BBC News gives a whitewashed account of ‘controversial’ meeting in House of Lords

On October 27th the BBC News website’s UK Politics page ran an article headlined “Lib Dems suspend peer over controversial meeting“. Readers of the second version of the report were informed that:tonge-art

“A former Lib Dem MP has had her membership of the party suspended after chairing a meeting criticised as “shameful” by the Israeli embassy.

Baroness Tonge, who was already sitting as an independent peer, said she would now quit the party for good.”

Readers trying to understand why that meeting in the House of Lords was “controversial” and “shameful” had to make do with the following thirty-two word explanation:

“One person at the meeting reportedly compared Israel to so-called Islamic State. […]

The Jewish Chronicle reported that another audience member had implied an American rabbi had provoked Hitler into murdering Jews.”

A more comprehensive account of the proceedings is provided by David Collier, who was present at the event.

With regard to the purpose of the meeting, BBC News website readers were given the following vague description:

“The event, in the House of Lords, was organised by the Palestinian Return Centre as part of its campaign calling for the UK Government to “officially apologise for its past colonial crimes in Palestine”.”

In fact – as the PRC’s promotional material for the event clearly states – the meeting was part of an ongoing campaign by the PRC (and others – as the BBC has already partly reported) to get Britain to specifically ‘apologise’ for the Balfour Declaration rather than for any generalised “colonial crimes”.

“The Palestinian Return Centre is hosting an event inside the UK Parliament a week ahead of the 99th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration which will be on November 2nd. The Balfour Declaration, which had no basis of legal authority, promised the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine, where the indigenous Palestinians amounted to 90% of the total population.

After the Balfour Declaration Palestine became the victim of colonialism and Britain’s legacy is still evident today as Palestinians continue to be denied the right to self-determination and suffer from living under military occupation or as refugees. As the 100th year since the Balfour declaration approaches, the Palestinian Return Centre has decided to re-launch its campaign which started in 2013 called Balfour Apology Campaign which asks the UK Government to officially apologies for its past colonial crimes in Palestine.”

The BBC’s portrayal of the aim of the event therefore conceals the real agenda of the campaign of which this meeting was part: an agenda recently described by David Horovitz at the Times of Israel.

“The Balfour Declaration sought to restore a Jewish homeland while respecting the interests of the non-Jews who share this land. Thirty years later, the UN set out a specific framework for achieving this. This was not acceptable to the Arabs of Palestine and those who spoke for them at the time, since their desire for a first-ever Palestinian state was outweighed by their hostility to the notion of a revived Jewish state alongside them. And it is all too evidently not acceptable to the Palestinian leadership now.

In declaring diplomatic and legal war on the Balfour Declaration, Palestinian leaders are telling the world — to their and our enduring misfortune — that nothing has changed in 100 years, that their opposition to our state in any borders remains greater than their desire for their own independent entity. A century later, they are affirming that their refusal to share any part of this land with the Jewish people remains absolute.”

Readers would of course also have been in a better position to understand that agenda had they been given any background information about the Palestinian Return Centre (PRC) and told of its connections to Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood or the additional activities of individuals connected to that London-based organisation which has been banned in Israel since 2010.

Neither were readers informed of Jenny Tonge’s record of previous collaboration with the PRC and its various spin-offs which, as the Times recently reported, included a 2009 PRC paid trip to Syria to meet Bashar al Assad.

“Lady Tonge accompanied Mr Corbyn on the PRC trip to Syria in 2009. Mr Corbyn used the visit to allege that “once again the Israeli tail wags the US dog”, an allegation popular with conspiracy theorists and antisemites. […]

The politicians met Assad and thanked him for housing half a million Palestinian refugees since 1948.”

Remarkably, this BBC report gives uncritical amplification to Jenny Tonge’s advancement of a well-worn trope concerning ‘powerful’ Jews:

“Speaking to the BBC, Baroness Tonge blamed the “power of the Israel lobby” and its sway over UK political parties for her suspension.”

As David Aaronovitch noted at the Sunday Times:

“Ten years ago the baroness did the old one about Jewish financial power in the form of “the pro-Israeli lobby has got its grips on the western world, its financial grips”. She got a reprimand from her party leader for it. Six years ago it was the ancient blood libel (Jews kill gentiles for their blood or body parts, see also under Shylock), when she demanded an inquiry into absurd allegations that an Israeli aid mission to Haiti was harvesting organs from Haitians. She lost a front bench job for that.”

One might therefore have expected the BBC to provide readers with some obviously relevant context concerning Tonge’s ignominious record of antisemitic statements – and to be able to recognise (and identify as such) a version of the Jewish lobby trope before promoting it in a quote. But sadly, the BBC’s own record on that particular topic has long been disturbingly dismal.

Related Articles:

BBC News, PA Balfour agitprop and British history

Jenny Tonge & the Hamas Lobby

BBC whitewashes Jenny Tonge

Hamas entryism at the UN

The UN, the PRC and Hamas: a postscript with a twist

No BBC reporting on Hamas entryism at UN

On July 20th the United Nations gave its final approval to the application for accreditation submitted by the London-based Palestinian Return Centre.

