BBC WS radio report on Palestinian culture exploited for one-sided political messaging

BBC World Service radio has a programme called ‘The Compass’ which describes itself as providing listeners with “the essential take on big ideas, issues and trends from the 21st century”.

Recently that programme ran a four-part series called “A Young World” that was presented to audiences as follows:

“What’s it like living in a country where most people are young? We look at four aspects in four countries across the world.”

That series included episodes from Uganda, Sierra Leone, the Philippines and – on June 4ththe Palestinian Territories.

“The Palestinian territories have the youngest population in the Middle East with a median age under 21. How do these young people express themselves culturally? Nida Ibrahim, the BBC’s Ramallah producer, finds the challenges of conservatism and poverty mean that artists and performers find they have to struggle to be recognised – with many only able to find an audience via new media.”

However, that report by Nida Ibrahim did not only relate to culture and society within areas currently controlled by the Palestinian Authority. Ibrahim made a clear political statement by also including parts of Jerusalem under her ‘Palestinian Territories’ umbrella, despite the fact that the standing of those areas is still subject to final status negotiations. Ibrahim also repeatedly strayed away from the topic of how young Palestinians “express themselves culturally” in order to promote a blatantly political narrative peppered with references to “the occupation”.

From 4:50 minutes into the programme Ibrahim visits a hip-hop artist in Shuafat refugee camp in Jerusalem.

“So we’re here at the Shuafat refugee camp that was initially built 50 years ago to host 500 refugees but now it has around 12,500 refugees registered at the United Nations but some say the real number is double that.”

In fact, as a visit to UNRWA’s website shows, the claim is not – as Ibrahim implies – that the “real number” of refugees in Shuafat is “double” but that the number of residents, not all of whom are refugees, is around 24,000. She continues:

“There is no proper garbage collection system. People have to put their garbage in…collect their garbage in skips awaiting for the UN to come and pick it up. There’s no police presence. The Israelis do not usually come here; they think it’s dangerous and there might be clashes with the Palestinians. And the Palestinian police is not allowed in because this is considered the Jerusalem area that they don’t have control over.”

Her interviewee gives a similarly context-free portrayal.

“Everything is hard over here, from walking in the street to wanting to go out at night, crossing checkpoint every time, being controlled by the situation. Sometimes I get depressed […] Young kids in my neighbourhood got shot and killed last year and it was terrible. It’s a very violent place. You have to show others that you’re tough enough so they don’t mess with you because there’s no police, there’s no ambulance.”

In fact, a police station was opened in Shuafat a month before Ibrahim’s report was broadcast. Listeners hear nothing of the violence regularly instigated by Shuafat residents or of the presence of Hamas in the camp.

Nida Ibrahim then goes to meet another musician in another part of Jerusalem and listeners hear an entire section of the report that has nothing whatsoever to do with cultural expression of Palestinian youth.

“While it’s very easy for Mohammed to go to that part [of Jerusalem], I as a West Banker – although I have a permit – I have to go through a checkpoint that involved long wait. Let’s see how that goes. Here we go. So it happened that I had to queue a little bit and then I was allowed in through a high turnstile. Only three people are allowed in at a time and then I put all of my belongings including my shoes in the metal detector and then I turned up at the window, showed my permit. They took my finger prints and they said I’m free to go. Had to go through a few other turnstiles.”

After speaking to that interviewee Nida Ibrahim goes to meet a woman who presents herself as Sireen Sawafteh – a volunteer with the ‘Jordan Valley Solidarity Campaign’ – from a small village in the north of the Jordan Valley”. That village is Tubas, which is located in Area A.

Listeners hear the following conversation between Nida Ibrahim and Sireen Khudiri Sawafteh after the latter states that she joined a theatre group after she was arrested in 2013.

Ibrahim: “Who arrested you and how long have you been arrested?”

Sawafteh: “I was arrested by Israeli forces for six month; four months in jail and two months home jail [house arrest]. Also it was two months isolation; that was the most horrible moment.”

Ibrahim: “Could you give us a little bit of an idea why you were arrested? Is it related to your activism work?”

Sawafteh: “After two months of being in isolation I hear the reason in the court and I just laughed. They said you are arrested because you a threatening the security of Israel through ideas which you are sharing on Facebook. Could you imagine how many people they could arrest for that reason?”

Ibrahim: “Was it a specific sentence?”

Sawafteh: “No, no, no. They have nothing. Even there is no proof…nothing to say in the court.”

Listeners do not hear any official Israeli response to the allegations put forward by Sawafteh and of course they are not told that even according to Palestinian sources, her Facebook posts included a picture of her with a gun and contact with entities in Syria and Gaza.

The programme continues with Sawafteh telling a context-free story about a child she happened to meet that likewise has nothing at all to do with the topic of ‘cultural expression’.

Sawafteh: “He was working for four hours collecting stones. He did a line of stones. And I went closely to him and I asked him what are you doing? He said to me something I think you will not understand it. And then he said ‘OK, come follow me but if I will teach you why I do that you have to help me’. I said OK. Then he said ‘look at the thing which is under the stones’. I looked; it was an electricity cable. I said ‘OK it’s an electricity cable’ but I didn’t understand what I’m doing. He said ‘OK, listen; two days ago we received a demolition order and I am worried if the Israeli bulldozer will come and they destroy our house they will confiscate the electricity cable. So I wanted to hide these electricity cable to make it safe because I would like to watch TV’.

Ibrahim’s next interviewee is a graduate of the Academy of Arts in Ramallah who, despite presented as being “back on a break from studying his Master’s degree in France”, tells listeners that Palestinians cannot travel.

“Me working as an artist is a part of fighting, of resistance. Because you’re really controlled not just by the state also by the Israeli occupation because they all the time want to control your thoughts. They don’t want anyone to know there’s a life happening in Palestine…and this is one of the way we resist. You always scared of what they going to do with you. They don’t let you travel for example or they’re questioning you all the time.”

Clearly Nida Ibrahim went far beyond her remit of providing BBC World Service audiences with an insight into how young Palestinians “express themselves culturally” and instead exploited the platform to promote copious amounts of politicised messaging and delegitimisation of Israel without any right of reply being given.

The BBC cannot possibly claim that this report meets its supposed standards of accurate and impartial journalism.  

 

 

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BBC coverage of October 8 terror attacks downgrades terrorist to ‘suspected attacker’

Visitors to the BBC News website seeking information concerning the multiple terror attacks against Israelis which took place on October 8th found no information on that subject until the appearance of an article titled “Israelis injured in new spate of stabbings” some four and a half hours after the first major attack took place in Jerusalem and two hours after the attack in Tel Aviv. The article was subsequently amended several times to include information on additional attacks in Kiryat Arba and Afula.Oct 8 attacks art

The first attack is described as follows in the version of the report currently appearing on the BBC News website’s Middle East page:

“Hours earlier, a Jewish seminary student was seriously injured when he was stabbed in the neck by a Palestinian near a light rail station in the French Hill area of East Jerusalem, police said.

