Mixing music and politics on BBC WS ‘Newshour’

The October 22nd afternoon edition of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newshour‘ included an item (from 0:48:58 here) introduced by presenter Razia Iqbal as follows:

[emphasis in italics in the original]

Iqbal: “Now the music of the Palestinian group ‘Le Trio Joubran’ has caught the attention of some of the world’s top musicians. The trio comprises three brothers who all play the oud – a stringed lute-like instrument. Martin Vennard spoke with one of the brothers – Adnan Joubran – and asked how they came to work with the Pink Floyd musician Roger Waters on their new album ‘The Long March’.”

BBC World Service audiences were not informed that the Joubran brothers were in fact all born in Nazareth.

Rather than an interview, what listeners actually heard was a monologue from Adnan Joubran in which he began by talking about music – and promoting the trio’s recently released album – but which soon turned political.

[Music] Joubran: “We’ve heard by a common friend that he likes our music and he does listen to our music. And we went to New York and we called him and he invited us to his house for a dinner and over this dinner he made us listen to his new album. He played for us in the house on his guitar ‘Wait For Her’ – his last track with the poem of Mahmoud Darwish – knowing that we have collaborated with Mahmoud Darwish, the Palestinian biggest poet. And he kind of asked us for our blessing because Mahmoud Darwish has died in 2008 and he wants to feel that he is doing the right thing. And then we shared with him our project ‘The Long March’ and we said if you feel that you wish to write something and to sing something with us, that would be big honour. And we dedicated this track to the four kids who were killed in Gaza beach – bombed by the Israelis. [Music] Whether they were targeted or by mistake – as the army is saying – they are still human.”

The incident to which Joubran refers occurred in July 2014 during Operation Protective Edge. The subsequent investigation by the Military Attorney General showed that the four boys who were unfortunately killed were in a Hamas military installation at the time and were mistaken for terrorists.

Although that information has been in the public domain for well over three years, the BBC World Service nevertheless obviously had no qualms about broadcasting Joubran’s promotion of the inaccurate notion that the boys may have been deliberately “targeted”.

Again without listeners being informed that he and his brothers hail from the northern Israeli town of Nazareth (and how come they are exempt from Roger Waters’ long-standing BDS campaign against Israel and Israelis), Joubran continued:

[Recitation] Joubran: “Mahmoud Darwish had taught us as Trio Joubran how to be able to be today a musician from Palestine and not only a Palestinian musician. On the track ‘Time Must Go By’ this is the voice of Mahmoud Darwish. [Recitation] In 2017 we had the honour to collaborate with the British artist Banksy. He invited a lot of musicians – international musicians – so that was fortunate for us to collaborate with the British musician Brian Eno. And we worked together in his studio. We came here me and Wissam and Samir to London and we worked in his studio. Such a big honour to visit such a legend in music and in also he is for us one of the leading names in digital art and we have made the tracks [unintelligible].”

Apparently in response to an unheard question, Joubran then returned to politics:

[Music] Joubran: “We as Palestinians of course we have a sympathy for all the religions whether Jewish or Christians or Muslims. Today I wish to say that there will be an end for this conflict in Israel and Palestine. Probably I don’t sound optimistic. We’re fighting since 70 years. So I would love to say that I have to be optimistic for peace.”

Iqbal: “An optimistic Adnan Joubran speaking to my colleague Martin Vennard.”

The format of this ‘interview’ by Martin Vennard obviously did not allow for questioning of Joubran’s statements and so BBC World Service listeners heard an unchallenged monologue in which a narrative that had already been shown to be inaccurate over three years ago was recycled.

Related Articles:

BBC News passes up on the chance to correct Gaza misinformation

BBC’s Doucet fails to inform audiences of terrorist activity in Gaza port

 

 

 

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BBC yet again promotes the notion of Israel as a racist society

When Alexandra Burke sang her way to victory with the Leonard Cohen song ‘Hallelujah’ in the UK version of ‘X Factor’ in 2008, the BBC’s coverage of her win focused on her achievement and on the competition itself. The BBC journalist who wrote the article did not feel it appropriate to take advantage of the event to remind audiences of the minority status of those sharing Miss Burke’s ethnic origins. Her win was not sub-headed as “Triumphing over ‘racism’?” and it was apparently not deemed necessary to inform readers that some black people in the UK “routinely complain that they are treated like second-class citizens”. 

When Rachel Christie was the first black person to be crowned Miss England in 2009, the BBC’s coverage of that event also focused on the competition itself, with no mention of complaints of discrimination from Jamaican immigrants to England and no digging up of dubious stories of alleged British wrong-doing to that particular sector of UK society. No MPs were interviewed on the subject of the broader meaning of Miss Christie’s win for English society and no side-box profiling the Jamaican community in the UK was inserted into the article. 

But when an Ethiopian-born Israeli woman became Miss Israel and when an Arab-Israeli woman won the local version of ‘The Voice’ singing the same song as Alexandra Burke, the BBC found it insufficient to concentrate on their personal achievements alone. 

Miss Israel article

The Voice article

Israel may not be any better than other Western countries when it comes to eradicating racism, but it is certainly no worse. The question which therefore arises is why the BBC saw fit to apply such blatant double standards when reporting on Israeli beauty queens and singers and why it just cannot resist the temptation to portray Israel as a society ridden with racism at any and every opportunity?