Jerusalem old city 88.
(photo credit: )
The BBC apologized this week for referring to Jerusalem as Israel's capital, and promised not to repeat "the mistake," following a complaint by four British organizations.
Arab Media Watch, Muslim Public Affairs Committee, Friends of Al-Aksa and the Institute of Islamic Political Thought sent a joint complaint to the BBC after a presenter on its Football Focus program on March 24 mentioned that Jerusalem was Israel's capital and "historic soul."
The BBC's Editorial Complaints Unit posted a response on its Web site: "The reference was a passing one in a context where the focus was on sport, not politics. While recognizing the sensitivity of the issue of the status of Jerusalem, the ECU took the view that the program-makers had taken sufficient action by acknowledging the error and rectifying the Web site."
The Editorial Complaints Unit's ruling was: "Complaint resolved."
In a letter to the complaining NGOs, Fraser Steel, head of editorial complaints at the BBC, said: "We of course accept that the international community does not recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, and that the BBC should not describe it as such. I was therefore pleased to see that Katherine Tsang [BBC Information adviser], when she wrote to you in April, acknowledged the error and apologized for it. [Presenter] Steve Boulton and other senior managers in BBC Sport told us they very much regret the mistake and apologize for it."
"Senior managers will try to ensure, as you suggest, that the mistake is not repeated. Because it appears on the Web site, there will be a public acknowledgement of the error, and the action taken in consequence."
Steel added: "I'd like to add my apologies for this most regrettable, but I'm sure accidental, factual mistake. I appreciate that the status of Jerusalem is of particular concern to Palestinians, and it is important that it is not misrepresented. I am confident that lessons have already been learned, and they will be emphasized as a result of my decision."
Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said in response: "Jerusalem is Israel's capital. It is the right of every sovereign state to determine which city will be its capital. If this is not accepted by everyone today, I am confident it will be in the future."
London-based Arab Media Watch told The Jerusalem Post: "Under international law, neither east nor west Jerusalem is considered Israel's capital. Tel Aviv is recognized as Israel's capital, pending a negotiated settlement between Israel and the Palestinians."
The Institute of Islamic Political Thought is run by Azzam Tamimi, a Hamas supporter and a member of the Muslim Association of Britain, part of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Tamimi spoke at Saturday's anti-Israel rally in London's Trafalgar Square. He blamed the British for their role in the Arab-Israeli conflict and vowed to return to his mother's house in Hebron, which he said could never become a "Zionist place."
To huge applause, Tamimi called Israel "a racist entity that sees us [Palestinians] as subhuman while they see themselves as superhuman."
Tamimi told BBC in an interview in 2004 he did not recognize Israel's right to exist and would be willing to become a suicide bomber. Last year, Merrill Lynch pulled its sponsorship from an event hosted by the London Middle East Institute because of Tamimi's participation.
The Muslim Public Affairs Committee has faced continuing allegations of extremism and anti-Semitism. In 2005, during the last general election in the UK, the group campaigned against pro-Israel and pro-Iraq war MPs, and attempted to slur one MP by claiming she was a Jew. It eventually apologized when they learned the candidate was not Jewish.
Last year, The Observer discovered that the committee's co-founder, Asghar Bukhari, had funded Holocaust denier David Irving.
The Friends of Al-Aksa states on its Web site that the first Jewish commonwealth lasted "only 98 years - from 1020 BC to 922 BC," and that after the destruction of the First Temple, "all Jews are either killed, exiled or taken prisoners. This marks the end of Israel after 400 years of its inception."
The Leicester-based organization had its bank accounts closed by the Royal Bank of Scotland in 2005.
The Muslim Association of Britain accused the bank of being a tool of the pro-Israeli lobby. "It appears the Royal Bank of Scotland is being used as a tool against those that express sympathy with Israel's victims," a representative of the Muslim Association said. "No bank or institution should be allowed to get away with such anti-Palestinian or anti-Muslim bias."