BBC News claims BDS is solely about ‘a cultural boycott’

On May 17th the BBC News website published a report concerning the passing of a motion in the German parliament denouncing the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions campaign against Israel as antisemitic.

The BBC’s take on the story was titled “Germany labels Israel boycott movement BDS anti-Semitic” and was it was illustrated using a photograph captioned “Protesters call for a boycott of the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest in the Israeli city of Tel Aviv” rather than with an image of, say, the German parliament.

The article opened by materially misleading readers with regard to the BDS campaign’s aims and tactics. [emphasis added]

“Germany’s parliament has condemned as anti-Semitic a movement calling for a cultural boycott of Israel over its policies towards Palestinians.”

The BDS campaign does not call for a cultural boycott of Israel alone: it also promotes consumer and trade boycotts, sporting boycotts and academic boycotts. In addition it campaigns for ‘divestment’: the withdrawal of investments in Israel by banks, pension funds, and other large investors or from companies operating in Israel. The campaign also calls for sanctions: punitive actions by governments and international organisations, including trade penalties or bans, arms embargoes, and cutting off diplomatic relations.

With readers having been wrongly told that the BDS campaign is only about a cultural boycott, it is unclear how they were to be expected to understand the following statement found in the BBC’s report:

“”The ‘don’t buy’ stickers of the BDS movement on Israeli products [could be associated] with the Nazi call ‘don’t buy from Jews’, and other corresponding graffiti on facades and shop windows,” the non-binding resolution said.”

While 142 of the 329 words used in this report described the German parliament’s decision,  seventy-four words related to the topic of the Eurovision Song Contest, thereby reinforcing the inaccurate impression that the BDS campaign is all about ‘cultural boycott’.

“It comes after the group [the BDS campaign] called for artists to boycott the Eurovision Song Contest held in Tel Aviv this week.

Ahead of this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, the BDS movement called on artists and broadcasters to distance themselves from the event, which they said was being used to “distract attention from [Israel’s] war crimes”.

Madonna was among those facing calls to boycott the contest, but she confirmed on Thursday that she would be performing.”

At the bottom of the article readers found a link to one of the many recent BBC reports concerning the Eurovision Song Contest in which the BDS campaign has been given context-free amplification.

Readers also found 62 words (and a link) of unquestioning amplification of the BDS campaign’s response to the German decision.

“The BDS movement described the decision as “a betrayal of international law”. […]

Condemning the move, the BDS group said the “unconstitutional resolution” was anti-Palestinian and unhelpful in the fight against “real anti-Jewish racism”.

“BDS targets complicity not identity. The academic and cultural boycott of Israel is strictly institutional and does not target individual Israelis,” the movement said in a statement posted online.”

BBC audiences were also told that:

“Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has previously said that the BDS movement opposes his nation’s very existence, welcomed the “important” decision in a statement posted on Twitter.

“I hope that this decision will bring about concrete steps and I call upon other countries to adopt similar legislation,” the statement said.”

There is of course nothing new about the BBC framing the BDS campaign’s ‘one-state’ opposition to the existence of the only Jewish state in the world as a claim that is made solely by Israeli government officials.

The meaning of the BDS campaign’s stance concerning the ‘right of return’ of Palestinian refugees to Israel – described by campaign leader Omar Barghouti as the “most important” of its demands – has never been adequately clarified to BBC audiences and neither has the fact that the campaign is viewed as antisemitic because it singles out the Jewish state alone and because it negates the right of Jews to self-determination.

Instead of BBC audiences being provided with information which would help them understand the full background to this story, readers of this report were fed uncritical amplification of the cynical BDS campaign lie that it is concerned about “real anti-Jewish racism”.

Related Articles:

Why BDS is antisemitic – David Hirsh (Engage)

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

 

BBC’s BDS campaign reporting failures continue

On September 1st the BBC News website published an article titled “Lana Del Rey: Singer postpones Israel performance after backlash” on its ‘Entertainment & Arts’ and ‘Middle East’ pages.

Readers were told that:

“The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (Pacbi) welcomed her decision to cancel next week’s headline performance.

