BBC Radio 4 fails to give the full picture on new Labour MP

Following the announcement of the result of the Peterborough by-election on June 6th listeners to BBC Radio 4 heard comment on one aspect of that story on several programmes.

‘Today’, 7/6/19:

During an interview with Labour MP Andy McDonald, presenter John Humphrys asked (from 2:23:00 here):

“Quick word about antisemitism: are you entirely comfortable that your new MP had to apologise for approving a post on social media…”

Listeners were not told what it was about that post that made an apology necessary.

‘Six O’Clock News, 7/6/19:

[08:50 here] Newsreader: “The election of Lisa Forbes in Peterborough has not been universally welcomed inside the Labour party. A number of MPs have expressed misgivings and some in the party have already called for her suspension over allegations of antisemitism, which Miss Forbes strongly denies. Here’s our political correspondent Chris Mason.”

Mason: “….Miss Forbes had liked a Facebook post which said the prime minister had a Zionist slave masters agenda alongside a video of children praying after the New Zealand terror attack. Labour said she hadn’t read the text accompanying the video. Lisa Forbes said antisemitism was something she condemned completely. Last summer the new MP signed a letter calling on Labour’s National Executive Committee to resist calls to adopt all eleven examples accompanying the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism into the party’s code of conduct. The letter said this could silence free speech on Israel. Labour later did accept the full definition and say Lisa Forbes now accepts this too. […] Peterborough’s new MP has repeated that she believes antisemitism is abhorrent.”

‘The World Tonight’, 7/6/19:

[18:12 here] James Coomarasamy: “Well Labour’s new MP for Peterborough hasn’t enjoyed much of a honeymoon period. Lisa Forbes has been criticised by some of her new colleagues for liking social media posts with antisemitic content. She had for example given the thumbs up to one Facebook post which said that Theresa May had a – quote – Zionist slave masters agenda, alongside a video of children praying after the New Zealand terrorist attack. The Jewish Labour Movement has already called for the whip to be removed from her and that explains why Lisa Forbes’ interviews this morning sounded at times more like an apology talk than a victory lap. Here she is speaking on Sky News.”

Listeners heard Forbes claim in reference to that video that she “hadn’t paid much attention to the text above it”.

‘Today’, 8/6/19:

[09:00 here] Martha Kearney: “Labour’s relief at winning the Peterborough by-election may be tempered by the arguments over its new MP Lisa Forbes.”

Kearney then brought in BBC political reporter Peter Saull, saying “and this is all over a Facebook post”.

Saull: “Yeah, that’s right. So Lisa Forbes liked a Facebook post which said that the prime minister had a Zionist slave masters agenda and that line of text was alongside a video of children praying after the New Zealand terrorist attack and Labour said that she hadn’t actually read that text that was accompanying the video. That’s one thing. The second is that she signed a letter…you remember at the time Labour was going through a conversation about whether it should adopt the full international definition of antisemitism as set out by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. She signed this letter saying that the party shouldn’t adopt all eleven examples of antisemitism because it could silence free speech on Israel.”

So do those homogeneous portrayals of the controversy surrounding the new Labour MP for Peterborough tell the whole story?

The letter urging the party not to adopt all the examples accompanying the IHRA definition of antisemitism was circulated by the anti-Zionist fringe group ‘Jewish Voice for Labour’ but BBC audiences were not given that relevant information. As the Jewish Chronicle reported:

“The letter appeared to call for the dismantling of the state of Israel, which is suggested was not “democratic” but an “apartheid state” and suggested instead a one state solution “in the form of a democratic state that grants equal rights to everyone lawfully residing within its borders.”

Ms Forbes backed the claim that: “Claiming that the State of Israel is a racist endeavour is not the same as denying Jewish people the right to self-determination.

“It is denying such self-determination at the cost of the ethnic cleansing of Palestinian people. It is denying self-determination in the form of an ethno-nationalist state.”

The letter added: “Our Palestinian members must be able to speak freely about the Nakba and about the current system of apartheid and ongoing ethnic cleansing just like our Jewish members must be able to speak freely about the Holocaust.”

It also expressed support for the Boycott Divestment, Sanctions movement, saying: “To endorse the BDS movement or to suggest that the State of Israel in its historic and current form is a racist endeavour are not expressions of antisemitism.””

Obviously the BBC’s domestic audiences were not given the full picture as to why Lisa Forbes’ signing of that letter caused controversy.

As for the social media post that the Labour party claims Forbes did not read, claiming that “Theresa May had a Zionist slave masters agenda” (or, if one arrives at the conclusion that its writer does not know how to use a possessive apostrophe, that Theresa May is controlled by ‘Zionist slave masters’) – here it is:

Forbes also commented on another post by the same Facebook user in which he claimed that the CIA and the Mossad created ISIS but that went unmentioned by the BBC.

Clearly domestic BBC audiences were not given the full range of information which would allow them to understand why some members of Lisa Forbes’ own party “have expressed misgivings” and some “have already called for her suspension over allegations of antisemitism”.

 

 

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Another BBC absurd on ‘language when reporting terrorism’

In January 2018 we noted that in a report about the Israeli TV drama series ‘Fauda’:

“…the BBC has expanded its selectively applied guidance on ‘language when reporting terrorism’ to apply even to reporting on fictional Palestinian characters in a TV drama show. Can it get any more ridiculous?”

The April 2nd edition of the BBC Radio 4 ‘Today’ programme included an interview with Fauda’s co-creator Avi Issacharoff (from 2:45:13 here) during which presenter Martha Kearney posed the following question: [emphasis added]

Kearney: “And do you try to challenge the audiences on both sides of this very divided…eh…territory in terms of the…you have people – Palestinians – who’ve been carrying out actions that could be described as terrorists and Israeli special forces out of control so both…both sides are challenged.”

