BBC News tells only part of an Israeli elections story

On the evening of March 17th the BBC News website published an article headlined “Israel elections: Court bans far-right candidate Ben-Ari” in which readers were told that:

“Israel’s Supreme Court has disqualified the leader of the far-right Jewish Power party, Michael Ben-Ari, from next month’s elections.

In doing so, it overturned an earlier decision by the electoral committee.

Mr Ben-Ari has faced criticism over his comments about Israeli Arabs. Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit has said they amount to “incitement to racism”.”

Under the sub-heading “What did the court rule?” the BBC provided readers with further information about the comments which led to Ben Ari’s disqualification.

“The court backed an appeal from left-wing politicians who argued that Mr Ben-Ari had made racist remarks.

The Times of Israel website reports that the appeal cited Mr Ben-Ari from August 2018, saying: “We have to change the equation regarding anyone who dares to speak against a Jew.

“[Such a person] is a dead man. He must not come out alive. No expelling him, no stripping him of his citizenship. He does not live! A firing squad takes him out as the Arabs understand [best].”

Mr Ben-Ari has claimed that he was referring to Hamas leadership – not all Arabs.”

Only readers who bothered to click on that promoted link would learn that:

“Michael Ben Ari, party leader of Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Power), has faced multiple appeals to outlaw his candidacy under Article 7A of the Basic Law: The Knesset, which lists “incitement to racism” as one of three actions that disqualify a candidate from running for Knesset.”

In addition the BBC’s report told readers that:

“The court also reinstated Israeli Arab parties previously banned from contesting the 9 April poll.

They had been barred from standing for their critical remarks about the state of Israel and the Israel Defense Forces.”

Notably those “Israeli Arab parties” were not named by the BBC and no further information was provided concerning their prior disqualification by the Central Elections Committee on the basis of what the BBC chose to euphemistically portray as “critical remarks”.

The parties concerned are Ra’am-Balad – currently running on a joint electoral list. BBC audiences were not informed that the Central Elections Committee had also earlier in the month “voted to disqualify Ofer Kasif, a Jewish member of the other Arab-Israeli party, Hadash-Ta’al”.

“The petition against Balad-Ra’am was filed by the Likud, Yisrael Beytenu and Otzma Yehudit parties, which claimed that the Arab-Israeli party is “seeking to eliminate Israel as a Jewish state, and supports the violent Palestinian resistance and Hezbollah, and most of its members are supporters and backers of terror.” […]

In addition to Ra’am-Balad, the committee accepted a petition to disqualify Kasif of Hadash-Ta’al, citing provocative comments he has made in the past, including calling the justice minister “neo-Nazi scum.”

Along with his comment against Ayelet Shaked, Kasif in the past was accused of comparing Israel and the IDF to the Nazi regime, of calling to fight against “Judeo-Nazis,” and voicing support for changing the national anthem.

Last month, in an interview with Haaretz, Kasif said Israel was carrying out a “creeping genocide” of the Palestinians.”

Kasif is also on record as having “voiced support for cancelling the Law of Return”.

In addition to incitement to racism, Israel’s election law – Basic Law: The Knesset – forbids any person or list that promotes “negation of the existence of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state” and/or “support of armed struggle, by a hostile state or a terrorist organization, against the State of Israel” from running in elections.

The Balad party rejects the existence of the Jewish State, promotes the ‘right of return’ for Palestinian refugees and aspires to a bi-national state.

However, while the BBC did provide its audiences with details of the racist comments which led to Ben Ari’s disqualification in this report (tagged, inter alia, racism) it chose not to supply an explanation of the background to the Central Elections Committee’s decision – later overturned by the Supreme Court – to ban other candidates, while euphemistically framing their negation of Jewish self-determination as mere “critical remarks”.

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PA torture case still being ignored by the BBC

As regular readers may recall, the BBC has been ignoring an unusual story unfolding in Israeli courts for well over a year.

BBC News ignores an unusual legal story from Israel

Story of PA torture continues to be side-lined by BBC

“In a landmark ruling, the Jerusalem District ordered the Palestinian Authority to pay compensation of 13.2 million shekels (approximately $3.5 million) to dozens of suspected collaborators with Israel who were systematically tortured while incarcerated in PA jails.

Hadashot news reported Thursday the plaintiffs hope that Israel will be able to collect the compensation from the Palestinian Authority, and that if not, it could be raised by offsetting tax revenues collected by Israel on the PA’s behalf.”

The story took another turn when – as reported by the Jerusalem Post:

“The PA [Palestinian Authority] has appealed all of the District Court’s decisions to the [Israeli] Supreme Court and asked that the lower court’s decisions be frozen until the appeal is decided. […]

Hoping to deter the court, the PA warned that having to pay the damages, and possibly much larger future damages, might cause the PA to collapse. (The NIS 14 million related only to false imprisonment. That sum could pale compared to the damages the District Court might later issue for the full torture liability.)”

However:

“In a blockbuster ruling the Supreme Court on Wednesday effectively endorsed two judgements totalling close to NIS 14 million against the Palestinian Authority for falsely jailing 51 Palestinians. […]

Justice Yosef Elron’s rejection of the PA appeal means the PA is now obligated under Israeli law to pay the 51 Palestinians without delay – though there are still questions on how the plaintiffs can realistically collect. […]

Notably, the court said if Palestinians were cooperating with Israel to thwart terrorist attacks on Israelis, the PA is also obligated to assist in such efforts under the Oslo Accords. Accordingly, the court said the PA could not treat such Palestinians as criminals, much less torture them. […]

The case is likely to cause significant diplomatic and legal complications between Israel and the PA, especially about whether and how the PA would pay damages.”

The Palestinian Authority of course spends far more annually on financial rewards to terrorists and their families than the sum awarded in compensation to the plaintiffs in this case.

Despite having published a report pertaining to Palestinian torture just last month, the BBC nevertheless continues to ignore this unusual legal story.

Related Articles:

A second hand BBC News report on Palestinian torture

 

 

 

BBC parrots Ha’aretz editorial bemoaning demise of Israeli democracy

Would the BBC entertain the idea of implying that the United Kingdom, France or Sweden are not proper democracies because Christian religious holidays are also national holidays in those countries? Would it have anything at all to say about the status of Eid al Fitr or Eid al Adha as national holidays in Egypt, Qatar or Morocco?

Obviously not, so consider this line (which, like much of the rest of the piece, appears to have been taken from an AP article by Tia Goldenberg) from an October 4th report titled “Jerusalem court rejects Israel nationality petition” which appeared on the Middle East page of the BBC News website:

“Jewish religious holidays are also national holidays in Israel.”

That, of course, is an undisputed fact and indeed one would not expect otherwise in the world’s only Jewish state, just as one would not expect Christian festivals not to be national holidays in predominantly Christian countries or Islamic festivals not to be national holidays in mainly Muslim states.  

But the significance of the use of that statement comes in the context of the article as a whole, which seeks to present a recent Supreme Court decision as a sign of Israel’s undemocratic and discriminatory nature – featuring selected quotes from a predictably ‘the sky is falling’ style editorial which appeared in Ha’aretz in order to do so.

The BBC’s notably superficial and uninformative article will of course mean nothing to the vast majority of visitors to the BBC website.  Nevertheless, it presents an apparently not-to-be-missed opportunity to present Israel as some unenlightened, religiously motivated, discriminatory backwater – just as long as one avoids providing audiences with the full context of the long debate surrounding this issue and the details of the reasoning behind the court’s decision. And that is precisely what the BBC has done.