“Thank you for your principled decision,” the group said in a statement. It had earlier urged the singer to “reconsider”.

Pacbi is part of the Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions (BDS) movement, which campaigns for a complete boycott of Israel over its policies towards the Palestinians.

Israel says that BDS opposes Israel’s very existence and is motivated by anti-Semitism.” [emphasis added]

So is it really the case that just “Israel says” that the BDS campaign “opposes Israel’s very existence”, as the BBC would have its audiences believe?

As the BBC well knows – having interviewed him two years ago – the co-founder of PACBI (or as the BBC described him: “the man behind it all”) is Omar Barghouti.

“Barghouti does not merely call for sanctions against supposed racist policies; his professed goal in calling for boycott, like that of other BDS supporters, is to permanently end Jewish autonomy in the region. He advocates for a Palestinian state to replace a Jewish one within all of historic Palestine.”

Over the years Barghouti has repeatedly expressed his opposition to Jewish self-determination and the existence of the State of Israel.

“According to Barghouti, the BDS movement focuses upon the three goals that enjoy the support of virtually all Palestinians, namely ending the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, ending discrimination against Palestinians within Israel proper, and implementing the right of return for up to eight million Palestinian refugees. However, Barghouti has acknowledged in public that implementing the “right of return” would mean the end of Israel as a Jewish state, thus establishing (superfluously) one Palestinian state alongside another Palestinian state. Hence, the logic of the BDS movement with its three demands points toward the one-state solution.”

The same ideology has been expressed by numerous other leaders of the BDS campaign.

The BBC, however, refrains from telling its audiences what the people behind that campaign declare to be their ‘end game’ and instead frames their ideology as merely something that “Israel says” exists.

Concurrently, the BBC avoids explaining to its audiences why – along with others – “Israel says” that the BDS campaign’s aim to eradicate the one state in the world where Jews practice self-determination is antisemitic and readers are not told that “Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination” is included in the IHRA definition of antisemitism.

We have noted many times before on these pages that while the BBC often provides a platform for proponents of BDS against Israel (and some of its own journalists have been found amplifying and mainstreaming that campaign), the corporation consistently fails to provide its audiences with the full facts about the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign (BDS) and makes no effort to inform its audiences in its own words that what it ultimately seeks to achieve is the end of Israel as the Jewish state.  Moreover, in August 2015, we learned that the BBC considers the provision of such crucial background information “not our role“.

As we see in this article that editorial policy continues and that “Israel says” line (previously employed earlier this year) does not – as the BBC apparently believes – mean that the story has been reported accurately and impartially.

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 two

Reviewing BBC reporting on the BDS campaign in 2017

 

 

 

 

 

BBC again mainstreams ‘one-state’ without an explanation

In late March the BBC announced a ‘global season’ called ‘Crossing Divides’ commencing on April 23rd.

“In the week of 23 April, BBC News is presenting a global season looking at the ways in which people connect across the fractures that divide societies – fractures between people who believe in different politics, religion or of different races, classes or ages.” 

And:

“From 23 April the BBC uncovers more than 40 stories of how people across the globe are working together to find solutions in a polarised world.

The week-long season on radio, TV and online features encounters between people who have different political beliefs, faiths or are of different races, classes and generations.”

Five days prior to that stated launch date, on the day that Israelis were celebrating 70 years of independence, the BBC News website posted a filmed report by Richard Kenny for a BBC programme called ‘World Hacks’ which is described as “An innovative new weekly programme looking at how we can solve the world’s problems”.

Titled “The peace talks with a difference“, the film is described as being about “How one man is getting ordinary Palestinians and Israelis to talk peace with each other”.

“There’s a new set of peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians. But no politicians. Just ordinary citizens. […] The Israel Palestinian conflict shows no sign of ending and the two governments aren’t talking to each other. So one Israeli academic has taken the initiative.”

BBC audiences are not told that the organisation showcased in this report – ‘Minds of Peace’ – was set up over seven years ago and that even when “the two governments” were engaged in negotiations in January 2014, its activities were strongly opposed by some Palestinian factions.

“Israeli peace activists who arrived in Ramallah recently were forced to leave the city under Palestinian Authority [PA] police protection.

