Postscripts to the BBC’s coverage of the Jerusalem terror attack

As readers no doubt recall, the BBC’s report on the terror attack that took place in Jerusalem on June 16th failed to tell audiences that ISIS had claimed the attack or that Hamas had rejected that claim of responsibility, saying that one of the terrorists was its own operative and that the other two belonged to the PFLP.

“Early on Saturday morning, Hamas rejected IS’s claim of responsibility, saying the three belonged to Palestinian terrorist organizations.

“The claim by the Islamic State group is an attempt to muddy the waters,” said Sami Abou Zouhri, spokesman for the terrorist group which runs the Gaza strip.

The attack was carried out by “two Palestinians from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and a third from Hamas,” he said.”

Moreover, in the final version of the BBC’s report readers found the following distorted portrayal of a statement from Israeli officials saying that there was no indication that the terrorists were connected to ISIS:

“Police said there was “no indication” of a link between the suspects and a terror group.”

As far as BBC audiences are concerned, therefore, the attack was perpetrated by three people unconnected to any organisation.

However, as MEMRI reported, one of the terrorists was claimed by Fatah on multiple social media platforms: a claim confirmed by his family.

“Bereavement notices were posted on the Fatah Deir Abu Mash’al Facebook page, one of which claimed attacker Osama Ahmad ‘Atta as one of its members: “The Fatah movement in Deir Abu Mash’al in the Ramallah and Al-Birah region mourns, with great pride, its martyr hero Osama Ahmad ‘Attah… perpetrator of the heroic operation at Bab Al-‘Amoud [Damascus Gate]…”

In addition, the Fatah Facebook page posted a notice from relatives of Osama ‘Atta saying that although the family honored all the delegations that had come to pay tribute following ‘Atta’s killing – including PFLP representatives who claimed that he was one of that group’s members – “we informed them that our martyr son Osama is a Fatah member.””

In other words, even though Fatah, Hamas and the PFLP have each clearly stated that they were linked to the terrorists that carried out the attack, not only do BBC audiences have no knowledge of that fact but the BBC report that remains on the website as “historic public record” still specifically tells readers that the perpetrators were not linked to “a terror group”.

Referring to the terrorism seen in Israel since October 2015, that same report also informed BBC audiences that:

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

As has been frequently noted on these pages during that time, the BBC has consistently avoided providing its audiences with the relevant information relating to incitement and glorification of terrorism by Palestinian officials which would enable them to understand why “Israel says” that.

Shortly after news of the June 16th attack had broken, the Palestinian Authority’s Minister of Education, Sabri Saidam (Saydam) – who is also a member of the Fatah Central Committee and has for years been quoted in BBC content – took to Facebook, describing the terrorists as ‘martyrs of Jerusalem’.

The BBC will not of course produce any follow-up reporting on that or any other Palestinian Authority or Fatah glorification of terrorism. That means that when the next attack comes around, the corporation can once again tell its funding public that “Israel says” that incitement fuels terrorism while continuing to sidestep any real accurate and impartial journalism on the issue.

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BBC News changes headline, deletes Tweet after anger at portrayal of terror attack in Jerusalem

On the evening of June 16th three Palestinian terrorists from a village near Ramallah carried out a combined attack in Jerusalem. Border Police officer Hadas Malka was critically wounded while responding to the incident and doctors were unable to save her life. In addition, four more people were wounded. While ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack, Hamas rejected that claim:

“Early on Saturday morning, Hamas rejected IS’s claim of responsibility, saying the three belonged to Palestinian terrorist organizations.

“The claim by the Islamic State group is an attempt to muddy the waters,” said Sami Abou Zouhri, spokesman for the terrorist group which runs the Gaza strip.

The attack was carried out by “two Palestinians from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and a third from Hamas,” he said.”

The BBC’s report on the attack currently appears on the BBC News website under the headline “Israeli policewoman stabbed to death in Jerusalem“. However, the article was originally titled “Three Palestinians killed after deadly stabbing in Jerusalem” and that was also how the BBC portrayed the incident on social media – much to the ire of many Twitter users.

