“Evening, infidels! Here is the news from the BBC...”

October 18, 2006

* BBC blocking release of report critical of its own Mideast coverage
* New Statesman invites readers to plant trees for Palestine
* Reuters cameraman arrested for inciting rock attacks on Israelis

 

CONTENTS

1. “British magazine buys olive trees ‘in Palestine’ for new subscribers” (J. Post, Oct. 16, 2006)
2. “New style guide” (BBC Editors blog, Oct. 13, 2006)
3. “Israel and the Palestinians: Key terms” (BBC, Oct. 12, 2006)
4. “BBC mounts court fight to keep ‘critical’ report secret” (Sunday Telegraph, Oct. 15, 2006)
5. “Evening, infidels! Here is the news from the BBC...” (Daily Mail, Oct. 13, 2006)
6. “BBC: where facts are expensive and comment runs far too free” (The Observer, Oct. 8, 2006)
7. “BBC’s rising star quits for al-Jazeera” (The Guardian, Oct. 5, 2006)



[Note by Tom Gross]

REUTERS CAMERAMAN ARRESTED FOR INCITING ROCK ATTACKS

Reuters cameraman Imad Muhammad Intisar Boghnat was arrested yesterday by Israeli police for his part in rock-throwing attacks on Israelis in the Arab village of Bil’in in the West Bank.

Israel has obtained videotape evidence that on October 6, 2006, Boghnat encouraged and directed rioters in Bil’in to throw large chunks of rock at Israeli vehicles. He is heard shouting “throw, throw!” and “throw towards the little window!” Rocks are then thrown at the drivers’ passenger windows. In the past Israeli drivers and their children have died after rocks were thrown at their moving cars.

Some Reuters employees have a long history of inciting violence against Israel, as documented several times on this website.

NEW STATESMAN READERS PLANT TREES FOR PALESTINE

The once respected British political magazine, The New Statesman, is offering readers the chance to sponsor “the planting of three new olive trees in Palestine,” as an incentive to take out a subscription to the magazine.

Unsurprisingly, The New Statesman neglects to tell readers that if any piece of land is in need of help with tree-planting it is northern Israel. Many thousands of trees were destroyed in northern Israel this summer by thousands of Katyusha rockets fired by Hizbullah from Lebanon.

John Kampfner, editor of the New Statesman, is a leftist Jew who specializes in running extremely anti-Israel pieces in his magazine. Recently, for example, I pointed out that the New Statesman made up racist quotes by Ariel Sharon. For more, please see A colossus of our time (Oct. 3, 2006).

BBC BLOCKING REPORT CRITICAL OF ITS MIDEAST COVERAGE

The BBC is doing its utmost to block the release of a report that is believed to be highly critical of its Mideast coverage. The Sunday Telegraph reports that the corporation has spent thousands of pounds of British license (tax) payers’ money mounting a High Court action to prevent the release of The Balen Report under the UK Freedom of Information Act, despite the fact that BBC reporters often use the very same Act to pursue their own journalism.

The 20,000-word Balen Report, which is believed to include evidence of anti-Israeli bias in news programming, was compiled by Malcolm Balen, a senior BBC journalist and editorial adviser appointed by the BBC in 2004 to monitor BBC Mideast coverage. Balen was appointed following sustained criticism of the BBC’s inflammatory coverage by several people, including myself.

BBC IGNORES OWN RECOMMENDATIONS ON USE OF “TERRORIST”

Writing on the BBC blog, BBC Jerusalem bureau chief Simon Wilson claims “the style guide on Israeli/Palestinian coverage which we’re publishing [but only in an abbreviated form for the public] on the [BBC] website for the first time today is the fruit of hours and hours of hard work by some of the BBC’s most experienced Middle East specialists. The aim is not to be prescriptive, but to give colleagues who can’t reasonably be expected to follow every twist and turn of the conflict some suggestions to deal with the more contentious topics.”

Wilson first claims that the aim of the style guide is to be “careful not to adopt, even inadvertently, the language of one side or the other, which may give an impression of bias.” However, two paragraphs later we are told that “sometimes good journalism requires that we take a position on an issue – even when the facts themselves are under dispute.”

