BBC Business ‘forgets’ to clarify that quoted academic is BDS campaigner

An article headlined “How tech is bringing Israelis and Palestinians together” appeared in the ‘features’ sections of the BBC News website’s ‘Middle East’ and ‘Business’ pages on the morning of April 30th. Written by Melissa Jun Rowley, most of the article focuses unremarkably on various “technology partnerships” but some interesting framing is also in evidence.

Paragraph three of the article tells readers that:

“…Israeli-Palestinian relations have been relentlessly grim ever since the foundation of Israel in 1948 and the subsequent Arab-Israeli conflict that has been rumbling on ever since.”

The word subsequent of course means “coming after something in time” but “grim” Israeli-Palestinian relations and the Arab-Israeli conflict of course did not commence following – and as a result of – “the foundation of Israel in 1948” as Rowley’s framing suggests.

Another notable point concerns some of the six images used to illustrate the article. Three of the photographs show people who participate in some of the programmes it features. One is a video first published by the BBC in December 2018. One is an image of torn Palestinian and Israeli flags captioned “In a fractured land, many young people from opposite sides never meet each other”. The final image shows buildings (in Givat Ze’ev, but readers are not given the location) with the caption “Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank are one of many contentious issues in the region”.

Interestingly, out of “many contentious issues” the BBC chose to exclusively highlight “Israeli settlements” rather than, say, Palestinian terrorism or the Palestinian refusal to accept the existence the Jewish state.

Rowley’s take-away messaging comes at the end of the article.

“But will such collaborations lead to a stronger economy for the region and potentially a resolution of the conflict?

That remains unlikely, believes Magid Shihade, faculty member at the Institute for International Studies at Birzeit University on the West Bank, while onerous trade restrictions remain in place.

Under the Paris Protocol between the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli government, Palestinians cannot import what they like from abroad and are prevented from developing their own products freely.

“The first step for change is to remove all Israeli restriction in trade, thus letting Palestinian and Israeli businesses collaborate on an equal footing,” says Mr Shihade.

But Israel believes such restrictions are necessary to maintain its security in the troubled region.”

The 1994 Paris Protocol was of course signed by the PLO rather than “the Palestinian Authority” and was incorporated into the Oslo II agreement of 1995. Rowley fails to provide any proper explanation of her dubious claim that “Palestinians cannot import what they like from abroad and are prevented from developing their own products freely” which apparently relates to restrictions on dual-use goods which can be used for terrorism.

Neither does Rowley bother to inform readers that while her quoted ‘authority’ Magid Shihade is not an economist, he is a ‘one-stater’ who co-founded the ‘US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel’ as well as (together with his wife) another pro-BDS group called ‘Pakistanis for Palestine’.

The Paris Protocol is seen by the BDS movement as part of the cooperation with Israel which it rejects and in 2007 PACBI (The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel) recommended that the BDS campaign “Build pressure on PA officials for ending normalization with Israel (end security coordination, rescind Paris Protocol on economic cooperation, etc.)”. It therefore comes as no surprise to see BDS campaigner Magid Shihade advocating the annulment of that treaty.

Unfortunately it is equally unsurprising to see the BBC amplifying a position taken by the anti-peace BDS campaign without full disclosure – as required by BBC editorial guidelines on impartiality – of the ‘particular viewpoint’ of the sole academic ‘expert’ quoted in this article.  

Related Articles:

BBC News’ ‘different side’ to Gaza is much of the same

Reviewing BBC reporting on the BDS campaign in 2018

BBC promotes selective narrative on PA economy

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

Event touted by BBC as ‘non-political’ bans UK participant on political grounds

Four years ago the BBC’s Jon Donnison (who was based in the region at the time) promoted a marathon run in the PA controlled territories as a ‘non-political’ event – despite very clear evidence to the contrary.

“The Israelis should look at this purely as a sporting event. It has nothing to do with politics,” says Samia al-Wazir, the spokeswoman for the Palestinian Olympic Committee.” [emphasis added]

This year that marathon is taking place on March 31st and British comedian (and marathon runner) Eddie Izzard had planned to take part.

The event’s organisers had other ideas:

A BDS campaign linked website that received promotion from BBC Music just last month put out a press release:

“British comedian Eddie Izzard cannot run for freedom this Friday if he entertains in Tel Aviv on Thursday, say Palestine Marathon organisers.

