Not on the BBC

A small example of the subtle, or not so subtle, media bias that the BBC and others perpetuate. This is from BBCWatch:

BBC reports on Hamas rally in Arabic – but not in English

Whilst visitors to the BBC Arabic website on March 23rd were informed that a Hamas rally attended by tens of thousands had taken place in Gaza City earlier in the day, those visiting the main English language BBC News website found no report on that topic and hence would have no idea of the rhetoric against Israel, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority which was part and parcel of the event.

With the BBC lately having taken to sedately describing Hamas as the body “which governs the Gaza Strip” and with audiences having been told on several recent occasions that Hamas has “refrained” from attacking Israel since the ceasefire of October 2012, it would of course have been useful to audiences to have an up to the minute appraisal of the terrorist organisation’s stance regarding its neighbours.

Via Channel 10, readers can view footage (in Arabic and Hebrew) of some parts of Ismail Haniyeh’s speech at the event – translated below.

“Today Gaza says to our brothers in the [West] Bank we are with you, we will not abandon you.

All of Jenin and all of the [West] Bank is resistance. Resistance, resistance, resistance, resistance! […]

Both from the tunnels beneath the ground and also above the ground, you – the conquerors [occupiers] – will [be driven] out. You have no existence on the soil of Palestine.

We have the ability to create terror from nothing and to shake the earth of Tel Aviv. […]

I tell you and I will continue to say time after time; we will not recognise, we will not recognise, we will not recognise Israel.”


Haniyeh also called on the PA’s Mahmoud Abbas to “quit this pointless track and not to extend negotiation” and reproached Egypt for its recent stance towards the Gaza Strip’s ruling regime.

“The punishment of the people of Gaza must end. Why punish Gaza? Was it because it achieved victory against the Occupier? Why punish Gaza? Was it because it took up the rifle against Israel?”

Given that in the past we have seen extensive BBC reporting of similar rallies organized by Hamas, it is unclear why BBC News should have chosen not to report on this particular one to English-speaking audiences and instead to confine its limited coverage to the Arabic-language site.

I am sure there will be a justification. However, the reason matters not so much as the impact. It’s as if these words in Arabic were never said. Nice, moderate Hamas. You can do business with these guys. And all that crap.

Think about that piece, and then look here: Israel is just too darn democratic for the Left. Worth reading in its entirety, but I will offer this sneak peek extract:

They don’t just want their own policies imposed on the body politic that has rejected them. They want it to hurt, too. They want Israel’s electorate humiliated, degraded, and violated for the sin of rejecting them and their pipe dream of peace.

Suddenly the BBC’s omission is seen as part of the greater picture: we won’t change opinion in Israel, but we can outside of Israel. So let’s stick to the program.

I wonder how many blindly follow the line they promote?

It happens

Even the massed ranks of the BBC make simple mistakes. (Don’t they have editors by the bucket load?) Here’s the proof:


“The team’s exploits of…”?

This post is just to show, it’s not only Israelis that can be sloppy with their English. Oh, by the way, you can click the picture to see the BBC article. Cool if you like cars or Top Gear.

(Right now, in the bowels of Broadcasting House, a junior editor is being beaten within an inch of his life, by an ex public schoolboy armed with a hardback thesaurus, a rolled up Guardian newspaper, and the determined resolution of a man on a mission that matters. Oh, that’s got to hurt. This mental image comes to you free, from my fevered, overactive, and doubtless inaccurate, imagination.)

Orwellian nightmare

More unbelievable contortions from the BBC, as exposed by Hadar Sela at BBC Watch:

BBC: AIDS ribbon not allowed, PSC t-shirt fine

Yes, you read that correctly.

  • Graham Norton got into trouble for wearing a World Aids Day ribbon.
  • Tony Greenstein got into no trouble for wearing a Palestinian Solidarity Campaign t-shirt and badge.

Orwellian nightmare, indeed.

See the details, here.

They see no wrong?

In the public discourse that features Israel, media bias is a prominent part, including the efforts made to delegitimize and demonize Israel, come what may. (The LBI movement – “Let’s bash Israel!”)

That media bias, deligitimization, and demonization is sometimes subtle. Rarely so, but it happens.

Generally, it’s not so subtle, but is explained away with a wash of left wing or liberal (typically) weasel words.

And then there’s stuff like the Arafat Dead Discussion. The slightest, most tenuous link between Israel and Arafat’s death is given uncritical prominence and, linking to unfounded conspiracy theories, promoted without hesitation. Who cares about the damage done?