The assailant then reportedly fled the scene after attacking a security guard at the station and attempting to steal his weapon. He was eventually apprehended, police said.”

The report then goes on to state:

“Israeli security forces then shot dead a Palestinian man during clashes that erupted as they were moving towards the suspect’s home, Palestinian medics said.”

Earlier on in the report, that same incident is portrayed as follows:

“Israeli forces targeting the house of a suspected attacker in the West Bank then shot dead a Palestinian as clashes began, Palestinian medics said.”

The incident actually took place in the Jerusalem neighbourhood of Shuafat rather than in “the West Bank” and the “clashes that erupted” when police went to search the house of Subhi Abu Khalifa would be more accurately described as violent riots.

“On Thursday night, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said that a riot ensued in Shuafat when Border Police officers approached Khalifa’s home.

“When the Border Police went to Shuafat to enter the terrorist’s house, hundreds of Palestinians attacked them with rocks, pipe bombs and firebombs,” he reported.

“Fearing for their lives, police responded by firing shots at the lower parts of the bodies of the suspects that approached them.”

Rosenfeld said at least nine officers were wounded during the clash, but he could not confirm reports that a Palestinian man was killed.”

The second attack reported in this article took place in Tel Aviv at around 3 p.m. and is initially described as follows, with further detail added later on:

“Seven Israelis have been wounded and one suspected assailant killed in the latest spate of stabbing attacks.

Police said four Israelis were hurt in Tel Aviv before the suspected attacker was shot dead.”

Notably, earlier versions of the article accurately described Taeer Abu Gazala from Jerusalem as the “assailant” and “attacker”, with the word “suspected” having been added to the report hours later.

The third attack – in Kiryat Arba – is described in the report thus:

“Shortly afterwards, a Palestinian stabbed and seriously wounded a man near the Jewish settlement of Kiryat Arba, close to the West Bank city of Hebron, the Israeli military said.

The attacker fled the scene and Israeli forces were searching the area, it added.”

The fourth attack, which took place in Afula at around 7 p.m., is described as follows:

“In yet another attack later on Thursday, an Israeli soldier was stabbed by an attacker in the northern Israeli town of Afula, police said.

They said the assailant – who was not identified – was arrested.”

The article has not been updated to inform audiences that the terrorist – Tarak Yaha – came from Jenin.

Towards the end of the report, readers are provided with the following ‘context’:

“Tensions between Israel and Palestinians have soared in the past couple of weeks, with the attacks on Israelis following clashes between troops and Palestinian youths at a flashpoint holy compound in East Jerusalem.”

The fact that what the BBC chooses to describe as “clashes” were in fact organized episodes of premeditated rioting aimed at preventing visits by non-Muslims to Temple Mount is clearly not adequately conveyed by that wording and yet again we see that no effort is made to inform BBC audiences of the related incitement from assorted official and unofficial Palestinian sources.

Related Articles:

BBC News reporting on October 7 terror attacks avoids the word terror

 

BBC’s Panorama Jerusalem train programme takes viewers on a predictable journey

On July 20th the BBC One current affairs programme ‘Panorama‘ aired an episode titled “The Train that Divides Jerusalem“. Israeli readers may be surprised to learn from the programme’s synopsis that the light rail system serving their capital city is “controversial”.Panorama light rail prog main

“On the anniversary of last summer’s brutal conflict in Gaza, film-maker Adam Wishart visits Jerusalem and rides the city’s controversial new train. Only nine miles from start to finish, some hoped it could help heal divisions between Israelis and Palestinians, but as Wishart discovers, it has only deepened the sense of resentment on both sides. Travelling through the old city, he comes face to face with the battle over one of the world’s holiest sites and asks, could it be the flashpoint for the start of another war?”

In fact, the title chosen for this programme is a self-fulfilling prophecy: Wishart clearly sets out to ‘prove’ that Jerusalem is divided and the train is merely a hook for his pre-existing hypothesis.

As anyone who has ever spent an afternoon or an evening in Jerusalem’s various parks, at the Mamilla Mall, the Malha Mall or at the restored First Station knows, Jerusalemites of all backgrounds and ethnicities shop, eat, play, work and stroll at such locations and many use public transport to reach them. That aspect of Jerusalem life had no place in Adam Wishart’s film; he has decided that the city is “divided” and he already knows why.

“It was meant to help unite this place but the train is dividing it further.”

“Now it’s easier for Jews to travel into Palestinian suburbs…”

Very early on in the film Wishart finds it necessary to establish his credentials.

“I’m Adam Wishart – a British Jew….”

Scattered throughout the film are references to his previous visit to Jerusalem “on a Zionist education course as a teenager” and to his Zionist grandparents. Apparently his own background is intended to be a claim to added credence for his current assertions.

At the outset of the film Wishart proposes to take viewers on “a journey into the heart of a city which feels more divided than ever” and his concluding remarks half an hour later indicate that he found exactly what he was looking for – including some fashionable disappointment with the people who did not fulfil the dreams of others who do not actually live in Israel.

“My journey has been heartbreaking. When my grandparents campaigned for the State of Israel they hoped for a place of refuge, of tolerance and equal rights for all. As I take the last train I just can’t believe this could be the place that they dreamt of all these years ago.”

The highly selective journey which takes Wishart to that conclusion begins in Jerusalem’s Old City – or as he portrays it: “a world divided by religious rivalry”. Temple Mount is described as follows:

“…one of the holiest sites for Muslims – home to the Dome of the Rock, the Al Aqsa Mosque and the courtyard that joins them. They’re all under Muslim control.”

That, of course, is a partial representation of the site’s actual status. Wishart goes on:

“It’s also home to the holiest site in Judaism – a Jewish temple destroyed over two thousand years ago. All that remains is the western wall of the courtyard – the Wailing Wall where Jews come to pray.”

The phrase “Wailing Wall” is of course a foreign invention: Jews and Israelis do not use that anachronism. Wishart goes on:

“Now some want to completely rebuild the temple on what they call Temple Mount. No matter that Muslim holy places are here already.”

The site has of course been known as Temple Mount for centuries – long before it was called anything else. Wishart then says:

“Once Jews only ever came as far as the Western Wall. Now one thousand Jews a month enter the courtyard – the heart of this Muslim place of worship.”

He gives generous airtime to the group of women engaged in what he calls “protest” at visits by non-Muslims on Temple Mount but avoids telling viewers who those women really are and how they are paid to harass visitors. Whilst Wishart’s Jewish interviewees actually represent a tiny fringe school of thought, no mainstream Israeli opinions on the topic of Temple Mount are heard and the issue of equal prayer rights for members of all religions on a site holy to Jews and Christians as well as Muslims obviously does not interest our ‘progressive’ film-maker.

Clearly adopting – and promoting – one very specific narrative, Wishart tells audiences:

“Today’s skirmish is part of growing hostility fueled by the competing claims of Jews and Muslims to this holy place. It has already escalated into serious violence. Last November a group of Temple Mount visitors were attacked by Palestinians. In response police entered the Al Aqsa Mosque. It may only have been by a few meters but for many Muslims it crossed a sacred line.”

