BBC continues to avoid telling audiences what the StWC is really about

During the summer of 2014 the BBC produced numerous reports about anti-Israel demonstrations organised or co-organised by the ‘Stop the War Coalition’ (StWC) but made no effort to inform its audiences of the agenda of that group or its partners.

“By failing to provide audiences with a comprehensive picture of the records and political agendas of the fringe groups which organized these demonstrations – along with the highly relevant topic of their links to repressive regimes in the Middle East – the BBC created the false impression that those demonstrations galvanized around a consensus issue for ordinary members of the British public. By refraining from reporting on the antisemitic imagery and slogans used on numerous occasions by some participants in the demonstrations, the BBC denied audiences a view of the real motivations underpinning their organization and messaging.

That, of course, is not journalism; it is self-conscription to giving a leg-up to a political cause.”

In its reporting on a more recent anti-Israel demonstration the BBC failed to document the StWC’s involvement or to inform audiences of the real aims of the event.  When StWC members and officials appear – as they not infrequently do – in BBC programming, the BBC regularly fails to comply with its own editorial guideline stipulating that the “viewpoint” of interviewees should be clarified to audiences – as can be seen for example here.

The ‘Stop the War Coalition’ is currently in the news again after its former chairman turned Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn attended its recent fundraising event despite being urged by members of his party not to do so.

BBC reporting on that story includes “Jeremy Corbyn defends Stop the War Coalition” (December 7th), “Corbyn attends Stop the War dinner despite criticism” (December 11th) and “Stop the War defends Corbyn over fundraising dinner row” (December 12th).Corbyn StWC filmed

In those reports the organization is described by the BBC as “the anti-war group” despite there being ample evidence to show that the description is inaccurate. In addition to providing generous amplification of StWC messaging, two of the above reports note one particular aspect of the controversy surrounding Corbyn’s attendance at the event.

“Some Labour MPs urged Mr Corbyn to stay away from Friday’s event over concerns about a controversial blog posted by campaigners following attacks in Paris.[…]

A tweet and article published in the wake of the attacks on Paris last month suggested France had “reaped the whirlwind” of Western support for extremist violence in the Middle East.

Both were later removed and disowned by the organisation’s leaders, but critics have highlighted another article last week which argued jihadists were driven by a “spirit of internationalism and solidarity” akin to the International Brigades that fought in the Spanish Civil War.”

Interestingly, the BBC refrained from informing its audiences that the StWC’s purging of its website has included far more that the article mentioned above.  As a look at this very useful collection of cached versions of articles the StWC has recently seen fit to censor shows, the outfit described as an “anti-war group” by the BBC has in the past told its devotees that it is “[t]ime to go to war with Israel”, spread conspiracy theories about the Munich Olympics massacre, promoted anti-Semitic tropes and claimed that the plight of the Yezidis on Mount Sinjar was “a false story” that was “inflated”.

We continue to await BBC reporting on that topic. 

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No BBC coverage of antisemitism at event organised by its most promoted NGO

An anti-Israel demonstration which took place in the heart of London on September 9th, ostensibly to protest a two-day visit to the UK by the Israeli prime minister, received no coverage on the BBC News website on the day that it took place.

That editorial decision is all the more interesting when one considers that the Palestine Solidarity Campaign – which organised the protest – and some of its supporting groups are not infrequently promoted on BBC platforms.

demo London organisers

demo London woman with placard

credit: Sussex Friends of Israel

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign was in fact the non-Israeli NGO most promoted in BBC Israel-related content during 2014. Only recently BBC audiences saw coverage of another event organised, among others, by the PSC, the Stop the War Coalition and Friends of Al Aqsa. FoAA’s Ismail Patel has appeared on various BBC programmes, as have the spokesperson for ‘War on Want’ and representatives of FOSIS.

It would therefore have been relevant for audiences to be made aware of the fact that an event organised by groups to which the BBC frequently gives a platform was marked by hate speech, antisemitism and support for terrorism.