Yes, the BBC’s controversial policy on ‘language when reporting on terrorism’ continues to influence even items concerning a TV drama.

Related Articles:

BBC reports on fictional counter-terrorism but not the real thing

 

BBC Radio 4’s ‘Today’ discusses antisemitism ahead of HMD – part one

As Holocaust Memorial Day approached, on January 25th the BBC Radio 4 ‘Today’ programme aired a short interview (from 2:24:30 here) with Deborah Lipstadt concerning her new book.

The introduction to that item from presenter Martha Kearney included the following: [emphasis in italics in the original, emphasis in bold added]

Kearney: “Her new book looks at the rise of antisemitism in the past decade and maintains that it’s no longer just the far Right but those on the Left as well who are to blame.”

Having brought in her guest she went on:

Kearney: “Now just describe to us what you think lies behind this recent wave of antisemitism.”

Lipstadt: “Well as you said in the introduction I think right now it’s coming from the Right and from the Left and from a third source and that is Islamist Jihadist extremists. What lies behind it? I think a number of factors. First of all we’ve seen Right wing populist governments or Right wing political leaders, including in my own country, play on making divisions among people, play on making divisions against minorities which gins up this attit…plays into the antisemitism. On the Left I think it’s been brewing for a long time. We could trace roots of it back […] to the late […] USSR. But it’s been there but it’s taken on an added potency in recent years and is often used in connection to Israel.”

Kearney: “And you’ve written about Jeremy Corbyn in this context in your book.”

Lipstadt: “I have. I think Jeremy…I don’t know if Jeremy Corbyn is an anti-Semite or not and I don’t think that’s the important question. I don’t know what’s in his heart. But what I do is look at his record over a very long time [….] and what I see is a man who doesn’t understand antisemitism or – worse yet – doesn’t take it seriously…”

Interrupting her guest, Kearney immediately jumped in with a quote which some BBC listeners have heard used before.

Kearney [interrupts] “Well you see he would dispute that and he’s written a number of articles and put out a number of statements and said, you know, for example ‘people who dish out antisemitic poison need to understand, you do not do it in my name’.”

Lipstadt: “Right, I know that. I think for Jeremy Corbyn and other progressives – not all progressives but people who…many people consider themselves progressives, their view of the world is refracted through a prism which has two facets. One factor is ethnicity and one is class. And they look at Jews and they see white people – quote unquote white people – who are privileged and therefore could not possibly be victims of prejudice. There’s an irony here of course because if you turn to the far Right, they don’t consider Jews white people [….]. And they say well therefore you could not possibly be a victim of prejudice. On top of this – and we hear this from Jeremy Corbyn and from others – I am a progressive, I have gotten my progressive values with my mother’s milk, they are inbred in me, it’s impossible, it’s just impossible, it’s oxymoronic for me to be prejudiced therefore you must be making this up. You must be doing this for some ulterior purpose. And they just refuse to take it seriously. I see it on campuses in the United States from the Left, I see it in the British Labour Party, I saw it in the women’s march in the United States – the leaders of the women’s march. You see it in many different places that they just don’t think antisemitism is a serious problem.”

Kearney closed the item at that point, with the BBC’s domestic listeners having heard nothing of substance on the topic of far-Right antisemitism in the UK or what Lipstadt termed “Islamist Jihadist extremists” and the highly relevant issue of links between that brand of antisemitism and the British Left.

While it was Kearney who raised the subject of the leader of the UK Labour party, she also found it necessary to challenge her expert guest’s observations by amplifying denials of Corbyn’s role in propagating antisemitism in a country in which 5% of adults do not believe the Holocaust happened, 8% say its scale is exaggerated and 64% cannot accurately state how many Jews were murdered.

As we shall see in part two of this post, the next day’s edition of the ‘Today’ programme returned to part of this interview with Deborah Lipstadt.

 

BBC erases crucial background from report on Jerusalem election

On October 30th millions of Israelis went to vote for their preferred representatives in elections for 54 regional councils, 122 local councils and 75 municipalities. Understandably, that local story did not receive any BBC coverage – with one exception.

Listeners to the October 30th edition of BBC Radio 4’s ‘Today‘ programme heard a report from Jerusalem correspondent Tom Bateman which was introduced by presenter Martha Kearney (from 47:59 here) as follows:

[emphasis in italics in the original, emphasis in bold added]

Kearney: “Elections are taking place today in Jerusalem for a new mayor and city council. For the first time a Palestinian’s on the ballot running for a city hall seat. It’s proving a controversial move in perhaps the world’s most contested city, divided by its largely Jewish population in the west and Palestinians in the east. The latter have broadly boycotted elections for the city authorities since 1967 when Israel captured and annexed East Jerusalem in a move not recognised internationally. Here’s our Middle East correspondent Tom Bateman.”

Kearney’s claim that this is “the first time” that an Arab resident of Jerusalem has run in local elections is inaccurateAs usual BBC audiences were not provided with any background information concerning the nineteen-year Jordanian occupation and unrecognised annexation of parts of the city or the circumstances which prevailed at the time when “Israel captured” those areas. 

Bateman began his report with some scene-setting and signposting.

Bateman: “I joined Amar Awad for an uphill task: the daily school run.”

Awad: “Yeah we are going up to the school of my girls…”

Bateman: “Uh, so you climb over these chairs and over the wall – this breezeblock. OK, and then to a kind of dirt path.”

Awad: “It’s very hard for them because there is no service buses to take them and it’s dangerous. It’s an image that you don’t see in a Jewish neighbourhood.”

Bateman: “In West Jerusalem.”

Awad: “In West Jerusalem, yes.”

