BBC Complaints: BBC programme is not BBC output

Yesterday we noted an item aired on the March 30th edition of the BBC News Channel programme ‘Outside Source’ in which audiences were given inaccurate information concerning courts in Israel and partial information concerning measures taken to deal with the Coronavirus pandemic.

BBC News Channel grossly misleads on Israeli courts

BBC Watch submitted a complaint concerning those issues, the receipt of which was acknowledged on the same day.

The following day, however, we received this response from the BBC Complaints team:

“Many thanks for taking the time to contact us. The role of this department is to respond to comment, query or criticism concerning programmes on any of the BBC’s national, regional and local television or radio services.

We also deal with issues related to BBC’s policy. As your complaint is not in reference to BBC output we are unable to investigate this further for you. If you wish to contact us in the future then we would ask that you please refer to BBC programmes, broadcasts, policy or output in your complaint.” [emphasis added]

As noted above ‘Outside Source’ is aired on the BBC News Channel. That platform is described by the BBC itself as “Britain’s most-watched news channel, delivering breaking news and analysis all day, every day”.

The BBC’s complaints webform includes the option of submitting a complaint concerning the BBC News channel. A later drop-down menu also includes the programme ‘Outside Source’ itself. 

A video of the programme was uploaded to Youtube by BBC News. The programme’s presenter circulated that video on her Twitter account – where she describes herself as a BBC presenter.

The programme appeared with the BBC logo on screen.

Nevertheless, the outsourced BBC Complaints system claimed that “As your complaint is not in reference to BBC output we are unable to investigate this further for you”.

While members of the general public may understandably have been put off by such a reply, BBC Watch of course submitted a second (Stage 1b) complaint which included the above information. We have now received the following:

One can of course but wonder about the overall efficiency of a publicly funded complaints system which sends replies “issued in error”. 

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BBC News Channel grossly misleads on Israeli courts

h/t DH, SFoI

Previously we noted that reports on BBC radio and the BBC News website relating to cell phone tracking of Coronavirus carriers in Israel had in all cases failed to inform audiences of the parliamentary and legal oversights of that step taken by the government but did choose to  amplify the claims of political NGOs.

Earlier this month we documented a BBC News website report’s unsatisfactory portrayal of the postponement of Binyamin Netanyahu’s court case.

“Readers […] would have benefited from the knowledge that the court session originally scheduled for March 17th was postponed by the judges assigned to the case.”

Both those topics came up again in the March 30th edition of the BBC News Channel programme ‘Outside Source’.

Following an item concerning steps taken by the Hungarian parliament, presenter Kasia Madera told viewers (from 14:13 in the video below):

Madera: “But Hungary’s government is not the only one in fact to increase its powers during the outbreak of Covid 19. We are in fact seeing stronger measures being implemented around the world.”

Having told audiences of media censorship, curfews and deployment of the military in Thailand, she went on:

Madera: “While compare that to Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu there saying that…who was…he was set to stand trial on corruption allegations but in fact now he’s shut down the courts. He’s also permitted the tracking of Israeli citizens’ phones and the prime minister says that the move will help track individuals who’ve come into contact those who contract Covid 19 but critics argue that this could lead to a Big Brother-style society.” [emphasis added]

Once again the BBC failed to inform its audiences that the surveillance measures are in place for a period of 30 days, that there is a Knesset sub-committee overseeing them and that the High Court has conditioned the measures on legislation. Moreover, while failing to provide that highly relevant information, the BBC once again amplified the therefore context-free claims of “critics”.

As for the claim that the Israeli prime minister – and he alone – “shut down the courts”: it was in fact the Justice Minister who cut back the activity of the courts on March 15th.

“Justice Minister Amir Ohana declared a 24-hour “state of emergency” in Israel’s court system early Sunday morning, “as part of the national effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.”

The decision means that courts can only sit for urgent hearings on arrest and remand orders, administrative detention orders, offenses under legislation “relating to the special emergency” and certain interim relief in civil matters.”

