Context-free amplification of Eurovision boycott calls persists at BBC News

As has been documented here previously, since the end of January 2019 BBC coverage of the Eurovision Song Contest has included repeated amplification of the BDS campaign’s call to boycott the event being held this week in Tel Aviv.

BBC News Eurovision BDS report follows the usual template

BBC Radio Ulster audiences hear that ‘Israel should be wiped off the map’

BBC News website ignores counter call to boycott it repeatedly promoted

More Eurovision boycott promotion on BBC Radio 5 live

Newsbeat continues the BBC’s Eurovision framing

That editorial policy of unquestioningly and simplistically amplifying the boycott campaign without the provision of context and factual background information and with no explanation of the BDS campaign’s aims was also evident in two additional recent reports. Interestingly though, the BBC finally got round to mentioning a counter call which it initially ignored.

Madonna Eurovision performance in doubt” by Mark Savage, BBC News website, 14 May 2019

“But there have been calls for performers and broadcasters to boycott the competition over Israel’s human rights record.

In January, British figures including Dame Vivienne Westwood, Peter Gabriel, Roger Waters, Mike Leigh, Maxine Peake and the band Wolf Alice signed a letter calling on the BBC to cancel coverage of the 2019 song contest.

The signatories criticised Israel over its occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. “Eurovision may be light entertainment, but it is not exempt from human rights considerations – and we cannot ignore Israel’s systematic violation of Palestinian human rights,” they wrote.

Others denounced the proposed boycott, saying that Eurovision’s “spirit of togetherness” was “under attack”.

Public figures including Stephen Fry, Sharon Osbourne, Marina Abramovic and pop mogul Scooter Braun signed a counter-statement, claiming “the cultural boycott movement [was] an affront to both Palestinians and Israelis who are working to advance peace through compromise, exchange, and mutual recognition”.”

Eurovision Song Contest 2019: Why Wolf Alice are boycotting” Newsbeat, BBC News website, 15 May 2019

“The group’s guitarist Joff Oddie describes Eurovision as “a wonderful idea, if a bit naff at times”.

But rather than being a secret fan, Joff is one of several artists who’ve been calling on people to stay away from this year’s event in Israel.

He supports the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which wants a complete cultural boycott of Israel over its treatment of Palestinians.

“This is the most controversial Eurovision Song Contest that’s ever happened,” says Joff.

He’s DJing at an anti-Eurovision gig in London this weekend, which is due to take place while the grand final is being broadcast.

“The boycott is like any grassroots movement. Instead of feeling disempowered, we can feel empowered.”

The Israeli government says BDS opposes Israel’s very existence and is motivated by anti-Semitism. […]

In recent months, many high profiles names have come out to either support or oppose a boycott of Israel.” [emphasis added]

The BBC’s record of reporting on the anti-Israel – and anti-peace – BDS campaign is abysmal. For years the corporation has reported related stories without adequately clarifying to its audiences that what that campaign ultimately seeks to achieve is the end of Israel as the Jewish state – even while providing the campaign and some of its supporters with free PR

And so once again in these two articles we see BBC journalists recycling trite campaign slogans such as “Israel’s human rights record”, “occupation”, “violation of Palestinian human rights” and “treatment of Palestinians” without providing (in clear breach of the corporation’s public purposes) any of the background information essential for audience understanding of the issue.

However, on May 14th the BBC News website purported to ‘explain’ the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to its audiences, as we shall see in a future post.  

 

 

BBC News website ignores counter call to boycott it repeatedly promoted

As was noted here at the time, on January 30th the BBC News website published an article by BBC music reporter Mark Savage titled “Stars urge BBC to ask for Eurovision to be moved out of Israel”.

“The article relates to a letter published – as usual – by the Guardian newspaper the previous day and most of Savage’s report is composed of unqualified quotes from that letter (together with a link to the original) and statements made by the BBC in response.”

The following day – January 31st – BBC Northern Ireland’s BBC Radio Ulster aired a long phone-in item titled “Is the BBC right to take part in Eurovision being held in Tel Aviv, or should the corporation stay away?”.

Savage’s January 30th article was re-promoted with links billed “Stars call for Eurovision to be moved” in three other reports he wrote concerning the Eurovision Song Contest that appeared on the BBC News website during February – see here, here and here

In March the BBC News website published a report by Anna Margret Bjornsson about the Icelandic entry to the competition which also included a link to Savage’s January 30th article as well as an entire section sub-headed “Targeting Israel”.

“They claim their entry in the competition is a political statement against Israel’s government, even though the song has no reference to Israel. The contest is being held in Tel Aviv because Israel’s Netta Barzilai won it last year. […]

They are bitterly critical of Israel’s policies towards the Palestinians and say it is absurd to allow the country to take part in the contest. […]

Some Icelanders believe Iceland’s public broadcaster should have boycotted the event.”

