Weekend long read

1) The ITIC has a review of “Palestinian Violence and Terrorism Against Israel, 2018”.

“The ITIC’s annual study indicates that in 2018 there were two main trends prominent in Palestinian violence and terrorism: in the Gaza Strip there was a sharp increase in the level of violence and terrorism, after about three and a half years of relative quiet after Operation Protective Edge. One of the manifestations was 1,119 rocket and mortar shell hits in Israeli territory, the highest annual number in the past ten years (with the exception of Operation Protective Edge). In Judea and Samaria popular terrorism continued in its various forms, primarily stabbing, vehicular and shooting attacks. After popular terrorism peaked in 2015 its scope decreased, but in the last months of 2018 there was an increase in the number of attacks.

In addition, a large number of popular terrorism attacks were also prevented. According to the head of the Israel Security Agency, 480 significant terrorist attacks were prevented, that is, close to nine significant terrorist attacks were prevented for every one carried out. The preventive activities and detentions carried out by the Israeli security forces indicates, according to the head of the Agency, the great potential for terrorism simmering under the surface.”

2) At the JCPA, Yoni Ben Menachem documents a story so far unreported by the BBC – “The Golden Gate: A New Focus of Tension on the Temple Mount”.

“The new Islamic Waqf Council on the Temple Mount, headed by Sheikh Abdul Azim Salhab is striving to change the status quo on the Temple Mount. The Council was recently expanded to include officials from the Palestinian Authority and Fatah movement, Fatah officials say that the battle against Israel on the Temple Mount will escalate toward the expected publication of President Trump’s “deal of the century” plan.

On February 19, 2019, Sheikh Salhab told Palestinian Ma’an News Agency of the council’s intention to renovate the Golden Gate structure within the Temple Mount plaza and reopen it as a place of prayer for Muslims, as well as Waqf offices.”

3) At the INSS, Raz Zimmt takes a look at “The Khamenei Roadmap on the 40th Anniversary of the Islamic Revolution”.

“On February 13, 2019, Iran’s Supreme Leader published a roadmap on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, in which he detailed the revolution’s achievements, and offered advice to Iranian young people for realizing the next stage of the revolution. The roadmap reflects Khamenei’s determination to maintain the values and basic principles of the revolution, both internally and with respect to foreign policy. It does not show any willingness on his part to adapt the revolutionary ideology to the changing reality and the demands of the public, and does not provide practical solutions to the hardships of Iran’s citizens. Khamenei’s uncompromising positions strengthen the assessment that it is not possible to promote significant change in Iran, at least not as long as he continues to hold the reins of power. At the same time, at this stage his refusal to move away from the revolutionary dogma does not pose an immediate threat to the regime’s stability.”

4) Writing at the Tablet, the Jerusalem Post’s Knesset correspondent Lahav Harkov looks at the latest news in the election campaign in Israel.

“Israel’s election campaign began in earnest yesterday, 47 days before the polls open, when former IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz and MK Yair Lapid merged their parties to form the Blue and White Party. The political map has organized into what seems like the natural order of things in Israeli politics: A large right-wing party, Likud, a large left-wing party, Blue and White, and their satellites on each side. […]

For those keeping track at home, that makes three former top commanders of the Israeli Army in one party: Gantz, Ya’alon, and Ashkenazi. That in itself presents a strong front on security issues, although Likud has been working overtime to try to poke holes in Gantz’s record. Ashkenazi, who is widely respected for having rehabilitated the IDF after the Second Lebanon War, may be the wild card in the race. He’s the rare politician associated with a left-leaning party who has the popularity and security credentials that polls have shown specifically attract right-wing votes.”

 

Advertisements

Reviewing BBC ‘historical record’ of the July 2017 Temple Mount story – part one

Coverage of the events in Jerusalem – and related events elsewhere – during the second half of July naturally appeared on a variety of BBC platforms (see ‘related articles’ below) but the information that will continue to be accessible to the general public as what the corporation calls ‘historical records’ is that published on the BBC News website.

So how will that story be perceived by anyone trying to understand it in the future? Comparing the timeline of actual events with the information provided in the relevant BBC reports allows us to answer that question.

Friday, July 14th:

07:00 – Three terrorists from Umm al Fahm attack and kill two Israeli policemen stationed at Lions’ Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem. Temple Mount closed to civilians as police conduct investigation.

BBC report: “Israeli police killed in attack near Jerusalem holy site” (discussed here)

Events covered by the BBC: Terror attack lauded by Hamas. Mufti and al Aqsa preacher briefly detained by police. Waqf demands re-opening of site and calls for mass prayer in the streets. PA president Mahmoud Abbas condemns the attack.

Events not reported by the BBC: Terror attack lauded by Palestinian Islamic Jihad and outlawed northern Islamic Movement’s Raed Salah. Fatah issues statement condemning closure of site and calls for ‘rage’. Jordan demands immediate re-opening of site. PA president Mahmoud Abbas calls for reversal of site closure. Arab League and OIC condemn the closure – but not the terror attack. Firebomb attack in Jerusalem.

Saturday, July 15th:

Events not reported by the BBC: Temple Mount remains closed. Jordanian government spokesman demands that Israel open the site, despite ongoing police investigation. Demonstrations in Amman. Fatah incitement continues. Shooting attack in Ateret.

Sunday, July 16th:

Events covered by the BBC: 12:00 – Temple Mount re-opened to Muslim (only) visitors (briefly mentioned in a BBC report on another topic).

Events not reported by the BBC: Metal detectors installed at some of entry gates to Temple Mount: two gates in operation, around 600 worshippers visit. Waqf refuses to enter the site, instructs others to so the same and instigates protest. Jordanian parliament prays for perpetrators of Friday’s terror attack. Northern Islamic Movement incitement continues. Rioting continues.

