Three stories the BBC will not tell its audiences

As has been noted in previous posts (see related articles below) concerning the BBC’s coverage of the hunger strike by convicted Palestinian terrorists serving time in Israeli prisons, while audiences have been told that the strike’s aim is to “protest detention conditions”, they have not been informed in any of the BBC’s reports what those conditions entail or exactly what the strikers are demanding.

On May 15th the strike leader Marwan Barghouti’s list of nineteen demands was published.

Also apparently among the leaders of the hunger strike are two cousins – Karim and Maher Younis – who are both serving 40 year sentences for the kidnapping and murder of Israeli soldier Avraham Bromberg in the early 1980s. Earlier this month (while Mahmoud Abbas was visiting the White House and telling the US president that the PA is “raising […] children […] on a culture of peace”) a Palestinian Authority official and the PLO announced that a main street in Jenin is to be named after Karim Younis. This week a square in the town of Tulkarem was named after the other cousin, Maher Younis.

As recently as last week BBC World Service audiences were told that Israel “has long accused Palestinian officials” of glorifying terrorism but seeing as the BBC consistently avoids reporting stories such as the naming of streets, squares, schools and sports tournaments after terrorists, its audiences are not in a position to know whether such charges are true.

Another story that BBC audiences are unlikely to be told is that of a Palestinian Legislative Council MP from Fatah (previously imprisoned for membership in a terrorist organisation) who was recently caught on camera hurling rocks during a riot.

“A Palestinian Authority lawmaker recently took part in violent clashes against Israeli security forces in the West Bank, images of which were published on Monday.

In the photos, Fatah party member Jamal Hawil can be seen using a slingshot to hurl rocks at Israeli troops during a riot at the Beit El junction amid large plumes of smoke, as well as taking cover behind makeshift barricades alongside other protesters.

Asked by Channel 2 to comment on the images, Hawil tried to downplay the significance of a PA official throwing rocks at Israeli soldiers.

“It doesn’t matter if I threw rocks or not, the entire Palestinian nation throws rocks,” he said.”

As readers may recall, on May 3rd the BBC News website inaccurately informed audiences that during Mahmoud Abbas’ visit to the White House, the US president had “stressed there would be no lasting peace unless both nations found a way to stop incitement of violence”. The BBC, however, consistently fails its audiences by refraining from providing the readily available information which would enhance their understanding of the involvement of the Palestinian Authority and its ruling party Fatah in promoting violence, incitement and glorification of terrorism.

Related Articles:

BBC News promotes PLO narrative in copious coverage of prisoners’ strike

BBC fails to provide crucial background in reports on Fatah prisoners’ strike

Identifying the BBC’s anonymous “mother of a Palestinian inmate”

BBC’s Knell tells audiences that convicted terrorists are ‘political prisoners’

Omissions in the BBC’s report on terrorist’s ‘hunger strike’ nosh

BBC Trending recycles a previously published BDS falsehood

BBC News’ under-reporting of internal PA politics continues

Regular readers need no reminder of the fact that the BBC’s coverage of internal Palestinian affairs, including human rights issues and politics, is – to put it generously – minimal.No news

In recent weeks alone, BBC audiences have not seen any English language coverage of Fatah’s 7th congress or Mahmoud Abbas’ apparently unanimous re-election to the post of head of that party. Neither have they been provided with any reporting on the splits and rivalries within the party that dominates the Palestinian Authority and the PLO and the related violence in PA-controlled areas. It was therefore unsurprising to see the BBC ignoring the following story.  

Last week Israeli media outlets reported that:

“Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday lifted the parliamentary immunity of five PA lawmakers, as he readied to level charges against them, sources in Abbas’s office and the Palestinian parliament said.

The five MPs include Mohammad Dahlan, the former Gaza strongman who was ousted from Fatah by Abbas in 2010, and four other lawmakers: Shami Shami, Najat Abu Bakr, Nasser Juma and Jamal Tirawi.

They will face charges of embezzlement, weapons smuggling, defamation and insults, according to the sources, who spoke to AFP on condition of anonymity.

According to one source, “The whole issue related to existing conflicts” between Abbas and Dahlan. […]

Earlier in November, the Palestinian Constitutional Court, a body set up a few months earlier by Abbas himself, issued a decision confirming the right of the PA president to lift the parliamentary immunity of lawmakers in the Palestinian Legislative Council.”

