BBC adds superfluous punctuation to US and Israeli statements on Hamas

On October 19th a report relating to a statement put out by the US envoy Jason Greenblatt appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page under the title “Hamas must disarm to join Palestinian unity government – US“.

Mr Greenblatt’s statement read as follows:

“All parties agree that it is essential that the Palestinian Authority be able to assume full, genuine, and unhindered civil and security responsibilities in Gaza and that we work together to improve the humanitarian situation for Palestinians living there.  The United States reiterates the importance of adherence to the Quartet principles: any Palestinian government must unambiguously and explicitly commit to nonviolence, recognize the State of Israel, accept previous agreements and obligations between the parties – including to disarm terrorists – and commit to peaceful negotiations. If Hamas is to play any role in a Palestinian government, it must accept these basic requirements.”

The BBC’s reporting of that statement erased its reference to the Quartet principles – thereby (once again) steering readers to the inaccurate view that the conditions described are solely the view of the US and excluding the existing agreements between Israel and the PLO from its framing of the story. Superfluous use of scare quotes around the word terrorists was also evident.

“The United States says the militant Islamist movement Hamas must lay down its weapons if it is to play a part in a new Palestinian government. […]

US special envoy Jason Greenblatt said any Palestinian unity administration would need to recognise the State of Israel and disarm “terrorists”. […]

In a statement issued on Thursday, Mr Greenblatt said it was essential that the PA was able to “assume full, genuine, and unhindered civil and security responsibilities in Gaza” and that the humanitarian situation there was improved.

He also stressed that “any Palestinian government must unambiguously and explicitly commit to non-violence, recognise the State of Israel, accept previous agreements and obligations between the parties – including to disarm terrorists – and commit to peaceful negotiations”.”

Later on in the article readers were told of the Israeli view and once again unnecessary punctuation around the words terror and terrorism (that was not present in the original document paraphrased by the BBC) was added by the BBC.

“…Benjamin Netanyahu […] insisted he would “not conduct diplomatic negotiations with a Palestinian government that relies on Hamas” unless the following conditions were met:

  • Hamas recognises Israel, “desists from terrorism” and disarms
  • The bodies of Israeli soldiers and civilians held by Hamas are returned
  • The PA exercises full security control in Gaza
  • The PA continues to act against Hamas “terror infrastructure” in the West Bank
  • Hamas severs its ties with Iran
  • Funds and humanitarian equipment continues to flow into Gaza only via the PA”

While the BBC’s report included paraphrased quotes from a Hamas official taken from an AFP article on the same topic, the corporation did not update its report to include comments made by Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar later on the same day, as reported by Ha’aretz.

“Hamas will not disarm, recognize Israel or cut off ties with Iran, as Israel and the United States are demanding of it, Yahya Sinwar, the organization’s leader in the Gaza Strip, said on Thursday. […]

Meeting with Palestinian youths, Sinwar declared, “The discussion is no longer about recognizing Israel but about wiping Israel out.”

He said Hamas would disarm “when Satan enters paradise,” and that no one can force it to disarm. “There’s not one minute of the day or night when we aren’t building up our military might.” […]

At Thursday’s meeting, Sinwar discussed the demand that Hamas cool its relationship with Iran. He stressed that Hamas is not willing to sever its ties with Iran. “Anyone who thinks we’ll sever ties with Tehran is delusional,” he said. “Our relationship with Iran or Egypt or any Arab or Muslim state provides us with strategic depth.””

If BBC audiences are to understand this issue fully, they obviously need to be informed that the statements concerning a Palestinian unity government put out by the United States and Israel are in line with the Quartet Principles. The BBC’s policy of placing the word terror and its derivatives in scare quotes and its failure to inform audiences of the extremist response from Hamas’ leader in the Gaza Strip also clearly hinders audience understanding of the story.

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BBC’s Bateman misleads on US and Israeli approach to Hamas-Fatah ‘unity’

The October 3rd edition of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newshour‘ included an item concerning that day’s meeting of the Palestinian cabinet in the Gaza Strip. The report (from 45:06 here) was introduced by presenter Razia Iqbal as follows: [emphasis in italics in the original]

Iqbal: “The Palestinian cabinet has met in Gaza for the first time in three years as the internationally recognised Palestinian Authority moves closer to taking charge of the territory from Hamas, which has controlled it for the past decade. Last month Hamas agreed to dissolve its administration in Gaza and make way for a unity government led by the prime minister Rami Hamdallah. These Palestinians said they hoped the new government would improve the lives of the people in the Gaza Strip.”

Listeners then heard two short ‘man in the street’ interviews.

Man 1: “The youths of Gaza are living in a very difficult situation. We’re waiting for this reconciliation in the hope that there will be more job opportunities for the younger generations.”

Man 2: “We welcome them and the new government. We call on them to look at the young people – which is the most important thing – and to solve the electricity issue and the crisis in Gaza and whatever else is possible to raise the quality of life of the Palestinian people.”

Iqbal: “Let’s speak now to the BBC’s Tom Bateman who joins us live from Jerusalem. Tom; let’s pic up from what we heard from the young Palestinians there about the quality of life in Gaza. It’s a…it’s a tiny strip of land but it is a very difficult place to be, isn’t it?”

Bateman: “It’s two million people. The humanitarian situation in Gaza is dire. I mean people are dealing with electricity for two to four hours a day. There are severe water shortages as you heard there because of the electricity crisis. That means that…ah…there is a serious problem with raw sewage…ahm…and life there is extremely difficult.”

