Comparing BBC reporting on ISIS and Hamas tunnels

When in the summer of 2014 the BBC finally got round to providing its audiences with information about Hamas’ cross-border attack tunnels thirteen days after the conflict began, the corporation was unable to describe the purpose of those tunnels to audiences in its own words.

Billed “Gaza ‘terror tunnels’ in 60 secs” on the BBC News website’s Middle East page, the filmed report appeared under the equally interestingly punctuated title “Middle East crisis: Israel releases ‘Gaza tunnel footage'”. In the synopsis audiences were told that:tunnels vid 1

“Israel sent ground troops into Gaza on Thursday, saying the ground operation is necessary to target Hamas’ network of tunnels.

It has stated the tunnels pose a threat of terrorist attacks against the Israeli population.”

The film itself employed similarly qualified language:

Israel says tunnels like this are being used by militants to infiltrate its territory”.

“This Israel Defense Forces footage shows suspected Hamas fighters in bushes, firing on Israeli troops”.

Israel says it has been forced to send troops into Gaza to find and destroy tunnels like this one” [all emphasis added]

In contrast, five days after the operation to retake Mosul from ISIS began on October 16th 2016, the BBC’s Ahmed Maher was able to tell audiences that:tunnels-mosul-maher

“These tunnels are very important and a key element in the military strategy of the jihadist group.”

The BBC was similarly able to describe the purpose of the tunnels in its own words in the synopsis to Maher’s report.

“The tunnels have been mainly used as hideouts and escape routes by the militants.”

In an article by Richard Galpin published on October 25th under the title “Mosul battle: Four ways IS is fighting back” readers found a section sub-headed “Tunnels”.

“As the Iraqi army and Kurdish forces have advanced towards Mosul, regaining control of towns and villages which had been in the hands of IS, they have discovered networks of tunnels dug in many areas, a classic tactic for guerrilla warfare.

They seem to be primarily defensive, designed to protect the militants from air strikes, artillery and other attacks. Inside the tunnels troops have found sleeping bags, food supplies, water, and even electricity cables so the users have light.

The tunnels are often dug beneath buildings, including mosques, so the excavation work cannot be spotted. But the tunnels can also be used for surprise attacks.

In one of the most dramatic moments captured on video since the offensive began, an IS militant climbs out of a tunnel in a rural area and opens fire on a group of soldiers who had presumably thought they were on safe ground. The man then blows himself up before the soldiers can react.

It is assumed that there is a similar network of tunnels in Mosul city itself, which could enable IS fighters and their leaders to hide during the anticipated assault and if necessary escape.

Troops have found booby-traps in tunnels which the militants have been forced to flee, including one which had been attached to a copy of the Koran.”

Notably, the BBC has found no need to employ superfluous punctuation or qualifiers such as “Iraq says” when describing the existence and purpose of those tunnels in those and other reports.

Related Articles:        

BBC (sort of) gets round to telling audiences about Hamas tunnels

Twenty-three seconds of BBC reporting on Gaza tunnels

BBC fails to adequately inform audiences on terrorist tunnels (and worse)

Arafat ‘poisoning’ case closed: an overview of 3 years of BBC News coverage

On September 2nd an article appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page under the title “Arafat poisoning inquiry dropped by French prosecutors” and a similar report appeared on the BBC Arabic website.

Although this report is about the closure of an inquiry opened three years ago in August 2012 after Suha Arafat filed a civil suit at a court in the Paris suburb of Nanterre claiming that her husband had been murdered, the caption to the main photograph illustrating the English language article continues to infer foul play.Arafat art 3 9 15  

“Swiss tests found abnormal levels of polonium on Yasser Arafat’s body”

That theme is also promoted in the body of the report:

“Arafat died in Paris in 2004, aged 75. His wife says he was poisoned, possibly by highly radioactive polonium.

The claims were seemingly backed up by tests carried out in Switzerland.”

Later on readers are informed that:

“Three teams of French, Swiss and Russian investigators were allowed to take samples from Arafat’s tomb in Ramallah.

But, earlier this year, one French prosecutor said the polonium samples were of an environmental nature.”

