BBC News ignores Hamas’ announcement of new office space

At the end of last month the Times of Israel reported that Hamas has some new office space.

“Hamas recently opened up official offices in the Tunisian capital, Tunis, a senior leader from the terror group revealed on Sunday.

Moussa Abu Marzouk told the Tunisian news channel el-Bilad that Hamas has “new-old” offices in Tunis, publicly acknowledging the headquarters for the first time.

The Hamas leader said the offices were opened with the blessing of the Tunisian authorities. He did not specify when the offices were opened.”Tunisia Jews 2

BBC audience members who recall the 2013 article by BBC Arabic’s Ahmed Maher in which they were told that everything is rosy for Tunisian Jews post ‘Arab Spring’ might perhaps be astonished to hear that the Tunisian authorities have apparently agreed to host an antisemitic terrorist organisation. Those who remember Magdi Abdelhadi’s report from Tunisia just months beforehand would probably be less surprised.

The BBC has however relieved audiences of that potential dissonance by simply ignoring the story of the Islamist terror group’s new offices in the country it has described as having had “the most successful” ‘Arab Spring’ uprising, as “keeping Arab Spring ideals alive” and as having a government “with progressive ambitions“.

Related Articles:

BBC whitewashes anti-Jewish extremism in Tunisia

BBC whitewashes Islamist antisemitism with semantics

Salafist quoted in BBC rejection of complaint supports Jihad in Syria

BBC World Service programme on Jews from Arab lands – part 2

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Radio 4 provides more evidence of BBC double standards when reporting terrorism

Further examples of the double standard evident in the BBC’s use of the term terrorism were recently supplied by a series of programmes broadcast on BBC Radio 4.

On August 29th the station’s consumer affairs programme ‘You & Yours’ – presented by Winifred Robinson – broadcast an edition titled “Terrorism vs Tourism” which discussed the impact of terrorism “on people flying to Mediterranean resorts”.You and Yours 1

“Terrorists are increasingly targeting tourist resorts and destination cities. In today’s You & Yours we report on the human impact of terror attacks and the long-term affect [sic] on the countries they target.

New research commissioned by You & Yours shows to what extent passenger numbers travelling to British holiday destinations, including France, Tunisia, Turkey, and Egypt have been affected by attacks over the last two years.”

Unsurprisingly, Israel – which has both past and recent experience of dealing with the effects of terrorism on its tourist industry – was not included among those “Mediterranean resorts”. 

The following day – August 30th – another programme on the same topic was aired under the title “Call You and Yours: how has terrorism at home or abroad affected your holiday plans?“.You and Yours 2

“Terrorism is at the top of the agenda at the moment, after high profile attacks in Paris, Nice and Tunisia. We’d like to know if it’s made a difference to how you live your life. Perhaps you’ve changed your destination – or had second thoughts about taking your family abroad. 
We’d also like to hear from you if you work in the tourism industry, tell us how has terrorism affected business.”

The September 5th edition of ‘You & Yours’ included an item on “Egypt tourism“.

“Exclusive research commissioned by You and Yours shows how visitor numbers to Egypt are dropping since political unrest and terror attacks – we report on how the tourism industry is suffering and how the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office travel advice is decided.”

Throughout all three of those programmes, the term terror was used frequently and appropriately. Obviously the programme makers did not feel uncomfortable making the kind of “value judgements” which the BBC editorial guidelines on language when reporting terrorism instruct them to avoid.

“Terrorism is a difficult and emotive subject with significant political overtones and care is required in the use of language that carries value judgements.  We try to avoid the use of the term “terrorist” without attribution.  When we do use the term we should strive to do so with consistency in the stories we report across all our services and in a way that does not undermine our reputation for objectivity and accuracy.” […]

“…we don’t change the word “terrorist” when quoting other people, but we try to avoid the word ourselves; not because we are morally neutral towards terrorism, nor because we have any sympathy for the perpetrators of the inhuman atrocities which all too often we have to report, but because terrorism is a difficult and emotive subject with significant political overtones.”You and Yours 3

Last month we noted here that the BBC had found a ‘working definition’ of terrorism with which it is apparently comfortable – at least when reporting on incidents in Europe.

