Weekend long read

1) The Kohelet Forum has published the second part of a report on “The Scope of European and Multinational Business in the Occupied Territories”.

“There are numerous territories around the world currently under belligerent occupation, where the occupying power has allowed or facilitated the movement of settlers into the occupied territory.
In all these cases, this is done over the vigorous objection of the occupied party and is at odds with its sovereignty or self-determination.
Among the most salient examples are Morocco’s occupation of Western Sahara and Turkey’s of northern Cyprus. Both of these have seen massive government-backed settlement enterprises that dwarf anything in the West Bank. The majority of the population in these territories now consists of settlers, fundamentally undermining the possibility of self-determination or a political solution. There are also settlers in Armenian-occupied Nagorno-Karabakh and the Occupied Ukrainian Territories. In all these cases, foreign companies actively support the various settlement enterprises. These activities include extracting natural resources from the territories, providing infrastructure support to the occupying power, and in general, making the settlement enterprises more economically viable.”

2) The ITIC reports on a Palestinian Islamic Jihad rally held in the PA controlled town of al Bireh.

“On November 10, 2018, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) held a rally to mark the anniversary of the founding of the organization and the death of its founder, Fathi Shqaqi. The rally was held in a large hall in al-Bireh where a recorded speech by Ziyad al-Nakhalah, the newly elected PIJ leader, was played. Al-Nakhalah stressed the importance of the armed struggle against Israel and called on the residents of the West Bank “to lead the armed resistance against Israel as they did in the [second] intifada in 2000” [during which the PIJ was one of the most prominent organizations in carrying out suicide bombing attacks].

Al-Bireh is next to Ramallah (and about 15 kilometers, or about nine miles, from Jerusalem). It is an important administrative center for the Palestinian Authority (PA) in Judea and Samaria, and some of the PA’s offices are located there. It can be assumed that al-Nakhalah’s speech could not have been given in al-Bireh without the authorization, or at least the prior knowledge, of the PA’s security services.”

3) MEMRI takes a look at reports concerning claims of efforts to change Syrian demography.

“Throughout the Syria war, websites opposed to the Assad regime have repeatedly claimed that this regime and its ally Iran were using the war to change Syria’s demography by expelling Sunni populations, deemed a potential threat to the regime, and bringing in Shi’ites, who are more likely to support it. According to these reports, the Assad regime and Iran use a variety of methods – including threats, siege and starving – to compel Sunnis to emigrate and then seize their property and replace them with elements loyal to the regime, including non-Syrians. President Assad outlined this policy in a July 2015 speech, saying, “The homeland does not belong to those who live there, nor to those who hold a passport or are citizens. The homeland belongs to those who protect and guard it.” In the recent months, several websites reported that the regime was naturalizing thousands and even millions of Shi’ites, members of Iranian and Iran-backed militias that are fighting alongside the Syrian army.”

4) On Universal Children’s Day PMW reviewed Palestinian Authority messaging to children.

“Today, November 20th, is known as Universal Children’s Day because it is the day the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child (1959) and the Convention of the Rights of the Child (1989). 

The PA joined the UN’s Convention of the Rights of the Child in 2014. […]

The PA and Fatah leadership is abusing Palestinian children by presenting terrorists as heroes, “Martyrs” as role models, and glorifying the murder of Jews and Israelis. Sports tournaments, names of schools, school books, cultural events, and even music videos glorify terrorist murderers and urge Palestinian youth to aspire to kill and be killed.” 

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Weekend long read

1) Einat Wilf gives her view of “The Fatal Flaw That Doomed the Oslo Accords” at The Atlantic.

“Ultimately, sooner or later, all wars and all conflicts end, with a bang or with a whimper. There is no reason to assume that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is more intractable than others. But if we have learnt anything over the past 25 years, it is that being ambiguous about the simple fact that neither side is going to have the entirety of the land does no one any favors. Israelis will have to accept the fact that they cannot build settlements all over the West Bank, and Palestinians will have to accept the fact that they cannot settle inside Israel in the name of return. The sooner both sides hear and internalize these simple, cold, hard truths, the sooner we will be able to speak of hope again.”

2) At the Jerusalem Post Khaled Abu Toameh brings some views of Ahed Tamimi who in recent months has repeatedly been described by the BBC as “an icon”.

“During a visit to France last weekend, Tamimi appeared in a photo with Salah Eddin Medan, a member of Polisario, the rebel national liberation movement fighting since 1975 to end Morocco’s presence in the Western Sahara.

