Facile BBC News report on PA’s Interpol membership

Visitors to the BBC News website’s Middle East page on September 27th were informed that “Interpol approves Palestinian membership” and:

“Palestinians hail a ‘victory’ made possible by the ‘principled position’ of the agency’s members”

The link led to an article titled “Interpol approves Palestinian membership despite Israeli opposition” in which the source of that BBC sub-heading was revealed.

“Interpol has admitted the Palestinian territories as a new member, despite opposition from Israel.

The international policing body backed membership for “the State of Palestine” at its annual general assembly.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki declared the news a “victory”, made possible by the “principled position” of most Interpol members.

Israel tried to delay the vote, arguing that Palestine was not a state and therefore ineligible for membership.”

Later on readers found another quote from al-Maliki:

“”On this joyous occasion, the State of Palestine reiterates its commitment to upholding its obligations and contributing to fighting crime and furthering the rule of law,” Mr Maliki said in a statement.”

That was followed by a quote from a Tweet sent by an Israeli politician:

“Israel’s Deputy Minister for Diplomacy, Michael Oren, criticised the vote, writing on Twitter: “By admitting ‘Palestine’, which praises terrorists of the past and refuses to condemn those of today, Interpol makes the world less safe.””

The BBC did not however provide readers with any information in its own words on obviously relevant issues such as the PA’s payment of financial rewards to terrorists and their families or the fact that alongside the new item of membership dues to Interpol, the PA’s annual budget includes salaries for convicted terrorists. Neither did the BBC consider it necessary to raise the question of Interpol membership for an entity currently negotiating power-sharing with a designated terror organisation.

Given the PA’s record on human rights, the question of the abuse of Interpol membership for factional score-settling is also relevant – particularly in light of a statement reported by the Times of Israel:

“A senior Palestinian official said there were no plans to sue any Israelis through Interpol. He said the purpose is “to pursue criminals who commit crimes here and escape.”

He said one target would be Mohammed Dahlan, a rival of Abbas.”

The tone of this report would have come as no surprise to anyone following regional BBC staff on social media.

The last five paragraphs of this report include promotion of a link to the BBC News website’s recent report on the terror attack in Har Adar (which did not describe the incident as terrorism or the attacker as a terrorist) and standard recycled ‘background’ inserts that amplify PLO messaging on the topic of Palestinian terrorism.

“Israel says Palestinian incitement has fuelled the attacks. The Palestinian leadership has blamed frustration rooted in decades of Israeli occupation.”

While that paragraph has been seen in countless BBC News website reports over the last two years, audiences continue to be deprived of serious reporting on incitement to violence from official Palestinian sources or on the Palestinian Authority’s funding of terrorists – topics relevant to this particular story as well as numerous others.

Related Articles:

PA’s salaries for terrorists in the news again – but not at the BBC

BBC News silence on PA terror rewards continues

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BBC News silent again on Gaza missile attack

Late on March 1st another missile launched from the Gaza Strip exploded in Israeli territory.

“A rocket fired from the Gaza Strip struck an open field south of the coastal city of Ashkelon on Wednesday night, causing neither injury nor damage, the army said, the second attack in a week. […]

The projectile struck the Hof Ashkelon region shortly after 11:00 p.m. on Wednesday, the Israel Defense Forces said.

Israeli troops began searching the area to locate the rocket, the army said.

No terrorist groups immediately took credit for the attack.

There were also no immediate reports of IDF retaliation.”

At least one locally based BBC employee was aware that an attack had taken place.

shuval-tweet-missile-1-3

Nevertheless, there was no coverage of the attack on the BBC News website.

Since the beginning of the year five missile attacks against Israel have taken place – three from Gaza and two from Sinai – none of which have been reported by the BBC’s English language services. Throughout 2016 just one of ten attacks received BBC coverage in English.