The accompanying footage shows masked rioters using the mosque as a launch site for rocks and firecrackers. Wishart refrains from pondering whether that crosses any ‘sacred lines’.

Wishart’s half-hearted attempt to provide historic background is completely lacking in context.

“Back then [1948] Israel only held the western part of Jerusalem – after the so-called green line. Then in 1967 Israel occupied the eastern areas.”

Viewers are not told why Israel only held part of the previously united city in 1948 or what led to the war that resulted in its reunification in 1967 and no mention is made of 19 years of Jordanian occupation.

Wishart’s journey moves on to Shuafat.

“The Palestinians who live here remain angry at being under Israeli control. The train just adds to their grievances.”

 Interviewees’ hyperbole passes without challenge:

“This is a racist train to keep Jerusalem for the Jews only.”

“Every day the train passes they are butchering me. Every day they are killing me. This is what the train means to us.”

Concerning the latter interviewee viewers are told:

“…what used to be his land until it was taken to build this train station…”

It is called compulsory purchase, of course, and it happens all over the world. Wishart refrains from using that terminology however, telling audiences:

“He refused compensation because the taking of land fits into a broader picture. Since 1967 Israel has seized about six thousand acres of land in East Jerusalem. Walid has lost about ten acres.”

No source is provided for that information.

Whilst Wishart has plenty to say about Shuafat and clearly steers viewers towards a specific narrative, his account does not include any mention of Hamas’ activities in that neighbourhood.

“I can’t help feeling that the state of this place and the lawlessness – all enclosed by the barrier – make this part of Jerusalem a tinder box waiting to ignite.”

Interviewee: “It’s difficult to be a child born into an environment of occupation and racism. […] Nobody’s born a violent person but the segregation and disparities lead to war and violence.”

At around 17:02 Wishart says:

“Just as we’re leaving the camp [Shuafat] there’s an attack on the guards at the checkpoint.”

He later adds:

“It turns out that most of the noise comes from fireworks – the ammunition of the powerless.”

During that segment (at 17:38) viewers see a boy apparently describing the scene and his words are translated on screen as follows:Panorama light rail prog soldiers

“These are the kids that throw stones at the soldiers”

BBC Watch asked a professional translator to verify that translation and this was his response:

“…it is impossible to make out what the boy says. I listened to it over and over again, together with an expert on Palestinian dialects. There are two words that the boy says before “al-yahud”, it is impossible to make out what these words are. But “al-yahud” is clearly heard, and of course that does not translate as “soldiers””.

Once again, apparently, we have a case of ‘creative’ BBC translation which censors the Arabic word for Jews, thus depriving audiences of important insight into the context and background to a story.

An additional case of ‘lost in translation’ appears in a section of the film showing Jerusalem Day celebrations which Wishart describes as “a celebration of Israel’s 1967 capture of East Jerusalem and the Old City” with no explanation of the subject of the reunification of the city after 19 years of Jordanian occupation during which Jews were prevented from visiting their holy sites. At 22:42 viewers see the chants of Palestinian protesters translated as:Panorama light rail prog defend Palestine

“With our souls, our blood, we defend Palestine”

The accurate translation does not include the word ‘defend’:

“With our souls and our blood, we will redeem you, oh Palestine”

From 22:55 an interviewee’s words pertaining to the Israelis celebrating Jerusalem Day are translated on screen as follows:

“This scene causes great anger for all the people of Palestine. They break into the Old City of Jerusalem and provoke people with their shameful dancing. This is unacceptable.”

Our translator pointed out that the term ‘Old City’ and the word ‘provoke’ do not appear:

“This scene leads to tremendous anger from all segments of the Palestinian people. They forcefully attack the city of Jerusalem with racist incitement and this scandalous dance. This is an unacceptable act.”

Towards the end of the film, at 24:32, and despite having previously told viewers that the government of Israel has made it perfectly clear that no changes will be made to the status quo on Temple Mount, Wishart returns to his dubious hypothesis:

“When I was here 31 years ago even my most fervently Zionist friends weren’t rushing to build a temple on this site. Now the idea is gathering support from within the mainstream. Even a member of the new cabinet supports the idea. I can’t help but think that if some Jews push much further this would surely be the last stand for the Palestinians.”

And at 25:01 he manages to introduce conspiracy into what is no more than an urban public transport system:

“I’m left wondering what is the purpose of the train. Does its ultimate destination hold a clue? It travels north, through the Palestinian neighbourhoods, and snakes round the refugee camp. What’s so controversial is that the ultimate destination is an Israeli settlement. A thousand acres taken by Israel to build a beautiful suburb. Like all settlements in occupied territory, most of the international community consider them to be illegal.”

That ‘settlement’ is the Jerusalem neighbourhood of Pisgat Ze’ev and a quick search even of Pisgat Ze’ev’s Wikipedia entry would have shown Wishart that much of the suburb is in fact built on land purchased by Jews before the Second World War. In line with the usual BBC practice, Wishart makes no effort to inform viewers of the existence of differing legal opinions concerning the legality of ‘settlements’ and he also makes no effort to clarify that under any realistic scenario, Pisgat Ze’ev would be likely to remain under Israeli control in the event of a peace agreement with the Palestinians. He even promotes his hypothesis further with the following ridiculous claims:

“The train makes permanent the expansion of Israel. This settlement is built like a fortress.”

In late 2013 the BBC’s Director of Television claimed that it measures the success of its programmes by asking itself whether they are “fresh and new”. Perhaps the saddest thing about this edition of Panorama is that it is so predictable. From the standard, jaded, presentations of ‘settlements’, ‘the wall’ and ‘international law’, through the impartiality box-ticking inclusion of brief segments pertaining to terror attacks against Israelis – with no mention of the word terror – and to the failure to seriously address the political, religious and ideological roots of Palestinian terrorism whilst misrepresenting fringe opinions as “mainstream” Israeli thought, this politicized film treads a well-trodden route which is anything but “fresh and new”.

Fresh would have been to tell BBC audiences about the increasing numbers of Muslim Jerusalemites living in mixed neighbourhoods (including Pisgat Ze’ev) or to inform viewers of the extremist incitement which goes on inside Al Aqsa Mosque. New would have been to get the history of Jerusalem right and to go back before the standard BBC starting point of 1967 by including coverage of the topics of Jewish-owned lands before 1948 and the expulsion of Jews from the Old City and other neighbourhoods by Jordan.

Adam Wishart however chose to stick with the tried and trusted formula which guaranteed the airing of his film by the BBC and his bizarre shoe-horning of a light rail system into the story does nothing to disguise that fact.

Resources:

Panorama – contact details

How to Complain to the BBC

 

No follow up on story which got four separate BBC News reports in one day

Back in the first week of July the BBC News website produced two written reports (here and here) and two filmed reports (here and here) all inReynolds Abu Khdeir story one day on the topic of American teenager Tariq Abu Khdeir who was arrested on July 5th in the Shuafat neighbourhood of Jerusalem during violent rioting following the murder of his cousin Mohammed Abu Khdeir and allegedly beaten by a member of the Border Police.