Bateman sidestepped the topic of the reasons behind the electricity crisis in Gaza, dismissing the subject as “complex”. He also failed to tell listeners why conditions in Gaza did not improve during the two weeks between the Hamas announcement that it would dissolve its managing committee in the Gaza Strip and the cabinet meeting that is the subject of his report.

“Regarding the punitive measures Abbas levied against Gaza in April in order to force Hamas to cede control of the Strip, he [Abbas] said he was in “no hurry” to lift them.

He said the measures cut 22% of the PA’s funding to Gaza — a total of $1.5 billion US dollars — which affected the already dire electricity and water situation in the Strip. These steps would not be reversed until the PA was in full control of Gaza, he said.”

Bateman continued:

Bateman: “Now the factors behind that [electricity crisis] are complex but what’s happened today in terms of this meeting of the unity cabinet – that was actually first established about three years ago – is in terms of its symbolism, in terms of what Hamas and Fatah are saying about this, is that this is, you know, paving the way for Palestinian reconciliation. However…ah…you know, we’ve been on this road before. Previous attempts at such unity have come to nothing. I think this time, you know, the backing of the Egyptians – which has been in place previously – seems to be at a level where there is some hope that this…eh…this time that unity may come to fruition in terms…it may deliver something for the people of Gaza and an end to a lot of these problems. But we’ll just have to wait and see and after the cabinet meeting today there are now due to be talks between the two sides in Egypt.”

Bateman then went on to suggest that the approach of the United States to the prospect of a Palestinian unity government is different to that of Israel:

Bateman: “Meanwhile, there is everything from some support internationally from the US but from Israel the prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying that, you know, he’s not prepared to accept what he called imaginary appeasement in which the Palestinians supposedly reconcile at the expense of the existence of the State of Israel.”

A statement from the US Middle East envoy put out the day before Bateman’s report made the US position clear.

“The United States on Monday said it welcomes efforts for the Palestinian Authority to resume control over government institutions in the Gaza Strip after the PA premier arrived in the Hamas-controlled enclave earlier in the day for a cabinet meeting. But it made clear there would be no dealing with a Palestinian government including Hamas unless or until the terror group recognizes Israel and renounces terrorism.

“As the Palestinian Authority Cabinet visits Gaza today in preparation for its October 3 cabinet meeting, the United States welcomes efforts to create the conditions for the Palestinian Authority to fully assume its responsibilities in Gaza,” Jason Greenblatt, US President Donald Trump’s envoy for Middle East, said in a statement. […]

“The United States stresses that any Palestinian government must unambiguously and explicitly commit to nonviolence, recognition of the State of Israel, acceptance of previous agreements and obligations between the parties, and peaceful negotiations,” Greenblatt said.”

Using the Hebrew phrase פיוסים מדומים – fictitious reconciliations – rather than “imaginary appeasement” (which Bateman appears to have gleaned from a report by Ha’aretz), Netanyahu said:

‘“We expect anyone talking about a peace process to recognize Israel and, of course, recognize a Jewish state, and we won’t accept faux reconciliations in which the Palestinian side reconciles at the expense of our existence,” Netanyahu said during a special Likud faction meeting in the West Bank city of Ma’ale Adumim.

“We have a very straightforward attitude toward anyone who wants to effect such a reconciliation: Recognize the State of Israel, dismantle Hamas’s military wing, sever the relationship with Iran, which calls for our destruction,” he added.’

In other words, with both the US envoy and the Israeli prime minister stating that any Palestinian government must recognise Israel and reject terrorism, the two countries’ responses to the prospect of a Palestinian government are far less different than Bateman would obviously have his audience believe.

The report continued with Bateman failing to clarify to audiences why Hamas’ designation as a terrorist organisation and its continuing refusal to reject terror is a significant part of this story.

Iqbal: “I suppose we shouldn’t forget and remind people that the US and the European Union have blacklisted Hamas as a terrorist organisation which does complicate the formation of any unity government.”

Bateman: “Well this is of course one of the major issues in terms of the way that…ehm…the governance of Gaza should be dealt with because as you say…ah…it’s not just Israel but of course many countries around the world that…eh…regard Hamas as a terrorist…ahm…organisation and so you therefore have a situation where if there is reconciliation, what does that mean for the Palestinian Authority and the way it is run? Not just in Gaza but in the West Bank. I think that much will depend on these talks that are due to take place, as I say, in Cairo. And just getting through those with the many issues that have to be resolved; not least the control of arms in Gaza itself, with President Abbas suggesting…ah…that he will not accept a model where Hamas has control of arms with a sort of PA government just in charge of civilian control. Lots of issues to deal with and – as I say – you know….ah…those people hoping it may deliver something but of course the past has proven otherwise.”

Once again BBC audiences did not hear a proper explanation of why existing agreements between Israel and the Palestinians mean that Hamas must be disarmed before becoming part of any Palestinian government. As was the case in previous reports on this story, that means that audiences are not receiving the full range of information necessary for its proper understanding.

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The BBC World Service’s Hamas-Fatah ‘unity’ binge – part two

The BBC World Service’s Hamas-Fatah ‘unity’ binge – part three

BBC News sidesteps the topic of Hamas disarmament yet again 

 

 

BBC WS history programme fails to disclose interviewee’s anti-Israel activism

The September 15th edition of the BBC World Service radio history programme ‘Witness’ was titled “Sabra and Shatila – A Massacre in Lebanon“.

“A doctor working in Sabra and Shatila refugee camp in Lebanon recalls the massacre there in September 1982. Over the course of three days, Lebanese Christian militiamen killed and raped hundreds of the Palestinian inhabitants of Sabra and Shatila in Beirut in revenge for the assassination of their leader, Lebanese president elect, Bashir Gemayel. Dr Swee Ang treated the wounded in the basement of the only hospital in the camp; she tells Louise Hidalgo her story.”