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Related Articles:

BBC News continues to ignore Gaza missile attacks – in English

BBC News again ignores a missile attack on Israel

BBC News disregards Sinai missile attack once again

Fourth missile attack against Israel in three weeks ignored by BBC News

 

BBC News producer breaches impartiality guidelines on social media

BBC Editorial Guidelines on impartiality state:

“Presenters, reporters and correspondents are the public face and voice of the BBC – they can have a significant impact on perceptions of whether due impartiality has been achieved.  Our audiences should not be able to tell from BBC output the personal prejudices of our journalists or news and current affairs presenters on matters of public policy, political or industrial controversy, or on ‘controversial subjects’ in any other area.  They may provide professional judgements, rooted in evidence, but may not express personal views in BBC output, including online, on such matters.”

The BBC’s guidance on social networking states:

“Impartiality is a particular concern for those working in News and Current Affairs. Nothing should appear on their personal blogs or microblogs which undermines the integrity or impartiality of the BBC. For example, News and Current Affairs staff should not:

  • advocate support for a particular political party;
  • express views for or against any policy which is a matter of current party political debate;
  • advocate any particular position on an issue of current public controversy or debate.” [emphasis added]

A story which was not reported by the BBC but which was recently “an issue of current public controversy or debate” in Israel concerns the decision of the political NGO B’Tselem to participate in an informal session at the UN Security Council. As Ynet reported ahead of the session:

“The Palestinian delegation to the United Nations successfully initiated an informal meeting of the Security Council on Israeli settlements in the West Bank that is to be held on Friday and to be attended by representatives of B’Tselem.

According to the UN’s website, the “Arria-Formula meeting,” which is how Friday’s discussion has been defined, is a “very informal, confidential” meeting that enables “Security Council members to have a frank and private exchange of views.”

 It is believed that this meeting is the Palestinian delegation’s first step in a plan to have the Security Council issue a resolution against Israel regarding the settlements.

Friday’s meeting will take place at 10am EDT (5pm Israel time) and will be co-chaired by Angola, Egypt, Malaysia, Senegal and Venezuela. The meeting’s title is ‘illegal Israeli Settlements: Obstacles to Peace and Two-State Solution.'”

Predictably, the participation of B’Tselem (which has received funding from UN bodies) in such an event created controversy, as did the actual messaging delivered by its director Hagai El-Ad to the forum. One Israeli politician declared his intention to weigh “the possibility of taking legal action against El-Ad to strip him of his Israeli citizenship”. That, of course, will not happen because not only was David Bitan subsequently advised that there is no legal basis for such action but parliamentarians from across the political spectrum – including his own party – publicly declared their opposition to any such move.  

Nevertheless, Bitan’s declaration did provide the opportunity for some PR posturing from B’Tselem’s director.

el-ad-tweet

And that second Tweet was given further amplification by BBC News producer “in Israel and the West Bank” Michael Shuval who went on to add his own commentary – notably and oddly, in English.

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Those Tweets clearly “advocate” a “particular position on an issue of current public controversy or debate” and thus contradict the BBC’s guidance and compromise its impartiality. The fact that B’Tselem was the local political NGO most quoted and promoted by the BBC throughout 2015 and 2014 makes that lack of impartiality even more worthy of note.

Related Articles:

BBC News, impartiality and the Israeli elections

 

Missile attack on Ashdod gets fifteen words of BBC coverage

Late on the evening of September 29th around a quarter of a million people in Israel’s fifth largest city, Ashdod, and surrounding areas had to scramble for cover in their safe rooms and air raid shelters as sirens warned them of an incoming missile from the Gaza Strip.

Fortunately, the Iron Dome defence system was able to intercept the Grad missile and no injuries were reported. The attack was claimed by the Gaza Strip based Salafist Jihadist group ‘Sheikh Omar Hadid Brigade’ which has also taken responsibility for some of the previous missile attacks on Israeli civilians in recent months. Several hours later, Israel responded to that attack with four strikes on Hamas terrorist infrastructure in the Gaza Strip.