As we see, that headline and sub-heading both fail to inform BBC audiences that the “Palestinians killed” were the terrorists who carried out the “deadly stabbing”.

As a result of public pressure, the BBC deleted that Tweet and posted a replacement some 24 hours after the attack took place. Readers may recall that this is by no means the first time that a BBC headline concerning a terror attack in Israel has prompted public outrage

As is inevitably the case in BBC coverage of Palestinian terror attacks in Israel – and in stark contrast to BBC portrayal of similar attacks in Europe – the article does not describe the incident as a terror attack.

Moreover, in the later version of the report readers found the following representation of a statement from Israeli officials saying that there was no indication that the terrorists were connected to ISIS:

“Police said there was “no indication” of a link between the suspects and a terror group.”

In fact – as the Times of Israel reported:

“All three of the assailants were members of Palestinian terrorist organizations, according to… Israel’s Shin Bet…

The attackers were identified by the Shin Bet internal security agency as Bra’a Salah and Asama Atta, both born in 1998, and Adel Ankush, born the following year. They were shot dead by security forces as they carried out their attacks.

The three were from Deir Abu-Mashal, a village near Ramallah. All had previously been arrested for or involved in terrorist activity, a Shin Bet statement said.”

Erasing the foreign nationals (including one Palestinian) murdered by Palestinian terrorists over the last 21 months, the report tells readers that:

“Forty-two Israelis have been killed in knife, gun and car-ramming attacks by Palestinians or Israeli Arabs since October 2015.

In late 2015 and 2016, such attacks happened with near-daily frequency but the rate has declined in recent months.”

That latter inaccurate claim is recycled from a previous BBC report. In fact, while in late 2015 the frequency of attacks was far beyond “near-daily”, around a hundred attacks still take place every month meaning that they remain on average a daily occurrence on average, notwithstanding the BBC’s failure to cover the vast majority of attacks.

As readers then see, the BBC continues to employ the “Israel says” formula in its portrayal of Palestinian terrorists killed while carrying out attacks.

“More than 240 Palestinians – most of them attackers, Israel says – have also been killed in that period. Others have been killed in clashes with Israeli troops.” [emphasis added]

The article closes with a mantra that the BBC has been promoting for many months:

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

Once again, it is worth remembering that since the surge in terror attacks began in late 2015, 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.

Likewise, it is noteworthy that the portrayal of terrorism as being attributable to “frustration rooted in decades of occupation” conforms to a guidance document for members of the international media put out by the PLO in November 2015.

Update:

According to Ynet, the BBC has released the following statement:

“We accept that our original headline did not appropriately reflect the nature of the events and subsequently changed it. Whilst there was no intention to mislead our audiences, we regret any offence caused.”

Related Articles:

BBC Complaints: terror attacks in Jerusalem and Tunisia are “very different”

BBC Complaints clarifies discrepancies in terminology when reporting terrorism

Radio 4 gives insight into BBC avoidance of the use of the term ‘terror’ in Israel

BBC News finds terror (without quotation marks) in Europe

BBC finds a ‘working definition’ for terrorism in Europe

A new BBC ‘explanation’ for its double standards on terror 

BBC’s ‘rationale’ for its double standards on terror crumbles again 

 

 

 

 

Revisiting the BBC News website’s PFLP profile

Following the terror attack at the Kehilat Ya’akov Synagogue in the Har Nof neighbourhood of Jerusalem on November 18th 2014, the BBC News website produced a profile of the organisation with which the two terrorists were affiliated.Pigua Har Nof PFLP art

Two years later, that profile remains online with its inaccurate main illustrative photograph. The article’s presentation of the number of Israelis murdered in the Har Nof attack is also inaccurate: [emphasis added]

“It was also not clear how involved the PFLP leadership had been in the attack in November 2014 that saw two members of the group armed with axes storm a synagogue complex in West Jerusalem and kill four rabbis in the middle of their morning prayers.

A statement by the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades praised the “heroic operation” by Ghassan and Uday Abu Jamal, but did not specify whether the cousins had been instructed to carry out the attack.”