Prior to that decision from the Palestinian Constitutional Court, decisions concerning the removal of MP’s immunity were made by the Palestinian Legislative Council.

“Abbas formed the PA Constitutional Court in April, a move that many analysts viewed as a power grab. […]

Jihad Harb, a Palestinian researcher and analyst, told The Jerusalem Post the court’s ruling “grants the president executive power to hold a sword to the neck of parliamentarians, especially those who oppose his policies.””

Further developments in the story were seen this week.

“Palestinian forces entered the offices of the International Committee of the Red Cross near the West Bank city of Ramallah on Sunday, and removed three lawmakers who had sought refuge there.

MPs Shami Shami, Najat Abu Bakr and Jamal Tirawi, who along with Nasser Juma are all allies of Mohammad Dahlan, the former Gaza strongman who was ousted from Fatah by Abbas in 2010, were holed up in the International Red Cross offices, where they appealed for protection by the international community. […]

Arabic media reported that initially the parliamentarians were denied entry to the Palestinian legislature. They then went to the Red Cross building seeking international protection. A few hours later, Palestinian security forces entered the building, bringing out the lawmakers.”

It is of course difficult to imagine that such a story would have been deemed not newsworthy by the BBC had it taken place in any other location.

Related Articles:

BBC’s Knell omits back stories in portrayal of PA succession

BBC News continues to under-report internal Palestinian politics

Abbas’ Fatah reelection ignored by the BBC – in English

BBC News passes up coverage of recent Fatah congress

Reviewing BBC News coverage of internal Palestinian affairs

BBC News promotes ‘one-state’ stepping stone and political messaging

Last week marked ten years since elections for the Palestinian Legislative Council were held and the resulting split between Hamas and Fatah began. The BBC did not produce any content relating to that anniversary, the subsequent decade long Palestinian political paralysis and its effects upon an issue much touted on BBC pages and airwaves – the peace process.

Writing at Newsweek, Jonathan Schanzer of the FDD outlines the contemporary significance of that ten year-old event.

“Ten years on, the intra-Palestinian conflict is a glaring blind spot among Western policymakers. The enmity between the two factions challenges longstanding assertions of a unified Palestinian national identity. The Palestinian battle for primacy also injects new complexities into the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The conflict, in fact, is now a three-way tug-of-war between Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza, where any one move can impact the delicate balance between the three.

After a decade of failed reconciliation efforts and a collapsed unity government in 2015, the intra-Palestinian conflict now appears intractable. The Gaza Strip remains firmly in the hands of Hamas, while the Fatah faction clings to the West Bank with the help of Israeli security and intelligence. There are two separate Palestinian governments with their own bureaucracies, two sets of cadres of political elites, two distinct economies, and increasingly two different cultures.

Nevertheless, Washington continues to call for a single Palestinian state. It’s a call that echoes across most Western capitals, too. The overriding assumption is that deft diplomacy coupled with Israeli territorial concessions could pave the way for the Palestinian Authority, unpopular and corrupt as it may be, to regain the moral and military high ground from Hamas and somehow bring the Gaza Strip back under its jurisdiction. These plans remain vague, to say the least. […]

The near collapse of the post-colonial system since the Arab Spring has challenged almost all of our assumptions on how to bring order to the chaos of the Middle East. Yet, the perceived need to create a single Palestinian state spanning the West Bank and Gaza has endured. Ten years on, the Palestinians are still divided—both ideologically and territorially. It may be time to acknowledge that if they can’t peacefully resolve their own territorial conflict, they certainly are not likely to resolve the one with Israel.”

What the BBC did see fit to publish last week, however, was an article titled “Israel-Palestinian conflict: Is one homeland the solution?” which was promoted in the ‘features’ section of its website’s Middle East page for four consecutive days.Thrope article

“As support for a two-state solution to their conflict declines among Israelis and Palestinians, a different approach to finding a peaceful settlement is being proposed.

Called “Two States – One Homeland”, the group, led by Israeli journalist Meron Rapoport and Palestinian politician Awni Almashni, is advocating the creation of an Israeli-Palestinian confederation.

They say that their plan, now picking up public and official backing, can solve the difficult issues – Israeli settlements, the right of return for Palestinian refugees, and the fate of Jerusalem – that have scuttled past negotiations.”

The article’s over-enthusiastic portrayal of the supposed popularity of a scheme few in the region will have heard of includes only minimal coverage of opposition from “the Palestinian street” whilst totally ignoring the Hamas elephant in the room.