On March 21st the Supreme Court Justice Esther Hayut published a press release in which she clarified that the courts continue to function throughout the country, providing essential services to the public. Her statement emphasized that the courts are not closed and that they would continue to provide services while observing the emergency restrictions issued by the Ministry of Health. She clarified that any current – and, if necessary, future – reduction in the activity of the courts due to the Corona pandemic was in accordance with her decisions as President of the Supreme Court.

In other words, the BBC’s claim that Netanyahu has “shut down the courts” is completely inaccurate and misleading to BBC audiences.

That failure to adhere to BBC editorial guidelines on accuracy would of course be egregious at any time but it is all the more reprehensible at a time when the BBC is promoting itself as the ‘trusted’ antidote to Fake News concerning the Covid 19 pandemic. 

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BBC News continues to avoid the issue of Joint Arab List politics

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:

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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. 

 

How Hamas put a tax on building materials the BBC told audiences don’t exist

As readers no doubt recall, on November 28th listeners to the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Outside Source’ were told by BBC Arabic correspondent Shahdi Alkashif that Israel is not allowing building materials into the Gaza Strip for the repair of houses damaged during the summer conflict.

As was noted here at the time, that claim is untrue. Even Arabic language media (which one presumes Alkashif reads) reported that 600 tons of cement has entered the Gaza Strip via Kerem Shalom crossing on December 2nd  and Gaza-based journalist Hazem Balousha snapped a photograph apparently showing some of the building materials BBC audiences were told does not exist.

Twitter Balousha

However, there’s a lot more to the story too, as told here by blogger Elder of Ziyon.

Back in October the BBC devoted quite a lot of coverage to the Cairo donors conference and the topic of the touted UN monitored  “temporary mechanism” intended to prevent building supplies being used for the purposes of terror. Perhaps it is time to send a BBC reporter to find out just how well that temporary mechanism is working – if it can find one who recognises a bag of cement when he sees it.

BBC continues to promote the notion of a ‘siege’ on Gaza in report on flooding

As regular readers know, whilst the BBC has still not comprehensively and accurately informed its audiences what happened during the battles in the Gaza Strip neighbourhood of Shuja’iya in July of this year or why the fighting there was so intense, it has – on the other hand – devoted much airtime and column space to context-free depictions of the destruction of buildings in that district. November 28th saw the continuation of that practice in an article which appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page under the title “Gaza floods: UN declares state of emergency“.Flooding Gaza written

That report was presented on the Middle East page together with links to four additional items of recommended reading which included Yolande Knell’s problematic feature on Shuja’iya from September 15th and her August 19th report “Gaza’s infrastructure crippled by conflict“.

In this article, readers were informed that:

“In the Shejaiya neighbourhood, where air strikes during the recent conflict damaged many of the buildings, residents already face a cold winter without electricity or water.”

An illustrative photograph was captioned:

“Shejaiya’s infrastructure remains extremely damaged since the summer conflict”.

No mention was made of the very relevant fact that Shuja’iya was the location of considerable Hamas infrastructure, including the entrances to numerous cross-border attack tunnels, weapons stores and missile launching sites. 

Also evident in this report is the BBC’s continuing practice of quoting old UN statements on the subject of civilian/combatant casualty ratios in the Gaza Strip which were already problematic at the time they were published and have been shown to be even more so in the light of subsequent research – completely ignored by the BBC – which indicates that the ratio between civilians and combatants is similar.Flooding Gaza on HP

“The seven-week Gaza conflict, which ended in a truce on 26 August, killed more than 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, the UN says, along with 67 Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel.”

The flooding in the Gaza strip was also the topic of an item in the BBC World Service’s radio programme ‘Outside Source’ on November 28th (available here for a limited period of time from 27:15). Presenter Chloe Tilley spoke with BBC Arabic’s Shahdi Alkashif in Gaza City who, after describing the situation, told listeners:

“But this bad weather made the situation more worse here in Gaza Strip that is still under siege. And there is no enter now Israeli permits to allow to the building material to go to Gaza to rebuild the homes that destroyed it.”