The photo enraged many Moroccans, who are now saying they regret having backed the campaign to support Tamimi after she was arrested and brought to trial for slapping an IDF soldier in her village last year. […]

“Many Palestinians are asking how come Ahed Tamimi is receiving all this attention from the international media,” said a Palestinian journalist in Ramallah. “There’s a feeling that someone is trying to turn this girl into a big hero and an icon. There are thousands of Palestinians in Israeli prison and no one seems to care. The large-scale attention she’s receiving raises many doubts. The Western media seems to be more interested in her than the Palestinian and Arab media. The Western media is trying to create a Palestinian hero.””

3) At the JNS Yaakov Lappin discusses how “Iran’s activities could ignite a dangerous fire“.

“Traditionally, Iran’s program was to traffic sophisticated weapons to its Lebanese proxy, Hezbollah. But this has run into major trouble in the form of an Israeli counter-program to disrupt this arms flow.

So Iran is trying new tricks, including giving Hezbollah the ability to domestically produce its own guided, heavy rockets.

That would give Hezbollah the ability to threaten Israel with massive projectiles, like the Iranian-designed Fateh 110 rocket, which can carry a half-ton warhead, and to do so with firepower that is accurate. The difference between accurate and inaccurate firepower is major. If Hezbollah can precisely hit the most sensitive Israeli targets—be they civilian or military—its ability to strategically threaten Israel grows significantly.”

4) The JCPA’s Yoni Ben Menachem reports on a new Hamas unit linked to the ‘Great Return March agitprop.

“Over the past two weeks, Hamas has created a new unit called, “The Night-time Deployment Unit.”

The purpose of the unit is to strike against IDF soldiers deployed on the Gaza border during the night and to break the routine of incidents on the border ending in the evening hours or on only one day of the week. […]

The establishment of the new unit is part of Hamas’ strategic decision to ramp up again the incidents on the border following the failure to secure a calm through the Egyptian-sponsored negotiations. The tactic is part of the strategy to pressure Israel to remove the blockade of the Gaza Strip.”

BBC’s terminology double standards on display again

On several occasions in the past we have documented the difference between the terminology used by the BBC in its coverage of the Arab-Israeli conflict and in its coverage of the Western Sahara conflict (as well as others).

Another example of that double standard appeared in an article published on the BBC News website’s ‘Africa’ and ‘Middle East’ pages on June 5th under the headline “Ecowas agrees to admit Morocco to West African body“.

The BBC’s account of the story includes the following:

“Morocco’s application [to join ECOWAS] comes after it rejoined the African Union in January.

Morocco left the continental body in 1984 after it recognised the independence of Western Sahara.

Morocco regards Western Sahara as part of its historic territory and has spent much of the last three decades trying to strengthen ties with Europe at the expense of relations with Africa.” [emphasis added]

Even for the BBC (which generally uses the term ‘disputed’ to describe the status of Western Sahara) that is remarkably tame language. As we see, the corporation did not find it necessary to include any of the accompanying comment concerning legality or ‘international law’ that is standard in reports concerning Israel and no information is given regarding the absence of international recognition of Morocco’s annexation of the territory.

One possible explanation for that lack of that information relevant to audience understanding of the story is found in the fact that 41.9% of the word count of this article actually relates to a topic not related to Morocco’s bid to join ECOWAS or its earlier rapprochement with the African Union.

“King Mohammed VI was not at the summit because Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had been invited. […]

King Mohammed VI last week announced he would not be attending the summit in Liberia, because of the presence of Israel’s prime minister.

Morocco does not have diplomatic ties with Israel.

Mr Netanyahu addressed West African leaders on Sunday saying: “Israel is coming back to Africa and Africa is coming back to Israel.

“I believe in Africa. I believe in its potential, present and future. It is a continent on the rise.”

While in Liberia for the summit, his bodyguards scuffled with those of Togo’s President Faure Gnassingbe, according to reports in the Israeli media.

This trip comes nearly a year after Mr Netanyahu was in East Africa as part of his efforts to strengthen ties between the continent and Israel.”

Having taken the editorial decision that it was more important to include an irrelevant second-hand tale of a ‘scuffle’ between bodyguards rather than to provide readers with factual information concerning the status of Western Sahara, the BBC even failed to explain that story properly.

“…Gnassingbé arrived at the meeting with his bodyguards, but they were stopped at the door to the meeting room by Netanyahu’s security detail, where the Israelis reportedly demanded that the Togo security personnel provide identification.”

