Jeremy Bowen’s annual reminder of why BBC coverage of Israel is as it is

BBC Watch

h/t GB

The May 28th edition of BBC Radio 4’s ‘From Our Own Correspondent’ included an item (from 22:55 here) described in the synopsis thus:FOOC 28 5

“And the news media may love an anniversary, but some of its senior correspondents have dates they’d sooner forget …”

Presenter Kate Adie introduced the piece as follows:

“Anniversaries are a regular feature of news coverage these days. Words like ‘it’s 12 months since’ or ‘100 years ago today’ preface many a tale. This can be useful for editors: it provides not only an opportunity to revisit and reassess a story but also, of course, a way to fill up space and airtime. But some anniversaries – as Jeremy Bowen knows – are marked more quietly, away from the public gaze.”

There is nothing “away from the public gaze” about the anniversary Jeremy Bowen chose to mark by broadcasting this particular item on…

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Examining the facts behind a claim from BBC Complaints

BBC Watch

A number of readers have written to BBC Watch over the past months to inform us of the receipt of a template response to their complaints concerning the BBC’s portrayal of the surge of terror attacks against Israelis which began last September. That response from BBC Complaints – also sent in at least one case in reply to a complaint about another issue – includes the following:EG

“We appreciate you believe our coverage of this story has shown bias in favour of the Palestinians and against Israelis and the state of Israel. In this response we hope to explain why we feel this has not been the case.

Across our news bulletins and programmes we have reported on the increasing number of attacks committed by Palestinians on Israeli civilians and security forces. We have broadcast reports where our reporters have spoken to the families of Israelis and Palestinians killed in…

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Inaccuracies in BBC backgrounder on Sinai terrorists

BBC Watch

An article by Kevin Connolly published on the BBC News website’s Middle East page on May 20th under the title “EgyptAir crash fuels fears and theories” tells readers that:

“Egypt sees itself as a regional power in the front line of a war against global jihadism and its strong-man President, Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, portrays himself as the hammer of political Islamism at home.

Privately many Egyptians appear to worry that might make their country an obvious target for jihadists – the fear being that a long-bubbling Islamist insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula might escalate elsewhere in Egypt.”

The link provided leads to a backgrounder produced by BBC Monitoring titled “Sinai Province: Egypt’s most dangerous group” which tells readers that:Sinai province

“Sinai Province started by attacking Israel with rockets, but after the removal of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in 2013 it focused on Egypt’s security services, killing dozens of soldiers.


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Guardian’s Harriet Sherwood misleads by omission in story on extremist group Lehava

UK Media Watch

Though Harriet Sherwood is no longer the Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent, she continues to find ways to misleadreaders about Israel. Sherwood, now the paper’s Religion correspondent, published an article (‘US anti-extremism group asks Israel to curb rightwing Jewish activist’, May 27) based on a statement by Anti-Defamation League calling on Israel to use all legal means possible against the leader of an extremist group called Lehava.  

However, Sherwood fails to provide any context on the extremely marginal anti-Arab, anti-gay and anti-Christian hate group, and advances a highly misleading narrative suggesting that the group is representative of a ‘rising tide’ of right-wing extremism. 

Here’s the entire article:

A US-based organisation that campaigns against antisemitism has taken the unusual step of calling on the Israeli government to act against an extreme rightwing Jewish activist with “abusive, racist, inflammatory and violent” opinions.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has urged Israel’s attorney general to…

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BBC corrects inaccuracies in reports on Israel’s coalition government

BBC Watch

As was noted here last week, an article which appeared on the BBC News website on May 20th inaccurately described the Yisrael Beiteinu party as bringing six (rather than five) additional Knesset seats into the coalition government.correction

An additional article published on May 25th also inaccurately described the new coalition as having 67 seats in the Knesset rather than 66.

Following communication from BBC Watch both those articles have been amended – see here and here.

The footnote added to the May 20tharticle reads:

correction coalition art 1The footnote added to the report from May 25th reads:

correction coalition art 2Related Articles:

BBC audiences get a blinkered look into Israeli politics

BBC bungles basics in report on Israel’s new coalition

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BBC News fails to report another Gaza missile attack to English-speakers

BBC Watch

At around 11 pm on May 25th missiles were fired from the Gaza Strip towards Israel with one projectile landing in open ground in the Sha’ar HaNegev district. The attack was apparently claimed by a Salafist group. Later in the night the Israeli air force responded with strikes on two Hamas installations in the Gaza Strip.

There was no reporting of that attack on the BBC’s English language website but the Israeli response was the subject of an article which appeared on the BBC Arabic website.BBC Arabic report response missiles 25 5

Since the beginning of 2016 the BBC has not reported on any of the missile attacks from the Gaza Strip on Israeli civilians living near the border in the English language. However, Israeli responses to those attacks have received coverage in Arabic.

January 1st: BBC News ignores Gaza missile attacks, BBC Arabic reports Israeli response

January 24th: BBC News ignores…

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BBC bungles basics in report on Israel’s new coalition

BBC Watch

The consensus in Israel is that the May 25th agreement which brought the Yisrael Beiteinu party into the coalition government means that it now has a total of sixty-six seats in the Knesset whilst the opposition is left with 54.

From the Jerusalem Post:

coalition JPFrom the Times of Israel:

coalition ToIFrom Ha’aretz:

coalition haaretzThe BBC, however, has a different idea:

coalitionThat statement appeared in an article published on the BBC News website on May 25th under the headline “Avigdor Lieberman named as Israel’s defence minister“. Five days earlier, before the agreement had been reached, BBC audiences had been told that:coalition art

“The deal would shore up Mr Netanyahu’s one-seat majority in parliament. […]

If his [Lieberman’s] six-seat Yisrael Beiteinu party joins the coalition, it will become the most right-wing in Israel’s history.”

As was noted here at the time:

“In fact, the day before this article…

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