CAMERA Captures BBC Bias

This has already been linked to on the Open Thread, – H/T La Cumparsita – but it deserves further attention. I posted here on this programme “A Walk in the Park” at the time. It was so one-sided that I saw it as a recipe, cooked-up and formulaic.

What a contrast with Jane Corbin’s unique Mavi Marmara Panorama, which was more thoroughly researched, not unsympathetic to Israel’s point of view, and, unusually for the BBC, it included some context.
CAMERA’s meticulous debunking of both “A Walk in the Park” and the Editorial Standards Committee’s original response to their complaints disposes of potential accusations of using selective criteria to make that comparison. It also underlines very clearly why we are engaged in a constant battle against endemic anti Israel reporting, which frequently breeches BBC editorial guidelines.

CAMERA demolishes “A Walk in the Park” on so many counts, and highlights so many breeches of the BBC’s impartiality guidelines that we should insist on being treated to the BBC’s and Jane Corbin’s updated responses. Would she, like Judge Goldstone, say hindsight is a wonderful thing, or would the BBC close ranks and defend the programme in their usual way, namely shrugging off individual accusations with a nitpicking approach that avoids all cognisance of the general impression given. It’s as if doing that blinds them from recognising or admitting the overall slanting and bias their programmes exude.

I don’t see how they could possibly get away with that for a second time. What they should do is simply to show this video on a forthcoming Panorama. For balance.

Unity at Last, Rejoice!

Compare these reports. The BBC website is upbeat about the Palestinians’ latest measures to heal the feud between Hamas and Fatah. Mahmoud Abbas is ready to go to Gaza, and Hamas has welcomed the move. Hoorah!

The second paragraph reads:

“Both parties seem to be responding to the recent demonstrations that were inspired by the uprisings elsewhere in the Middle East, reports the BBC’s Jon Donnison from Ramallah.”

Then why is it under the jarring sub heading “AIRSTRIKE” ? Oh. The article suddenly veers off topic, skidding onto a path well-worn by the BBC.

“Meanwhile, doctors in Gaza said at least two Palestinians were killed in an Israeli airstrike in the central Gaza Strip. The Israeli army confirmed the attack, saying it was responding to rockets fired from Gaza.”

The BBC is barely interested in silly old rockets fired from Gaza, it wouldn’t have mentioned them at all had two Palestinians not been killed.

“Israel says militants have sent dozens of rockets into Israeli territory since the start of the year.”

‘Doctors in Gaza’ said the interesting thing; disembodied ‘Israel’ says the barely interesting, dodgy-looking thing.

“Before Wednesday’s incident, UN figures showed at least eight Palestinians had been killed by Israeli military action in Gaza in 2011.”
No reason given.

Another report is discussed here.

“the Palestinian news agency Ma’an reported that Gaza demonstrators in favour of reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah were violently dispersed by the Islamist group:
‘They beat people with batons and set fire to tents that were set up by the demonstrators, according to activists in Gaza City.’

So, not all sweetness and light inspired by the glorious Arab uprising then, BBC?
And what’s all this?

“on a day ostensibly devoted to Palestinian unity, police brutally attacked photographers and cameramen, beating the, breaking equipment and confiscating photos and video footage. This is the latest in a string of chilling attacks on reporters in Gaza.”

But the West sits silent.

Well, not completely silent. They did mention the airstrike.
I do hope Jon Donnison gets well soon. I’m assuming he was knocked unconscious in the fracas. That must be it.


A Biased BBC reader writes;

Palestinian writer Raja Shehadeh (natch, you know what’s coming) uses this platform affordedo him by the BBC on Radio 4’s Book of the Week slot to promote war, the Caliphate and death to Israel.

It is written seductively in a quiet manner, poetic and lyrical…but listen to the words and there is no mistaking the intent…to incite the Arab world to attack Israel and to do away with borders and nationalities…in other words create a Muslim caliphate. He tells us that Israel and the Arab dictators like Mubarak were in a ‘deadly embrace’ that allowed Israel to stay in existence and flourish for 30 years. What was the alternative? The Muslims had tried destroying Israel 3 times….The only conclusion is that he wishes that Israel had not been able to sign peace treaties with the likes of Egypt and that wars had continued with the aim of annihilating Israel and the Jews. 