Readers are not told that the Russian investigation also ruled out poisoning.

As we know, the BBC’s editorial guidelines state that its content must achieve both “due accuracy” and “impartiality over time“. The BBC’s coverage of this story over the past three years presents an opportunity to examine its adherence to those editorial standards.

The story began in July 2012 when an Al Jazeera ‘documentary’ claimed that Swiss experts had found “significant” traces of Polonium 210 on some of Arafat’s personal effects provided by his widow.

In August 2012 Suha Arafat filed her suit in Paris and BBC coverage at the time informed audiences that:

“…many Palestinians continue to believe that Israel poisoned him. Israel has denied any involvement.”

In November 2012 Arafat’s remains were exhumed. The BBC’s Jon Donnison had already prepared the scene with two reports on Arafat’s ‘legacy’ – here and here – and a filmed item in which he promoted the notion that Arafat was “killed at the hands of Israel”. Additional filmed and written coverage by Richard Galpin also promoted the PA’s conspiracy theory of Israeli involvement in Arafat’s death. The exhumation itself prompted no fewer than five reports on the BBC News website’s Middle East page, three of which again promoted conspiracy theories about Israel.

A year later, in November 2013, the appearance of a Swiss report with findings described as “moderately” supporting the poisoning theory prompted the BBC news website to produce no fewer than thirteen different reports, nine of which amplified conspiracy theories concerning Israel’s involvement in Arafat’s death.website 6 to 8 11

In December 2013 a leaked French report stating that Arafat was not poisoned was covered in two reports on the BBC News website, both of which included repetition of Palestinian conspiracy theories which accuse Israel of being responsible for Arafat’s death.

Later on in December 2013, the Russian team also announced that its findings ruled out foul play and that news was covered in one report on the BBC News website, which again promoted Palestinian conspiracy theories concerning Israel. By this time the website had promoted four times more reports promoting the Swiss report which “moderately supported” the poisoning theory than it had devoted to the French and Russian findings which determined that Arafat died of natural causes.

In January 2015 the BBC’s flagship interview programme ‘Hardtalk’ produced a special programme to “mark the anniversary” of Arafat’s death in which Suha Arafat was provided with a platform to further promote the notion that Arafat was murdered.

In March 2015 French experts officially announced that they had ruled out foul play and that “the polonium 210 and lead 210 found in Arafat’s grave and in the samples are of an environmental nature”. There was no coverage of that announcement on the BBC News website.

In July 2015 the French prosecutor “said there is no case to answer regarding the death of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat”. The BBC News website’s one report on that announcement promoted the ‘Israel killed Arafat’ conspiracy theory no fewer than three times.

In August 2015 the BBC found it appropriate to rebroadcast its January 2015 ‘Hardtalk’ interview with Suha Arafat despite the fact that it was obvious that the case was heading towards closure.

In this latest article concerning the French authorities’ decision to close the case from September 2015, the Swiss results are once again promoted as noted above.

So has the self-styled “standard-setter for international journalism” covered this story with “due accuracy” and “impartiality over time”? Well, for a start, the fact that the BBC’s backgrounder on the topic has not been updated since December 2013 does not enhance the impression of commitment to accuracy.

The repeated – if not obsessive – amplification of a baseless conspiracy theory even after two teams of experts had ruled that Arafat died of natural causes certainly cannot be said to contribute to the impression of accuracy in BBC reporting and licence fee payers may well be asking themselves how the BBC can possibly justify the use of resources, air time and column space to repeatedly propagate fact-free myth-cum-folklore and why it has spent three years lending an air of plausibility to this particular conspiracy theory.

As for impartiality, the volume of coverage of the Swiss results which “moderately” supported the poisoning theory has clearly been much greater than the BBC’s reporting on the results produced by the other two teams and their continued amplification even in this latest report suggests that “impartiality over time” was not a priority in coverage of this story.

Related Articles:

Why we need to talk about the BBC’s promotion of Middle East conspiracy theories

Differences in BBC coverage of migrants in Europe and in Israel

The August 21st edition of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘World Have Your Say’ included an item (from 34:00 here) in which, prompted by an article from Al Jazeera, participants discussed whether the people from the Middle East and Africa arriving in Europe should be called migrants or refugees.