In addition to appearing on the BBC News website, the two filmed items were also shown on BBC television news programmes and they – together with the second written report – remained on the website’s Middle East page for three consecutive days. In the first of those filmed reports the BBC’s James Reynolds told viewers that rioters “accuse Israel of failing to deliver justice”.

On September 10th it was announced that an indictment had been filed at the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court against the Border Policeman in question.  

Notably, that news has not been reported by the BBC despite its considerable prior interest in the story. Significantly too, additional BBC insinuations regarding discrimination within Israel’s justice system from around the same time have also yet to be clarified to audiences. 

 

BBC’s James Reynolds reports from Jerusalem

In addition to the BBC’s ‘parachuting in’ of Christian Fraser from Paris, further back up for its Jerusalem Bureau’s coverage of recent events in the region came from the corporation’s correspondent in Istanbul, James Reynolds.

On July 4th Reynolds produced two filmed reports for BBC television news about the funeral of Muhammed Abu Khdeir, both of which were also promoted on the BBC News website’s Middle East page.

Both those reports appeared two days before it was announced that six suspects had been arrested by the police on July 6th on suspicion of having carried out the kidnapping and murder. 

The first report – titled “Palestinian teenager funeral: ‘We can hear explosions’” – is presented on the website with a synopsis which includes the following statement:Reynolds 1

“The family of Mohammad Abu Khdair believe he was abducted and killed in revenge for the murders of three Israeli teenagers whose bodies were found in the West Bank earlier this week.”

Yet again, no effort was made to inform BBC audiences that at that time that synopsis was written, no arrests had been made and so the identity of the killers and their motive was still a matter for speculation.  

Reynolds tells viewers:

“This is the funeral procession for 16 year-old Muhammed Abu Khdeir. He…his body has just been taken along this road. The women are towards the end of the procession and if we just have a look around here, the men are in front. They’ve been about 400 meters in front. They’re heading right towards here. But we can hear – I don’t know if you can hear it in the background – some explosions. We can see some people throwing stones just over there, down towards the end. That gives us an indication that there may be clashes at the moment between some protestors and mourners and the Israeli police. We’re just gonna stay here for safety’s sake and keep an eye on what’s going on down the hill. We can see already one Palestinian ambulance is making its way down the street and there’s a real sense of anger among these Palestinians here. They say that they want justice for 16 year-old Muhammed Abu Khdeir. They want those who kidnapped, who abducted him, to be brought to trial.”

At the time that Reynolds made those statements there was no reason to suppose or evidence to suggest that the Israeli authorities were not doing their utmost to solve this crime and bring the perpetrators to trial, but Reynolds nevertheless ‘contextualised’ the riots in Jerusalem’s streets with the insinuation that they were the product of a failing system of justice, and in his second report the background to that insinuation became clearer.

Beyond his speculative narration of “clashes” – in fact violent rioting – which he could not see, and his amateurish report of “explosions” – most likely riot-control measures – Reynolds had nothing to actually tell audiences. Notably, what he could see – the black and white Jihadist flags which were in ample evidence at the funeral procession – were not explained to viewers either in this report or the subsequent one.

Reynolds 1 flags

Reynolds’ second report on the same topic appeared several hours later. The synopsis to the BBC News website’s version of that report – titled “Crowds flock to Jerusalem funeral for Palestinian teenager” – again promoted what was at that stage evidence-free speculation, but at least this time the ongoing police investigation got a brief mention.

“Mohammad Abu Khdair’s family believe he was killed in revenge for the murders of three young Israelis in June, but police have yet to establish a motive.”

Reynolds opened his report by saying:

“Palestinian mourners clear the way for the coffin of Muhammed Abu Khdeir. At least seventy Palestinian children have been killed in the past five years. But the abduction and killing of this teenager so soon after the killing of three Israeli teenagers stands out.”

Reynolds did not inform viewers of the source of his cited numbers, how that source defines “children” or whether or not they were involved in violent rioting or terrorism when they were killed. He continued:

“Muhammed – here taking a selfie – was a sixteen year-old with a fashionable hair-cut. On Wednesday, before dawn, he was abducted and killed. Israel says its investigation continues. His family says that this is the moment of his kidnapping. They argue that these CCTV pictures show a group of Israelis throwing Muhammed into their car across the road. You can’t make out the teenager in the pictures, so it’s hard to verify the footage.”

One of course also cannot determine from that footage the identity of the abductors either, but that is not pointed out to audiences.Reynolds 2

“Muhammed’s father Hussain went over CCTV pictures with me. He follows three Israeli families this week in mourning a teenage son.

Three Israeli teenagers were killed. Do you have any sympathy with their parents who are going through what you’re going through?”

Father: “I don’t have anything to do with them. I don’t know how they were killed but we do know who killed my son.”

Of course that statement from the father is inaccurate: at the time it was made, no-one had been arrested for the murder of his son and the case still has to be tried and proved in a court of law before it can be concluded that his son’s killers’ identities are known. However, it is known how the three Israeli teens were killed. Reynolds did not clarify those facts to BBC audiences. He continued:

“Naftali Frenkel – on the left of this poster – was one of the three Israeli teenagers found dead on Monday. Naftali’s family wants justice for them and also for Muhammed, the seventeen year-old Palestinian.”

The report then cuts to footage of Yishai Frenkel – Naftali’s uncle – speaking.

“Let’s put it very simple. A murder is a murder. When we read in the Bible ‘thou shalt not kill’, it doesn’t say a Jew or an Arab or a Christian. A murder is a murder and a killer – regardless of motive – should be brought to justice.”

Reynolds continued:

“But Palestinians at Muhammed’s funeral don’t trust Israeli justice. They want Israel to leave Palestinian towns and cities so that they can build a state and a justice system of their own.”

Reynolds’ advancement of the idea that the urge to “build a state and a justice system of their own” is what fuels the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is of course simplistic to the point of ridiculous. Notably, he failed to inform audiences that the vast majority of Palestinians already have their own justice system in PA controlled areas and that those living in Jerusalem like the Abu Khdeir family are protected by the same justice system as their neighbours of all other ethnicities – as the arrest of six suspects four days after the crime was committed clearly indicates. Remarkably too, Reynold’s phrasing signposts to audiences that neighbourhoods of Jerusalem fall into the category of “Palestinian towns and cities” even though their status is to be determined in negotiations between the parties concerned.

Reynolds concluded:

“This week has shown Israelis – and now Palestinians – that their children, their teenagers, are often the most vulnerable. The young pay the price for the conflict waged by adults. This week has left parents on each side more frightened and more angry. Israelis and Palestinians share suffering, but not necessarily understanding.”

Four heinous murders have indeed been committed within the space of three weeks by extremists on both sides of the divide. In one of those cases suspects have now been arrested and – despite Reynolds’ insinuations – will now go through the judicial process necessary to determine their guilt. In the other three cases, the two main suspects are still on the run after nearly four weeks – obviously supported and helped by others. 

