Reviewing BBC News website portrayal of Israel and the Palestinians in Q3 2016 – part two

As noted in part one of this post, between July 1st and September 30th 2016, eighty-seven reports relating to Israel and/or the Palestinians (along with a few others relating to non-Israeli Jews) appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page, some of which were cross posted from other sections of the site. 13.8% of those reports covered stories relating to security/

The remaining 86.2% of those articles can be divided into a number of categories. (The dates in brackets represent the period of time in which each report was available to visitors to the website’s Middle East page.)

Seven reports related to historical subject matter.

Entebbe pilot Michel Bacos ‘saw hostage murdered’  (3/7/16 to 4/7/16)

Researchers make ‘first discovery’ of Philistine cemetery (10/7/16 to 11/7/16)

Ancient barley DNA gives insight into crop development (18/7/16 to 20/7/16)

Rio 2016: Widow welcomes Munich massacre memorial (2/8/16 to 3/8/16) discussed here

Rio 2016 Olympics: Widow’s wish sees ceremony mark killings of Israeli athletes (3/8/16 to 8/8/16) discussed here

Jerusalem Biblical Temple floor designs ‘restored’ (6/9/16 to 8/9/16) discussed here

Digital technology reveals secret of ancient biblical scroll (22/9/16 to 23/9/16)

Two reports can be categorised as miscellaneous.

Auschwitz survivor Elie Wiesel dies aged 87 (3/7/16 to 4/7/16)

Microscope observes life of the ocean floor (13/7/16 to 16/7/16)

20 reports related to Israeli diplomatic/international relations and/or political aspects of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Israel and Palestinians: Powers warn of ‘perpetual conflict’ (1/7/16 to 3/7/16) discussed here

Israel-Palestinians: Blame and bitterness keeping peace at bay (1/7/16 to 8/7/16) discussed here 

Turkey sends Gaza aid after six-year rift with Israel ends (3/7/16 to 4/7/16) discussed here

Israeli politician Tzipi Livni ‘summonsed by UK police’ (4/7/16) discussed here

Netanyahu in Entebbe: A personal journey amid a diplomatic push (4/7/16 to 5/7/16) discussed here

Israel’s Netanyahu in Entebbe to mark hostage-rescue anniversary (4/7/16 to 5/7/16) discussed here

US criticises Israel over plans for new settlement homes (6/7/16 to 7/7/16) discussed here

Israel and Palestinians: Egypt FM urges two-state solution in rare visit (10/7/16 to 11/7/16) discussed here

Palestinians plan to sue Britain over 1917 Balfour act (26/7/16 to 28/7/16) discussed here

Rio 2016 Olympics: Lebanese athletes refuse to travel with Israel team (6/8/16 to 9/8/16) discussed here

Rio Olympics 2016: ‘Not what the Olympics are about’ – judo player refuses to shake hands  (12/8/16 to 16/8/16) discussed here

Rio Olympics 2016: Egyptian judoka Islam El Shehaby ‘sent home for handshake snub’ (16/8/16 to 17/8/16) discussed here

Celtic fans raise £85,000 ‘for Palestine’ after Uefa charge (22/8/16) discussed here

Israel ‘approves 464 settlement homes in West Bank’ (31/8/16 to 2/9/16) discussed here

Rio Paralympics: Algeria goalball team absence investigated (11/9/16)

Rio Paralympics: Algeria goalball team ‘did not boycott’ games (12/9/16 to 13/9/16)

US approves record $38bn Israel military aid deal (14/9/16 to 15/9/16) discussed here and here

UN’s Ban: Netanyahu ethnic cleansing remarks ‘outrageous’ (16/9/16 to 18/9/16) discussed here

Israel’s Netanyahu asks Palestinian president to address parliament (22/9/16 to 25/9/16)

The hopes for peace between Israelis and Palestinians (27/9/16 to 29/9/16)

Three reports cross-posted on the Middle East page related to antisemitism.

Poland’s Duda vows anti-Semitism fight at Kielce anniversary (4/7/16 to 5/7/16)

Amos Oz: Saying Israel should not exist is anti-Semitic (13/9/16 to 14/9/16) discussed here

Amos Oz: Saying Israel should not exist is anti-Semitic (14/9/16)

Six reports related to Palestinian affairs.

Palestinian authorities investigate mosque music mix-up (12/8/16 to 15/8/16) 

Palestinian suspect in police killings ‘beaten to death’ (23/8/16 to 25/8/16) discussed here

Gaza’s last tiger to leave for new home in South Africa (24/8/16 to 25/8/16) discussed here

Palestinian court delays municipal elections after challenges (8/9/16 to 9/9/16) discussed here

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas ‘was KGB agent’ (8/9/16 to 9/9/16) discussed here

Palestinian women fight elections name ‘censorship’ (13/9/16 to 21/9/16) 

Of 37 reports concerning Israel related stories, nineteen related to the illness and death of former president Shimon Peres. The reports can be divided into sub categories including:

a) Shimon Peres:

Former Israeli President Shimon Peres ‘critical but stable’ after stroke (14/9/16) 

Shimon Peres: Ex-Israeli president ‘showing improvement’ after stroke (14/9/16 to 16/9/16) 

Shimon Peres, former Israeli president, dies aged 93 (28/9/16)

Obituary: Shimon Peres, Israeli founding father (28/9/16 to 30/9/16)

Shimon Peres: Long legacy of Israel’s elder statesman (28/9/16 to 2/10/16) discussed here

Chief rabbi pays tribute to former Israel PM Shimon Peres (28/9/16) 