The activists were escorted out of Ramallah in police vans after Palestinian protesters attacked the hotel where a “peace conference” between Israelis and Palestinians was taking place.

The event in Ramallah was organized by Minds of Peace, a not-for-profit organization whose mission is “Grassroots Peace Making and Public Diplomacy: A novel approach to the peaceful resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.”

Although the event in Ramallah was supposed to last for two days, during which Israelis and Palestinians would talk about peace and coexistence, as soon as the conference began at City Inn Hotel in Ramallah, scores of Palestinian activists arrived at the scene, chanting slogans against the presence of Israelis in Ramallah. […]

The protest finally forced the organizers of the conference to call it off, with the Israelis quickly leaving Ramallah out of concern for their safety.

“The situation outside is very tense and we have to stop here,” Ibrahim Enbawai, one of the Palestinian participants in the conference declared after a brief chat with the police commander. “There are hundreds of people outside and the police have asked that we stop the event.”

The following day, January 9, the Israeli and Palestinian activists tried to meet at the Ambassador Hotel in Jerusalem. But here, too, they were confronted by dozens of Palestinian “anti-normalization” activists who forced the Israelis and Palestinians to leave the hotel in a humiliating manner.”

Viewers did however see context-free and inaccurate statements made by participants in the filmed meeting (which, incidentally, took place on March 9th and was advertised with promotion of the BBC’s coverage) highlighted in the BBC’s report.

“Before that we lived together in peace. But the occupation is a big reason for this thing.”

“The environment in the checkpoints is inciting a lot of violence.”

The BBC’s film mainstreamed the notion that the one-state ‘solution’ is one legitimate option for resolution of the conflict:

“They try to cover all issues such as should there be a one-state or a two-state solution.”

Apparently the BBC is comfortable with the idea that “working together to find solutions in a polarised world” can include mainstreaming the one-state ‘solution’ – but without bothering to inform audiences (once again) that such a ‘solution’ in fact means eradication of the Jewish state and elimination of the Jewish right to self-determination.

Related Articles:

BBC R4, WS mark Israeli independence with ‘nakba’ and ‘one-state’

BBC News promotes ‘one-state’ stepping stone and political messaging

Yolande Knell ties one-state banner to BBC mast

BBC’s Yolande Knell back on the ‘one state’ bandwagon

One-staters get BBC WS platform for promotion of BDS, ‘resistance’ and ‘apartheid’ trope

BBC R4, WS mark Israeli independence with ‘nakba’ and ‘one-state’

h/t AS, RS

The April 19th edition of BBC Radio 4’s ‘World at One’ – presented by Sarah Montague – included an item (from 33:34 here) that used Israel’s 70th Independence Day celebrations as a hook on which to hang the promotion of a political narrative and a campaign.

Montague began by inaccurately claiming that the day of the broadcast was the day upon which Israel was founded according to the Hebrew calendar. In fact, the date of Israel’s Declaration of Independence is the 5th of Iyar, which this year fell on Friday, April 20th.

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

Montague: “In the Hebrew calendar it was 70 years ago today that Israel was first founded. To mark the establishment of the Jewish state there will be 70 hours of celebrations in the country. Going by the Western calendar, the date of independence was May the 14th in 1948 and as in every year since then, Palestinians will mark that same event, which they call ‘al Nakba’ – the day of catastrophe – as a time of mourning and anger. Our correspondent Caroline Wyatt’s been looking back to 1948 and talking to a Palestinian writer and an Israeli Rabbi who both live in the UK about what the creation of Israel means to them today.”

Caroline Wyatt found it appropriate to open her item began with an archive newsreel recording in which the founders of the Jewish state were portrayed as “lawless” and “thugs”. She apparently failed to recognise the irony of a newsreel that described the same British authorities which had actively prevented Jews in both the pre and post-war eras from reaching safety in Mandate Palestine as the representatives of “law and order”.

Archive recording: “Against a background which daily gains resemblance to war-scarred Europe, Palestine is now gripped with almost unrestricted racial warfare. With British influence waning and United Nations actions still delayed, the lawless elements of Jew and Arab populations take over from the servants of a policy of law and order.”

