BBC World Service radio’s OS promotes narrative over fact

h/t ED

The August 28th edition of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘BBC OS’ closed with an item (from 48:15 here) promoting the filmed report about teenage Palestinian detainees published on the BBC News website on the same day which was discussed in an earlier post.

[emphasis in italics in the original]

Luke Jones: “Now one of the most watched videos on the BBC News website today focuses on Palestinian children who have been incarcerated in jails in Israel. Megha Mohan, the BBC’s Gender & Identity reporter made the video, met some of the families of these children. She’s joined us at our desk here in the newsroom. When did you first come across this as a thing that was happening?”

Mohan stated that it was not her idea but that of Yousef Eldin – the video’s producer – claiming that:

Mohan: “…the news peg for it was a couple of months ago when the Israeli Supreme Court denied a petition to allow Palestinian children in incarceration to have phone calls with their parents.”

The Supreme Court did not ‘deny’ that petition from the political NGO HaMoked: it refused to discuss it because it had not been first submitted by an individual prisoner to a District Court.

After Mohan had claimed that the “conversation” had been “bubbling around” since the year 2000, Jones asked:

Jones: “And why are these children incarcerated in the first place?”

If listeners thought they were going to be given information about terror attacks and assaults on security personnel carried out by Palestinian minors, they would be disappointed.

Mohan: “So this is when you get into technical international law. So the West Bank as we call it is occupied territory which means there’s a…it’s the only place in the world where there’s a dedicated juvenile military court system that Israel says they have to impose because they are the occupiers. So it has to…so if it’s Palestinian children they have to put them through a military court procedure. However if it’s Israeli children they go through civilian procedure. However, the process that we found when we were out in the West Bank for these children being arrested – and when we say children we mean by international law so that’s under 18s: Generation Z – when they are being arrested, a number of the clauses from the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child – which is a legally binding human rights document that Israel is signatory to – a number of those clauses were failed. So things like being allowed to have translators, being allowed to have legal representation. A lot of the children we interviewed told us that wasn’t the case.”

Jones: “You did the video, which lots of people are watching online. You also did a radio piece as well. Let’s listen to a bit of that.”

Listeners then heard a clip presented by Mohan as follows:

“Malah is now 16 years old. At 14 she was arrested at a checkpoint for an alleged knife attack on Israeli soldiers.”

The teenager was described as having spent “8 months in detention” and audiences heard her account of how she refused to sign a document allegedly written in Hebrew before saying:

“…and I said no, I haven’t done anything.”

As we noted earlier, apparently the BBC thinks it legitimate to portray travelling to a checkpoint with a knife and failing to stop when told to do so by police officers as “haven’t done anything”.

Mohan went on to claim that “what we wanted to do…was to just really stick to the legal aspect of this…” and that the ‘children’ she interviewed “were also speaking on a legal ground. They want the, you know, kind of right to defend themselves”.

Jones next asked “what did the Israeli authorities say about this?”.

Mohan: “They said that they don’t believe that they’ve broken any of the UNCRC rules and they said it’s not a perfect procedure but they, you know, they’re doing what they can.”

Jones: “Were you surprised by that?”

Mohan: “Ehm I…[laughs] was I personally surprised by that? Probably not.”

Jones: “And some of the people who…we were hearing there were being interrogated in Hebrew so they didn’t necessarily even know what was happening.”

Mohan: “They were made to sign confessions in Hebrew. So the interrogations were happening without lawyers for, in the case of Ahed Tamimi, over several days, several times but the confessions were in a language they couldn’t understand.”

In the video former IDF chief military prosecutor Maurice Hirsch clarified that the claims that teenagers had been asked to sign confessions “they couldn’t understand” is not true. That information was not communicated to listeners to this programme and as we see, Megha Mohan chose to repeat those unsubstantiated allegations anyway.

The BBC is clearly very keen to widely promote this report to its audiences even though it is based entirely on claims that the BBC has obviously not been able to independently verify made by a handful of teenagers convicted of acts of violence whom it is quite possible were put in contact with the BBC by the political NGO Addameer whose director was featured in the video.

But the BBC evidently has no intention of allowing facts to get in the way of the political narrative to which Yousef Eldin and Megha Mohan have self-conscripted.