“We refuse to be used as a fig leaf to cover up Izzard’s whitewashing of Israel’s occupation and apartheid” Palestinian campaigners commented.

Eddie Izzard, who ran 27 marathons in tribute to Mandela in 2016, and who is a UNICEF ambassador, should be consistent and stand against Israeli Apartheid, say Artists for Palestine UK. […]

The Palestinian Campaign for the Cultural and Academic Boycott of Israel [PACBI – Ed], commented:  “Eddie Izzard is not welcomed in the Palestine marathon after he has crossed our boycott picket line. Today, performing in Tel Aviv is equivalent to performing in Sun City during the time of apartheid, and there is no balancing act that can justify violating the Palestinian boycott call. We refuse to be used as a fig leaf to cover up Izzard’s whitewashing of Israel’s occupation and apartheid.””

Jon Donnison’s 2013 article is still available online. In light of the stance taken by the marathon’s organisers and BDS supporters, the BBC clearly needs to rethink its promotion of the event as having “nothing to do with politics”.

Related Articles:

BBC’s Donnison promotes Bethlehem Marathon as non-political event

Bethlehem Marathon: the bit the BBC did not report

BBC Music promotes falsehoods and BDS campaign website

BBC WS ‘The History Hour’ breaches impartiality guidelines with Palestinian activist

The June 13th edition of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘The History Hour’ included an item about “the Six Day War between Israel and its Arab neighbours” which is available here from 26:40 or from 24:35 in the podcast here or here. The transcript below is taken from the podcast version.History Hour 14 6

Presenter Max Pearson introduces the item as follows:

“…we’re going to take a close look at one of the twentieth century’s defining events in the Middle East. In 1967 what quickly became known as the Six Day War broke out between Israel and the armed forces of Egypt, Jordan and Syria. It resulted in a rapid redrawing of the region’s de facto borders and a significant humiliation for the Arab powers. Of course this is a deeply controversial topic with highly charged views on both sides. So, for obvious reasons, we’re going to hear from both sides – next week: the Israeli view. But right now Louise Hidalgo hears from two Palestinians about their memories of that time.”

In her own introduction, Louise Hidalgo makes no more effort than is apparent in Pearson’s to provide listeners with the all-important context of the reasons behind the war and the events which led to the preceding build-up of tensions.

Hidalgo: “It’s early June 1967 and Israel and its Arab neighbours are embarking on a war that will change the shape of the Middle East. Samia Khoury lived in a Palestinian neighbourhood of East Jerusalem with her husband and two small children. Jordan ruled East Jerusalem then and the West Bank and the build-up of tension with Israel had been palpable.”

Of course nobody – including Samia Khoury herself – would have described her neighbourhood as “Palestinian” at the time. Hidalgo fails to inform listeners how Jordan came to ‘rule’ parts of Jerusalem and Judea & Samaria and hence they remain unaware of one of the prime factors which contributed to this war of continuance.

Throughout the entire item, Palestinians are portrayed exclusively as powerless victims of circumstances beyond their control – and responsibility. Statements such as those made by the chairman of the PLO in the period preceding the outbreak of hostilities have no place in this politicised version of ‘history’.

Shukairy statements

Hence, listeners hear only accounts such as the following from the programme’s two interviewees.

Samia Khoury: “It really worried me. I felt could this be another Nakba. I mean, I’m going somewhere else and then I can’t come back home.”

Hidalgo adds:

“The memory of what had happened 19 years earlier in 1948 was still raw among Palestinians. Then, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians had fled or been driven out of their homes during the fighting that surrounded the birth of the State of Israel. They thought they’d be able to go back but they couldn’t. Many lived in the refugee camps that sprang up afterwards. Palestinians call that time the Nakba, or catastrophe.”

Once again, the context of the Arab decision to attack the nascent Israeli state and the calls by Arab leaders to evacuate towns and villages is erased from Hidalgo’s account: Palestinians are agency-free victims of circumstance according to her portrayal of events.

Hidalgo also says:

“By the end of those six days the scale of the Arabs’ defeat was clear. Israel now controlled territory four times its size and the Old City of Jerusalem. For the first time, Jews could pray freely at their sacred Western Wall.”

Had Hidalgo added ‘in nineteen years’ after “for the first time”, that sentence would have been accurate. However, she did not.