The interviewee’s background is described to listeners by Hidalgo as follows:

“Dr Swee Ang was working in the hospital in Sabra and Shatila during those days.”

And:

“Dr Swee Ang is an orthopedic surgeon originally from Singapore who moved to Britain in 1977.”

A significant proportion of the programme relates to Israel rather than to the Lebanese Christian militia that actually carried out the massacre in Sabra and Shatila with Hidalgo referring to the findings of the Kahan Commission and providing some rather sketchy background to the first Lebanon War and her interviewee adding other statements.

“I grew up a very staunch fundamentalist Christian and I’ve always been supporting Israel. In 1982 […] I saw on television aerial bombardment of Beirut in Lebanon and I just couldn’t square it with my religious upbringing…”

“My understanding of the situation – because I was brought up with a lot of friends who are pro-Israel – was that the PLO was the cause of all the trouble.”

“Tanks were coming northwards into Beirut city and a contingent came for Sabra and Shatila. So by nightfall the shelling became so close and we knew that we were surrounded by Israeli tanks.”

At the end of the programme listeners are told that:

“After Sabra and Shatila she and her husband set up a medical charity for the people of the camp.”

That charity is called ‘Medical Aid for Palestinians’ (MAP) and – far from being a neutral “medical” charity – its politicised anti-Israel bias is notorious.  Dr Swee Ang herself is frequently seen at anti-Israel events such as ‘Israel Apartheid Week’ and in 2014 she co-authored a highly politicised open letter promoting unsubstantiated allegations and accusing Israel of ‘massacring’ Palestinians that was published in the Lancet.

None of that information was made available to listeners to this programme despite the fact that BBC editorial guidelines on impartiality state:

“We should not automatically assume that contributors from other organisations (such as academics, journalists, researchers and representatives of charities) are unbiased and we may need to make it clear to the audience when contributors are associated with a particular viewpoint, if it is not apparent from their contribution or from the context in which their contribution is made.”

Given the programme’s focus on Israel, full disclosure of its sole interviewee’s political activism in line with BBC editorial guidelines was obviously necessary.

BBC editorial policy on terror continues in Har Adar attack report

Just over an hour after a terror attack took place in Har Adar on September 26th the BBC News published its first report on the incident under the superfluously punctuated headline “Palestinian gunman ‘kills three Israelis’ in West Bank”.

Over the next six hours numerous amendments were made to that report as information emerged but – in line with usual BBC policy – none of its versions described the incident as terrorism or the attacker as a terrorist.

From its second version, readers of the report found promotion of PLO messaging in what has over the past two years been a standard insert in BBC reports on attacks against Israelis.

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

From version five onward, readers also found standard – though partial – BBC messaging on the topic of ‘settlements’.

“The issue of settlements is one of the most contentious between Israel and the Palestinians, who see them as an obstacle to peace.

More than 600,000 Jews live in about 140 settlements built since Israel’s 1967 occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The settlements are considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.”

From version six onward readers found yet another mantra which, although frequently promoted by the BBC, fails to provide audiences with the information and background necessary for full understanding of the reasons for the breakdown of that round of negotiations.

“Peace talks between the two sides broke down amid acrimony in April 2014.”

Later versions of the article included a version of a previously used partisan map credited to UNOCHA and the political NGO B’tselem.

The BBC’s report notes praise for the terror attack from Hamas and the PIJ:

“No group has taken responsibility for the attack, although Gaza-based Palestinian militant organisations Hamas and Islamic Jihad welcomed it.”

Fatah’s reaction is portrayed by the BBC as follows:

“The head of the Information Office of Fatah, the political faction of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said Israel bore responsibility for the attack, because of its “continuous aggression” against the Palestinians.”

BBC audiences were not told of Fatah’s glorification of the terrorist  – “A morning scented with the fragrance of the Martyrs” – and threats of additional violence. Nor were they informed of the relevant issue of the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority’s scheme of financial rewards for terrorists.

While the BBC’s report names the terrorist and provides some of his personal details, despite the fact that by 1 p.m local time the names of all three of the murdered victims had been released for publication, the BBC did not update its article to inform audiences of their names: Border Policeman Solomon Gavriyah, aged 20 from Be’er Ya’akov and civilian security guards Youssef Ottman from Abu Ghosh and Or Arish of Har Adar, both aged 25.  

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Northern Islamic Movement still not getting BBC coverage

During the last two weeks of July the BBC News website published seventeen reports concerning the July 14th terror attack at Lions Gate and the events which followed that incident.

Reviewing BBC ‘historical record’ of the July 2017 Temple Mount story – part one

Reviewing BBC ‘historical record’ of the July 2017 Temple Mount story – part two

Some of those reports were produced by, or included analysis from, two of the BBC’s locally based staff; Yolande Knell and Tom Bateman. Since July 28th, however, neither of those correspondents nor any other has produced any follow-up reporting relating to the events it covered so broadly at the time.

BBC audiences therefore remain unaware of the fact that an accomplice of the three terrorists from Umm al Fahm who carried out the attack that sparked two weeks of increased violence has been charged on counts including accessory to murder.

“Amjad Jabarin was arrested on July 23, nine days after the attack. On Thursday, he was formally charged in a Haifa District Court as an accessory to murder.

According to the indictment, Jabarin trained with the terrorists ahead of the attack, joining them when they went to practice shooting their improvised “Carlo” submachine guns.

The night before the attack, he also drove the three to a soccer field in Umm al-Fahm, which served as a pickup point for a shuttle to the Temple Mount, knowing that they were armed and planning to carry out the shooting, according to the charges against him.”

