Saturday, December 21, 2013

Media Hides the Real Israel - Palestine Conflict!

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BBC takes 11 months to remove lie by Israeli settler
Submitted by Amena Saleem
Tue, 12/17/2013
The BBC has upheld a complaint by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and other activists that an online feature focusing on the lives of Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank breached its guidelines on accuracy.
However, despite the fact that the article only gives the perspective of settlers and not the Palestinians whose land they’re living on, the BBC Trust decided it was not biased. A complaint by two activists that the article breached the BBC’s guidelines on impartiality was not upheld.
The article, titled “West Bank: Why do some UK Jews settle in Israeli occupied land?,” includes interviews with Samuel Lebens and Daniel Cohen, who left England with their families to live in the West Bank.
Despite the questioning nature of the headline, this is not a critical analysis or examination of illegal colonization.
The piece, by BBC journalist Samantha Dalton, is much more basic than that. Her line of enquiry, if it can be called enquiry, is summed up in the opening paragraph, when she asks: “What is life like for the West Bank Britons?”

What follows is a 1,000 word hymn of praise to Israeli settlers.
“We are not obstacles to peace,” says Lebens, who is, Dalton tells the reader, the holder of a PhD in metaphysics and logic from the University of London.
“We shop and eat among Palestinians,” he adds disingenuously, and without challenge from Dalton.
Basically, Lebens is saying, using the BBC as a medium, the settlers are misunderstood: “The media stereotype of settler is racist, against two-state solution, lawless, expansionist, extremist, but the reality is very different,” he says.
Cohen chips in to explain how settlers see “the reality.” They are, he says, people who “contribute to civil society.” And rather than being motivated by a religious ideology to claim the West Bank for Israel, he says his family simply “looked at the best place to settle and this was it.”
Self-serving falsehoods
If only it was that simple for the Palestinians, who have seen their land steadily disappear under Israeli settlements, who face daily harassment and violence at the hands of settlers, and whose livelihoods are under constant threat by settlers who kill their livestock and uproot or burn their olive groves.
Four days before this article appeared on BBC Online, the UN Human Rights Council published a report examining “the implications of the Israeli settlements” on the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem.
Rather than publishing self-serving falsehoods made by settlers, the UN report was based on a thorough investigation of the impact of settlements and settlers on the Palestinian population.
Among the UN’s stark findings was that “the motivation behind violence and intimidation against the Palestinians and their properties is to drive the local populations away from their lands, allowing the settlements to expand.”
Yet even the smallest detail of this violence and intimidation is absent from the BBC article, the timing of which — coming four days after the UN Human Rights Council’s unreserved condemnation of settlements — is, to say the least, interesting.
And despite Lebens’ claims to the contrary, the settlements and the 500,000 plus settlers who live in them are an obstacle to peace. UN Resolution 446, which says that settlements “have no legal validity,” also categorically states that they “constitute a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East.”
Irresponsible
On this basis alone, a soft BBC feature on the lives of settlers, whose very presence in the West Bank contravenes international law, is hugely irresponsible.
But added to this is the complete and utter lack of any Palestinian voices. Not a single Palestinian is interviewed, not a single Palestinian, whose family home may have been occupied by settlers or whose olive trees may have been torched, is asked to relate his or her experience of settlers, to balance Lebens’ claim that settlers are not “lawless, expansionist, extremist.”
Once again, the BBC has managed to render Palestinians invisible. Even though the settlers are living on stolen Palestinian land, the BBC does not consider the Palestinian perspective on those who have stolen it to be significant enough for inclusion. They are spoken for by the settlers, who, unchallenged, distort the truth: “We shop and eat among Palestinians.”
This claim, from Lebens, disappears into the void which characterizes Dalton’s report. With no context provided, and the settlers free to make any claim they wish, the reader remains unware that Israel operates an apartheid system in the West Bank. Palestinians are not allowed to live in the settlements and they are barred from driving on the high speed roads which have been built to connect the settlements to Israel. And while Palestinian movement around the West Bank is restricted by checkpoints and permit systems, settlers are free to come and go as they please.
But to have provided any of this information, or to include Palestinian voices, would have meant writing a balanced article incorporating the Palestinian experience of the occupation and exposing the reality of Israeli apartheid. And the BBC is not in the habit of doing that.
Gushing
The Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) wrote a lengthy email to the BBC asking why such a one-sided article, devoid of any real facts or context, which gives no sense of the reality of settlements and their impact, had been published by a supposedly impartial broadcaster.
The BBC defended the article, saying it “reflected a perspective on the issue which is less commonly heard.”
While the appropriateness of the BBC providing a platform for the proponents of an illegal occupation to expound at length, and without challenge, is debatable, the poor quality of the journalism is not. It is so selective and so gushing in its treatment of settlers as to render it nothing more than pro-Israeli puff.
And what was the BBC’s excuse for ignoring the Palestinian perspective? This reply was given by the BBC Trust: “This particular report was about … two British families who had moved and why they had made that decision. It would be hard to find a comparable case study on the Palestinian side.”
Not hard, actually, but impossible. Israel controls Palestinian entry in and out of the West Bank, and issues the identity documents and permits which determine who can live where. It is not in the habit of issuing permits to Palestinians living outside Palestine, who do not already have them, which would allow them to return and settle.
The answer from the BBC Trust is not only nonsensical, but in its failure to give a serious and valid answer, reveals its dismissive contempt for concerns that the Palestinian viewpoint was missing from this article.
And while the BBC believes it needs to give a voice to a perspective “which is less commonly heard,” so long as that perspective is Israeli, it shows no desire to give any space to a perspective which is even less commonly heard in the mainstream media — that of the Palestinians.
Rejecting complaints that the article was one-sided, the BBC did uphold one point on accuracy. This related to the following quotation from Cohen: “About 90 percent of settlements are right on the border of the Green Line [the 1949 armistice line]. It is relatively rare to find a hilltop settlement.”
Eleven months after the initial complaint from the PSC and other activists, BBC Online removed the quotation in November, having accepted that the majority of Israel’s settlements are built on hilltops and cut deep into Palestinian territory. What is extraordinary is that BBC editors saw fit to publish the lies of an illegal settler in the first place.
All about Israel
The BBC has form in running lengthy features about illegal Israeli settlers, interviewing them about their hopes, their concerns and their trials and tribulations in “settling the land.” Over three days in August 2003 — the days of the “roadmap to peace” — BBC Online ran what it called “a series of articles examining attitudes among Israelis towards the future of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza.”
That’s right — “attitudes among Israelis” about the settlements. Not the attitude of Palestinians. In the three articles, the BBC journalist interviewed members of the public in Israel, “ideological settlers” and “secular settlers.”
Not a single Palestinian was interviewed for any of the articles. Palestinian views on the settlements which are destroying their lives were obviously not considered important by BBC editors, Palestinian involvement in the “roadmap” not deemed worthy enough to seek a Palestinian opinion on the issues involved.
Then, as now, only the Israeli perspective mattered to the BBC. Then, as now, the lives of illegal settlers were considered more important and newsworthy than the lives of the occupied Palestinians.
The headlines on the three stories say it all: “Israel’s religious settlers,” “Israeli settlers who seek way out” and “Israel’s settlement quandary.”
For the BBC, it’s all about Israel.
Sympathetic to settlers
As well as the airbrushing of Palestinians from the picture, the common feature of all three articles is the sympathetic way in which they portray the settlers.
In the article titled “Israeli settlers who seek way out,” we find this observation about a settler family, the Widers:
“For years the Widers lived happily in this growing, secular close-knit community and never looked back.
“But, in 2000, life for Jewish settlers in the West Bank fundamentally changed with the outbreak of the Palestinian uprising, or intifada, and for some it became too hard to bear.”
The unbearable life of Palestinians living under brutal Israeli military occupation is not mentioned, of course. Instead, there follow quotes from the Widers about attacks by Palestinians on settlers, and their resultant emotional trauma.
The author of all three articles is Raffi Berg. In August 2013, he was promoted to the position of BBC Online’s Middle East editor. That same month, it was revealed that he had sent emails to BBC journalists during Israel’s assault on Gaza in November 2012, urging them not to “put undue emphasis” on Israel for starting the attacks, and asking that they downplay Israel’s siege on Gaza.
On both past and current form, with Berg as its Middle East editor, it looks likely that BBC Online’s one-sided reporting on Israel and its illegal settlements will continue, and that it will continue unchecked by the body responsible for ensuring fairness and balance in BBC reporting — the BBC Trust.

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BBC intensifies its whitewashing of Israeli crimes against Palestinians in Gaza

Amena Saleem
Posted in News
01 December 2013
Between 2000 and 2007, 69 Palestinian women endured labor and childbirth at Israeli checkpoints, resulting in 35 infant deaths and five maternal deaths.