Wyatt: “This was the drama of Palestine as Pathé News headlined its war report in January 1948. It was the year after the newly formed United Nations accepted the idea of partitioning Palestine. One zone for the Jews, to be known as Israel, and the other zone for the Arabs who formed the majority of the population there at the time. It was a plan accepted by the Jewish Agency for Palestine but rejected by Arab leaders, so the fighting continued.”

Archive recording: “In the back streets of Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Jaffa the thugs of both sides build up the armoured cars for war against each other. In between them – victims of the struggle – stand the great majorities of civil people on both sides.”

Wyatt: “The last of the British soldiers that had been there under the British mandate that administered Palestine for a quarter of a century withdrew from the region on May the 14th 1948 – the day before the mandate was due to expire.”

Listeners then heard an archive recording of Ben Gurion preparing to read out the declaration of independence – an event which Wyatt inaccurately claimed took place “at midnight” when in fact it took place at 4 p.m. so as not to run into Shabbat.

Wyatt: “At midnight that same day David Ben Gurion, the chairman of the Jewish Agency for Palestine, declared the State of Israel. For many Jews it was the culmination of over two thousand years of hope – and the beginning of 70 years of struggle of the Palestinian people. Professor Eugene Rogan is the director of St Antony’s College Middle East Centre at Oxford University.”

BBC audiences are of course familiar with the style of commentary on the Middle East advanced by Eugene Rogan but nevertheless his promotion of the falsehood that there had been an entity called the “State of Palestine” before May 14th 1948 is remarkable.

Rogan: “The founding of Israel meant very different things to the different stakeholders in the Middle East. For partisans of the Zionist movement it was the realisation of a generation’s old aspiration: to establish a statehood for the Jewish people. Coming in the aftermath of the Holocaust, it seemed to vindicate the greatest of hopes at a time when the Jewish people had suffered their worst of catastrophes. But of course for the Palestinian Arab people, the creation of the State of Israel came at the expense of their homeland: the State of Palestine as it had been ruled under British mandate since 1920. And so for them, rather than this being a moment of joy or triumph, it was a moment of their catastrophe and they’ve called it that ever since. They refer to it as the Nakba – the Arabic word for catastrophe.”

Listeners next heard from another academic who has also been a BBC contributor in the past and whose resume includes having been an advisor to Yasser Arafat – although that was not clarified.

Khalidi: “I’m Ahmad Samih Khalidi. I come from an ancient Jerusalemite Arab family. I was born and lived in exile. I am a writer and commentator. Currently I’m associated with St Anthony’s College at Oxford. I am myself a product of the Nakba. I was born in 1948 and my whole life of course has been determined by this experience, as has that of all my contemporaries, my family and everyone, really, who I relate to on a daily basis.”

Wyatt: “Ahmad Khalidi has spent much of his adult life involved in trying to help find a peaceful resolution for this one land claimed by two peoples.”

Khalidi: “This was an entity that had taken over my homeland, dispossessed my people, so there was an ongoing struggle and Israel was seen as an aggressive state that had dispossessed the people of Palestine and was bent on expanding its presence in the region. Later as I grew up it became more apparent to me that this was something that I personally had to do something about.”

After an ostensibly ‘neutral’ academic and a Palestinian voice, Wyatt introduced her ‘balance’ – an American-born, UK resident interviewee who has a “complex” relationship with Israel.

Wyatt: “So what about those for whom Israel has been a refuge? In north London I go to a deli – Falafel Feast – to meet an Orthodox Rabbi, Natan Levy, who’s known in the UK for fasting over Ramadan – an attempt to bring about greater understanding between Muslims and Jews. He says his relationship with Israel has long been a complex one.”

Levy: “When I was growing up in America we had family members that had the trauma – not just the history – but the trauma of the Holocaust was really real. My mum had a bag packed for us; each of the children had a bag packed at the front door. Just in case something should go horribly wrong we could grab our bags and our passports and run to Israel, the Holy Land, that was always seen – even before I’d ever been there – as the place of safety. We all have Israeli passports and my oldest daughter was born there.”

