BBC News ignores UN Secretary General’s Gaza proposals

Last month viewers of the BBC programme ‘Hardtalk’ heard from the PLO’s envoy to the UN that the UN Secretary General was due to present a report.

Riyad Mansour: “And then we went to the General Assembly and we have a resolution that was adopted by 120 countries versus 8 calling for providing international protection for the civilian population in the occupied Palestinian territory and the Secretary General was asked to submit a report with recommendations and suggestions to provide protection for the civilian population – the Palestinian civilian population – including international protection mechanism and he has until the 13th of next month to submit that report. We are engaging his teams with ideas and suggestions to fulfil such a demand for providing protection for the civilian population under Israeli occupation.”

BBC audiences were not told either at the time or in that ‘Hardtalk’ programme that the UN GA’s June 13thresolution titled “Protection of the Palestinian civilian population” was adopted:

“…following the Assembly’s rejection of a United States-sponsored amendment — by a vote of 78 against to 59 in favour, with 26 abstentions — which would have condemned Hamas for repeatedly firing rockets into Israel and inciting violence along the boundary fence.  It would have demanded that Hamas cease all violent activity and expressed grave concern over the destruction of the Kerem Shalom crossing by actors in Gaza.”

On August 17th the UN Secretary General presented his report.

“Guterres outlined four options, but he did not make a specific recommendation. He noted that all options would need the cooperation of both parties, a sustained cessation of hostilities and additional resources to ensure they were viable. […]

Armed UN peacekeepers or armed forces from a group of like-minded states operating under a United Nations mandate could be deployed to offer physical protection, Guterres said. This option, however, would need a Security Council mandate and the United States, a close ally of Israel, would likely wield its veto.

A UN or non-UN civilian observer mission could be deployed “with a specific mandate to report on protection and well-being issues and provide local mediation,” Guterres said. This would also need a UN-mandate.

A third option could be expanding current UN programs and development and humanitarian aid to address the needs of Palestinian civilians more effectively and strengthen Palestinian institutions, he wrote.

The final option could be to send additional UN human rights, coordination and political officers to boost monitoring and reporting on the situation and increase the UN’s visibility, Guterres said.”

Ignoring the fact that the terrorist organisation that rules the Gaza Strip and initiated the violence that is the topic of the UN GA resolution that required his writing of this report has absolutely no intention of making peace with Israel, Guterres said:

“The best way to ensure the safety and protection of the Palestinian civilian population is still the negotiation of a comprehensive, just and final settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict”

Curiously, BBC audiences have not seen any coverage of that report from the UN Secretary General – or the criticisms that followed. Writing at Ha’aretz, Lt. Col. Peter Lerner noted for example that:

“…the idea of a UN military or police force to deter or protect civilians is useless in the Palestinian arena due to the already highly politicized reality. Israel has learned that it cannot depend on international forces like UNIFIL and UNDOF for its security concerns.”

Obviously should any of Guterres’ proposals be translated into practical steps, BBC audiences will be lacking in the background information which would enable them to “engage fully” with that story.

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Falsehoods go uncontested on BBC World Service – part one

As we have already seen, UNRWA spokesperson Chris Gunness gave two interviews on the same topic to the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newsday‘ on January 17th that were aired in three of the show’s six editions.

BBC WS Newsday coverage of UNRWA aid story – part one

BBC WS Newsday coverage of UNRWA aid story – part two

An additional interviewee brought in to discuss the story of US aid donations to UNRWA on the same programme on that day was Mustafa Barghouti.

Listeners heard presenters Karnie Sharp and Paul Hawkins introduce the item as follows (from 00:37 here): [emphasis in italics in the original, emphasis in bold added]

Sharp: “But let’s go to our top story this hour. It’s the decision by the United States to withhold millions of dollars in aid funding for the united relief agency for Palestinians known as UNRWA which is the UN Relief and Works Agency.”

Hawkins: “The Trump administration has sent $60 million to keep the refugee agency operating but it’s decided to withhold the remainder of the $125 million donation and it wants other countries to pay more. Speaking at a news conference, the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said he was worried by the decision.”

Gutteres [recording]: “I am very concerned and I strongly hope that in the end it will be possible for the United States to maintain the funding of UNRWA in which the US has a very important share. UNRWA is not a Palestinian institution. UNRWA is a UN institution created by a UN resolution and UNRWA is providing vital services to the Palestinian refugees both in the occupied territories and in Jordan, in Syria and in Lebanon.”

Sharp [01:42]: “Let’s now talk to Dr Mustafa Barghouti who is a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council. […] What’s your reaction or the Palest…the reaction of the Palestinian Authority to this news?”

Barghouti: “Well this decision by the Trump administration is another irresponsible, reckless and harmful decision which is…which represents in our opinion an act of collective punishment against millions of Palestinian refugees who have been victims of occupation and the policy of Israeli ethnic cleansing that displaced them from their country in 1948 and they are also still subjected to the policy of apartheid and racial discrimination by Israeli occupation. It’s an act of collective punishment against people who will now suffer deprivation, who will lose education, who will lose healthcare. It’s a punishment of elderly people, people who are disabled, who have very basic humanitarian needs and we don’t understand why the United States continue to be complicit in Israeli policies. We don’t understand why they are using this irresponsible and inhuman act to punish Palestinians collectively and in our opinion it’s also a political decision. Clearly they are fulfilling Israeli wishes to liquidate the rights of the Palestinian refugees to return to the homes they were displaced from in 1948.”

