Former BBC chair criticises corporation’s terror headline

The BBC News website headline concerning a terror attack in Jerusalem that caused considerable controversy last month was further criticised by a former BBC chairman during a debate in the House of Lords on July 5th.

Lord Grade of Yarmouth said:

“On 16 June two Palestinians, unprovoked, attacked Israeli police officers in Jerusalem with guns and knives, while a third stabbed to death Border Police Staff Sergeant Hadas Malka, aged 23. The BBC’s headline on its news website was: “Three Palestinians killed after deadly stabbing in Jerusalem”. The BBC eventually changed its headline to: “Israeli policewoman stabbed to death in Jerusalem”. The BBC accepted its mistake and subsequently changed it. Of course, I am not accusing BBC journalists of anti-Semitism but this example demonstrates the drip-drip effect of unqualified, uncontextualised singling out of Israel for criticism. If the BBC can get this wrong, it is little wonder that Israel finds it so hard to put aside the idea that some critics are motivated by something more sinister than political commentary.”

Lord Grade previously criticised the BBC’s coverage of Palestinian terror attacks in 2015, including another headline which he described as being “misleading and counter-factual”.   

Related Articles:

BBC News changes headline, deletes Tweet after anger at portrayal of terror attack in Jerusalem

Postscripts to the BBC’s coverage of the Jerusalem terror attack

BBC coverage of wave of terror in Israel criticised by its former chairman 

 

 

BBC response to complaint about report criticized by MP and former BBC chair

As readers will recall, a BBC News report by Orla Guerin broadcast on October 11th was the subject of criticism from Sir Eric Pickles MP and from the BBC’s former chairman, Lord Grade, prompting reports in the mainstream media in the UK and in Israel.Guerin filmed 11 10

That same report by Orla Guerin was also the topic of a complaint submitted to the BBC by a member of the public. Here is the response received.

“Orla Guerin’s report looked at the increasing violence from both sides of the conflict. During the live introduction to her report from Jerusalem she mentioned recent Palestinian casualties, but also pointed to the stabbing of three Israelis in the city of Hadera [the attack was actually near Gan Shmuel – Ed.]. Orla emphasised that this was the third such attack on Israelis that weekend.

While reporting on the Israeli Defense Forces’ strike in Gaza, Orla Guerin reflected Israel’s position that the IDF were targeting a weapons facility following a rocket attack into southern Israel. The report also went on to mention Israel’s security forces stopping a potential attack on the road to Jerusalem earlier that day. We believe we reported clearly on the threat of violence faced by Israelis on an increasingly regular basis. 

Orla Guerin then spoke to the father of Muhannad Halabi, the Palestinian who was shot dead by Israeli security forces after he attacked an Israeli couple in the Old City in Jerusalem the previous weekend. She clearly described Halabi as a “Palestinian law student, turned killer”. She went on to describe the attack, where Halabi stabbed an Israeli couple, killing the husband and a rabbi who intervened. Viewers were given a clear account of what Muhannad Halabi had done.

BBC News tries to report on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in an accurate and duly impartial manner. Sometimes this means we can’t always reflect the full extent of the complexities of the conflict during one standalone report. We try to tell the story of the conflict as experienced by both sides, across programmes and bulletins and over time.Guerin filmed 9 10

With this in mind, you may not be aware of Orla Guerin’s report during the News at Ten two day before the report being discussed here was shown. This report showed video footage of Muhannad Halabi’s attack on the Israeli couple in the Old City. Orla also spoke to the injured wife of the man killed by Muhannad Halabi. From her hospital bed, Odel Bennet spoke of her fear and pain, and of the poor treatment she endured by Palestinian passers-by while she lay wounded on the street after the attack.

BBC News has reported extensively on the escalation in violence in recent weeks and we’ve heard from those affected from both sides of the conflict. We feel we have allowed our audience to make up their own minds, but we’re sorry to read you felt this wasn’t the case on this occasion. We’ve raised your complaint with senior editorial staff at BBC News and we would like to assure you that your feedback is very important to us.”

The earlier report by Guerin cited in this response (in which she told BBC audiences that al Aqsa Mosque is “sacred to Jews” and that stabbing attacks on Israelis are “new”) was discussed here.  

One does hope that Sir Eric Pickles and Lord Grade will receive a more substantive response.

BBC coverage of wave of terror in Israel criticised by its former chairman

As noted here previously, the BBC’s coverage of the current wave of terrorism in Israel has already come under criticism from Sir Eric Pickles. On Friday, a former BBC chairman added his voice to the critique.

“Former Chairman of the BBC, Lord Grade of Yarmouth CBE, has expressed concern about the BBC’s coverage of the recent violence in Israel and the West Bank, in a letter to the organisations’ Director of News and Current Affairs, James Harding.

In his complaint, Lord Grade said that the BBC coverage was at times misleading and failed to provide a wider context of what is an “undoubtedly complex issue”.

Lord Grade criticised the BBC’s inability “to fulfil its obligation to viewers” by not showing viewers examples of Palestinian Authority officials praising the attacks and calling for more. The former BBC Chairman underlined that Palestinian incitement, “has played an undeniable part in stoking tension recently and is an important part of the story”.

The complaint was directed at a report by Orla Guerin on Sunday October 11th, about the recent wave of attacks across Israel.”

That report from Orla Guerin was discussed here and here.

Lord Grade noted:PIJ flags Halabi 2

“Additionally, it was improper of the correspondent to claim that “there’s no sign of involvement by militant groups”, before immediately showing footage of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) banners at the home of a 19 year-old terrorist who carried out a deadly knife attack at Lions Gate in Jerusalem on 3rd October. PIJ is a well-known Palestinian terror organisation and it has since claimed responsibility for the attack and praised by Hamas, another internationally proscribed terror organisation. This directly misleads viewers”.

He added:

“Regrettably, this is not the first time the standard of reporting and impartiality has been unsatisfactory in recent weeks. On Saturday 3rd October, I was disappointed to see the BBC News website publish a misleading and counter-factual headline: ‘Palestinian shot dead after Jerusalem attacks kills two’. I note reports that this headline underwent four revisions following public criticism”.

The report to which Lord Grade refers was discussed here and here.