The BBC’s extensive July coverage did not include reporting on the funerals of the three terrorists in Umm al Fahm or the related incitement and glorification of terrorism on the part of the banned northern Islamic Movement. Given that the BBC has generally avoided the topic of the northern Islamic Movement’s connection to unrest surrounding Temple Mount in the past, those omissions were not particularly surprising. They are nevertheless relevant in light of the fact that the ISA’s investigation showed links between the terrorists and the northern Islamic Movement.

“The Shin Bet said the men came together to plan their attack at the mosque in Umm al-Fahm’s al-Malsaa’ neighborhood.

“The findings of the investigation pointed to a clear link between the al-Malsaa’ mosque and the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement, which was declared an illegal organization in November 2015 and is now considered a terrorist organization,” the agency said.

The Shin Bet noted that one of the gunmen was responsible for maintenance at the mosque and served as its muezzin, the person who performs the call to prayer.

“In addition, connections were found between the assailants and the Islamic Movement, including support for the ideas put out by the movement and through their involvement in organizations that have clear links to the Islamic Movement,” the Shin Bet said.

As an example, the agency noted that the terrorist who served as the al-Malsa’a mosque’s muezzin was once active in the Mourabitoun, a group that often clashed with Israeli security forces on the Temple Mount and was declared illegal in September 2015 over its ties to the Islamic Movement and Hamas.”

Additionally, the BBC has not informed its audience of the public glorification of the terrorist who murdered three members of a family in Halamish on July 21st and severely wounded another. As well as being lauded by PLO and Palestinian Authority officials and in official PA media, the terrorist’s acts were justified by the spokesman for PA’s security forces, who has previously been quoted in BBC content.

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A BBC terror indoctrination feature highlights longstanding omission

Last month the BBC website published a special feature by Quentin Sommerville and Riam Dalati titled “An education in terror“.

“On the streets of Europe, we meet teenage boys trained by IS. Their testimony reveals wide-ranging plans to turn children into killers.”

“First came the grooming, then the recruitment and training to create a new army of child jihadists, who might grow into adult militants. The Islamic State’s next generation of hate.”

“Many armed groups across Africa, the Middle East and South America, have trained children for battle. Recruiting child soldiers is a war crime. But few have refined the process so efficiently as the Islamic State group.”

As well as personal stories the feature includes a section with the heading “Curriculum of hate”.

“IS not only concentrated its attention on recruits for the battlefield, it reached deeper into society, into the homes, classrooms, and minds of the youngest children. […]

Just like the Hitler Youth movement indoctrinated children to serve the Nazis’ 1000-year Reich, IS developed a feeder apparatus to regularly inject new blood into its veins. By the time it took full control of Raqqa in the winter of 2014 and turned it into its de-facto capital, the plan to subvert the education system was set in motion.”

Readers learn that ISIS’ focus on indoctrination through ‘education’ began three years ago.

“By July 2014, Mosul had fallen and the caliphate had been declared. The rich Iraqi city, six times bigger than Raqqa, had a lot more to offer in terms of human resources and infrastructure. Now, the Islamic State had both the expertise and the assets to take on the formidable task of drafting its own curriculum from scratch.

“They started in earnest during the fall of 2014, but the Diwan [ministry of education] had been recruiting loyal, ideologically aligned experts all throughout that summer,” Yousef, a Moslawi teacher who lived through that phase, told the BBC. […]

The IS curriculum was finally rolled out for the 2015-2016 school year. Children would enrol at the age of five and graduate at 15, shaving four full years off the traditional school life. They would be educated in 12 various disciplines, but these would be steeped in Islamic State’s doctrine and its world vision.”

This feature – described as a ‘resource’ in its URL – provides the BBC’s audience with information that will enhance their understanding of the ISIS terror group’s ideology and methodology. Interestingly though, the same audience has never been provided with such a resource on a comparable system that pre-dates the ISIS curriculum in Raqqa or Mosul.

The BBC did not report on the topic of child soldiers recruited by Hamas during the 2014 conflict. The paramilitary ‘summer camps’ run by Palestinian factions such as Hamas, Fatah and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad as well as by the PA and PLO have rarely received any BBC coverage. When Lyse Doucet visited a Hamas-run winter camp in Gaza in January 2015, the result was a mere one minute of coverage in her film ‘Children of the Gaza War’, with Doucet telling viewers that:

Hamas summer camp, Gaza 2016

“Some boys as young as Abdul Rahman [phonetic] take part in this first youth camp organized by Hamas’ military wing. It’s for men [sic] aged 15 to 21. Some are clearly younger and at the closing ceremony there’s younger still. For the outside world it’s hard to comprehend why parents would put children in situations like this. Hamas says the camps keep boys off the street and teach values and martial arts for defence. But the young also learn about weapons and hatred: it’s what Hamas calls a culture of resistance.”

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

So as we see, while the BBC did consider a feature on “the Islamic State’s next generation of hate” editorially justifiable, it continues to avoid providing its audiences with information about the very similar indoctrination and abuse of Palestinian children.  

 

 

 

A BBC backgrounder claims ‘sketchy’ evidence of PA terror rewards

In January 2007 the BBC News website published a backgrounder titled “Analysis: Palestinian suicide attacks“. Over a decade later that item (apparently prompted by a terror attack in Eilat on the same day) is still available online and that means that audiences still encounter BBC content which tells them that:

“Israel has accused the Palestinian Authority of funding some suicide attacks and rewarding the families of attackers. Evidence for this has been sketchy.” [emphasis added]

In order to make that latter statement, the anonymous writer of this backgrounder had to ignore a wealth of evidence that had at the time already been in the public domain for several years including documentation of PA funding of terrorism seized during the second Intifada.