Bateman: “It is a common complaint among the more than 300 thousand Palestinians of East Jerusalem. They pay the same council taxes as people in the west but speak of the injustice of neglected services, poor infrastructure, even home demolitions in some cases for lacking planning permits.” […]

Of course people who build without planning permission in municipalities around the world would also likely be subject to demolition orders.

Bateman: “On this, the eve of elections for Jerusalem mayor and city hall, Amar addresses a taboo: that he is thinking of voting. Historically nearly all East Jerusalemite Palestinians boycott the ballot. They see voting as legitimising Israeli control. And here is a man at the centre of Amar’s dilemma: Ramadan Dabash – a Palestinian born in East Jerusalem the year before Israel captured it, giving its Arab inhabitants only resident and not citizen status. He’s on the ballot leading a Palestinian party for seats at city hall. This is a first and he’s promising to demand better services.”

Bateman’s failure to clarify to listeners that residents of east Jerusalem are entitled to apply for Israeli citizenship – and that Ramadan Dabash is one of those who does hold Israeli citizenship – obviously misleads BBC audiences.

Dabash: “I will change all the situation here in East Jerusalem. I’m the first one. I want to make history.”

Bateman: “Of course the Palestinians that have opposed you, that believe you shouldn’t be doing this, say it goes way beyond services: that this is about what it represents. They see it as normalising an occupation.”

Dabash: “Look, if you want to talk about the problem here – occupation, normalisation, Israelisation – so maybe the solution is come 100 years more. We are 51 years until this time. Nobody take care of us.”

Notably, Bateman made no effort to enlighten listeners as to the identity of “the Palestinians that have opposed” Dabash and similarly inclined Jerusalemites. He did however make sure to squeeze the US president into the story.

Bateman: “Meanwhile in downtown West Jerusalem the election bandwagon was trying to move. Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu got stuck in a packed Yehuda market [sic – actually Mahane Yehuda market] with his favourite candidate Ze’ev Elkin. The Israeli right-wing feels the wind in its sails, powered by President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The nationalists who balk at the Palestinian vision for their capital in East Jerusalem like to talk of a unified city, meaning under Israeli administration.”  

In contrast to Bateman’s “wind in its sails” portrayal, Ze’ev Elkin’s mayoral bid failed.

Bateman next inadequately introduced a contributor from the Jerusalem Institute for Policy Research.

Bateman: “Lior Schillat is a former Israeli government advisor turned think-tank director.”

Schillat: “The way we work in modern democracies nowadays is that when there is a representation there is also a support and attention of the municipality to what’s happening. What’s happening in Jerusalem is that one-third of the city does not have those representatives that wake up in the morning and make the phone call to the mayor.”

Presumably referring to a survey carried out earlier this year by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Bateman went on to inadequately introduce the founder of the political NGO PASSIA.

Bateman: “Some polling suggests a large number of East Jerusalemites would be prepared to vote for the local authority. There’s been some new Israeli government investment in the city’s east. But the boycott is likely to stick says the Palestinian academic Mahdi Abdul Hadi.”

Abdul Hadi: “Today after 51 years they are using one Palestinian who claim as a citizen of Israel to run for election. People will not vote because this is Israelisation. We are not consider as people at all. They are taking our history, our culture, our heritage and claiming this is a Jewish land and not a Palestinian land.”

Failing to explain to his listeners that second derogatory reference to “Israelisation” – the fact that increasing numbers of Arab Jerusalemites want to participate in Israeli economic and political life – and making no effort to challenge Abdul Hadi’s overtly projective propaganda, Bateman closed his report.

Bateman: “The political horizons for city councils may rarely go beyond schools and streetlights and new pavements but Jerusalem goes to the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and so do questions over today’s election.”

The same report was repeated on BBC World Service radio in the October 30th afternoon edition of ‘Newshour‘ where it was introduced by Razia Iqbal (from 08:23 here) as follows:

Iqbal: “Now, a city mayoral race and city council election may not be deemed to be of international import but these elections are taking place in Jerusalem – probably the most contested and potently political city in the world. For the first time the ballot paper includes a Palestinian who is running for a city hall seat. It’s proving a highly controversial move in a city divided by its largely Jewish population in the west and Palestinians in the east. The latter have broadly boycotted elections for the city authorities since 1967 when Israel captured and annexed East Jerusalem in a move not recognised internationally.”

The report was also repeated in the evening edition of ‘Newshour’ on the same day. Presenter Tim Franks introduced the item (from 18:25 here) thus:

Franks: “We don’t often cover local elections here on Newshour, what with our big-boned global agenda. But the elections that took place today in Jerusalem are happening or did happen in one of the most prized and contested cities in the world. For the first time the ballot paper included a Palestinian who was running for a city hall seat and that proved highly controversial in a city divided between its largely Jewish population in the west and Palestinians in the east. Those Palestinians have by and large boycotted elections for the city authorities since 1967 when Israel captured and annexed East Jerusalem in a move not recognised internationally.”

As we see, in all three of these broadcasts the participation of a resident of Sur Baher in municipal elections in Jerusalem was described to BBC audiences both in the UK and around the world as “highly controversial”. Despite that, the BBC made no effort to clarify the identity of the parties holding that view.

BBC audiences were told nothing of Palestinian Authority intervention in local Israeli elections. They were not told that in August of this year the official PA daily newspaper announced that:

“The Palestinian Supreme Fatwa Council issued a religious ruling that bans running or voting in the occupation’s municipal elections in occupied Jerusalem… it emphasized that voting or running in the municipal elections is forbidden by religious law, since this matter is subject to the rules of benefit and damage – which the sources of authority for estimating them are the knowledgeable religious scholars who know what the results will be – and there is no doubt at all that the damages that will be caused as a result of the participation are huge compared to the benefits.”