Related Articles:

Partisan report on detained Palestinian ‘children’ from BBC’s Gender and Identity correspondent

BBC WS ‘OS’ presents an inverted portrayal of Gaza rocket attacks

As we saw in a previous post, the lead item in the November 13th edition of the BBC World Service radio programme OS – formerly ‘Outside Source’ – was described in its synopsis thus:

“It’s the heaviest exchange of aerial fire between Israeli soldiers and Hamas militants since the full-blown conflict in 2014. The violence follows an Israeli special forces operation inside Gaza which went wrong late on Sunday, causing the deaths of Palestinian militants and an Israeli soldier. We hear from local people living in Gaza.”

After listeners had been given some bizarre and entirely one-sided ‘context’ to that story (with no mention whatsoever of the fact that Hamas has been attacking Israeli civilians with rockets and mortars for 17 years), presenter Ben James introduced (from 04:35 here) his first inadequately identified interviewee in what he had previously described as “your guide to the important stuff happening now”.

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

James: “So let’s hear some voices from this region. In a moment we’re going to hear from Bernie who lives in the Israeli town of Ashkelon but first of all Ahmed who we’ve spoken to before on ‘OS’ about working in the IT industry in Gaza. He lives in Gaza City. He told me what it was like for him there last night.”

Ahmed: “Last night was, like, a very horrible night [laughs]. It began when Israelis were attacking, like, civilian homes and the journalists. We had that TV channel – the building for that TV channel – it’s called Al Aqsa – they destroyed it completely. In fact, like, these buildings are in the middle of civilians’ homes. The explosions was very huge. What affected me very much – at dawn, like, 4 a.m. in the morning they destroyed a civilian home near me and it was very, like, big explosion was very, very huge. My pregnant wife woke up in the, like, in the middle of the night scared and telling me ‘oh are they going to invade Gaza Strip or’…and this is not very usual to ask but I have been living for 3 Israeli attacks, like, in the 2008 and 2014 and this one – 2018.”

Israel of course did not attack either “civilian homes” or “journalists” as claimed but Ben James made no effort to challenge those blatant falsehoods. Neither did he bother to inform listeners of the very relevant issue of Hamas’ deliberate placement of military assets in built-up areas and how that turns people like Ahmed into human shields.

James: “I was going to ask how it compared to previous experiences. Has there been anything like these sorts of airstrikes recently?”

Ahmed: “This one, like, it’s, like, a new one. Has been, like, just for 24 hours. The last experience was very horrible, like, more than this. But this one, like, the kind of explosions not like what I have experienced, like, this one you feel that your home has been hit by a earthquake or something very huge, like, [laughs] you feel that the building is dancing.”

Having already failed to challenge his interviewee’s false claim of attacks on civilian targets, James actually went on to make things worse.

James: “Israel of course says that it’s attacking military targets – Hamas targets as they would see them – but you say that everyone’s just so close together in Gaza that it’s hitting not just those targets.”

Ahmed: “Like, most of these targets, it’s not, like, Hamas targets but it’s surrounded by, like, so many civilians. I went to one of these places in the morning. Houses, the windows, the doors, there was lot of rocks like thrown on this street.”

James: “What else does this mean – quite apart from the fear that you’ve been describing from last night? How is it affecting your day today? Have you been able to go out and about or are people staying at home today?”

Ahmed: “Yeah most of the people stayed at home and I didn’t go to work but I went to shop because I want to run some errands for me to, like, buy some food for the house ‘cos I am scared that this will be, like, another attack on [unintelligible], like a military operation, a war for Gaza because I am reading the news and what the [Israeli] cabinet will decide against us.”

James: “Had you become hopeful in recent times that there might be some kind of longer lasting calm or not? Had you expected something like this would happen again?”

Ahmed: “I guess this time will be calm, like it will be a truce. I don’t think, like, the both parties are not meant to go to another operation or another Israeli assault.”

James then went on to promote a theme of ‘equal narratives’:

James: “We know that in these situations both sides claim that they’re defending themselves and different people have different opinions on whether that’s right on either side. What do you think about that from the point of view of those airstrikes you’ve been living through? Israel says they’re in response to rockets being fired from Gaza into Israel.”