BBC correspondents in the region were aware of the incident.

missile 29 9 tweet Shuval

missile 29 9 tweet Rushdi

However, visitors to the BBC News website’s Middle East page on the morning of September 30th did not find any stand-alone reporting concerning that missile attack on sleeping Israeli civilians in a major city well over 20 miles away from the Gaza Strip.

ME HP 30 9 15a

The only mention of the attack comes right at the end of an article on another topic altogether  – “Palestinian flag to be raised at United Nations” – where, in typical ‘last-first reporting’ style, readers are told that:

“Early on Wednesday, Israel carried out a series of air strikes on Gaza, hours after the Israeli Iron Dome anti-missile system intercepted a rocket from the enclave.”BBC Arabic 30 9 hp

Visitors to the BBC Arabic website on the morning of September 30th found a headline informing them exclusively of the Israeli response.

Whilst he article itself – “Israel launches raids on several military sites for “Hamas” in Gaza Strip” –  does use the ‘last-first reporting’ technique to inform readers that the Israeli strikes came “in response to a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip”, much of its word count is devoted to description of the locations targeted in Israel’s response.

Civilians in southern Israel have been subjected to three separate incidents of missile attacks from the Gaza Strip throughout the month of September 2015. The BBC’s record on reporting those attacks and the additional ones which have taken place since the end of the summer 2014 hostilities is summarised below.

September 16th 2014 – mortar fire at the Eshkol region – not reported by BBC News but briefly mentioned in a later article on another topic.

October 31st 2014 – missile fire at the Eshkol region – not reported by BBC News.

December 19th 2014 – missile fire at the Eshkol region – not covered by BBC News at the time but Israeli response reported in English.

April 23rd 2015 – missile fire at Sha’ar HaNegev region – not reported by BBC News.

May 26th 2015 – missile fire at Gan Yavne area – not covered by BBC News but Israeli response reported by BBC Arabic.

June 3rd 2015 – missile fire at Sdot Negev region – not covered by BBC News but Israeli response reported by BBC Arabic

June 6th 2015 – missile fire at Hof Ashkelon area – not covered by BBC News but Israeli response reported by BBC Arabic. Later briefly mentioned in a June 10th report by Yolande Knell.

June 11th 2015 – missile fire (fell short in Gaza Strip) – later mentioned in a June 12th article by Yolande Knell.

June 23rd 2015 – missile fire at Yad Mordechai area – not covered by BBC News but Israeli response reported by BBC Arabic.

July 16th 2015 – missile fire at the Ashkelon area – not reported by the BBC in English.

August 7th 2015 – missile fire at the Kissufim area – not covered by the BBC’s English language services, but Israeli response reported by BBC Arabic.

August 27th 2015 – missile fire at the Eshkol area – not reported by BBC News in English, but Israeli response covered by BBC Arabic.

September 18th 2015 – missile fire on Sderot and Ashkelon – 19 words of reporting in a BBC News article on a different topic. Israeli response reported by BBC Arabic.

September 21st 2015 – missile fire at the Hof Ashkelon area – not reported by BBC News.

September 29th 2015 – missile fire at Ashdod – 15 words of coverage in an article on another topic. Israeli response covered by BBC Arabic.

Clearly BBC audiences are not being provided with the full range of information necessary for them to “[b]uild a global understanding of international issues” and remarkably, not one BBC correspondent has found the time or inclination to venture down to southern Israel during the past year to report on the views and experiences of the civilians living under the constant threat of missile attacks by terrorists located in the Gaza Strip. 

Update: Later amendment to the BBC News website article which originally included fifteen words of coverage of the Grad missile attack on Ashdod September 29th removed that information.  

 

 

 

 

BBC ignores another terror attack on Israelis – in English

On June 19th a terror attack took place near Dolev.