Sharp made no effort whatsoever to challenge the falsehood that Palestinians were displaced from “their country” in 1948, the description of that territory as ‘occupied’ or the lies of “ethnic cleansing” and “apartheid and racial discrimination”. Neither did she bother to clarify to listeners that Barghouti’s advocated ‘right of return’ is a scenario that any serious commentator knows will not happen. She did, however, challenge Barghouti’s description of the US decision as a “punishment”.

Sharp: “OK Doctor, but they have made it clear that it isn’t a punishment and it’s not a complete withdrawal of all the funds: it’s half of it.”

Barghouti: “The UNRWA United Nations agency is suffering already from a big deficit of its budget and when you cut off $65 million from their budget, which is more than 50% of the American contribution, it means you are driving this agency into bankruptcy. We are talking…they are already laying off doctors, nurses, teachers. You are talking about millions of Palestinian refugees not only in Palestine itself – in the West Bank and Gaza – but Palestinian refugees in Syria, which is suffering from terrible humanitarian situation, in Lebanon, in Jordan. Those children will be deprived now from the possibility of accessing education. The people who are suffering from diseases will be deprived from getting their medications and so many people will suffer.”

Sharp: “Sure.”

Barghouti: “Some people will lose their shelters. So it is an act of collective punishment against people who are…who are not victim…who are not…who have not done anything wrong.”

Sharp: “Sure but let’s look at it from the United States point of view. They are the biggest contributor here. They’re asking for reforms and they say we don’t believe that taking care of other nations and other people have to rest solely on the shoulders of the United States. That’s a fair comment, isn’t it?”

Barghouti: “No because if they are talking about reform, why now? Why they are not talking about reform for instance of World Health Organisation or food prog…food [unintelligible] or any other UN agency? No; these are political decisions that Mr Trump is taking to punish Palestinians and to force Palestinians to take wrong political decisions that affect their future. In other words Mr Trump is only fulfilling the wishes of Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel, who’s trying to kill the issue of Jerusalem, to kill the issue of refugees and practically to block any possibility for future negotiations and for peace in this place. This action by the United States government will only create more instability in this region and you are talking about six million [sic] refugees who are deprived, who have suffered in their lives for six…for 70 years from being displaced by Israeli ethnic cleansing and now they are being punished by the government of the United States.”

Once again making no effort to challenge Barghouti’s “ethnic cleansing” lie or his misrepresentation of the number of people registered as refugees, Sharp closed the interview there.

In the next edition of the programme, listeners heard an edited version of that interview (from 01:22 here) in which – once again – Barghouti’s falsehoods were amplified without any challenge whatsoever.  

Barghouti: “This decision by the Trump administration is another irresponsible, reckless and harmful decision which is…which represents in our opinion an act of collective punishment against millions of Palestinian refugees who have been victims of occupation and the policy of Israeli ethnic cleansing that displaced them from their country in 1948 and they are also still subjected to the policy of apartheid and racial discrimination by Israeli occupation. It’s an act of collective punishment against people who will now suffer deprivation, who will lose education, who will lose healthcare. And we don’t understand why the United States continue to be complicit in Israeli policies.”

Moreover, Barghouti was brought back for yet another interview on the same topic in a later edition of the programme which will be discussed in part two of this post.

Related Articles:

BBC WS Newsday coverage of UNRWA aid story – part one

BBC WS Newsday coverage of UNRWA aid story – part two

BBC News report on UNRWA funding story omits relevant background

 

BBC WS ‘big prison’ framing of Gaza Strip misleads audiences – part one

h/t RB

An edition of the BBC World Service radio news and current affairs programme ‘Weekend‘ that was broadcast on September 3rd included an item promoting some noteworthy framing of the Gaza Strip but before that, presenter Paul Henley introduced his studio guests (from 26:30) Stewart Purvis – formerly of ITV and OFCOM – and Jane Kinninmont of Chatham House.

Leading up to the Gaza related item, listeners heard some interesting signposting (from 28:09) concerning radicalisation and terrorism which dovetails perfectly with the BBC’s chosen narrative on those topics.

Henley asked Kinninmont: [all emphasis in italics in the original, emphasis in bold added]

Henley: “How much…when you’re looking at causes of instability and the endless problems that you concentrate on there [the Middle East], how much do you put down to unemployment, which seems to be the big social and economic problem?”

Kinninmont: “Absolutely. We need to look at the political economy of the region and the sense of injustice that’s created for many young people because they see corrupt people succeeding and they see so little opportunity for themselves even if they are hard-working, even if they are highly educated. These are probably more important things to look at than the ideology that the media obsesses over when thinking about terrorism; not least because you can actually address some of these economic problems.”

Henley: “And because of the interest in terrorism and…and where it comes about, do you have particular countries that you’re more interested in?”

Kinninmont: “Well we cover the whole region and we try very much in our team of analysts to speak about the 99% of people from the Middle East who have nothing to do with terrorist groups. Ah…I fear that the oxygen of publicity is still an issue; that there is a kind of media obsession with terrorism over and above all other problems.”