Good of the BBC to allow the vioce of terrorism onto the airwaves whilst banishing that of people like Geert Wilders who is condemned for suggesting that a religion that has homophobia, misogyny, religious apartheid and evangelism at the point of a sword, may not be a fit and proper partner in creating a free and liberal world.

Unhappy Snaps

A little bit more on the BBC promoting an exhibition of photographs by the German propagandist photographer with the chilling rictus grin and the “who, me?” shrug.
I first heard it advertised on Radio 4’s night-time World Service programme on the arts, “The Strand.” I mentioned it in my previous post, and several commenters mentioned it again on yesterday’s Open Thread.
See what Robin Shepherd has written, watch the video, and weep.

Being Louis

or Louis in Wonderland.
I was wondering what all that fuss was about, so I put on my best Louis Theroux voice. I wanted to understand Louis, so I set off to enter Louis’s mind. I tried to think like Louis…..I wondered if Louis felt uncomfortable, as a human being, that the filmmakers used the word ‘Zionist’ pejoratively, and selected the most controversial sound-bites for their ubiquitous trailer? Then I realised – it’s the ratings, stupid.

I was wondering whether Louis was worried that the film might inadvertently lure antisemites from their lairs. Then I remembered the subtle backtracking I had noticed earlier, and I thought I understood.

I wondered whether Louis felt uncomfortable, on a human level, for asking settlers if they felt guilty over stealing Palestinian land, when his film actually stated, ” It [an Arab area] used to be Jewish till all the Jews were violently driven out 1920s during a pogrom.”
I wondered if Louis felt uneasy perpetuating myths about Jews stealing Arab land, when the opposite is nearer to the truth. Then it occured to me that the filmmakers forgot to edit that bit out and hoped no-one would notice. It was revealing, yes, but also so fleeting, so momentary, so easily missable; few would have noticed.

I began to wonder whether Louis had done any homework, before embarking on a film which he had waited ten years to make. Then I remembered, studying the Guardian and the BBC would have provided all the education Louis needed.

Louis chatted to the head of security of the Hebron Jewish community, named Yoni. Louis began a series of questions that were cunningly designed to highlight the Palestinians’ inequality. Louis seemed to be exposing injustice, but I was wondering if the injustice Louis perceived was the injustice that prevents Palestinians with murderous intent being allowed to import knives and guns, freely and democratically into Israeli residential areas. Was that the injustice Louis perceived, I asked myself?
I thought I detected some clumsy editing. I noticed an abrupt jump from Yoni’s half-finished answer to Louis’s first question, ping, to Louis’s next question. Louis said: It’s been reported that Arabs suffered a campaign of harassment from Jewish settlers in Hebron, including graffiti, stone throwing, abuse – to which Yoni replied: There were incidents – of course there were incidents – unfortunately – but you cannot compare.. CUT!
I was wondering whether Yoni had actually said some more, and the editors had edited it out. Hmmm, I wondered.
If some Arabs threw stones at Jewish settlers, the settlers would do what? asked Louis. If Yoni had said something that the editors didn’t like, the editors would do what? I wondered.

You may now stop thinking in the Louis Theroux voice. Snap! You’re back in the room!

Most of the Jews in the film seemed engaging and human. The Palestinians, on the other hand appeared to be bristling with hate and spittle, or sitting puffing a fag all day getting fatter and fatter and wondering why they couldn’t sell something and own it at the same time.
I’m not saying all Palestinians are like that by the way. I’m talking about the way they were shown on Louis’s film.

Is it fair to transfer Jews into Palestinian areas that had been won in war? asked Louis.

Is it fair not to mention that the wars in question were, in fact, wars of aggression, started by Arabs with the sole object of obliterating Israel?
Not a lot of people know that, Louis. And Louis, if you were given the chance to enlighten them, why didn’t you?

BBC Hypocrisy: Context Edition

The BBC has figured out their Narrative on these leaked documents from the Israel/Palestinian peace process. Naturally, Israel gets the worst of it. But there is a moment of glaring hypocrisy.

Jerusalem’s troubled geography

Right from the start, we see the direction it’s headed.

The release of thousands of leaked documents apparently showing Palestinian willingness to compromise over Israeli settlements once again highlights Jerusalem’s troubled geography – and damages the credibility of both sides, writes the BBC’s diplomatic correspondent Jonathan Marcus.