Evidence of the Palestinian Authority’s financial rewards to the families of terrorists was also abundant by the time those words were written and payments to terrorists in Israeli prisons and their families were enshrined in PA legislation more than two years before that 2007 backgrounder was published.

As regular readers are no doubt aware, that practice has continued throughout the last decade and salaries for convicted terrorists, benefits for released prisoners and payments to the families of terrorists killed while carrying out attacks have become part of the PA’s annual budget.

However, rather than carrying out any serious reporting aimed at informing audiences of the facts surrounding this issue, the BBC has, with very few exceptions, chosen to ignore it and on occasion has even amplified the Palestinian Authority’s PR messaging.

“He [Netanyahu] was referring to a Palestinian Martyrs’ fund. It pays pensions to people it regards as victims of the occupation, including the families of individuals who have been killed attacking Israelis. There is also a fund to support Palestinians who have been imprisoned by Israel. The Palestinians have compared the payments to the salaries Israel pays to soldiers.” [emphasis added] Jeremy Bowen, BBC News website, May 23rd 2017.

The BBC’s guidance on online content states that:

“However long ago our online content was first published, if it’s still available, editorial complaints may legitimately be made regarding it.”

Obviously then the inaccurate and misleading claim that there is only “sketchy” evidence of Palestinian Authority financing of and rewards for terror in that 2007 backgrounder needs to be corrected in order to avoid the waste of public resources on justified complaints. Clearly too BBC audiences’ understanding of the the background to the frequently recurring topic of Palestinian terrorism would benefit from some accurate, impartial and comprehensive coverage of this much neglected issue.  

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PA’s salaries for terrorists in the news again – but not at the BBC

BBC News silence on PA terror rewards continues

 

 

 

 

 

Reviewing the language used in BBC reports on the Munich Olympics Massacre

This week will mark the 45th anniversary of the Munich Olympics Massacre and the dedication of a new memorial in the city.

This week also marks 45 years of BBC News failure to describe the members of the PLO faction that perpetrated the attack as terrorists.

The BBC’s ‘On This Day’ archive includes an item dated September 6th 1972 and titled “Olympic hostages killed in gun battle“. In that report the BBC described the perpetrators as “guerrillas” (despite the fact that their victims were civilians), “militants”, “kidnappers” and “gunmen”- but not terrorists.

That editorial policy continued to dominate BBC News coverage of topics linked to the Munich Olympics attack throughout the years that followed, as seen in the examples below. [all emphasis added]

Athens 2004 remembers Munich 1972“, August 20th 2004:

“Thirty-two years ago, 11 Israeli athletes were killed at the Munich Olympics, after Palestinian militants stormed the Israeli team headquarters. […]

On 5 September, 1972, eight members of the Palestinian militant group Black September raided the Israeli team headquarters.[…]

Over the next 24 hours, the tense stand-off between gunmen and police was played out in front of television viewers worldwide.

Three helicopters provided by the German authorities took the Israelis and the gunmen to a military airfield outside Munich, supposedly to catch a flight out of Germany.”

Last Palestinian linked to 1972 Munich massacre dies“, August 18th 2010:

“Two Israelis were killed by the group at the athletes’ village, and nine more died in a botched rescue attempt by the German police. A German policeman and five Palestinian gunmen were also killed.”

Israeli widow of 1972 Munich Olympics massacre slams IOC“, August 7th 2012:

“Eleven athletes and officials, including Mrs Spitzer’s husband fencing coach Andre Spitzer, died during the attack at the Munich Olympics, after the Black September Palestinian militant group kidnapped Israeli team members. […]

Five Palestinian hostage takers were killed. Others were later killed by Israeli intelligence forces.”

The Munich massacre remembered“, September 5th 2012:

“The 1972 summer Olympics are mostly remembered for tragedy, rather than sporting achievements. It was there that 11 Israelis were killed after being taken hostage by members of a Palestinian militant group, Black September, on 5 September.

Two died in the athletes’ Olympic village in Munich. The others were killed during a gun battle with West German police at a nearby airfield – as the militants tried to take them out of the country.” 

Germany and Israel mark Munich massacre in ceremonies“, September 5th 2012:

“Wreaths were laid earlier inside the Olympic Village where Palestinian gunmen seized the athletes. […]

On 5 September 1972, eight gunmen burst into the Israeli athletes’ quarters, killing two immediately and taking nine athletes and coaches hostage. […]

During the fighting that followed, the gunmen killed their remaining nine hostages. Five of the gunmen were killed, as was one German policeman.”

Israeli Mossad spy Mike Harari dies, aged 87“, September 22nd 2014 (discussed here):

“Mike Harari, 87, orchestrated missions including the targeting of militants whom Israel held responsible for the massacre of its Olympics team in 1972. […]

The group had killed two Israeli athletes in the Olympic Village in Munich. Nine others whom they had also taken hostage were killed during a gun battle between the militants and West German police at a nearby airfield. The group was trying to take the hostages out of the country.”

This week in history: 31 Aug – 6 Sept“, August 28th 2015 (discussed here):

“The week that 11 Israeli athletes were killed by Palestinian extremists at the Munich Olympics…”

Widow welcomes Munich massacre memorial“, August 2nd 2016:

“The killing of 11 members of the Israeli team at the Munich Games of 1972 remains the darkest chapter in Olympic history.

They died after being taken hostage by Palestinian militants inside the Olympic village.”

Widow’s wish sees ceremony mark killings of Israeli athletes“, August 3rd 2016:

“In the early hours of 5 September, Palestinian militants from the Black September group clambered over security fences at the Olympic Village, made their way to the Israelis’ quarters and took a group of them hostage. […]

The militants, who murdered two of the Israeli athletes, demanded the release of more than 200 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.”