In fact, five people (four worshippers and a policeman) were killed during the attack and one additional victim succumbed to his wounds a year later but the BBC’s article has not been updated accordingly.

The article refrains from describing the PFLP as a terrorist organisation in the BBC’s own words, with that definition attributed to Israeli authorities in quotation marks:

“The PFLP leader was subsequently sentenced to 30 years in an Israeli prison for heading an “illegal terrorist organisation”…” 

Readers of the profile are not informed that the PFLP is defined as a proscribed terror organisation by the United States, Canada, Israel and the EU.

NGO Monitor recently produced a report concerning the financial support provided to various NGOs linked to the PFLP.

“Many European countries fund a network of organizations, some of which are directly affiliated with the PFLP, and others with a substantial presence of employees and officials linked to the PFLP. The non-governmental organizations (NGOs) include Addameer, Al-Haq, Alternative Information Center (AIC), Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCI-P), Health Work Committee (HWC), Stop the Wall, Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), and the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC). […]

Donors to the NGOs include the EU, the governments of Sweden, Denmark, Spain, Norway, Ireland, UK, Netherland, Germany, Belgium, France, and Switzerland, and the United Nations. Continued funding raises serious questions about due diligence and evaluation on the part of the governments and the UN, as well as compliance with domestic and international laws.”

Some of those NGOs have been directly or indirectly quoted and promoted by the BBC in its Middle East coverage – for example Addameer, Al Haq, Defence for Children International – Palestine and of course the PCHR, which received particularly extensive exposure during the 2014 conflict between Israel and terror organisations in the Gaza Strip and which was one of the sources behind the casualty figures amplified by the BBC at the time.

Related Articles:

BBC Complaints: terror attacks in Jerusalem and Tunisia are “very different”  

One to listen out for on BBC Radio 4

A programme titled “One Day in Entebbe” will be broadcast on Tuesday, June 28th at 8 p.m. on BBC Radio 4. Its synopsis reads as follows:Freedland Entebbe prog

“Forty years ago, the world gasped as it witnessed one of the most outlandish rescue missions ever undertaken. Israeli commandos flew 2,500 miles to free more than a hundred hostages, passengers whose plane had been hijacked and diverted to Entebbe. In the dead of night, they were plucked out from under the nose of Uganda’s larger-than-life dictator, Idi Amin.

The operation would become a template for special forces operations, taught at military colleges around the globe. It would change the calculus in the Middle East, altering the way Israel was seen and the way it saw itself. And it would set one young man on the path to eventual power.

Through exclusive and intensely personal interviews with those involved, including Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu and two of his predecessors – Ehud Barak and Shimon Peres – as well as former hostages, ex-commandos and the one-time Palestinian hijacker Leila Khaled, writer and broadcaster Jonathan Freedland tells the remarkable story of that day in July 1976.

He hears Netanyahu confess that he would not be prime minister today had it not been for Entebbe where his brother led the commando unit and was killed in action – proof that the impact of that one day in Entebbe lives on.”

Jonathan Freedland has also written about the 40th anniversary of the rescue operation at Entebbe for the Guardian.

 

BBC News reports Jerusalem bus bomb without using the word terror

On the afternoon of April 18th an explosion occurred on a public bus in Jerusalem injuring 21 people. Within a couple of hours the police and security services had established the cause of the incident.

“Police and rescue officials confirmed 21 people were hurt when the number 12 city bus exploded on Moshe Baram Street in the Talpiot neighborhood of the capital at about 5:45 p.m., setting the bus on fire.

A second intercity bus nearby and a car were also burned in the blast.

Jerusalem police chief Yoram Halevy told the media the blast was caused by an explosive device placed on the bus, putting an end to hours of speculation over whether the blast was terror related or a technical malfunction.

“When a bomb explodes on a bus, it is a terror attack,” he said, adding it was unclear if the bomber had been on the bus at the time of the blast.”

pigua bus Jlem 18 4

Version 4

Reporting on the incident began to appear on the BBC News website shortly after it took place and early reports correctly noted that “[a]n Israeli police spokesman said it was investigating the incident, the cause of which was not immediately clear”.