Shimon Peres on turning 90 (28/9/16 – originally from 2013)

Chemi Peres: ‘Farewell to our beloved father (28/9/16 to 29/9/16)

Shimon Peres’ wish for peace lives on – Yossi Beilin (28/9/16 to 30/9/16)

Shimon Peres: An emigre who became a world statesman (28/9/16 to 30/9/16)

Shimon Peres: Tributes from around the world (28/9/16 to 30/9/16)

Shimon Peres’s death closes a chapter in Israel’s history (28/9/16 to 3/10/16)

Israel’s Shimon Peres lies in state at parliament (29/9/16)

Shimon Peres: The Nobel Peace Prize winner’s final speech (29/9/16 to 30/9/16)

Body of Shimon Peres lies in state (29/9/16 to 30/9/16)

Shimon Peres funeral: Leaders hail legacy of former Israeli leader (30/9/16 to 3/10/16)

Palestinian and Israeli leaders shake hands at Peres funeral (30/9/16 to 7/10/16)

Shimon Peres was a great man of the world, says Israeli PM (30/9/16 to 3/10/16)

Obama: Abbas at Peres funeral ‘a reminder of unfinished peace’ (30/9/16 to 3/10/16) 

b) reports relating to legal and/or criminal issues:

Jerusalem Gay Pride: Jailed killer Schlissel ‘planned new attack’ (21/7/16 to 24/7/16)

Israeli tourist ‘gang-raped’ in northern India, two arrested (25/7/16 to 27/7/16)

Franz Kafka: Israeli library wins legal battle over unpublished papers (9/8/16 to 10/8/16)

Israeli woman and baby kept at airport in DNA case (9/8/16 to 11/8/16)

c) society:

Four-legged friends get cinema outing in Tel Aviv (12/7/16 to 18/7/16)

Jerusalem LGBT parade returns after stabbing attack (21/7/16 to 25/7/16)

The ultra-Orthodox Jews combining tech and the Torah (9/9/16 to 11/9/16)

The island where thousands go to get married (11/9/16 to 13/9/16)

World’s oldest man, Yisrael Kristal, 113, to hold bar mitzvah (15/9/16 to 16/9/16)

d) domestic news/politics:

Israel army names new chief rabbi criticised over rape comments (12/7/16 to 13/7/16) discussed here

EU criticises Israel law forcing NGOs to reveal foreign funding (12/7/16 to 13/7/16) discussed here

Israeli parliament passes controversial impeachment law (20/7/16 to 21/7/16) discussed here and here

Israel police chief: ‘Natural’ to suspect Ethiopians of crime (31/8/16 to 1/9/16) discussed here 

Israel: Three dead in Tel Aviv after car park collapses (5/9/16 to 6/9/16)

Israeli restaurant bill: Chinese tourists paid $4,393 (8/9/16 to 9/9/16)

e) technology:

Who are the hackers who cracked the iPhone? (26/8/16 to 7/9/16) discussed here

Apple tackles iPhone one-tap spyware flaws (26/8/16 to 29/8/16)

Meeting Cellebrite – Israel’s master phone crackers (26/9/16 to 29/9/16)

Even excluding the reports on the death of Shimon Peres, Israeli domestic affairs once again received considerably greater coverage than did Palestinian affairs in the third quarter of 2016.


Overall throughout the first three quarters of 2016, 23.7% of the BBC News website’s reporting on Israel and the Palestinians related to security issues. Israeli internal affairs were the subject of 33% of the BBC’s reporting while just 8.8% of the coverage related to Palestinian internal affairs.


Related Articles:

Reviewing BBC News website portrayal of Israel and the Palestinians in Q1 2016 – part one

Reviewing BBC News website portrayal of Israel and the Palestinians in Q1 2016 – part two

Reviewing BBC News website portrayal of Israel and the Palestinians in Q2 2016 – part one  

Reviewing BBC News website portrayal of Israel and the Palestinians in Q2 2016 – part two

Reviewing BBC News website portrayal of Israel and the Palestinians in Q3 2016 – part one


Reviewing BBC News website portrayal of Israel and the Palestinians in Q3 2016 – part one

Between July 1st and September 30th 2016, eighty-seven reports with content relating to Israel and/or the Palestinians appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page. Some of the reports were produced by other departments (e.g. BBC Technology) or appeared on other pages of the website (e.g. ‘Europe’ or ‘Asia’) but were also posted on the Middle East

Four of those articles related to the wave of Palestinian terror attacks against Israelis which began in the autumn of 2015 and continued – albeit with lower intensity – during 2016. As readers can see for themselves, not one of those headlines included the term ‘terror’ and that editorial policy is similarly apparent in the reports themselves. 

(The dates in brackets represent the period of time in which each report was available to visitors to the website’s Middle East page.)

Israel seals off Hebron after surge of attacks (1/7/16 to 3/7/16) discussed here

Israeli forces shoot dead Palestinian suspected of killing rabbi (27/7/16 to 28/7/16) discussed here

Israel launches Gaza strikes after rocket attack on Sderot (22/8/16 to 23/8/16) discussed here

Spate of attacks on Israelis leaves three assailants dead (16/9/16 to 18/9/16) discussed here

A further two articles related to incitement to terrorism on social media.

Israel angered by Facebook hatred rules (4/7/16 to 5/7/16) Technology discussed here

Facebook sued by Israeli group over Palestinian attacks (11/7/16 to 13/7/16) discussed here

Four reports appeared around the tenth anniversary of the Second Lebanon War and also dealt with the topic of possible future conflict between Israel and Hizballah.