One exception to that editorial policy is found in an article on the BBC Sport website written by the veteran BBC sports reporter Barry Davies in 2012:

“At the Munich 1972 Olympics, Palestinian terrorists calling themselves Black September attacked members of the Israeli Olympic team in their quarters at Block G, 31 Connollystrasse, in the Olympic Village. […]

The terrorists had asked for the release of 234 people from jails in Israel, but Israel would not negotiate. Eventually, there was supposedly an agreement that the group would be flown out of the country and helicopters were brought in. In reality, the Germans’ plan was to ambush the kidnappers.

However, they made a big mistake. They thought there were only five terrorists – but there were eight.”

Another BBC sports journalist – Peter Scrivener – also used accurate language in a blog post written in 2008 which is still available on the BBC Sport website:

“The 1972 Games in Munich were into their second week when, in the early hours of 5 September, Palestinian terrorists gained access to the Olympic village and killed two members of the Israeli team. […]

Negotiations led to the terrorists taking the hostages, by helicopter, to a military airfield at Fürstenfeldbruck, where they believed they would be boarding a plane to Egypt.”

An additional exception to the rule appears in the synopsis to an edition of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Sporting Witness’ that was broadcast in April 2016.

“Shaul Ladany is a long-distance Israeli race-walker who set world records that stand to this day. But, even more remarkably, he survived a childhood in the Belsen concentration camp and then the terrorist attack on the Israeli team at the Munich Olympics in 1972.”

And when the BBC aired the film ‘One Day in September’ in the year 2000, an accompanying article on the BBC Sport website used appropriate language:

“The world looked on in horror 28 years ago as Israeli athletes were taken hostage by Palestinian terrorists in the Olympic Village. Eleven were murdered. […]

But the picture darkened on 5 September when a group of eight Palestinian terrorists raided the Israeli team headquarters. […]

Over the next 24 hours, the tense stand-off between terrorists and police was played out in front of TV viewers worldwide.”

Notwithstanding those exceptions (and the impression that BBC sports journalists make a better job of using accurate terminology than their counterparts in the news department), the dominant BBC editorial policy over the years has been to refrain from describing the 1972 attack on the Israeli Olympic team as terrorism and its perpetrators as terrorists.

However, in a Radio 4 programme broadcast earlier this year, BBC audiences were told that:

“Terrorism can mean different things to different people; it isn’t black and white. States allegedly resort to it too, as Israel did to avenge the 1972 Munich Olympic Games massacre. Eleven Israeli athletes died following an attack by Palestinians from a shadowy group known as Black September. In revenge, Israel’s intelligence agency, the Mossad, covertly assassinated those suspected of involvement in the attack.”

After forty-five years it is clearly high time for BBC News to ensure that reports relating to the 1972 Munich Olympics Massacre use accurate and consistent terminology which clarifies to audiences that the incident was an act of terror perpetrated by terrorists.  

Related Articles:

BBC still won’t call Munich Olympics massacre perpetrators terrorists

BBC Radio 4’s double standards on response to terrorism

 

 

 

 

BBC WS Newsday’s one-sided ‘peace process’ reporting – part two

As we saw in part one of this post, on August 24th the lead story in the early edition of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newsday‘ related to a visit to the Middle East by a US delegation.

That item presented an unchallenged, one-sided view of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians from a former PLO employee and steered listeners towards the belief that the main issue at stake is ‘settlements’, as well as promoting partisan views of ‘international law’.

A later edition of the same programme on the same day also led with that story but if listeners were expecting to hear a balancing viewpoint from the other side, they would have been sorely disappointed. Presenter Lawrence Pollard introduced the item (from 00:21 here) thus: [emphasis in italics in the original, emphasis in bold added]

Pollard: “Now let’s talk about the job facing the advisor in chief and son-in-law to the president, Jared Kushner. Can he pull the rabbit out the hat; broker a peace deal between the Israelis and the Palestinians? There’s a US delegation led by Mr Kushner in Egypt, Jordan. Ah…they’re in Israel now and they’re going to pick up with separate negotiations with the Israeli and Palestinian leaderships. Ehm…what are the prospects? A little earlier we caught up with Omar Baddar, the deputy director of the Arab-American Institute in Washington. I asked him what kind of coverage this trip was getting back in the US first of all.”

Clearly that introduction does not comply with the BBC editorial guidelines on impartiality requiring audiences to be informed of the “particular viewpoint” of interviewees. Pollard made no attempt to clarify the political agenda of either his guest or the organisation he represents and so listeners remained unaware that they were hearing partisan ‘analysis’ from a ‘one-stater’ who – like the head of his organisation – supports the anti-Israel BDS campaign.

Omar Baddar began by promoting the notion that the US delegation’s latest visit to the region is related to domestic events in America – despite the fact that the US officials concerned have previously made numerous similar trips.

Baddar: “Well to be honest with you, I don’t think many people are talking about this in America. I mean the president has gotten himself in such hot water over domestic issues with racism and violence that this is not really on anybody’s radar, which is why precisely I think he is attempting this push; to get some kind of positive media coverage about some kind of foreign policy success on the peace process front for the Israelis and Palestinians. Unfortunately, I don’t think he’s got anything real or substantive going on so I don’t see how this is actually going to generate what he’s attempting to go after. I think this is going to be just another failed venture of this president.”

Pollard: “Some of the headlines are extraordinary; sort of anti-Trump.’Trump defends neo-Nazis’ was one headline on an Israeli newspaper. In the region, how is the visit being seen?”