Those facts – along with numerous others related to these incidents such as the celebrations of the kidnappings of the three Israeli teenagers on the Palestinian street – do not fit into the BBC’s favoured Middle East narrative, but unless they are reported, the corporation will continue to fail to meet its obligation to “[b]uild a global understanding of international issues”. 

The Israeli police also made another statement on the same day that the arrests of those suspected of murdering Muhammed Abu Khdeir was announced. That statement also related to a teenager murdered at the beginning of May, apparently out of ‘nationalistic’ motives. Shelly Dadon’s story was not reported by the BBC at the time and it does not appear on the BBC News website over four hours after details of the murder were released.  

BBC’s Knell continues to promote ‘revenge killing’ speculation

A filmed report by the BBC Jerusalem Bureau’s Yolande Knell – shown on BBC television news programmes – also appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page on July 3rd under the title “Unrest in East Jerusalem after Palestinian teen killed“.rioting shuafat 3 7 knell filmed

The synopsis to the report as it appears on the website opens:

“There have been more clashes between the Israeli security forces and Palestinians, following the kidnap and murder of a Palestinian teenager in a suspected revenge attack for the killings of three young Israelis.”

Yet again, insufficient effort is made by the BBC to clarify to audiences that so far, no evidence has been made public by the authorities investigating the incident which would support the unproven speculations promoted by Palestinian sources and extensively amplified by the BBC, among others.

Against background footage of damage to the Jerusalem light rail system, Knell opens by using the neutral term “clashes” to describe what is in fact violent rioting.

“The smouldering aftermath of overnight clashes. Palestinians in East Jerusalem vented their anger over the death of a local boy. Stones were their ammunition against Israeli police.”

Knell neglects to inform audiences that in addition to the “stones” she mentions, fire-bombs, improvised explosive devices and other means were also employed by the rioters. She also refrains from informing them what the graffiti sprayed on the light rail shelter in Israel’s capital city – as shown in her report’s footage – reads:  ‘Death to Israel’. ‘Death to Jews’. ‘Price Tag’. 

Knell report light rail pic

Knell continues:

“The body of Muhammed Abu Khdeir, who was seventeen, was found in a forest yesterday just hours after he was seen being bundled into a van. Israeli police say they’re still investigating, but his family believe that he was abducted and killed in revenge for the recent murder of three Israeli teenagers.”

Again, it is not adequately clarified to viewers that so far no factual evidence has been presented which would support the family’s speculations. Stating the obvious, Knell continues:

“The funeral can’t take place until an autopsy is done.”

The report then cuts to an interview with the boy’s father.

“He was stabbed multiple times and burnt. We weren’t allowed to see the body. They had to use DNA to identify my son.”

Knell goes on:

“Now mourners wait for the funeral outside the family home. Everywhere you look you’ve got plenty of evidence of the overnight violence, but it reached much further than East Jerusalem. There were also clashes in Palestinian cities across the West Bank, where the Israeli army’s been doing raids, and in the Gaza Strip.”

Knell makes no effort to inform viewers that those “raids” are part of efforts being made to apprehend the murderers of the three Israeli teenagers whose bodies were discovered in Halhul on June 30th. She continues:

“Explosions lit up the night sky in Gaza. This was Israel’s response to the rockets fired by militants. In southern Israel homes were hit. No-one here was injured.”

The report cuts to an interview with a Sderot resident named as Avihai Giorno.

“It’s impossible to start the day without fear and the children, even though I tell them not to be afraid, when it reaches you it changes everything – the whole situation.”

Indeed, luckily there were no physical injuries that particular morning in Sderot, even though thirteen missiles exploded in the area between midnight and 9 a.m alone on July 3rd and two houses took direct hits, including that of the man interviewed. One of those houses was used as a nursery for toddlers, but Yolande Knell apparently did not consider it necessary to provide viewers with that information.

Knell ends her report with what is rapidly becoming standard BBC promotion of a view of events in the region as a “cycle of violence”.

“The cycle of violence is a familiar pattern in this decades-old conflict but the latest developments are a worrying sign of a potential escalation.”

It is worth taking a look at what the BBC’s promotion of a “cycle of violence” – or “tit-for-tat” as it has been described in other recent reports – actually conveys to its audiences. Such presentation suggests symmetry between the two sides, inevitability and equal responsibility on the part of the parties involved.

But in fact, the recent significant rise in missile fire by terrorist organisations in the Gaza Strip – the majority of which was not reported by the BBC – began as searches commenced on June 12th for the three missing Israeli teenagers. Israeli responses to that missile fire were caused by the decision made by terrorist organisations to carry out those attacks against civilians the Israeli government is obliged to protect. Had those attacks (some 130 missiles in three weeks) not been carried out, there would of course have been no Israeli response.

Similarly, had terrorists not decided to kidnap and murder three Israeli teenagers, there would have been no searches for them in Hebron and other PA-controlled areas and no “clashes” as Yolande Knell euphemistically terms the organized riots and violence aimed at disturbing those searches. Likewise, had the residents of Shuafat chosen to express their anger and grief in a non-violent manner – and perhaps even to assist (or at least not hinder) the police with their inquiries rather than taking to the streets to carry out violent rioting, there would currently be no riot-control personnel on Jerusalem’s streets.

Curiously though, the BBC affords no agency to terrorists who chose to launch of missiles or to mobs rioting in the streets, preferring instead to present a patronizing picture of a Palestinian people controlled by an outside force: a “cycle of violence”. That policy of course actively hinders BBC audiences’ ability to properly understand events.   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BBC Radio 4’s ‘Today’ programme broadcasts 3 minute anti-Israel diatribe

Many readers have written in over the last few days in order to bring our attention to items of BBC content on a range of platforms and we would like to thank all those who took the time to help out, especially during such an intense period.

One item which was the subject of several e-mails was a report by the BBC Jerusalem Bureau’s Yolande Knell broadcast on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Today’ programme on July 3rd, along with several other items pertaining to the rioting in Jerusalem and the murder of Muhammed Abu Khdeir. We will address other aspects of that programme in a future post, but Knell’s item is of particular interest because in addition to being broadcast on BBC Radio 4’s flagship news and current affairs programme, it has also been vigorously promoted on the BBC News website’s Middle East page, appearing under the inflammatory and of course inaccurate title “Cousins of Palestinian teenager: Police ‘protecting killers’“, so far for three consecutive days.

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Cousins on HP

 

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In the ‘Today’ broadcast, the item was introduced by Yolande Knell with the following words:

“Now when I was in the area late yesterday covering the clashes, I met two of Muhammed Abu Khdeir’s cousins – Dima and Sumoud Abu Khdeir and I asked them for their response to what happened.”

Following Knell’s audio report, during which she does not intervene at all (transcript below), presenter John Humphrys made do with the following comment:

“Well those were a couple of cousins of that teenager who was kidnapped and murdered yesterday talking to Yolande Knell…”

In other words, no effort was made either by Knell or Humphrys  – either before, during or after the interview – to provide listeners with any kind of balance or perspective which would enable them to put the three minutes of undiluted defamation and propaganda they were about to hear or had just heard into its appropriate context.