As more information was made public, later reports informed BBC audiences that:

“A police statement said bomb disposal experts had determined that a device exploded in the back half of the bus.”

And:

“A police spokesman told Israeli Channel 2 television that investigators were still trying to determine who had planted the bomb.”

However, none of the amendments made to the article currently going under the title “Jerusalem bus bombing injures 21” clarified that the authorities had confirmed that the incident was a terror attack and the word terror does not appear at all in any of the report’s six versions.

Version 6

Version 6

Moreover, later versions of the article included commentary from Yolande Knell in which the perpetrators of numerous terror attacks on Israeli public buses during the second Intifada were described using the euphemistic term “militants”.

“For many, images from the scene here will bring back worrying memories of the bomb attacks by Palestinian militants that last took place in this city more than a decade ago.”

Knell appears to have forgotten that a British citizen was murdered in a terror attack at a Jerusalem bus stop in 2011 and that bomb attacks on buses have occurred in other Israeli cities far more recently than “more than a decade ago”.

Similarly, readers of the final version of the BBC’s report were informed that:

“Palestinian militant group Hamas, which carried out a wave of bus bombings in the city in the early 2000s, praised Monday’s blast, calling it “a natural reaction to Israeli crimes”.”

They were not however told that additional terror groups likewise lauded the attack – as did the PA president’s Fatah party.

“Hamas welcomed the attack in Jerusalem as a “natural response to the crimes of occupation,” but it did not claim responsibility.

Islamic Jihad welcomes the attack as “proof of the failure of security coordination” between Israel and the Palestinian Authority

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine said it “welcomes the operation as a positive and important development of the intifada.” “

It is of course difficult to imagine that had twenty-one people been injured by a bomb placed on a London bus, the BBC would have avoided using the word ‘terror’ in its reporting of the incident. But as we have known for quite some time, the corporation defends the double standards seen in its reporting of terrorism by claiming that attacks against Israelis are “very different” from those against civilians elsewhere (whilst refusing to clarify the rationale behind that claim) and it does not consider those double standards to be “a significant issue of general importance that might justify further investigation”.

Related Articles:

Radio 4 gives insight into BBC avoidance of the use of the term ‘terror’ in Israel

BBC Complaints: terror attacks in Jerusalem and Tunisia are “very different”

The BBC, terrorism and ‘consistency’

More evidence of BBC News double standards on use of the word terror

BBC News website does ‘one man’s terrorist’

No BBC reporting of Abbas-PFLP row

The BBC’s profile of the PFLP informs audiences that:

“During the 1970s, the PFLP was the second largest faction in the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO)…”

Although readers of that profile wouldn’t know it, the PFLP – designated a terror organization by the US, Canada, Australia and the EU – continues to hold the number two position in the PLO with the largest faction still being Fatah.

That status apparently comes with cash benefits to the tune of $70,000 a month in handouts from the PLO’s financial arm – the Palestinian National Fund. Or at least it did – until the chairman of the PLO’s executive committee Mahmoud Abbas (who is also of course the Palestinian Authority president and head of Fatah) recently decided, according to PFLP officials, to suspend that monthly payment.

“Rabah Muhanna, a top PFLP official, said that his group learned about Abbas’s decision a few days ago. He claimed that Abbas did not consult with other PLO factions before he decided to suspend funds to the PFLP.

“This is an individual decision,” Muhanna said. “We will bring it before the PLO Executive Committee for discussion. We will also raise the issue before Abbas himself.””

The BBC’s Jerusalem and Ramallah offices of course generally avoid reporting on internal Palestinian politics and so it is not surprising that this story (and an apparently related one) has not been deemed newsworthy.

However, the corporation’s audiences might nevertheless have liked to see some reporting on the PFLP flagsubject of why the body which conducts negotiations with Israel on behalf of the Palestinian people – supposedly in order to reach a peace agreement – includes a proscribed terror organization which, as its logo indicates and in contrast to the impression given in the BBC’s profile, does not support the two-state solution.