On April 9th the BBC News website published another report by Mark Savage concerning the participation of Madonna in the main Eurovision event. Readers were told that:

“The singer has a long association with Israel, and launched her MDNA tour in Tel Aviv in 2012.

But an appearance at Eurovision could prove controversial, as other musicians – including Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters – are calling for the contest to be boycotted on human rights grounds.”

In other words, those following Eurovision Song Contest news on the BBC News website over the past three months could hardly have avoided those repeated promotions of the demand for boycott of the event by BDS campaign supporting ‘stars’.

However, when on April 30th a letter denouncing that proposed boycott was published by more than 100 people from the entertainment industry, no coverage was to be found on the BBC News website’s ‘Entertainment and Arts’ page or under the ‘Eurovision Song Contest’ tag.

May 1 2019

May 1 2019

So much for BBC impartiality.  

Related Articles:

BBC News Eurovision BDS report follows the usual template

BBC Radio Ulster audiences hear that ‘Israel should be wiped off the map’

 

 

BBC News Eurovision BDS report follows the usual template

On January 30th an article by BBC music reporter Mark Savage titled “Stars urge BBC to ask for Eurovision to be moved out of Israel” appeared on the BBC News website’s ‘Entertainment & Arts’ and ‘Middle East’ pages.

The article relates to a letter published – as usual – by the Guardian newspaper the previous day and most of Savage’s report is composed of unqualified quotes from that letter (together with a link to the original) and statements made by the BBC in response.

Among the quotes that went unchallenged by Savage was an ‘apartheid’ smear.

“The letter comes a week before Eurovision: You Decide, a live BBC TV show through which the British public will vote for the act to represent the UK.

“For any artist of conscience, this would be a dubious honour,” the letter said.

“They and the BBC should consider that You Decide is not a principle extended to the Palestinians, who cannot ‘decide’ to remove Israel’s military occupation and live free of apartheid.””

At the end of the report readers were told that: [emphasis added]

“Many of the signatories to Wednesday’s [sic] letter have previously made calls for a cultural boycott of Israel, criticising artists such as Nick Cave, Radiohead and Lana Del Rey for organising concerts in the country.

Their campaign follows an earlier call for Eurovision to be relocated, made last September by a coalition of artists from across Europe.

That was organised by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which urges a complete boycott of Israel over its policies towards the Palestinians.

Israel says BDS opposes Israel’s very existence and is motivated by anti-Semitism.”

That unsatisfactory “Israel says” formulation has been in evidence since April 2018.

There is of course nothing novel about the BBC avoiding informing audiences in its own words that what the BDS campaign ultimately seeks to achieve is the end of Israel as the Jewish state. For years we have documented on these pages how the corporation has serially failed to provide an accurate and impartial portrayal of the aims and agenda of the BDS campaign – even as it has frequently provided that campaign and some of its supporters with free PR. Moreover, in August 2015, we learned that the BBC considers the provision of such crucial background information “not our role“.

Research carried out in the UK shows “a clear link between antisemitism and hostility towards Israel, finding that a majority of people in the UK who support boycotts or regard Israel as an apartheid state hold anti-Jewish views.”

The survey:

“…sought to examine the relationship between anti-Jewish sentiment and a belief that Israel should be boycotted and is an apartheid state – two of the central, interrelated claims of the country’s critics in the UK. […]

“A relationship exists between British people’s agreement with each of the two key contentions and their predisposition towards anti-Jewish sentiment – as one scale increases, so does the other,” write the authors, Dr. Jonathan Boyd, executive director of the Institute for Jewish Policy Research, and Dr. David Graham, its senior research fellow. […]

The correlation between anti-Jewish sentiment and support for BDS was stronger than the belief that Israel is an apartheid state and bigotry against Jews, although the latter correlation is “clearly evident”.”

Among the public purposes set out by the Royal Charter and Agreement that are the constitutional basis for the BBC are the provision of “accurate and impartial news” and “learning for people of all ages”.

As long as the BBC continues to unquestioningly amplify politically motivated delegitimisation such as the ‘apartheid’ smear and to report stories relating to the anti-Israel BDS campaign without providing audiences with the full range of information concerning the aims of that political campaign, it not only neglects those public purposes but, as the above research shows, opts out of playing a part in tackling anti-Jewish racism in the UK.

Related Articles:

The Guardian: Platform of choice for anti-Israel activism  (UK Media Watch)

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

BBC Music promotes falsehoods and BDS campaign website

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

Reviewing BBC reporting on the BDS campaign in 2018

 

 

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