The item also includes a gratuitous – and of course unsupported – tale of ‘Israeli cruelty’ from someone who was an eight year-old child at the time.

Hidalgo: “Nuri remembers the terrifying walk they made across the wobbling, blackened remains of the [Allenby] bridge up the hill to the Israeli commander.”

Nuri Akram Nuri: “And my mum aid that she’s from the town of Ramallah, she lives there, her husband is there and she’d like to reunite with him. And he refused. […] This guy saw that she was persistent so he put his gun and said you go back now or I’ll shoot you in front of your kids.”

Towards the end of the item, listeners hear promotion of Samia Khoury’s politicized narrative.

Samia Khoury: “We were sure that this is going to be temporary but…ah…the more time passed by we felt so stupid. The everyday small things that you take for granted; this is what the occupation is about. It chokes you. Chokes your thinking, chokes your spirit.”

Of course Hidalgo refrains from asking Khoury whether or not nineteen years of Jordanian occupation also “chokes your spirit” and – in breach of BBC guidelines on impartiality – she also refrains from adequately ‘summarising the standpoint’ of her interviewee.

Hidalgo: “Samia Khoury still lives in Beit Hanina in eastern Jerusalem and is a trustee of the Palestinian university Birzeit which was founded by her aunt in the 20s.”

In fact, Nabiha Nasir founded the Birzeit School for Girls in 1924. Only in 1976 – whilst under Israeli rule – did the establishment officially become a university.

In addition to being a trustee of Birzeit University, Samia Khoury (like several of her fellow trustees and staff at that institution) is also a member of the Advisory Board of PACBI – Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel. She is also an activist with Sabeel – a Palestinian Christian campaigning organization which promotes the eradication of the Jewish state by means of the ‘one state solution’ and dabbles in supersessionism and ‘liberation theology’.  Like PACBI, Sabeel is part of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel.

In other words, Samia Khoury is not just some random Palestinian grandmother who does voluntary work for a university. She is a veteran activist with a specific political narrative to promote and – according to BBC editorial guidelines – that fact should have been conveyed to listeners to this programme in order to enable them to put her account of ‘history’ into its appropriate context.

Related Articles:

The Six Day War – CAMERA website

Resources:

Max Pearson on Twitter

BBC World Service contact details

How to Complain to the BBC

 

BBC Radio 4 enables Ghada Karmi’s delegitimisation

h/t JK

On Thursday May 9th 2013 BBC Radio 4’s ‘Today’ programme included presenter John Humphrys discussing the decision by Stephen Hawking to cancel his participation in a conference in Jerusalem.  Starting from 1:34:38, the relevant section is available here for a short period of time and here as a podcast. 

Today 9 5 Hawking

Humphrys’ guests were Dr. Toby Greene of BICOM and Dr. Ghada Karmi of Exeter University. Ghada Karmi will of course be familiar to many readers as a long-standing proponent of the “one-state solution“, especially – but by no means exclusively – on the pages of the Guardian. Radio 4 listeners were however not informed of Dr Karmi’s views before she launched into her diatribe. Rather – in contravention of clause 4.4.14 of the BBC Editorial Guidelines on impartiality – she was introduced merely as a “Palestinian writer at the University of Exeter”. 

Today 9 5 Hawking 2

Here is Karmi speaking at a PSC demonstration organized as part of the Global March to Jerusalem events in London in March 2012. 

Not only was Karmi’s rich record of campaigning for the dissolution of Israel concealed from Radio 4 listeners, but she was given a platform from which to promote her tirade of downright lies and defamation with very little hindrance.

At 1:36:18 Humphrys says:

“Dr. Karmi; isn’t it always better if people talk to each other?”

GK: “Well it would be. It’s always better and we welcome the talking…”

JH: “So why the boycott?”

GK: “…if it has any effect [scoffing laugh] and the whole issue with Israel is that talking, engaging – all the stuff that Dr. Greene is talking about – has been happening for decades and we wouldn’t stop it but the fact…”

JH: “But you have stopped it with the boycott.”

GK: “No, not at all. Let me correct you. This is very important. We’ve never stopped. We never would stop talking. The issue is not that. The issue is what is to be done because it is not enough to talk. People have been talking to Israel for a very long time. It has made no difference whatsoever.”

There’s lie number one. The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign, led by PACBI, explicitly rejects all forms of what it terms ‘normalisation’ – i.e. conversation – between Israelis and Palestinians. 