“An Israeli man who was critically injured Friday afternoon in a shooting attack in the West Bank succumbed to his wounds later Friday. He was named as Danny Gonen, 25, from the central city of Lod. […]

A second man, whose identity was not immediately made public, was moderately hurt in the attack and was being treated at Tel Hashomer.

The two men were traveling in their car after visiting a spring near Dolev, when they were flagged down by a Palestinian man, seemingly asking them for assistance. He then pulled a gun out of a bag he was carrying and opened fire on them at point-blank range, mortally wounding Gonen.”

Hamas later claimed responsibility for the attack.

“In a statement released late Friday evening, Hamas’ military wing, Izzadin Kassam, claimed responsibility for a terrorist attack perpetrated in the West Bank which killed one and moderately injured another earlier in the day.”

There was no reporting on the incident on the BBC News website’s Middle East page either on Friday evening or Saturday morning.

ME HP 20 6 15a

BBC staff were however aware that a terror attack had taken place.

Dolev Shuval tweet

And a report on the incident did appear on the BBC’s Arabic language website.

Dolev BBC Arabic

At the time of writing that report has not been updated to inform audiences of Hamas’ claim of responsibility.

The BBC’s failure to report this fatal terror attack to English-speaking audiences should of course also be seen within the context of the corporation’s related abstention from reporting on the topic of Hamas activities in Judea & Samaria in general and their link to Hamas officials in Turkey.

Related Articles:

BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel in May 2015

Another Gaza Strip missile attack goes unreported by the BBC – in English

On the evening of Tuesday, May 26th, a missile fired from the Gaza Strip exploded near Gan Yavne – fortunately without causing any physical injuries. Several hours later, Israel responded to the attack by carrying out airstrikes on four terror infrastructure sites in the southern Gaza Strip.

This latest attack is the fifth since the ceasefire came into effect at the end of August 2014. Like the previous missile attack from the Gaza Strip a month ago and the one before that in December and indeed the one before that in October, this incident received no coverage on the BBC News website either on Tuesday evening or on Wednesday morning.

ME HP 27 5 15a

We can however ascertain that the BBC was aware of the fact that a missile attack had taken place because on the morning of May 27th a report on the Israeli response to it appeared on the BBC Arabic website under the interestingly phrased headline “Israeli warplanes launched a series of attacks on military positions of the Palestinian resistance factions in the Gaza Strip”.BBC Arabic report missile attack 26 5

In typical ‘last-first’ BBC style, that report focuses on the effect rather than the cause, with mention of the attack itself relegated to paragraphs 11 to 13 of the 15 paragraph report. No less remarkable is the BBC’s adoption and amplification of the public relations language of the terrorist organisations which portray themselves as “resistance factions”.

This is not the first time (see related articles below) since the end of the conflict last August in which we have seen Israeli responses to Palestinian violations of the ceasefire agreement reported in Arabic but not in English.

Of course the BBC cannot claim to be fulfilling its public purpose of building “a global understanding of international issues” when it serially ignores the attacks which are the precursor to the next round of conflict between Israel and terrorist organisations in the Gaza Strip.

Related Articles:

Sniper attack on Gaza Strip border fails to make BBC news in English but reported in Arabic

BBC reporting of Tel Aviv demonstration neglects important background

BBC coverage of the protest by members of Israel’s Ethiopian community in Tel Aviv on May 3rd has included the following reports:Demo TA 1

A written article on the BBC News website’s Middle East page now appearing under the title “Israel police clash with Ethiopian Jewish protesters” – originally headlined “Teargas used as Ethiopian Jews protest in Israel”.

A filmed report by Kevin Connolly which, in addition to appearing on BBC News programmes, was also publicized on the BBC News website under the title “Israeli police use tear gas during Ethiopian Jewish protest“.

A report by BBC Arabic’s Michael Shuval on the BBC World Service radio programme ‘The Newsroom‘.

An item on the BBC World Service programme ‘Newsday‘.

