Could Explain A Lot



The Open University examined the BBC World Service in 2010:

Little is known about why and how certain diaspora groups connect with their home countries via the BBC World Service (BBCWS).

Its authoritative reach across national and diasporic boundaries may seem paradoxical, given that is funded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and has a remit to build Britain’s reputation and influence abroad. Nevertheless, despite its international profile, astonishingly little research exists on the historical and contemporary work of cultural brokerage and diplomacy performed by BBCWS.

From the prewar Empire Service on shortwave to the tri-media World Service of today, Tuning In documents how the BBC has, over eighty years, been a pivotal contact zone for diaspora engagement.




This could explain the BBC’s approach to the Middle East and the Palestinians in particular revealing that impartiality is not a valued commodity…what is needed instead is a ‘voice’ that resonates with the tells it what it wants to hear.  We  get to see confirmation that the BBC speaks with a different voice depending on which audience it broadcasts to…BBC Arabic providing a different narrative to the BBC in English.


Memory, Participation and Resistance in ‘Global Conversation’: Discussing the 60th Anniversary of Al-Nakba on BBC, Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiyya Arabic and English Language On-line Forums


‘The language of impartiality misses out on a key dimension of the ‘battle for hearts and minds’ in the Middle East – the role of social memory, loyalty and solidarity in the public sphere of Arab societies, and the need for any broadcaster to resonate or articulate with this to attract a popular audience.’


In 2014 you may recognise the approach taken in 2009 whilst reporting on ‘Cast Lead‘ in Gaza:

‘BBC Arabic TV focused on the rescue operations for civilian victims, and many appreciated this.



Impartiality?  The BBC seem to have ditched that…what about ‘factual accuracy’?  Seems that that too is disposable, replaced with ‘narratives and world views’:

Perhaps we should ask critical questions like what value does factual accuracy carry in a media environment where facts have become so widely available and commoditized? In the context of the battle for hearts and minds being played out over the airwaves of transnational Arab news networks overt discourses, narratives and world views have gained renewed importance. How will the BBC confront these narratives and offer alternatives to the dominant narratives of the Arab public sphere, which perceives the Arab nation as the victim western neo-imperialism, illegitimate and authoritarian leadership and the object of multiple designs to ensure it remains paralysed, occupied, de-Islamised and conditionally democratised. The incident of the commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the Nakba and the creation of the State of Israel is arguably a vital testing ground for evaluating the BBC’s role of presenting the grey areas to a polarised audience.


Here we get to see the infamous different emphasis placed on reports by the various BBC news servies catering for different audiences:

BBC Arabic seems to have navigated the controversial waters of the 14th and 15th of May 2008 quite well.  The BBC global website contains an “Israel at 60” portal which contains interactive features and maps and testimonials from both Israelis and Palestinians on the contradicting celebrations and remembrance. However, the portal was not translated into Arabic or made available on the BBC Arabic website. Instead BBC Arabic’s coverage of the coinciding events was composed mostly of its own Nakba orientated TV news packages, along with a limited number of translated articles from the BBC World Service Middle East website.  The former spent on average one minute on Israeli celebrations and two minutes on the unresolved plight of the Palestinians. The stories clearly contrasted Israeli and “international” celebration of the creation of the State of Israel with the ongoing costs of 1948 to Palestinians.

Although Israel’s celebrations were acknowledged and pictures celebrations from around the country on the 15th of May were published on BBC Arabic there was no celebratory or congratulatory tone to the coverage despite national celebrations in Britain and congratulatory messages and events in Europe and North America, and there was no sense that BBC Arabic would attempt to rebrand the Nakba narrative in a way that recognised the legitimacy of Israel and the redemption of the Jewish people.

Instead there was a clear emphasis on the Nakba in the Arabic service’s coverage which began around the 5th to the 18th May 2008.  Some would argue that the “BBC” did not speak with the same voice in its Arabic and English coverage, but this would suggest some kind of political inconsistency which would not accurately reflect the editorial independence of the numerous services within the corporation and importantly their different mandates.  


