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

Throughout the month of August 2019, twenty-five written or filmed reports relating to Israel and/or the Palestinians appeared on the BBC News website’s ‘Middle East’ page, some of which also appeared on other pages and three of which were carried over from the previous month.

(dates indicate the time period during which the item was available on the ‘Middle East’ page)

Three reports concerned terrorist incidents:

Israel hunts killer of off-duty soldier in West Bank (8/8/19 to 14/8/19) discussed here and here

West Bank bomb blast kills 17-year-old Israeli girl (23/8/19 to 25/8/19)

Israeli teenage girl killed in West Bank bomb attack (23/8/19 to 27/8/19) discussed here

Five reports concerned alleged or confirmed external security issues:

Iraq paramilitary force blames US and Israel for mystery blasts (21/8/19 to 22/8/19) discussed here

Iraq paramilitary chief plays down allegation against US (22/8/19 to 26/8/19)

Israel says it struck Iranian ‘killer drone’ sites in Syria (25/8/19 to 27/8/19) discussed here

‘Israeli strikes’ target Palestinian group in Lebanon (26/8/19) discussed here

Netanyahu: Israel will defend itself ‘by any means necessary’ (27/8/19 to 28/8/19)

Four items related to political/diplomatic aspects of the Arab-Israeli conflict, including two reports about alleged Israeli spies in Iran.

‘Iran tortured me into confessing to be an Israeli spy’ Jiyar Gol (13/8/19 to present)

Israel bars Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib from visiting (15/8/19 to 16/8/19) discussed here

Rashida Tlaib rejects ‘humanitarian’ W Bank visit (16/8/19 to 20/8/19) discussed here

Iran ‘convicts British-Iranian dual national of spying for Israel’ (27/8/29 to 30/8/19)

Three items concerned history/archaeology:

Zionism: A very brief history BBC Ideas (25/7/19 to 7/8/29) discussed here

Franz Kafka papers lost in Europe but reunited in Jerusalem (7/8/19 to 13/8/19)

Crusader winery found under house in Israel BBC Monitoring (14/8/19 to 15/8/19)

Two reports – one of which was carried over from the previous month – concerned Palestinian social and political affairs:

Talking about sex no longer so taboo in the Arab world Shereen El Feki (17/7/19 to 1/8/19)

Gaza explosions: ‘Suicide bombers’ kill three police officers (28/8/19 to 1/9/19)

Of eight reports concerning Israeli affairs, one concerned planning:

Israel backs West Bank homes for settlers and Palestinians (31/7/19 to 3/8/19) discussed here

Three reports concerned legal/criminal cases, of which two concerned a case in Cyprus in which Israelis had been released without charge the previous month, yet the BBC continued to publish reports on the website’s ‘Middle East’ page.

Ayia Napa: ‘False rape claim’ case adjourned after lawyer resigns  (7/8/19 to 13/8/19)

Israeli billionaire Beny Steinmetz to be tried over ‘Guinea bribes’ (13/8/19 to 15/8/19)

British woman pleads not guilty to Cyprus ‘false rape claims’ (27/8/19 to 28/8/19)

One report concerned Palestinian detainees:

Palestinian conflict: Diaries of childhood in Israeli military detention Megha Mohan/Yusef Eldin (28/8/19 to present) discussed here

One report concerned health:

Israeli flight attendant dies from measles (13/8/19 to 15/8/19)

Two reports related to a ‘Netflix’ film:

Red Sea Diving Resort: The holiday village run by spies Raffi Berg originally published April 2018 (1/8/19 to 12/8/19)

Netflix streams film of Ethiopian Jews escaping war Emmanuel Igunza (1/8/19 to 4/8/19)

The BBC News website continues its practice of reporting Israeli affairs far more extensively than it does internal Palestinian affairs with visitors having seen nearly seven times more coverage of the former since the beginning of the year.

Related Articles:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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How did BBC News report rare criticism of the PA from the UN?

Following a surge in violent attacks against Israelis in the autumn of 2015, the BBC began using this standard mantra:

“Israel says Palestinian incitement has fuelled the attacks. The Palestinian leadership has blamed frustration rooted in decades of Israeli occupation.”

As has been noted here repeatedly:

“…the BBC has consistently failed to provide its audiences with any serious reporting on the topic of incitement and glorification of terrorism by Palestinian officials. Readers are hence unable to judge for themselves whether or not what ‘Israel says’ is accurate.”