“Terrorist attacks are acts of violence by non-state actors to achieve a political, social, economic or religious goal through fear, coercion or intimidation.”

Once again this series of Radio 4 programmes demonstrates all too clearly that those editorial guidelines are not being applied in a uniform and consistent manner. When the BBC wants to use words such as ‘terror’, ‘terrorism’ or ‘terrorist’, it does. When it wants to make “value judgements”, it does and in fact what dictates the BBC’s choice of terminology is “a political position” of precisely the type it claims to try to avoid.

Absurdly, while evidence to the contrary accumulates, the corporation continues to claim that its coverage of terrorism is consistent, accurate and impartial.

Related Articles:

BBC Complaints: terror attacks in Jerusalem and Tunisia are “very different”

Radio 4 gives insight into BBC avoidance of the use of the term ‘terror’ in Israel

BBC News finds terror (without quotation marks) in Europe

BBC finds a ‘working definition’ for terrorism in Europe

BBC reports on Kiryat Arba attack without using the word terror

Not for the first time, the BBC News website’s reporting on the June 30th terror attack in Kiryat Arba in which thirteen year-old Hallel Yaffa Ariel was murdered as she was sleeping made sure that audiences were aware of the BBC’s preferred political designation of the location of the incident.

“A teenage Israeli girl has been stabbed to death in an attack at a Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank.”

Pigua K4 ME pge

Pigua K4 art

As ever, the BBC itself did not employ the word terror anywhere in this report with the incident described as “an attack” and the perpetrator as “the attacker” or “the assailant”. The only mention of that word came in a quote from the Israeli prime minister inserted into the fourth version of the article some three hours after its initial appearance.

In contrast, earlier this week when the BBC covered commemoration of the terror attack in Tunisia a year ago, audiences were given a clear and accurate description of that incident – for example here and here. [emphasis added]

“A ceremony has been held in Tunisia to remember the 38 tourists shot dead on a beach exactly one year ago.

Thirty of those killed in the resort town of Sousse were British.

The attack, claimed by the so-called Islamic State, was the greatest loss of British life in a terrorist incident since the July 2005 London bombing.”

And:

“It is almost a year since a gunman opened fire on a beach in Tunisia killing 38 tourists, 30 of whom were from the UK.

It was the greatest loss of British life in a terror attack, since the London bombings in 2005.”

The BBC of course long since made it clear that it ‘believes’ that terror attacks against Israeli citizens are “very different” from the one perpetrated against British citizens in Tunisia in 2015 – although it refuses to explain why in writing.

However, the corporation’s two-tier system of reporting acts of terror is itself clear enough indication of the fact that what lies behind its inconsistent approach are the very “value judgements” that – at least according to its editorial guidelines – the BBC supposedly seeks to avoid.

The terminology used (or not) by the BBC is determined by the way it judges the perceived motivations of the terrorist rather than by the nature of the act itself and that is what ensures that the murder of a thirteen year-old girl asleep in her bed will not be termed a terror attack – as long as that child is a Jewish Israeli and the perpetrator a Palestinian.

Related Articles:

BBC Complaints: terror attacks in Jerusalem and Tunisia are “very different”

BBC News website does ‘one man’s terrorist’

BBC Complaints clarifies discrepancies in terminology when reporting terrorism

 

BBC Complaints: terror attacks in Jerusalem and Tunisia are “very different”

On October 24th a sixth victim of the Har Nof terror attack succumbed to wounds sustained eleven months earlier. The death of Rabbi Haim Rothman did not receive any BBC coverage despite the incident having been widely reported by the corporation at the time.