Neither were BBC radio listeners told that Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party put out multiple social media posts instructing potential voters to “boycott the occupation’s municipal elections”.

In other words the BBC chose to tell selected parts of a story while once again concealing crucial information in a report which was repeatedly presented as being about a “contested city” and in which the US president got more mentions than the intimidation of Jerusalem voters and interference in Israel’s democratic process by the Palestinian Authority.

Related Articles:

BBC silent on intimidation of voters in Jerusalem

Accuracy and impartiality failures in BBC report on Jerusalem elections

 

 

 

BBC R4 presenter portrays response to violent rioting as “attack”

The July 23rd edition of the BBC Radio 4 programme ‘Today’ included an item (from 02:51:43 here) concerning an incident which had taken place the previous night. In her introduction, presenter Martha Kearney described the alleged shooting of a Palestinian youth during violent rioting that included the use of IEDs, rocks, petrol bombs and grenades as an “attack”. [emphasis in bold added]

Kearney: “Israeli soldiers have shot dead a Palestinian teenager during a raid in the West Bank. Tom Bateman is our Middle East correspondent and Tom – tell us a bit more about this attack.”

Bateman: “Well this was the Deheishe refugee camp. It’s a big refugee camp in Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank. The Israeli military went in for a raid during the night – I mean these are things that happen frequently. They say they’re often looking for suspects or for weapons manufacturing sites.”

Readers may recall that in May the BBC failed to report the murder of an Israeli soldier during such an operation in another location. Tom Bateman did not clarify to listeners that the places he described as “occupied” – Bethlehem and the Deheishe camp – have been under Palestinian Authority control for well over two decades. He continued:

Bateman: “They went into the camp looking for two people. They say this triggered clashes The Israelis say that they came under fire with rocks and firebombs and grenades and say they responded using live fire. And in that incident a 15 year-old boy was shot in the chest and died. His name was Arkan Mezher. Following that there were some protests; residents of the camp marching to the local government hospital.”

Bateman failed to inform listeners that the incident is under investigation or that the youth was wrapped in the flag of the PFLP terror faction at his funeral.

Martha Kearney went on:

Kearney: “And this comes at a time of increased tensions throughout the region.”

Once again the BBC avoided informing its audiences that Staff Sgt. Aviv Levi was killed by a Palestinian sniper.

Bateman: “Well this is the West bank and I mean there has been, you know, increasing simmering tension on the Gaza boundary between Gaza and Israel. At the…on Friday there was yet another flare-up – really the third in a couple of months – between Hamas in Gaza and Israel. There was an Israeli soldier who was shot dead near to the fence. Israel then responded with a wave of airstrikes killing four Palestinians and I mean at the time the UN envoy to the region Nickolay Mladenov was warning that Gaza was on the brink of war. Now over the weekend there seems to have been a relative calm restored but yes; I think the context is about heightened tension.”

Bateman likewise failed to clarify that at least three of those “four Palestinians” were members of Hamas’ militia or that Palestinians subsequently launched three rockets into Israeli territory.

Kearney: “Relative calm and what about ceasefires?”

Bateman: “Well a ceasefire was announced by Hamas on the early hours of Saturday morning. There has been mediation by Egyptian intelligence, by the United Nations. I mean Israel never really comments on these ceasefires but clearly there appears to be some kind of agreement that does for the time being seem to be holding.”

Bateman of course made no effort to inform listeners that Hamas’ July 20th announcement of a ceasefire came just six days after the previous one it announced – and broke.  

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BBC News website reports fatal ‘gunshot’, fails to identify perpetrator

 

 

 

 

 

BBC Complaints defends Bowen’s inaccurate history

As noted here last week a report on Prince William’s visit to Jordan, Israel and Palestinian Authority controlled territories that was aired on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Today’ programme on June 25th included an inaccurate portrayal of a historic event.

Part of the conversation between presenter Martha Kearney and the BBC’s Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen went as follows:

Kearney: “And interesting how some of the various groups have been greeting the visit. The Palestinian diplomatic representative in London said – referring to the Balfour Declaration – said that this is…eh…considered to be an act of indirect apology.”

Bowen: “Yes. Balfour Declaration of course being the decision by Britain when it was the colonial power in Palestine to say that they supported the establishment of a Jewish state – that was about 100 years ago. So for the Palestinians it’s as if it happened yesterday: they’re very, very angry about it still.” [emphasis added]

BBC Watch submitted a complaint concerning that inaccurate portrayal, pointing out that while the Balfour Declaration was issued on November 2nd 1917, British forces did not complete their First World War ‘Sinai and Palestine Campaign’ until October 30th 1918 – almost a year after the Balfour Declaration was issued – and that the region was not under British control – “colonial” or otherwise – when the Balfour Declaration was issued as claimed by the BBC’s Middle East editor.

The response received from BBC Complaints includes the following:

“We raised your complaint with the programme team and senior staff, who respond:

The presenter, Martha Kearney, put it to our Middle East Editor that Prince William’s visit was being seen as an ‘indirect apology’ for the Balfour Declaration, in the words of the Palestinian Representative in London who had commented on the visit.

As this was the first mention of the Balfour Declaration, Jeremy Bowen responded by attempting to explain in a few words the significance of Balfour for the audience. His summary was not intended to mislead but rather help listeners unfamiliar with the complex historical background and give context to Prince William’s trip. His phrase ‘about a hundred years ago’ clearly indicated that he was précising the details for the benefit for the listener and not setting out an exact sequence of historical events. Nor do we think ‘colonial power’ is an inappropriate phrase to cover this period, given that at the time Britain had a large Empire and went onto administer Palestine at the behest of the League of Nations in 1923.”

Quite how that inaccurate presentation of the chronology of events can be claimed to “help listeners unfamiliar with the complex historical background” is of course unclear. So much for BBC editorial standards of ‘accuracy’. 