Both sides look bad? I suppose that’s why so many Palestinians have been complaining that Fatah is undermining their hopes and dreams, because the documents are equally damaging to Israel’s credibility? Color me skeptical. But first, we get the usual BBC agenda-driven historical moment in a vacuum.

As a main topic of the leaked documents concerns East Jerusalem, it’s only right that the BBC sets the scene. We’re told that Israel “captured” East Jerusalem in the Six Day War, but are provided zero context (remember that word for later) as to why they were in a position to do so. All we’re told is: “For the Palestinians and many in the Arab world this was a disaster.” Yes, it’s Arabist Gospel that Israel was an unprovoked aggressor in that war, but the BBC needs to be dealing in facts, not fiction. Israel’s move into East Jerusalem is presented in a vacuum, and the reader is left to assume whatever they like.

Of course, in 1967, there was no such thing as Palestinians, outside of Arafat’s little activist group. The people of East Jerusalem were Jordanians then. So the BBC creates a little alternate history. The propaganda is so deeply entrenched in their minds – and, most likely, in BBC editorial policy on the subject – that they write it as fact. But after being educated by the BBC, the average BBC audience member must find it very distasteful to learn that many Israelis viewed this “disaster” as a “miracle”. I think we can see the Narrative taking shape.

Now for the bit where Jonathan Marcus explains how these documents make Israel look bad. First, he carefully explains the Palestinian position on East Jerusalem, the Settlements, and some of the larger picture. There is no mention of any Israeli concerns, as if it’s unimportant, although there’s a lone subheading about ‘holy places’. We’ll get to that shortly. Then Marcus writes this:

While the main thrust of these documents is to show a Palestinian Authority far more willing to offer compromises than the Israelis have ever been willing to admit, the story is not entirely one of sharp divisions and unbridgeable gulfs.

Now we see how Israel is made to look the villain even here. Nasty old Israel has been dishonest and lying about Palestinian negotiations, right? Who’s really not the valid partner in the peace process, eh, BBC? Forget about all those people complaining that ceding a little territory is proof that Fatah is failing their people, etc. It’s really Israel who doesn’t want peace.

The leaked documents show that in August 2008 Israel’s former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was willing to break with his hardliners, accepting that Jerusalem would in some way be partitioned, allowing both Israelis and the Palestinians to use it as their capital.

Yep, those nasty old hardliners, the real obstacle to peace, eh, BBC? A joint capital was always the only way, don’t you know. And what about those holy places?

This offer, made just a few months before US President Barack Obama took office, included provisions for the token return of some Palestinian refugees and on potentially the most contentious issue of all – access to the holy places at the heart of the city – interim arrangements involving Israel, the Palestinians, the Saudis and the Jordanians.

Indeed, the Palestinian side too seems to have been willing to envisage imaginative solutions to resolve the problems of access and control over the holy basin.

So you see, it’s….wait…the holy what now? Who has access to which holy places now, BBC? No context whatsoever. In fact, as those who look to the BBC for their information wouldn’t know, Jews are not allowed to pray at the only actual holy site in the entire religion: the Temple Mount. They are permitted to worship only at the base of a retaining wall around the perimeter of the compound. Jews are not permitted to worship or even dress too orthodox on the actual premises. Only Muslims are permitted. The fact is, this is tolerated by the Israeli government because all hell would break loose if they did anything about it. The BBC never honestly addresses this issue. No special segments on any religion programmes about how Judaism is the only major religion in the world not in control of its own holy site. (This always begs the question of how this situation could exist if Jews really had so much power over world affairs. They control everything except that? But that’s for another time.) But they are more concerned about Palestinian rights.

To which holy sites do Palestinians not currently have access, BBC? Which sites would be blocked if Israel controlled East Jerusalem? Are we supposed to seriously believe that Israel would prevent Muslims from worshiping at the site? Based on what evidence? Again, the reader is left in a vacuum, with details supporting only one side of the argument.

Now here it comes, the moment we all expected:

This of course was all more than two years ago. Since then a more right-wing Israeli government has come to power. It has set itself firmly against any division of Jerusalem. A US effort to freeze settlement building and to get substantive talks under way has also failed.