Among those taking part in the discussion was the BBC’s head of newsgathering, Jonathan Munro, and from 40:00 listeners heard his view on the issue.WHYS migrants

“Well first of all, Ben, I think it’s a really important discussion to have and the language is really sensitive and it’s important to get it right. We’ve seen […] huge numbers of people moving; 40,000 through the Macedonia border for example this month alone, we think. The language that we use is…we’re perhaps not in the same place as Al Jazeera on this, though I think we are in the same sort of debate as they’ve been. I don’t think there’s anything wrong actually with using the word migrant and the word refugee. The vast majority of people that we’re seeing coming through those borders – whether on land or by sea – are both migrants and refugees. The issue […] is more about dehumanisation of people in the way we cover it, which isn’t just a language issue. When you’re seeing 40,000 people coming through over a period – a relatively short period of a number of weeks – what we’re hearing on our radios and seeing on our screens are images and sounds that portray the volume of people. And the way to dehumanise them is just to do that and the way to keep them human beings – and this is a much more important point it seems to me than the vocabulary – is to talk to them, to hear their stories as individuals, as human beings as opposed to as part of a trend. […] And it’s that humanity which is, you know, actually more important than vocabulary boundaries that some broadcasters might choose to put in place. We’re not in the game of saying certain words aren’t appropriate as long as they’re accurate and they reflect the story. The more important thing for us is to keep the human beings at the heart of it.”

Unfortunately, those sentiments and intentions have not always applied to the other side of the story – the people affected by sudden influxes of large numbers of migrants – in the BBC’s reporting on African migrants in Israel. Not only have BBC audiences never heard the points of view of the residents of places such as south Tel Aviv or Eilat but the BBC has used the subject matter of African migrants to actively promote the notion of Israel as a racist society.

“It’s a confluence of being non-Jewish and non-white which causes the vociferous hatred.”

In January 2014 Kevin Connolly told BBC audiences that:

“There’s a special factor, I think, in all of this in Israel which doesn’t really apply in other countries and that’s the fact that the government looks at non-Jewish immigration – legal or illegal – as a threat to the Jewish nature of the state. Israel was created specifically to be a Jewish state in the eyes of the Netanyahu government and anything which carries some sort of demographic threat to that identity in the long term, like the influx of non-Jewish African migrants, is seen as a threat to that special status. So Israel doesn’t just look at illegal immigration like this through the same prism as other countries like the countries of Western Europe or the United States; it also looks at it through that very particular prism and sees a very particular threat to its own nature.” 

No comparable ‘analysis’ was proffered to BBC audiences when, twenty months later, EU member state Slovakia said it would only take in Christian refugees from Syria. Whilst reporting on attacks on centres for asylum seekers in Germany, the BBC made sure to clarify that “[t]he attacks and protests horrify most Germans” and “most Germans have been welcoming to asylum seekers, but a small minority has been vocal in its opposition”.

Also in January 2014, BBC audiences were encouraged by Richard Galpin to view Israeli policies concerning migrants as going against international norms.

“So this is why we’re seeing these demonstrations now – the people are really concerned about what’s going to happen and feel now is the time that the international community needs to act so that the laws which the Israeli authorities are applying to people here, stopping them getting asylum effectively and trying to get them to leave Israel, that those laws are changed.”

No such suggestion appeared in BBC coverage of proposals by the UK government to imprison illegal workers and oblige landlords to evict tenants who are illegal immigrants and “the language that the politicians are using” does not appear to be an issue for the BBC when politicians are British.

Particularly interesting is a BBC report from July on changes in the approaches of the Danish, Norwegian and British governments to Eritrean migrants. Readers of that report were told that:

“A Danish Immigration Service report, from November 2014, suggested that Eritrea’s policy towards returnees had become more lenient. It was based on a fact-finding mission, but did not name its sources. […]

The report was criticised by Danish media and Human Rights Watch, which described it as “more like a political effort to stem migration than an honest assessment of Eritrea’s human rights situation”.”