As has been pointed out here before, the definition of the term ‘siege’ does not accurately describe the restrictions on the import of dual-use goods with the potential for use in terrorist activities which is applied to the Gaza Strip by Israel and yet, as we see, that Hamas-favoured terminology is still being used by the BBC.Flooding Gaza OS

And what of Alkashif’s claim that Israel is not allowing building materials for reconstruction into the Gaza Strip? Let’s take a look at just a few of the recent reports from COGAT.

On November 23rd 2014, 311 truckloads of goods entered the Gaza Strip, 94 of which carried 3,760 tons of construction materials.

On November 20th 2014, 403 truckloads of goods entered the Gaza Strip, 93 of which carried 3,720 tons of construction materials.

On November 18th 2014, 340 truckloads of goods entered the Gaza Strip, 101 of which carried 4,002 tons of construction materials.

On November 17th 2014, 274 truckloads of goods entered the Gaza Strip, 99 of which carried 3,960 tons of construction materials.  

Clearly Alkashif’s presentation of that topic is inaccurate and misleading. Later on he also told BBC World Service listeners that:

“Gaza needs everything: Gaza without electricity, Gaza without clean water…”

Whilst the situation in the Gaza Strip may be far from ideal, it is certainly not accurate to say – as Alkashif does – that there is no electricity or clean water there at all.

“The electricity supply to the Gaza Strip remains at approximately 75% of the norm, 125 MW from Israel and 32 MW from Egypt.Over 80% of the damage to the electricity grid in the Gaza Strip has been repaired.”

“Water access remains constrained, following extensive damage to infrastructure and the electricity shortage. Over 80% of the damage to water infrastructure in Gaza has been repaired.”

Obviously Shahdi Alkashif’s reporting is neither accurate nor impartial and the BBC World Service needs to urgently correct the inaccurate impressions given to its listeners. 

 

BBC misleads on Arab Jerusalemites’ citizenship status yet again

Over the past few weeks BBC audiences have been misled with regard to the issue of Arab Jerusalemites and Israeli citizenship on several occasions.

On November 7th Yolande Knell told listeners to the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Outside Source’ that:

“…Palestinians in East Jerusalem are considered to be residents of Israel – not citizens of Israel – and they do feel very isolated, very disenfranchised….”

On November 18th listeners to BBC Radio 4’s ‘PM’ were informed by guest academic Rosemary Hollis that:

“…the East Jerusalem Palestinian population are not citizens of Israel like the Arab citizens of Israel that Mr Goldberg’s cousin was describing. They have what they call laissez-passer: they have an East Jerusalem ID.” 

On November 26th visitors to the BBC News website were told in an article titled “Israel revokes residency of Jerusalem attacker’s widow” that:residency art

“The two Palestinians, who were shot dead at the Kehilat Bnai Torah synagogue after killing four rabbis and a police officer, were cousins from occupied Arab East Jerusalem.

Uday and Ghassan Abu Jamal were therefore entitled under Israeli government regulations to residency rights, although not to citizenship, says the BBC’s Kevin Connolly.”

The Abu Jamal cousins lived in Jabel Mukaber: a district located within the Jerusalem municipality. Contrary to Connolly’s assertion, they were therefore entitled to apply for Israeli citizenship like any other resident of the areas of Jerusalem which came under Israeli control in 1967. If they chose not to exercise that entitlement, they would still remain permanent residents with the right to vote in municipal elections and to receive the same social security benefits, education, pensions and healthcare as any other Israeli. Regardless of whether or not they hold Israeli citizenship, Arab residents of Jerusalem have a blue ID card of the same format as any other Israeli citizen – not “an East Jerusalem ID” as was claimed in the Radio 4 programme – with the exception being that those who have chosen not to take Israeli citizenship would have the nationality clause left blank.

This is not a complicated issue but as we see, the BBC repeatedly gets it wrong and hence materially misleads its audiences on the topic.