Gaza children make their way to school through sewage flooded streets. Egypt's border crackdown, accompanied by Israeli restrictions on Gaza, has caused power cuts, fuel shortages and the near-collapse of the construction industry, a major employer in Gaza. Last month, power shortages caused a major spill at Gaza's main sewage treatment plant, flooding streets in rancid waste.
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This week, Israel’s PR machine staged a masterclass in how to manipulate a willing media into whitewashing its stained reputation.
The easy puppets whose strings were being pulled were, of course, the reporters, editors and producers of the BBC.
On Monday 25 November, they ran an item on Radio 4’s Today program about an Israeli hospital treating 177 Syrian patients “in the northern Israeli city of Tzfat.” Introducing the broadcast, presenter Sarah Montague, described this as “one of the more surprising sub-plots of the civil war in Syria”.
Correspondent Kevin Connolly then launched into a five minute piece which, even to the average listener, can only have come across as pro-Israel propaganda. At best, if not viewed as propaganda, it was amateurish journalism from a program which the BBC promotes as being its “flagship” for news and current affairs.
In the context of the vast scale of the Syrian conflict, which has created more than two million refugees, most of whom have fled to the neighbouring countries of Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan and Turkey, the question has to be asked: how does a mere 177 being treated in Israel warrant a story?
Who are these patients? In an accompanying online article, Connolly muses that they may be “jihadist rebels who in other circumstances would attack Israeli targets if they could.”
His message is loud and clear: look how good and kindly Israel is, helping those hostile Arabs and Muslims even though, given half a chance, they would attack their humanitarian neighbor.
BBC duplicity

The theme of Israel’s humanity runs through the radio piece and contrasts with Connolly’s depiction of the Syrians. He says he cannot name those he interviews at the hospital as this would place them “in danger” when they return to Syria, or “make them objects of suspicion at the very least.”
Syrians, the BBC’s flagship news and current affairs program is telling us, are hostile and suspicious towards Israel. What the Today broadcast completely fails to inform its audience is that Israel occupies Syrian land and has done so, in contravention of international law, since 1967. Syrians living in the Golan Heights live under Israeli occupation. Moreover, Israel has attacked Syria at least five times this year.
Listening to Connolly’s whitewashing (the phenomenon of Israel playing up humanitarian aid to burnish its image, as it did recently in the Philippines, has also been called “bluewashing”) of Israel, however, one would come to the conclusion that the Syrians have an unfounded animosity towards a country which behaves only in a beneficent manner towards them.
The duplicity of Connolly’s reporting reaches an apex when he hands the propaganda microphone to Oscar Embon, the hospital’s director, so he can say this: “There are beautiful relationships starting between the staff of the hospital and the people that we treat.”
“Most of them, they express their gratitude and their wish for peace between the two countries. Of course I don’t expect them to become lovers of Israel and ambassadors of what we do, but in their interior, I expect they will reflect on what is their experience here and they will think differently about what the regime is telling them about Israel and Syria being enemies.”
This is accepted uncritically by Connolly, who appears to have swallowed the Israeli PR handbook whole. There is not even enough analysis in this disingenuous piece to consider the fact that Israel is the only country bordering Syria which has refused to take any refugees from the conflict.
Among the millions displaced, 235,000 Palestinian refugees in Syria — more than half of the total living there — have been displaced since the war began, according to UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestine refugees. Many face a desperate plight, fleeing to Lebanon, or escaping to Egypt where they face even more persecution. Hundreds have drowned at sea. Yet none has been accorded her right by Israeli authorities to return home to Palestine.
Selective reporting

Also being whitewashed, of course, are Israel’s crimes against the Palestinians and the occupation of their land. Connolly’s brush paints Israel as a benign country, as he describes the “extraordinary humanitarian chain” at the “Tzfat” hospital (The BBC’s exclusive use of the Hebrew pronunciation “Tzfat” rather than the standard English-language and Arabic name “Safad” for this city whose overwhelming Palestinian majority was forced out in 1948 is another kind of whitewashing).
His piece begins with the story of a Syrian woman in labor who is brought to this “brightly painted, breezily efficient place of safety” to give birth. Missing are the details of the Palestinian women forced to give birth in the dirt at checkpoints in the occupied West Bank, watched by despairing husbands and the inhumane Israeli soldiers who have refused them passage to hospital.
The medical journal, The Lancet, reports that between 2000 and 2007, 69 Palestinian women endured labor and childbirth at Israeli checkpoints, resulting in 35 infant deaths (more than half of the babies born) and five maternal deaths.
Nor was there any mention of how Israeli occupation prevents Palestinians receiving other kinds of life-saving medical treatment. This week, Nour Mohammad Afaneh, aged 14, died when the ambulance carrying her to a hospital in Bethlehem was not allowed through an Israeli military checkpoint, her father told Ma’an News Agency. Attempts to find an alternative route were futile, and the girl, who was in critical condition died.
This is the reality of Israel, and it is this reality – brutal, cruel and ugly – that the Today progam in particular and the BBC in general chooses to ignore over and over again.
An outstanding feature of the BBC’s selective reporting on Israel is its constant failure to report on the killing of Palestinian children and civilians by the Israeli army during the course of any year, while steadfastly running reports on every Israeli killed by a Palestinian rocket fired from Gaza.
When Palestine Solidarity Campaign has written to Today to question the discriminatory nature of such reporting, it invariably receives this response from the assistant editor, Dominic Groves: “Even in the space of a three-hour program it is not always possible to cover every development in a story — especially one as long running and complex as the one in the Middle East.”
And yet, despite these alleged time constraints in their three hour program, Groves and his team managed find the time to broadcast what is essentially a pro-Israeli puff piece about a token 177 Syrians being treated in an Israeli hospital.
In another unusual move, the BBC has put a shortened, filmed version of Connolly’s report onto its website, meaning that it will be permanently available, unlike the radio version, which is only available for seven days after broadcast on the BBC’s online iPlayer.
Israel’s job well done

