BBC News website republishes deleted video report

Last month we documented the unexplained removal of a video from the BBC News website and other locations on the internet.

“On July 9th the BBC News website published a filmed report on its ‘Middle East’ page titled “Teaching Palestinians to talk about sex”. […]

That filmed report giving BBC audiences a rare glimpse of Palestinian society remained on the BBC News website’s Middle East page for three days and then disappeared, with no explanation given. […]

The video has also been removed from syndicated content…”

Over three weeks later, on August 6th, an edited version of the same video reappeared in the ‘Latest Updates’ section at the bottom of the BBC News website’s ‘Middle East’ page under the title “Shattering sex taboos in the Palestinian territories”. Its synopsis reads:

“A survey carried by the Arab Barometer for BBC News Arabic in 2018 and 2019 suggests that, across the Middle East and North Africa, people feel their right to freedom of expression is being squeezed.

It indicates that people feel 20% less free to express themselves today than when they were surveyed in 2013.

That also has an impact on sex education. But organisations like Muntada al-Jensaneya are breaking through the silence and finding safe spaces for people to learn about sexuality, helping to transform society’s attitude towards sexual rights and health.

Note: This is an updated version of the original published report.”

Section 3 (Accuracy) of the new editorial guidelines published by the BBC last month includes a clause titled ‘Correcting Mistakes’.

“3.3.28 We should normally acknowledge serious factual errors and correct such mistakes quickly, clearly and appropriately. Inaccuracy may lead to a complaint of unfairness. An effective way of correcting a serious factual error is saying what was wrong as well as putting it right

Mistakes in on-demand and online content

Where mistakes in our on-demand content, which is available online after broadcast, are unlikely to be a serious breach of editorial standards, a correction should be published on that platform, so that it is visible before the output is played. Such on-demand content does not then normally need to be changed or revoked.

Where mistakes to our on-demand content are likely to be considered a serious breach of editorial standards, the content must be corrected and the mistake acknowledged, or in exceptional cases removed. We need to be transparent about any changes made, unless there are editorial or legal reasons not to do so.  

In online text content, any mistake that alters the editorial meaning should normally be corrected and we should be transparent about what was wrong.” [emphasis added]

Informing audiences that “[t]his is an updated version of the original published report” without clarifying why it was updated, why that took so long and what it was about the original film that “was wrong” obviously does not meet standards of transparency and does not help those who watched the original report during the time it was online.

Related Articles:

BBC News website fails on transparency

BBC publishes new Editorial Guidelines

Summary of BBC News website portrayal of Israel and the Palestinians – July 2019

 

 

 

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BBC News website fails on transparency

The BBC’s Guidance document on the “Removal of BBC online content” includes the following:

“The Editorial Guidelines state, “The archive of the BBC’s online content is a permanent public record and its existence is in the public interest. The online archive particularly news reports, should not normally be removed or amended.” To do so risks erasing the past and altering history.”

And:

“The Editorial Guidelines also state, “Where there is an expectation that content, from a name to a whole programme, is made available permanently, it should only be removed in exceptional circumstances.””

Under the sub-heading “Transparency” the same Guidance states:

“We risk losing trust if we remove pages, programmes or clips, or make significant amendments to our online content, which change the editorial meaning, without telling our users.

So we should be transparent at the point a user accesses content, if it has been removed either permanently or temporarily, edited or amended since first publication or is subject to a correction or upheld finding, unless there are legal or editorial reasons not to.”

On July 9th the BBC News website published a filmed report on its ‘Middle East’ page titled “Teaching Palestinians to talk about sex”.

BBC News website Middle East page 9/7/19

The report told BBC audiences about the work of Safa Tamish of the NGO ‘Muntada Al-Jensaneya’ – aka ‘The Arab Forum for Sexuality, Education and Health‎’. A Jerusalem Post report on the film included the following:

“I remember in one of the workshops, a man was really furious. He stood up and shouted: ‘How does your husband allow you to talk about such topics in front of men?’ Tamish said, adding that she starting laughing while understanding his concerns. “Our topic is a difficult one; people don’t welcome us with open arms.”