“The group has also encountered opposition. Its inaugural public conference last June was moved from the Palestinian city of Beit Jala to nearby Jerusalem after Palestinian supporters of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement threatened to disrupt the gathering.”

The article also fails to clarify to readers that – at least according to an article written by Mr Almashni – the plan is merely a stepping stone on the route to something other than “two states”.

“A quick glance at these ideas shows that they meet all the demands of anyone who believes in the two-state solution – taking into account that the two states are fully independent and sovereign, and within in the 1967 borders. Nevertheless, maintaining freedom of crossing, movement, and residence – that is, an open border between the two states – leaves the door ajar for a single future [binational] state, once the trust and the relationship [between the two peoples] have developed.” […]

“Ultimately, this solution reflects the desire of all who support the traditional two-state solution – it includes all the principles of the two states, as well as the actualization of the right of return. It [also] constitutes a giant step towards a single state, if the two peoples want to reach it – because it strengthens what they share, and thus opens the way to this direction.” [emphasis added]

Not content with failing to present its subject matter accurately, the writer of the article, Samuel Thrope, also misrepresents other related subjects.

“The settlements are considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this. UN General Assembly resolutions, meanwhile, endorse a Palestinian right of return.”

Regular consumers of BBC content are of course used to seeing the BBC frequently fail to meet its own editorial guidelines on impartiality by refraining from informing them of the existence of legal opinions which contradict its own adopted political stance on “the settlements”.

Now we see a new addition to the BBC’s repertoire of politically partisan messaging; promotion of the inaccurate claim that “a Palestinian right of return” is endorsed by the 1948 UN GA resolution 194 – which was opposed by Arab states at the time and in fact includes one clause pertaining to refugees in general but does not include the word “Palestinian” or guarantee an unconditional ‘right of return’.

As long as BBC reports continue to include unqualified promotion of Palestinian talking points, the corporation should not of course be surprised that its impartiality is so frequently called into question.  

Related Articles:

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BBC’s ‘Newsnight’ facilitates Barghouti claim of ‘international law’ as excuse for murders of teens

On the evening of June 30th, as news broke of the discovery of the bodies of the three kidnapped and murdered Israeli teenagers Eyal Yifrach, Naftali Frenkel and Gil-ad Sha’ar, one interviewee the BBC deemed appropriate for the circumstances was – once again – Mustafa Barghouti.

The BBC Two ‘Newsnight’ interview with Barghouti was also promoted on the BBC News website under the title “‘Israel responsible for deaths’ – Dr Mustafa Barghouti“.Barghouti Newsnight interview

Relatively unhindered by ‘Newsnight’ presenter Laura Kuenssberg, Barghouti was given a platform for amplification of the notion of people as ‘illegal settlers’ and ‘international law’ as an excuse for murder.

Barghouti: “First of all I think the main person who’s responsible for the tragic death that happened is Mr Netanyahu himself. He sent these boys as illegal settlers to an illegal settlement and he’s also responsible for the tragic death of more than ten Palestinians so far who were killed by his army, including three children. And I don’t think that….”

Kuenssberg makes no attempt to correct the number of Palestinians who have been killed during the search and rescue operation or to clarify to BBC audiences that in the majority of cases, they were involved in violent and life-threatening rioting aimed at hindering that operation at the time. Likewise, she fails to challenge the odious notion of people as “illegal” or to point out to viewers that in fact, two of the three murdered teenagers did not live in what the BBC would term ‘settlements’. In breach of BBC editorial guidelines on impartiality, Kuenssberg also fails to inform audiences that Barghouti’s particular non-professional interpretation of “international law” is far from the only one available.

Kuenssberg: “So you’re suggesting these young boys…you’re suggesting these teenagers had it coming, are you? Because they were somewhere geographically?

Barghouti: “They should not have been in illegal settlements which are considered illegal by international law and a violation of international law. That’s what all countries in the world are saying. And Mr Netanyahu should have protected them and not sending them to these places. He is now….”

Again – no clarification comes from Kuenssberg on Barghouti’s presentation of one particular interpretation of ‘international law’ and no attempt is made to inform audiences that the specific area under discussion is under Israeli control (Area C) because the Palestinians signed treaties defining it as such. Moreover, Kuenssberg fails to challenge Barghouti’s repeated ridiculous suggestion that the murdered youths had been “sent” by the Israeli prime minister.