Ahmed: “OK. I guess you are following the news, like you know what happened Sunday night, yeah? When an Israeli military group invaded Khan Younis three kilometres and went to do some security and our resistance fighter has the right to defend us and this is a very prohibited or a very forbidden area to enter – you know what I mean. So I guess we have the right to do what the resistance fighter did last night.”

James did not bother to inform listeners that there is no such thing as a ‘right’ to deliberately attack civilians.

James: “When you in the night-time hear those planes, hear the explosions, what do you do? Do you just stay in your home and hope for the best? Is there anywhere to take shelter?”

Ahmed: “In fact there is no…there’s no safe place in Gaza. Like, everyone in Gaza is a target. So I don’t look around for a shelter because if I run for shelter, the kind of rockets or the kind of missiles that they throw is very huge, like…I don’t want you to experience this but [laughs] but I just cannot explain or cannot express how it felt or where I can go every place. You don’t know where they are going to [unintelligible]. You just don’t know.”

Ben James went on to speak to a resident of Ashkelon, with most of the conversation focusing on his personal experiences during the previous 24 hours. His final question again promoted the notion of equal narratives:

James: “And we know that…we know that each side in this describes what goes on as self-defence from both directions. What’s your take on that?”

It is the remit of the BBC – as defined in its public purposes – to “provide accurate and impartial news, current affairs and factual programming of the highest editorial standards so that all audiences can engage fully with issues across the UK and the world.”

In this programme however, BBC audiences were given a patently inaccurate impression of events. They heard that Hamas’ launching of rockets at Israeli civilians is a “right” and “self-defence” and they were told – wrongly – that Israel had attacked civilian targets.

A reporter for the Telegraph who – unlike Ben James – was actually in the Gaza Strip at the time had this to say:

Prior to these interviews with residents of Gaza City and Ashkelon, listeners to this programme had been told that unprecedented rocket and mortar attacks against Israeli civilians are rooted in poverty allegedly caused by a misrepresented blockade and an ‘occupation’ which ended over thirteen years ago – with no mention whatsoever of the fact that Hamas has been launching such attacks for the past 17 years.

Obviously the basic editorial aim behind this item – which Ben James had told listeners was “your guide to the important stuff happening now” – was to promote a sense of false equivalence between the actions of terrorist groups deliberately targeting civilians and a regular army targeting the assets of those terrorist organisations.   

In promoting that aim the producers of this programme blithely sacrificed the accuracy and impartiality to which the BBC claims to adhere as well as the first of the corporation’s public purposes.

Related Articles:

The BBC World Service’s idea of ‘context’ to rocket attacks on Israeli civilians

Terrorists and rockets disappear in BBC news reports

False equivalence in BBC News report on Gaza rocket attacks

BBC Radio 4: nothing to see in southern Israel, move along to Gaza

Sloppy BBC News report omits rocket hits on Israeli homes

BBC News website sources report on Gaza incident from Hamas

 

The BBC World Service’s idea of ‘context’ to rocket attacks on Israeli civilians

The lead item in the November 13th edition of the BBC World Service radio programme OS – formerly ‘Outside Source’ – was described in its synopsis thus:

“It’s the heaviest exchange of aerial fire between Israeli soldiers and Hamas militants since the full-blown conflict in 2014. The violence follows an Israeli special forces operation inside Gaza which went wrong late on Sunday, causing the deaths of Palestinian militants and an Israeli soldier. We hear from local people living in Gaza.”

Presenter Ben James told listeners (from 00:11 here): [emphasis in italics in the original, emphasis in bold added]

James: “We’re your guide to the important stuff happening now and the story at the beginning of our news bulletin then is certainly the one we’re going to spend a great deal of time on on this edition of the programme – what’s been happening between Israel and Gaza in the last 24 hours. You’ll have heard in the bulletin: seven people killed in a flare-up of violence between Israel and Palestinian militants. A short time ago you were just hearing that Hamas said it would agree to an Egyptian brokered cease-fire as long as Israel does. […] Just to take you back, the escalation began when this undercover Israeli Special Forces operation inside Gaza was exposed on Sunday. Since then more than 400 rockets have been fired into Israel by militants. Israeli aircraft have hit 150 militant targets in response.”