Monday, July 17th:

Events not reported by the BBC: Temple Mount re-opened for non-Muslim visitors, three gates opened to Muslim visitors. Waqf issues statement condemning metal detectors and instructing Muslims to pray outside the site. Rioting and demonstrations continue; PLO’s Mustafa Barghouti participates.  Fatah calls for a ‘Day of Rage’ on July 19th.

Tuesday, July 18th:

Events not reported by the BBC: Violent demonstrations continue. Vehicular attack near Hebron.

Wednesday, July 19th:

Events not reported by BBC: Temple Mount briefly closed to non-Muslim visitors. PA prime minister calls on international community to force Israel to remove metal detectors. Waqf instructs Jerusalem mosques to close on Friday and send congregations to the streets. Fatah declared ‘Day of Rage’ – violent demonstrations continue.

Thursday, July 20th:

BBC publishes its first report since July 14th: “Jerusalem holy site security row explained“, by Yolande Knell (discussed here).

Events not reported by the BBC: Police release video of preparations for terror attack including smuggling of weapons into al Aqsa mosque by accomplice. Although later reports told audiences that “Israel says” that weapons were smuggled into the site (but did not specifically mention the mosque), the video itself did not appear in any BBC content.

Attempted stabbing in Gush Etzion. Violent demonstrations continue. Hamas calls for mass protests on Friday.

Friday, July 21st:

Events reported by the BBC: Access to Temple Mount continues to be open. Rioting in Jerusalem and elsewhere. Three Palestinian rioters killed.

Mahmoud Abbas announces end to ‘all contacts’ with Israel. Three Israelis murdered and one wounded in terror attack in Halamish. Hamas praises attack.

BBC reports: East Jerusalem: Palestinians killed as holy site tensions soar” (discussed here), Bethlehem: Israeli forces and Palestinians clash“, by Yolande Knell (discussed here), Three Israelis stabbed to death in West Bank attack” (discussed here).

Events not reported by the BBC: Abbas announces $25 million budget to support ‘steadfastness’. Fatah incitement continues. Anti-Israel demonstrations in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Malaysia (demonstrations in Jordan briefly mentioned in later July 24 reports)

Part two of this post will examine the second week of BBC coverage of events.

Related Articles:

BBC coverage of the Jerusalem terror attack – part two: BBC radio

BBC’s ME correspondents revert to partisan terminology for Temple Mount – part one

BBC’s ME correspondents revert to partisan terminology for Temple Mount – part two

BBC WS ME editor gives a partial portrayal of the Temple Mount story

BBC Radio 4’s ‘Today’ promotes equivalence between violent rioters and victims of terror

BBC WS passes up the chance to tell listeners about PA incitement

Why the BBC’s failure to cover faux outrage in Jerusalem matters in the UK

BBC WS passes up the chance to tell listeners about PA incitement

The lead story in the July 27th edition of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newshour‘ related to the removal of security measures at the entrance to Temple Mount. In all, almost 28% of the programme’s total air time was devoted to that particular story.

Presenter Razia Iqbal introduced the first part of the item (from 00:53 here) as follows: [emphasis in bold added, emphasis in italics in the original]

Iqbal: “We begin though with the resolution of a story that has been bubbling away since mid-July in the city of Jerusalem and which was showing signs of escalating more widely in the region. The location? A potent cauldron that is a sensitive and holy site to both Jews and Muslims known as Temple Mount to the Jews and as Haram al Sharif to the Muslims. And the issue? Israel’s decision to install new security measures at the entrance of al Aqsa after two Israeli policemen were killed by three assailants.”

Those new security measures were of course installed at the entrance to the site as a whole rather than at the entrance to the mosque named al Aqsa. In other words, we see here that Iqbal – like some of her colleagues – has adopted terminology recommended by the PLO in an ‘advisory’ document put out to members of the foreign media in 2014.  She continued, failing to inform listeners that the attack on the two policemen was a terror attack and of the relevant fact that the perpetrators used guns smuggled into al Aaqsa mosque by an accomplice.

Iqbal: “The authorities say the men initiated the attack from inside the compound. The installation of metal detectors prompted protests and they were replaced with cameras which also did not satisfy Muslims who boycotted the area. Instead of praying in the mosque, they did so on the streets. It was a tense situation. Israeli police have now removed all new security measures and the situation has returned to what it was before July the fourteenth. Muslim officials say they’re satisfied and that they’ll urge worshippers to begin praying at the site again.”

The programme’s worldwide listeners then heard Iqbal again refer to Temple Mount as “al Aqsa mosque” as she described scenes that actually took place outside Lions Gate, along with comments from two people who made identical remarks in a video put out by Reuters – both of whom were not “outside al Aqsa mosque” but on streets elsewhere in the city.

Iqbal: “Palestinians gathered outside al Aqsa mosque to celebrate. The fate of the site is an emotional issue and many Palestinians like Umm Dir [phonetic] hope it’s a first step towards Israel giving up control.”

Voiceover: “Thanks to God it’s a victory. And with God’s help we hope that a time will come in which we will see all of Jerusalem and Palestine free.”

Iqbal: “Salim Amr [phonetic] from East Jerusalem expressed his gratitude, quoting from the Koran.”

Voiceover: “This is a blessing from God. If you stand for God, God will help you in victory. The closer you are to God, God will help us.”

Iqbal next introduced comment from a member of the Waqf but without clarifying to listeners that he and his organisation were central to the initiation and perpetuation of the boycott of the site supposedly over security measures, using the canard that they ‘violated’ the status quo. Neither did Iqbal inform audiences that Salhab has a rich history of denial of Jewish history and rights on Temple Mount and promotion of incitement using baseless rumours about ‘threats’ to the site.

Iqbal: “Abdul Azim Salhab is the head of the Waqf council: a Jordanian-backed body that oversees the Muslim religious sites in Jerusalem.”