Hezbollah: Five ways group has changed since 2006 Israel war (11/7/16 to 13/7/16)

Ten years on, is Hezbollah prepared for another war with Israel? (12/7/16 to 15/7/16) discussed here

Israel ‘readier’ for new Hezbollah war (12/7/16 to 14/7/16) discussed here together with report below

On patrol with the Israel Defense Forces on Lebanon border (12/7/16 to 14/7/16)

Two reports related to Hamas’ conscription of aid workers at international organisations for the purposes of terrorism.

Israel: World Vision Gaza boss diverted cash to Hamas (4/8/16 to 5/8/16) discussed here

Israel: ‘Gaza UN worker helped Hamas’ (9/8/16 to 11/8/16) discussed here

In all, 13.8% of the BBC News website’s reports covered stories relating to security/terrorism. The additional topics found in the BBC’s coverage of Israel and the Palestinians during the third quarter of 2016 will be discussed in part two of this post.

Related Articles:

Reviewing BBC News website portrayal of Israel and the Palestinians in Q1 2016 – part one

Reviewing BBC News website portrayal of Israel and the Palestinians in Q1 2016 – part two

Reviewing BBC News website portrayal of Israel and the Palestinians in Q2 2016 – part one 

Reviewing BBC News website portrayal of Israel and the Palestinians in Q2 2016 – part two

BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel – July 2016

BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel – August 2016

BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel – September 2016

BBC report on UNESCO row marred by lack of context and previous omission

On October 14th the BBC News website published an article on its Middle East page about reactions to the text of the document approved by UNESCO’s executive committee the previous day.

Titled “Israel freezes Unesco ties for ‘denying Jewish holy sites’“, the report commendably avoids inaccuracies which have previously been seen in BBC reporting on the subject of Temple Mount and the Western Wall by using correct terminology and providing an accurate portrayal of the significance of Temple Mount to Jews.unesco-art

“It comes after the body approved a text which repeatedly used only the Islamic name for a hilltop complex which is also the holiest site in Judaism.

The site is known to Jews as the Temple Mount and Haram al-Sharif to Muslims.”

However, the fact that BBC audiences have not been informed of prior attempts to pass a similar document at UNESCO or of previous decisions taken at that body concerning other historic sites means that readers of this report lack the background information necessary to understand the story fully and the relevance of the word ‘another’ in one of the quotes used.

“Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a Facebook post that Unesco had become a “theatre of the absurd” in taking “another delusional decision”.”

Without being provided with the relevant context of Palestinian terrorism and rioting on Temple Mount, readers are told that:

“The stated aim of the text was “the safeguarding of the cultural heritage of Palestine and the distinctive character of East Jerusalem”.

It repeatedly denounced Israeli actions, including the use of force, imposition of restrictions on Muslim worshippers and archaeological work. Israel regards such criticism as politically motivated.”

BBC audiences have also been serially deprived of the background information which would enable their understanding of the role of this document in the long-standing Palestinian campaign to erase Jewish heritage and history as part of the tactical delegitimisation of Israel. The article closes with an anodyne quote from a PA spokesman:

“”This is an important message to Israel that it must end its occupation and recognise the Palestinian state and Jerusalem as its capital with its sacred Muslim and Christian sites,” said Nabil Abu Rdainah, a spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.”

Readers are not however informed of the reaction of Mahmoud Abbas’ own party, as reported by Ynet:

“Fatah, the ruling party in the Palestinian Authority, welcomed on Thursday a UNESCO resolution which fails to acknowledge Jewish ties to the Temple Mount.

“This decision is an important victory for the Palestinian people, the protectors of al-Aqsa, and in terms of national defense,” a Palestinian spokesperson said.

 A Fatah press release said that the importance of the decision lies in its content, specifically that it denies any historical connection between Jews and Jerusalem and the Temple Mount.” [emphasis added]

Back in January the BBC’s UN correspondent told listeners to BBC World Service radio that:

“The Israelis always believe that they are victimised at the UN; that they are singled out unfairly; that they are isolated…”

Had BBC audiences been provided in the past with the information and context which would enable their understanding of this latest example of abuse of the UN forum for anti-Israel campaigning, they would of course be able to appreciate why Israelis take that view.

Related Articles:

Mapping changes in the terminology used by the BBC to describe Temple Mount

BBC R4 programme on UNESCO omits negation of Jewish heritage

BBC Trending presents Palestinian incitement as ‘narrative’

As has been documented here on countless occasions throughout the last year, the BBC’s coverage of the incitement and glorification of terrorism which fuelled the surge in Palestinian attacks that began in October 2015 – and of the role played by social media in particular – has done very little to meet the corporation’s public purpose remit of enhancing audience understanding of that issue.

Last month we noted that the BBC had refrained from reporting on the visit to Israel by Facebook executives for discussions on the incitement to violence frequently seen on its platform and so it was particularly interesting to see that visit employed in an item which appeared in the ‘BBC Trending’ programme on BBC World Service radio on October

The item relates to the very brief closure of Facebook accounts associated with two Palestinian online news outlets last month. As the Times of Israel reported at the time:

“Facebook pages of a number of editors of Quds News Network were suspended for several hours last Friday, a campaigner said, in what the social media giant later called a “mistake.”

Pages linked to the Shehab News Agency were also disabled, an editor there said.

Quds has 5.2 million likes on Facebook, while Shehab has 6.35 million.

The Arabic versions of the online newspapers are supportive of the Hamas terror group and have been accused of incitement to violence against Israelis.