Following that (at 29:22) Henley turned listeners’ attentions to the topic of the UN Secretary General’s recent visit to Israel, the Gaza Strip and the PA controlled territories: a topic previously very briefly covered by BBC News in one report. While referencing Israeli and Egyptian counter-terrorism measures, Henley did not bother to inform listeners why they are necessary.

Henley: “Last week the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres visited Israel and the Gaza Strip for the first time since he took office. Speaking at a UN run school, Mr Guterres said urgent solutions were needed to the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. A recent UN report says living conditions for the two million people who live in Gaza – which is blockaded by both Israel and Egypt – are deteriorating rapidly. Mr Guterres stressed that resolving the crisis also required political will and he called on the Palestinians to end the division between Hamas – which rules Gaza – and Fatah – which governs the West Bank. In a speech in Tel Aviv he said he’d never shied away from criticising all sides in the conflict if he felt their actions weren’t moving towards a peaceful solution.”

Guterres’ remarks at a UNRWA school in Gaza also included “an appeal for unity” between the Palestinian factions engaged in a decade-long dispute along with a call to “avoid the buildup of the militantism” that is the cause of the blockade on the Gaza Strip. Significantly – given the later framing in this item – listeners were not told of those remarks.

The “recent UN report” to which Henley referred was previously presented to BBC World Service listeners in a problematic report that failed to clarify the real reasons for the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip.

Guterres’ “speech in Tel Aviv” was delivered at the Museum of the Jewish People and listeners then heard the small part of it that the BBC chose to highlight – but without being informed of the crucial fact that Hamas rejects the two state solution.

Recording Guterres: “It’s my deep belief that the two state solution is the only way forward; the only path towards the historic compromise that can settle this conflict and lead to a better future for all. That is why I have been – and will continue to be – expressing my disagreement when it’s the case with unilateral measures and facts on the ground that can or could undermine that solution, including settlement activities but also continued violence, terror and incitement.”

At 30:40 Henley gave a brief introduction to a guest who was allotted almost half the air-time of the entire item. Her unchallenged claims were also separately promoted by the BBC World Service in a related programme.

Henley: “So away from the talk of the so-called important people, what is life like for the people of Gaza? Najla is a mother of two children. She was born in Gaza and she’s lived there all her life.”

In breach of BBC editorial guidelines on impartiality, that first name only introduction clearly does not allow listeners to understand who the speaker actually is or what her affiliations and “particular viewpoint” are.

Najla Shawa appeared on the BBC World Service over two years ago and then too the introduction was inadequate with the fact that she works for the politically partisan NGO Oxfam and was previously employed in various roles by the UN left unclarified. With Shawa having studied for three years at Birzeit University near Ramallah and subsequently at George Mason University in the US, Henley’s claim that she has “lived in Gaza all her life” is obviously misleading.

Shawa began with the promotion of the ‘Gaza prison’ theme. On the last working day before this item was aired, 638 people had entered or exited the Gaza Strip, seven ambulance crossings had been facilitated and 18,157 tons of goods in 577 trucks had entered the territory on one day alone.

Shawa: “The entire population is simply living in a big prison. We are unable to move, there’s no way to travel so the restriction of movement is on everything; on people and on goods – at least from Gaza to the outside world. Gaza has some input such as food and basic items but there’s no way for any economic activity to take place.”

In fact, in June 2017, 1,304 tons of goods were exported from the Gaza Strip. Shawa continued with a presentation of the electricity crisis in the Gaza Strip which did not clarify to listeners that it is the product of the internal dispute between Fatah and Hamas and is completely unconnected to the previously mentioned “blockade”.

Shawa: “People are continually living uncertainty and challenged by different issues every day. The last few months there was the electricity situation that worsened and has really deepened the humanitarian situation in Gaza and affected everyone, and particularly affects people who have less financial ability or less ability to access things like food or basic items. You know, in Gaza unemployment is at really alarming rate: some 60% among people who are able to work; in a working age. Poverty is also at very high rates. “

Shawa appears to be passing off rounded-up youth unemployment figures as general unemployment rates: according to the World Bank, the general unemployment rate in the Gaza Strip in 2016 was 42%, with youth unemployment at 58%. The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics has slightly different figures and notes the very low workforce participation rate among females over the age of 15. The CIA World Factbook cites a poverty rate of 30%. Shawa continued:

Shawa: “Again, electricity; this is something that we’ve been living with for many years – I would say at least 10 years. But the last few months we are getting only 3 to 4 hours of electricity every day. You can imagine people’s refrigerators are turning into closets. We joke about it but there’s no way to keep things in your fridge. And you can imagine what this means to poor people who can’t afford simply to buy things every day. We adapt to schedules; we are going to have electricity from this hour to this hour so yeah we plan for laundry, we plan to maybe go out and do whatever. I mean, you know, you simply want to get out of the house.