Whilst the BBC didn’t want to go so far as to ‘recognise’ Israel it does recognise the ‘Nakba’…a Palestinian political creation that tries to put themselves on the same level of ‘victim’ status as the Jews and the Holocaust…..

In contrast, BBC Arabic’s coverage and clarity in terms of recognising the Nakba went far further than Al-Arabiya


As for peace in the Middle East based upon the recognition of Israel?

Check these Arab views out…Nationalist, Islamist and Liberal:

المرجع القومي    The nationalist repertoire:
إسرائيل ورم سرطاني    Israel is a cancerous tumour
إسرائيل اغتصبت ارض فلسطين    Israel has raped the land of Palestine
ما اخذ بالقوة لا يسترد إلى بالقوة    What has been taken by force can be returned only by force
المجتمع الدولي منحاز لطرف إسرائيل    The international community is biased in Israel’s favour
السلام مع الكيان الصهيوني الاستعماري مرفوض    Peace with the Imperialist Zionist entity  is rejected
ضعف و عدم شرعية الأنظمة العربية    The weakness and illegitimacy of so called “Arab” regimes

المرجع الإسلامي    The Islamist repertoire:     
الصراع مع إسرائيل صراع عقاﺌدي    The conflict with Israel is religious
الرجوع للإسلام الوسيلة الوحيدة لمواجهة إسرائيل    Returning to Islam is the only means to confront Israel
قيام إسرائيل مذكور في القران الكريم    Israel’s ascendance is prophesised in the Quran
نكبة فلسطين نتيجة التأمر على نظام الخلافة    The Palestinian catastrophe is the result of the abandonment of the Caliphate
كما حرر المقاومة الإسلامية جنوب لبنان ستحرر فلسطين    In the same way that Hezbollah liberated south Lebanon Palestine will be freed
لا فاﺌدة في المعاهدات مع إسرائيل – ف وسفهم الله في القران بأنهم إذا وعدو اخلفوا وإذا أتمن خان    There is no point in negotiating with theIsrael’s – Allah has described them in the Quran as breakers of trust and promises

المرجعاللبرالي    The Liberal repertoire  
دولة إسرائيل أصبحت حقيقة يجب التعامل معها    The State of Israel has become a reality we must deal with        اليهود لديهم حق تاريخي في العيش في ارض فلسطين التاريخية    The Jewish people have a historical right to live in the land of Palestine
لا يوجد بديل للمفاوضات مع إسرائيل    There is no alternative to negotiating with Israel
السلام مع إسرائيل خيار استراتيجي    Peace with Israel is a strategic choice
الحقد والشعارات وتشدد الأعمى لا يؤدي  إلى شيء     Hatred, rhetoric and blind extremism has got us nowhere
مبروك لاسرائيل    Congratulations to Israel


Of the 829 contributions on the forum 93% (or 775) participations correspond to one of the three repertoires identified.

Islamist   87  12%              Nationalist  523  67%              Liberal  165  21%


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4 Responses to Could Explain A Lot

  1. chrisH says:

    Great piece of work this.
    1. Hadn`t occured to me to separate the Islamist pychos from the Islamist ones…and those liberal ones make interesting reading…do David Ward/Jenny Tonge up count now as an Islamists or a Nationalists…sure as hell aren`t liberals based on these criteria given.
    2. Social memory.loyalty and solidarity in Arab society eh?…that`ll be “prejudice, conservative and fascist” in any other grouping but Arabia then!…basically this is socialism and union advocacy,propped up by a Koran.


  2. stuart says:

    my heart goes out to the innocent palestinian civilians killed in this conflict in israel,i feel very sad when i see those pictures on the tv,but when hamas fire a rocket at the israeli forces in battle and it hits a hospital or school that is devastating for these people and the blame must be clear here that these hamas terrorists are killing there own women and children hoping to blame the idf in this horrific propaganda game they are playing with the biased media,hamas must stop firing these scud missiles and grad rockets at the israeli population and there own community,this must stop now.


  3. deegee says:

    Twenty-one per cent liberal? That many!


  4. Tom says:

    Israel will regret their domination of the people of PALESTINE .Without the support of the usa which is on the decline there will be a more even playing field. slan go foill