“The pages were removed in error and restored as soon as we were able to investigate,” Facebook said in a statement.

“Our team processes millions of reports each week, and we sometimes get things wrong. We’re very sorry about this mistake.””

BBC Trending presenter Mike Wendling introduced that item (from 09:41 here) as follows:

“Our next story looks at the hashtag ‘Facebook Censors Palestine’ [#FBCensorsPalestine – Ed.] which appeared last weekend. Kate Lamble is still with us. Kate – explain.”

Lamble: “Yes the hashtag has now been used over 120 thousand times on Twitter this week and it’s all part of a campaign run by Palestinian journalists to highlight recent decisions by the social media giant. You see, Facebook plays a key role in the long-running conflict between Israel and Palestine, with both sides using it as a way to get their point across and drum up international support.”

Lamble – who clearly chooses to ignore the fact that the BBC Academy’s style guide instructs “you should not affix the name ‘Palestine’ to Gaza or the West Bank” – goes on: 

“But over the last year, Israel has become more and more concerned that some people have been using the network to incite violence and glorify stabbing attacks, which have become more common.”

Listeners are not told that the violence has in no way been confined to “stabbing attacks” or who has been perpetrating the violence.

Wendling: “And Kate; Facebook specifically prohibits inciting violence. It’s right there in its terms and conditions – right – so if a post is brought to their attention and they think it violates those terms – it incites violence – they’ll delete it.”

Lamble: “Yeah and it’s that spotlight on online activity that really sets the scene for why this #FBCensorsPalestine campaign was started. Raja Abdulhaq is one of the co-founders of the Quds News Network which is based in Ramallah and has over 5 million likes. Last week they woke up to realise that their Facebook page had a bit of a problem.”

Abdulhaq: “So basically the online editors – at least four of them – their accounts were suspended. So once we started looking around we realised that at least two more networks had the same issue. There’s no way it’s a coincidence, especially after there is a big push from the Israeli government to shut down Palestinian inciting for violence online.”

Failing to clarify that the whole episode lasted no more than a few hours, Lamble goes on:

Lamble: “Now it’s worth saying that Facebook have since apologised and called their actions a mistake but that’s not enough for Raja; he’s still on the campaign trail because he’s convinced that Facebook have somehow agreed to help Israel target content on the platform that they’re unhappy with – including news providers.”

Wendling: “How does the evidence stack up? Is there anything to support that view?”

Lamble: “Well we do know that earlier this year two Israeli ministers announced that they were trying to pass laws to make it illegal to incite violence online and at the beginning of September – less than two weeks before the #FBCensorsPalestine campaign was launched – those same ministers met with Facebook officials.”

Wendling: “Hmm…I wonder what they discussed.”

Lamble: “Yes – well we approached the Israeli government for comment but they didn’t respond. Facebook also haven’t commented on what happened in those meetings and simply say they regularly meet with leaders across the world. But afterwards Israeli newspapers ran headlines claiming that the company had agreed to run joint groups with the country to tackle the issue. Now that obviously worried Palestinians who were concerned that Facebook’s approach would become more biased.”

Wendling: “OK, so I guess there’s this context here and I suppose a little bit of circumstantial evidence for what the Palestinian campaigners believe.”

Lamble: “Yeah – context but not really solid evidence that Facebook might be working with Israel. But if the suggestion is that Palestinian journalists had their accounts unfairly closed because of an over-zealous Israeli campaign against violent content, we have to look at what they were actually publishing. Here’s Raja again.”

Abdulhaq: “The problem here is that Israel and Facebook looking at this without contextualising. When we go to a family and when they talk about their right to resist the occupation, we’re not in any way endorsing or not endorsing. We’re just reporting what the people on the ground are saying.”

Quds News Network Facebook page - Photo credit: Times of Israel

Quds News Network Facebook page – Photo credit: Times of Israel

Lamble: “I mean you say that you just report the facts but it’s not a neutral news service. At the very least it does use inflammatory language: it talks about martyrs, it puts Israel in quote marks, it published a cartoon of a woman in Arabic dress threatening a tank with a knife. Your cover photo is two people in Palestinian scarves throwing stones. Do you not understand at all that some of that content might contribute to this impression?”


From Quds News Network

Abdulhaq: “No, absolutely not. We are not in a position to do or to have call of action material. And when it comes to martyrdom, this is the terminology that is used in our culture. When you call a martyr it’s not a call to action that we’re telling people to go and kill yourself or kill somebody else. We’re just saying, based on our narrative.”

Interestingly, when one of Abdulhaq’s colleagues gave an interview to AP a year ago, he was very clear about the fact that his outlet aims to do far more than “just reporting”.

“The Quds News Network, which operates one of the most prominent Palestinian Facebook news sites, has about 3.7 million Facebook followers and says it relies on a network of some 300 stringers throughout Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. It breaks news so rapidly that it tends to beat out traditional Palestinian media outlets — even providing those outlets with video and photos.

The site says it is independent, but has a reputation for being affiliated with Islamic Jihad, a Palestinian militant group. Another active Facebook site, run by the Shehab News Network, has about 4.2 million followers and is regarded by Palestinians as being linked with Hamas. Both militant groups oppose Israel’s right to exist, and have killed scores of Israelis in suicide bombings and shootings over the years.

“Our message is twofold. Number one is to support the resistance . second, expose the aggressive acts of the Israeli occupation,” said Ahmed Yousef, 25, an editor at Quds News Network. Sitting in a baklava shop on a recent afternoon, he coordinated coverage with other editors in a Facebook chat group on his cell phone.