BBC audiences were not informed that Ms Tamish’s husband is the BDS campaign acolyte Omar Barghouti or that her organisation ran a controversial publicity campaign in 2009. Ms Tamish – a resident of the Israeli town of Acco – has expressed support for the anti-Israel BDS campaign.   

That filmed report giving BBC audiences a rare glimpse of Palestinian society remained on the BBC News website’s Middle East page for three days and then disappeared, with no explanation given.

Its URL now leads BBC audiences to the following:

The video has also been removed from syndicated content – see for example here and here.

BBC audiences have not been informed of the “exceptional circumstances” which led to the video’s removal. So much for “transparency” – and a decidedly unfortunate start for the BBC’s newly revised Editorial Guidelines.

Update:

BBC News website republishes deleted video report

Weekend long read

1) Alan Mendoza of the HJS explains why “Israel has voted for a dose of reality when it comes to the peace process”.

“Israeli settlements are often cited as the cause of the peace roadblock, but these are a legacy issue from the 1967 Six Day War. They have not been the foundering point in any of the many failed peace deals that have fallen by the wayside. The principle of land swaps and abandonment of more isolated settlements as part of any agreement has been well established.

Rather, it is the 1948 issues of Palestinian refugees and the status of Jerusalem – which stem from the refusal of the Palestinians at a core level to accept the very existence of the Jewish state – that are responsible for the failure to progress peace.

Israeli voters have realised this, which is why this election was not fought on peace process grounds. Western observers have not.”

2) The ITIC reports on “The 6th Palestinian BDS Campaign Conference” in which BBC ‘frequent flyer’ Mustafa Barghouti participated.

“The Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) held its sixth conference in al-Bireh (Ramallah) on March 16, 2019. Present were Palestinian BDS campaign activists; representatives from the PLO, Fatah and the National Initiative Movement (a leftist Palestinian organization headed by Mustafa Barghouti), and other representatives. Workshops were held at the conference dealing with various aspects of the BDS campaign. Workshop participants presented their recommendations to the conference plenary session. The conference organizers hoped for 1,000 participants but apparently fewer people attended. In addition, it is not clear if BDS representatives came from abroad. The conference was covered by the Arab and local Palestinian media, but apparently was not widely covered by the Western media.”

3) At the FDD’s ‘Long War Journal’ Thomas Joscelyn explains the background to the US State Department’s designation of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a foreign terrorist organisation.

“The US government has previously sanctioned and designated the IRGC, IRGC officials and proxies, as well as the IRGC – Qods Force (IRGC – QF), using other executive branch measures. More than 900 “Iran-related individuals, entities, aircraft, and vessels” had already been sanctioned under the Trump administration for “human right abuses, censorship, ballistic missile program, malign cyber activities, support to terrorism, or associations with the Government of Iran,” according to State.

But the new designation technically goes beyond those past actions, as the entire IRGC will now be considered a FTO. It is the first time that part of a foreign government has been targeted with such a designation.”

4) The Fathom Journal has published a report titled “Institutionally Antisemitic Contemporary Left Antisemitism and the Crisis in the British Labour Party”.

“This major Fathom report finds the Labour Party is now ‘institutionally antisemitic’ as the term is defined in the Macpherson Report: ‘the collective failure of an organisation to provide an appropriate and professional service to people because of their colour, culture or ethnic origin.’ Citing over 130 examples of antisemitism or antisemitism denial in the party, our editor Professor Alan Johnson shows how Labour has failed to: understand contemporary antisemitism, prevent the party becoming host to three different forms of antisemitism, develop ‘appropriate and professional’ processes to deal with antisemitism and safeguard members, or eradicate the party’s culture of antisemitism denial and victim-blaming.