The use of BBC airtime to laud Israel for its charity towards a handful of Syrians comes in a week when the UN’s Special Rapporteur for Palestine told the world that the “situation in Gaza is at a point of near catastrophe“ and as Palestinians and internationals prepare for a “day of rage” on 30 November over the Prawer Plan.
Neither of these stories has merited even a mention on Today or across the BBC. In Gaza, Israel’s occupation and seven year siege has reached a point where it is causing unprecedented suffering.
A shortage of industrial fuel means that Gaza’s power plant can only provide people with six hours of electricity a day. As the UN’s Special Rapporteur, Richard Falk, has pointed out, this is “severely disrupting the provision of basic services, including health, water and sanitation.”
In eastern Gaza City the lack of fuel has resulted in the stoppage of Gaza’s largest waste water treatment plant. Raw sewage has flooded the streets forcing children to wade through it to get to school. Silence from the BBC’s news programs.
The Prawer Plan, currently going through the Israeli Parliament, will forcibly remove up to 70,000 Palestinian Bedouin from their ancestral lands in the Naqab (Negev Desert) and warehouse them in small, fixed towns. Israel will then take their land to build Jewish-only settlements. The Bedouin have neither been consulted about this plan, nor have they consented to it. It is being done to them.

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It's not BBC bias against Israel; it's hate
If a 9 year old Palestinian girl had been shot by Israel, and the government had gloried in it, this would be headline news, worldwide. The BBC is shameless in its bigotry
the commentator
On 7 October 2013
http://www.thecommentator.com/article/4240/it_s_not_bbc_bias_against_israel_it_s_hate
Some readers may have little daughters of nine, younger or older. Regardless, you have the capacity for empathy? Palestinian children count just as much as any other. They suffer under the currents of history, in our view mainly due to their own leaders.
But no matter, a child is child. Unless she's an Israeli Jew, the BBC and most of the Western media appears to believe. We will keep this brief, but it is truly shocking and disgusting. As we reported here, a nine year old girl was shot by a Palestinian sniper while the supposedly "moderate" Palestinian Authority circulated on Facebook a celebration of the would-be child murderer, thus:
"The sniper of Palestine was here. He saluted Hebron, and rested in El-Bireh. He left the signature of [real] men in different parts of the homeland. He saluted and left, and moved on to a different place, with a new signature, as he tells the stories of those who love the homeland."
If Israel had sent a sniper to kill a little Palestinian girl that on its own would have been major international news. If the Israeli Cabinet had gloried in it, this would have been top news for days or weeks on end. A UN resolution would not have been out of the question.
BBC headlne? Not at all.
Since she's a 9 year old Israeli Jew, no-one cares. The BBC isn't biased. It's possessed with hate. And since they know this story -- from us and others -- there can really be no other conclusion than that.
Or do you have a better explanation? Journalistic integrity just ain't one of them..
[For readers information, since so many have asked, our owner and chief editor Robin Shepherd wrote this editorial]

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Also See:
Israel! Israel! What are You Doing in Palestine?
27 December 2008
http://arcticcompass.blogspot.com/2008/12/israel-and-palestine-news-history-etc.html
and
Israel, Israel, God is Calling!
20 June 2009
http://arcticcompass.blogspot.ca/2009/06/israel-israel-god-is-calling.html
and
Israel and Iran - Who will Bomb Who First?
21 July 2010
http://arcticcompass.blogspot.com/2010/07/israel-and-iran-who-will-bomb-who-first.html
and
Israeli Navy Kill Unarmed Peace Activists!
03 June 2010
http://arcticcompass.blogspot.com/2010/06/israeli-navy-kill-unarmed-peace.html
and
Israel in the 21st Century
(Part 1)
09 June 2011
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