So, the recent fiasco of a crap report about polonium poisoning – a report that was poor science packaged with public relations possibilities amounting to sod all – was a perfect opportunity for the practitioners of LBI. Did they seize the moment? You bet they did.

Time moves on. There is the publication of a fact based, hard science report, refuting the poisoning and the polonium nonsense. An opportunity to put things right. Did they seize the moment? You bet they didn’t.

In the type of follow up which should see heads roll, BBC Watch offers this comparison:

Arafat poisoned

Source: BBC Watch

Source: BBC Watch

Arafat not poisoned

Source: BBC Watch

Source: BBC Watch

But get this. As BBC Watch reports about the two latter reports:

The two reports – one written (which has undergone numerous changes since its initial publication) and one filmed – both include repetition of Palestinian conspiracy theories which accuse Israel of being responsible for Arafat’s death.

Even when Israel is not to blame, Israel is to blame.

I can sort of understand this garbage from so called Pro Palestinian sites or commentators, but isn’t the BBC supposed to be several leagues above that? And independent? Can they really see no wrong in this? Perhaps they have too much management focus on other issues at the moment, but this is downright awful and inexcusable. They shouldn’t get away with it. They will, but they shouldn’t.

Who will get the BBC to face up to their crimes?

A little inside story

We have a friend who has a well developed social conscience. She volunteers frequently for the IDF through the Sar-El organization. Essentially, the work she and others like her do, frees up soldiers. It’s hard, but worthwhile, and we guess she enjoys it from the way her face beams as she recounts her many experiences there.

This friend, let’s call her Ann, is in the middle of a Sar-El session right now. Last week she spent time packing emergency aid for the Philippines. The IDF is part of the Israeli contribution to international aid. Well done Ann, the IDF, and Israel.

All of which makes this snapshot from the BBC, a little galling:


Can you see Israel on this list? No, neither can I. BBC Watch has the full story, here.

You know, it’s funny.

Whenever anything bad happens (or appears to happen) in Israel, you can almost guarantee it will feature with organizations like the BBC. Stuff that would not get a sniff of the media if it happened in Bangor, Brighton, or Blairgowrie, becomes a Big Deal.

Whenever Israel does anything good…

Hypocrisy also comes in a three letter form, starting with “B”.

This reminds me

This, from BBC Watch, reminds me of something:

Why we need to talk about the BBC’s promotion of Middle East conspiracy theories

Here is David Aaronovitch – who knows a thing or two about conspiracy theories – writing in The Times(£):

“It’s the late morning, two days ago. And I’m sitting in a BBC studio to discuss the death of the Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, in 2004.” […] 

“[….] one of my fellow panellists is a veteran Palestinian journalist, Abdel Bari Atwan, and Atwan is in no mood to examine the alternatives. His first jump is to assert without qualification that the scientists have concluded that Arafat was murdered with polonium-210. His second leap is to state, unequivocally, that Israel did it. No question.

And then he pulls a fact out of his sleeve. Only three countries have access to polonium-210: Russia, the US and you-know-who. Russia couldn’t have done it, America wouldn’t have and that leaves only one possibility. When I get home I look this “fact” up and I can find only one source. An article by Abdel Bari Atwan, and it isn’t true.

Too late for correction. And in any case Atwan has a Twitter audience of nearly 300,000, mostly in the Arab world. The thing is already inscribed in stone.”

Aaronovitch is right, of course. Conspiracy theories tend to fall on particularly fertile ground in the Middle East, not infrequently morphing into lethal narratives.

The question is though, how can a publicly funded organization which has its entire raison d’etre set out in the charter and agreement which are its constitutional basis and which define its public purposes – including “promoting education and learning” and building “a global understanding of international issues” – justify  the provision of a platform for the amplification (and legitimization, through the stamp of BBC respectability and its unrivalled outreach) of conspiracy theories?

It is difficult to imagine the BBC inviting ‘Elvis is alive’ or ‘the moon landing was faked’ conspiracy theorists to participate as regular panel members on its current affairs programmes, and yet BBC editors and producers apparently cannot grasp that Abdel Bari Atwan at best falls into the same genre. In fact, Atwan’s promotion of conspiracy theories is fuelled by his political motivations, putting him into an altogether less eccentric category.

Last week the BBC covered the recent publication of a report from the EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency showing that antisemitism in Europe is once again on the rise. One of the many topics addressed in that report is that of antisemitism stemming from perceptions of the Arab-Israeli conflict, which of course the majority of Europeans learn about through the mainstream media.