The report also places the party’s crisis in four larger contexts, which make the crisis much harder to resolve than has been assumed: the history of left antisemitism and the current fashion for dressing up that antisemitism as ‘anti-Zionism’; the increasing sway of a crude ‘two camps’ world-view; the sharp increase in far-Left influence over the party; and the political record of indulging antisemitic forms of anti-Zionism on the part of the leader, Jeremy Corbyn and some of his key advisors and supporters.”

 

Bolstering and airbrushing BDS on BBC WS ‘Business Matters’ – part two

Following a long and misleading introduction (discussed in part one of this post, from 01:06 here), the presenter of the June 2nd edition of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Business Matters’, Roger Hearing, got to his interview with the BDS campaign leader Omar Barghouti – introduced as follows:Business Matters 2 6

“Well, the man behind it all – strangely enough – lives in Israel in the northern city of Acre [Acco]. Omar Barghouti was born in Qatar but comes from a Palestinian family. He’s now under a kind of travel ban. He is a permanent resident of Israel but Israel has refused to give him a travel permit and says his residency rights are being reconsidered, as he told me when I spoke to him in Acre.”

Barghouti: “Israel has effectively banned any travel for me. As of the end of April they rejected a request to renew my travel document without which I cannot leave or re-enter the country.”

Barghouti’s residency in Israel is by virtue of his marriage to an Israeli citizen and he carries a Jordanian passport. Due to his anti-Israel activities, his residency status is indeed currently under review by the Ministry of the Interior.

Hearing went on:

“Well let’s look at the whole BDS campaign itself because clearly it has caused a lot of controversy. It stands for boycott, divestment and sanctions. A lot of people say it’s also a way, really, of…well, some people see it as antisemitic, frankly. They see it as…because it’s directed against the Jewish state, almost inevitably it must be characterised as an antisemitic campaign.”

Hearing failed to clarify to listeners that the BDS campaign is viewed as antisemitic because it singles out the Jewish state alone and because it negates the right of Jews to self-determination. Listeners were hence ill-equipped to put Barghouti’s jargon laden responses into their appropriate context.

“Absolutely not. BDS is an inclusive movement for human rights. It rejects all forms of racism including antisemitism. It’s the same…the smear sounds as if you say the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa was anti-white. Absolutely not: it was anti-apartheid. The fact that Israel claims a certain identity is irrelevant. Whether Israel claims to be an Islamic state, Christian state, Jewish state or any other state – it doesn’t matter. As long as it has a regime of occupation, settler colonialism and apartheid, we’ll continue to resist it, to gain our rights under international law. And we chose this non-violent, yet very effective, movement of BDS that is inspired by the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa and by the civil rights movement in the United States.”

Failing to challenge Barghouti’s false allegations of “settler colonialism” and “apartheid” or to provide any of the context necessary for listeners to understand what brought about “occupation”, Hearing went on:

“Well, let me give you one potential difference, ah…Mr Barghouti. The anti-apartheid campaign was very much to change the nature of the government of South Africa but it wasn’t to end the existence of South Africa. Many people say what you’re trying to do is to end the existence of the State of Israel. Do you believe the State of Israel should exist or not?”

Barghouti used that opportunity to further promote the inaccurate apartheid analogy:

 “Well, ending the existence of a regime of oppression as they did in South Africa – they ended the existence of a regime of oppression, of apartheid – that’s exactly what BDS aims to end.”

Hearing continued:

“Do you aim to end the existence of the State of Israel? It’s a very simple question. Because Israel is a member of the United Nations. It’s an internationally recognised state.”

Barghouti was again allowed to side-step the issue.

“We aim to end the system of oppression. We don’t aim to end the existence of anyone or anything…”

Hearing: “Including the State of Israel?”

Barghouti: “We…we are aiming to end the existence of this regime of apartheid and occupation – as apartheid was ended, as the Jim Crow south was ended in the United States.”

Hearing: “By which you mean the occupation of the West Bank?”

Barghouti: “The occupied occupation; because BDS is anchored in international law we adopt the international law definitions. So when we say occupied territories we’re referring to the 1967 occupied territories – that is Gaza, the West Bank including East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.”