You can also look at like small producers, small enterprises; they have shut down. Even big, larger ones are affected; they’re having to endure large amount of money just to survive, just to keep their business going and keep their work going. If we talk about water, water is the major, major threat problem in Gaza since many years. The way we get water, you need electricity for water to be pumped. You need water to be in a good quality. We have very salty water. There’s very little infrastructure. There is very little room for even doing any solutions for water. The majority of the sea is polluted with sewage. I mean real sewage – like raw sewage – and this is another huge problem. It’s causing a real environmental problem. We simply cannot eat the fish that is from the sea because it’s only full of sewage. We’re in the summer season and the heat and humidity in Gaza is very high and living under these conditions, children – I’m thinking about health – the simple, simple daily activity of people is extremely challenging.”

Yet again, no effort was made to clarify to listeners that the issues concerning sewage and water are rooted in the internal dispute between Hamas and Fatah and the all-important issue of Hamas’ prioritisation of replenishing and expanding its military infrastructure over civilian needs was not brought to audience attention.

Henley then inserted linkage to his previous conversation with Jane Kinninmont concerning ‘reasons’ for radicalisation.

Henley: “And I know you consider yourself relatively privileged but there are an awful lot of poor people judging by the rate of unemployment.”

Shawa: “That’s correct. I mean you’re talking about 80% of the Gaza Strip depends on aid. The Palestinian internal divide is also causing an additional layer to these problems that the Gazans are facing.”

No attempt was made to explain to listeners what that passing reference to “the Palestinian internal divide” actually means or how it affects Gaza residents.

Henley: “And when the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres comes to Gaza and calls for an end to the blockade, is he seen as an ally by people there? I mean the demonstrators were greeting him angrily.”

Henley did not clarify that the demonstrations were in support of convicted terrorists serving time in Israeli prisons.

Shawa: “Of course. I mean people here appreciate the role of the UN because it is providing basic services to the majority of the population of Gaza. I mean we know that people considers as their right because the majority of the Gazans are refugees and the services are provided by UNRWA in addition to other agencies. However, there is a great deal of anger because the UN is simply not doing much on the political level of things and this is purely a political issue and everybody knows that. Expressing concern and calling for an end of blockade is not enough and we’ve heard it again and again. And a generation – maybe after a generation now talking the blockade for the last 10 years, but you are talking about the general picture that the occupation is the issue here. That’s why people are angry because nothing is changing on the ground.”

Henley did not intervene to explain to audiences why, after nearly 70 years, the “majority of the Gazans” are still classified as refugees or how their status is different from that of refugees in the rest of the world. Neither did he remind audiences that Israel disengaged from the Gaza Strip 12 years ago and – predictably – did not clarify that the territory is not ‘occupied’. Shawa closed her unchallenged and unquestioned monologue with the promotion of claims she did not support with statistical evidence.

Shawa: “You know, this pressure will simply lead to extremely negative phenomena. Young people are committing suicide. I mean I cannot talk about rates or numbers but we are seeing this every day. We are seeing more crime. We never heard of so much crime in the last years; only a few months we’re hearing so many incidents. And this is really worrying and again, people have the right to be angry.”

Henley concluded his guest’s appearance with a description no less inadequate than the one in his introduction:

Henley: “Najla – a mother of two young children with impeccable English who lives in Gaza.”

As we see, throughout this lengthy item BBC World Service listeners heard nothing of the terrorism perpetrated by Hamas against Israeli civilians and of the link between that and Israel’s counter-terrorism measures along its border with the Gaza Strip. While they did hear long and detailed descriptions of the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, the absence of any adequate explanation of how the lengthy dispute between Hamas and Fatah has adversely affected electricity, water, medical and sewage services in the territory means that listeners would be quite likely to reach the erroneous conclusion that those issues are connected to the ‘blockade’ which is mentioned repeatedly.

However, the item was not over yet and its final section will be discussed in part two of this post.

Related Articles:

Cherry picking terror and ‘explaining’ radicalisation at the BBC

BBC report on UN SG’s Israel visit omits his statements on anti-Zionism

BBC WS ‘Newsday’ listeners get warped view of Gaza electricity crisis

Lyse Doucet’s blatant political propaganda on BBC WS WHYS – part two

BBC bows out of coverage of 10 years of Hamas rule in Gaza

 

 

 

BBC report on UN SG’s Israel visit omits his statements on anti-Zionism

As readers may recall, back in July the BBC’s coverage of commemoration of the mass arrest of French Jews in World War II did not include any mention of the French president’s remarks concerning anti-Zionism.

Macron’s statement is of course in step with the IHRA working definition of antisemitism that was adopted in recent months by the British government and the EU parliament as well as in accord with the US State department’s definition. […] However, the BBC News website’s report on the ceremony made no mention whatsoever of the French president’s recognition of anti-Zionism as a manifestation of antisemitism.”

Moreover, several days later a regional BBC radio station described President Macron’s statement as a “very controversial claim” to its listeners.

During his recent visit to Israel the UN Secretary General told President Rivlin that:

“I do believe that […] those that call for the destruction of the State of Israel that that is a form of modern anti-Semitism”

Mr Guterres expressed the same view when he later met Prime Minister Netanyahu:

“…it is for me clear that to express that the right of existence of the state of Israel doesn’t exist or the wish to destroy the state of Israel is unacceptable form of modern than anti-Semitism.” 

Those portrayals of anti-Zionism – the denial of the right of the Jewish people to self-determination in the land of Israel – as a modern form of antisemitism did not however appear in the BBC’s account of Mr Guterres’ visit.