Members of the media in general would do well at this point to devote some thought to the subject of the trickle-down effects of irresponsible, inaccurate coverage of the Arab-Israeli conflict as a catalyst for increased antisemitism both in Europe and beyond.

But another of the BBC’s public purposes – going under the title of “sustaining citizenship and civil society” – obliges BBC management in particular to consider this subject very seriously, with its recent amplification of Arafat-related conspiracy theories (by no means limited to the programme in which David Aaronovitch took part) being a good place to start.

And what does this remind me of?

  • It reminds me of what it is like to have the BBC as a main news provider.
  • It reminds me of what it’s like to live in the UK and be bombarded – sometimes subtly, sometimes not so subtly – with out and out anti-Israel or anti-Jewish or combination material that, collectively amounts to a delegitimization campaign.
  • It reminds me that this scenario is an often unreported cause of intermarriage and of people drifting away from their heritage and their religion.

Every little particle of poison, every little lining of lies, is an attack that goes largely unremarked on, and largely without accountability.

Kudos to BBC Watch for taking them to task.

When will somebody in authority listen?

“If I were a culturally insensitive man”

Hit lyric? Well, the BBC knows the words, at least:

BBC says ‘no intention to cause any offence’ after trailer gaffe

BBC changes fraud show trailer amid antisemitism concern.

The JC reports:

“BBC producers have changed a trailer for a series about tax and benefit fraudsters following complaints that it could be seen as antisemitic.

The original trailer for Britain on the Fiddle featured the song “If I Were a Rich Man”, from Fiddler on the Roof, the 1960s film about Jews in a Russian shtetl.

Some viewers felt that the choice of music pandered to negative stereotypes about Jews and money.”

From the BBC’s Editorial Guidelines:

“We aim to reflect fully and fairly all of the United Kingdom’s people and cultures in our services.  Content may reflect the prejudice and disadvantage which exist in societies worldwide but we should not perpetuate it.  In some instances, references to disability, age, sexual orientation, faith, race, etc.  may be relevant to portrayal.  However, we should avoid careless or offensive stereotypical assumptions and people should only be described in such terms when editorially justified.”  [emphasis added]

Could they have done any worse with their choice? What the hell were they thinking? Ah, that’s it: they weren’t thinking!

[Brought to you from BBC Watch.]

Missing material

From BBC Watch:

BBC priorities: missile fire not newsworthy but drone crash is

As we have all too frequently had to note on these pages, the BBC’s coverage of terror attacks against Israeli civilians by means of missiles launched from the Gaza Strip can at best be described as patchy and inconsistent.

It seems that, despite its well-staffed Jerusalem Bureau, the BBC is just not interested in bringing the story of repeated incidents – and the constant threat – of missile fire on hundreds of thousands of Israeli civilians living in proximity to the border with the Gaza Strip. Six such attacks during the past month were completely ignored by the BBC…as were previous ones in September, August and July.

However, when a 7.5 kilo drone crashed just inside the Gaza Strip due to a technical malfunction in the early afternoon of November 3rd, a BBC report (promoting unsubstantiated Hamas propaganda) was quick to follow.

Those are strange priorities by any standards.

Good old BBC. Can we have it back, please? The new one is rubbish.

One hundred women at the BBC

From the BBC:

100 Women: Who is taking part?

They hail from all over the world, and from walks of life. They do all kinds of things: they make music, save lives, raise children, run businesses, write, preach, act and tell jokes. They campaign for their causes and strive for a better world for themselves and their families.

On Friday 25 October they are coming together at the BBC’s London headquarters, Broadcasting House, for a unique day of debate and discussion.

We’ll ask them to tell us where they think the world’s women are today, and to set out their goals for the future. You’ll be able to follow every development on BBC TV, radio and online.

We’ll give more details of the schedule as we get nearer the day.

There then follows the list. (You can see it, here.)

The non UK countries represented – on the face of the list – include: Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Cambodia, Kenya, Myanmar, Russia, Switzerland, Colombia, Italy, Egypt, Finland, India, Malawi, China, Zimbabwe, New Zealand, Hungary, Iceland, Lebanon, Cameroon, Spain, Syria, Netherlands, Indonesia, Jamaica, Bangladesh, South Africa, Iran, Afghanistan, Uganda, USA, Tunisia, Bolivia, Guatemala, France, Sierra Leone, Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan.

Why do I get a bad feeling about this event?