Hearing’s failure to bring into the discussion the BDS campaign’s stance concerning the ‘right of return’ of Palestinian refugees to Israel (recently described by Barghouti as the “most important” of its demands) – and the intentions and consequences of such a proposal – means that audiences were left with nothing more than Barghouti’s deliberately misleading PR spin. Hearing then changed the subject:

“Let’s talk about BDS itself. What is the mechanism of this? What do you want people involved in the campaign to do? Not buy any Israeli goods at all?”

The conversation closed with more propaganda jargon from Barghouti:

“BDS aims at isolating Israel’s regime of oppression – as South African apartheid was isolated – in the academic, cultural, economic – as well as military – spheres. So ultimately we want a full boycott, full divestment and full sanctions. However, BDS is a global inclusive movement. It’s a decentralised movement. It is led by the largest coalition in Palestinian society but it’s decentralised so we believe in the principle of context sensitivity which means activists in any country, in any specific context, decide what works best in their context. Many partners decide to boycott just settlement products. Others go for a full boycott.”

Notably, Hearing did not question Barghouti on the topic of BDS’s impact on Palestinians working for Israeli companies or on its stance of opposition to ‘normalisation’. His failure to make any meaningful challenge to Barghouti’s PR messaging means that audiences not only went away without any real understanding of what the BDS movement aims to bring about, but were actually left with an impression which contradicts the facts. Those aims – and insight into what Omar Barghouti really means when he says “apartheid” – were amply evident in an interview he gave a few weeks before this one.

“BARGHOUTI: In fact, most partners and supporters of BDS completely support the three planks in our BDS call of 2005, which is ending the occupation, ending the racial discrimination in Israel and the system of apartheid and right of return. So we’re not aware of partners who do not support the right of return as a basic UN stipulated right.

All refugees, be they Jewish refugees from World War II to refugees from Kosovo, have that right. This is in international law and Palestinians should not be excluded. It’s quite racist to say that the return of Palestinian refugees would end Israeli apartheid and that’s bad because? What is so wrong about refugees having the right to return home? If that disturbs an apartheid system that’s premised on being exclusionary and racist and that does not want to see people gain their rights, what’s the argument there?” [emphasis added]

Yes – Omar Barghouti thinks that Jewish self-determination in the one and only Jewish state in the world is “apartheid”. His disingenuous reply to Hearing that “we don’t aim to end the existence of anyone or anything…” conceals the fact that the crux of the BDS campaign’s aims is to replace the Jewish state with one in which Jews are a minority.

Roger Hearing missed – or passed up on – the opportunity to ensure that BBC audiences went away from this interview with an understanding of that lynchpin fact. In his subsequent conversation with a representative from the Israeli embassy in London he did however take great care to ensure that listeners were left with one particular impression.

“Would they [BDS] be right to boycott what comes out of illegal Israeli settlements on the West Bank?”

“Well it’s illegal…in international law it’s illegal to have the settlement there, isn’t it?”

“If I’m looking as a business and I say I’m going to boycott something that is coming from a place that is deemed illegal in international law, that’s hardly unreasonable, is it?”

Yet again we have here an additional example of how the BBC has of late abandoned its formerly used mantra on ‘settlements’ and ‘international law’ in favour of messaging which fails even more to meet its commitments to impartial reporting.

Related Articles:

Why BDS is antisemitic – David Hirsh (Engage)

BDS, Academic/Cultural Boycott of Israel, and Omar Barghouti (CAMERA)

Bolstering and airbrushing BDS on BBC WS ‘Business Matters’ – part one

We have noted many times before on these pages that whilst the BBC often provides a platform for proponents of BDS – Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions – against Israel (and no less frequently some of its own journalists can also be found amplifying and mainstreaming that campaign), the corporation consistently fails to provide its audiences with the full facts about the aims and motivations of BDS.

Hence, when the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Business Matters’ got the BDS campaign’s high priest Omar Barghouti on the line for an interview on June 2nd, one might have thought that presenter Roger Hearing would have made the most of that opportunity to finally enhance BBC audiences’ understanding of what that campaign is really all about.Business Matters 2 6

Hearing’s introduction to the item (from 01:06 here) focused on an event which had taken place in New York a couple of days previously.