Voiceover: “The destructive Israeli occupation tried to break the will of this nation – the Palestinian nation – and especially the people of Jerusalem who all stood proudly together. And we want them to keep standing to defend the holy al Aqsa mosque, outside the gates of the holy al Aqsa mosque and now – God willing – inside the gates of the holy al Aqsa mosque.”

Iqbal then spoke to an Israeli minister.

Iqbal: “So; some Palestinians seeing this as a victory. I’ve been speaking to Yuval Steinitz who is a member of Israel’s security cabinet and the minister of national infrastructure, energy and water resources. Is this decision a climb-down by the Israeli government?”

In his responses to Iqbal’s questions, Steinitz raised an issue which has been glaringly absent from the BBC’s coverage of this story as a whole.

Steinitz: “When we realised that this [security measures] is being used – or actually abused – in order to incite against Israel, against the Jews, not just in the Palestinian Authority but also in the wider Arab and Muslim world, we have to re-evaluate and we will consider other, maybe more sophisticated, less apparent but not less effective counter-measures in order to enhance security for all visitors in the region – Muslims, Jews and Christians.” […]

Steinitz: “…and if our enemies; Hamas, the Islamic movement and even the Palestinian Authority unfortunately – even the Palestinian Authority – are using this terrible terrorist incident and our necessary counter measures in order to incite against Israel, against Jews in general, you know, very strong – even antisemitic – kind of incitement, we have to diffuse this card; to consider other measures in order to enhance security.”

While BBC audiences did see brief whitewashed mentions of “protests” in Jordan in reports concerning the attack on a security officer at Israel’s embassy in Amman, they have not been informed of scenes in the Jordanian parliament, of repeated incidents of intimidation of Jews in Istanbul, of repeated inflammatory statements made by Turkey’s president or of anti-Israel protests as far away as Kuala Lumpur.

Neither have BBC audiences been provided with a comprehensive picture of the incitement fomented by Mahmoud Abbas, by the Palestinian Authority and by its dominant party Fatah as well as Hamas and the Waqf.

However, when Razia Iqbal had the opportunity to enhance listeners’ understanding of the scale, nature and significance of that incitement in her subsequent conversation with Fatah’s Nasser al Qudwa, she not only allowed him to promote unchallenged falsehoods but bailed out in the face of his disingenuous denials of Palestinian incitement.

Iqbal: “So does the Palestinian Authority feel vindicated by this decision? Let’s speak to Nasser Qudwa who is the media and culture commissioner of the ruling Fatah party central committee and a former Palestinian representative at the United Nations. Ah…what’s your reaction to this decision by Israel to withdraw all of this new security apparatus – the metal detectors and the cameras?”

Qudwa: “Well I think what happened represent a real achievement for the Palestinian people, especially our people in Jerusalem who fought the Israeli attempt to create new facts, to curtail and hamper the free access of worshippers to al Aqsa – the holy al Aqsa.”

That of course is a lie: apart from a two-day closure while police conducted their investigation into the July 14th terror attack and a brief ban on entry to men under 50 after violence was threatened on July 21st, worshippers were free to access the site and – despite the efforts of the Waqf – many did just that. Qudwa went on to promote additional unchallenged falsehoods.

Qudwa: “And by the way, these measures have nothing to do with security. This is a huge lie. This is part of strategies or a strategy that is aimed at turning the situation at al Haram al Sharif and al Aqsa mosque and the proof is very clear including official statements by some governmental…governmental officials who claim crazy things such as Israeli sovereignty and Israeli ownership of…of the holy place in addition of course to Israeli actions, Israeli measures…”

Iqbal: “It is perfectly – I’m sorry to interrupt you, sir – but it’s perfectly legitimate for the Israelis to want to see some security isn’t it? I mean there were police officers who were killed just by this site.”

Qudwa: “Yes that’s true. However, these were killed by three that came from Israel. No Palestinian faction group had anything to do with this. The attack…eh…eh…attack was carried [out] outside…outside the Haram al Sharif and al Aqsa mosque and it has never been the case that there was security danger or security threats within the compound, within Haram al Sharif and al Aqsa mosque.”

That lie also went unchallenged by Iqbal despite the fact that the BBC has covered violent rioting on Temple Mount in the past and al Aqsa mosque has been used to stockpile rocks used in such pre-planned disturbances. Of course, had Iqbal bothered to clarify earlier that the July 14 attack was carried out using guns brought into the al Aqsa mosque, listeners would have been better placed to judge Qudwa’s falsehoods for themselves.

Iqbal: “OK, so…”

Qudwa: “After that – let me just finish this – I might add that there was a telephone conversation between President Abbas and Prime Minister Netanyahu during which the president condemned the attack and requested the prime minister not to take any measures that might change the situation and he promised – the prime minister promised – to do precisely that.  And unfortunately he didn’t keep his word and we saw those measures that, again, have nothing to do with security but they are part of a strategy – of a scheme – Israeli scheme that’s very clear for everyone.”

Iqbal: “OK, so the minister that I’ve just spoken to, Yuval Steinitz, he accused the Palestinian Authority of inciting violence against Israel. Is he right?”

Qudwa: “Listen, this is insulting; insulting for every Palestinian. Any human being under pressure, under…under discrimination, subject to oppressive and oppressive policies and measures by foreign occupation that’s being transformed into colonialism has to react. They don’t need incitement. They don’t need any nodding from anybody. This is like accusing Palestinians of being sub-humans. This is outrageous. This is outrageous.”

Iqbal: “OK.”

Qudwa: “No reason is needed for any Palestinian to reject Israeli policies and Israeli positions, especially with regard to al Aqsa and East Jerusalem – occupied East Jerusalem.”

Iqbal: “We’ll leave it there.”

And so, in addition to not being pressed for an honest answer on the topic of Palestinian Authority and Fatah incitement, Qudwa was allowed by Iqbal to promote unchallenged mendacious propaganda about a “foreign occupation” and “colonialism” which not only did absolutely nothing to meet the BBC’s obligation to help listener understanding of this story or the broader issues at hand, but actively hindered that purpose.  