Another written article which appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page on May 4th under the title “Israeli Ethiopian protests ‘reveal open wound’, president says“.Demo TA 2

All in all, the reports are reasonably balanced and accurate but a few points are worthy of note.

The BBC does not inform audiences that the May 3rd demonstration followed an earlier one in Jerusalem on April 30th in which major roads were also blocked and violent incidents were also reported.

“The protest started with a few hundred protesters and grew to around 1,000 by the evening, moving from the police HQ to the center of the city, a short distance from the Prime Minister’s Residence. Later in the night, the protesters blocked the intersection between King George St. and Jaffa St.

Israel Police said that forces tried to disperse the protesters, who they said threw stones and bottles. There were also reports of protesters throwing fire bombs.

Medical teams treated 10 protesters and three police officers for injuries. Two police officers and seven protesters were rushed to Jerusalem hospitals for further treatment. Two protesters who tried to attack police were detained.”

The BBC also does not clarify that neither of the two protests had been authorized by the police. Despite that fact, the police allowed the Tel Aviv demonstration to continue as long as it remained peaceful.

The BBC’s first written report includes the following:

“Tel Aviv police chief Yohanan Danino told Channel 10: “The use of violence by a small minority of the many protesters does not serve their struggle.

“Whoever harms police or civilians will be brought to justice.””

However, the BBC did not report that both police and the protest’s organisers noted the influence of outside groups on the turn of events. For example:

“Brig. Gen. Yoram Ohayon, deputy commander of the police’s Tel Aviv district, accused social activists and organizations of “inciting members of the community to keep protesting after the police has already reached understandings with them.””

And:

“Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino said on Sunday evening that the police will bring to justice anyone who hurt civilians and policemen, adding that the rally “was not a legitimate protest in a democratic state” and blaming a handful of agitators for harming the Israeli Ethiopians’ struggle.” 

And:

“The commander of the North Tel Aviv precinct, Chief Superintendent Nissim Daoudi, claimed that “anarchist groups” had taken advantage of the protest to clash with police.

“At some point the demonstrators crossed a boundary that cannot be crossed in a democratic state,” he said. “The demonstrators started throwing bricks and bottles at police.””

One of the demonstration’s organisers, Gentu Mengisto (head of the Ethiopian students’ association), told Channel Two that “groups took advantage of the protest for their own ends” and “we were joined by all sorts of organisations that provoked everything”.

A former member of the Knesset gave a similar account:

“Everyone was doing their job: the demonstrators as well as the police,” said former MK Shimon Solomon, who immigrated from Ethiopia at age 10 and who attended Sunday’s protest. At Rabin Square, suddenly “anarchic interest groups that jumped on the bandwagon did almost everything to bring about violence,” he recalled. “Someone threw a water bottle toward the policemen and that incited the entire story.”

Clearly this is a relevant aspect of the story which has been omitted from the BBC’s many reports.

 

BBC News, impartiality and the Israeli elections

Since its brief – and revealing – dabble with the topic of the pending general election in Israel at the beginning of December, the BBC has to date refrained from producing any further content on that topic.elections

However, we can of course expect that as the date of the election (March 17th) approaches the BBC will be producing no small number of reports on the subject. We can perhaps also assume that its Hebrew-speaking staff based in Israel will have a part to play in helping their colleagues who do not speak the language in which the election is being conducted to make sense of it all, and that those understandings will then be passed on to BBC audiences worldwide.

As Israeli readers cannot have failed to notice, one election-related topic currently featuring prominently in the country’s media is that of assorted allegations concerning the wife of the current prime minister and among the plethora of articles, reports and op-eds on that subject is a scathing item written by Israeli journalist Ben Caspit which appeared in Ma’ariv Online on January 26th  under the title “Silence of the lambs: when the truth about Sara Netayahu will come to light”.

BBC News producer Michael Shuval saw fit to promote that article to his followers on Twitter in Hebrew on January 28th, together with the added comment:

“An important document, and if there is no truth in it, let the prime minister’s office sue Ben Caspit and the paper Ma’ariv Online.”