To clarify: what the cousin terms “settlements” are neighbourhoods of Jerusalem.

Cousin A: “They took him at 3:30 in the morning while he was waiting for prayer. They took him, they killed him and they burned him. In the morning we woke up to police guarding the settlements. No man woke up thinking let we go run to the settlements and let’s attack these settlements. No: they already have it in their mind that they were gonna protect these settlements. Before it was even confirmed that it was him, they were already protecting these settlements and these people that took our cousin, killed him. They’re protecting them – the murderers.”

The accusation that the Israeli security forces are “protecting” the perpetrators of the crime is of course a very serious one indeed. It is also one for which there is absolutely no factual basis and at this stage of the ongoing investigation, the police have not yet named, apprehended or charged anyone in connection with the crime. One must therefore question the BBC’s extensive and unchallenged amplification of such a serious defamation.  The cousin continues:Knell cousins

“What does that tell you about the laws?  The laws they don’t care about us. They don’t care about Palestinians. We’re second class citizens. We’re not considered citizens. We’re garbage. They killed us: one down, five million to go, right? Less than five million. Every day there’s a martyr and they go and protect their settlements. So yeah, we’re mad, we’re upset, we’re throwing rocks. That’s all we can do is throw rocks. That’s our reaction; we’re upset.”

Of course all residents of Shuafat and other Arab neighbourhoods in Jerusalem are entitled to apply for Israeli citizenship and the laws of the land apply equally in all regions. The interview continues with the second cousin denying Palestinian involvement in the murders of Eyal Yifrach, Naftali Frenkel and Gil-ad Sha’ar and the promotion of a conspiracy theory.

Cousin B: “Five thousand prisoners. Palestinian prisoners in their jails and three of them we didn’t kill them and we all know that it’s a play from Netanyahu to kill all these kids. Your aim is kids? Kids?”

Cousin A: “Yeah. A kid was almost kidnapped – a child from his mother was almost kidnapped two days ago in front of my uncle’s store. Thank God our community is strong enough to protect this woman and her child. Unfortunately it was 3:30 in the morning when this kid got kidnapped in front of the mosque. No-one saw them. There was a few people that saw them but they got away before they could help ‘cos it was 3:30 in the morning. And they know it’s Ramadan. They know it’s Ramadan. They took him during Ramadan.”

Cousin B: “What would a kid do to you? He’s a kid. Seventeen years old. What he can do to you? To all your weapons, your sick things. Your sick settlements. There are settlers they are just killing us. Living in our land and killing us. That’s sick.”

Cousin A: “Stolen property and stolen children. Stolen. Now they’re stealing our kids and killing them. Our kids; not adults. Not people that are – hey, I’m pro-Palestinian, I wanna – no: children that haven’t even passed the [unintelligible]. Let them get into college. Let them live life a minute before you go kidnap and kill them. No-one cares. Who’s….the media doesn’t….I mean obviously you’re talking to me; you’re part of the media, but there’s something crazy going on. But for the most part no-one talks about the Palestinian situation, the Palestinian case. It’s quieted, it’s shushed because most people support the Israeli government. No-one cares if six people are missing, ten people die, two kids are kidnapped, ten women are killed. No-one cares about Palestinians.”

Cousin B: “We’re nothing, we’re nothing, we’re nothing.”

There is nothing in this uninterrupted three-minute diatribe which could possibly contribute to the enhancement of BBC audiences’ knowledge and understanding of the facts behind the event to which it supposedly relates – quite the opposite, in fact.  And yet, an editorial decision was made not only to broadcast the item on Radio 4, but also to further amplify it on the BBC News website. 

More BBC News promotion of unproven rumour surrounding murdered teen

BBC television news coverage of the rioting in Shuafat and other districts in Jerusalem after the discovery of the body of Muhammed Abu Khdeir on July 2nd has included two reports from the same day (also promoted on the BBC News website) by the BBC’s Christian Fraser, who was apparently brought in from Paris to provide back up to the Jerusalem Bureau.

The first of those BBC television news reports appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page under the title “On ‘front line’ in East Jerusalem as Palestinians clash with police“. Fraser opens:Fraser filmed 1

“Well this is the front line in East Jerusalem. We’re on the Palestinian side. You can see; these young Palestinians are throwing rocks that are littered around the floor. If you just spin round here, Jimmy [cameraman], you’ll see that someone’s just delivered more rocks for this man to throw. Ahm…just up here they’ve built this barricade. In fact in the last few minutes they’ve maneuvered a skip in place to try and give themselves some protection. Because on the other side, on the roofs, there are snipers. There’s a line of Israeli soldiers who have been firing rubber bullets at the Palestinians and in fact media crews have been hit this morning – one Palestinian crew and also one photographer who strayed too close. The air is thick with the smell of burning plastic and over here, right on the front line, is the house of the young boy that went missing this morning. Seventeen years old. His mother Suha told me he disappeared on his way to the mosque, which is over here across the road.”

Fraser’s ‘David and Goliath’ pastiche focuses audience attentions on rock-throwing, failing to clarify that other methods of attack such as firebombs and IEDs were also used by the rioters and making no mention of Palestinians attacked by the rioters or the vandalism of the section of the light rail system serving Shuafat. His description of members of the Israeli security forces engaged in riot control as “snipers” is of course inaccurate and misleading – especially as they are obviously in full view of the camera. He continues with an interview with an unidentified woman.

CF: “I want to just get a feeling of the anger that there is in this Palestinian community. Can I just talk to you? Just come over here. Tell us a little bit about this region ‘cos we’re very close to….”

Woman: “Settlements.”

CF: “To settlements. To an Israeli settlement.”

The “settlements” which Fraser promotes after the woman’s cue are of course Jerusalem neighbourhoods such as Pisgat Ze’ev.

Woman: “Yeah, it’s very bad. All of these guys they are relatives and they are boiling. They can’t want to do…Imagine if this boy he’s Jewish and he’s killed. What can they do they Jewish with us?”

CF: “Hmm..”

Woman: “What they did in Hebron. What they did.”

Fraser then puts his own words into the woman’s mouth:

“As a mother, are you sad that children on both sides are dying in this conflict?”

Woman: “Ehh…it’s not fair but we are, but we are, we like peace, we love peace. But if you – somebody take your house, your land, your kids, what can…imagine what can you do with them. Imagine. This is our life. This everyday. This is our life. This is our life.”

Fraser has nothing to say about the woman’s defamatory portrayal of Israelis as stealers of land, houses and children. Instead, he closes with a description of events which does nothing to inform BBC audiences why a community which might be expected to help the police with their inquiries into the murder of a local boy is instead obliging security forces personnel to engage in full-time riot control.

CF: “As the lady says, this is the cycle of violence; this eye for an eye mentality that in this region can spill out of control.

The same woman interviewee was also featured in a second filmed report by Fraser broadcast later in the day on BBC television news programmes and posted on the BBC News website’s Middle East page under the title “Mother of kidnapped Palestinian: ‘My son wasn’t answering’” with a synopsis which, like many other BBC reports on the topic, irresponsibly promotes an unproven version of events.  