Interestingly, in September 2014 when Human Rights Watch produced a report concerning Eritreans in Israel, the BBC did not make do with a one-sentence quote but published an entire article titled “Israel ‘coercing Eritreans and Sudanese to leave’” – the bulk of which was a rehashed version of HRW’s press release.

The subject of migrants and refugees is a very sensitive one wherever the story happens to take place and Jonathan Munro’s points are obviously relevant. So too, however, are the issues of consistency in BBC reporting, the avoidance of double standards dependent upon geography and the elimination of any underlying political agenda of the type all too often apparent in the BBC’s reporting on Israel’s attempts to deal with an issue now also affecting Europe.

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BBC audiences again fobbed off with HRW press release presented as ‘news’

On September 9th the BBC News website published an article titled “Israel ‘coercing Eritreans and Sudanese to leave’” on its Middle East page and the main thing BBC audiences are able to learn from it is that a BBC staffer read a press release put out by the political NGO ‘Human Rights Watch’ on the same day.HRW PR art

The article is 555 words long, not including its headline, photo captions and sub-headings. It includes a recycled filmed report by Richard Galpin from January 2014 which was previously discussed here. One hundred and forty-five words of the report can be described as original BBC content; mostly dedicated to the response solicited from the Israeli foreign ministry. The other four hundred and ten words are rehashed statements from the HRW press release, as shown below.

BBC: “Israel is unlawfully coercing almost 7,000 Eritrean and Sudanese nationals into leaving the country at great personal risk, Human Rights Watch says.”

HRW: “Israeli authorities have unlawfully coerced almost 7,000 Eritrean and Sudanese nationals into returning to their home countries where they risk serious abuse, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today.”

BBC:  “They have been denied access to fair and efficient asylum procedures and detained unlawfully, a new report says.”

HRW: “Israeli authorities have labelled Eritreans and Sudanese a “threat”, branded them “infiltrators,” denied them access to fair and efficient asylum procedures, and used the resulting insecure legal status as a pretext to unlawfully detain or threaten to detain them indefinitely, coercing thousands into leaving.”

BBC: “Eritreans and Sudanese began arriving in Israel through Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula in large numbers in 2006. By December 2012, about 37,000 Eritreans and 14,000 Sudanese had entered the country.”

HRW: “In 2006, Eritreans and Sudanese began arriving in Israel through Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula in large numbers, fleeing widespread human rights abuses in their countries. By the time Israel all but sealed off its border with Egypt in December 2012, about 37,000 Eritreans and 14,000 Sudanese had entered the country.”

BBC: “HRW says that over the past eight years, the Israeli authorities have employed various measures to encourage them to leave.”

HRW: “Over the past eight years, the Israeli authorities have applied various coercive measures to “make their lives miserable” and “encourage the illegals to leave,” in the words of former Israeli Interior Minister Eli Yishai and current Israeli Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar, respectively. “

BBC: “They include “indefinite detention, obstacles to accessing Israel’s asylum system, the rejection of 99.9% of Eritrean and Sudanese asylum claims, ambiguous policies on being allowed to work, and severely restricted access to healthcare”, it alleges.”

HRW: “These include indefinite detention, obstacles to accessing Israel’s asylum system, the rejection of 99.9 percent of Eritrean and Sudanese asylum claims, ambiguous policies on being allowed to work, and severely restricted access to healthcare.”

BBC: “In September 2013, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled that a 2012 amendment to an anti-infiltration law, which allowed for the indefinite detention of people for illegal entry, was unlawful.

In response, the Israeli parliament passed another amendment to the law in December that established the Holot facility in the remote Negev desert for those considered “infiltrators”.”

HRW: “Since June 2012, the Israeli authorities have indefinitely detained thousands of Eritreans and Sudanese for entering Israel irregularly, that is, without entering through an official border crossing. After the Israeli Supreme Court ruled in September 2013 that such detention was unlawful, the Israeli authorities responded by renaming their detention policy and began requiring Eritreans and Sudanese to live in the Holot “Residency Center” in Israel’s remote Negev desert in conditions which amount to detention despite the change in name.”