After telling listeners what would come up later on in the item (but failing to note that the majority of those killed in the Gaza Strip were terrorists), James next introduced some patently one-sided ‘context’ to a story that is actually about terrorist organisations attacking Israeli civilians with military grade rockets and mortars.

James: “…we wanted to break down some of the facts around Gaza and what happens in this region to help put this story into some context. Here’s Orla Barry and Ben Davies from the ‘OS’ team.”

Listeners then heard (from 01:29) a contrived and simplistic quasi Q&A session, beginning with a theme long popular at the BBC.

Barry: “Where is Gaza?”

Davies: “Gaza or the Gaza Strip as it’s sometimes called is bounded by the Mediterranean Sea to the west, Israel to the east and north and Egypt to the south. Although only 41 kms long and 10 kms wide, this strip of land has one of the highest population densities in the world – nearly 2 million people live there.”

As usual for the BBC, history begins in 1967, with no mention of how Egypt came to occupy the Gaza Strip or of the fact that it is included in the territory designated for the creation of the Jewish homeland by the League of Nations.

Barry: “What is its recent history?”

Davies: “Originally occupied by Egypt the territory was captured by Israel during the 1967 Middle East war. Israel withdrew its troops and around 7,000 settlers in 2005. Whilst Egypt controls the southern border, Israel controls the others and since 2007 the region has been governed by the Islamist group Hamas.”

Barry: “So who are Hamas?”

Davies: “Hamas are a Sunni Islamist organisation founded in 1987, born out of the First Intifada – a Palestinian uprising that saw over 5 years of violent conflict between Palestinians and Israelis. There is a key difference between them and the Palestinian Authority who control the West Bank – the other territory run by Palestinians on the west bank [sic] of the Jordan river. Hamas do not recognise the right of Israel to exist and furthermore they advocate the use of violence against it. Hamas is regarded either in whole or in part as a terrorist organisation by several countries – most notably Israel, the United States and the European Union. But not everyone agrees. Russia, China and Turkey are among countries who do not regard it as such.”

Those two last sentences are virtually identical to the Wikipedia entry for Hamas. Hamas of course does not just “advocate” the use of violence in its quest to eradicate the Jewish state – it actively engages in violence. Notably, BBC World Service listeners did not hear about Hamas’ Muslim Brotherhood links

Barry: “What are the roots of this latest conflict?”

Davies: “When Hamas took control of Gaza following regional elections in 2006 in which they ousted the then ruling Palestinian Authority, Israel and Egypt were quick to impose a blockade, restricting the movement of goods and people in and out. The blockade is ongoing. The Israeli government say [sic] that millions of its population live in daily fear of rockets fired by Hamas from Gaza – rockets they say are smuggled into the region through secret tunnels. Hamas accuses Israel of indiscriminate airstrikes and an ongoing occupation of their land. They say that the blockade is the central cause for the region’s high levels of poverty and deprivation.”

Hamas of course did not take “control of Gaza” as a result of the PLC elections in early 2006 but nearly 18 months later in a violent coup. In contrast to Davies’ inaccurate claim, the blockade was not introduced ‘quickly’ but following a sharp rise in terror attacks against Israelis after the Hamas coup – which he failed to mention.

Barry: “What is life in Gaza like then?”

Davies: “In 2017 the Gaza Strip had the highest unemployment rate in the World Bank’s development data base. It’s more than double the rate of the West Bank and youth unemployment is more than 60%. The growing poverty rate in the region has served only to fuel the anger of many of its residents.”

In other words, the “context” given to BBC audiences around the world in this “guide to the important stuff happening now” framed unprecedented rocket and mortar attacks against Israeli civilians as being rooted in poverty allegedly caused by a misrepresented blockade and an ‘occupation’ which ended over thirteen years ago. 

 

Reviewing BBC coverage of the UN GA Jerusalem vote – part two

In part one of this post we looked at the BBC News website’s coverage of the session held at the UN General Assembly on December 21st. In this post we will look at coverage of the same topic on BBC World Service radio, beginning with programmes aired before the vote took place.