“Earlier on Monday, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin urged Mr Guterres to work to end what he called “the discrimination against Israel in some branches” of the UN.

Mr Guterres said the UN would “always be very frank in the dialogue with the State of Israel”, but also “very committed to make sure that anti-Semitism doesn’t prevail and that equality in the treatment of all states is fully respected”.”

Once again, that omission will not come as a surprise to those familiar with the BBC’s own failure to accurately explain to its audiences the meaning of anti-Zionism and the corporation’s repeated misrepresentation of that term.

Related Articles:

BBC ignores UN SG’s admission of bias against Israel

BBC News tries – and fails – to explain antisemitism and anti-Zionism

BBC Radio Ulster promotes ‘Zionism is racism’ and the ‘apartheid’ smear

BBC News’ side-lining of French president’s anti-Zionism statement is no surprise

Video: Why Anti-Zionism = Racism (UK Media Watch) 

 

 

Three previously unreported stories appear in one BBC News article

Last month we noted that BBC audiences had not seen any coverage of the reports that began to emerge earlier this year concerning allegedly Iranian-built underground missile factories in Lebanon.

Reports of a similar project in north-west Syria also came to light in June and began to garner wider coverage in mid-August (though not from the BBC) after satellite images of the site were shown on Israel’s Channel 2.

Both those stories unfolded following reports from sources unconnected to Israel but audiences were not informed of that when the BBC’s first mention of either story came in an article published on August 28th under the headline “Iran building missile factories in Syria and Lebanon – Netanyahu“.

“Israel’s prime minister has said Iran is building sites in Syria and Lebanon to produce precision-guided missiles.

Benjamin Netanyahu accused Iran of turning Syria into a “base of military entrenchment as part of its declared goal to eradicate Israel”. […]

Mr Netanyahu gave no details about the sites Iran was allegedly building to manufacture missiles, but he warned “this is something Israel cannot accept”.

Two weeks ago, the Israeli satellite imagery company ImageSat International published photographs it said appeared to confirm a report by a Syrian pro-opposition newspaper that a missile factory was under construction in north-western Syria under Iranian oversight.”

The same article also included the BBC’s first mention in English of a story it reported in Arabic three weeks previously.

“Mr Netanyahu also pressed Mr Guterres [UN Secretary General] on the UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon, Unifil, which Israel alleges has failed to prevent Hezbollah building up its supply of weapons since they fought a war in 2006.

Mr Guterres promised to “do everything in my capacity” to ensure Unifil fulfilled its obligations.

“I understand the security concerns of Israel and I repeat that the idea or the intention or the will to destroy the state of Israel is something totally unacceptable from my perspective,” he added.

Unifil’s mandate is up for renewal at the end of the month.”

Readers are not however told that earlier this month, Mr Guterres himself called for all non-state actors in Lebanon to be disarmed in accordance with UNSC resolution 1701 – including the terrorist militia that the BBC euphemistically portrays in this article as “Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement”.

As regular readers know, BBC audiences are chronically deprived of information concerning Hizballah’s violations of UN Security Council resolution 1701 and so they are obviously not fully aware of the context to what the BBC describes Israeli ‘allegations’ concerning UNIFIL’s record.

While these stories have now finally received some brief BBC coverage in the English language, if audiences are to “engage fully” with the issues they raise as pledged in the BBC’s public purposes, they are clearly in need of much more background information.  

Related Articles:

Another UN SC resolution violation goes unreported by the BBC

BBC News yawns over another violation of UNSC resolution 1701

Reviewing BBC reporting of Hizballah’s violations of UNSC Resolution 1701

Will the new man in Beirut improve the BBC’s record of reporting?

BBC ignores calls for UNIFIL mandate change – in English

At the end of this month the mandate of the UN peacekeeping forces in Lebanon – UNIFIL – will expire and its renewal is scheduled for discussion at the UN Security Council.

That mandate of course includes clauses which have not been met throughout the last eleven years:

“Assist the LAF [Lebanese Armed Forces] in taking steps towards the establishment between the Blue Line and the Litani river of an free [sic] of any armed personnel, assets and weapons other than those of the Government of Lebanon and of UNIFIL deployed in this area;

Assist the Government of Lebanon in securing its borders and other entry points to prevent the entry in Lebanon without its consent of arms or related materiel.”

However, this time round the mandate’s renewal may perhaps not be as automatic as in previous years. On August 7th the US mission to the UN put out a press release:

“On Friday, August 4, UN Secretary-General António Guterres submitted a letter to the Security Council recommending that the Council renew the mandate of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), which is due to expire on August 31. In the letter, the Secretary-General called for the disarmament of all armed groups in Lebanon to strengthen the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and the authority of Lebanon’s government. He also noted the illegal presence of armed personnel, weapons, and infrastructure inside UNIFIL’s area of operations, and his intention to look at ways in which UNIFIL could enhance its efforts against them.

“We share the Secretary-General’s strong desire to enhance UNIFIL’s efforts to prevent the spread of illegal arms in southern Lebanon,” said Ambassador Haley. “These arms – which are almost entirely in the hands of Hizballah terrorists – threaten the security and stability of the region. UNIFIL must increase its capacity and commitment to investigating and reporting these violations. The United States will continue to raise the threat posed by Hizballah as we seek significant improvements to UNIFIL when the Security Council renews its mandate this month.””