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BBC R4’s ‘Today’ forces Brexit and Gaza into royal visit report

BBC R4’s ‘Today’ forces Brexit and Gaza into royal visit report

h/t GB

As readers are no doubt aware the Duke of Cambridge is currently on a visit to Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Authority controlled territories. Although his itinerary does not include a trip to the Gaza Strip, BBC audiences have nevertheless repeatedly seen the promotion of faux linkage between the royal visit and recent events along the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip in the corporation’s related coverage.

An article which appeared on the BBC News website on June 24th – “Prince William makes historic visit to Middle East” – informed readers in its fourth and fifth paragraphs that:

“The trip comes as Israel celebrates the 70th anniversary of its foundation, and amid a rise in tensions between Palestinians and Israelis.

Israeli forces launched air strikes on Palestinian militant positions in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday after rockets and mortars were fired into Israel.”

A report about the Jordanian leg of the visit which appeared on the BBC News website on June 25th under the title “Prince William visits ancient city in Jordan during royal tour” closed by telling readers that:

“The trip comes as Israel celebrates the 70th anniversary of its foundation, and amid a rise in tensions between Palestinians and Israelis.

There has been an upsurge of violence across the Israel-Gaza border in recent weeks, with more than 100 Palestinians killed during protests and dozens of rockets fired into Israel from Gaza.”

In fact over 150 rockets and mortars – rather than “dozens” – have been launched at Israeli civilians by Palestinian terrorists in recent weeks. As has been noted here on numerous occasions – and as the BBC is well aware – the majority of the people killed during the ‘Great Return March’ pre-planned violence that the BBC euphemistically portrays as “protests” have been linked to various Gaza-based terror groups. The BBC, however, continues to systematically sideline that relevant information in its reports.

An additional example of context-free references to casualties resulting from Hamas’ pre-planned agitprop being gratuitously shoehorned into a report ostensibly about Prince William’s tour was found in the June 25th edition of BBC Radio 4’s ‘Today‘ programme.  Presenter Martha Kearney introduced that item and the BBC’s Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen as follows (from 02:45:30 here):

[emphasis in italics in the original, emphasis in bold added]

Kearney: “Prince William’s visit to Israel today is coming at a very tense time for the region. More than a hundred Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces in recent protests in Gaza. We’re joined now by our Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen. […] And the trip obviously filled with sensitivities.”

Bowen: “Well the thing about the place where he’s going is that everything is political and I think the Palace and the general messaging coming out of the British government as well is that this is a non-political visit like all royal visits. But, you know, Jerusalem is a city – and he’s going to be staying there – it’s a city where, you know, even the public transportation routes are political. Everything is political and almost everything comes as well through the prism of the conflict and so, yep, it’s a…it’s full of bear traps.”

Kearney: “And the people and the places that he’s going to have obviously been very carefully chosen.”

Bowen: Yes, he’s going to be on the Palestinian side. He’s going to the West Bank. He’s going to see the Palestinian president. He’ll also see Mr Netanyahu the Israeli…ah…prime minister among others and he’ll be seeing…you know it’s a carefully calibrated package certainly but, you know, even when the announcement was made about the programme, it was said in the announcement – the official British announcement – that he would be in the occupied Palestinian territories including East Jerusalem and then the Israeli minister of Jerusalem said ‘wait a minute, that’s not occupied: that’s part of Israel’. You know that is just a small sign of the kinds of things which will inevitably come up and everything that he says, the way he looks and where he goes – all of it will be deeply scrutinised.”

The prince’s itinerary also includes a meeting with the President of Israel but Jeremy Bowen apparently did not find that worth mentioning. Martha Kearney then found it appropriate to amplify a curious and unsupported claim.

Kearney: “And interesting how some of the various groups have been greeting the visit. The Palestinian diplomatic representative in London said – referring to the Balfour Declaration – said that this is…eh…considered to be an act of indirect apology.”

The British Consul-General in Jerusalem had already been questioned on that topic by reporters.

“Over the last year, the Palestinians have called on Great Britain to apologize for its role in the creation of the State of Israel, including for issuing the Balfour Declaration.

When asked about this issue, Hall responded: “I don’t expect the Duke of Cambridge to be apologizing for Britain.””

The BBC’s Middle East editor – of all people – then gave listeners an ‘explanation’ of the Balfour Declaration that included the inaccurate and misleading claim that it had been issued when Britain “was the colonial power in Palestine”. Britain’s WW1 ‘Sinai and Palestine Campaign’ in fact only came to an end on October 30th 1918 – almost a year after the Balfour Declaration was issued – when an armistice agreement was signed with the Ottomans.

Bowen: “Yes. Balfour Declaration of course being the decision by Britain when it was the colonial power in Palestine to say that they supported the establishment of a Jewish state – that was about 100 years ago. So for the Palestinians it’s as if it happened yesterday: they’re very, very angry about it still. So yes, that’s what I mean by saying that everything there is…is going to be political. And there’ve been some slightly carping pieces as well written in the Israeli press saying well, poor old Britain, you know, with Brexit coming along, they’re doing this finally – ‘cos there’ve been loads of invitations in the past which haven’t been taken up – they’re doing this finally because, you know, they need to make trade deals so here’s one way perhaps of trying to make things a little bit better with Israel is to deploy the royal family.”

Kearney then reintroduced the unrelated topic of Gaza.

Kearney: “There’s a Brexit angle on everything. But as I was saying in the introduction, I mean this comes – doesn’t it – at a very tense time given the recent protests in Gaza?”