Yousef said his site does not encourage violence, but only reflects the attitude of the streets. “During this uprising we have to match the mood of the people,” he said.”

Lamble goes on to give listeners her take-away messaging:

“And this is really the problem: narrative. With two completely opposing views on events, what Israelis see as inciting violence, the Palestinians see as telling the truth and vice versa.”

Wendling: “So Facebook weighing in on the issue. I mean, you know, even if they managed to do it in a completely impartial manner it could be seen as biased by people on either side.”

Lamble: “Yeah, but if we try and figure out if Facebook are being impartial or not, there’s one other issue to take into account. As well as any potential governmental pressure, Facebook is also currently being sued by Shurat HaDin – an Israeli law centre which represents victims of terrorism – for not doing enough to curb online incitement posted by Palestinians.”

Wendling: “‘For not doing enough’…so I mean that’s exactly the opposite of what the Palestinians are accusing Facebook.”

Lamble: “Yeah. I did warn you [giggles] it was slightly complicated. Here’s Nitsana Darshan-Leitner who’s involved in that case.”

Darshan-Leitner: “We basically have two lawsuits against Facebook. One is an injunction: asking the court to compel Facebook to delete all pages that call to kill Jews or incitement to acts of terrorism against Israelis and Jews. The other lawsuit is a monetary lawsuit for $1 bn against Facebook for aiding and abetting terrorism. Facebook is allowing Hamas and other terror organisations to use their platform to spread the ideology and to fundraise and the Anti-terrorism Act does not allow any American company to provide them any type of material support.”

Apparently uninterested in the fact that proscribed terror groups are using Facebook, Lamble changes the subject to introduce false equivalence:

“Do you accept that content which incites violence also comes from Israelis against Palestinians and a lot of that is currently present online?”

Darshan-Leitner: “I’m sure there are calls that call to kill Palestinians. We ourselves did an experiment where we created two identical pages: one page called to kill Palestinians and the other called to kill Israelis. And after two days we asked for Facebook to take both pages down. Facebook immediately took down the page that called to kill Palestinians but left the page that called to kill Israelis standing.”

Lamble: “But are you claiming that those calls against Palestinians and against Israelis are being treated differently?”

Darshan-Leitner: “Absolutely – hundred percent.”

Wendling: “So there we have an equally passionate claim that Facebook are discriminating – this time against Israelis.”

Lamble: “And for what it’s worth, Facebook say both of the pages Nitsana described were eventually taken down and I’ve read about almost an exact same experiment being repeated with the opposite result.”

Wendling: “OK. [laughs] So is Facebook just stuck in the middle of these two warring factions, being attacked from all sides? Or have they opened themselves up to claims that they might have been irresponsible in meeting Israeli ministers but not the Palestinian authorities who tackle online hate speech?”

That latter statement obviously exposes the dire level of Wendling’s understanding of the issue on which he is supposedly informing BBC audiences. There are of course no “Palestinian authorities who tackle online hate speech” and had the BBC done a better job of reporting on incitement and glorification of terrorism throughout the past year, he would perhaps know that official Palestinian bodies – including the PA and Fatah – have themselves regularly used Facebook and other social media platforms (as well as more traditional outlets) to incite violence and glorify acts of terrorism.

Lamble closes the item:

“Well at the moment it seems like Facebook are walking a very thin tightrope of neutrality but they’re trying to please everyone. They’re meeting with the Israeli government to show that they’re listening to their concerns and they’ve also told us they want Palestinians to know their voices will be as safe on Facebook as every other community. It obviously depends where you stand on the political spectrum when deciding whether that’s a successful balancing act.”

Clearly this item once again does little to help BBC audiences understand the gravity of the issue of Palestinian incitement and indeed actively hinders that aim by misleadingly presenting the subject as being about “narrative” and portraying efforts to combat the spread of incitement as “bias”. It does however provide amplification for a campaign run by some Palestinians (apparently with connections to terror groups and ideologies which BBC Trending was obviously not interested in investigating) which is clearly designed to hamper Facebook’s efforts to clamp down on the incitement that they and others have long spread unhindered.

Related Articles:

Poor BBC reporting on Palestinian incitement again mars audience understanding

BBC still portraying incitement as an ‘Israel says’ story

Facebook Allows Hamas News Agency to Operate Freely, But What about The Algemeiner?  (CAMERA) 



No follow up on postponement of Palestinian elections from BBC News

As regular readers will be aware, the first report to appear on the BBC News website in connection to the municipal elections which were supposed to take place in PA controlled areas and the Gaza strip on October 8th came when they were postponed by a Ramallah

On October 3rd the PA high court issued a further decision.

“The Palestinian Authority’s high court on Monday ordered municipal elections to be held only in the West Bank and not in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, though a new date for the suspended polls was not set. […]

“The court orders the implementation of the government’s decision on the holding of local elections,” court president Hisham al-Hatoo ruled before a packed courtroom in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

He said however the judiciary in Gaza did not have necessary “guarantees” in place for the holding of the polls.”

Following the court’s decision:

“The Palestinian Central Elections Commission on Monday urged Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to delay municipal elections by at least six months, after the PA high court ordered the polling be held only in the West Bank and not in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.

The commission said a delay would be “in the Palestinian interest” in light of the ruling.

The court ruling could bring to an end hopes that the municipal elections would be the first since 2006 in which both Hamas and the PA would participate. […]

Hamas immediately dismissed Monday’s decision as “political.”

“The high court’s decision on the elections is discriminatory and ratifies the division” between Gaza and the West Bank, it said in a statement.”

