(photo credit: Reuters)
The British Broadcasting Corporation could never be accused of showering Israel
with sympathy, or even credited with gracing Israel with the rudiments of
objectivity. Nonetheless, the BBC has managed to flabbergast even those Israelis
who hadn’t expected minimal fairness from it.
The BBC has devoted a web
page to the Olympic athletes.
Most of the entries are straightforward
enough, but not so the ones devoted to Israel and “Palestine,” which, though not
a sovereign state, did win recognition as a member of the Olympic Council of
Asia since 1986 and the International Olympic Committee since 1995.
the latter’s country profile page, the BBC listed “East Jerusalem” as the
capital of Palestine. No capital whatever was noted on the page devoted to
Israel, not even “West Jerusalem.” As expected, that generated considerable
commotion and even a written complaint from government spokesman Mark
Discomfited, the BBC tried a quick fix, defining Jerusalem as
Israel’s “seat of government,” but not without failing to add that “most foreign
embassies are in Tel Aviv.”
The corresponding revamp on the Palestine
page seeks to strike equivalence with the following: “Intended seat of
government: East Jerusalem. Ramallah serves as administrative
Evincing no hint of regret, the BBC later waxed indignant and
argued that the modifications on its website were “generated by online lobby
activity.” The inference is that there was something untoward in said “online
lobby activity” and that the BBC had its arm unjustly twisted.
no opportunity appears to have been missed to render Israel’s image
disagreeable. The photo chosen to represent Israel on its BBC profile shows an
IDF soldier screaming at an Arab, with the caption reading: “Israelis and
Palestinians have been at loggerheads for decades.”
The Syrian page, in
contrast, looks idyllic. It pictures three pretty girls in white Muslim garb
with older black-clad women in the background, all smiling. The caption informs
us innocuously that “the overwhelming majority of Syrians are
Concomitantly, the campaign to commemorate the 11 Israeli
athletes slain by Arab terrorists at the Munich Olympics exactly 40 years ago
received zero coverage on the BBC. That’s starkly different from the choices
made by other international news providers, British ones notably among
The BBC’s palpable anti-Israel predispositions are nothing new.
Malcolm Balen, a senior editorial adviser, compiled a report in 2004 on the
BBC’s radio and television broadcasters’ attitudes toward the Israeli-Arab
conflict. The 20,000-word Balen Report is said to contain scathing criticism of
the BBC, which fought tooth and nail against demands that it release it under
the Freedom of Information Act.
But despite Balen’s admonitions, the BBC
remained unrepentant and failed to clean up its act. A most telling case in
point was its coverage of the March 2011 Itamar massacre, where Palestinian
terrorists invaded the home of the Fogel family and butchered the father,
mother, their two young sons and three-month-old baby daughter.
version abounded in outright inaccuracies and mind-boggling omissions. Worst of
all, it was given scant resonance altogether. It was unmentioned on BBC
Television and was accorded only a fleeting brief reference on radio.
his testimony to Parliament earlier this month, the BBC’s outgoing
director-general, Mark Thompson, belatedly acknowledged that his organization
“got it wrong.” Yet as this latest controversy surrounding the BBC’s
misrepresentations indicates, the BBC willfully keeps right on getting it wrong.
It doesn’t exert much effort to get it right.
Last summer, for instance,
it featured a story claiming that a Jerusalem court sentenced a dog to death by
stoning. This was an utter hoax, which a preliminary check would have revealed.
Yet apparently the goodwill didn’t exist to accord Israel fair treatment. The
temptation to paint Israel in the most unflattering colors plainly couldn’t be
resisted. The fabrication in this case was so blatant that the BBC eventually
removed this item but not before it blackened Israel’s face.
than such shenanigans damage Israel, they undermine the BBC’s own integrity. For
its own good, it ought to desist from so flagrantly exposing its bias.