For example, as the Jewish News reports (link includes video):

“A pro-Palestinian protester waved a penny at pro-Israel demonstrators and shouted “you only understand money”, before police placed handcuffs on him. […]

In the short clip filmed outside Whitehall by the Zionist Federation UK, he tells pro-Israel demonstrators: “Here have a penny..” adding “you only understand money” a number of times.”demo London Hizb flags 2

A woman identified as Pamela Hardyment felt free to advocate ethnic cleansing and genocide of Israeli Jews on camera.

“In another incident caught on camera, a […] woman tells Israel supporters that the Jews in Israel should “go into the sea, they’re not coming here.

“We would absolutely march against Zionists coming here as refugees,” added the woman, clad in a keffiyeh and carrying an umbrella bearing the word “Palestine.”

“So you want another Holocaust?” the pro-Israel activist asks her. “I don’t know what the Holocaust is,” she replies.

“I want them out of Israel,” the woman says later in the video, referring to Israeli Jews.

“You’ll have to kill them all,” says a voice off camera. “Well, so be it,” she responds as she walks off.”

The first mention of that demonstration came a whole day after it took place in an article titled “Netanyahu urges action to stop Middle East ‘disintegrating’” which appeared on the BBC News website’s UK and Middle East pages on September 10th. There readers were told that:

“Campaigners clashed ahead of the visit.

Protesters demanding Mr Netanyahu’s arrest for alleged war crimes in Gaza clashed with pro-Israel activists on Wednesday.”

Clearly that is not an accurate or comprehensive portrayal of the demonstration, so perhaps the BBC would like to share with its funding public the editorial considerations behind the airbrushing of antisemitism, hate speech and support for terrorist groups from the picture it presented to its audiences?

Related Articles:

When criticism of Israel crosses the line to extreme antisemitism: London edition   (UK Media Watch) 

 

 

BBC fails to tell audiences what was really behind Cardiff football match demo

Notable aspects of BBC promotion of its coverage of the September 6th football match between Israel and Wales included the gratuitous use of an image showing a flag belonging to neither of the countries participating in the game and no less ‘creative’ use of an apostrophe.

BBC Wales vs Israel flag

BBC Wales vs Israel 5live

Visitors to the BBC News website’s Wales page also found a short article headlined “Pro and anti-Israel demonstrations ahead of Euro game” but in the body of the article the demonstrators previously accurately described as ‘anti-Israel’ became “protestors backing Palestine”.Wales game art

“Protestors backing Palestine and supporters of Israel have held counter demonstrations ahead of Wales’ crunch Euro 2016 qualifier in Cardiff.

Up to 2,000 people joined a march for Palestine from City Hall towards Cardiff City Stadium, where Wales kicks off against Israel at 17:00 BST.”

Whilst other media outlets quoted smaller numbers of participants (WalesOnline had 75% of the BBC’s figure, the Guardian used the term “hundreds” and Ha’aretz “a few hundred”), the outstanding feature of this report is its evasive representation of the organisers of the demonstration and their motives.

“Organisers claim sport is being used as a public relations tool by Israel. […]

The pro-Palestine protest was organised by Fair Play for Palestine, with calls for Israel to be stripped of its membership of football’s governing body, Fifa.”

Readers are not told that the Palestinian delegation to the FIFA congress held at the end of May dropped its motion to have Israel suspended from the organization or that FIFA’s executive committee ruled that the Congress “cannot interfere into political territories”.BBC Wales vs Israel demo poster 

Neither are they told that the organisations behind the ‘Fair Play for Palestine’ campaign (and the demonstration in Cardiff) are the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, the Stop the War Coalition, Friends of Al Aqsa (headed by Ismail Patel) and a straw-man front called ‘Red Card Israeli Racism’ which includes some of the above actors and which aligns itself with the BDS campaign.

“Our campaign activists are mostly British or Irish members of organisations that strive to support the Palestinian people: PSC (Palestinian Solidarity Campaign), FOA (Friends of Al-Aqsa), JBIG (Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods), BIN (Boycott Israel Network) and BNC (Boycott National Committee, Palestine). We see our work as part of the wider BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) activity that was formally established by Palestinians in 2005. We are part of a group of several European nations active in this area.” [emphasis added]

Without that essential information, BBC audiences were of course deprived of the opportunity to understand that this story is actually not about football at all but concerns yet another of the quotidian attempts to delegitimize Israel by the usual small groups of extremist political actors – as captured on camera by one photographer present.