This is the context in which these leaked documents must be read.

BBC hypocrisy on display. After providing zero context about the key issues involved, the BBC’s middle east correspondent has the temerity to lecture you about context: the context which fits the Narrative, of course.

Israel = bad. It’s the fault of those nasty right-wingers. The Obamessiah’s efforts failed – oh, wait, sorry, He can’t fail, it’s the “US effort” which failed – due to nasty right-winger Israeli racists. Nothing to do with Palestinian intransigence or anything. The only correct solution is a partition of Jerusalem, with the Jews ceding the most important areas. Fatah is clearly a willing partner in peace. Only Israel is at fault.

The peace process is damaged now, frets Marcus. Fatah leadership looks weak now because – this must come as a shock as it’s contrary to what the BBC often tries to tell us – the Palestinians actually don’t want any compromise at all. Israel looks bad because, well, the only thing one can draw from this article is that we’re supposed to come in with the perspective that they’ve always been bad, except for that brief moment of unicorns and rainbows under Olmert. There really isn’t any evidence provided as to how much from the leaked documents make Israel look bad, which is why Marcus needs to actually come right out and tell you how to interpret the story. The change in government isn’t new information, Israel’s various offers haven’t been kept secret, so what’s so damaging here? Instead, the revelations are spun to make Israel appear to be dishonest. There’s nothing of substance.

It seems that, in the alternate history in which the BBC lives, Israel is already the bad guy before we even begin. And don’t bother looking to them for any context worth trusting.

All in the Mind

Looking again at Justin Webb’s recent remark that US broadcasters see British rules about impartiality as an attack on freedom of speech, I did wonder whether he sees it that way too. I also wondered what he thinks impartiality actually is. Maybe he sees it as not being free to lay his own political views on the table during political interviews. Maybe instead of playing devil’s advocate, he longs to just play devil. But he’s not allowed to, so he dutifully does his job as best he can.
However, as we know, when we criticise the BBC, reining in their personal opinions a little bit is not what we mean by impartiality. We detect it in tone of voice, ‘interruption quotient’, imbalance of subject matter, selectivity of interviewee and expert witness, and much much more. One of its most slippery manifestations, though, is bias by omission, and this shows up particularly in material that has anything to do with Islam.
The fear of “stirring something up” is palpable. The most recent example is the ‘Asian grooming’ issue, which can’t be discussed freely for fear of inciting the BNP, or causing a backlash, or worse, major civil disobedience.
I often link to Elder of Ziyon’s website, which is an invaluable source of information for anybody with an interest in Israel and the Middle East. It tracks the astonishing political shenanigans that take place in the Arab World as well as Israel-related goings-on.
If only the BBC were to tell us of some of the vitally important things they studiously ignore, I could probably hang up my keyboard, and we could live happily ever after. Or maybe not.
There is considerable evidence that most Arabs and their leaders are far from the earnest seekers of peace the BBC would have us believe they are. Their mindset is light years away from ours. We considers duplicity to be a character flaw. In stark contrast, many Arab leaders seem to relish getting away with trickery and deceit. With considerable ingenuity they tailor the speech to suit the audience, proudly providing each party with what it wants to hear, inciting hatred and whipping up self pity and smouldering resentment in front of their Islamic audience.
Mahmoud Abbas for example, our so-called partner for peace, has been telling the West that he wants peace with Israel, while addressing the wider Arab world in Arabic, in speeches calling for their help in eliminating Israel.

Even those who view the situation exclusively through BBC’s Palestinian-promoting news-filtering mechanism must view the assumption that peace will automatically follow on from the establishment of a separate Palestinian state with some suspicion. All the violence, terrorism and religious extremism that blights the Islamic world isn’t enough to convince the Western world that the I/P conflict is neither a regional dispute over land, nor a flashpoint that justifies the whole Muslim world’s discontent. We should see Israel as the West’s canary. Its vulnerability symbolises our own, and its potential annihilation would presage our own. Islam is causing trouble everywhere. Pakistan, Sudan, Tunisia, Turkey, everywhere.

In Lebanon Jeremy Bowen is too preoccupied with his vineyard story to notice that Hizbollah cannot accept that the UN might hold it responsible for the assassination of the former Lebanese prime minister. A minor detail – they were responsible for it. Much of the trouble emanating form this will be directed at Israel.