As readers may recall:

“One outstanding – although predictable – feature of the BBC’s coverage is that despite the fact that the core story was about a terror attack perpetrated on the congregation of a synagogue, in all of the above reports the word terror and its derivatives were never used directly by the BBC. References to terrorism came only in the form of quotes from Israeli officials (placed in inverted commas by the BBC), from Israeli interviewees or from the US Secretary of State in the filmed report of his statement to the press.”

However, when fatal attacks took place in France, Kuwait and Tunisia on the same day in late June 2015, BBC coverage did define those attacks as terrorism.

In July 2015 BBC Watch submitted a complaint on the topic of inconsistency in the corporation’s use of the word terror.  

“The BBC’s guidance on “Language when Reporting Terrorism” states: “Our policy is about achieving consistency and accuracy in our journalism” and “We also need to ensure that when we report acts of terror, we do so consistently in the stories we report across our services.”

In BBC coverage of the terror attacks which took place in Tunisia, Kuwait and France on June 26th 2015 the word terror was rightly and appropriately used on a variety of BBC platforms including BBC television news and social media. However, in coverage of terrorism against Israeli civilians in general – and the attack in a synagogue in the Har Nof area of Jerusalem in November 2014 in particular – the BBC refrains from using the word terror except when quoting others.

This clearly contradicts the claim made in the Guidance that the BBC’s policy is to achieve consistency and further highlights another section of the guidance which states: “The value judgements frequently implicit in the use of the words “terrorist” or “terrorist group” can create inconsistency in their use or, to audiences, raise doubts about our impartiality. [….] We also need to ask ourselves whether by using “terrorist” we are taking a political position, or certainly one that may be seen as such.”

For consistency, accuracy and impartiality to be achieved, terrorism in Israel must be reported in the same language as terrorism in Tunisia, Northern Ireland or the UK. That is currently not the case.”

The reply received stated:

Complaints reply 1

We were of course unable to understand why the BBC does not “believe the Har Nof murders are comparable to the recent attacks in Tunisia and Kuwait” or in what way those stories are “very different” and so we submitted a further complaint asking for clarification of that point.

No response was forthcoming within the designated time-frame, and so a third complaint was submitted. Over two months after the original complaint was made, we received a response which opened as follows:

complaints reply 2

That response obviously does nothing to clarify the grounds upon which the BBC’s claim that terrorism against Israeli civilians is “very different” from terrorism against British holidaymakers in Tunisia or against worshippers in a mosque in Kuwait is based. We can however discern that the BBC has a two-tier system for reporting acts of terror which clearly contradicts its own editorial guidelines on that issue.

The fact that the BBC is obviously not prepared to engage in discussion of this issue is particularly unfortunate given that its policy of refusal to describe the murders of Israelis as terrorism provides ample evidence of “value judgements” made on the basis of “a political position” which do indeed call into question its impartiality. Whilst the BBC apparently believes that is not a “significant issue”, its funding public may of course believe otherwise. 

Variations in BBC portrayal of fences, walls and barriers

Recent weeks have seen the appearance of a relatively large volume of BBC reports relating to the subject of fences.

A 175 km-long fence being constructed along the Hungarian-Serbian border with the aim of keeping migrants and asylum seekers out of Hungary has been the topic of several BBC reports – written and filmed.

“…it’s an ugly reminder of the Iron Curtain that used to divide Europe from east to west. […] The government’s out to send a double message: to prospective asylum seekers – stay away; there’s no place for you here. And to the Hungarian tax payer – we will pull out all the stops to protect you from the foreign hoards.”