Priorities…

 

Continuing documentation of BBC double standards on disputed territories

On several occasions in the past we have documented the difference between the terminology used by the BBC in its coverage of the Arab-Israeli conflict and in its coverage of the Western Sahara conflict (and others).

BBC double standards on disputed territories

Another example of BBC double standards on disputed territories

Disputed or occupied? Documenting the BBC’s continuing double standards

Disputed or occupied? How location dictates BBC terminology

Another example of that double standard appeared on the BBC News website on February 27th in a report titled “Western Sahara: Morocco to pull out of UN buffer zone“.w-sahara-art-27-2

In the caption to the image at the top of the article, readers are told of a “dispute”:

“As a result of the dispute over Western Sahara, thousands of people have been living in refugee camps in Algeria.”

That terminology is also found in the report itself.

“Morocco is to pull out of a UN buffer zone in the disputed Western Sahara territory, an official statement says.”

A map shows readers “Morocco-controlled territory” – with the term ‘occupied’ avoided.

The term ‘controls’ is also used in the text, with none of the accompanying comment concerning legality or ‘international law’ that is standard in reports concerning Israel and no information regarding the absence of international recognition of Morocco’s annexation of the territory.

“Western Sahara is a sparsely-populated area of mostly desert situated on the north-west coast of Africa.

It was annexed by Morocco in 1975 – a move resisted by the Polisario Front.

A 16-year insurgency ended with a UN-brokered truce in 1991 and the promise of a referendum on independence.

But this has yet to take place and Morocco still controls two-thirds of the territory, while thousands of refugees live over the border in Algeria.”

The only use of the term ‘occupation’ comes in quotation marks.

“Mr Guterres’ predecessor, Ban Ki-moon, infuriated Rabat by describing Morocco’s annexation of Western Sahara as an “occupation” – a remark he later apologised for.”

Once again the BBC’s presentation of Western Sahara as “disputed” territory contrasts markedly with its inevitable – and specified – portrayal of Judea & Samaria, parts of Jerusalem and even the Gaza Strip as “occupied”.

As long as that double standard in terminology persists, the BBC cannot be surprised that its impartiality is called into question. 

 

Disputed or occupied? How location dictates BBC terminology

With BBC audiences having read and heard terminology such as “occupied Palestinian territory”, “occupied Palestinian land” and “illegal Israeli settlements” scores of times over the last week or so in BBC coverage of UNSC resolution 2334 (see related articles below), it is interesting to take a look at the language used in an article published on December 25th on the BBC News website’s ‘Africa’ page.

Although its subject matter concerns a decades-old conflict involving an invasion, disputed territory, thousands of people living in refugee camps and more than twenty years of failed negotiations, nowhere in that article – titled “Western Sahara: Kitesurfing in the Dakhla danger zone” – did the BBC tell readers in its own words that the area is “occupied” or describe the presence of Moroccan citizens as “illegal” and at no point did the BBC endorse the narrative of one side of that dispute over the claims of the other side.w-sahara-art-25-12

In fact, readers were specifically told that the location of the story is in “disputed territory”.

“Throughout the year, kitesurfers in need of an adrenaline rush travel the globe to glide on the waters of the Dakhla lagoon in Western Sahara. It is a unique seaside treat which the Moroccan government has turned into a touristic mirage, writes Camille Lavoix.

Some see it as Morocco reinforcing its hold on the region claimed by the Sahrawi people, an indigenous Berber ethnic group, over the past 40 years.

For others, the kitesurfing oasis is the best example of Morocco’s efforts to develop the disputed territory.”

And:

“Since April 2016, some 146 journalists and activists have been arrested or expelled for reporting on the conflict.

The tension between the two sides has, however, not prevented kitesurfers from seeking adventure at the disputed location, while hotels continue to earn good profits.”

This is of course far from the first time that we have documented the differences in the language used by the BBC when reporting on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the conflict in Western Sahara. Currently, however, that double standard is particularly apparent.

Related Articles:

BBC WS report on UNSC resolution endorses Palestinian narrative

A review of BBC News website coverage of UNSC resolution 2334

Reviewing BBC coverage of UNSC resolution 2334 in R4 news bulletins – part one

 

Disputed or occupied? Documenting the BBC’s continuing double standards

In December 2015 and again in March 2016 we documented the differences in the terminology used by the BBC in coverage of stories concerning Western Sahara and stories concerning Judea & Samaria, parts of Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.