BBC Wales vs Israel Demotix pic

However, seeing as the BBC does not think its job includes informing audiences of the BDS campaign’s full agenda, the omission of that vital background information is entirely in keeping with the corporation’s existing editorial approach to this issue.   

Related Articles:

Wind in the sails of Jibril Rajoub’s anti-Israel campaign from BBC WS WHYS

Kevin Connolly continues the BBC’s amplification of anti-Israel delegitimisation

BBC frames anti-Israel delegitimisation campaign as a sports story

BBC Radio Wales promotes and endorses anti-Israel activist with a penchant for Nazi analogy

BBC Radio Wales promotes and endorses anti-Israel activist with a penchant for Nazi analogy

The ‘Stop the War Coalition’ is just about the last organisation one would approach for rational, impartial, factual and informative comment on anything connected to the Middle East. As has been noted here before, the StWC:

“… collaborates with 9/11 ‘troofers’ and antisemites such as Lowkey. It supports the annual Al Quds Day anti-Israel hate-fest organized in London by the Khomenist-regime’s UK supporters at the IHRC. It dabbles in anti-Americanism and antisemitism of its own and has rallied in support of the Assad regime in Syria and the Iranian dictatorship.” 

Nevertheless, that was precisely the group from which BBC Radio Wales solicited comment in an item concerning Cardiff council’s cancellation of a photography exhibition showing coexistence in Israel through football less than a day after it opened which was broadcast on September 4th on its ‘Good Evening Wales’ programme.BBC Radio Wales Cardiff exhib

As readers are no doubt aware, the BBC’s editorial guidelines on impartiality demand that the “viewpoint” of interviewees be clarified to audiences.

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

However, no adequate clarification was in evidence when presenter Gareth Lewis introduced the first section of this two-part item (available from 36:36 here for a limited period of time).

Lewis: “The Israeli embassy has called Cardiff Council ‘outrageous’ for ending early an exhibition about multi-faith football between Jews and Palestinians just days before the Wales-Israel European qualifying match. Cardiff Council said it received a complaint about the exhibition and was made aware of the potential for a large demonstration outside the city’s main library where the exhibition was being held. It also said it didn’t want to be seen as displaying political bias. Well, Adam Johannes joins us. He’s from the Stop the War Coalition. Good to have you with us.”

That brief introduction of course did nothing to inform listeners of the “particular viewpoint” lying behind the inaccurate information they heard from Johannes during the next four and a half minutes, which included the following:

Palestinian 'footballer' Ayman Alkurd killed in 2009 (photo: Elder of Ziyon)

Palestinian ‘footballer’ Ayman Alkurd – killed in 2009 (photo: Elder of Ziyon)

Johannes: “Erm, well, I think the exhibition should have never really been staged in the first place. It was sponsored by the Israeli embassy. It was essentially, I think, a PR stunt to gloss over the reality of football in the Middle East which is a very serious situation. For instance – if I can give you an example – over the last decade or so four players in the Palestinian national team have lost their lives at the hands of the Israeli military. Other players have been detained without trial sometimes for months or years. Players are regularly prevented from attending matches. The Palestinian national team for instance…Israel is playing in Wales but at the same time Israel’s preventing Palestinian players going from Gaza to the West Bank to play an important match against the UAE. So when you have a country which prevents other, you know, other FIFA members from playing football, then really I think we have to say that Israel – until it allows Palestinians to play football – should be expelled from UEFA and FIFA.”BBC radio Wales Cardiff cogat tweets

Gareth Lewis made no effort to provide listeners with the much-needed context deliberately omitted by Johannes. He failed to tell them that it is the known connections of some Palestinian footballers to terrorist organisations which have brought about their detention. He neglected to inform BBC audiences that at least three of those four players who “lost their lives at the hands of the Israeli military” were active members of terrorist organisations (two Hamas and one PIJ) who took part in fighting against Israel during Operation Cast Lead. And he omitted any mention of the fact that it is precisely issues such as those above which make security checks for Palestinian footballers exiting the Gaza Strip necessary and that the topic of movement is often more complex than meets the eye.