 

 

 

BBC Radio 4’s ‘Today’ promotes equivalence between violent rioters and victims of terror

Listeners to BBC Radio 4’s ‘Today‘ programme last week heard two reports on consecutive days relating to the Palestinian rioting ostensibly in reaction to security measures installed at Temple Mount after two Israeli policemen were murdered in a terror attack on July 14th. Both of those items were notable for their promotion of moral equivalence between the murders of victims of terrorism and the deaths of rioters killed while engaged in violence.

In the July 25th edition of ‘Today’, presenter Nick Robinson introduced the item (from 01:16:07 here) as follows: [emphasis added]

Robinson: “Will the decision by the Israeli security cabinet to remove metal detectors at one of Jerusalem’s holiest sites lessen the tension which has led to the deaths of three Israelis and four Palestinians in recent days, as well as an attack on Israel’s embassy in Jordan?”

The three Israelis mentioned by Robinson are the members of the Salomon family murdered by a terrorist who infiltrated their family home on July 21st as they finished dinner. The four Palestinians were all engaged in violent rioting (that was praised by the Palestinian president’s party Fatah) at the time of their deaths. Radio 4’s presenter however made no effort to inform listeners of the vastly different circumstances behind those deaths or to clarify that the Israelis were victims of terrorism.

Robinson likewise failed to clarify that the two Israeli policemen he went on to mention were also victims of terror, or who carried out that attack.

Robinson: “The detectors were installed at entry points to the al Asqa [sic] mosque – the third holiest site in Islam – after two Israeli policemen were shot dead in the area of the Temple Mount.”

Listeners were not informed of the all-important fact that the terrorists used weapons smuggled into the al Aqsa mosque.

Robinson: “The UN’s Middle East envoy has been warning of catastrophic costs well beyond the walls of the Old City. This is the reaction of Manuel Hassassassian [sic], the head of the Palestinian mission to the UK.”

Listeners then heard completely unchallenged statements from Manuel Hassassian.

Hassassian: “I think for the moment, removing the metal detectors is a stepping stone in the right direction of calming down the situation. But Israel is insisting on putting cameras and smart technology to control and to supervise the area of the Haram Sharif that alone heavily guarded by manpower and that in itself is also instigative to the Palestinian faithful worshippers who will go and pray in the Haram Sharif. But I must say that, you know, the removal, in general, of the metal detectors will pacify the situation and we hope – we hope – that Israel won’t resort to such measures in the future because the question of religion is something very, very, very sensitive that could create tension and escalation as we have seen the last week.”

Although he opted out of asking the PA’s representative any questions at all (for example, regarding incitement to violence by the PA and its dominant party Fatah), Robinson did find it appropriate to ask the item’s second interviewee – Efraim Halevy, who is not a representative of the Israeli government – questions relating to Israeli policy.

Robinson: “…is it time that your prime minister, your government, changed its approach?”

The next day – July 26th – ‘Today’ listeners heard another item on the same topic which was introduced (from 02:49:29 here) by Nick Robinson thus:

Robinson: “The area of East Jerusalem known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Haram al Sharif remains very tense after days of protests by Palestinians over new security measures. Israel has now removed controversial metal detectors, saying they’ll be replaced with alternatives. But the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas says he’ll maintain a freeze on security cooperation with Israel. Our Middle East correspondent Tom Bateman now reports from Jerusalem.”

Failing to clarify that the July 14th attack at Lions Gate was an act of terror, Bateman began:

Bateman: “Gunshots rang out from one of the most revered sites on earth nearly a fortnight ago. Two Israeli policemen were shot dead by three Israeli Arabs who were killed by security forces. In the volatile moments that followed police closed the compound and two messages competed for public attention.”

Listeners next heard material recycled from a report by Tom Bateman that was broadcast on the BBC World Service twelve days previously.

Erdan: “The terrorists they used firearms inside the Temple Mount violating, violating the holiness of this important place.”

Bateman: “Israel’s public security minister Gilad Erdan spoke out, as did the Palestinian governor of Jerusalem Adnan Husseini.”

Husseini: “We are living under occupation. Now the mosque should be open. If the mosque will not be open, it means that we are going to have more problems. This moment is very dangerous moment, very sensitive moment. We have to go to pray.”

Bateman: “They did pray – but on the streets outside the al Aqsa mosque; the holy Islamic shrine and also a powerful symbol of Palestinian hopes for statehood. To Jews the site is the abode of God’s presence where the biblical temples once stood.”

Bateman then gave a brief qualified explanation of the reason for the installation of the metal detectors which it is hard to believe would have been fully understood by listeners. He failed to adequately clarify which “guns had been smuggled in” to where or by whom.

Bateman: “Israel said it was installing the metal detectors because the guns had been smuggled in. Tensions grew and on Friday became a day of Palestinian protest. Fearing unrest, Israel barred entry to the site to all men aged under 50.”

As was the case in a previous report for the BBC World Service, Bateman downgraded what was in fact defined by its initiators as a ‘Day of Rage’ to a “day of Palestinian protest”.

After listeners heard a brief recording of Bateman in Jerusalem on July 21st, he continued:

Bateman: “Israeli police fired stun grenades. The protests spread. This was now about more than metal detectors. For Palestinians it evoked fears Israel wanted to change the long-standing access agreement over al Aqsa. Israel repeatedly said this was not the case. The site is in East Jerusalem which was annexed by Israel half a century ago. In the clashes over the weekend, five Palestinians were killed.”

Bateman then went to visit the family of a person killed while participating in violent rioting in a district of Jerusalem.

Bateman: “Children played outside as I visited the home of Susanne Abu Ghannam. Her son Mohammed was among those who died on Friday, shot – she said – by Israeli forces.”

Although listeners heard the mother claim that “the occupation forces were surrounding the hospital in order to take his body”, Bateman did not inform them that there is no indication that was the case.