Neither – as we have also previously documented – have BBC audiences seen any comprehensive reporting on the issue of the incitement and glorification of terrorism found in Palestinian schoolbooks, official PA radio and TV children’s programmes and Hamas’ online children’s ‘magazine’.

Last week the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination published a report following a reportedly stormy review earlier in the month.

“The United Nations’ Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in Geneva expressed rare criticism over the Palestinian Authority’s hate speech in school textbooks and in its media, and voiced concern regarding the use of racist language by state officials.

The report was adopted on August 23 and became public last Thursday. The committee mentioned within the report the existence of hate speech “in certain media outlets, especially those controlled by Hamas, social media, public officials’ statements, and school curricula and textbooks, which fuels hatred and may incite violence, particularly hate speech against Israelis, which at times also fuels antisemitism.”

According to the report, the committee called on the Palestinian Authority to combat hate speech and incitement to violence, including on the Internet and by public figures, politicians and media officials, “and remove any derogatory comments and images from school curricula and textbooks that perpetuate prejudices and hatred.””

Having recommended amendments to Palestinian legislation:

“…the committee called to ensure that these laws are not used to “intimidate, harass, arrest, detain and prosecute journalists, human rights defenders and political opponents for exercising their right to freedom of opinion and expression.”

The committee requested that the Palestinians will submit information about the implementation of its recommendations within a year.”

As regular readers know, BBC coverage of internal Palestinian affairs is very limited and the last time the BBC News website published a report relating to an NGO’s allegations of torture by the PA security forces was in October 2018.

So what have BBC audiences heard about this rare criticism of the Palestinian Authority from a UN committee?  The answer to that is – predictably – nothing at all.

Related Articles:

Impartiality fail from BBC’s Barbara Plett

Revisiting BBC reporting on Palestinian social media incitement

 

 

 

 

 

PA’s ban on LGBTQ group gets two minutes of BBC airtime

Some four hours after BBC Watch noted the absence of any BBC reporting on a story concerning a Palestinian Authority ban on the activities of a LGBTQ group a two-minute item appeared on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Six O’Clock News’ (from 13:57 here) on August 19th.

Newsreader: “Gay rights activists in the West Bank have been threatened online after the Palestinian police announced a ban on their campaigns and meetings and called for help to arrest them. The prohibition of the main local LGBTQ group was announced despite the Palestinian Authority having signed up to various international human rights treaties. From Jerusalem, Yolande Knell reports.”

Knell: “In a statement posted on Facebook, a police spokesman described the actions of the LGBTQ group al Qaws – or rainbow – as a blow to the ideals and values of Palestinian society and against the monotheistic religions. Same sex relations aren’t against the law in the West Bank but homosexuality remains largely taboo, as it is across the Arab world. Those involved with the group have been threatened with arrest, accused of sedition after a recent event in the West Bank. In response to the statement announcing the ban – which has now been deleted from Facebook – members of the Palestinian public posted angry messages. ‘Arrest them and burn them all’ read one. Mohammed Abu Ramilla [phonetic] from al Qaws criticised the police for creating an atmosphere of persecution and intimidation.”

Knell did not clarify where her interviewee is located: a factor obviously relevant to his participation in this item.

Abu Ramilla: “That was so shocking to us. For the police to release such a statement that incites people to follow or to report anyone that knows anything about the organisation, which translates to people reporting anyone they know who might be LGBT or Queer in their lives…well. And we think that’s very dangerous, obviously.”

Knell: “Other activists suggest the Palestinian Authority could be in breach of UN treaties on human rights which it signed to try to strengthen its hand in the conflict with Israel. When contacted by the BBC, the Authority’s police refused to comment. The EU funded mission which trains Palestinian police said it was continuing to give advice – including on LGBT rights – and that it was trying to clarify the circumstances of the statement.”  

The same item was aired six hours later on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Midnight News’ (from 20:13 here).

In short, listeners to one domestic BBC radio station heard a two-minute item in two news bulletins, neither of which will be available to the public a month from now.  

Related Articles:

Disparity in BBC LGBTQ Middle East reporting

 

Disparity in BBC LGBTQ Middle East reporting

Two months ago BBC Radio 4 and BBC World Service radio aired reports by Yolande Knell relating to Pride events in Israel.