BBC: “Hundreds of Eritreans and Sudanese have since been ordered to report to the centre, where they live in conditions that HRW says breach international law on arbitrary detention.”

HRW: “Detaining people in Holot breaches the prohibition under international law on arbitrary detention because people are confined to a specific location where they cannot carry out their normal occupational and social activities.”

BBC: “The Israeli authorities say they are not detained because they can leave for a few hours at a time. However, they are required to report three times a day and to be in the centre at night. The only way for them to secure their release is to be recognised as a refugee or leave the country.”

HRW: “The only way for detainees to secure their release is to be recognized as a refugee.”

BBC: “In February 2013, Israel allowed Eritreans and Sudanese to lodge asylum claims in significant numbers. However, as of March 2014, the authorities had only reviewed slightly more than 450 “detainee” cases, and the rejection rate has been almost 100%, HRW says.”

HRW: “In February 2013, Israel allowed Eritreans and Sudanese to lodge asylum claims in significant numbers. However, as of March 2014, the authorities had only reviewed just over 450 detainees’ claims, while Israeli refugee lawyers said there was no evidence that the authorities had reviewed a single claim by Eritrean and Sudanese asylum seekers living in Israeli towns and cities. The rejection rate has been almost 100 percent.”

BBC: ” “Destroying people’s hope of finding protection by forcing them into a corner and then claiming they are voluntarily leaving Israel is transparently abusive,” said Gerry Simpson, senior refugee researcher at Human Rights Watch and author of the report.

“Eritreans and Sudanese in Israel are left with the choice of living in fear of spending the rest of their days locked up in desert detention centres or of risking detention and abuse back home.” “

HRW: “Destroying people’s hope of finding protection by forcing them into a corner and then claiming they are voluntarily leaving Israel is transparently  abusive,” said Gerry Simpson, senior refugee researcher at Human Rights Watch and author of the report. “Eritreans and Sudanese in Israel are left with the choice of living in fear of spending the rest of their days locked up in desert detention centers or of risking detention and abuse back home.”

BBC: “HRW says Israel is violating the international principle of “non-refoulement”, which forbids states from returning refugees and asylum seekers to places where their lives or freedom would be threatened.”

HRW: “Eritrean and Sudanese nationals who agree to return from Israel to their own countries under threat of indefinite detention should be considered victims of refoulement, Human Rights Watch said. Refoulement, under international law, is the forcible return “in any manner whatsoever” of a refugee or asylum seeker to a risk of persecution, or of anyone to likely torture or inhuman and degrading treatment.”

There is of course a term for this sort of ‘news report’: churnalism.

“‘Churnalism’ is a news article that is published as journalism, but is essentially a press release without much added.”

This is not the first time that the BBC has produced a churnalism piece based on a HRW press release and far from the first occasion on which the BBC has amplified the allegations of political NGOs without informing audiences of the part those organisations play in anti-Israel campaigning.  As has been noted here previously:

“[…] the sheer number of organisations putting out statements for use by the media makes it important for BBC journalists not just to make do with identifying the source of the press release, but also to inform readers of any political and/or ideological affiliations which may have a bearing upon the impartiality of the information put out by the organization concerned – as indeed they are required to do by the Editorial Guidelines with other outside contributors.”

Human Right Watch’s dismal record was called out by its founder in 2009. Its increasingly deteriorating reputation on Israel-related issues took further blows throughout the recent conflict in Israel and the Gaza Strip and it is one of several political NGOs currently conducting a lawfare campaign against Israel under the guise of ‘human rights’ – as the BBC should be well aware seeing as it has made its own contributions to that campaign.

And yet, rather than providing readers with the essential relevant information on HRW’s lack of objectivity which would enable them to place the NGO’s allegations (and motivations) on the very complex issue of African migrants in Israel into their correct context, the BBC once again self-conscripts to providing nothing more than parroted PR amplification for HRW’s politicised claims.