“Now the session inside the United Nations General Assembly hall on Tuesday was loud and passionate but it wasn’t diplomats. More than a thousand Jewish students plus representation of businesses and academics; all there at a rally organized by Israel to explore ways of combatting what’s become a major threat to the Jewish state – something called BDS. It stands for boycott, disinvestment [sic] and sanctions and it’s an international campaign that targets universities and businesses with links to Israel. Danny Danon, Israel’s UN representative, didn’t hold back on how big a threat he thinks BDS is.”

Recording of Danon: “This is a movement that incites against the Jewish state, a movement whose leaders openly call for the elimination of Israel. BDS is not about helping Palestinians or bringing peace. Their only goal is to bring an end to the Jewish state. This is a reality and we won’t be afraid to say it out loud, everywhere. BDS is the true face of modern antisemitism.”

Hearing continued with some examples of BDS’ supposed success:

“And the threat is clear. It’s already cost Israel millions of dollars. The mobile company Orange cut off relations with its local provider in Israel last year which many attributed to BDS pressure.”

In fact Orange’s parting of ways with its former brand licensee Partner Communications cost it – rather than “Israel”, as claimed by Hearing – millions of dollars.

“Orange’s Israeli brand licensee Partner Communications will cease to use the Orange name within 24 months, the two sides announced Tuesday [June 2015]. Partner had previously been expected to use the Orange name until 2025.

The new agreement stipulates that Orange will pay up to €90 million to Partner, a sizeable chunk of which will be used to help Partner rebrand itself in the wake of Orange’s departure.”

Orange’s CEO (who of course is likely better informed than the “many” cited by Hearing) dismissed claims that BDS had influenced his company’s strategy and Orange continues to have business interests in Israel.

Hearing continued:

“Veolia – a French energy services and transportation company which built the Jerusalem light railway – said it was stepping back from the Israeli marketplace after some banks and investors put pressure on them.”

Veolia actually said nothing of the sort.

“…groups supporting the Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement claimed that the transportation firm Veolia’s parent company, Transdev, sold their bus operations in Israel as a result of BDS pressure. While it is true that Transdev sold their stake, the sale is merely part of a global strategy of consolidation that is spelled out quite clearly on their website. It was not due to any other factors, and certainly not because of the use of BDS tactics.

In fact, Transdev’s Group Communication Director, Bruno Negro, came forth to publicly confirm this fact stating, in an email to IAN, “In August of 2013, Transdev sold its entire bus operation in Israel to an Israeli bus company. The sale is final and has been approved by the Israeli Transportation Ministry. The sale was in the works for some time as part of Transdev’s global strategy to consolidate operations, decrease debt, and fund further growth in the U.S. and other selected countries. It was not due to any additional factors, political or otherwise.””

Hearing went on with his list of BDS ‘victories’:

“SodaStream pulled its factories out of the West Bank after a boycott campaign.”

The CEO of SodaStream was among those attending the UNGA event described by Hearing in his introduction and – as has been the case in the past – he told a different story.

“Among them was SodaStream CEO Daniel Birnbaum, whose West Bank factory in Maale Adumim, which employed Palestinians alongside Israelis, long was a target of the BDS movement. When SodaStream shuttered the factory in 2013 to consolidate its operations at a larger, newly constructed facility in the Israeli city of Beersheba, the move was falsely cited as a victory for the BDS movement. In fact, it was to accommodate the company’s rapid growth, Birnbaum said.”

Ironically, on the same day that Roger Hearing tried to persuade his listeners that BDS is having financial and commercial effects upon Israel using those three fallacious examples, it was revealed that foreign investment in Israel has risen three-fold since the BDS campaign began.

Hearing then went on to conduct his interview with Omar Barghouti. Did listeners get a clear and factual picture of the BDS campaign’s end game? That question will be examined in part two of this post.