BBC’s Yolande Knell reports one pride march protest, erases another

BBC’s Yolande Knell recycles her Jerusalem pride report – with a little help

Listeners heard that:

“Although Israel is proud of its diversity […] today the Jerusalem pride march highlighted how deep social and religious differences remain with angry protests along the route.” 

“As last month’s Eurovision Song Contest showed, Israel likes to demonstrate its diversity but the angry protests at today’s march also highlighted the deep social and religious differences that remain.”

“Tel Aviv’s gay-friendly reputation – which it recently flaunted while hosting the Eurovision Song Contest – draws many same-sex Israeli couples to live here as well as lots of foreign visitors. […] But in Israel rights for the gay community fall behind rising cultural acceptance in society.”

“In the Right-wing coalition governments of the prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Jewish ultra-orthodox parties have had an influential role. They reject any proposed legislation which they see as condoning homosexuality, saying it defies Jewish law.”

Knell used a cameo of gay Arab Jerusalemites to amplify delegitimisation of Israel by means of accusations of ‘pinkwashing’.

“Now while the anthem of this march is all about celebrating diversity, you don’t see many Palestinian Jerusalemites here. One reason is the social taboo around homosexuality. But some accuse Israel of pinkwashing: highlighting gay rights at events like this while neglecting Palestinian rights.”

“There are also strong differences of opinion among gay Palestinians. Social and legal prohibitions on homosexuality mean they don’t have their own pride events so some with access to the Israeli parades embrace them, like an East Jerusalemite drag queen in a tight black dress and bright red lipstick. Others, like Zizou, choose to boycott. ‘Pride week just helps Israel pinkwash its image’ he complains, accusing the country of presenting itself as progressive, liberal and LGBT friendly to distract from its conflict with the Palestinians.”

Listeners heard nothing more about that “social taboo” or those “social and legal prohibitions on homosexuality”.

In July the BBC News website published an article about a “Palestinian singer blurring gender lines” which failed to provide readers with any substantial information on the issue of the challenges faced by LGBTQ Palestinians living under Hamas or Palestinian Authority rule.

Also last month the BBC chose to ignore a story about the stabbing of a youth from the Arab Israeli town of Tamra outside a Tel Aviv LGBTQ hostel, allegedly by members of his family.

“…Hebrew media have already reported that the youth had moved to Tel Aviv to escape family pressures to adopt a religious lifestyle.

Security camera footage showed one of the suspects stabbing the boy several times before getting into a car and fleeing the scene.

According to Beit Dror [hostel] staff, the teenager identified the assailant as his brother before he collapsed to the ground.

Doctors at Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Hospital said Sunday that they had managed to stabilize the youth’s condition, which was upgraded to moderate, after he underwent surgery.”

Another example of BBC self-censorship on the issue of gay rights in Palestinian society comes following the publication of an article by Khaled Abu Toameh.

“The Palestinian Authority banned members of the Palestinian Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) community from carrying out any activities in the West Bank.

The ban came after the grassroots group Al-Qaws for Sexual & Gender Diversity in Palestinian Society (Arabic for “the bow”), which engages and supports Palestinians who identify as LGBTQ, was planning to hold a gathering for its members in Nablus at the end of the month. […]

Explaining the decision to ban the LGBTQ group from operating in PA-controlled areas, Luay Zreikat, spokesperson for the PA Police, said that such activities are “harmful to the higher values and ideals of Palestinian society.”

Zreikat said that the group’s activities were completely “unrelated to religions and Palestinian traditions and customs, especially in the city of Nablus.”

He accused unnamed “dubious parties” of working to “create discord and harm civic peace in Palestinian society.”

The PA police will chase those behind the LGBTQ group and see to it that they are brought to trial once they are arrested, Zreikat warned. He further appealed to Palestinians to report to the police about any person connected to the group.”

Although that story has received quite a lot of coverage in local and international media, Yolande Knell and her BBC colleagues in Ramallah have to date shown no interest in reporting it. 