“US Deputy UN Ambassador Michele Sisson said the center only applied for consultative status a year ago and the United States has “serious concerns” about its background and activities that haven’t been answered.”

As has been noted here before, those “serious concerns” are very well founded.

However, the BBC’s UN correspondent has to date shown no interest in telling audiences about the UK-based organization with close Hamas ties that has just been granted the UN accreditation which gives it “access to U.N. premises and opportunities to attend or observe many events and conferences at United Nations sites around the world”.  

The prospect of supporters of an internationally recognised terrorist organization gaining access to the United Nations in order to expand its influence and promote its ideology of elimination of a UN member state (as portrayed in the NGO’s logo) is apparently not news. 

PRC logo  

Related Articles:

Hamas entryism at the UN

The UN, the PRC and Hamas: a postscript with a twist

Context-free Tweet from BBC’s Gaza correspondent

Here is a Tweet sent by the BBC’s Gaza correspondent Rushdi Abualouf on the night of June 11th.

Abualouf tweet 11 6

The context of that Tweet – which Abualouf did not bother to provide to his followers – is that the man killed was involved in terror attacks against Israeli civilians.

Mohamed Awwar (also spelt in some reports Alaawor, Alarur or Awaer) was a member of a Salafist Jihadist terror cell which was responsible for the April 21st missile attacks on Sderot among others. He was also employed as a Hamas policeman and at his funeral, both Hamas and Global Jihad flags were used to wrap the body.

Hamas & Salafist flags funeral

Below is the ‘martydom’ poster produced by the PRC’s Al Nasser Salah al Deen Brigades.

Poster Alarur

A photograph of Awwar was also promoted on a Fatah Facebook account.

Fatah FB

At around 9 a.m. on the same day – June 11th – a missile fired from the Gaza Strip landed in the Eshkol region. Yet again, that incident was not reported by the BBC despite the fact that the new PA unity government is – as of June 2nd – now responsible under existing agreements for the prevention of terror attacks from the Gaza Strip. 

BBC continues to ignore Gaza Strip missile fire at Israeli civilians

Since the beginning of February, multiple missile attacks on civilian communities in southern Israel have been carried out by terrorist groups operating in the Gaza Strip.

On the morning of February 4th, as children were on their way to school just after 7 a.m., a missile landed in the Eshkol region.

On the afternoon of February 6th an attack was launched on the Ashkelon area. On the same evening another missile landed in the Ashkelon region and later that night at around 11 p.m. an incoming missile hit the Eshkol district.

On February 8th a missile hit the Sdot Negev area.

On the afternoon of February 10th a missile landed in the Hof Ashkelon area and later that night another missile hit the same region. The IDF responded by targeting terror infrastructure in the Gaza Strip.

None of the above incidents was reported by the BBC. 

SONY DSC

Deir el Balah area of central Gaza Strip as seen from the Eshkol region

On the morning of February 9th the IDF targeted Abdallah Kharti – a member of the Popular Resistance Committees and also a Global Jihad operative.  

“According to intelligence data, Kharti played a central role in setting up the terrorist infrastructure in Sinai, which has been firing rockets at Eilat sporadically in recent months, including the most recent rocket attack, launched on January 31, and intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-rocket battery.

In Gaza, Kharti is a member of the Popular Resistance Committees, but he apparently wears more than one hat. In Sinai, he is affiliated with the al-Qaida- inspired Ansar Beit Al-Maqdes group, which has been targeting both Israel and Egyptian security forces. [..]

The attempted strike is a reminder that Gaza is a base not only for Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorism but also for a growing al-Qaida-affiliated presence as well. According to Israeli intelligence estimates, there are hundreds of Salafi-jihadis in Gaza armed with rockets, and many move between Sinai in Gaza regularly.

Hamas has attempted to persuade these factions to refrain from endangering it by provoking an Israeli response against Gaza’s regime, but it has also signaled to the groups that they are otherwise free to attack Israel as they please.”

Notably, the BBC did not report on that incident either. 

As we see, the BBC continues its habit of selective reporting of security incidents on Israel’s southern borders, thus denying audiences information and context vital to their understanding of the region in general and specific Israeli responses to terrorist threats.

Related Articles:

Terror cell exposed in Jerusalem: BBC promotes context-free quote from Hamas

75% of January terror activity on Israel’s southern borders ignored by BBC

Context-free reporting on the BBC News website

The BBC News website Middle East section published the article below on November 8th at 19:49 GMT.

The report’s distinguishing features are its lack of concrete facts and context.

The headline reads “Gaza: Palestinian boy ‘killed by Israeli gunfire’ “, with the inverted commas presumably intended to inform the reader that its writer cannot be sure of that information.

The strap-line reads “A Palestinian boy has been killed by Israeli fire in the Gaza Strip, Palestinian medical sources say“.

Next, we learn that:

“The boy, reportedly aged 13, was hit by shots from an army helicopter, the sources said.