Lewis also failed to correct the misleading impression created by Johannes’ risible claim that “Palestinians want to keep politics out of sport” by informing listeners of Jibril Rajoub’s record of coopting sport precisely for political purposes. He neglected to inform audiences of the all-important context behind the following statement from Johannes:

“….the Palestine stadium in Gaza has been bombed twice by the Israeli military – the main football stadium, you know, for Palestinians….”

 And Lewis obviously had no concerns about providing Johannes with a BBC platform for the promotion of additional crude delegitimisation:

“…remember the days of apartheid South Africa. People used to hold up these small examples of coexistence […] to gloss over the fundamental reality of institutionalized racism, of apartheid.”

Later on in the programme (from 1:35:55 here) a further five minutes were devoted to the same topic and the interviewee this time was the Israeli embassy in London’s spokesman, Yiftach Curiel. Introduced by presenter Peter Johnson, the segment began with an edited rerun of some of Johannes’ propaganda, again without adequate clarification concerning the views of man and his organisation.

Johnson: “Well earlier on this programme we spoke to Adam Johannes from the Stop the War Coalition who was supporting the withdrawal of the exhibition. He said it glossed over the reality of the situation in the Middle East.”

Johannes: “Erm, well, I think the exhibition should have never really been staged in the first place. It was sponsored by the Israeli embassy. It was essentially, I think, a PR stunt to gloss over the reality of football in the Middle East which is a very serious situation. For instance – if I can give you an example – over the last decade or so four players in the Palestinian national team have lost their lives at the hands of the Israeli military. Other players have been detained without trial sometimes for months or years. Players are regularly prevented from attending matches. So when you have a country which prevents other, you know, other FIFA members from playing football, then really I think we have to say that Israel – until it allows Palestinians to play football – should be expelled from UEFA and FIFA.”

Johnson: “Adam Johannes of the Stop the War Coalition speaking on this programme a little earlier.”BBC Radio Wales Cardiff Johannes FB PSC

In addition to failing once again to provide the much-needed missing background and context to Johannes’ claims broadcast to listeners twice within the space of an hour, during his conversation with Curiel, Johnson even told audiences that they were legitimate.

Johnson: “OK, the point that Adam Johannes made is a valid one – that it isn’t actually easy for Palestinians to play football in the Middle East and that Israel has actually impeded the travel of Palestinian footballers. I mean that much is true.” [emphasis added]

Ironically in an item laden with anti-Israel propaganda, Johnson later added:

“There will be those, Yiftach, who merely see this [exhibition] as an opportunity for Israeli propaganda in Wales….”

So what should BBC Radio Wales have told its listeners about Adam Johannes before it provided him with an unhindered platform for partisan political messaging which even got BBC endorsement from Peter Johnson?

Here, in his own words, is Johannes’ bio from a site called ‘Radical Wales’:

BBC Radio Wales Johannes bio

Audiences should also obviously have been told that Johannes has been involved in football-related anti-Israel campaigning for some time and is one of those involved in organizing the opportunistic agitprop ahead of the Israel-Wales match in Cardiff. Listeners would also have been better able to put Johannes’ contribution to this programme into its correct context had BBC Radio Wales bothered to tell them that he is fond of using Nazi analogies during his anti-Israel campaigning, as the following example from 2012 shows.

Not only did BBC Radio Wales clearly breach its own editorial guidelines by failing to provide listeners with any of the very relevant background on Adam Johannes or the ‘Stop the War Coalition’, but it also materially misled audiences on the topic of Palestinian football by failing to provide the facts and context missing from its interviewee’s politically motivated diatribe.  