To date BBC audiences have not seen any follow-up reporting on this latest chapter in the story of the chronically stagnant Palestinian democratic process and the related ever-widening Hamas-Fatah split.

Related Articles:

PA elections finally get some BBC coverage after postponement


BBC R4 programme on UNESCO omits negation of Jewish heritage

A programme broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on September 26th under the title “UNESCO: 70 Years of Peacekeeping” purported to explore that UN agency’s role in promoting peace.r4-unesco-prog

“The deliberate destruction of cultural heritage in Afghanistan, Iraq, Mali and Syria has been condemned as a war crime by UNESCO – the ‘intellectual’ agency of the United Nations. But aside from issuing statements, what can this organisation achieve?

Culture writer Charlotte Higgins explores the UN’s peacekeeping agency, established 70 years ago to build peace through education, science and culture. Its founders knew that a safer world could not be engineered through economics or politics alone. With optimism and purpose, they called on countries to pull together to inspire hearts and minds.

Today, UNESCO is best known for World Heritage, which promotes a sense of collective identity. Yet with attacks on ancient sites now at the frontline of conflicts, UNESCO’s soft power is in the spotlight.

“I know that we don’t have an army, we cannot deploy troops,” says Director General Irina Bokova, “I wish we could have a stronger way of doing something.”

Charlotte navigates UNESCO HQ in Paris, a modernist expression of post war ambition. Here, members of staff can recite the ringing first sentence of UNESCO’s constitution by heart: “Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed.” Even so, UNESCO struggles to keep its 195 member states around the table, most notably with the United States – the biggest contributor to the budget – withholding payment since Palestine joined. As the geopolitical situation mutates and fragments, Charlotte asks whether the intellectual peacekeepers can keep up.”

The topic of the US withholding of funds to UNESCO is addressed at 23:39:

Higgins: “In recent years, however, the US has stopped paying its bill but UNESCO doesn’t want to lose its presence at the table.”

Interviewee: “In US law, if any UN body allows Palestine as a member state, it doesn’t leave that organization but there’s an automatic cut. So in November 2011 when UNESCO allows Palestine as a member, the US cuts off its dues, which is almost one quarter of UNESCO’s budget.”

That description omits a relevant aspect of the US legislation which was reported by the BBC itself at the time:

“A US law passed in the 1990s bars giving funding to any UN body that admits the Palestinians as full members before an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal is reached.” [emphasis added]

Although this programme purports to examine UNESCO’s role in promoting peace, it notably omits any reference whatsoever to a topic which the BBC has to date consistently refrained from reporting.

 UNESCO’s ‘rebranding’ of Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem and the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron as ‘Palestinian’ sites (along with other attempts to politicise cultural and religious sites in the region and erase Jewish heritage) is clearly an example of the way in which political pressures undermine that UN body’s founding constitution.

Despite the BBC being supposedly committed to enhancing audience understanding of international issues, that aspect of UNESCO’s record is completely absent from this programme. 

Related Articles:

BBC promotion of PA narrative on Jewish heritage sites



BBC WS news bulletins amplify HRW delegitimisation campaign

For some time now the Palestinian Authority’s Jibril Rajoub has been exploiting sport as a means of delegitimising Israel for political ends. In recent years he has, among other things, tried to get Israel expelled from the International Olympic community, threatened legal action against sponsors of the Jerusalem Marathon and pressured UEFA to disallow Israel’s hosting of a tournament. As president of the Palestinian Football Association, last year Rajoub turned his attentions to FIFA and the BBC produced a series of reports amplifying his campaign to get Israel suspended from world football.Connolly FIFA filmed

BBC frames anti-Israel delegitimisation campaign as a sports story

Wind in the sails of Jibril Rajoub’s anti-Israel campaign from BBC WS WHYS

Kevin Connolly continues the BBC’s amplification of anti-Israel delegitimisation

This week (as civilians in Syria continue to have their human rights violated by being killed en masse) one of the BBC’s most quoted and promoted NGOs found time to publish a report which yet again highlights both the links between the agendas of some so-called human rights organisations and anti-Israel campaigning – as well as the media’s relationship with such groups.

The Human Rights Watch report is titled “Israel/Palestine: FIFA Sponsoring Games on Seized Land” and sub-headed “Israeli Settlement Football Clubs Contribute to Human Rights Violations”. The flimsy arguments behind HRW’s claim that playing football in Area C is a violation of human rights have already been dismantled by Professor Eugene Kontorovich.

“The football-as-human rights-violation arguments against Israel are tendentious and prove too much. So those campaigning against Israel rely principally on a lawyerly claim about FIFA’s rules: The clubs “clearly violate FIFA’s statutes, according to which clubs from one member association cannot play on the territory of another member association without its and FIFA’s consent,” the members claim.

The problem is nothing in the FIFA statutes that equates “territory” with sovereign territory. Indeed, that would be impossible, since many FIFA members are not sovereign states at all. Instead, territory, as is often the case in international texts, means jurisdiction.

This is because the FIFA is not a border demarcation body. That is why FIFA clearly separates any question of sovereign statehood and territory from FIFA membership by not requiring that member federations be recognized states (i.e. Hong Kong, American Samoa, Faroe Islands, Northern Ireland, etc.). The claim that the acceptance of the Palestinian soccer federation into FIFA constituted a recognition of Palestine as a state and a recognition of its maximal border claims is unsupportable. FIFA membership does not imply statehood, nor has FIFA ever taken a position on preexisting border disputes.”