Bateman then moved swiftly on, promoting equivalence between that death and the murders of three Israelis in the July 21st terror attack in Halamish.

Bateman: “Another woman was left grieving on Friday. An hour’s drive from Jerusalem, in the Jewish settlement of Halamish in the West Bank, a Palestinian man – claiming his actions were for al Aqsa – entered the home of an Israeli family celebrating a birth. He stabbed to death Michal Salomon’s husband, sister-in-law and father-in-law.”

After listeners had heard from Michal Salomon, Bateman closed his report.

Bateman: “For Israel the crisis was about a profound need to maintain security at what one minister called the most sensitive location on earth. It has drawn in Israel’s neighbour Jordan; the custodian of al Aqsa as part of the two countries’ peace deal. Amid international calls for calm, Palestinian leaders said last night their boycott on entering the mosque would continue. It seems Israel’s decision to remove the metal detectors has yet to see this crisis resolved.”

Although this is far from the first time that we have seen the BBC equating the deaths of Palestinians participating in violent acts with those of Israelis deliberately murdered by terrorists, the fact that the BBC refuses to use the word terror to describe attacks against Israelis makes that politicised editorial policy of moral equivalence all the more misleading to audiences – and all the more offensive.

Related Articles:

BBC refrains from using the word terror in report on murdered family

 

Weekend long read

1) Unsurprisingly to anyone familiar with the BBC’s record, its coverage of the latest events connected to Temple Mount has not included providing audiences with an objective view of past and present use of that site as a central factor in Palestinian incitement. Petra Marquardt-Bigman discusses “The media’s deadly silence on Al-Aqsa incitement“.

“Yet, even if you follow the news on the Middle East diligently, chances are you know very little about the vile incitement that Muslims are used to hearing there [al Aqsa mosque]. The mainstream media are largely ignoring it, even though reporting about it would make it much easier to understand why anything to do with the Al Aqsa mosque inflames Muslim religious passions – and violence – so easily.”

2) Relatedly, at the Tablet, Liel Leibovitz writes about last Friday’s terror attack in Halamish.

“…the murder was entirely foreseeable, the direct result of Palestinian officialdom’s torrent of incitement regarding al-Aqsa. When the Israeli government placed metal detectors at the entrance to the holy compound after three Palestinian terrorists killed two Israeli police officers there earlier this month, the Palestinian leadership mobilized to portray the preventative security measure as an Israeli attempt to take the holy site away from Islam itself. Never mind that, ever since it reunited Jerusalem in June of 1967, the Jewish state has gone out of its way to award the Waqf, the Muslim religious body that administers the site, complete autonomy, going as far as to bar Jews from praying at the site we, too, consider holy lest we offend the sentiments of the irate Imams. Never mind that the response came after a bloody Palestinian terror attack, which, one would think, is the sort of action that desecrates the site’s holiness much more than a thousand metal detectors ever would. Mahmoud Abbas and his cronies have spent all week hysterically yowling that the Jews were marching on al-Aqsa, and al-Abed, 19 and impressionable, listened.” 

3) The Jerusalem Post’s Yaakov Katz records his impressions after a recent visit to Temple Mount.

“…the Mount was empty. There were some tourists – one Chinese group, and another from Europe – but almost no Muslims were there. One who was there, wearing a gray jalabiya and holding an umbrella to shield himself from the sun, whizzed by on an electric wheelchair. Another Arab man, a representative of the Wakf identifiable by the walkie-talkie he held in each hand, eyed Jewish visitors suspiciously, but didn’t follow.

He couldn’t – there were too many police officers. Four walked in front, four in the back and three on each side. Two carried cameras, filming the entire visit in case they would need to arrest and charge one of the visitors for violating the long list of rules posted at the entrance. There, Jews and foreigners alike go through metal detectors and have their bags and identity cards inspected before being allowed to ascend the Mount.

One tourist, for example, had come to the Temple Mount after doing some shopping at the nearby Arab shuk. The guard found a wooden cross and a rosary in her bag. Those had to be left in a locker, since religious paraphernalia – at least those that are not Islamic – are not allowed on the compound.

The identity of the Jewish visitors is also carefully scrutinized. Identity cards are collected, names are punched into a computer, and if something suspicious comes up, the visitor is taken aside for further questioning.”

4) As regular readers know, the BBC does not as a rule cover internal Palestinian affairs and so the absence of any reporting on a new PA law comes as no surprise. Khaled Abu Toameh explains the “new Palestinian law combating information technology (IT) crimes”.

“The controversial Cyber Crime Law, signed by Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas on July 11, permits the imprisonment of Palestinians for “liking” or sharing published material on the internet.

Critics say the law paves the way for the emergence of a “police state” in PA-controlled territories in the West Bank. They also argue that the law aims to silence criticism of Abbas and the PA leadership.

The new law comes on the heels of the PA’s recent decision to block more than 20 Palestinian websites accused of publishing comments and articles critical of the PA leadership.

The law was approved by Abbas himself, without review by the Palestinian parliament, known as the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC). The PLC has been paralyzed for the past decade, as a result of the power struggle between Abbas’s PA and Hamas — the Islamist movement that controls the Gaza Strip.

In the absence of parliamentary life, Abbas and his senior officials and advisors have felt free to pass their own laws to serve their interests and promote their personal and political agendas.”

5) At Mosaic magazine, Liam Hoare and David Hirsh briefly discuss “How the UK’s Labor Party, and Its Intelligentsia, Came to Accept Anti-Semitism“.

“[Y]ou can be sure that Labor would not have allowed somebody to become its leader with a history of anti-black or misogynist politics, for example. . . . The Labor party is not yet institutionally anti-Semitic, but people [in the party] don’t want to hear about [anti-Semitism]. What Corbyn has done is he has allowed the whole thing to be treated as if it’s just a few bad apples in the barrel, and if you find the bad apple, just kick it out, when you should ask what it is about the barrel that makes the apples go bad.” 