The British government’s Culture Secretary recently voiced the opinion that the size of the BBC suggests that more savings could be made and articles such as this add weight to Sajid Javid’s view. After all, rather than having a member of staff waste all that time rehashing HRW’s press release, the BBC News website could have shortened the process considerably by simply providing the link to it and adding “we think it’s super”. The end result as far as informing BBC audiences is concerned would clearly not have been any different. 

 

BBC goes campaigning in reports on Tel Aviv migrants demonstration

Like many other Western countries including the United States, Australia and EU member states, Israel is facing the issue of illegal migrants – specifically the issue of an estimated 53,600 people who have illegally entered Israel since 2006, some 66% of whom originate from Eritrea and 25% from Sudan. 

In September 2013 nine judges presiding at Israel’s High Court of Justice declared an amendment to the Law for the Prevention of Infiltration passed in 2012 to be unconstitutional. Later last year, a fourth amendment to that law was passed by the Knesset to replace the one rejected by the High Court. Under the new amendment the permitted period of detention was reduced to one year, financial incentives for those migrants willing to voluntarily repatriate were more than doubled and an open detention facility named Holot was inaugurated. 

Like its predecessor, the fourth amendment to the law is also the subject of a petition to the High Court of Justice by interested parties, including various NGOs. The court has yet to give its ruling, but in the meantime the public relations campaign orchestrated by those interested parties continues. 

Part of that campaign is a series of demonstrations, strikes and marches which began in December and continue to the present day. On January 5th, some 15,000 demonstrators gathered in Tel Aviv and the BBC News website produced an article on the subject titled “African migrants in Israel protest in Tel Aviv” which appeared on its Home, Africa and Middle East pages. 

African migrants art

An integral part of the debate surrounding this issue is one of language. Supportive journalists and campaigning NGOs and individuals prefer the use of terms such as ‘refugees’ and ‘asylum seekers’ whilst others employ the terms ‘infiltrators’ or ‘economic migrants’. The BBC’s report mostly uses the term ‘migrants’, but also provides space for the presentation of other descriptions.

” “We are all refugees” and “Yes to freedom, no to prison!” they chanted.”

“The migrants, some of whom have been in Israel for years and have taken low-paid jobs, say they are all refugees who have fled persecution and conflict back home in Eritrea and Sudan.”

At the other end of the debate, the writer of this article apparently felt the need to introduce a caveat to the use of the word “infiltrated”, despite the fact that the people concerned entered Israel illegally via its border with Egypt.

“An Israeli official said the authorities would continue to deal with people who, as she put it, had infiltrated Israel, adding that more than 2,600 had agreed to leave voluntarily last year.” [emphasis added]

Commentary in this report is provided by Richard Galpin, who makes no effort to adequately clarify the issue’s legal and social background to readers.

“The BBC’s Richard Galpin in Jerusalem says the protest was prompted by the new law on detention, which had dashed hopes that a recent crackdown would be halted.”

Neither is any attempt made to balance the reported claim that the demonstrators “are all refugees”, despite the fact the BBC is clearly aware that is not universally the case, as noted in one of the ‘related articles’ recommended to readers – a 2010 report by Wyre Davies – in which he wrote:

“While some migrants say they are political refugees, many, like the dozens of men we later came across in the town of Eilat, are clearly looking for employment.”

Readers of this superficial report will come away with no greater understanding of the issue’s background or context because, in fact, the report is little more than amplification of an ongoing public relations campaign by NGOs the BBC elects not to name.

But just in case visitors to the BBC News website did not quite get the message, the following day – January 6th – two filmed reports (also shown on BBC television news) on the exact same subject appeared on that website. One is a studio interview with the BBC Jerusalem Bureau’s Kevin Connolly. 

filmed report 2 6 1 migrants

In a remarkable exhibition of deliberate inaccuracy rooted in political motivation, Connolly tells audiences that the concept of Israel as the Jewish state is an invention of the current government:

“There’s a special factor, I think, in all of this in Israel which doesn’t really apply in other countries and that’s the fact that the government looks at non-Jewish immigration – legal or illegal – as a threat to the Jewish nature of the state. Israel was created specifically to be a Jewish state in the eyes of the Netanyahu government and anything which carries some sort of demographic threat to that identity in the long term, like the influx of non-Jewish African migrants, is seen as a threat to that special status. So Israel doesn’t just look at illegal immigration like this through the same prism as other countries like the countries of Western Europe or the United States; it also looks at it through that very particular prism and sees a very particular threat to its own nature.” [emphasis added]