Decidedly less polemic language is seen in BBC reports concerning the British government’s £12 million investment in fencing and other security measures in Calais – also with the aim of keeping migrants out of their country. Interestingly, fact that the UK is paying for fence construction on French soil does not appear to be an issue and insinuations of racism as a factor influencing the British approach to the issue of migrants do not appear in the way they frequently do in BBC coverage of the topic of African migrants in Israel.Tunisia ct fence

Last month the Tunisian government announced a plan to construct a 160 km-long barrier along its border with Libya as part of its counter-terrorism strategy. Notably, the BBC News website article informing audiences of that news portrayed the reason for the construction of that barrier in clear terms. Originally titled “Tunisia to build Libya wall to counter terror threat” and now going under the headline “Tunisia to build ‘anti-terror’ wall on Libya border“, the article opens:

“Tunisia has announced plans to build a wall along its border with Libya to counter the threat from jihadist militants.

It would stretch 160km (100 miles) inland from the coast, and be completed by the end of 2015, Tunisian Prime Minister Habib Essid told state TV.

The Tunisian army would build the wall, which would have surveillance centres at certain points along it, Mr Essid said.”

In contrast with the terminology regularly used to portray Israel’s anti-terrorist fence, the BBC does not qualify the structure’s aim with “Tunisia says” and obviously did not find it necessary to ‘balance’ the Tunisian government’s description of the wall’s purpose with input from the terrorist organisations it aims to thwart. Insofar as we are aware, the BBC has also not found it necessary to issue its journalists with a ‘style guide’ instructing them on the approved terminology for this barrier or any of the others above in order to “avoid using terminology favoured by one side or another in any dispute“.

However, despite that factual portrayal of the Tunisian government’s plan, audiences were also provided with an opinion piece titled “Big walls can cause big problems” from a person with no apparent qualifications on the subject of counter-terrorism. The messaging in that article is very clear.Big walls art

“In our series of letters from African journalists, Ghanaian writer Elizabeth Ohene looks at the problems around building big walls. […]

But more often than not, and if you are a country instead of a person, you can’t move and so you try to find ways to keep out the unpleasantness.

And so we build walls. But then walls can cause more trouble than they solve. […]

We build walls to divide and keep out and therein lies the problem.[…]

There is nothing in history that would lead us to believe that the highest walls can keep out unwanted people or keep in people who want to get out.”

That article includes an insert presented under the subheading “Great divides: Past and present” and its first entry reads:

“Israel began building barrier in and around the occupied West Bank in 2002: 720km planned by completion”

As is all too often the case in BBC coverage, readers are not told why Israel reached the decision to build that fence and its record of preventing what Ms Ohene coyly describes as “unpleasantness” is concealed. Had it not been, her claim that “[t]here is nothing in history that would lead us to believe that the highest walls can keep out unwanted people” would have been considerably less convincing.

In May of this year the IDF published figures relating to the anti-terrorist fence’s efficacy. Since the fence’s construction, suicide bombings have decreased by 100% and shooting attacks by 93.5%, bringing a dramatic fall in the number of Israeli civilians killed by terrorists. Unfortunately for members of the BBC’s audience trying to put both the Israeli security barrier and similar measures in other countries into context, that information is not included in the BBC narrative on the subject.

Related Articles:

Does BBC reporting on Israel’s anti-terrorist fence meet standards of ‘due impartiality’? – part 3

 

 

The BBC, terrorism and ‘consistency’

The BBC’s guidance on “Language when Reporting Terrorism” states: [emphasis added]

Our policy is about achieving consistency and accuracy in our journalism. We recognise the existence and the reality of terrorism – at this point in the twenty first century we could hardly do otherwise. Moreover, we don’t change the word “terrorist” when quoting other people, but we try to avoid the word ourselves; not because we are morally neutral towards terrorism, nor because we have any sympathy for the perpetrators of the inhuman atrocities which all too often we have to report, but because terrorism is a difficult and emotive subject with significant political overtones.

We also need to ensure that when we report acts of terror, we do so consistently in the stories we report across our services. We have learnt from the experience of covering such events in Northern Ireland as much as in Israel, Spain, Russia, Southern Africa or the many other places where violence divides communities, and where we seek to be seen as objective by all sides, that labels applied to groups can sometimes hinder rather than help.”