Bowen: “Yes things are heating up in and around Gaza. There’s absolutely no question about it. And there’ve been a number of…ehm…all-out wars between Hamas in Gaza – the militant Palestinian organisation there – and the Israelis in the last – what? – seven, eight years and the thing about the situation there is that until the whole political context changes, it will always boil up and eventually – I would always argue – spill into war unless something changes in terms of, you know, the status quo. Now nothing is changing and so that old cliché about a long, hot summer – that’s certainly going to be happening and the tension is rising there. There’ve been many casualties on the Palestinian side and there is nothing really to look…to say at the moment which would suggest that things are going to get any better and I…my personal analysis is that there will be more flare-ups of deadly violence.”

BBC audiences have of course heard similar analysis from Bowen in the past and in this case too, the person charged with making “a complex story more comprehensive or comprehensible for the audience” elected not to inform them of the involvement of Hamas and other terror groups in the planning, organisation and financing of the recent violence along the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip.

Once again he avoided reminding audiences of the fact that Israel completely withdrew from the Gaza Strip almost thirteen years ago – relinquishing all territorial claims to it – and failed to make any mention of Hamas’ existential commitment to Israel’s destruction as expressed in its founding charter, in the ‘rationale‘ behind its ‘Great Return March’ and in its continued employment of terror against Israeli citizens.

In other words, not only does the BBC continue to promote its politically motivated account of the latest chapter of Hamas-initiated violence while erasing essential context, it even does so in reports on an unrelated royal visit because, for the BBC, there’s a Gaza “angle on everything”.

Related Articles:

BBC’s Middle East editor ‘explains’ Gaza violence

 

BBC’s ‘Today’ touts ‘destabilising’ factor in the Middle East

The April 13th edition of BBC Radio 4’s ‘Today‘ programme included discussion of what was still at that time the possibility of military action in Syria by the US and allies. Following an interview with a representative from a Moscow think tank, the programme’s new presenter Martha Kearney introduced another guest (from 2:37:53 here) and an additional topic. [emphasis in italics in the original]

Kearney: “Beyond the prospect of a dangerous confrontation between Russia and the [United] States there are of course other powerful forces in the region. Israel was accused of launching its own strike on a Syrian airbase recently which left seven Iranian military personnel dead. Major General Yaakov Amidror – former national security advisor to the prime minister of Israel and former head of the Israeli national security council.”

After Amidror had spoken about lost American credibility following the US failure to respond to Syria’s crossing of its ‘red line’ in 2013 and the necessity for credibility in order to prevent chemical weapons attacks by the Syrian regime, Kearney suggested that Israeli attempts to stop Iranian arms being transferred to Hizballah (rather than Iran’s arming of a terror organisation with advanced weaponry) are “destabilising” the region.

Kearney: “But you will understand the fears that many people have about the conflict escalating beyond the borders of Syria. Ahm…many people believe that Israel was behind an airstrike on a Syrian airbase on Monday. Isn’t this possibly destabilising for the wider region?”

While Amidror was explaining that Iran is building “a duplicate of Lebanon” in Syria and that Hizballah has 120,000 Iranian supplied rockets and missiles, Kearney interrupted him.

Kearney: “But you have so many external powers operating in Syria at the moment and a warning to your country from Russia saying that the strike on the Syrian airbase carried out by Israel has only worsened stability.”

Amidror then asked Kearney if she affords similar credibility to Russian statements concerning the attempted murder of two people in Salisbury last month before stating that the Russians “know that the Iranians are building a duplicate of Lebanon in Syria” and “they know that we will not let” that come about.

Kearney – apparently unwilling to distinguish between Western strikes on targets related to Bashar al Assad’s chemical weapons and the separate topic of Israeli strikes on Iranian weapons shipments to Hizballah – then asked:

Kearney: “Is there any evidence that airstrikes are effective? After all the United States carried out an airstrike on a Syrian base last year and still we have allegations of a chemical attack this year.”  

After Amidror had taken issue with Kearney’s use of the word “allegations” he went on to state that while he did not know if the US and its allies would carry out strikes in Syria, “I know that without attack, for sure the Syrian regime will continue to use chemical weapons against civilians” and commented on the role of “the free world” in stopping such attacks.

Kearney closed the interview at that point with listeners left none the wiser as to whether Amidror had been invited in to speak about what was at the time the possibility of a US strike in Syria or about the entirely different topic of an alleged Israeli strike on an air base in Syria used by Iran’s IRGC.

Nevertheless the notion that of all the things going on in Syria, an alleged Israeli airstrike is what is “destabilising for the wider region” had been promoted to Radio 4 listeners.

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Reviewing BBC R4’s ‘World at One’ background on the Labour Party story

On March 26th BBC Radio 4 news and current affairs programmes understandably devoted a considerable amount of airtime to the topic of the letter put out the previous evening by the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the JLC criticising the leader of the British Labour Party and calling for a protest outside Parliament.

One of those programmes – ‘World at One’ – seemed to attempt to present listeners with a more comprehensive view of the background to the story than others, but did that portrayal really give audiences the full view?

Presenter Martha Kearney opened the item (from 07:21 here) as follows: [emphasis in italics in the original]

Kearney: “At half past five this afternoon Jewish community leaders are gathering at Westminster in a protest against Jeremy Corbyn, accusing him of siding with antisemites again and again. They say it’s their first protest against a mainstream political party since the Second World War. The Labour leader has responded by saying ‘we recognise that antisemitism has occurred in pockets within the Labour Party, causing pain and hurt to our Jewish community in the Labour Party and the rest of the country’. He added ‘I’m sincerely sorry for the pain which has been caused’. These accusations have been levelled at Jeremy Corbyn for years.”

Kearney then presented her first example and – in contrast to her colleagues at the BBC News website – was able to give an accurate portrayal of the mural concerned.