Tweet Shuval Netanyahu

BBC Editorial Guidelines on impartiality state:

“Presenters, reporters and correspondents are the public face and voice of the BBC – they can have a significant impact on perceptions of whether due impartiality has been achieved.  Our audiences should not be able to tell from BBC output the personal prejudices of our journalists or news and current affairs presenters on matters of public policy, political or industrial controversy, or on ‘controversial subjects’ in any other area.  They may provide professional judgements, rooted in evidence, but may not express personal views in BBC output, including online, on such matters.”

It will be worth remembering that Tweet when we read, watch and hear the ‘impartial’ BBC coverage of the Israeli elections just around the corner. 

Fatal terror attack in Judea – BBC silent

On April 14th – the eve of Pessah – as Israelis travelled to join family for the traditional holiday meal, a terror attack took place on Route 35 near the Tarqumiya checkpoint when several vehicles travelling along that road were attacked by a gunman with an automatic weapon. One man died at the scene and a pregnant woman and a child were injured.Route 35

“An Israeli man was killed and a woman and child were wounded Monday evening, when Palestinian gunmen opened fire on Israeli cars near the West Bank city of Hebron. Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the people were members of the same family, travelling to a Passover Seder.

The 40-year-old man was critically hurt in the attack and received CPR at the scene, but succumbed his wounds. Two other people were wounded – his 28-year-old wife, who was moderately hurt, and a nine-year-old boy who sustained light wounds.”

Whilst terrorist organisations have already praised the attack, no group has to date claimed responsibility.

“A Hamas spokesman called the shooting “heroic” on his Facebook page.

Islamic Jihad called the attack “a natural reaction to the crimes of the occupation and settlers against our people in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.” “

Israeli security forces are still searching the area.

At least one BBC journalist is aware of the fact that a fatal terror attack took place.

Tweet Shuval route 35 incident

However, as of mid-morning on April 15th, no report on this latest incident of terror in Judea & Samaria has appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page.

Related Articles:

A round-up of BBC reporting of security incidents in March 2014

Terrorism, double standards and the BBC

In the BBC’s reporting on the three rounds of prisoner releases to date, audiences have been told relatively little about the acts of terrorism committed by those prisoners and even less about the way in which Israeli society in general views the release of convicted terrorists or the effects of those releases on the families of the victims.

When attempts have been made to touch on such issues, the result has often been the herding of audiences towards a viewpoint based on a supposed moral equivalence between terrorist and victim which is framed in terms of competing political narratives made all the more opaque by the fact that the BBC of course refuses to use the word ‘terrorist’ to describe people who have been convicted in a court of law of the politically motivated murder of Israeli citizens.

Earlier in the week we noted the fact that BBC Arabic producer Michael Shuval had sent a Tweet which included a photograph of the mother of an Arab-Israeli prisoner convicted of the murder of nineteen year-old off-duty soldier Moshe Tamam in 1984.

Tweet Shuval Walid Daka

 

Two days later, on March 25th, Shuval also sent the Tweet below, which includes a photograph of Moshe Tamam’s mother, Galia.

Michael Shuval Tweet Galia Tamam

So, one might say, both sides of a story have now been presented in an equal and balanced manner. But before we reach that conclusion there is one point for consideration which cannot be overlooked.

Twenty-nine years after Moshe Tamam’s murder, another young off-duty soldier was brutally murdered by terrorists. It can however be reasonably assumed that editorial judgement at least would preclude BBC journalists’ promotion of empathic photographs of the weeping mothers of the imprisoned murderers of Drummer Lee Rigby on social media. That story has not and would not be presented by the BBC to its audiences as one of morally equivalent narratives, the essence of which can be captured in two similar images of the mothers of murderer and victim.

And that of course leads to the question of why the same considerations and standards do not apply outside the BBC’s domestic patch.