The UN Secretary General’s letter to the Security Council stated:

“The government of Lebanon must exercise effective authority over all Lebanese territory, prevent hostile actions from its territory, ensure the safety and security of the civilian population, in addition to United Nations personnel, and also ensure the disarmament of all armed groups”.

Whether or not those demands based on UNSC resolution 1701 will finally be met is obviously questionable given the make-up of the current Lebanese government.

Nevertheless, reports concerning Ambassador Haley’s intention to seek “significant improvements” to UNIFIL’s mandate were seen on many media sites – but the story did not receive any coverage on the BBC’s English language platforms.

In contrast, editors at the BBC Arabic website did consider that story newsworthy and an AFP report on the topic was translated into Arabic for publication on that site.

Related Articles:

BBC News yawns over another violation of UNSC resolution 1701

Reviewing BBC reporting of Hizballah’s violations of UNSC Resolution 1701 

 

 

 

BBC silent as UNESCO resolutions come home to roost

Back in October 2016 the BBC produced three reports relating to two resolutions passed by UNESCO.unesco-art

Israel freezes Unesco ties for ‘denying Jewish holy sites’ – discussed here

Unesco passes contentious Jerusalem resolution – discussed here

Jerusalem reference found on ancient wine ledger – discussed here

As was noted here at the time:

“And yet again, the context of the role of this document in the long-standing Palestinian campaign to erase Jewish heritage and history as part of the tactical delegitimisation of Israel was erased from audience view. Readers were not informed that both the PA’s ruling party Fatah and Hamas lauded the UNESCO resolution’s denial of Jewish history.”  

Fast forward to late January 2017 and a speech made by the new UN Secretary General in honour of International Holocaust Remembrance Day. In his address, Mr Guterres said:

“It would be a dangerous error to think of the Holocaust as simply the result of the insanity of a group of criminal Nazis.  On the contrary, the Holocaust was the culmination of millennia of hatred and discrimination targeting the Jews – what we now call anti-Semitism.
 
Imperial Rome not only destroyed the temple in Jerusalem, but also made Jews pariahs in many ways.  The attacks and abuse grew worse through the triumph of Christianity and the propagation of the idea that the Jewish community should be punished for the death of Jesus – an absurdity that helped to trigger massacres and other tremendous crimes against Jews around the world for centuries to come.” [emphasis added]

Those five highlighted words and a radio interview in which Mr Guterres also mentioned the ancient Jewish Temple garnered some furious reactions – including invocation of the UNESCO resolutions passed in October.  

““[The statements] are a direct attack on the Palestinian people’s right in the holy city, biased in favor of the site of occupation, and akin to granting legitimacy to Israel’s illegal presence in Jerusalem,” said Fayez Abu Eitah, secretary-general of the Fatah Revolutionary Council.”

And:

““[Gueterres] ignored UNESCO’s decision that considered the Al-Aksa Mosque of pure Islamic heritage,” Adnan al-Husseini, Palestinian Authority Jerusalem Affairs minister, told Xinhua, a Chinese news outlet, clarifying that the UN secretary-general “violated all legal, diplomatic and humanitarian customs, overstepped his role as secretary general, and…must issue an apology to the Palestinian people.” […]

Ahmad Majdalani, a Palestine Liberation Organization Executive Committee member, said that the statements “undermine the trustworthiness of the UN as a body that should support occupied peoples.”

“It appears that the secretary general of the United Nations lacks culture and knowledge in his own specialization,” Majdalani, who also serves as an adviser to PA President Mahmoud Abbas, told Xinhua, calling on the UN secretary-general to clarify his position “that gives a green light to the occupation to undertake more measures against Jerusalem.””

Similar reactions were seen in the PA’s official daily newspaper:

“Antonio Guterres clearly and explicitly sinned against peace and the Palestinian-Israeli political agreement when he claimed yesterday [Jan. 29, 2017] in an interview with the Hebrew-language Voice of Israel [radio] that he ‘believes in the connection between Jerusalem and the Jews.’ In contradiction to the UNESCO resolutions, history, and facts, the secretary-general claimed that it is as clear as day – in his opinion which is far from the truth and the facts – that ‘The Temple in Jerusalem that was destroyed by the Romans was a Jewish Temple’…
Mr. Antonio, if you care about history and if it is important to you, [you should know that] Jerusalem and all of Palestine – from the [Jordan] River to the [Mediterranean] Sea – are the land of the Palestinian people, and their history is its history.”

Unsurprisingly, the self-styled ‘standard-setter for international journalism’ which at the time ignored Palestinian praise of the resolutions for erasing Jewish history – preferring instead to promote Saeb Erekat’s claim that ‘the resolution was aimed “at reaffirming the importance of Jerusalem for the three monotheistic religions”’ – has not reported this story.

Related Articles:

Third time unlucky for BBC audiences trying to understand UNESCO charades

Another deficient BBC News report on UNESCO denial of Jewish heritage

BBC report on UNESCO row marred by lack of context and previous omission

BBC R4 programme on UNESCO omits negation of Jewish heritage

BBC ignores UN SG’s admission of bias against Israel

Readers may recall that in February 2016 the BBC’s UN correspondent Nick Bryant told listeners to BBC World Service radio that:

“The Israelis always believe that they are victimized at the UN; that they are singled out unfairly; that they are isolated…”

However, as has been noted here before, Bryant did not provide BBC audiences with any relevant factual information which would enable them to understand the reality behind his portrayal of what Israelis “always believe”.  