The article also states:

“Under what is known as a “family reunification” rule, Palestinians elsewhere can apply for the right to live with a husband or wife in East Jerusalem once they are married.

That is the right that Israel said it was revoking in the case of Nadia Abu Jamal, who is believed to have been married to Ghassan Abu Jamal.”

The legislation referred to here is the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law which is classed as a temporary provision and, contrary to the impression given by the BBC, does not apply exclusively to Palestinian spouses of Arab residents of Jerusalem but means that the spouses of Israeli citizens or permanent residents who come from countries or territories in a state of war with Israel are not automatically entitled to residency in Israel as a result of marriage, but must apply for that status.

“The Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law, which is worded as a temporary order, concerns reunification among families whose entry into Israel represents a security risk in the eyes of the security services. This includes Palestinian residents of the West Bank and Gaza, and foreign nationals from enemy countries or from regions involved in an ongoing conflict with the State of Israel.”

It is of course worth remembering that many countries – including the UK – do not grant automatic citizenship to spouses on the basis of ‘family reunification’.

Whilst this BBC article amplifies second-hand comment from the political NGO B’Tselem, the quoted statement from the Israeli Minister of the Interior appears to have come from Facebook and if the BBC did contact the Israeli government for comment, that is not evident in the report.  

 

BBC’s favourite Norwegian doctor given multiple platforms for medical agitprop

On November 14th the Twitter account linked to the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Outside Source’ promoted a segment from that day’s broadcast as a stand-alone item.

OS Tweet Mads Gilbert

That podcast can be heard here. The programme from which it is taken can be heard here for a limited period of time, with the relevant item beginning at 36:55. Presenter Chloe Tilley introduced the item as follows:

“Now, people who listen regularly to ‘Outside Source’ may be familiar with the name Mads Gilbert. He’s a Norwegian doctor who has spoken to us lots on the programme and he’s been told he’s been banned from Gaza for the foreseeable future over Israeli government claims he poses a security threat. Dr Gilbert’s been travelling to Gaza to treat patients for over 15 years and he told Outside Source’s Louise Webster what had happened.”

Of course Mads Gilbert has not only been frequently featured on the BBC World Service, but on a variety of other BBC platforms too and, as has so frequently been the case in the past, in this item no attempt whatsoever was made to correct the misleading impressions received by BBC audiences as a result of Gilbert’s promotion of unchallenged propaganda.OS podcast Mads Gilbert

“The fundamental reason for the ill-health in the population in Gaza is of course the siege and the bombing.”

“The siege of Gaza of course has to be lifted. We cannot accept the siege is now also including international medical staff who seek to support the medical sector in Gaza. That is totally unacceptable.”

“Well, I think – you know – the siege of Gaza has been going on for seven years now and they have been denied all sorts of daily commodities; building material, medical supplies and so on. And it seems like the Israeli authorities are also trying to limit the number of foreigners who are allowed to travel through Israel to Gaza. So what is lost is actually the flow of information about the realities in Gaza and we need to know what is the circumstances and the situation for the population in Gaza.”

In fact the main causes of death in the Gaza Strip are cardiovascular disease, cancer and cerebrovascular disease. There is, of course, no “siege” on the Gaza Strip, but nevertheless the BBC still continues to energetically promote that particular falsehood. As we had cause to note here on numerous occasions during this summer’s conflict, the issue of shortages of medical supplies in the Gaza Strip has nothing to do with the restriction on the entry of dual-use goods imposed by Israel as part of counter-terrorism measures and in fact arises from long-standing disputes between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas. Clearly too, Gilbert’s hysterical claim of a limit or ban on foreign medical staff travelling to Gaza is a gross distortion.

So yet again we see the BBC providing an unhindered platform for Mads Gilbert to promote his usual deliberate misinformation.

In the full version of the item, Gilbert’s monologue was followed by Chloe Tilley informing listeners that:

“…an Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman told Outside Source that an investigation was underway into Dr Gilbert, who he described as a ‘Jekyll & Hyde figure hiding behind a cloak of being a humanitarian doctor’. He said there was strong suspicion that he had been involved in matters relating to supporting terror activities. An investigation is underway and Dr Gilbert’s position would be reassessed when it came to a conclusion.”