“In April 2010, PACBI produced a document endorsed by ‘Palestinian youth’, including the Birzeit University Student Council. The document states that “we declare our rejection of normalization with the Israel (sic) on all levels”. The definition of ‘normalization’ given is as follows:

The definition of normalization, in brief, is “participating in any project, initiative or activity whether locally or internationally, that is designed to bring together-whether directly or indirectly- Palestinian and/or Arab youth with Israelis (whether individuals or institutions) and is not explicitly designed to resist or expose the occupation and all forms of discrimination and oppression inflicted upon the Palestinian people.” “

Additional lies are swift to follow. Humphreys asks:

“But if a boycott is not intended to stop people talking to each other, what is it meant to do?”

GK: “It’s meant to give a signal, to raise awareness, to make people understand who might not know the situation – that Palestinian academics under occupation have no academic freedom. That’s what this is about. Now for Professor Hawking to refuse to go to this conference is honourable, it is principled and he is to be commended because he has given an important signal to the world saying a state like Israel which practices the kind of repression and apartheid against Palestinian academics should not be dignified with the attendance of people like him.”

As Toby Greene tries valiantly to make clear, the notion that Israel ‘represses’ Palestinian academics in either the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip or the Palestinian Authority-controlled territories is nothing more than a figment of Karmi’s imagination. Karmi conveniently  ‘forgets’ to inform listeners that there were no universities in what is today the area under PA rule until 1967 or that one of PACBI’s prominent leaders, Omar Barghouti, studied at Tel Aviv University – which obviously puts paid to her baseless and defamatory charges of “apartheid”. But Karmi carries on with the promotion of her blatant lies, interrupting Toby Greene’s explanation that Palestinian universities are not under Israeli control with theatrical laughs and condescendingly saying:

“Dr. Greene. Listen. Take a taxi. Do me a favour. Go to the West Bank, try to go to Gaza. See what’s going on there.”

If Dr Greene were to take up Karmi’s suggestion, he would of course see exactly what academic freedom apparently entails for the likes of Dr. Karmi. 

Birzeit University, December 2012

Humphrys interjects:

“The point is that they are not controlled by Israel.”

Karmi replies:

“Well that is nonsense! They are under Israeli occupation and that is simply nonsense. The reality is that life for Palestinian academics is extremely hard. They suffer from under-funding – the universities are under-funded. The universities are closed. They’re prevented from getting to their places of work. Students are prevented from going to their lectures by checkpoints. They are under extremely harsh conditions there.”

Of course any under-funding of Palestinian universities has nothing to do with Israel and everything to do with the priorities of the Palestinian Authority – which spends 6% of its budget on salaries for convicted terrorists – and Hamas – which spends untold amounts of money on weapons. Karmi’s claim that Palestinian lecturers and students are “prevented” from travelling to universities by checkpoints conveniently whitewashes out of the picture the fact that those checkpoints did not exist before the Palestinian decision to launch a terror war in September 2000.

Humphries concludes:

“So the boycott will continue until the occupation – as you describe it – is lifted?”

Karmi uses the opportunity to repeat her lies yet again:

“Absolutely! And I think that everyone with the slightest conscience in the world should support the idea that a state like Israel which practices the kind of apartheid and repression against another people cannot be given credit or treated ‘business as usual’.”

The case could be put that this part of the ‘Today’ programme was balanced, having given the opportunity for expression to both sides of the issue. However, what most listeners will take away from it is the bundle of lies which Ghada Karmi was given the chance by the BBC to voice and repeat without adequate correction on the part of the presenter.

There is, however, a bigger and much more important problem with this programme. By concentrating on the frankly trivial and transient subject of Hawking’s decision and presenting it as a subject for discussion between the holders of two opposing viewpoints, the BBC has muffled the much more crucial bigger picture – the one of which its audiences do need to be made aware. 

That, of course, is the fact that the BDS movement is not about getting this or that ‘celeb’ to cancel a lecture or a concert in Israel, but about the campaign to delegitimize the Jewish state in public opinion, with the racist end game of bringing about the dissolution of that state and an end to Jewish self-determination. By providing Ghada Karmi with a platform from which to spout her untruths and delegitimisation unhindered, the BBC is – intentionally or not – enabling that racist campaign.