Wilson adds: “Our credibility is undermined by the careless use of words which carry emotional or value judgements [such as ‘terrorist’].”

One reader commented on the BBC blog that “It is also interesting that, in respect of the T [Terrorist]-word, you have ignored entirely the recommendations of the BBC’s own impartiality review panel which recommended the use of the word where circumstances so merited.”

Another reader comments: “Homicide bombings is the correct term, as the intent is to murder people. Suicide bombings would suggest only one person dies.”

“THAT’S OUR TOP STORY TONIGHT – AND, OF COURSE, EVERY OTHER NIGHT”

In his piece attached below about the planned new BBC Arabic and Persian language TV networks, leading British columnist Richard Littlejohn writes that for “Those of us who live in the London area might just as well be watching the Baghdad Broadcasting Corporation when it comes to ‘local’ news.”

“One night last week, the first five items on the World’s Worst News Bulletin were all about Muslims. Coverage of the debate over the veil was conducted exclusively from an Islamic viewpoint, from what I could gather.”

Littlejohn (who is a subscriber to this list) goes on to describe what a BBC News bulletin may look like in the future: “Good evening, infidel dogs. I spit on you. The mujahideen are coming to murder you in your beds and the blood of your kafur children and your drunken whores will run through the streets of your decadent, godless cities. That’s our top story tonight – and, of course, every other night. Some breaking news this evening – a plane has crashed into a skyscraper in New York. Unfortunately, only two people were killed…”

Leftist British commentator Nick Cohen, writing in the Observer, also recently criticized the BBC: “Although it is impossible to generalise about such a vast organisation, the bias charge has enough truth in it to stick.” (Article attached below).

Nick Cohen, who is not Jewish, wrote an article last year about how his left-wing readers, assuming he was Jewish, directed anti-Semitic comments at him. This article can be read in the dispatch, “Don’t be silly, Ann, there’s no racism on the left” (Oct. 11, 2005).

BBCZEERA

The final article below reports that Darren Jordon, a BBC newsreader described as one of the rising stars of the organization, is the latest in a series of BBC staff to join al-Jazeera. Some believe the BBC is in any case more anti-Israeli and anti-American in its coverage and manipulation of the facts than al-Jazeera is.

For those interested, it is worth reading several previous dispatches concerning BBC coverage. Among them:

* Israeli soldier kidnapped? Not on the BBC (July 3, 2006).
* “The BBC pro-Israeli? Is the Pope Jewish?” (May 15, 2006).
* New internal BBC memo warns staff over “terrorism” (Dec. 20, 2005).

-- Tom Gross



FULL ARTICLES

BRITISH MAGAZINE PLANTS OLIVE TREES “IN PALESTINE”

British magazine buys olive trees ‘in Palestine’ for new subscribers
By Jonny Paul
The Jerusalem Post
October 16, 2006

www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1159193447736&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

The New Statesman, a respected weekly current affairs magazine, is offering readers the chance to sponsor “the planting of three new olive trees in Palestine,” as incentive to take out a subscription to the magazine.

Those who participate in the offer will receive a certificate to mark support for the campaign, and the promise that the magazine will provide updates on the progress of the trees.

The offer, in conjunction with a Manchester-based fair trade nonprofit organization called Olive Cooperative, states that “each tree represents a long-term source of income for Palestinian families, who have been harvesting olive oil, fruit and wood for generations.”

Also with subscriptions, the magazine offers membership in a campaign called Trees for Life, which it says aims to “help to repair the enormous destruction years of war have inflicted on the olive groves of Palestine.”

To date, the publication has had 150 responses, which translate into the planting of 300 trees. For seasonal reasons, the trees will be planted in February of next year.

John Kampfner, editor of the New Statesman, said that the offer was just one of the many marketing strategies the magazine provides on a monthly basis.

“Usually it’s books; sometimes it’s activities relating to NGOs. This came about, and I was very happy to support it as it seems to be a very valid economic based initiative with which very few right-minded people could take issue,” he said.