As the current UN Secretary General’s term of office comes to an end, the BBC has found a ‘hint’ made at a final press conference newsworthy.ban-art-2

“UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has hinted that he may shortly run for the presidency of his native South Korea.

Mr Ban’s term as the world’s top diplomat expires at the end of December.

In his final press conference as UN chief, Mr Ban said that after some rest he will return to South Korea and consider how best to help his country.”

Not newsworthy for the BBC, however, was Ban’s acknowledgement of bias against Israel at the body he has headed for a decade in his last address to the UN Security Council.

“During the past ten years, I have argued that we must never accept bias against Israel within UN bodies.  Decades of political maneuverings have created a disproportionate volume of resolutions, reports and conferences criticizing Israel.  In many cases, rather than helping the Palestinian cause, this reality has hampered the ability of the UN to fulfill its role effectively.” 

As noted at the Tower:

“Ban criticized the UNHRC’s singular focus on Israel shortly after assuming his post in 2007, saying that he was “disappointed at the council’s decision to single out only one specific regional item, given the range and scope of allegations of human rights violations throughout the world.” […]

Earlier this year, U.S. Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power underscored the injustice of the UN’s singular focus on Israel:

“As you all know, the UN Charter guarantees “the equal rights of nations large and small,” and yet we have seen member states seek to use the UN Security Council, the General Assembly, and even the most arcane UN committees in ways that cross the line from legitimate criticisms of Israel’s policies to attempts to delegitimize the state of Israel itself. The only country in the world with a standing agenda item at the Human Rights Council is not North Korea, a totalitarian state that is currently holding an estimated 100,000 people in gulags; not Syria, which has gassed its people – lots of them. It is Israel.

Bias has extended well beyond Israel as a country, Israel as an idea – it even extends to Israeli organizations. Some of you may know the group ZAKA – an Israeli humanitarian group that helps save lives in disasters and ensures proper burial for the victims of those tragedies. ZAKA not only works here in Israel, but it responds to natural and manmade disasters worldwide, as it did in New York after 9/11, and in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. Yet when ZAKA was nominated in 2013 for accreditation by the UN’s NGO committee – and this accreditation is what gives NGOs the right to participate in UN meetings, the right to assert their voices, the right to raise causes that really can matter in the world – when ZAKA was put forward it was denied approval. Five subsequent times the committee met, and five times member states blocked ZAKA – not because of the quality of its work, people weren’t that interested in the quality of its work, but simply because ZAKA is an Israeli organization.”

Particularly as the BBC is prone to frequent uncritical amplification of UN officials’ statements concerning Israel, Ban’s acknowledgement of anti-Israel bias at that body is precisely the type of information that audiences need in order to enhance their understanding.

Related Articles:

What BBC audiences aren’t told about the UNHRC

 

 

 

BBC amplifies UN criticism of Israeli PM without providing relevant context

In an article date stamped September 15th (but which actually appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page the following day) the BBC chose to amplify some specific passages from earlier remarks made by the UN Secretary General.  Readers of “UN’s Ban: Netanyahu ethnic cleansing remarks ‘outrageous’” were told that:ban-art

“UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has criticised Israel’s prime minister for saying Palestinians want the “ethnic cleansing” of Jews in the West Bank.

Benjamin Netanyahu’s use of the term in a video attacking opponents of Jewish settlement construction on occupied territory was “outrageous”, he said.”

While readers would not necessarily understand that the above (and later repeated) tendentious portrayal of the aim of Netanyahu’s video came from Ban himself, a more accurate description appears further down in the same article. 

“Last Friday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu published a video in English on his Facebook page in which he criticised people who described settlements as an obstacle to peace with the Palestinians.”

Predictably, the article includes amplification of the BBC’s stock mantra on Israeli communities in Judea, Samaria and certain districts of Jerusalem.

“Mr Ban stressed that settlements were illegal under international law.” […]

“About 570,000 Jews live in more than 100 settlements built since Israel’s 1967 occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Mr Netanyahu called the demand that they leave “outrageous”.” […]

[Quoting Ban] “”Let me be absolutely clear: settlements are illegal under international law. The occupation, stifling and oppressive, must end.”

Israel rejects the assertion that the settlements are illegal, and over the past two weeks has advanced plans for another 463 housing units at four locations.”

As ever, the BBC compromises its own impartiality by failing to inform its audiences of the existence of alternative opinions on that particular issue of ‘international law’. Neither are readers told that more than half of those touted “463 housing units” are accommodation for senior citizens and that they, like the rest, are located in regions which, under any reasonable scenario, would remain under Israeli control in the event of an agreement.

But the most remarkable feature of this BBC report is that while it provides amplification for censure from Ban Ki Moon and Mahmoud Abbas, it makes no effort whatsoever to inform audiences of the facts behind the statements which are the subject of that criticism.