On June 1st the BBC News website published an article – “Western Sahara: Polisario Front leader Abdelaziz dies” – in which the corporation’s double standards were once again on display. [emphasis added]W Sahara art 2

“Mohamed Abdelaziz, 68, was secretary-general of the Polisario Front, which fights for an end to Moroccan rule in Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony annexed by Rabat in 1975. […]

Morocco considers Western Sahara to be its “southern provinces”, but Algeria and other countries recognise the Saharan Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) declared by the Polisario Front in 1976. […]

The Moroccan government has proposed wide-ranging autonomy for the region, but the Polisario Front wants self-determination through a referendum for the local population, as called for in UN resolutions.

In April Morocco expelled 84 UN civilian staff after after [sic] UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon referred to Morocco’s rule over Western Sahara as “occupation” during a visit to refugee camps in Tindouf.

The same month, senior Polisario Front member Bachir Mustafa Sayed warned of possible war over the disputed territory if the UN failed to set a timetable for a referendum on self-determination.”

The BBC’s presentation of Western Sahara as “disputed territory” contrasts markedly with its inevitable – and stipulated – portrayal of Judea & Samaria, parts of Jerusalem and even the Gaza Strip as “occupied”. As long as that inconsistency in terminology exists, the corporation cannot be surprised that its impartiality is called into question.

Related Articles:

BBC double standards on disputed territories

Another example of BBC double standards on disputed territories

Not all ‘occupied territories’ are equal for the BBC

BBC approved terminology meets reality and the result is audience confusion

 

Another example of BBC double standards on disputed territories

The double standards employed by the BBC in its reporting on disputed territories have been noted here before in relation to Cyprus and Western Sahara.  The latter region was recently in the news again and on March 17th the BBC News website produced an article titled “Western Sahara: Morocco threat over UN peacekeepers” which displays an interesting choice of language.W Sahara art

“Morocco has threatened to pull its soldiers out of UN global peacekeeping missions in a row over the disputed territory of Western Sahara.

It is furious with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon after he used the term “occupation” about the territory, which was annexed by Morocco in 1975.” [emphasis added]

Later on in the article readers were told that:

“Morocco annexed most of the disputed former Spanish colony in 1976.” [emphasis added]

In contrast to its reporting on Israel which – in line with the directives of the BBC’s dedicated style guide – is inevitably peppered with phrases such as ‘occupied’ or ‘illegal under international law’, this article uses the much more politically neutral term “disputed” which is also how the region is described in the corporation’s general style guide.

W Sahara style guide

The BBC is far from the only media organization to use differing terminology depending on who is contesting a region, as our colleagues at CAMERA have documented. Nevertheless, as long as the BBC continues to employ such blatant double standards, it should not be surprised that its supposed impartiality is called into question. 

BBC double standards on disputed territories

At the beginning of November the BBC World Service produced two items concerning a decades-old conflict involving an invasion, disputed territory, thousands of people living in refugee camps and more than twenty years of failed negotiations.Witness W sahara audio

However, BBC audiences did not hear the words ‘occupied’ or ‘illegal under international law’ as they so frequently do in content relating to Israel. In fact, what they did hear in those two programmes was a nostalgic and sympathetic portrayal of Morocco’s ‘Green March’ into Western Sahara in 1975.

The audio version of that episode of ‘Witness’ uses the term “disputed territory” in its synopsis.

“In November 1975, King Hassan the Second ordered hundreds of thousands of Moroccans to march into disputed territory in the desert. He wanted to claim the colony of Spanish Sahara for Morocco. The Green March led to a diplomatic victory for the King, but sparked a guerrilla war and decades of instability in the region. Witness speaks to a Moroccan who was on the march.”

The synopsis to the filmed version of the same programme uses the same term.Witness W Sahara filmed

“Forty years ago, the King of Morocco ordered hundreds of thousands of Moroccans to march into the Sahara desert to claim an area of disputed territory from Spain. The Green March, as it became known, was instigated in part to boost King Hassan the Second’s faltering support at home and sparked a long guerrilla war.
Moroccan TV journalist, Seddik Maaninou, was on the march and spoke to Witness about a turning point in North African history.”

The BBC Academy’s style guide entry for Western Sahara describes it as “[d]isputed territory administered by Morocco” and readers will not find terms such as ‘occupied’ or ‘international law’ in the corporation’s profile of Western Sahara.