Kampfner, who has just returned to England from a trip to Israel, began editing the publication just over a year ago. He calls himself a strong advocate of the “two-state solution as the core of a bigger Middle East peace settlement.”

 

BBC PRODUCES NEW MIDEAST STYLE GUIDE

New style guide
By Simon Wilson
BBC Editors blog
October 13, 2006

www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/theeditors/2006/10/new_style_guide.html

It may not immediately look like it, but the style guide on Israeli/Palestinian coverage which we’re publishing on the website for the first time today is the fruit of hours and hours of hard work by some of the BBC’s most experienced Middle East specialists.

The aim is not to be prescriptive, but to give colleagues who can’t reasonably be expected to follow every twist and turn of the conflict some suggestions to deal with the more contentious topics.

In many cases, it’s about being careful not to adopt, even inadvertently, the language of one side or the other, which may give an impression of bias.

So, for example, we recommend using the term “West Bank Barrier” for the system of fences, walls, ditches and barbed wire which Israel is currently building. The official Israeli term is “Security Fence”, the Palestinians call it an “Apartheid Wall”. Each has their point – but we believe this is the clearest generic term for our audiences. Individual reporters standing in front of a particular section can, of course, still refer to a “fence” or “wall” behind them.

Sometimes good journalism requires that we take a position on an issue – even when the facts themselves are under dispute. The civilian settlements which Israel has built on land it occupied in the 1967 Arab/Israeli war are illegal under international law. That is the position of the UN Security Council, the British government and the Geneva Convention. So it is right that we make that clear in this guide. Israel disputes this and has argued the case legally – and vociferously – on numerous occasions. That’s also important and we recommend that where space allows our language should reflect the Israeli objection as well.

Palestinians and their supporters sometimes take us to task for using the term “suicide bombing” to describe what they view as a “martyrdom attack”. Again, we feel it’s right to take a position and that clear, simple, accurate language is best. In America, some news organisations describe them as “homicide attacks”, a phrase we have discussed and rejected.

Although initially a little sceptical, the more I think about it, the happier I am that we are publishing this guide to the public. BBC journalists, whether they are in Israel, the Palestinian Territories or London, put an enormous amount of thought and effort into trying to get these things right. And if this shows just a glimpse of that to the people we are reporting to, it may prove a very useful exercise.

 

“OUR RESPONSIBILITY IS TO REMAIN IMPARTIAL”

Israel and the Palestinians: Key terms
BBC Website
October 12, 2006

news.bbc.co.uk/newswatch/ukfs/hi/newsid_6040000/newsid_6044000/6044090.stm

(Excerpt)

TERRORISTS

Note the BBC producer guidelines which state: “We must report acts of terror quickly, accurately, fully and responsibly. We should not adopt other people’s language as our own. Our credibility is undermined by the careless use of words which carry emotional or value judgements. The word ‘terrorist’ itself can be a barrier rather than an aid to understanding. We should try to avoid the term, without attribution. It is also usually inappropriate to use words like ‘liberate’, ‘court martial’ or ‘execute’ in the absence of a clear judicial process. We should let other people characterise while we report the facts as we know them. We should convey to our audience the full consequences of the act by describing what happened. We should use words which specifically describe the perpetrator such as ‘bomber’, ‘attacker’, ‘gunmen’, ‘kidnapper’, ‘insurgent’ or ‘militant.’”

Our responsibility is to remain impartial and report in ways that enable our audiences to make their own assessments about who is doing what to whom.

 

BBC GOES TO HIGH COURT TO BLOCK HIGHLY CRITICAL REPORT OF ITS MIDEAST COVERAGE

BBC mounts court fight to keep ‘critical’ report secret
By Chris Hastings and Beth Jones
The Sunday Telegraph
October 15, 2006

www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2006/10/15/nbeeb15.xml

The BBC has spent thousands of pounds of licence payers’ money trying to block the release of a report which is believed to be highly critical of its Middle East coverage.