Kearney: “In 2012 he offered his backing to a street artist whose mural, featuring antisemitic stereotypes, was due to be removed after complaints. Jeremy Corbyn replied ‘Why? You’re in good company’. He compared the mural to Rockefeller destroying one made by Diego Rivera because it included Lenin. But last week Jeremy Corbyn issued a statement saying ‘I sincerely regret that I did not look more closely at the image I was commenting on’.”

Kearney then cited her next example of “accusations…levelled at Jeremy Corbyn”.

Kearney: “In 2009 Jeremy Corbyn welcomed members of Hamas and Hizballah to the UK and referred to them as friends. He later refused to apologise for this in an interview with Krishnan Guru-Murthy on Channel 4 news.”

Listeners then heard some of the less angry parts of that 2015 interview, including the claim from Corbyn that Hamas and Hizballah are “part of a peace process” and:

“I’ve also had discussions with people from the Right in Israeli politics who have the same view, possibly, that the State of Israel should extend from the river to the sea as it is claimed people from the Palestinian side do.” [emphasis added]

On the topic of his describing members of the two designated terrorist organisations as ‘friends’, listeners heard Corbyn say:

“I’m saying that people I talk to…I use it in a collective way, saying our friends were prepared to talk. Does it mean I agree with Hamas and what it does? No. Does it mean I agree with Hizballah and what they do? No.”

Martha Kearney did not however inform listeners that in the original March 2009 speech in which he repeatedly called Hamas and Hizballah ‘friends’, Corbyn also spoke about Hamas – an organisation committed to the destruction of Israel under its overtly antisemitic founding charter – as follows:

“The idea that an organisation that is dedicated towards the good of the Palestinian people and bringing about long-term peace and social justice and political justice in the whole region should be labelled as a terrorist organisation by the British government is really a big, big historical mistake…”

Neither were ‘World at One’ listeners told that – despite the ‘explanation’ they heard for his use of the term ‘friends’ and the claim that it does not mean that he agrees with Hamas and Hizballah – Corbyn clearly expressed his opposition to the Jewish people’s right to self-determination in their own state: a stance categorised as antisemitism under the IHRA working definition.

“We are opposed to Zionism and what Israel is doing towards the Palestinian people. […] Our argument – and I refuse to be dragged into this stuff that somehow or other because we’re pro-Palestinian we’re anti-Semitic: it’s nonsense. What we’re in favour of is a Palestine where everybody can live. They can’t live if you’ve got Zionism dominating it all.”

Martha Kearney’s next example referred to a story the BBC failed to report accurately at the time.

Kearney: “In 2016 Naz Shah, the Labour MP for Bradford West, apologised for writing a series of antisemitic posts on Facebook, including arguing for Israel’s population to be transported out of the Middle East. Then, while defending Naz Shah, the former London mayor Ken Livingstone claimed that Hitler had been a Zionist. He was suspended but not expelled from the Labour Party and spoke to the ‘World at One’.”

Listeners then heard parts of Kearney’s 2016 interview with Livingstone, including his insinuation that “people” were “smearing and lying about” him and the claim that “if you’re a bigot, you’re not going to join the Labour Party”.

After parts of the letter written by the Board of Deputies and the JLC had been read out, Kearney went on:

Kearney: “During the 2015 Labour leadership contest Jeremy Corbyn took calls from listeners on the ‘World at One’. One of them was Lee Barnett from Richmond.”

Listeners heard a recording of Mr Barnett speaking about antisemitism and Holocaust denial “posted by those who say they’re your supporters” followed by Corbyn responding that he had spent his life as a campaigner against racism and mentioning his mother’s presence at Cable Street in the 1930s – but without substantially addressing the caller’s points. That 2015 recording continued with Martha Kearney saying to Corbyn:

Kearney: “But there have been questions raised about the kind of people that you associate with: story in the papers today about the fact that you invited Diane [sic] Abu Jahjah to the Commons as a special guest. Now this is a man who’s talked about ‘hoax gas chambers’.”

Corbyn: “Sorry, who?”

Kearney: “You’ve not met him?”

Corbyn: “No. Well I’ve…I saw the name this morning and I asked somebody who is he.”

Kearney: “Right so this was somebody who…so you definitely didn’t invite this man to the Commons as a special guest?”

Corbyn: “Well my views are that the Holocaust was the most disgraceful and vile process of the history of the twentieth century, if not the wider world. And that has to be understood by successive generations and has to be understood by all our children in schools. That surely is important. The idea…”

Kearney: “So just to be absolutely clear on this: there’s an accusation which I think you’re denying. I’m giving you the opportunity to deny it.”

Corbyn: “The idea that…the idea…”

Kearney: “You didn’t invite this man?”

Corbyn: “I’m sorry; can I answer please? The idea that I’m some kind of racist or antisemitic person is beyond appalling, disgusting and deeply offensive. I’ve spent my life opposing racism. Until my dying day I will be opposed to racism in any form.”

Kearney closed that section of the item there, moving on to another related topic.  Remarkably though, despite having aired Corbyn’s recorded response denying knowing who Dyab Abou Jahjah was, Kearney did not bother to inform listeners that – as the BBC itself reported in August 2015 – Corbyn subsequently claimed that he “must have forgotten meeting him in 2009”.

Dyab Abou Jahjah (whose organisation had published a Holocaust denying cartoon three years earlier) was in fact at the same March 2009 ‘Stop the War Coalition’ meeting at which Corbyn called Hamas and Hizballah ‘friends’. Abou Jahjah was subsequently banned from visiting the UK by the British government: a decision he blamed on “the lobbying of the Zionists” while claiming that “MP Corbyn is filing a complaint against this disgrace”.