Baddar: “In terms of how governments in the region are viewing this, I think most of them are just distracted with much other, you know, with many other issues; regional dynamics vis-à-vis Iran and other things. But the Palestinian Authority in particular I’m sure is very, very frustrated because they’ve been stroking Trump’s ego out of desperation, telling him that he’s the president with the boldness and courage and vision to resolve this conflict in the hopes that he would apply some kind of meaningful pressure on the Israelis to sort of show progress towards ending the occupation and stop settlements and so on. None of that pressure is actually coming from the Trump administration so they’re finally seeing this for the PR stunt that it is and they simply have no interest in playing along with it.”

Pollard: “Do you detect a policy, a new idea, a new direction at all coming…coming out of Washington?”

Baddar: “I do not at all. I think he’s a man with no vision whatsoever and I think that’s the real reason behind the mixed messaging he’s been providing on this issue. When it comes on to specifics and the kind of people he’s surrounded himself with, none of them are the kind of people who understand what it actually takes to resolve this conflict so I don’t see anything to be hopeful about.

Pollard: “Ah…interesting. Tell us more about the position, as you see it, of the Palestinian Authority. You say that there they are sort of stroking Mr Trump’s ego out of desperation.”

Baddar: “That’s pretty much the case. I mean, look, they’ve…the Palestinian Authority has bent over backwards to accommodate every Israeli demand but the Israelis have taken everything the PA has offered but have not really offered even a slow-down in settlements in return or anything like that. So what is needed is…you know, President Obama did not really go very far but he at least spoke some truths about this stuff. And in the case of President Trump, he’s not even going nearly as far as Obama did. So what we need more of we’re getting significantly less of. Abbas at this point is actually expressing some level of frustration with the US administration, which is not something that we’ve really see from him in the past.”

One would have expected to see Pollard to remind listeners at this point that when – at the request of the Obama administration – Israel froze construction in communities in Judea & Samaria for ten months in 2009/10, the Palestinian Authority refused to come to the negotiating table throughout 90% of the period.

Pollard: “And at the moment does the Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu have the head space to deal with this? He’s got lots of internal political problems of his own at the moment.”

Baddar: “Yeah. Internal political problems of his own and also complications in dealing with Trump because he sees him as a very useful ally but at the same time, with the kind of comments that Trump has been making about Nazis and white supremacists in the US, I’m pretty sure that Netanyahu is not in a great position either and he’s…his political base is always based on [unintelligible] more rejectionist when it comes to any kind of compromise with the Palestinians.”

Pollard: “And how much does this stuff matter in America? How will it be treated on the networks do you think?”

Baddar: “Not as much as it should. I think America is pretty…pretty occupied right now with the drama that President Trump has created domestically that this is not even on their radar at all. But it really ought to be because in the long-run this is one of those issues that really affects America’s position in the region in a very, very significant way.”

Pollard closed the item with the promotion of some questionable linkage between the US delegation’s visit, internal US affairs and (yet again) an unconnected headline in a specific Israeli newspaper.

Pollard: “Speaking from the Arab-American Institute in Washington that was Omar Baddar. Meanwhile, more background to this visit: four prominent US Jewish groups have announced they will not take part in what has become a yearly call between the president and hundreds of rabbis across the country ahead of the Jewish high holidays of Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur. They said his remarks around Charlottesville lacked moral leadership and empathy for the victims of racial and religious hatred. Of course that story has been getting a great deal of attention in the Israeli press as well. ‘Trump defends neo-Nazis’ was one headline a couple of days ago. So; the visit of Jared Kushner complicated by so many factors.”

Again we see that ‘Newsday’ coverage of this story focused on promoting the notion that ‘settlements’ are the main issue stalling the ‘peace process’, with no mention at all of relevant topics such as terrorism, the absence of a uniform Palestinian leadership, Hamas’ refusal to accept the existence of Israel in any shape or form or the Palestinian Authority’s payment of salaries to terrorists.

With both interviewees in the two items coming from the anti-Israel side, the complete absence of any mention of such topics is of course hardly surprising but obviously ‘Newsday’ cannot possibly claim to have covered this story in an accurate and impartial manner that meets its public purpose of helping audiences to understand the issue.

Related Articles:

BBC WS Newsday’s one-sided ‘peace process’ reporting – part one

 

 

BBC WS Newsday’s one-sided ‘peace process’ reporting – part one

For reasons best known to themselves the production team of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newsday‘ decided that their lead story on August 24th should be a US delegation’s visit to the Middle East. The item (from 00:38 here) was introduced by presenters Lawrence Pollard and Nomia Iqbal as follows:

[emphasis in italics in the original, emphasis in bold added]

Pollard: “So can the Trump administration pull the rabbit out of the hat and broker a peace deal between the Israelis and the Palestinians?”

Iqbal: “Huge question, isn’t it? But it’s what the US team on Mid-East tour is hoping to provide the answer to. Led by President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, they’ve been to Egypt, Jordan and now Israel for talks with the Israeli prime minister and the head of the Palestinian Authority.”

Pollard: “Behind them is the domestic row in the US over the president’s alleged slowness in condemning antisemitism and racism and ahead of them is what looks like a hardening of positions from both sides. Can the American team jump-start the so-called peace process? That’s our question this morning.”

Failing to provide any concrete examples to back up his claim of a “hardening of positions” on either the Israeli or Palestinian side, Pollard then signposted his interviewee’s legal qualifications, thereby encouraging listeners to regard her subsequent pronunciations on ‘international law’ as credible and accurate. He did not however inform listeners that Diana Buttu – now, among other things, a policy advisor for Al Shabaka – is a BDS supporter who thinks the Palestinian Authority should be disbanded.