 

What did BBC News edit out of a UN rep’s statement on Jerusalem violence?

On July 24th an article titled “Jerusalem holy site tensions ‘must ease by Friday’” was published on the BBC News website’s Middle East page.

Readers were told that:

“The UN’s Middle East envoy has warned tensions over a holy site in Jerusalem must ease by Friday, or risk spreading “well beyond” the ancient city.

Nikolay Mladenov urged a rapid solution to the current crisis over the site, known to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif and to Jews as the Temple Mount. […]

…Mr Mladenov said: “It is extremely important that a solution to the current crisis be found by Friday this week. I think the dangers on the ground will escalate if we go through another cycle of Friday prayer without a resolution to this current crisis.”

He continued: “Nobody should be mistaken that these events are localised events. In fact, they may be taking place over a couple of hundred square metres, but the affect millions if not billions of people around the world.

“They have the potential to have catastrophic costs well beyond the walls of the old city, well beyond Israel and Palestine, well beyond the Middle East itself.””

Mr Mladenov did indeed make those remarks, but as the transcript (to which the BBC’s report did not provide a link) shows, he also addressed the topic of Palestinian incitement: an issue which for years has been serially downplayed or ignored by the BBC – not least during this latest crisis.

“…the Palestinian leadership also has a responsibility to avoid provocative actions and statements that further aggravate an already tense environment. I am particularly concerned by some statements that have been made by some Palestinian factions that seek to fan the flames of violence and I call on all to condemn such statements and actions.”

That omission is particularly relevant in light of the fact that this article – like previous BBC coverage of the same story – describes the orchestrated rioting by Palestinians as ‘protests’.

“Palestinians protested over the move.”

 “…thousands protested in East Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank.”

Additional noteworthy points arising from this report include its failure (in contrast to the UN representative’s statement) once again to clarify that last Friday’s attack in Halamish was an act of terrorism.

“…three Israeli civilians were stabbed to death and a fourth injured by a Palestinian who entered a home at a Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank.”

Also notable is the appearance of yet another example of the use of PLO recommended language to describe Temple Mount.

“The site in Jerusalem’s Old City is sacred to both Jews and Muslims. Jews revere it as the location of two Biblical Temples and holiest site in Judaism. It is also the al-Aqsa mosque compound, the third holiest site in Islam.” [emphasis added]

As has been the case in previous BBC reporting on this topic, the report unnecessarily qualifies information (that has not been provided to BBC audiences) concerning the smuggling of firearms into al Aqsa mosque by terrorists and erases their accomplice from the picture.

Israel says that three Israeli Arabs who carried out the 14 July shooting near the compound were able to smuggle guns inside and that metal detectors are needed to stop similar attacks. Police chased the attackers into the site afterwards and shot them dead.” [emphasis added]

Also in common with previous coverage, the article uncritically amplifies unfounded Palestinian messaging while failing to inform audiences what the existing “arrangements” are or to clarify that Israel is responsible for security at the site.

“But Palestinians strongly object to the installation of metal detectors. They see it as a move by Israel to assert more control over the sacred site and as a violation of longstanding access arrangements.”

With those omissions now standard in the BBC’s coverage of this story, it is not difficult to identify the corporation’s chosen editorial line.

Related Articles:

BBC’s ME correspondents revert to partisan terminology for Temple Mount – part one

BBC backgrounder on Palestinian ‘metal detector’ outrage fails to tell all

BBC reporting on Jerusalem violence low on background, high on messaging 

 

BBC’s ME correspondents revert to partisan terminology for Temple Mount – part one

Just over a year ago we documented changes in the terminology used by the BBC to describe Temple Mount.

“In late 2014, audiences began to see the employment of different terminology by some BBC journalists… […] the term ‘al Aqsa Mosque compound’ – or even just ‘al Aqsa Mosque’ – was employed to describe what the BBC previously called Haram al Sharif with increasing frequency from November 2014 onwards. […]

So how and why did that deviation from the BBC’s recommended terminology come about? As noted above, the change in language first appeared in November 2014. At the beginning of that month – on November 5th– the PLO put out a “media advisory” document (since removed from its website) informing foreign journalists of its “[c]oncern over the use of the inaccurate term “Temple Mount” to refer to Al-Aqsa Mosque Compound in Jerusalem”. That directive is of course part and parcel of the PLO’s tactic of negation of Jewish history in Jerusalem.”

Following that post, the BBC largely returned to using the terminology specified in its own style guide. However, the employment of that PLO recommended wording has been seen once again in some of the BBC’s reporting on the recent violence in Jerusalem – including in a backgrounder produced by the BBC Jerusalem bureau’s Yolande Knell.

“Now the gate to the al Aqsa mosque compound is open once again but to reach it you have to pass through one of those metal detectors.” [emphasis added]

On July 21st an edition of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newshour‘ included an item (from 49:58 here) that was introduced by presenter Julian Marshall as follows: [emphasis in bold added, emphasis in italics in the original]

Marshall: “And to Jerusalem now where dozens of Palestinians have been injured in clashes with Israeli police amid tensions surrounding the holy site known to Muslims as the Haram al Sharif and to Jews as the Temple Mount. Our Mid-East correspondent Yolande Knell joins us now and, Yolande, why are the Palestinians protesting?”

Knell: “Well these clashes are continuing now after Friday prayers turned into protests. There have been tensions all week after Israeli officials put in place new metal detectors at the entrance to the al Aqsa mosque compound; this site which is sacred to Jews as well – known as Temple Mount. These detectors were installed after an attack that killed two Israeli policemen last week and Israel has been insisting that these new security measures are about safety only; they don’t alter the sensitive status quo, as it’s called, at this disputed site. But Palestinians see them very much as an attempt by Israel to extend its control there and of course…ehm…Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem is something…ehm…that is…err…really extremely…err…sensitive for Palestinians and any perceived changes at the al Aqsa mosque compound – at this holy site – can be a real flash-point for violence. We’ve seen that in the last few hours. There are now reports that a third Palestinian has been killed in these clashes between…err…protesters and Israeli security forces focused on Jerusalem but also around the West Bank. There have been clashes in Qalandiya checkpoint, in Ramallah, in Hebron and in Bethlehem where I was earlier, this after political factions called for a Day of Rage.”