Wyatt: “Yet Natan Levy’s attitude towards Israel has changed over time.”

Levy: “So for my yeshiva – the place where I learned to be a Rabbi – was actually in the West Bank. There I guess you would say I was a settler with the ideologies that went along with being a settler. This land is all ours, promised in the Torah – in the Old Testament – and slowly I came to realise; we were on top of the hill and at the bottom of the hill was a Palestinian farm that had also been there for generation upon generation. And bit by bit it seemed like everyone was in a sort of prison. Everyone was kept separate. The fences were too big and eventually we began a bit of conversation with the people at the bottom and their story, like ours, was filled with longing and hope and deep trauma. And the more I spoke to them, the harder it was to justify being on top of the hill and having a fence between us.”

Levy studied at a yeshiva in Gush Etzion – an area in which Jews had purchased land and built communities years before the arrival of the British-backed invading Jordanian army in 1948. Radio 4 listeners were of course not informed of those narrative-spoiling facts and similarly Wyatt did not bother to clarify the role of Palestinian terror in her portrayal of ‘growing fences’.  

Wyatt: “Over the years the fences in Israel have grown, while hopes of a deeper dialogue on peace have withered. Ahmed Khalidi describes himself now as deeply pessimistic about the prospects.”

Khalidi: “The outlines of a two-state solution have slipped away. I think this one-state reality has now taken over. It’s becoming more deeply entrenched. I’m not suggesting that there is some kind of ideal solution out there that will emerge from this one-state reality. In fact one of my concerns is that the one-state reality may end up as a one-state nightmare. But if we don’t have partition and we can’t have a genuine one-state reality in which the two sides can live together, then we’re going to have a state of perpetual conflict.”

The item ended with that unchallenged and unquestioned promotion from ‘one-stater’ Ahmad Khalidi and no clarification was provided to BBC audiences to explain that what the Oxford academic is in fact touting is the demise of the Jewish state.

And not only did BBC Radio 4 find it appropriate to provide a stage for promotion of the campaign to end to Jewish self-determination on the very day that it was being celebrated, but the same item was also broadcast to BBC World Service listeners (from 45:05 here) in the afternoon edition of ‘Newshour’ on the same day.

 

BBC News promotes ‘one-state’ stepping stone and political messaging

Last week marked ten years since elections for the Palestinian Legislative Council were held and the resulting split between Hamas and Fatah began. The BBC did not produce any content relating to that anniversary, the subsequent decade long Palestinian political paralysis and its effects upon an issue much touted on BBC pages and airwaves – the peace process.

Writing at Newsweek, Jonathan Schanzer of the FDD outlines the contemporary significance of that ten year-old event.

“Ten years on, the intra-Palestinian conflict is a glaring blind spot among Western policymakers. The enmity between the two factions challenges longstanding assertions of a unified Palestinian national identity. The Palestinian battle for primacy also injects new complexities into the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The conflict, in fact, is now a three-way tug-of-war between Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza, where any one move can impact the delicate balance between the three.

After a decade of failed reconciliation efforts and a collapsed unity government in 2015, the intra-Palestinian conflict now appears intractable. The Gaza Strip remains firmly in the hands of Hamas, while the Fatah faction clings to the West Bank with the help of Israeli security and intelligence. There are two separate Palestinian governments with their own bureaucracies, two sets of cadres of political elites, two distinct economies, and increasingly two different cultures.

Nevertheless, Washington continues to call for a single Palestinian state. It’s a call that echoes across most Western capitals, too. The overriding assumption is that deft diplomacy coupled with Israeli territorial concessions could pave the way for the Palestinian Authority, unpopular and corrupt as it may be, to regain the moral and military high ground from Hamas and somehow bring the Gaza Strip back under its jurisdiction. These plans remain vague, to say the least. […]

The near collapse of the post-colonial system since the Arab Spring has challenged almost all of our assumptions on how to bring order to the chaos of the Middle East. Yet, the perceived need to create a single Palestinian state spanning the West Bank and Gaza has endured. Ten years on, the Palestinians are still divided—both ideologically and territorially. It may be time to acknowledge that if they can’t peacefully resolve their own territorial conflict, they certainly are not likely to resolve the one with Israel.”