And:

“The value judgements frequently implicit in the use of the words “terrorist” or “terrorist group” can create inconsistency in their use or, to audiences, raise doubts about our impartiality. [….]

We also need to ask ourselves whether by using “terrorist” we are taking a political position, or certainly one that may be seen as such.”

However, as has frequently been noted on these pages the BBC’s reporting on terrorism is in fact anything but consistent and the corporation’s reporting on the wave of terror attacks which took place in three countries on June 26th provided another example of that phenomenon.

When two terrorists armed with a gun, knives and axes walked into a Jerusalem synagogue in November 2014 and slaughtered early morning worshippers, the BBC did not categorise that incident as a terror attack.

“One outstanding – although predictable – feature of the BBC’s coverage is that despite the fact that the core story was about a terror attack perpetrated on the congregation of a synagogue, in all of the above reports the word terror and its derivatives were never used directly by the BBC. References to terrorism came only in the form of quotes from Israeli officials (placed in inverted commas by the BBC), from Israeli interviewees or from the US Secretary of State in the filmed report of his statement to the press.”

When at least one terrorist armed with a rifle walked onto a beach in Tunisia in June 2015 and gunned down equally unsuspecting tourists, the language used by the BBC in some of its coverage was very clear.

Tunisia 1

Tunisia 2

Coverage of the other attacks which took place on the same day in France and Kuwait also employed the word terror.

France 1

France 2

BBC terror attacks 1

One can only imagine what the public and parliamentary reaction would have been if – as it did following the January terror attacks in Paris – the BBC had promoted the view that the word terrorist was too “loaded” for use in coverage of the murder of British holiday makers in Tunisia.

But the fact that in this case appropriate use of the word terror was seen in some of the BBC’s coverage of these attacks only serves to further highlight the inconsistency of its practice and the absence of universality in its professed avoidance of making “value judgements”.

Related Articles:

No terror please, we’re the British Broadcasting Corporation

Debate widens on BBC avoidance of the word terrorist

BBC double standards on terrorism surface yet again

Mapping the BBC’s inconsistent use of the word ‘terror’

 

 

Yom HaShoah

יום הזכרון לשואה ולגבורה תשע”ה

In Tunisia:

“…almost 5,000 Jews, most of them from Tunis and from certain northern communities, were taken captive and incarcerated in 32 labor camps scattered throughout Tunisia. The biggest and most lethal of these were the camps in Bizerte and Mateur, where tens of Jewish prisoners died from disease, labor, punishment by the German guards and Allied bombings.”

 

BBC drops the ball on anti-Israel bigotry in sport

Here is an article which appeared on the Middle East page of the BBC News website on November 2nd as well as on the Africa page.

Davis Cup article

The euphemistic language employed in the report means that readers will get little idea of the actual background to the story.

“Malek Jaziri was ordered not to play an Israeli opponent last month”

“Tunisia has been suspended from the Davis Cup tennis tournament after Tunisian player Malek Jaziri was ordered not to compete against an Israeli opponent last month.”

“Officials found Jaziri – who had claimed to be suffering from a knee injury – had been ordered to pull out of the match.” [all emphasis added]

The BBC, however, refrains from making it sufficiently clear to audiences by whom Jaziri “was ordered” not to play against his Israeli opponent, or why. 

Ben Cohen has the whole story here.

“Jaziri had been drawn against an Israeli professional, Amir Weintraub; the Tunisian tennis federation, which continues to follow the Arab League boycott of the State of Israel to the letter, declared this to be a red line that Jaziri was not permitted to cross. “Following a meeting this afternoon with the Ministry of Youth and Sports, I have the immense regret to inform you that you are ordered not to play against the Israeli player,” read the email. Jaziri had no choice but to withdraw and Weintraub went through to the semi-final on a forfeit.”