“Hundreds of Palestinians have clashed with Israeli police in east Jerusalem after a Palestinian teenager was found dead in a forest.

It is the thought the 17-year-old was kidnapped and murdered in a revenge attack for the deaths of three Israeli teenagers last month.”

Fraser also opens his report with the promotion of a completely unverified accusation.

CF: “Jerusalem forest, where Israeli police recovered this morning the remains of a body: a young man who’d been beaten and set alight. He was Muhammed Abu Khdeir – a seventeen year-old Palestinian schoolboy that neighbours say was kidnapped by Israeli settlers.”

Neither Fraser, nor the anonymous “neighbours”, nor indeed the police investigators currently dealing with the case have so far any proof that Israelis – let alone “settlers” – kidnapped the teenage boy. And yet the BBC has no qualms about broadcasting that speculative rumour to millions of viewers and readers around the world.

Unlike Fraser and his BBC crew, an Israeli journalist specializing in Arab affairs did go to enquire about the basis for those claims by “neighbours” that “settlers” had kidnapped the boy.

“Were they wearing kippot? I asked the family members; they answered that they weren’t. Did they have beards, tziziot [fringes]? No. What are settlers? I asked and came up against unclear answers. ‘They escaped to Jerusalem, so they’re settlers’ they answered at the end of the short interview….”

Fraser continues:

“His home is in East Jerusalem and it now marks a makeshift front line in the running battles with Israeli soldiers. Inside the house; the grieving relatives. Among them, Muhammed’s mother Suha who had the grim task of identifying her son in a police morgue.”

Mother: “They told me someone was kidnapped on the way to the mosque. I called his phone. I kept calling and calling. It was switched off. My son wasn’t answering.”

The BBC’s ‘style guide’ defines ‘Palestinian territories’ as follows, but Fraser seems to have concluded that certain neighbourhoods of Jerusalem which are not of course under the control of the PA, can also be described as such.

“Strictly speaking, the phrase ‘Palestinian Territories’ refers to the areas that fall under the administration of the Palestinian Authority (above). These are complicated to work out because of the division of the West Bank into three areas and because of the changes on the ground since the Intifada.”

CF: “The confrontations with soldiers are an everyday part of life in the Palestinian territories. They’ve seen it many times before. But there’s nothing normal in this: young men risking lives throwing stones in the direction of snipers.”

There’s that inaccurate description of riot control police as “snipers” yet again promoted to BBC audiences, along with a bizarre framing of the rioters as some sort of heroic figures “risking lives”. Next the unnamed woman from Fraser’s previous report makes a reappearance.Fraser filmed 2 Amil Peretz

Woman: “It’s bad. Our situation is very bad. It’s very bad. All of these guys they are relations and they are boiling.”

Fraser then goes on to make the very dubious claim that riot control police attacked the family’s house.

“The patience is wearing thin on all sides. Suddenly the house becomes the focus of a sustained Israeli assault. Stun grenades, rubber bullets, pandemonium. The relatives of the murdered boy take shelter.”

Fraser continues by making the unjustified and inaccurate implication that there may be some sort of difference in the way this incident is being handled because of the boy’s ethnicity.

“This is the cycle of violence; that eye-for-an-eye mentality that in this region can quickly spiral out of control. The Palestinian anger is underpinned by the feeling on their side that their lives are worth less, so it’s incumbent on the Israeli authorities that they condemn and pursue the perpetrator of this crime as they would had it been an Israeli child.”

He goes on to relate to the three boys kidnapped and murdered on June 12th, notably with the introduction of a caveat regarding the perpetrators despite – in that case – the evidence available.

CF: “Of course earlier in the week it was an Israeli child. Three of them: abducted and murdered – say Israel – by Hamas.”

Next comes an interview with an Israeli minister inaccurately named as “Amil Peretz” in the sub-titles.

CF: “But this cabinet minister told me he considers today’s murder every bit as abhorrent.”

Amir Peretz: “It shames our country and if it is proven to be Israelis who are responsible, then I would consider it a terrorist attack.”

Fraser concludes:

“A resumption of the peace talks then looks as distant as ever. There are ten standoffs continuing in East Jerusalem, in the West Bank. Mortars were fired today from the Gaza Strip. Tomorrow, it’s the funeral.”

If Christian Fraser or anyone else at the BBC has actual evidence to suggest that “Israeli settlers” were responsible for the murder of Muhammed Abu Khdeir, they should of course contact the Israeli police immediately. If they do not, then Fraser and others should clearly cease the propagation of speculation and rumour which has been evident in all BBC reporting on this topic since the first hours of the incident and start behaving like journalists from an organization committed to accurate and impartial reporting.

Related Articles:

BBC News promotes unverified speculation on motive for killing of Palestinian teen

BBC’s Gaza correspondent tells WS listeners civilian kibbutz is ‘military outpost’

Listeners to the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Outside Source’ on July 2nd heard presenter Ros Atkins speaking to the BBC Jerusalem Bureau’s Kevin Connolly and the BBC Gaza office’s Rushdi Abualouf about the murder of Muhammed Abu Khdeir from Shuafat. That segment of the programme is available here.OS logo

Connolly begins by continuing the BBC’s across the board promotion of the incident to audiences as having been perpetrated by Israeli Jews, even though no proof of that speculation has so far come to light, oddly defining it as “sectarian”. Listeners will also gain some insight into the interesting way in which Connolly – and presumably his colleagues – have interpreted the Israeli prime minister’s condemnation of the murder.

Connolly: “We know very little [unintelligible] person about Muhammed Abu Khdeir yet and that’s one of the tragedies of this kind of sectarian murder of course – if that’s what it turns out to be – that he wasn’t killed because of who he was; merely as a matter of his ethnic identity. As I say, the real fear here is that this is a sectarian tit-for-tat killing. This is all still evolving – the Israeli police aren’t saying that clearly yet – but when you look at the statement from Benjamin Netanyahu, which I would think we would translate that as being a despicable murder, it’s very, very strong language from Benjamin Netanyahu. He was challenged by the Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas to come out and condemn it and has done so in the strongest possible terms, so I think the fact that Netanyahu was talking in those terms shows you that Israelis as well as Palestinians assume this to be a sectarian killing and Benjamin Netanyahu, who has already made it known that he’s calling on the country’s security minister Yitzhak Aharonovich to catch the killers of this Palestinian teenager, that is all to do with what you quoted Netanyahu saying there; that the view of the Israeli government of course is that this is a law-based state and that means everybody has to observe the law. So Muhammed Abu Khdeir; as I say we will know about the young man – his personality, his life – perhaps after his funeral. But for the moment the tragedy – his death – is surrounded in this kind of fog of sectarian hatred.”

Connolly then goes on to provide listeners with an interesting view of his understanding of why the residents of a neighbourhood of Jerusalem are rioting against the very security forces investigating the youth’s murder and trying to uncover the facts about the case.