Marshall: “And…erm…the metal detectors are not the only point of contention. I understand that there’s an age restriction at the moment on the number [sic] of Muslim worshippers who are allowed in.”

Knell: “Well that was something that was imposed for these Friday prayers. First of all, after this…eh….attack a week ago…ah…the Israeli authorities closed the whole compound for two days: this is something very unusual. Then, it has been opened through the week but Palestinians have been refusing to enter the compound, to go through these metal detectors and instead we’ve had hundreds of people praying on the street outside. So there have been clashes with police through the week. The restriction that was placed on today was that Muslim men under 50 were barred from entering the Old City of Jerusalem. There’s been this huge Israeli police presence all around the city and busloads of Muslim worshippers have been prevented from reaching it.”

As we see, in addition to promoting partisan PLO approved terminology to describe Temple Mount, Knell completely erased from her account of the installation of metal detectors the crucial fact that the three terrorists (whom she also deletes entirely from the story) who murdered the two Israeli policemen on July 14th did so using weapons which had been smuggled into al Aqsa mosque by an accomplice.

She also failed to explain to listeners what the ‘status quo’ on Temple Mount entails and to clarify that Palestinian claims of  “changes” are baseless, while refraining from telling audiences about the copious incitement from the Waqf and official Palestinian sources that sparked the violence.

However, Knell was not the only Middle East correspondent to compromise BBC impartiality by prioritising PLO recommended language over the standard BBC terminology to describe Temple Mount in a report on July 21st – as will be seen in part two of this post.

Related Articles:

Mapping changes in the terminology used by the BBC to describe Temple Mount

BBC backgrounder on Palestinian ‘metal detector’ outrage fails to tell all

BBC backgrounder on Palestinian ‘metal detector’ outrage fails to tell all

On June 20th the BBC finally broke its silence on the topic of the faux outrage at the security measures installed after the July 14th terror attack in Jerusalem when the BBC News website published a filmed backgrounder that was billed on its Middle East page as “Holy site metal detector row explained”.

The link leads to a video titled “Jerusalem holy site security row explained” and its synopsis reads:

“There is anger over security at the Jerusalem holy site where two Israeli police officers were killed.”

The video includes both text and commentary from the BBC Jerusalem bureau’s Yolande Knell – but does it really explain the issue comprehensively, accurately and impartially? The backgrounder opens:

Text: “What started the latest tensions over Jerusalem’s holy site? Protesters are furious with Israel for tightening security at one of Islam’s holiest places.”

The fact that Temple Mount is the holiest site in Judaism is not mentioned.

Knell: “For Palestinians, anything seen as a threat to al Aqsa mosque is a rallying cry and a symbol of Israel’s occupation.”

While Yolande Knell amplifies the baseless propaganda concerning “a threat to al Aqsa mosque”, she does not bother to inform viewers that in fact, no such threat exists.

Text: “Israeli soldiers are responding with tear gas. Unusually, Israel closed the site after two of its police officers were shot dead by armed men inside the mosque grounds.”

The backgrounder does not clarify that the incident (that took place at Lions Gate rather than “inside the mosque grounds”) in which the two Israeli police officers were murdered was a terror attack. Critically, viewers are not told that the terrorists used weapons that they received from an accomplice inside al Aqsa mosque. Without that crucial information, BBC audiences obviously cannot understand why the metal detectors were subsequently installed.

Knell then reverts to politicised terminology seen previously in BBC reporting:

Knell: “Now the gate to the al Aqsa mosque compound is open once again but to reach it you have to pass through one of those metal detectors. Israel says it’s a safety issue. Palestinians say until those are removed, they’re going to pray outside.” [emphasis added]

Knell does not clarify that some worshippers are not heeding the call to pray outside and have been using the mosque as usual despite the metal detectors. Neither does she tell BBC audiences that the call to boycott the mosque was actually put out by the Jordanian Waqf. Viewers are not told that non-Muslim visitors to the site (entering via the Mughrabi Gate) already pass through metal detectors, as do all visitors to the Western Wall.

Text: “Why does the site matter? This is a holy site for Muslims, Jews and Christians. Jews call it Temple Mount – the site of two biblical temples. They can visit – but cannot pray. Could the violence escalate? Yes. Washington supports Israel’s response but there’s been criticism from the wider Islamic world.”

BBC audiences are not given the context that is the long history of Palestinian and Arab incitement using the al Aqsa mosque as a pretext for violence. Neither are they informed that previous internationally brokered attempts to improve security at the site and prevent the exploitation of al Aqsa mosque for violent ends were scuppered by the Palestinians.

This story is of course about far more than the installation of a few metal detectors of the type seen at places – including Muslim holy sites – all over the world. Rather, the latest contrived “row” is just one more attempt by Palestinian leaders to negate the presence of Jews at their holiest site, using a pretext that those who fabricate the crisis know only too well is bound to trigger violence.

BBC audiences, however, are by no stretch of the imagination being told the whole story.  

Related Articles:

Why the BBC’s failure to cover faux outrage in Jerusalem matters in the UK

BBC ignores Jordanian cancellation of US brokered Temple Mount plan

No BBC News follow up on Temple Mount ‘tensions’ story

Attempts to hobble Temple Mount cameras not news for BBC

Mapping changes in the terminology used by the BBC to describe Temple Mount

Another Temple Mount incident ignored by BBC News

BBC reporting of confrontations on Temple Mount has often been selective in the past and so it came as little surprise to see that the corporation elected to ignore this story:Kotel at night 2

“Two members of the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf were arrested Wednesday after allegedly attacking Israeli archaeologist Zachi Dvira on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem.