Several Qassam rockets have been fired from Gaza recently, but the BBC Twits are too busy tweeting politically-motivated gossip amongst themselves to notice.

A fascinating article on Elder of Ziyon’s blog which originally appeared in a German magazine called Cicero describes an interview with a 23 year old, highly educated resident of the Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem. She studied here in the UK and has a fetching English accent. It explains that UNRWA has bestowed, exclusively upon Palestinians, everlasting refugee status. For Palestinians alone, this can extend over the generations. This young lady is passionately determined that one day there will be a single state – ‘from the river to the sea’ – where eight million descendants of the 1948 refugees will return to settle in Israel. She will be satisfied with nothing less. She herself has never been there, and she may or may not know that 54% of East Jerusalem Arabs would rather live in Israel than in a future Palestinian state.

This gives a glimpse of the mindset that is making peace unachievable. Another compelling study of the Arab state of mind is set out in the form of an excerpt from an awesome piece of journalism from the 1960s by the redoubtable Martha Gellhorn. I know following links is tiresome and tedious, but please if you only follow one, let it be that one. Elder has selected a passage from Gellhorn’s lengthy and detailed study of the history of Palestinian Arabs. Now that’s Journalism. Is there anyone at the BBC who is capable of undertaking such a project, even if there was a sudden, miraculous, uncharacteristic desire to try?


It’s way down the BBC new menu, well below the death of actor Pete Postlethwaite for example, but I await with interest the BBC coverage of the shocking news that Israel has charged two workers at the British Consulate in Jerusalem with arms trafficking, in connection to an alleged plot by militants to fire a rocket into a football stadium.Israel’s Shin Bet intelligence agency is accusing the two Palestinians of helping two other suspects who are allegedly members of Hamas to acquire guns. I am sure the BBC will ensure that the impact of this is ameliorated and kept well below showbiz and other key news items.

Hague’s Mysterious Visit.

The BBC is reporting “Israel halts ‘dialogue’ with UK over war crimes law.”
This looks like another of Israel’s deliberate snubs, this time aimed at the UK rather than the US (over the curious incident of the announcement about settlements coinciding with Joe Biden’s visit.)

William Hague is being humiliated, so they say, but at least he doesn’t risk being arrested in Israel, as Israeli officials do if they are foolish enough to try to come to Blighty.

Apart from the choice of wording in the headline, and an inexplicable set of scare quotes round ‘dialogue,’ the BBC glosses over something that is explored more thoroughly in the Telegraph. There’s a bit more to this than meets the BBC’s eye.
Hague risks clash with Israel in meeting activists’ reads an article on page 20.

“What activists?” a BBC web news-seeker might well wonder, as in the BBC article something decidedly mysterious is alluded to thus: “He will also be visiting the Occupied Palestinian Territories.”

The Telegraph reports:

“The foreign secretary will meet the leadership of the increasingly assertive Palestinian groups protesting against the occupation of the West Bank.”[…]
“Israel argues that the campaign is not as peaceful as the adherents claim, pointing to weekly demonstrations at the separation barrier where protesters have often thrown stones….”

Online, there’s this. “Hague on collision course with Israeli government.”

“William Hague’s decision to hold taboo-breaking talks with representatives of three groups at the forefront of the Palestinian civil disobedience movement has set him on collision course with Israel’s government.”

Given William Hague’s well known views on the separation barrier, and on Israel in general, it figures that visiting such groups could hardly look insignificant from the Israeli viewpoint.
If the foreign secretary succeeds in getting the UK excluded from strategic dialogue over defence and security issues, who’s the biggest loser? Not Israel.
But on the whole if William Hague really is being humiliated, I’m all for it.

Small Crumbs

Many of us have noticed the BBC’s fixation with cruelties imposed by Israel on the Palestinians.
This obsession forces them to scrape every half-baked crumb from the bottom of the barrel. I do feel sorry for this lady, bit I want to know why I should feel less sorry for Israelis who live on constant alert, a state of affairs which, after all, is at the heart of the cause of the obstacle to biscuits.

If we are to hear so very much about things wrong with Israel, why not for once hear about some of the things right with it?

And hundreds more which one would think the BBC might be mildly interested in, as some of them are green, and environmentally friendly.