Related articles:

BBC whitewashes anti-Jewish extremism in Tunisia

Salafist quoted in BBC rejection of complaint supports Jihad in Syria

Readers will no doubt remember our recent publication of the reply from the BBC News website’s Middle East desk received by a reader in response to a complaint concerning Ahmed Maher’s article of May 1st 2013 in which he claimed that he could not find video evidence of Tunisian Islamists threatening Tunisian Jews.

The BBC reply based its dismissal of the complaint upon statements procured by BBC Arabic’s Ahmed Maher from one Sheikh Bashir bin Hassan. 

“I spoke to Sheikh Bashir Bin Hassan, one of the most prominent Salafi, Wahabi sheikhs in post-revolution Tunisian, and asked him again about two things: the chants and the protest in front of the Tunis synagogue. He said: ‘The chants were not aimed at the Tunisian Jews; make no mistake. It was directed at Israel because Israel is a very sensitive issue in the Muslim world. Our Prophet Muhammad asked us to take good care and protect non-Muslims living in our countries like Christians and Jews.’

“Regarding the Tunis synagogue video, Sheikh Bashir Bin Hassan said it was ‘misleading because it was taken out of context. The protest was not against the Tunisian Jews but rather it was in support of Salafists and other Islamist forces in Egypt. The protesters were heading towards the Egyptian embassy in Tunis and they stopped for moments in front of the synagogue to express their anger at the Zionist entity’s policies’.”

As we remarked at the time:

“Get it? According to the BBC, if Tunisian Islamists (and presumably any elsewhere too) chant “Killing the Jews is a duty” or “Khaybar, Khaybar ya Yahud” or ”the army of Mohammed will return”, then local Jews have nothing whatsoever to worry about because in fact they are not referring to them – or indeed to Jews at all – but to Israel, which should apparently be perfectly understandable. And the BBC website’s Middle East desk is quite sure of that because a prominent Salafist – who obviously thinks it unremarkable to chant hate speech relating to “the Zionist entity’s policies” in front of a synagogue in Tunisia – told them so.”

In another recent report by Ahmed Maher (“Syria conflict: Why did my Tunisian son join the rebels?“, May 15th 2013, filmed version here) we learn that Maher’s reliance upon – and amplification of – the opinions of the Saudi Arabia-educated Sheikh was not a one-off event. We also gain further insight into the views of the man the BBC News website’s Middle East desk apparently considers a quotable authority. Ahmed Maher & Salafists 2

“Many imams, like Sheikh Bashir bin Hassan, endorse jihad in Syria openly and are proud of what they see as the “heroic acts of the young jihadists”.

“They are on a humanitarian mission. The West insists on associating jihad and Salafism to terrorism, which is not true,” Sheikh Bashir told me in an interview inside a mosque in the town of Masakin, 200km (124 miles) south of Tunis.

For Sheikh Bashir, it is justifiable for Sunni Muslims to take arms against the Assad forces, who belong to a Shia sect, to protect oppressed fellow Sunnis – a stance that reflects the sectarian overtone of the conflict.

And he accuses the West of double standards.

“Let’s imagine that the British government decided to attack a county with scud missiles to stamp out a peaceful rebellion. Europeans would be watching entire families being slaughtered day in day out. What would the young do? They would flock in droves to England to protect the oppressed.” “

BBC licence fee payers will no doubt be very interested to know that the BBC considers it acceptable to judge the merits of a complaint on the basis of the opinions of a man who not only subscribes to the inherently antisemitic Wahhabi ideology, but is also openly supportive of jihadist violence. 

 

 

BBC whitewashes Islamist antisemitism with semantics

A reader has contacted BBC Watch concerning the reply received from the Middle East desk of the BBC News website following a complaint made with regard to the May 1st 2013 article by BBC Arabic’s Ahmed Maher entitled “Tunisia’s last Jews at ease despite troubled past”. 