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

1) ‘OS‘, BBC World Service radio, 21/12/17, presented by Nuala McGovern, from 00:30 here.

McGovern: “You may have heard me say at the very top of the hour about the United Nations; that they’re preparing to vote on a resolution that would condemn president…US President Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the United Nations, she’s just been speaking.”

Listeners then heard a segment from the US ambassador’s speech which would be repeated in additional BBC radio items relating to the same story.

“The United States will remember this day in which it was singled out for attack in the General Assembly for the very act of exercising our right as a sovereign nation. We will remember it when we are called upon to once again make the world’s largest contribution to the United Nations. And we will remember it when so many countries come calling on us, as they so often do, to pay even more and to use our influence for their benefit.

America will put our embassy in Jerusalem. That is what the American people want us to do, and it is the right thing to do. No vote in the United Nations will make any difference on that.

But this vote will make a difference on how Americans look at the UN and on how we look at countries who disrespect us in the UN. And this vote will be remembered. Thank you.”

McGovern then brought in the BBC’s Anthony Zurcher, adding her own editorialised comments. 

McGovern: “Ahm…very strong words. I was struck by them listening to Nikki Haley. She is not prepared to apologise in any way obviously for the embassy moving but also seems to be standing firm as in there will be consequences to this vote.”

During the conversation with Zurcher, listeners heard a recording of statements made by the Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu at the UN which were also repeated in other programmes.

Cavusoglu: “Before this meeting a UN member state threatened all the other members. We were all asked to vote no or face the consequences. Some are even threatened with the development aid cut. Such an attitude is unacceptable. This is bullying and this chamber will not fall to do that. It is unethical to think that the words and dignity of member states are for sale. Let me put it this way: we will not be intimidated. You can be strong but this doesn’t make you right.”

Later on in the same programme, listeners heard a report from the BBC’s Sally Nabil at the UN.

2) ‘Newshour‘, BBC World Service radio, 21/12/17, presented by Julian Marshall, from 33:04 here.

Marshall: “Members of the UN General Assembly have been threatened by the Trump administration ahead of a vote later today on US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. On Monday the United States vetoed a resolution in the UN Security Council calling on the US to withdraw its recognition. That same resolution will now go before the UN General Assembly and ahead of the vote President Trump has threatened to cut off financial aid to countries that go against the US.”

Marshall later brought in the BBC’s Nada Tawfik who told listeners that “when you speak to member states they do expect about 180 countries possibly out of 193 at the UN General Assembly to support this”. When the vote later took place, fifty-two fewer countries supported the resolution than predicted by Tawfik.

The item also included an interestingly timed report from the BBC Jerusalem bureau’s Tom Bateman (from 37:31) concerning evangelical Christian groups from the US touring Israel, with Bateman claiming that members of such groups had voted for Trump in huge numbers and were one of the reasons – together with “support from Jewish donors in the US” – for the US president’s December 6th announcement recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

The BBC World Service also aired an item on the story after the UN GA vote had taken place.

3) ‘Newshour‘, BBC World Service radio, 21/12/17, presented by Tim Franks, from 35:58 here.

Franks: “Not all votes at the United Nations are equal. Ones emanating from the UN General Assembly are non-binding but the effects of today’s vote in the assembly could, at least according to President Trump, be long-lasting. He’s warned that the US will remember those countries which voted for the resolution overwhelmingly passed today. The resolution calls on the US to withdraw its recent recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Mr Trump said that the list of yea-sayers would be recounted next time they come asking for aid or help from Washington.”

Listeners then heard the same recording of the Turkish foreign minister’s statements aired in other programmes as well as part of the statement made by the US ambassador to the UN GA.

Franks next interviewed Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the UN, Abdallah al-Mouallimi and began by asking him if he was “concerned about that threat from Nikki Haley and indeed from President Trump”.

Al Mouallimi: “Yes I do hope that this vote will be remembered by the United States because it is a vote in which the entire [sic] international community is making the point that the move taken by the United States is not within its right and it’s not appropriate and should not have been made – certainly not at this time and not outside the parameters of an agreed solution to the situation.”