Pollard: “Let’s speak now to Diana Buttu who is a former legal advisor to the Palestinian negotiations team in Ramallah, joins us now. Welcome to the programme. Both sides making demands, which is kind of what you’d expect before a round of negotiations. Just explain to us what the red line is on the Palestinian side.”

Buttu: “Well the red line is exactly what international law says, which is that settlements shouldn’t be constructed. I think it’s very important for people to keep in mind that what’s been happening during these negotiations is that the negotiations process, rather than serving as a mechanism for ending Israel’s military rule has actually served as a mechanism to facilitate it and to entrench it. Since negotiations began we’ve actually seen nearly a tripling of the number of Israeli settlers living illegally in the West Bank. So the position has and always will be that we cannot continue to negotiate while there’s a gun to our head…”

Pollard: “Right…”

Buttu: “…in the form of increased settlement activity.”

In addition to failing to clarify to listeners that Buttu’s claim regarding international law and the legality of Israelis living in certain locations is not the only interpretation of the fourth Geneva Convention, Pollard also refrained from telling his audience that the Oslo Accords – signed willingly by the PLO for which Buttu used to work – place no restriction whatsoever on construction or population in communities in Area C, the status of which is to be determined in negotiations. Pollard then resuscitated a twelve-year-old quote.

Pollard: “That raises the issue of how much of an honest broker the American team can be. I mean there are people who have been familiar with the inside of the American process who say, you know, what we’ve done in the past is we’ve been Israel’s attorney rather than both sides’ sort of honest broker. Do you think that Jared Kushner represents a change?”

Buttu: “Absolutely not. That phrase of Israel’s lawyer was one that was coined by Aaron David Miller who was involved with the Clinton administration. And the Clinton administration is no way like the Trump administration. At least then one could potentially say or probably say that there was some semblance of…of being objective – even though I would question that. But with the Trump team the mask is completely off. Jared Kushner himself is somebody who is a big supporter of the settlements. David Friedman – the US ambassador – is also a financial backer of the settlements. His daughter just immigrated to Israel taking advantage of a very racist Israeli law and has become an Israeli citizen. So I don’t…I’m not under any illusions whatsoever that the Trump administration is going to do anything. In fact I think what they’re going to do is either continue to provide a fig leaf or continue to entrench Israel’s military occupation.”

The Israeli law to which Buttu referred in that gratuitous reference to a person unconnected to the US administration is of course the Law of Return. Pollard refrained from challenging her portrayal of that law as “very racist”.

Pollard: “Give us an idea, from your point of view, has a strategy emerged? I mean those are pretty dark interpretations that you’re giving of American intentions. Has there actually been a series of policy statements that you could call a strategy or an idea or a road map forward?”

Buttu: “From…on the part of the Americans – yes, definitely. This is the first US president who has indicated that he intends to move the embassy from…from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This is again in violation of international law. This is a president who has completely turned a blind eye to Israeli settlement construction and while this may not be an actual plan, I think what it…what the Trump administration has made clear is that they’re not going to do anything to push Israel to end its now 50 year military rule and to stop the denial of freedom for Palestinians. So this is the plan that has been in place and on…in terms of what it is that the sides want, the Trump administration needs to look as though they’re actually doing something. The Netanyahu administration needs to look as though they’re actually doing something and within Israel all that they’re saying is provided that we look as though we’re engaged in a process but not actually doing anything, then the situation will be fine and that is not acceptable.”

Pollard failed to clarify to listeners that – as the BBC well knows – there has been no new “Israeli settlement construction” since Trump came into office or indeed for well over two decades before that. Neither did he bother to ask Buttu to clarify exactly which part of “international law” supposedly precludes moving the US embassy to Jerusalem or challenge her false claim that this is the first time a US presidential candidate has pledged to move his country’s embassy to Israel’s capital.  

Pollard: “But…but there are people who…who are trying to be optimistic about this, who are kind of saying there’s going to be a new approach from Jared Kushner; he’s a real estate guy. Let’s treat it as a real estate approach; after all this is an issue about land ownership. Any fruits come from that approach?”

Buttu: “Not at all. This isn’t a real estate issue. This is an issue of rights and whether Palestinians have a right to live freely on their land or whether the world is going to continue to accept the denial of freedom of a people for yet another 50 years. So I don’t at all buy into this…”

Pollard: “Right…”

Buttu: “…theory that somehow Jared Kushner is going to be different. The question is not about the quality of the person but about what they’re empowered to do…”

Pollard: “Right…”

Buttu: “…what it is they intend to do and it’s clear that this administration is going to do nothing but kick the can down the road.”

Failing once again to clarify that the status of Area C is subject to negotiations and hence cannot accurately be described as “their land”, Pollard concluded with a repeat of his signposting:

Pollard: “You’re not going to be holding your breath by the sound of it. Diana Buttu; many thanks indeed for her take on the prospects of some breakthrough courtesy of Jared Kushner and the US team in the Middle East. Diana is a former legal advisor for the Palestinian negotiating team in Ramallah.”

Clearly BBC World Service audiences listening to this item did not benefit from accurate and impartial information that would enhance their understanding of the current situation regarding US efforts to restart negotiations between Israel and the PLO or the full range of issues to be tackled in such talks.

What they did hear, however, was unchallenged, politically motivated messaging from an inadequately introduced professional activist intent on persuading BBC audiences that the main – if not sole – factor of any importance in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is ‘settlements’.

A later edition of ‘Newsday’ also led with the same story – but did listeners hear anything to balance this item? That question will be answered in part two of this post.

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Diana Buttu is at it Again, Harvard Edition  (CAMERA)