That statement was omitted from the version of the item promoted on Twitter, a link to which also appeared in a written article titled “Israel bans Norwegian doctor Mads Gilbert from Gaza” published on the BBC News website’s Middle East page on November 14th. That article further amplified Gilbert’s inaccurate “siege” propaganda:Gilbert on website

“”The fundamental reason for the ill health of the population in Gaza is of course the siege and the bombing,” he said.”

It also told readers that:

“In July, Dr Gilbert was one of the co-signatories in a strongly-worded letter denouncing Israeli action in Gaza, published in the medical journal, the Lancet.”

Notably, the BBC made no effort to inform audiences of the controversy surrounding that letter when two of Gilbert’s co-signatories were found to have a history of disseminating antisemitic material or of the Lancet editor’s subsequent comments on the issue.

The BBC knows full well that there is no “siege” on the Gaza Strip and it should by now also be aware of the fact that Israel does not pose any limitations on the entry of medical supplies. However, it continues to mislead BBC audiences worldwide by providing an unhindered platform for Mads Gilbert’s promotion these falsehoods, thus clearly breaching its own supposed editorial standards of accuracy and impartiality.

Related Articles:

The reality behind the BBC’s promotion of information from medics in Gaza

Hamas terminology and propaganda in BBC’s ‘Hardtalk’ interview with Mads Gilbert

BBC’s Knell tells WS audiences violence in Jerusalem caused by Jews trying to enter Al Aqsa Mosque

The November 7th edition of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Outside Source’ (available for a limited period of time here) began with some unqualified promotion of messaging from Hamas and PA television by BBC World News’ Driss Mekkaoui, including descriptions of items appearing on those channels “condemning what has been happening at the Al Aqsa Mosque” and “calling the Muslim community to unite so that they can defend Jerusalem”. In addition to those context-free statements, the BBC also saw fit to amplify propaganda from a sermon by a PA preacher who described the perpetrators of Friday’s bombing attacks against Fatah targets in Gaza as “mercenaries, criminals and agents of Israel”. No effort was made by the BBC to inform audiences of the redundancy of that allegation or the prior one alleging a need for Muslims to “defend Jerusalem”.Knell Jerusalem on OS

Later on in the programme (from 29:25) listeners heard briefly from Israeli author Tseruya Shalev and Palestinian journalist Daoud Kattub commenting on what presenter Karin Giannone described as “weeks of rising tensions between Jews and Palestinians in Jerusalem”. Next Yolande Knell presented an item which was apparently supposed to provide audiences with the background information that would help them understand events. A slightly abridged version of that item was also promoted separately by the BBC on Twitter under the title “What’s fuelling rising tensions in Jerusalem?“.

As is inevitably the case in BBC coverage of Jerusalem, all pre-1967 history is erased in Knell’s backgrounder with audiences remaining uninformed as to the city’s history before that date and the fact that Jerusalem was only ever divided during the 19 years of Jordanian occupation. Knell opens:

“Jerusalem is always an issue at the heart of the Israel-Palestinian conflict: a core issue. Israel sees a united Jerusalem as its rightful capital. It captured East Jerusalem in the 1967 Middle East war, occupied it and annexed it in a move that is not recognized internationally. And the Palestinians want their independent Palestinian state to be set up in the West Bank and Gaza with East Jerusalem as their capital.”

So, even in its opening sentences this backgrounder fails to give audiences either a proper account of history or an impartial view of any legal opinions on the topic which deviate from the approved BBC narrative. Knell goes on:

“Now, Palestinians in East Jerusalem are considered to be residents of Israel – not citizens of Israel – and they do feel very isolated, very disenfranchised….”