Franks later asked the Saudi Arabian ambassador what he thought about the statement made by Nikki Haley according to which – in Franks’ own words – “the UN seems to have a particular thing about Israel and a particular thing about Jerusalem and its business is skewed towards taking what they hope are free hits against Israel and against Jerusalem”. Audiences heard the following unchallenged response.

Al Mouallimi: “Well the United Nations should have a special thing about Israel because Israel is an occupying power. It continues to occupy the Palestinian land for now more than 50 years. It continues to deny the Palestinians the right for self-determination. It continues to claim Jerusalem as its own capital without regard to the interests of the Palestinian Muslims and Christians in the city and in the area.”

As we see, the BBC World Service was far more preoccupied with informing audiences about what it portrayed as “threats” issued by the United States than it was with providing them with the context to this UN GA resolution and vote. Notably, with the exception of the recording of Nikki Haley speaking at the General Assembly, listeners did not hear the views of either American or Israeli officials on the story. 

 

Mapping the BBC’s branding of declarations on Jerusalem as ‘controversial’

On December 25th the BBC News website published a report titled “Jerusalem: Guatemala follows US in planning Israel embassy move” which opened as follows:

“Guatemala is to move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, becoming the first country after the US to vow to do so.

It was one of only nine to vote against a UN resolution which in effect repudiated the US’ recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Israel’s PM thanked Guatemala’s president, but Palestinians branded the decision “shameful and illegal”.

Donald Trump’s controversial declaration on Jerusalem has been widely spurned around the world.”

Under the sub-heading “Why is Guatemala doing this?” readers were told that:

“President Jimmy Morales made the announcement on Facebook, noting the “excellent relations” between Guatemala and Israel.

He did not say when the move would happen.

Guatemala, along with 12 other countries, had their embassies in Jerusalem until 1980, when they moved them to Tel Aviv after Israel annexed East Jerusalem, in a move not recognised internationally. All other countries still have their embassies in Tel Aviv.

Guatemala and Israel have a long history of political, economic and military ties. The Central American country is also a major recipient of US aid – something which Donald Trump threatened to cut to states that voted in favour of the UN resolution.”

Guatemala’s embassy in Israel is currently in Herzliya rather than Tel Aviv but the same erroneous statement also appeared in a report aired on BBC World Service radio programme ‘OS‘ on December 25th. Presenter Ben James told listeners (from 05:35 here) that:

James: “We’re going to talk more about Guatemala’s decision now to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, backing the US president Donald Trump’s controversial announcement that the US recognises Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, expressing that through the location of the embassy.”

James then introduced his colleague Arturo Wallace from the BBC World Service’s Spanish language service BBC Mundo.

Wallace: “A lot of it has to do with, you know, what the United States wanted and Guatemala trying to prove that they are, like, reliable allies from [of] the United States. You know it’s always been a very, very strong relationship. United States is the biggest foreign investor, you know, huge provider of foreign aid. Guatemala, I believe, is the fourth country in the whole world in terms of foreign aid from the United States.”

After telling listeners that a lot of people from Guatemala live in the United States, Wallace seemed to suggest that repercussions against those people could occur if Guatemala did not follow the US’ lead, saying:

“…policies regarding immigration from that would have a big effect on Guatemala’s economy.”

He continued:

Wallace: “But funnily enough Guatemala also has a very strong relationship with Israel. […] Guatemala was actually the second country in the world to vote for the recognition of Israel at United Nations and ever since they have had diplomatic relationships. It was the first country ever in having an embassy in Jerusalem and they kept it there till 1980.”

BBC World Service Middle East analyst Alan Johnston then joined the conversation but had little to add other than more promotion of a now well-established BBC mantra:

Johnston: “…There’s a huge amount of tension on the city [Jerusalem] as a result of President Trump’s move…”

As we see, both these BBC reports steer audiences towards the view that Guatemala’s decision was dictated by its relations with the United States. Guatemala’s foreign minister has rejected such claims.

“The United States did not pressure Guatemala into announcing it will move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, the Central American state’s foreign minister said Wednesday.