Update: 

PA’s ban on LGBTQ group gets two minutes of BBC airtime

 

BBC News website republishes deleted video report

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

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

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

The video has also been removed from syndicated content…”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mistakes in on-demand and online content

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

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

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

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

Related Articles:

BBC News website fails on transparency

BBC publishes new Editorial Guidelines

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

 

 

 

BBC News website fails on transparency

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

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

And:

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

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

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

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

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

BBC News website Middle East page 9/7/19

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

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

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

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

Its URL now leads BBC audiences to the following:

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

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

Update:

BBC News website republishes deleted video report

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

Throughout the month of June 2019, sixteen written or filmed reports relating to Israel and/or the Palestinians appeared on the BBC News website’s ‘Middle East’ page, some of which also appeared on other pages and three of which were carried over from the previous month.

(dates indicate the time period during which the item was available on the ‘Middle East’ page)

One report concerned security issues:

Israel strikes Syrian targets near Golan Heights (2/6/19 to 7/6/19) discussed here

Five items related to political/diplomatic aspects of the Arab-Israeli conflict – specifically the economic workshop in Bahrain:

Middle East peace plan: Jared Kushner proposes $50bn fund (22/6/19 to 24/6/19)

Is peace between Israel and Palestinians out of reach? Yolande Knell (24/6/19 to 3/7/19) discussed here

Trump’s ‘deal of the century’ falls flat in West Bank Yolande Knell (25/6/19 to 2/7/19)

Kushner urges Palestinians to embrace ‘opportunity of century’ (25/6/19 to present)

Israel-Palestinian conflict: Kushner says peace can bring prosperity (25/6/19 to 27/6/19)

One article had a historical theme:

Last known survivor of Sobibor death camp uprising dies aged 96 (4/6/19 to 7/6/19)

One report concerned internal Palestinian affairs:

Anger at Palestinian ministers’ secret 67% pay rises (6/6/19 to 12/6/19) discussed here

Of eight reports concerning Israeli affairs, three were about internal politics:

Israel’s Netanyahu: Is ‘King’ Bibi’s crown slipping? Tom Bateman (30/5/19 to 19/6/19)

Israel to hold fresh election as Netanyahu fails to form coalition (29/5/19 to 2/6/19)

Israel: Amir Ohana becomes first openly gay minister (6/6/19 to 11/6/19) discussed here

One report concerned a legal/criminal case:

Benjamin Netanyahu’s wife Sara admits misusing public funds (16/6/19 to 19/6/19) discussed here

One report related to an Israeli national holiday:

Clashes break out at Jerusalem holy site Tom Bateman (3/6/19 to 14/6/19) discussed here

One report concerned internal security:

Russia denies role in Israeli airport GPS jamming BBC Technology (27/6/19 to 1/7/19)

One report related to planning:

Golan Heights: Israel unveils ‘Trump Heights’ settlement (16/6/19 to 18/6/19) discussed here and here

One report can be classified as miscellaneous:

I never met my daughter’s dad – she was his dying wish Sarah McDermott (22/5/19 to 5/6/19)

While BBC audiences saw eight reports concerning Israeli affairs, just one report on internal Palestinian affairs appeared throughout the month.

In the six months between January and June 2019 the BBC News website has published sixty-seven articles pertaining to Israeli affairs and just eight reports on internal Palestinian affairs.

Related Articles:

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

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

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

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

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

No BBC reporting on arrest of Bahrain workshop participant

While BBC coverage of last week’s economic workshop in Bahrain (see ‘related articles’ below) made much of the Palestinian Authority’s boycott of the event, audiences were not informed that a number of Palestinian businessmen did attend the conference. Neither, of course, did audiences learn what happened once those participants returned home.

“Palestinian Authority security forces released Hebron businessman Saleh Abu Mayaleh late on Saturday night, after he had been detained upon his return from the economic conference in Bahrain.

According to Palestinian reports, the decision to release the businessman at 10:45 p.m. followed a threatening letter from the US Embassy. […]

Palestinian sources said that the businessman, identified as 49-year-old Saleh Abu Mayaleh from Hebron, was arrested by the PA General Intelligence Service headed by Gen. Majed Faraj.

Ashraf Jabari, another businessman from Hebron who attended the workshop as a representative of The Palestinian Business Network, told The Jerusalem Post that Abu Mayaleh was arrested near his home on Friday, a day after he and the other Palestinians who attended the workshop returned home. According to 45-year-old Jabari, a total of 15 Palestinian businessmen attended.

Jabari told the Post that PA security forces raided the homes of three other Palestinian businessmen in an attempt to arrest them as well.