Related Articles:

Beyond the BBC narrative: Cardiff, coexistence and Israel

BBC yet again conceals terror connections of Palestinian ‘footballers’

Resources:

BBC Radio Wales – contact details

BBC Complaints

 

 

 

 

 

How did BBC News cover this summer’s anti-Israel demonstrations in the UK?

The phenomenon of demonstrations on the streets of cities in Europe and elsewhere in supposed ‘spontaneous’ reaction to this summer’s conflict in Israel and the Gaza Strip came as no surprise to anyone familiar with the activities of the broad auxiliary network which provides support of various descriptions for Hamas’ international PR campaign.

Some of the hundreds of anti-Israel demonstrations organised by groups such as the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and the Stop the War Coalition which took place in the UK were covered by the BBC, with reports appearing inter alia on the BBC News website – including on its Middle East page – as shown in the few examples below.

July 13th: “Manchester protesters march against BBC coverage and Gaza bombings (discussed here). In that report the BBC informed readers that the protest was called ‘Drive for Justice’ and that “[a] second rally was organised by the Stop the War Coalition in Manchester’s Piccadilly Gardens”. No attempt was made to clarify the political agendas of either of those organisations. Here, for example is an image posted on the official ‘Drive for Justice’ Facebook account which reflects an ideology of which BBC audiences should have been made aware in order for them to be able to put the corporation’s amplification of that group’s agenda into its correct context.

FB drive for justice

July 19th: Thousands march through London over Gaza crisis (filmed version under the same title here). That report informed readers that “[t]he event was organised by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and is part of a national day of action” but made no effort to inform audiences of the PSC’s political agenda or of its links to Hamas – a proscribed terrorist organization in the EU.

July 26th: London rally will ‘boost morale of Palestinians in Gaza’ in the synopsis to that filmed report, BBC audiences were told that the demonstration was organised by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign but once again that organisation’s agenda was ignored and – as documented here – an interviewee linked to the PSC was misrepresented as a mere “protester”.

July 27th: Violence breaks out during Gaza protest march in Cardiff. The synopsis to that filmed report informed audiences that the demonstration was “organised by Cardiff Stop the War Coalition” but again no effort was made to clarify that organisation’s political motivations or affiliations.

August 9th: Tens of thousands of protesters march in London for Gaza, Thousands protest in London against Israeli offensive in Gaza, ‘Israel started this war’ – Tariq Ali at Gaza rally in London – discussed here. Readers of the written article were informed that the demonstration was “organised by the Stop the War coalition and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign” and yet, after four weeks of reporting these various demonstrations, the BBC still had not come up with any sort of background information on those groups which would allow audiences to put the demonstrations themselves or the propaganda amplified in its own reports into context.

Significantly, whilst audiences read, saw and heard copious amplification of the demonstrators’ anti-Israel propaganda in the BBC’s reports, one recurring phenomenon at those demonstrations was not covered: the frequent use of antisemitic slogans and imagery. Moreover, the BBC actually produced an item in which it gave a platform to the PSC’s Hugh Lanning to lie through his teeth on that issue by saying “antisemitism or any form of racism isn’t tolerated on any of our protests”.

Equally remarkable was the lack of BBC coverage of pro-Israel demonstrations during the same period of time.

By failing to provide audiences with a comprehensive picture of the records and political agendas of the fringe groups which organized these demonstrations – along with the highly relevant topic of their links to repressive regimes in the Middle East – the BBC created the false impression that those demonstrations galvanized around a consensus issue for ordinary members of the British public. By refraining from reporting on the antisemitic imagery and slogans used on numerous occasions by some participants in the demonstrations, the BBC denied audiences a view of the real motivations underpinning their organization and messaging.

That, of course, is not journalism; it is self-conscription to giving a leg-up to a political cause. Whether that self-conscription came about as a perceived need to compensate for the well publicised criticism of the BBC’s coverage of the conflict organised by those same organisations from its very beginning is unclear but what is obvious is that the BBC failed to give its audiences an accurate and impartial picture of those demonstrations or to provide the relevant background information necessary for them to be put into their correct context as part of the PR war waged by Hamas support groups in the UK.