“There wasn’t any pressure. There wasn’t any overture from the United States to make this happen. This was a decision by the government, the state and the foreign policy of Guatemala,” the minister, Sandra Jovel, told a news conference in Guatemala City. […]

Jovel said the plan to put the embassy in Jerusalem “had been considered for the past five months, and things just lined up in a certain way and also the resolutions in the UN and everything contributed to saying that now was the right time.”

Guatemala’s assertion that it decided the move alone, without being pressed by the United States, follows criticism from the Palestinian foreign ministry and a focus on how reliant the country is on US aid and trade.”

Notably, in contrast to its copious portrayal (including in these two reports) of the December 6th US announcement recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital as “controversial”, the BBC did not use that term to describe the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation’s December 13th declaration of “East Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Palestine”. And when Iran’s parliament declared Jerusalem “the everlasting capital of Palestine” on December 27th, the BBC did not even report that development, let alone brand it as “controversial”.  

Related Articles:

BBC reports the parts of Abbas’ OIC speech that fit its narrative

The BBC WS finds a use for the word terror, misleads on Jerusalem

BBC’s Knell skirts the issue of PA and Fatah incitement to violence

An edition of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘OS’ (formerly ‘Outside Source’) that was broadcast on December 15th led with an item (from 00:68 here) described by presenter Ben James as being about “the latest protests and clashes over Washington’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital”.

During his subsequent conversation with the BBC Jerusalem bureau’s Yolande Knell, James asked (at 02:53) an interesting question:

James: “And these protests; are they being organised by political parties? Are they spontaneous to an extent? What’s behind them?”

Anyone following the Palestinian media will be aware of numerous examples of incitement to rioting and violence that have appeared in both traditional and new media over the past couple of weeks. For example, PMW reports that:

“In anticipation of Trump’s statement, the Secretary of Fatah in Jerusalem Shadi Mattour explained that Fatah had already made plans for “escalating struggle activities” if US recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, stating that there’s “nothing left but to return to confrontation”: 

Secretary of Fatah in Jerusalem Shadi Mattour: “The Fatah Movement has always led the defenders of our Palestinian people and will not hesitate when it sees the danger surrounding our Palestinian capital Jerusalem. Yesterday we were called to a meeting of branch secretaries in the presence of [Fatah] Commissioner Jamal Muhaisen, and prepared plans for escalating struggle activities on the ground if the US makes such a decision that will blow up the peace process… When the patron of peace [the US] comes and kills the peace process and kills our dream to establish our Palestinian state whose capital is Jerusalem, we in Fatah have nothing left but to return to confrontation with this occupation.” [Official PA TV, Palestine This Morning, Dec. 5, 2017]”

A PA official conveyed a similar message – also on official PA TV:

“In his Friday sermon at the PA headquarters, Abbas’ advisor on religious affairs Mahmoud Al-Habbash incited Palestinians to religious war. Condemning US President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital as “a crime against humanity” and “a sin,” Al-Habbash encouraged Muslims and Christians worldwide to “act.” He asked rhetorically: “How do the Muslims of the world allow this sin?” And answered later in the speech that “the Muslims will act.” “

On social media the PA president’s Fatah party has put out repeated calls for an intifada and “popular rage”.

‘”The Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades at the Al-Fawwar refugee camp south of Hebron: ‘It is necessary to continue the intifada and escalate it, and to see days of popular rage in the coming days.'” [Facebook page of the Fatah Movement – Bethlehem Branch, Dec. 8, 2017]’

Obviously then, one would have expected Yolande Knell to inform BBC World Service audiences of such incitement from official PA sources as well as the dominant political party in both the Palestinian Authority and the PLO in her response to James’ question.

This, however, was her answer:

Knell: “I mean in most areas you have…err…young protesters who will, when there is…err…something like…err…an issue around Jerusalem, they will turn out to protest. Ahm…the Islamist group Hamas has called for an intifada – a Palestinian uprising – but I have to say so far that this has not been anything like on that level…”

This is by no means the first time that we have seen Yolande Knell – and other BBC journalists – downplaying, erasing, distorting and ignoring the issue of incitement to violence from official PA and Fatah sources. 

How that practice can be said to contribute to meeting the BBC’s public purpose of providing “impartial news and information to help people understand and engage with the world around them” is of course a mystery.