That statement from Knell is of course inaccurate. Palestinian residents of Jerusalem are entitled to apply for Israeli citizenship and thousands have done so. Those who acquire citizenship are obviously in no way “disenfranchised” and those who chose not to exercise their right to apply for citizenship (and hence to disenfranchise themselves as far as voting in parliamentary elections is concerned) are nevertheless entitled to vote in municipal elections and to receive social security benefits and healthcare.

Clearly Yolande Knell either doesn’t know her stuff or is deliberately misleading BBC audiences on this topic. She continues:

“And we’ve seen really confrontations between angry young Palestinians mainly throwing stones and armed Israeli police becoming almost a daily occurrence in the last few months…”

That whitewashed description of recent Palestinian violence in Jerusalem of course erases from audience view three serious terror attacks in the city in the last two and a half weeks alone, the additional terror attack using a bulldozer in August as well as a total of 171 firebombs in July, August and September according to the ISA monthly reports. According to Knell:

“…and I think you can track it particularly back to July when we had this brutal murder of 16 year-old Mohammed Abu Khdeir who was abducted and burnt alive by Jewish extremists. This was a revenge attack of course for the killing of three young Israelis in the West Bank by Palestinian members of Hamas. Ahm…there are also many other issues that you’ve got going on here. Ahm…the Palestinian residents complaining of discrimination and saying that there is increased tension because of the growing number of Jewish settlers that move into East Jerusalem. These settlements on occupied land are seen as illegal under international law; Israel disputes that.”

Once again we see a BBC journalist parroting the PA party line according to which properties purchased by Jews in certain areas of the city are inaccurately defined as “settlements”. Yolande Knell of course makes no attempt to explain to her listeners why a narrative supporting the exclusion of people from a certain faith or ethnicity from specific geographical areas and their branding as “illegal” should merit promotion by a Western media organisation. She goes on:Knell Jerusalem OS tweet

“And now, on top of all this, this religious dispute going to the heart of the Old City. Ahm…you’ve got these clashes because there have been increased Jewish demands recently for a lifting on a ban of religious practices at the most sensitive holy site. It’s the Al Aqsa Mosque compound for Muslims – the third most sacred place in Islam – this mosque and then this is a site also revered by Jews because it contains…this is where the two Jewish temples were that stood in biblical times and at the moment Jews can’t pray there…ahm…but they can visit.”

Note Knell’s avoidance of the use of the title Temple Mount (coincidentally or not coming just a day after the recently issued bizarre PLO directive to journalists on the topic) and her failure to inform listeners that the place is not merely “revered” by Jews but Judaism’s holiest site. She continues:

“And visits by Jews have led to Palestinian protesters trying to stop them from entering the mosque. They say that these visitors are protected by the Israeli police and it’s just added to all of the tensions that we’ve been seeing here.”

Of course Jewish visitors to Temple Mount do not go there with the intention of “entering the mosque” at all and none have done so – and certainly not with police protection. Yolande Knell is not only providing BBC audiences with inaccurate information, she is whitewashing Palestinian violence on Temple Mount by promoting a false pretext for that violence.

The item continues with Knell later giving a context-free description of temporary restrictions on entry to Temple Mount imposed because of violent rioting there, mostly by young men:

“There are still restrictions being imposed there by Israeli police. Only women and men over 35 can pray there.”

Once again, this backgrounder makes no mention of the continuing incitement by both the PA and Hamas which frequently includes promotion of the notion of a fabricated ‘threat’ to the Al Aqsa Mosque to encourage violent – and paid – rioting.

Yolande Knell has been covering the Middle East for over four years. She knows very well that Palestinian residents of Jerusalem are entitled to apply for Israeli citizenship and that Jews do not visit Temple Mount in order to enter the Al Aqsa Mosque. Had she adhered more closely to BBC editorial guidelines on accuracy and impartiality rather than busying herself with amplification of the Palestinian Authority’s propaganda, millions of listeners to the BBC World Service might have gained some insight into why tensions have escalated in Jerusalem in recent weeks. Despite the BBC’s public purpose remit, they were instead fed a bunch of inflammatory falsehoods and whitewashing which can only further cloud audience understanding of the issue.