In 2010 Mahmoud Abbas told journalists:

“We have frankly said, and always will say: If there is an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital, we won’t agree to the presence of one Israeli in it,” 

He repeated that message in 2013:

“Abbas said that no Israeli settlers or border forces could remain in a future Palestinian state and that Palestinians deem illegal all Jewish settlement building within the land occupied in the 1967 Six Days War.”

And Abbas is of course not the only PA political personality to adopt such a position: here, for example, is the ‘moderate’ Sari Nusseibeh speaking to Al Jazeera in 2007.

“The Israelis now living in the territories of the future Palestinian state should return to living within the borders of the state of Israel. No Jew in the world, now or in the future, as a result of this document, will have the right to return, to live, or to demand to live in Hebron, in East Jerusalem, or anywhere in the Palestinian state.”

Moreover, in addition to demanding a Jew-free Palestinian state, Mahmoud Abbas and his colleagues consistently refuse to recognise Israel as the Jewish state – i.e. to declare an end to their claims regarding that country and the ‘return’ of Palestinian refugees to its territory.

Of course Israelis do not have to dig too deep in their collective memory to recall that prior evacuation of all the Jews from their homes in Hebron in 1929, in Jerusalem in 1948 or in the Gaza Strip and parts of northern Samaria in 2005 did nothing to remove ‘obstacles to peace’. As former Labour MK Einat Wilf noted:

“While the settlements are not (to say the least) the best vehicle to make the argument about ethnic cleansing in the Israeli – Arab conflict, it’s not a bad idea to remind the world that it is the Arab side that has pursued a consistent policy of ethnically cleansing the Jews from the region – whether from Arab countries (successfully) or during the Arab war of 1947-1949 designed to crush the nascent State of Israel (mercifully a failure to this day).

It has to be said again and again: Had the Arabs not violently rejected the UN Partition proposal and opened war against the nascent State of Israel there would have been no displacement of Arab Palestinians and no refugees. If anything, when the cease fire lines were set in 1949 all Jews were ethnically cleansed from the Arab side of those lines, whereas Arabs remained securely on the Israeli side of it, becoming Israel’s Arab citizens.”

The BBC, however, chose to amplify Ban Ki Moon’s remarks without providing audiences with the relevant context which would enable them to judge their accuracy and relevance. The result of course is that once again – and despite the corporation’s remit – audiences are deprived of the opportunity to see beyond the BBC’s favoured political narrative.  

Related Articles:

BBC tells audiences location of centuries-old Jewish habitation is an ‘illegal settlement’

More BBC promotion of the ‘Peace Now’ narrative on construction

Why is the BBC’s failure to properly report the Jewish state issue important?

BBC News silent on Abbas’ rejection of Jewish state

BBC WS ‘Newshour’ dodges the issue of UN bias against Israel

In addition to the BBC’s written and filmed reports concerning remarks made by the UN Secretary General on January 26th which were previously discussed here, audiences also heard an audio report (from 18:52 here) which was broadcast on BBC World Service radio’s ‘Newshour’.Newshour logo

During the conversation between presenter Tim Franks and the BBC’s Nick Bryant listeners heard an account of Ban Ki Moon’s comments with Bryant telling listeners that he “called for a freeze on Israel’s settlement activity”. As was also the case in the written and filmed reports, Bryant did not clarify that an informal construction freeze has been in place for “almost two years” according to Ha’aretz.

In response to Tim Franks’ question about the Israeli reaction to Ban Ki Moon’s remarks, Bryant replied:

“Well there’s been a very strong reaction from the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The Israelis always believe that they are victimized at the UN; that they are singled out unfairly; that they are isolated…”

Neither he nor Franks provided listeners with any of the amply available relevant information which would allow them to understand the background to that portrayal – including admissions by Ban Ki Moon himself and his predecessor.

Later on Bryant told listeners:

“But it was the words of Ban Ki Moon that really created the headlines out of that meeting and I sense that, you know, clearly he is deeply troubled by these reports that the Israeli government has approved plans for over 150 new homes in what he calls illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank…”

As was the case in the written and filmed reports, Bryant made no effort to clarify to audiences that there had been no official confirmation of that supposed planning approval or that the “reports” he quotes come from the political NGO ‘Peace Now’. Bryant went on:

“…and that comes off the back of a declaration last week that an area of land – 370 acres in the West Bank, south of Jericho – has now been called state land. He described those as provocative acts.”

Bryant failed to provide listeners with the background to that story about a plot of land located in Area C and hence, according to the Oslo Accords, under full Israeli control.

“The technical move to change the status of the land, which has been farmed for decades by settlers, followed the conclusion of a Civil Administration of Judea and Samaria investigation into the land’s proper legal status under Israeli law. […]

It is also close to the settlements of Vered Yeriho, Almog and Beit Ha’arava and is under the auspices of the Megilot Regional Council. […]

The civil administration said that a decision had been taken by the political echelon for professionals to evaluate the status of the land. “The declaration of state land is in its final stages,” the civil administration said.

There will be a 40-day objection period before such a declaration takes place. Giving the property the status of state land will make it easier for the farmers to use it.”

In conclusion, whilst listeners to this item heard uncritical amplification of the UN Secretary General’s comments, they were not provided with the necessary background which would enable them to assess their validity or the information pertaining to the UN’s record on Israel which would enhance understanding of their context.