The corporation is mounting a landmark High Court action to prevent the release of The Balen Report under the Freedom of Information Act, despite the fact that BBC reporters often use the Act to pursue their journalism.

The action will increase suspicions that the report, which is believed to run to 20,000 words, includes evidence of anti-Israeli bias in news programming.

The court case will have far reaching implications for the future working of the Act and the BBC. If the corporation loses, it will have to release thousands of pages of other documents that have been held back.

Like all public bodies, the BBC is obliged to release information about itself under the Act. However, along with Channel 4, Britain’s other public service broadcaster, it is allowed to hold back material that deals with the production of its art, entertainment and journalism.

The High Court action is the latest stage of a lengthy and expensive battle by Steven Sugar, a lawyer, to get access to the document, which was compiled by Malcolm Balen, a senior editorial adviser, in 2004.

Richard Thomas, the Information Commissioner, who is responsible for the workings of the Act, agreed with the BBC that the document, which examines hundreds of hours of its radio and television broadcasts, could be held back. However, Mr Sugar appealed and, after a two-day hearing at which the BBC was represented by two barristers, the Information Tribunal found in his favour.

Mr Sugar said: “This is a serious report about a serious issue and has been compiled with public money. I lodged the request because I was concerned that the BBC’s reporting of the second intifada was seriously unbalanced against Israel, but I think there are other issues at stake now in the light of the BBC’s reaction.”

The BBC’s coverage of the Middle East has been frequently condemned for a perceived anti-Israeli bias.

In 2004, for example, Barbara Plett, a Middle East correspondent, was criticised for revealing in an episode of Radio 4’s From Our Own Correspondent that she had been moved to tears by the plight of the dying Yasser Arafat. MPs said it proved that the corporation was incapable of presenting a balanced account of issues in the Middle East.

Figures released by the Information Commissioner’s Office show that there have been 105 complaints about the BBC’s attitude to the Act since it came into force in January 2005. Only four of these have been dismissed and the rest are being examined. The BBC has lodged at least 25 complaints about the way other organisations have dealt with its requests.

The BBC declined to say how much it was spending on the High Court action. “We will be appealing the decision of the Information Tribunal,” a spokesman said. “This case has wider implications relating to the way the Act applies to public broadcasters.”

 

“GOOD EVENING, INFIDEL DOGS”

Evening, infidels! Here is the news from the BBC...
By Richard Littlejohn
The Daily Mail
October 13, 2006

www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/columnists/columnists.html?in_article_id=410171&in_page_id=1772&in_author_id=322

The BBC is launching two new channels. One, in Arabic, will compete with al-Jazeera. The other, in Farsi, will be beamed into Iran. A spokesman said of the Persian-language venture: ‘The new television service will be editorially independent of the UK government.’

So why is Gordon Brown subsidising it to the tune of £15 million?

Wouldn’t it be cheaper just to put out the BBC’s domestic service on satellite? No one would notice the difference.

In recent days, Radio 4 has given over a substantial chunk of the flagship Today programme to a party political broadcast by an Islamist maniac.

Those of us who live in the London area might just as well be watching the Baghdad Broadcasting Corporation when it comes to ‘local’ news.

One night last week, the first five items on the World’s Worst News Bulletin were all about Muslims.

Coverage of the debate over the veil was conducted exclusively from an Islamic viewpoint, from what I could gather.

First, there was a live vox-pop from a curry house opposite a mosque in Southall, where all those asked to comment had just turned out of Friday prayers. Back in the studio, the two invited guests were a ‘moderate’ Muslim and a bird in a burqa. This is what the BBC calls ‘balance’.

We’ve even had the weatherman standing in the Edgware Road – the famous ‘Arab Street’ – giving us the forecast for Ramadan.

Why don’t they just cut out the middle man and install a studio in Captain Hook’s cell at Belmarsh?