What the BBC did see fit to publish last week, however, was an article titled “Israel-Palestinian conflict: Is one homeland the solution?” which was promoted in the ‘features’ section of its website’s Middle East page for four consecutive days.Thrope article

“As support for a two-state solution to their conflict declines among Israelis and Palestinians, a different approach to finding a peaceful settlement is being proposed.

Called “Two States – One Homeland”, the group, led by Israeli journalist Meron Rapoport and Palestinian politician Awni Almashni, is advocating the creation of an Israeli-Palestinian confederation.

They say that their plan, now picking up public and official backing, can solve the difficult issues – Israeli settlements, the right of return for Palestinian refugees, and the fate of Jerusalem – that have scuttled past negotiations.”

The article’s over-enthusiastic portrayal of the supposed popularity of a scheme few in the region will have heard of includes only minimal coverage of opposition from “the Palestinian street” whilst totally ignoring the Hamas elephant in the room.

“The group has also encountered opposition. Its inaugural public conference last June was moved from the Palestinian city of Beit Jala to nearby Jerusalem after Palestinian supporters of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement threatened to disrupt the gathering.”

The article also fails to clarify to readers that – at least according to an article written by Mr Almashni – the plan is merely a stepping stone on the route to something other than “two states”.

“A quick glance at these ideas shows that they meet all the demands of anyone who believes in the two-state solution – taking into account that the two states are fully independent and sovereign, and within in the 1967 borders. Nevertheless, maintaining freedom of crossing, movement, and residence – that is, an open border between the two states – leaves the door ajar for a single future [binational] state, once the trust and the relationship [between the two peoples] have developed.” […]

“Ultimately, this solution reflects the desire of all who support the traditional two-state solution – it includes all the principles of the two states, as well as the actualization of the right of return. It [also] constitutes a giant step towards a single state, if the two peoples want to reach it – because it strengthens what they share, and thus opens the way to this direction.” [emphasis added]

Not content with failing to present its subject matter accurately, the writer of the article, Samuel Thrope, also misrepresents other related subjects.

“The settlements are considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this. UN General Assembly resolutions, meanwhile, endorse a Palestinian right of return.”

Regular consumers of BBC content are of course used to seeing the BBC frequently fail to meet its own editorial guidelines on impartiality by refraining from informing them of the existence of legal opinions which contradict its own adopted political stance on “the settlements”.

Now we see a new addition to the BBC’s repertoire of politically partisan messaging; promotion of the inaccurate claim that “a Palestinian right of return” is endorsed by the 1948 UN GA resolution 194 – which was opposed by Arab states at the time and in fact includes one clause pertaining to refugees in general but does not include the word “Palestinian” or guarantee an unconditional ‘right of return’.

As long as BBC reports continue to include unqualified promotion of Palestinian talking points, the corporation should not of course be surprised that its impartiality is so frequently called into question.  

Related Articles:

Yolande Knell ties one-state banner to BBC mast

BBC’s Yolande Knell back on the ‘one state’ bandwagon

One-staters get BBC WS platform for promotion of BDS, ‘resistance’ and ‘apartheid’ trope

As readers who have followed our discussion of the BBC’s coverage of the recent Israeli election will be aware, much of the material produced stubbornly focused audience attentions on a topic which was low down on voters’ lists of priorities: the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. A significant number of the BBC’s reports included commentary on an interview given by the Israeli prime minister to NRG on March 16th in which he said:

“I think that anyone today going to set up a Palestinian state – anyone going to evacuate territory – is simply giving extremist Islam territory for attacks against the State of Israel. That’s the reality which has emerged here in the recent years. Whoever does not understand that is simply putting…burying his head in the sand. The Left does that – it buries its head in the sand time after time.” 

When then asked by the interviewer if it was correct to say that “…if you are prime minister a Palestinian state will not be established”, Netanyahu replied “indeed”.