A group of six Israeli archaeologists were attacked by eight Waqf members as they toured the holy site, the Hebrew language Ynet website reported. The clash began after the Israeli group refused to leave the compound when ordered to do so by the Waqf personnel.”

A first-hand account of that incident can be found here.

“The Waqf’s demands were unsolicited and absurd, especially when they prevented us from seeking out the police. Officially, the Waqf guards have no authority upon tourists walking in the open courts of the Mount. Their only authority is inside the Mosques, in which tourists are not allowed. The only official authority are the police, and it is sad that these types of incidents are often overlooked due to political concerns and that the Waqf guards can harass innocent tourist.”

Once again we see that audiences do not receive news which does not tie in with the BBC’s prevailing narrative.

Relatedly, we noted here last month that a BBC Trust adviser handling an appeal concerning a BBC report wrote:

“…the Al-Aqsa Mosque is situated very close to, and on the same raised platform as, the Dome of the Rock (under which the ruins of the two Jewish temples are assumed to be buried – although there was ongoing debate about this)” [emphasis added]

We remarked:

“One can only hope that the bolded statement above does not suggest that the BBC subscribes to or accommodates the narrative of ‘Temple denial’ propagated by some PA officials and others.”

The Times of Israel recently published an interview with the Palestinian Authority’s “top cleric”.

“But regarding the holiest site in Judaism, the Temple Mount — known to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif — Habbash said the idea that ancient Jewish temples stood where the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem stands today is a myth.

Habbash was unfazed by a 1925 pamphlet on the Temple Mount produced by the Supreme Islamic Council, the body in charge of Muslim community affairs during the British Mandate in Palestine from 1920 to 1948, that states that the Temple Mount is indisputably the former site of Solomon’s temple. While he respects the Jews’ right to their own narrative, Habbash said, there is a “reality on the ground.” […]

Pressed on this point — wasn’t it once the Waqf’s own narrative that Solomon’s temple was on the mount? — Habbash’s response, in short, was this: forget narratives and concentrate on the status quo. “Please, please, don’t push us against the wall” and make this a religious war, he said, in which Israel would find “two billion Muslims as well as two billion Christians against you.” This unveiled threat was delivered in the calmest, nicest way imaginable.

Following the interview, Habbash asked for a copy of the pamphlet. In a statement to The Times of Israel, he questioned the document’s authenticity, saying he has “plenty of reasons to believe that some of the sentences were altered and new phrases and terms were injected in order to make it look like it endorses the Jewish narrative that the area where Haram al-Sharif stands used to be the site of the Temple Mount.””

The ability of BBC audiences to understand the frequently reported tensions surrounding Temple Mount would obviously be enhanced were they informed of the motivations that lie behind the Palestinian tactic of negation of Jewish history in Jerusalem. However, with the BBC increasingly compromising its own impartiality by adopting PLO approved terminology and narrative, it seems unlikely that audiences will be provided with objective information which would contribute to their understanding of that issue anytime soon.

Related Articles:

A Temple Mount incident ignored by BBC News

BBC News ignores latest Temple Mount rioting

BBC News ignores Northern Islamic Movement ban – in English

BBC ignores Jordanian cancellation of US brokered Temple Mount plan

Mapping changes in the terminology used by the BBC to describe Temple Mount

 

BBC ignores Jordanian cancellation of US brokered Temple Mount plan

Recently we noted on these pages the lack of any follow-up from the BBC concerning a story it reported back in October 2015. That means that as far as BBC audiences are concerned, the information they were given in that article concerning Temple Mount still stands.Jordan TM report

“Israel and Jordan have agreed on moves aimed at reducing tensions surrounding a prominent holy site in Jerusalem, US Secretary of State John Kerry says. […]

The steps he announced include round-the-clock video monitoring and Israel’s agreement to reaffirm Jordan’s historic role as custodian of the religious complex.”

That, however, is not the case.

Following Palestinian opposition to the plan and repeated delays in its implementation, the Jordanian authorities have now finally announced its cancellation.

 “Jordan’s prime minister on Monday said his government had decided to call off a plan to install surveillance cameras at Jerusalem’s most sensitive holy site, derailing a US-brokered pact to ease tensions at the volatile hilltop compound.

Abdullah Ensour told the state-run Petra News Agency that Jordan was calling off the plan due to Palestinian concerns.

“We were surprised since we announced our intention to carry out the project by the reactions of some of our brothers in Palestine who were skeptical about the project,” he said. “We have found that this project is no longer enjoying a consensus, and it might be controversial. Therefore we have decided to stop implementing it.”

The decision came just days before the Jewish holiday of Passover — a time of increased activity at the site.”

Both Israeli and US officials have expressed regret regarding the Jordanian decision.

“Israel remains in favor of installing security cameras at the Temple Mount compound in Jerusalem, even after Jordan reneged on the project due to Palestinian reservations, a senior official said Tuesday.

“Israel’s support for placing cameras on the Temple Mount remains unchanged. That’s because we believe in transparency,” […]

“It is regrettable that the Palestinian Authority objects to this idea. It’s clear that they don’t want repeated Palestinian provocations caught on tape,” the official said. […]

[US Secretary of State] Kerry hailed the agreement as an important breakthrough at the time. On Monday the US State Department expressed disappointment that the plan has apparently failed.

“We still see the value in the use of cameras,” said spokesman John Kirby.”

Despite the fact that the BBC has devoted so much past reporting to the topic of ‘tensions’ on Temple Mount – and is of course likely to do so in the future – it apparently does not find it necessary for its audiences to know that measures intended to reduce those tensions have failed – and why.

Related Articles:

No BBC News follow up on Temple Mount ‘tensions’ story

Attempts to hobble Temple Mount cameras not news for BBC