Kuenssberg: “But Mr Netanyahu…”

Barghouti: “He is now retaliating and he wants to retaliate without even bringing a single proof that any Palestinian was responsible for their death. This is very strange…

Kuenssberg fails to challenge that inaccurate statement from Barghouti too, avoiding the obvious question of why a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council – committed under the terms of the Oslo Agreements to the prevention of terror – is promoting the notion that the youths were not victims of a Palestinian terror attack.

Kuenssberg: “But are you not suggesting…are you not suggesting Dr Barghouti then, that any settler is fair game? President [sic] Netanyahu didn’t kill these people himself.

That, of course, is exactly what Barghouti is suggesting, along with the notion that Israelis are themselves to blame for terror attacks against them, but he is allowed to end the interview with more political propaganda.

Barghouti: “No – I – I don’t like anybody to be killed but I am saying that no security or real peace will be available either to Palestinians or Israelis unless the Israeli military occupation is ended.”

This is at least the second time in the past two weeks that the BBC has provided a platform for Barghouti’s exploitation of the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers as an opportunity to promote his political propaganda. Since the beginning of this year, Barghouti has been wheeled out by the BBC on at least six separate occasions to provide interviews on topics ranging from the death of Ariel Sharon to the Palestinian unity government and each time, regardless of the topic, those interviews promote the exact same jaded inculcations.

One question which must therefore be asked is why exactly did the ‘Newsnight’ editorial team – which, based on past BBC experience, should have been able to predict exactly what Barghouti was going to say – think that this was an appropriate occasion for the repetition of standard ‘one size fits all’ political propaganda which provides no new information or insight to audiences on the topic supposedly being addressed: the kidnappings and murders of three Israelis by terrorists.

Another question is why editors at the BBC News website saw fit to provide further amplification of Barghouti’s inadequately challenged falsehoods and distortions. 

Are we there yet? BBC improves its accuracy regarding Hamas designation

A report by the BBC Jerusalem Bureau’s Yolande Knell entitled “Palestinian split: Views from Hamas and Fatah, six years on” appeared in the ‘Features & Analysis’ section of the Middle East page of the BBC News website on June 17th 2013. 

Notably, the article shows a marked improvement on the subject of accurate reporting of the countries which designate Hamas as a terrorist organization, although it still omits those which designate its so-called ‘military wing’ alone.

“Hamas is listed as a terrorist organisation by Israel, the United States, the European Union, Canada and Japan.”

Hamas terror listing

Knell’s report is comprised of two monologues – one from a Fatah member living in Gaza and the other from a Hamas member living in the PA-controlled areas. Both men were elected as representatives of their respective factions to the Palestinian Legislative Council in the elections of 2006. According to Palestinian Basic Law, their mandate expired after four years, so with new elections not having taken place as yet, it is debatable whether or not they can be accurately presented as “elected PLC member[s]”.

In the first monologue the Knell appears to have attempted to provide some context (in brackets) for her readers:

“I consider what happened six years ago, ending on 14 June 2007, as the second Nakba (Catastrophe) for the Palestinians [after the first in 1948 when hundreds of thousands fled or were displaced from their homes with the war that followed Israel’s declaration of independence].”

However, she does not make it clear that “the war that followed Israel’s declaration of independence” was initiated by Arab and Palestinian forces.

Knell’s second interviewee, Anwar Zaboun, states:

“At the time of the split I was in the [Israeli] jail because just a few months after the 2006 elections dozens of PLC members and ministers were arrested here in the West Bank.”

No context is offered concerning the fact that Zaboun was in fact detained due to his membership of a terrorist organization or that the arrests followed the kidnapping of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit on the Israeli side of the border with the Gaza Strip. 

Neither is any mention made of the fact that Zaboun has headed the ‘charity’ Al Islah in Bethlehem for many years  – an organization known to both Israel and the Palestinian Authority due to its history of channelling funding  to Hamas’ terrorist-supporting infrastructure from abroad. 

And yet, the BBC provides Zaboun with a platform from which to sanitize the activities of his terrorist organization and present himself as a beleaguered parliamentarian:

“Six years after the split they [Israel and the Palestinian security services] are still arresting people. We have our homes and cars searched. There is no immunity.”

“I want citizens in the West Bank to feel safe. How can they when there are political prisoners? I need to give people guarantees that they will not be arrested however they vote.”

The BBC contributes nothing to its audiences’ “global understanding of international issues” by promoting soft portraits of supporters and enablers of terrorism.