The BBC’s UK audiences might have been particularly interested in finding out why their own government’s Department for International Development has for years funded the PLO’s ‘Negotiations Support Unit’ if the organization is capable of spending tens of thousands of dollars a month on hand-outs to its component groups – including a terrorist organisation.

 

The BBC Gaza interviewee and the dead terrorist conspiracy theories

Towards the end of February a fugitive Palestinian terrorist who had been hiding in the Palestinian Authority mission in Sofia, Bulgaria, died.

“Bulgarian radio reported that Omar Nayef Zayed, 51, had fallen from the fourth floor of the embassy. He died later in the hospital.

A senior Palestinian Authority official said he “was discovered with serious torso injuries and died before emergency services arrived,” official Palestinian news agency Wafa reported. PA officials said they were investigating the circumstances of his death.” […]

In 1986 Zayed was convicted in the murder of yeshiva student Eliyahu Amedi — whom he stabbed to death in Jerusalem’s Old City — along with two other Palestinian assailants. He was sentenced to life in prison.

Four years after beginning his sentence, Zayed began a hunger strike and was moved to a Bethlehem hospital facility, from which he managed to escape. He fled to Bulgaria in 1994 and married a local woman with whom he had three children.

In December of 2015, Israel submitted a request to Bulgarian authorities to extradite him. Late last year Bulgarian authorities agreed to examine the Israeli request but a December 14 hearing was postponed because Zayed was not at his address, the Bulgarian interior ministry said.

He had fled to the Palestinian Embassy to seek sanctuary there, and had been staying there ever since.”

Predictably, conspiracy theories soon sprang up.

“Zayed, a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), had been living in Bulgaria for the past 20 years. Even though the body bore no bullet wounds, the PFLP claimed he had been shot in the head.

Palestinian Ambassador Ahmed al-Madbuh told reporters Friday that the death was murder and said it was “a result of the continuing persecution by Israel.” He added: “Omar is one of the Palestinian fighters who led the struggle against the occupation and fulfilled his duty to his land and his people.””

Almost a month later, the Bulgarian Prosecutor dismissed the claim of murder.

“Bulgarian Prosecutor Sotir Tsatsarov on Monday dismissed suggestions that Omar Zayed, a Palestinian man whose dead body was found in front of the Palestinian Embassy in Sofia, might have been murdered.

He told reporters that the post-mortem examination of Zayed’s body had shown no signs of violence.

Instead, the man fell off a balcony on the third floor of the Embassy and it was that incident that cause his death, Tsatsarov explained.”

Prior to that announcement from the Bulgarian Prosecutor, a series of events were (and still are being) organized by a plethora of anti-Israel activists worldwide who had no need of an official investigation in order to determine what had happened to Omar Zayed – and who was to blame.

For example, an Iran linked website (which has recently been in the news in the UK for other reasons) promoted the image below on its Twitter feed and held some sparsely attended events in London.

In minds tweet

The day after Zayad’s death the US-based ‘Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network’ issued an appeal to members of the European Parliament in which it was claimed that Israel had murdered him and the day before that Samidoun’s New York based ‘organiser‘ Joe Catron had put out a statement in which – just hours after the event – he claimed that Zayad had been ‘assassinated’ by Israel.Tweet Catron

It was of course not in the least bit surprising to see ISM member and professional anti-Israel activist Joe Catron propelling the bandwagon of unproven defamatory smears against Israel.

It is however worth remembering that on two occasions during the summer of 2014, the BBC promoted content based on claims made by Catron without making any effort to comply with its own editorial guidelines on impartiality which stipulate that the agenda and ‘standpoint’ of interviewees should be made clear to audiences.Guerin ISM report

On July 31st 2014 the BBC World Service aired an interview with Catron in which he told BBC audiences that Hamas was not using Gaza hospitals for military purposes.

On August 13th 2014 BBC News aired a report by Orla Guerin which showcased an unsubstantiated video produced and promoted by Catron under the heading “Allegations of war crimes”.

As the story above shows, it is from time to time worth reminding ourselves of the types of sources the BBC considers legitimate and the agendas which are sometimes concealed behind ‘news gathering’.