In the March 19th evening edition of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newshour’ (available here from thirty seconds in), presenter James Coomarasamy turned that one word into an ‘election pledge’.Newshour 19 3

Coomarasamy: “…we begin with the continuing fall-out from the Israeli election. On the domestic front the political landscape is unchanged: Binyamin Netanyahu has been reelected to a fourth term. But on the international level it’s becoming increasingly apparent that some of the pledges he made to secure that victory could have serious consequences. In particular, his suggestion that on his watch there wouldn’t be a Palestinian state has further widened the gap between him and the White House. Mr Netanyahu appeared to soften his line today, telling the American television channel MSNBC that he remains committed to Palestinian statehood – or what he called a sustainable, peaceful two state solution – provided conditions in the region improve. Well, the White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters that any change in Israeli policy towards a two state solution would mean that America would have to reevaluate its position.”

After hearing a recording of Earnest’s comments, listeners heard two speakers – introduced as follows:

JC: “But first – to discuss the options for Palestinians – I’ve been speaking to Yousef Munayyer, the executive director of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation. He’s a Palestinian citizen of Israel and holds both US and Israeli nationality. I’ve also been speaking to Mustafa Barghouti, the runner-up in the last Palestinian presidential election: was he expecting a change of approach from America?”

Notably, Coomarasamy refrained from informing listeners that the election to which he referred took place in 2005, with no election having been held since and the winner’s four-year term of office having expired six years ago. In breach of editorial guidelines on impartiality, Coomarasamy also made no effort to ‘summarise the standpoint’ of either of his interviewees or to clarify the political ideologies of the organisations with which they are involved. Worse still was Coomarasamy’s failure to challenge Barghouti’s advancement of the ‘apartheid’ trope.

Mustafa Barghouti: “I hope so, but we still have to see. It’s not enough what they said. What we need is actions and not just talks. In reality Netanyahu is trying to deceive everybody. What matters is not only what he says although he said very clearly that he is not going to allow a two state solution and all his statements were racist and practically he officially declared Israel as an apartheid state – a segregation state. Nevertheless…”

JC: “Well yeah…but he did …he said today though…he said he was committed to a two state solution provided the conditions allow it. So he has softened his stance…”

MB: “No, no, no; he is deceiving you. He’s deceiving you, deceiving the world media and deceiving everybody and that’s why I said what matters is what he does and what he does on the ground is settlement activities at a rate that is unprecedented. The settlement activities are destroying the possibility of a Palestinian state. In reality he is conducting a campaign to end the possibility of two state solution and he’s said it to win votes.”

This of course would have been the appropriate juncture for Coomarasamy to clarify to listeners that Barghouti’s claim that “settlement activities” have been “unprecedented” under the governments headed by Netanyahu are inaccurate, but he failed to correct that deliberately misleading impression.

JC: “So what’s…what should the Palestinian reaction be? What calculations are you making at the moment?”

MB: “Well first of all let me say what the United States should say – should do – as you have asked about that. I think the United States and European countries – if they are really committed to Palestinian statehood and to two state solution – they should immediately recognize the Palestinian state. They should send a very clear message to Israel that they are establishing a de facto political fact as to encounter his facts on the ground as well.”

Coomarasamy then brought in Yousef Munnayer – notably without any attempt to clarify the all-important question of the level of commitment of the assorted Palestinian factions to the two state solution.

“YM: “Well…err…I think that it’s very clear where Benjamin Netanyahu stands. Anyone who has followed the career of Benjamin Netanyahu – not just in recent years, but as he came up through the right-wing Likud party – knows exactly where his ideas lie. He is not interested in ever seeing a Palestinian state. For many years the charter of the Likud party which he leads explicitly stated that their position was to flatly reject the existence of a Palestinian state west of the Jordan River, so obviously ruling out a Palestinian state anywhere in the West Bank and Gaza. So nobody should be fooled by anything that Benjamin Netanyahu says. But I think frankly we should not put any credence into the rhetoric of a person who so agilely changes their position on matters of principle in three days.”

Coomarasamy neglected to point out to listeners that the Likud’s updated charter no longer includes such a position whilst at the same time failing to quiz Munayyer on the topic of the Hamas charter – which rejects the existence of Israel outright – and the Palestinian Authority’s continual rejection of Israel’s right to exist. In other words, his failure to ensure the introduction of that essential context – along with the failure to note the repeated rejection of a negotiated solution by the Palestinians – meant that Coomarasamy’s listeners were led to believe that the two state solution is rejected by Israel but embraced by the Palestinians.