The Israeli army said it was checking the report, Israeli media said.”

Towards the end of the report, the picture becomes even less clear:

“It was unclear how the boy was hit in Thursday’s incident, but one report said soldiers had found explosive devices near a border fence east of the town of Khan Younis and opened fire.

Another report said the boy was fatally wounded during a clash involving militants and Israeli helicopters.”

[all emphasis added]

So are readers any the wiser as to what happened in Khan Yunis on Thursday? Not really – but they are clearly intended to take away the impression that a Palestinian boy (named as Hamid Younis Abu Dika, or Daqqa, and in some Palestinian reports aged 11) was somehow killed by the Israeli army, with the reporting of any accompanying context apparently being considered of less urgency by the BBC. 

What the BBC article fails to report fully is the following

“Earlier on Thursday, IDF soldiers exchanged fire with Palestinian terrorists from Gaza.

According to initial reports, a work crew came under fire near Kibbutz Nirim on the Gaza border and the soldiers returned fire.

Tanks and attack helicopters were dispatched to the scene and opened fire toward suspicious areas.”

That incident was claimed by the Popular Resistance Committees. The website of the PRC’s ‘Salah a Din Brigades’ also takes credit for mortar fire at IDF forces.

Later on Thursday evening, an Israeli soldier was wounded by an explosion claimed by Hamas (and described as an IED) in ‘response’ to the boy’s death. 

IDF troops had entered the Gaza Strip after the discovery of a large underground cross-border tunnel packed with explosives. 

“Israeli ground forces entered the Gaza Strip on Thursday evening after finding a large tunnel filled with explosives running beneath the border fence with the Hamas-controlled enclave.

Soldiers conducting routine patrols of the border near the town of Nirim found a smuggling tunnel 4 meters deep and almost 5 meters wide burrowed beneath the border, the IDF Spokesperson said.

Nirim was the scene earlier in the day of an incident in which terrorists in the Gaza Strip fired on a work crew and IDF troops returned fire.

The patrol that discovered the tunnel crossed into the Gaza Strip to search for explosives, and, on their return, while repairing the border fence, an “extremely large” amount of explosives detonated on the Gaza side of the border. One soldier was very lightly injured, and an IDF jeep was damaged by the blast that reportedly launched it 20 meters.”

Whilst the exact circumstances of Hamid Younis Abu Dika’s injury remain at present unknown, what is obvious is that there is considerably more context to the story than the BBC’s account makes clear. The decision by terrorist factions in the Gaza Strip to launch repeated attacks on IDF border patrols and maintenance crews inevitably endangers civilians in the area and that point is not made adequately clear in BBC reports.  

Update: 

As pointed out in the comments below (thank you, Sue), the BBC report has been revised since this article was published. The newer version can be found here.

 

BBC News: telling the end of a story first

The morning of Monday, October 22nd saw a mortar attack on a routine Israeli army patrol near the border fence close to Nir Am, to which the IDF responded.  In addition, rocket attacks were launched from the Gaza Strip on civilian communities in southern Israel and the IDF later responded again.  

However, one would have to read down to the fifth out of eight paragraphs in the BBC report on the subject to find out anything about the rocket attacks aimed at civilians, because both the headline and the strap line deal exclusively with the IDF response. 

Despite having already identified one of the members of the targeted rocket-launching cell as a member of Hamas and another as a member of the PRC, the report then goes on to state that:

“Militant factions other than Hamas have carried out a lot of the recent rocket attacks against Israel, although Hamas’ armed wing was involved in firing a barrage of mortars and rockets earlier this month.”

According to the Israeli newspaper Ma’ariv, one of the deceased is Abed Arahman Abu Jalala (26) – a battalion commander with Izz-a-Din-al-Qassam. Another is Yasser Tarabin of the PRC and a third man has been named as Eahad Abu Shkafa who was with Abu Jalala at the time and may also be a member of Hamas. 

The BBC did not report on the subsequent statement put out by Hamas’ Izz-a-Din-al-Qassam brigades which declared that “The Zionist enemy continues in its crimes and its aggression against our land and our nation and does not cease to spill blood. The crime of the enemy will not pass without reaction; the Zionists will pay a high price.”

There is significance in the order of reporting a sequence of events. Beginning with the end of a story (for example, Israeli air strikes on terror cells) is not conducive to the public’s clear understanding of cause and effect, especially in such a complex area as the Middle East. In a world in which news is distributed via the internet to audiences around the world – not necessarily with English as a first language – and in which time-poor readers often skim headlines and strap lines rather than reading entire articles in full, the choice of headline and the sequence in which the report is written is of importance to the reader’s understanding of the story. 

For some reason, the ‘last – first’ method of reporting appears to be very popular with Middle East journalists in general, especially when dealing with Israeli responses to rocket fire or terror attacks. Though this style of reporting is by no means exclusive to BBC employees, it is they who are charged with ensuring that the BBC “gives information about, and increases understanding of, the world through accurate and impartial news”. That obligation to accuracy and increased understanding is not aided by the recounting of an event in reverse order.