Although this programme clearly did attempt to provide the BBC’s domestic audiences with more background to the story than other Radio 4 programmes aired on the same day, it is notable that while listeners did hear rather a lot of Jeremy Corbyn’s fairly standard evasive responses to the long-standing criticism against him, parts of the story that are highly relevant to full audience understanding of it – such as the fact that he did meet Dyab Abou Jahjah and his self-professed opposition to Jewish self-determination – were airbrushed from the portrayal.

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BBC R4 gives a dog-whistle ‘explanation’ of terrorism in the UK

h/t H

The June 6th edition of the BBC Radio 4 “analysis of news and current affairs” programme ‘World at One’ included an item (from 53:36 here) that is remarkable for its blatant and transparent attempt to shape audience opinion. 

Presenter Martha Kearney began by establishing her interviewee’s credentials – clearly signposting to listeners that the views they were about to hear should be considered expert and authoritative.

[All emphasis in italics in the original, all emphasis in bold added.]

Martha Kearney: “Now in the aftermath of the attacks in Manchester and London there’s been a lot of debate about what role Islam has played in the radicalisation of the men who carried out the terror attacks. I’m joined now by Karen Armstrong; considered to be one of the world’s leading writers on religion. She’s just won the Princess Asturias Award for social sciences – congratulations.”

Karen Armstrong: “Thank you.”

MK: “Ahm…obviously this is a hugely complex issue but, you know, when you have a father of two young children deciding to stab strangers in the street it’s extraordinary. How do we begin to look at the root causes of an action like that?”

Armstrong responded by telling audiences what, in her ‘expert’ view, is not the cause of terror attacks in the UK and other Western countries.

KA: “Ah well the first thing we have to do is not to jump to the easy answer and just dump it all on Islam. I am extremely worried about the rise of Islamophobia in Europe and in the United States. I’ve just come back from Prague where I was addressing young people who’ve…they’ve got a very small Muslim population, they’ve suffered no terrorist attacks but their vicious attacks on Islam are…it was frightening. We’ve got a bad history with our…”

MK [interrupts]: “Certainly and I’m sure obviously, you know, mo…well everyone…well…well a lot of people would certainly condemn Islamophobia but what relationship do you think that Islam has in terms of radicalisation?”

Listeners then heard a decidedly bizarre interpretation of the ideologies behind the Islamic State group – despite the rather obvious clue in the group’s self-chosen name.

KA: “Ah…Islam itself is…what we’re seeing is a ghastly perverted form of Islam, just as you see a perverted form of Christianity in the Ku Klux Klan, and mixed up with some debased secularism. IS, for example…its leaders are…were members of Saddam’s disbanded army so they are secular socialist Baathists. Ahm…and ah…oh I think someone spoke to the BBC a little…just a few months ago – an IS supporter – who said he’d not been attracted by the religious message of IS but by its political agenda; that it was offering an alternative to the autocratic states in the region, many of which have been aggressively supported by the West. So what we’ve got here is an amalgam – a horrible cocktail, as I say, of really bad religious…religious ideas mixed up with some not very good secular ideas.”

MK: “So how can that be countered? The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, was saying, I think just yesterday, we’ve got to say that if something happens within our own faith tradition, we need to take responsibility for countering that – so by implication, the Muslim community, Muslim faith leaders.”

Brushing aside the many examples of extremist organisations, institutions and preachers that have had a free run in the UK and elsewhere for years, Armstrong went on:

KA: “Yes well they are. But of course the Muslim faith leaders are not behind this. These young people are very often getting radicalised online.”

MK: “Not behind it – but what should they be doing to counter it?”

KA: “Well they’re doing their best but I think they need some backing from the mainstream. There’s plenty of data out there that should be shared repeatedly with the general public. For example a huge poll undertaken by Gallup in 35 Muslim-majority countries asked whether the 9/11 attacks were justified. 93% said no they were not and the reasons they gave were entirely religious. The 7% who said yes, their reasoning was entirely political and this kind of data should be being shared repeatedly with the general public.”

MK: “So what would your advice be to Western governments who are now facing growing threats, radicalised populations?”

The item then got to its take-away point. Having spent nearly four minutes telling the BBC’s domestic audience that terrorism in Manchester and London has nothing to do with Islam and Muslim faith leaders, Armstrong left them with her ‘authoritative’ answer to the question of what is the “root cause” of such horrific attacks.

KA: “This is a really frightening moment for us and one of the things that’s happened is that the state has lost the monopoly of violence. States have always had to control the violence of society in order to rule but, starting with the French revolution, they began to lose that. And now, with the ease of travel and modern communications, ahm…a car can become a lethal weapon. Ahm…and so this is a moment when we have to reassess things; not just jump for an easy scapegoat like Islam or Islamic faith leaders. I think we all have to look and also realise that a lot of discourse about these attacks – saying they’re against our democracy – I don’t think that’s the issue at all. I think one of the main issues – ah…and this has been done…proved by surveys – is that the extremism is largely fuelled by images of Muslim suffering round the world. That has been so from the 1980s when people were radicalised in Saudi Arabia by looking at the hideous pictures coming from…ah…the camps – the Palestinian camps…”

Martha Kearney jumped in with clarification designed to drive home the point:

MK [interrupts]: “In Gaza.”

KA: “Yes, in Gaza and so on. And they come every day and that is one of the main triggers to extremism.”

MK: “Karen Armstrong; thank you very much indeed for coming to the studio to discuss this.”

So there we have it. BBC Radio 4 has brought in an ‘expert’ to tell British listeners that the real reason British citizens are being indiscriminately murdered on the streets is because the terrorists are radicalised by seeing “hideous” images from Gaza.

And of course BBC audiences have in the past been told so often who is ‘responsible’ for those “hideous” images that there is no need to even mention the ‘guilty party’ by name in this transparent exercise in dog-whistle propaganda.

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