Nevertheless, as noted in a comment on a previous post (thanks to D), the BBC World Service found HRW’s political campaigning worthy of inclusion in some of its summaries of world news on September

Listeners to this news summary were told (at 01:47) that:

“…Human Rights Watch is calling on world football’s governing body to force the relocation of six Israeli football clubs located in West Bank settlements considered illegal under international law. The campaign group says that FIFA is breaking its own rules.”

Those who tuned in to a later news bulletin were informed (at 01:45) that:

“…Human Rights Watch has called on world football’s governing body FIFA to force the relocation of six Israeli football clubs based in West Bank settlements considered illegal under international law. The Israeli authorities say it’s not up to FIFA to rule on political questions.”

As usual, no attempt was made to conform to editorial guidelines on impartiality by clarifying to audiences the existence of legal opinions which contradict that well-worn BBC mantra on the alleged illegality of Israeli communities in Area C and parts of Jerusalem. Moreover, despite those same editorial guidelines, no effort was made to clarify the “particular viewpoint” of HRW in relation to Israel and listeners were therefore unable to assess the group’s claims in the appropriate context.

Although this latest example of unchallenged BBC amplification of HRW’s politicised agenda is entirely predictable, it is of course extremely disturbing to see it being promoted in supposedly factual news bulletins.

Related Articles:

Guardian gives Palestinian terror supporter a forum to condemn ‘Israeli racism’  (UK Media Watch)

Promoted and quoted: the BBC’s preferred NGO contributors in 2015

BBC’s mantra on ‘international law’ becomes even less impartial

No BBC coverage of energy sector agreements between Israel and the PA

The topic of Israel’s withholding of tax revenue transfers to the Palestinian Authority has cropped up time and time again in the BBC’s Middle East coverage over the years. However, the BBC has repeatedly failed to adequately inform audiences of the relevant context of the PA’s massive debt to the Israel Electric Corporation and the reasons why that debt has accumulated.

BBC promotes selective narrative on PA economy

Critical omission in BBC News report on PA tax revenues

BBC again avoids informing audiences about PA debt to Israel

Multiple breaches of BBC editorial guidelines in BBC WS’s ‘Business Matters’ report from Bethlehem

Last week an agreement was reached in an effort to try to solve the perennial problem of that PA debt to the IEC.pylons

“Israel and the Palestinian Authority signed an agreement on Tuesday to resolve the Palestinians’ outstanding debt of almost NIS 2 billion ($530 million) to the Israel Electric Corporation.

Under the agreement, the PA will pay Israel NIS 570 million ($132 million), putting an end to the 10-year debt crisis. The balance of NIS 1.5 billion ($397 million) will be paid in 48 installments, according to AFP, which added that a portion of the debt — likely interest accrued over the years — is expected to be waived. […]

A joint Israeli-Palestinian committee will be formed to oversee the transfer of responsibility to the PA of power lines that supply electricity to Palestinian cities in the West Bank.”

The same week also saw an additional development in the energy sector.

“Israel and the Palestinian Authority agreed to move ahead with plans to build a gas pipeline to Gaza in an effort to boost energy and water supplies to the Hamas-run Palestinian enclave. […]

A source in the PA told The Times of Israel that Palestinian officials were told the Israeli political echelon gave the go-ahead Tuesday. Israel and the Palestinians are set to jointly request funding for the pipeline from a number of donor countries. A committee comprised of representatives of such donor states is set to meet in New York later this month. […]

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that the Netherlands will help Israel build the Israel-Gaza pipeline.

“We want to help the population of Gaza and the first step is to improve the supply of energy and water… including laying a gas pipeline,” Netanyahu said during a two-day visit to The Netherlands at the beginning of this month.”

Given that the topic of the chronic electricity crisis is a regular feature in BBC reporting from the Gaza Strip (and frequently inaccurately attributed to Israel), one might have expected the corporation to report this news. However, neither of those examples of cooperation between Israel and the PA has received any BBC coverage.

Weekend long read

1) At the JCPA, Yoni Ben Mehachem takes a look at a topic much neglected by the BBC: Fatah’s internal politics.Weekend Read

“The succession battle in the Palestinian Authority has become very elemental since Mahmoud Abbas rejected the request of four Arab states – Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates – to mend fences with his bitter rival Muhammad Dahlan. Some of those states want to see Dahlan as the next PA chairman.

Although some in Fatah view Abbas’ rejection of the Arab request as an act of “political suicide,” Abbas does not show signs of stress. At the urging of Egypt and Jordan, which fear Hamas, he called off the elections in the territories and consented to a return to Fatah by some of Dahlan’s people. As far as Abbas is concerned, he has complied with most of Egypt and Jordan’s requests. Yet, still, he is not prepared to countenance Muhammad Dahlan.”

2) The Times of Israel’s Avi Issacharoff reports on another Palestinian succession battle likewise ignored by the BBC to date.

“Many people consider Haniyeh the leading candidate to succeed incumbent Khaled Mashaal, 60, primarily because of where he lives — Gaza. Running against him is Moussa Abu Marzouk, 65, who already was the head of the political wing (1992-7), is now Mashaal’s deputy (along with Haniyeh), and is considered a close associate of groups belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood’s global network.

There is a third candidate, too, well known to every Hamas activist in Gaza, the West Bank, and abroad. His name is Khaled Mashaal.

As Palestinian commentators point out, Hamas’s constitution prevents Mashaal being re-elected again. But anything is possible when it comes to Mashaal (Abu al-Walid), who has held the post for 20 years. Hamas may have a hard time saying goodbye to him, almost as hard as Mashaal would have in saying goodbye to the job. As head of Hamas’s political wing, he enjoys extraordinary status not only among the Palestinians but also throughout the Middle East and the Muslim states. He and his relatives are believed to have accrued considerable property and wealth in Qatar.