“The Palestinian security forces did not find them,” Jabari said. “They searched their homes and confiscated security cameras and documents. They told the families of the businessmen that they are wanted for participating in the Bahrain workshop.” Sources in Hebron said that PA intelligence officers raided and searched the home of businessman Ashraf Ghanmen, but he fled his home shortly before officers arrived.”

Mr Ghanmen told of his experiences in an interview (Hebrew and Arabic) with an Israeli radio station and also (in English) with the Jerusalem Post.

“I’m afraid for my life,” Ghanem said in an interview with The Jerusalem Post. “I can’t go back to my home.” […]

“I’m now staying in a safe place,” Ghanem said. “I didn’t flee to Israel. I can’t move around because the Palestinian security forces took all my documents. I don’t have any money because they also took my credit cards. They even confiscated the security cameras from my home and searched the homes of my brothers.” 

Ghanem said he had received threats from the PA security forces and Fatah officials in Hebron before he went to Bahrain. 
“They told me I would be killed if I went to the economic conference in Bahrain,” he added. “In spite of the threats, I decided to go because I didn’t do anything wrong. Palestinian law does not ban anyone from participating in a conference.” 

Obviously that story does not fit into the BBC’s framing of the Bahrain conference and neither does another one that was reported by MEMRI.

“A video posted online on June 26, 2019, features a statement made by a group of armed and masked Fatah members from the town of Yamoun, in the West Bank. The men warn against “interacting and cooperating with the leaders of the Zionist entity” especially in its “economic enterprises”. They continued to say that they will strike with “an iron fist the necks of anyone” who sells out the Palestinian rights and anyone who participates in the Bahrain workshop. Those who attend the workshop have “opened the gates of Hell on themselves.” The Fatah members evoke the memory of the Black September organization and pledge that “Fatah’s gun is certainly capable of roaming the capitals of the world once again, in order to hunt down every single traitor and collaborator, and those engaged in normalization [of relations with Israel].” The Fatah members warn the “treacherous scoundrels among the Arab rulers” from cooperation with Israel as well.”

While the BBC gave generous coverage to Palestinian Authority and PLO talking points throughout its coverage of the Bahrain conference – and not least their claim to aspire to a ‘two-state solution’ – it has to date completely ignored those threats of violence and the PA’s intimidation of Palestinian citizens.

Related Articles:

BBC journalists get a ‘briefing’ from a past interviewee

BBC Radio 4 provides a platform for the PLO’s ‘apartheid’ smear

More PLO propaganda and polemic on BBC WS radio – part one

More PLO propaganda and polemic on BBC WS radio – part two

BBC widens its ‘illegal under international law’ mantra to include people

BBC radio ‘impartial’ on payments to terrorists

Another PA official gets unchallenging BBC radio air-time

More monochrome BBC WS radio reporting on the Bahrain workshop

BBC R4 Bahrain conference coverage continues – part one

BBC R4 Bahrain conference coverage continues – part two

BBC WS ‘Newshour’ listeners get little more than PA talking points

 

 

 

 

Another chapter in a story ignored by the BBC for two years

Since the summer of 2017 we have periodically documented the absence of BBC coverage of a story concerning Palestinian citizens which falls outside the corporation’s usual framing.

BBC News ignores an unusual legal story from Israel

Story of PA torture continues to be side-lined by BBC

PA torture case still being ignored by the BBC

Last week the Jerusalem Post reported that the Palestinian citizens who won a legal battle against the Palestinian Authority in Israeli courts are to ask the ICC to take up their case.

“A group of over 50 Palestinians is expected to request that the International Criminal Court probe the Palestinian Authority for war crimes of torturing them.

Represented by Uri Morad, director of International Law at the Jerusalem Institute for Justice (JIJ), and lawyer Barak Kedem of the law firm Arbus, Kedem and Tzur, the group of Palestinians is trying to capitalize on legal judgments they have already won in Israeli civil courts on the issue.

The JIJ issued a statement on Sunday that they would file their complaint with the ICC in The Hague on Monday. […]

In the first case of its kind, an Israeli court in July 2017 ruled that 51 Palestinians who were tortured by the PA for cooperating with Israel could sue the Authority for damages.