“Well it’s inevitable when you have a large-scale police operation like this – as you’re going to have after an abduction or a murder; a big police inquiry – that is going to raise tensions in an Arab area of East Jerusalem like Shuafat or Beit Hanina. They’re right beside each other, I should say. So, the police operations will be resented by the Palestinians because of course in East Jerusalem – an Arab area annexed by Israel as Yolande said after it was captured in the war of 1967 – Israeli operations there will always be resented by Palestinians. The potential is always there for those kind of clashes between the Israeli police on the other as the investigation gets underway. But behind those  public order disturbances, which naturally attract our attention, a murder inquiry is underway and I would say there’ll be huge political pressure on the Israeli police to catch quickly the killers of Muhammed Abu Khdeir to demonstrate to the Palestinian people, to demonstrate to the wider world, that Israel takes his killing as seriously as it took the killing of those three teenagers whose abduction dominated the headlines here for three weeks.”

Atkins then moves on to speak with Rushdi Abualouf, who promotes a number of inaccurate points to listeners.

“Let’s bring in the BBC’s Rushdi Abualouf live with us from Gaza City. Well Rushdi, we spoke yesterday on ‘Outside Source’. You described air strikes. What’s happened in the 24 jours since?

Abualouf: “There was only one more airstrike on Gaza, targeting a place where militants did launch…eh…three more rockets toward the south of Israel. It’s been more, like, relatively quiet since the big…eh…wave of airstrikes – like 34 airstrikes is been targeting Hamas institutions in the Gaza Strip got hit shortly after the discovering of the three bodies – the three Israeli teenager bodies in the West Bank.”

Abualouf is clearly trying to promote the notion of linkage between the discovery of the bodies of Eyal Yifrach, Naftali Frenkel and Gil-ad Sha’ar on June 30th and the airstrikes carried out in the early hours of July 1st. However, that is not the case: those airstrikes came in response to the firing of over eighteen missiles at Israeli civilian communities in southern Israel by terrorists in the Gaza Strip. Abualouf then goes on to promote another falsehood.

“This morning the militants fired a couple of mortars towards one of the Israeli military outpost close to the border between Gaza and Israel and people are expecting Israel might, like, do more strikes tonight if the rockets from Gaza continue to fall in the south of Israel.”

In the incident Abualouf describes, nine mortars – not “a couple” – were fired at Kibbutz Kerem Shalom – a civilian agricultural community in the Eshkol region: not a “military outpost” as Abualouf inaccurately informs BBC audiences.

Atkins then asks Abualouf about the reaction to the murder of Muhammed Abu Khdeir in the Gaza Strip.

Abualouf: “”There was some sense of anger. We have talked to the people in Gaza about the incident. Some of them calling for revenge. Some of the militant group issued a statement, like, condemning and calling for revenge and they…in the past we have seen, like, militants from Gaza responding and firing rockets when something like this happening even in the West Bank or in East Jerusalem because they believe that they should fight to get the whole..the historical Palestine – which now called Israel – in their hands. The people do not believe in the peace process or the ’67 border. They normally insist to fire rockets when there is something happening any part in the Palestinian territory or East Jerusalem.”

There is of course no such thing as a “’67 border” – only Armistice lines from 1949 which, as we have clarified here on numerous occasions, are specifically stated not to be borders.

No effort was made by Atkins to correct that inaccurate statement by Rushdi Abualouf or any of the other misleading and inaccurate information he provided to BBC audiences. 

 

 

BBC News promotes unverified speculation on motive for killing of Palestinian teen

At around 04:00 local time on the morning of July 2nd a teenager from the Jerusalem neighbourhood of Shuafat was reported missing. At 05:45 the Israeli police announced the discovery of a body in the Jerusalem forest but at that stage, no connection had been established between the two events.

Just over four hours later, and hours before the body had been officially identified, the BBC News website published the first version of an article which now appears under the title “Palestinian teenager’s body found in Jerusalem“. That initial version read as follows:Shuafat first art

“Israeli police have found a body they believe may be that of a Palestinian teenager kidnapped in East Jerusalem.

A boy was seen being forced into a car in Beit Hanina early on Wednesday. Within hours, a body was discovered in a wood in Givat Shaul, to the west [sic].

Israeli police were unable to confirm the motive, but Palestinian sources said it appeared to be a revenge attack for the murder of three Israeli teens.

Later, Palestinians clashed with Israeli police outside the boy’s home.

The protesters threw stones at the officers, who reportedly responded by firing sound bombs and rubber bullets.”

Around an hour later, that article was amended and expanded (all changes to it can be viewed here). Despite the fact that at that stage the circumstances had still not been established and the body was still in the process of DNA identification, the second version of the article opened thus:

“Israeli police have found the body of a Palestinian teenager who was kidnapped overnight in East Jerusalem.

A boy was seen being forced into a car in Shufat [sic] early on Wednesday. Within hours, a partly-burned corpse was discovered in a forest in Givat Shaul.

Israeli police were unable to confirm the motive, but Palestinian sources said it appeared to be a revenge attack for the murder of three Israeli teens.”

In other words, despite the fact that the police and forensic investigations were still in their initial stages, (and in sharp contrast to its two-day wait in reporting the kidnapping of three Israeli teens on June 12th) the BBC was already telling its audiences that the teenager, Muhammed Abu Khdeir, had been kidnapped, that the body found in the forest was his and that the motive “appeared to be” a “revenge attack” by Israeli Jews.

Although the language used later on in that article is a little more guarded, nevertheless the BBC elected to promote and amplify a version of events which, even over 24 hours later, has still not been established as fact.

Yolande Knell was quoted in that article as saying:

“While there has been no confirmation that this was a revenge attack for the three murdered Israelis whose bodies were found in the West Bank earlier this week, there is no doubt among Palestinians here about what has happened.”

A quote from Kevin Connolly also advanced the same theory.

“The BBC’s Kevin Connolly says it is too early to say for sure, but there is a real possibility that the killing is a tit-for-tat reprisal, with all the dangers that would pose for the broader relationship between Israel and the Palestinians.”

Knell’s quote appeared in all five subsequent versions of the report and Connolly’s quote in all but the most recent version, which was published just before 3 p.m. local time.

Just before 7 p.m. local time the police spokesman made the following announcement:

“Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld says police are investigating the possibility that the motive behind the abduction and killing of Muhammad Abu Khdeir was criminal or an honor killing, as well as the option that it was nationalistically motivated.

“There are no clear-cut conclusions at the moment,” he says. “We will have to see how things develop.” “

On the same evening the Minster for Public Security also made a statement.

“Minister Aharonovitch emphasized that at this stage all avenues of investigation are being checked and added that the motive for the murder cannot be determined at present. The Minister noted that units in Jerusalem and around the country are being reinforced and asked the public to show restraint and patience at this time in order to allow the investigators to carry out their work.” [emphasis added]

The BBC News website, along with other BBC platforms, continues however to promote and amplify an unproven, highly inflammatory and – as past experience shows – potentially very dangerous version of events which at this stage is based entirely upon supposition and speculation.

Is this really the standard of reporting expected from an organisation which informs its funding public that “BBC News aspires to remain the standard-setter for international journalism”?