Will he be prepared to step down? Quite a few experts doubt it.

And quite a few experts question whether the Hamas election process is going to much resemble democracy in the first place.”

3) At the Washington Post Professor Eugene Kontorovich writes about “Why the U.N.’s Israel obsession should worry even people who don’t care about Israel”.

“Everyone knows the U.N. spends a disproportionate time on Israel, but the data reveal that even within resolutions, it uses a unique legal vocabulary for the Jewish state. The scale of the difference is quite striking. […]

Since 1967, General Assembly resolutions have referred to Israeli-held territories as “occupied” 2,342 times, while the territories mentioned above are referred to as “occupied” a mere 16 times combined… Similarly, Security Council resolutions refer to the disputed territories in the Israeli-Arab conflict as “occupied” 31 times, but only a total of five times in reference to all seven other conflicts combined.”

4) Fathom has an interesting article titled “Othering Zionism: theoretical affinities between Islamists and the Anti-Zionist Left”.

“The political alliances between Islamist organisations and the anti-Zionist Left rests on an underlying theoretical compatibility, argues Sapan Maini-Thompson. He examines their shared ideological schema in which Jews appear only as alien, racist, colonial interlopers in the region while Islamist and even anti-Semitic ‘resistance’ movements are coded as authentic and so progressive.”

5) At the Tower, Professor Gerald Steinberg reflects on the fifteen years since the Durban Conference.

“For many observers, the “Durban Strategy” marked the coming-out party for a “new anti-Semitism.” Unlike more traditional forms of anti-Semitism, which were by nature more overtly religious or racial in their blatant discrimination towards Jews, new anti-Semitism conceals the millennia-old hatred in a contemporary package, one better suited for a 21st-century audience. This anti-Semitism exploits the language of universal human rights and civil society, with NGOs publishing false and distorted allegations regarding Israel, and creating and maintaining double standards that apply only to a single country. New anti-Semitism goes well beyond any notion of legitimate criticism of Israel and its policies, and instead promulgates hateful vilification of the country, its people, and its Jewish character.”

BBC still portraying incitement as an ‘Israel says’ story

Back in October 2015 the BBC News website produced a backgrounder titled “Is Palestinian-Israeli violence being driven by social media?” which actually did very little to inform audiences of the scale and significance of the incitement spread via social media, the kind of content appearing on such platforms or the use of social media by official Palestinian groups other than Hamas – including Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party – for incitement and the glorification of terrorism.backgrounder 

BBC coverage of a report produced by the Quartet at the beginning of July 2016, in which Palestinian incitement was identified as one of several factors ‘driving’ the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, played down that issue, preferring to focus audience attentions on the topic of ‘settlements’.

Also in July, BBC Technology produced a report titled “Israel angered by Facebook hatred rules” and incitement on social media was the topic of an additional article published later the same month under the title “Facebook sued by Israeli group over Palestinian attacks“.

Although BBC audiences had not been provided with any serious, comprehensive reporting on the subject of Palestinian incitement and the link between social media and the wave of terrorism against Israelis which emerged in the autumn of 2015, as was noted here at the time:

‘Nevertheless, the BBC found it appropriate to include amplification of the response of a terrorist organisation, which has long used social media for the propagation of terrorism, in its report.

“Hamas called the lawsuit an Israeli attempt to blackmail Facebook. […]

Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza, accused Israel of trying to turn it into a spy tool against Palestinians.

He said some Israeli politicians and soldiers had “expressed pride at the killing of Palestinians” on Facebook and other social media.

“The real test for the owners of Facebook is to reject this pressure,” he said.”‘FB art technology

However, Facebook obviously takes the subject seriously and so senior officials from the company recently visited Israel to discuss the issue of incitement. Ha’aretz reported that:

“Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said on Monday that Facebook and YouTube had been complying in recent months with up to 95% of Israel’s requests for taking down content that the government says incites Palestinian violence. […]

Shaked and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, both of whom have been at the forefront of a campaign to force social media companies to crack down on incitement, met with Facebook executives visiting Israel on Monday.

The meeting comes amid growing concerns in Israel about so-called lone-wolf terrorists who are unaffiliated with formal organizations but are encouraged to acts of violence over the social media.

Yedioth Ahronoth on Monday reported that Shaked and Erdan had proposed to the Facebook executives that the company treat words like “intifada,” “stabbing,” “Nazis” and expressions such as “death to Jews” and “death to Arabs” as grounds for removing content. They also called for the same policy toward videos inciting viewers to stabbing attacks or containing anti-Semitic caricatures.”

According to Globes:

“Facebook said, “The Facebook delegation’s visit to Israel is part of the company’s “ongoing dialogue with policymakers and experts around the world to keep terrorist content off our platform and support counter-speech initiatives. Online extremism can only be tackled with a strong partnership between policymakers, civil society, academia and companies, and this is true in Israel and around the world. We had constructive discussions about these important issues and look forward to a continued dialogue and cooperation.””

There has to date been no follow-up reporting from the BBC concerning the visit of Facebook executives to Israel.

As recently as last Friday, BBC audiences were still being told that: [emphasis added]

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

Despite the fact that the Quartet has said the same thing and Facebook obviously agrees, the BBC has yet to provide its audiences with information which would broaden their understanding of the connection between official and unofficial Palestinian incitement and the violence which first surged a year ago.