JC: “Yes, so what then should the Palestinian position be?”

YM: “I think the Palestinian approach should be to continue to reach out to the international community to raise pressure on Israel. The power dynamics are such that the Palestinians cannot do this by themselves.”

JC: “Well it sounds as though America might be prepared to do that. What did you make of the comments from the White House today?”

YM: “Well I think the White House is now in a very, very difficult position. They have supported Israel unwaveringly for many, many years and the leader of Israel who was just elected with a fairly significant mandate to form a right-wing government spat in the face of established US policy for many years. So this is not something that they can let go quietly; they have to do something. The question is what is it that they are going to do? They’re gonna be exploring their options. I would love to see the United States take a very strong stance right at this moment: break the taboo of support for Israel and say that they are going to be changing their policy until Israel’s behavior matches international law.”

Coomarasamy then steered the conversation to the direction of promotion of the one state ‘solution’.

JC: “But what about the Palestinians? You say that you believe there has never been a realistic chance of Israel supporting a two state solution – what should Palestinians be doing then? Should they be campaigning for equal rights within Israel?”

MB: “I would like to respond to this. First of all I think if Israel kills the two states option of course the only alternative would be one state solution with full democratic rights. But what people should understand; this would be a long journey and a struggle against the system of apartheid that Netanyahu has created. And that means that we need not only Palestinian popular resistance on the ground but also boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel in the very same manner that was used against the system of apartheid in South Africa at one point in time.”

Coomarasamy made no attempt to relieve his listeners of the erroneous impression that Israel can be legitimately compared to apartheid South Africa or to clarify to them the end game of the BDS movement: the eradication of the Jewish state.

JC: “Popular resistance: do you think this makes war more likely?”

MB: “Yes. Popular resistance – popular non-violent resistance – this is what we are calling for and I think this is the least we can do in front of a government that will include Mr Liberman who speaks about beheading Palestinians and who is speaking about executing the Palestinian prisoners.”

Coomarasamy failed to put those comments into context by explaining to audiences that Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu party proposed the death penalty for terrorists during its recent election campaign.

JC: “Right. Yousef Munayyer – what are your thoughts then about whether or not Palestinians should simply be campaigning for equal rights within Israel if you don’t think the two state solution is viable?”

YM: “Well I think frankly – and this is where I perhaps…I may disagree a little bit with Dr Barghouti – is that neither outcome is a short journey. Both of these are going to be significant struggles but we really do not have an alternative. The status quo is not something that is morally acceptable as we all know. And I think there will be robust support for a Palestinian civil rights movement should the leadership chose to go in that direction. If you look at American public opinion for example, if you ask Americans what they prefer be the outcome should a two state solution fail to be achievable, as I think is fairly demonstrable at this point, the vast majority say they want to see a single democratic state because these are values that resonate with Americans which have had their own visceral experience with the civil rights struggle in the United States and I think as Israel moves further into the open as an apartheid state, that clash with US values will become more apparent.”

Of course Coomarasamy refrained from reminding his listeners – and his interviewee – that the leaders of the civil rights movement in the United States never negated the rights of others to live there, never negated that country’s existence and certainly did not engage in an organised campaign of (partly foreign funded) violent indiscriminate terrorism against its population.

Regrettably, it is not rare to see context-free promotion of the ‘apartheid’ trope in BBC content. Neither is it unusual to see promotion of the anti-peace BDS campaign without any information being provided to audiences regarding that movement’s real aims. In addition to its mainstreaming of those forms of delegitimisation of Israel, we see in this programme the provision of a sympathetic BBC platform for the promotion of the one state ‘solution’ campaign to bring about the dismantling of the world’s only Jewish state and an end to the right of Jews to self-determination.

Yet again the BBC makes a mockery of its own supposed ‘impartiality’.

Related Articles:

How to Complain to the BBC

Tips on using the BBC Complaints Procedure