The complaint related to Ahmed Maher’s following claim:

“Several media reports spoke about YouTube videos that showed radical Islamists threatening Tunisian Jews. Despite searching extensively, I did not find any of them.”

The reader provided four video clips in support of the complaint – viewable here, here, here and here.

Below is the reply received. 

“Dear XXXXX

Thank you for getting in touch. We have reviewed Ahmed Maher’s article “Tunisia’s last Jews at ease despite troubled past”, and discussed your complaint with him.

Regarding the You Tube links, Mr Maher reaffirms that he conducted an extensive search in Arabic and English to find clips or links of Salafists or hardliners attacking “Tunisian Jews” – a specification he makes clear in his piece. He found clips of rallies in support of Osama Bin Laden, but stresses he did not find anything attacking “Tunisian Jews” specifically.

Mr Maher says: “The chants heard in the four links cited [in your complaint] are against ‘the State of Israel and Jews but not Tunisian Jews’. The chants were echoed across several Muslim countries in the past two years in the wake of the Arab spring (and even before the revolutions) by extremists (even lay people and leftists in Egypt in particular who attacked the headquarters of the Israeli embassy in Giza in August 2011) to protest what they term ‘the Israeli occupation of Palestine, the blockade of the Gaza strip’. They chanted it in Tunisia during the visit of the Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyah. Again, the chants, which are in Arabic, were not directed at ‘Tunisian Jews’ but ‘Israel’ in general.

“I spoke to Sheikh Bashir Bin Hassan, one of the most prominent Salafi, Wahabi sheikhs in post-revolution Tunisian, and asked him again about two things: the chants and the protest in front of the Tunis synagogue. He said: ‘The chants were not aimed at the Tunisian Jews; make no mistake. It was directed at Israel because Israel is a very sensitive issue in the Muslim world. Our Prophet Muhammad asked us to take good care and protect non-Muslims living in our countries like Christians and Jews.’

“Regarding the Tunis synagogue video, Sheikh Bashir Bin Hassan said it was ‘misleading because it was taken out of context. The protest was not against the Tunisian Jews but rather it was in support of Salafists and other Islamist forces in Egypt. The protesters were heading towards the Egyptian embassy in Tunis and they stopped for moments in front of the synagogue to express their anger at the Zionist entity’s policies’.

Mr Maher also points out that the four Tunisian Jews quoted in his piece all spoke about “media exaggeration” about oppression of Jews in Tunisia.

He says: “I was told by many Tunisian Jews indeed and I do have their contacts, chiefly the head of the Jewish community in Tunisia Peres Trabelsi, that there was too much media fuss about the ‘oppression of Jews in Tunisia’ whether past or current. I was there to make a colour piece on the annual pilgrimage itself really, but every time I spoke to a Jewish pilgrim living in Djerba, and who can tell us their experience first-hand, they were keen on ‘dismissing media reports about us as exaggerated, as if we will become non-existent any longer. We are fed up’, as I was told by many of them. I have not put words into their mouths, neither did I push them to speak on this angle. There is no question about that.”

Kind regards

Middle East desk
BBC News website” 

Get it? According to the BBC, if Tunisian Islamists (and presumably any elsewhere too) chant “Killing the Jews is a duty” or “Khaybar, Khaybar ya Yahud” or “the army of Mohammed will return”, then local Jews have nothing whatsoever to worry about because in fact they are not referring to them – or indeed to Jews at all – but to Israel, which should apparently be perfectly understandable. And the BBC website’s Middle East desk is quite sure of that because a prominent Salafist – who obviously thinks it unremarkable to chant hate speech relating to “the Zionist entity’s policies” in front of a synagogue in Tunisia – told them so.

If that is the level of understanding and interpretation prevalent among staff at the BBC’s Middle East desk, then the only conclusion can be that the licence fee payer is funding an outfit not fit for purpose.