That 1,860-page ruling, based on dozens of witnesses over several years, was one of the most bizarre in years, as it involved Palestinian citizens coming before the courts of the Israeli “occupation” to get justice for their mistreatment by their own Palestinian law enforcement.”

Israel HaYom added:

“On Monday, the filmed testimonies of the former prisoners are slated to be shown at the International Criminal Court. Attorney Uri Morad, head of the international law department at the JIJ, explained that “In February, we contacted the ICC at The Hague and asked for a criminal probe into PA President Mahmoud Abbas on suspicion of crimes he [allegedly] perpetrated against his own people, including an ongoing and extensive spree of murder, torture, and illegal imprisonments against the Palestinian population.

“The testimonies that will be presented tomorrow [Monday] demonstrate a well-oiled system that uses violent means to oppress the civilian population,” Morad said.”

Notwithstanding the BBC News website’s publication eight months ago of a recycled version of a report published by an external organisation on arbitrary arrests and torture by Palestinian forces, BBC audiences continue to be denied serious, original BBC reporting on this story as well as on other aspects of internal Palestinian affairs.

 

 

BBC News finally gets round to mentioning new PA prime minister

The day after we noted on these pages that BBC audiences had heard nothing about a two year-old self-awarded pay rise to Palestinian Authority cabinet ministers, the BBC News website published a report headlined “Anger at Palestinian ministers’ secret 67% pay rises”.

BBC audiences finally learned – three months on – that a new PA prime minister had been appointed – but were not told that the pervious one had resigned in January.

“UN Middle East peace envoy Nickolay Mladenov said such moves “defy logic and anger people” when Palestinians were struggling with economic hardship.

Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh had agreed to end the practice, he added.

Mr Shtayyeh – an economist who took office in April – has also ordered an investigation, during which ministers will reportedly receive half their salaries.”

The BBC did not clarify that, as reported by AP, most PA employees are currently only being paid half their salaries:

“Newly appointed Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh, a longtime adviser to Abbas, has suspended the pay raises and referred the issue to Abbas “to review it and take legal measures.” While the issue is investigated, ministers will receive half their salaries, like most other government employees, according to government spokesman Ibrahim Milhim.””

Notably, the BBC completely avoided the topic of the reaction on the Palestinian street to the news of the secret pay rises.

Readers were provided with a link to a recent interview with Shtayyeh.

“In an interview with the New York Times published on Wednesday, Mr Shtayyeh warned that the PA was in such dire financial straits that it was “in a collapsing situation” and could be bankrupt by July or August.”

The BBC’s explanation of that claim focused on two factors, the first being tax revenue transfers from Israel.

“The financial crisis was exacerbated this February by a dispute with Israel over the transfer of tax and tariff revenues it collects on the PA’s behalf.

Israel announced it would freeze the transfer of about $139m (£109m) – an amount it said was equal to that paid by the PA in 2018 to families of Palestinians jailed by Israel or killed while carrying out attacks.

Israeli officials say the payments incentivise terrorism. But the PA insists they are welfare payments for relatives of prisoners and “martyrs”.

The PA responded to the freeze by refusing to accept any further Israeli revenue transfers, which account for about half its budget.”

The second factor cited is the US administration.

“Since 2018, the US has ended both bilateral aid for Palestinians and contributions for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (Unrwa).

Those moves came after the PA cut off diplomatic contacts in response to President Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the US embassy to the city from Tel Aviv.”

The BBC did not bother to inform readers that part of the aid cuts were also linked to the Palestinian Authority’s policy of paying salaries to convicted terrorists or that another category of aid – security aid – was actually refused by the Palestinian Authority in December 2018 when it informed the US that:

“The Government of Palestine respectfully informs the United States Government that, as of January 31st, 2019, it fully disclaims and no longer wishes to accept any form of assistance referenced in ATCA…the Government of Palestine unambiguously makes the choice not to accept such assistance.”

That omission is particularly relevant in light of the fact that the BBC did tell readers that:

“Mr Shtayyeh warned that if the PA experienced a financial collapse it would have to put security personnel in the occupied West Bank on unpaid leave.”

Given the PA’s rivalry with Hamas, that scenario is of course extremely unlikely.

Obviously the issue of the Palestinian Authority’s policy of spending some 7% of its annual budget on payments to terrorists and their families is relevant to this story but the last time BBC audiences heard anything about that topic was eleven months ago.

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