‘Something to look forward to on BBC1 this weekend, a brand new series of Fasting With Frost. Songs Of Praise comes from Regent’s Park Mosque and this week’s What Not To Wear features Jack Straw being given a complete makeover by the fashion editor of al-Mujaharoun. Over on BBC2, in Top Gear, Jeremy Clarkson tests the latest range of people-carriers available free of charge to unemployed Muslim clerics. And don’t forget to stay tuned for live beheading from Trafalgar Square, coming up after the latest national and international news, read by Abu Hamza.

(Roll titles)

Good evening, infidel dogs. I spit on you. The mujahideen are coming to murder you in your beds and the blood of your kafur children and your drunken whores will run through the streets of your decadent, godless cities. That’s our top story tonight – and, of course, every other night.

Some breaking news this evening – a plane has crashed into a skyscraper in New York. Unfortunately, only two people were killed.

We also celebrate the fourth anniversary of the glorious Bali martyrdom operation, a shining day in history for all true believers.

In an exclusive interview from Lebanon, the president of Iran tells our diplomatic editor, Sheikh Omar Bakri, of his plans to wipe the pariah, pigs-and-monkeys state of Izza-ray-el off the map in a nuclear holocaust, just as soon as he receives the plutonium from North Korea.

Our crime correspondent, Abu Izzadeen, reports on the progress in the fatwa against the Danish cartoonists who insulted Islam.

Later in the programme, in our consumer affairs slot, I’ll be presenting a special report from West London on how you can become a property tycoon while living on benefits – and, indeed, while in prison.

Our legal aid correspondent, Anjem Choudary, will be bringing you an update on the imposition of Sharia law in East Ham.

There’ll be the latest news on the campaign to have London Underground stations renamed after the four members of the July 7 martyrdom brigade.

We’ve got exclusive footage from our brothers in Iraq showing a Western aid worker slut having her head sawn off. If you can’t wait for that, it is available right now on our website, where you’ll also find easy to-follow instructions on making Ricin in your own kitchen.

Sir Ian Blair apologises to all Muslims for something which hasn’t actually happened yet.

In sport, we ask if England goalkeeper Paul Robinson should have his right leg amputated to punish him for letting in that soft own goal in Croatia.

And coming up after the break, a shocking report from the Great Satan on how, in their latest outrage against Islam, the rapacious, infidel running dogs of the illegitimate and immoral Bush regime have, er, banned online gambling.

 

COMMENT IS FREE, BUT FACTS ARE EXPENSIVE

The BBC – where facts are expensive and comment runs far too free
By Nick Cohen
The Observer
October 8, 2006

observer.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,,1890349,00.html

Clive Anderson recently hosted a private viewing of his Hypotheticals show, in which the experts reacting to a rolling crisis were BBC senior managers. The corporation’s governors had gathered them at the Institute of Physics, near Broadcasting House, to see how their impartiality stood up to the pressures of religious passion and psychopathic terror.

The scenario they faced began pleasantly enough. Anderson told them that the BBC had found a new presenter who was able to read an autocue with the right combination of prettiness and authority television requires. To make matters better, she was a British Muslim and her presence on screen emphasised the managers’ commitment to diversity.

One day, she arrived at work wearing a hijab. Would it be religious discrimination to force her to remove it before she went on air? Or was she trying to make a political statement? While the executives agonised, she invited them to her wedding in a village in the badlands on the Pakistan-Afghan border. After a long flight and dusty car ride, they were enjoying the ceremony when in walks Osama bin Laden. On being told BBC managers were in the room, bin Laden offered an exclusive interview.

They decided to take it and summoned Justin Webb, one of the BBC’s best reporters. Confronted for the first time by a Western journalist who asked hard questions, bin Laden flipped and kidnapped the luckless Webb.

And so it went on. Media grandees who were in the audience told me that the executives were very impressive. They dealt with each dilemma by referring to coherent moral principles and professional standards. Yet they didn’t convince everyone that the BBC was a beacon of journalistic integrity. Jeff Randall, the BBC’s former business editor, described how he was surrounded by intellectuals of the type who ‘would feel more ashamed of standing to attention during “God Save the King” than of stealing from a poor box’, as George Orwell put it.

