted the myth of the holocaust which the Zionists and their godfathers allege happened in Europe during World War 2.” The editorial predicted that the U.S., “which currently terrorizes humanity as the sole superpower, will one fine day cease to be visible on the map of the world.”

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei appoints Kayhan’s editor in chief, and the newspaper is widely seen as the leader’s main mouthpiece. The leader’s top military aide, Maj. Gen. Yahya Rahim Safavi, echoed the paper. According to an English-language Fars News report, Gen. Safavi told Quds Day attendees: “Muslims unity and continuation of armed jihad (struggle) and the Islamic resistance of the Palestinian nation constitute the only strategy for saving and liberating the Holy Quds.””

One might think that sort of context would be helpful to BBC audiences trying to understand the ins and outs of the potential outcomes to the tortuous P5+1 negotiations with Iran. The BBC obviously doesn’t.

Related Articles:

BBC tones down Iranian rhetoric and extremism

More BBC whitewashing of ‘Al Quds Day’