 

BBC WS Newshour erases perpetrators from item about hijacking

The March 29th evening edition of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newshour’ included an item concerning the same day’s hijacking of an EgyptAir plane. Following a report on the incident, the item turned to a more general topic, introduced by presenter James Coomarasamy (from 34:50 here) as follows:Hijacking item on Newshour

“Well let’s hear now from someone who knows a thing or two about hijacking; he’s 85 year-old Uri Bar Lev. He’s a retired Israeli pilot and back in 1970 when he was flying an El Al plane from Amsterdam to New York he became the first and possibly the only pilot to foil a hijacking in mid-air.”

The ensuing conversation with Uri Bar Lev was also promoted separately on social media but remarkably, one rather relevant piece of information was omitted from the entire item.

At no point were listeners informed that the plane piloted by Bar Lev was the target of an attempted hijacking by the Palestinian terrorist organisation the PFLP. Especially when one considers that over the past two and a half years the BBC has produced at least three items of content concerning that story and has repeatedly portrayed one of the hijackers on Bar Lev’s flight – Leila Khaled – as an ‘icon’, that is quite an omission.

One to watch out for on BBC Radio 4

This coming Monday evening, August 3rd, BBC Radio 4 will broadcast a programme titled “Women of Terror“. Its synopsis reads as follows:R4 Women of Terror

“From Russia’s 19th century Nihilists to contemporary Sri Lanka and Palestine women have played central roles in terrorist organisations. Attacks planned or executed by women attract attention and inspire fear in a way that male terrorists can only dream of.

Why are we still shocked by female terrorists? Why are they so effective? How can women be dissuaded from joining terrorist organisations? BBC Diplomatic Correspondent, Bridget Kendall investigates the motives that drive women to kill and considers the response of the media and the public to those who have planted bombs, hijacked planes and killed innocents in their quest for political change.”

The claim that the programme “considers the response of the media […] to those who have planted bombs, hijacked planes and killed innocents…” is particularly interesting given the images selected to illustrate both its webpage and an accompanying promotional article by Bridget Kendall which appeared on the BBC News website on July 28th under the title “What drives women to terrorist acts?“.R4 Women of Terror written

Of course BBC audiences are no strangers to those photos of PFLP terrorist Leila Khaled seeing as they have been used in prior BBC content – and not infrequently with linkage to the word ‘icon’ or ‘iconic’ – as seen in the caption to the photograph heading Kendall’s article: “Leila Khaled in iconic pose”. In the body of the article readers are told:

“Leila Khaled was probably the most famous female hijacker in the world in the late 1960s – beautiful, dangerous and politically committed to doing whatever might further the Palestinian cause.

She featured in an iconic photo – sultry-eyed, a Kalashnikov at her side, headscarf carefully draped over her head.” [emphasis added]

Kendall’s 1,277 word article has two hundred and twenty-six words devoted to Khaled alone and the only one of the female terrorists she mentions who is deemed worthy of an insert carrying a further 140 words of biography is Leila Khaled.

As recently as last December another BBC Radio 4 programme also purported to examine “how media organisations tread the fine line of giving publicity to terrorists and reporting the news” but was plagued by accuracy and impartiality issues in its portrayal of Leila Khaled’s organisation’s Dawson’s Field hijackings.

It remains to be seen whether Bridget Kendall’s efforts will be any more successful but her promo article’s romanticised embellishment of the Khaled ‘icon’ does not bode well.

Related Articles:

BBC R4 gives a platform to terrorist Leila Khaled

BBC R4 programme on terror and the media rebrands PFLP terrorists

 

 

42+1 years on BBC still refrains from using the word terror

On May 27th the BBC World Service sent the following Tweet to its one hundred and ninety-four thousand followers.

WS Tweet Lod

The link promoted in that tweet leads to a filmed report which was actually first broadcast a year ago.  As was noted here then, the synopsis to that report about the 1972 Lod Airport Massacre makes no use of the words terror, terrorism or terrorists.

That observation still stands.