The second filmed report is by Richard Galpin.

filmed report 6 1 migrants

After opening footage of chants of “we are refugees”, Galpin tells audiences:

“This is the demonstration here, one of the demonstrations here, on the seafront in Tel Aviv and as you can see, several thousand people have already gathered here. We’ve seen waves of people marching in and obviously people here really determined to get the message across to the international community, because this demonstration – if we just swing the camera over there – this is in front of the US embassy. That fortress-like building here, that is the US embassy and all these people here they want to get a simple message across to the international community – that they want pressure to be put on the Israeli government to change the way that they say they’re being treated by the Israeli authorities. Now a lot of these people are saying that they’ve been detained, they’ve been put in prison, and they fear now that – although they are here now – that ultimately they could end up in prison and be held there indefinitely under a law which was passed just last month in fact. So this is why we’re seeing these demonstrations now – the people are really concerned about what’s going to happen and feel now is the time that the international community needs to act so that the laws which the Israeli authorities are applying to people here, stopping them getting asylum effectively and trying to get them to leave Israel, that those laws are changed.”

Once again, Galpin gives a banal and inaccurate account of the legal issues and makes no attempt whatsoever to provide audiences with other views on the subject – not least those of the people of the neighbourhoods of south Tel Aviv where the majority of those 53,600 migrants live.

Clearly the recent extensive criticism of the intentional departure from standards of impartiality in BBC coverage of the subject of immigration in the UK has not prompted the corporation to be any more conscientious with regard to the impartiality and accuracy of its coverage of similar issues in other countries. 

 

Filmed reports on the BBC News website’s Middle East page in August

Our monthly count of Israel-related articles and comparison with the amount of exposure given to other countries in the region on the BBC News website’s Middle East page relates to written articles only. Also featured on the same webpage, under the heading “Watch/Listen”, are filmed reports which previously appeared on BBC television news.

During the month of August, a total of twelve such reports relating to Israel appeared on the Middle East page and they are categorized here according to the number of days they were left up on the site. 

Appeared for one day:

Kerry hopeful on Mid-East talks despite settlement move

Kerry

Appeared for two days:

Syria crisis: Israelis queue for gas masks – Richard Galpin.

Galpin gas masks

Israel frees Palestinian prisoners – Yolande Knell – discussed here.

Knell prisoner release

Israel frees Palestinian prisoners – Yolande Knell – discussed here.

Knell prisoner release 2

Shimon Peres: ‘Live in peace side by side’

Peres

Israel’s President Shimon Peres turns 90 – Lyse Doucet. 

Peres 90 Doucet

Appeared for three days:

Israeli hospital treats Syrian war-wounded – Sam Farah – discussed here.

Syrian wounded

Appeared for four days:

Would new Israeli ports bring efficiency or job losses? – Jonathan Frewin.

Ports Jonathan Frewin

Why Mid-East peace talks now? – Bethany Bell – discussed here. Originally posted in July, continued to run in August. 

Bell talks

Appeared for five days:

‘Last airlift’ of Ethiopian Jews to Israel – Emily Thomas. Still on the website at the time of writing.

Ethiopian new immigrants

New Israeli settlement homes anger Palestinians – Kevin Connolly – discussed here.

Connolly construction

Appeared for six days:

Palestinian prisoner release highlights divisions – Kevin Connolly – discussed here.

Connolly prisoner release

As we see, more than half of these filmed reports are connected to the subject of the talks between Israel and the Palestinians and in terms of exposure, that issue was the subject matter of two of the longest running reports. Seven of the items promote the theme of Israeli construction as ‘sabotaging’ or jeopardizing the talks (which was a major theme on the BBC News website throughout August) and the BBC-written synopsis of the report featuring Shimon Peres’ speech does the same. The total number of days the eight articles promoting that theme remained on the website is twenty-four.