While Randall was at the BBC, two producers tried to stop him wearing his hijab: a pair of Union Jack cufflinks. ‘They said they were a symbol of the BNP and I couldn’t wear them,’ he recalled. He had to explain with some force why they were mistaken.

As you might expect, Janet Daley, a columnist for the Telegraph, denounced the BBC for its bias against conservatives, but then Sue Lawley unexpectedly said the consensus of the meeting was that the BBC had a liberal bias. The BBC managers must have felt unloved. They will have felt more so last week when they heard rumours that Tony Blair and Gordon Brown want to peg the licence fee to inflation. If Alastair Campbell’s attacks on the corporation are a guide, I would guess that a belief in its bias has turned them against the BBC.

Although it is impossible to generalise about such a vast organisation, the bias charge has enough truth in it to stick. If you doubt me, research one opinion outside the liberal consensus. Read up on the arguments for making Britain a fairer country by giving trade unionists more rights, for instance, or saying that abortion is murder or that Tony Blair’s foreign policy is correct in its essentials.

You don’t have to believe it, you just have to convince yourself that serious people can hold it for good reasons. You will then notice something disconcerting about most BBC presenters. Although they subject opponents of, say, abortion to rigorous cross-examination, their lust for ferocious questioning deserts them when supporters of abortion come on air. Far from being tested, they treat upholders of the liberal consensus as purveyors of an incontestable truth.

The way out for the BBC is not to swing to the right – it is not an advance to replace soft interviews for Menzies Campbell with soft interviews for John Reid – but make a tactical withdrawal from the opinion business. Less airtime should be given to talking heads and celebrity interviewers in London studios and more to reporters who leave Television Centre to find out what is happening in the world.

Indeed, the speed with which newspapers and commercial TV companies are declining may mean that the BBC will soon be the only institution with the resources to send large numbers of reporters into the world. Yet for all its advantages, the fashion in the media world its executives inhabit is against journalism.

Producers know that comment is free, but facts are expensive. As well as being cheap, fervent opinions can increase market share because their very vehemence can hold the attention of the channel-hopping audience for a few more minutes.

You can see this Michael Mooronification of journalism everywhere from the success of Fox News to the Independent’s embrace of agitprop. At the BBC’s Hypotheticals meeting, Adam Bolton of Sky praised Fox and Dorothy Byrne of C4 declared that reporting should be ‘passionate’. No it shouldn’t; reporting should be true.

If the BBC governors abandon that principle, they will end up with a corporation which isn’t so much left-wing or right-wing, but irrelevant.

 

ANOTHER BBC JOURNALIST QUITS FOR AL-JAZEERA

BBC’s rising star quits for al-Jazeera
By Tara Conlan
The Guardian
October 5, 2006

media.guardian.co.uk/broadcast/story/0,,1888251,00.html

BBC newsreader Darren Jordon is leaving to join al-Jazeera International, the corporation confirmed today. Jordon has been a regular face on all the BBC bulletins, particularly the One O’Clock News. He will leave at the end of the month to join the much-delayed English-language service from the pioneering Arab broadcaster.

Jordon has been at the BBC for eight years. It is thought he is being lined up by al-Jazeera as an onscreen partner for former ITN presenter Shiulie Ghosh, who has already signed up.

Jordon said today: “I’ve had a wonderful time at the BBC; I’ve learned an awful lot and worked with some exceptionally talented individuals. The move, however, comes at the right time for me and I look forward to the fresh challenges that it will no doubt present.”

The BBC’s head of television news, Peter Horrocks, said: “I’m sorry to see Darren go. He is an extremely accomplished news presenter – always straightforward in his reporting, and rigorous but fair in his questioning. We wish him all the best for the future.”

Jordon joined BBC Sport as a broadcast journalist in 1998, following a three-year stint as a sports broadcaster in South Africa. He made the move to TV news in 1999, when he became a presenter on BBC News 24.

He was seen as a rising star at the BBC, co-presenting several major events in recent years, most notably the D-Day 60th anniversary celebrations and the Lord Mayor’s Show.

All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.