BBC Trust dismissed incitement to child murder as "incorrect reference to content of Israeli maths curriculum"


By Stephen Franklin
March 7, 2010
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Last December the BBC Trust exhibited such insensitivity to anti-Israel bias that the the continued role of this body in overseeing the BBC's adherence to impartiality should be reviewed.

The issue related to an interview on the BBC Arabic service http://www.memritv.org/clip/en/1922.htm on October 17 2008, that was translated into English by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI)
http://www.memritv.org/clip_transcript/en/1922.htm

One of the guests advocated the killing of Israeli children. In doing so he said "In elementary school, they pose the following math problem: 'In your village, there are 100 Arabs. If you killed 40, how many Arabs would be left for you to kill?' This is taught in the Israeli curriculum. What would you say about that? Should a child studying this be considered a civilian? He is a future soldier.” The other guest replied “I condemn the Israeli governments for teaching children such things, but I do not condemn the child”.

At no time in the programme did the BBC refute, or even question this foul assertion that was made by one guest and affirmed by the other.

I made a complaint to the BBC Arabic service, and in their reply they still did not refute this assertion. Later however they did refute it and this was published at the end of an article in The Daily Telegraph in January 2009
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/4209135/BBC-critici....

I put forward my complaint, citing the BBC Arabic services acknowledgement of fault in the Daily Telegraph, as an admitted example wrong doing, and suggesting that many more specific examples should be investigated in a closer look at the attitude of the BBC generally towards Israel.

The Editorial Standards Committee (ESC) of the BBC Trust dismissed the extreme offensiveness of in the following terms:

“The Committee also noted that the complainant had pointed out to the Committee a newspaper article that suggested that the BBC Arabic service had incorrectly made reference to the content of the Israeli maths curriculum.”
http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbctrust/assets/files/pdf/appeals/esc_bulletins/200....

To regard that clip from BBC Arabic just as an incorrect reference to the Israeli maths curriculum is so dismissive of the offence caused as to put into question whether the ESC is the right body to oversee the complains about the content of the BBC.

The Chairman of the ESC is Richard Tait and he chaired the meeting in December when this report was published, as he does most of its meetings. He did not however chair the ESC when it was discussing the complaints about Jeremy Bowen made by Jonathan Turner and Gilead Ini. It is possible that the problem is not so much the committee itself as its chairman.

COMMENTS

JLCohen

Sun, 03/07/2010 - 12:08

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I made a complaint to the BBC last year over a comment in a programme on BBC 3 which stated: "...and then, there was the time that Israelis decided to fight with each other instead of their neighbours..." (The Noughties - Was That It?)

I complained that this suggested that Israel is by nature an aggressive and warlike state, whereas a large majority of Israeli military action, if not all of it, has been demonstrably in retaliation or to protect her borders and that including a throw-away statement of this type (especially in a light entertainment programme) was liable to reinforce negative impressions of the state and, since many people cannot distinguish between "Israel" and "all Jews," antisemitism.

It's perhaps not quite as serious matter as the one you highlight (which is virtually an accusation of blood libel), but nevertheless I thought worthy of mention. The BBC, however, disagreed; eventually sending me a reply claiming that the comment was simply harmless "poking of fun" at another nation and nationality which, they said, is an important part of British humour.

I wonder if they always fail to take complaints regarding their portrayal of Israel seriously?


Stephen Franklin

Sun, 03/07/2010 - 12:42

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What we hear and see in English is bad enough. The World Service, which people in the BBC frequently refer to as offering a gold standard is even worse.

On the BBC's Farsi web site a caption under a disgusting image is still suggesting that Palestinians were killed for body parts.
http://translate.google.com/translate?js=y&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&layout...

The doctor in question had kept some body parts following post-mortems in the 1990s in a scandal similar to the Alder Hey scandal in Britain, but he hadn't been doing it on the scale that it had been done at Alder Hay, the bodies were nearly all of Israelis and most of them Jewish. Nobody had been killed for the body parts and the BBC knows this, but the horrible insinuation is still there.


Jonathan Hoffman

Sun, 03/07/2010 - 16:12

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Yet another reason to vote Conservative

The Conservatives are committed to abolishing the BBC Trust and ending the ridiculous 'dual key' supervision which the BBC has persuaded Labour to tolerate.

I'm not saying the BBC will be ideal under the Conservatives but I do believe it will be perceptibly less biased against Israel.


moshetzarfati2 (not verified)

Sun, 03/07/2010 - 16:41

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Oi, Tory boy Hoffman, you forget that the Beeb was the same Beeb under the Tories. Since Cameron says one thing one day and the opposite the next, what makes you think he'll be any different on the BBC. Anyway, you have to resign because you have shown your party allegiance.


JLCohen

Sun, 03/07/2010 - 19:46

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Jonathan, having read your posts for some time I know that you're a very well-informed man with intelligent views and so I read everything you write on this site with interest. However, although the Conservatives might be better in some ways for those of us who would like to see Israel get fairer treatment and for that reason tempting to me as a Jew, as a British person who also wants what is best for the British people as a whole I have to disagree with you on the Conservatives. I also have severe doubts over whether or not they're truly as friendly towards Jewish people as they might like to claim, otherwise Cameron wouldn't be so keen on linking his party to the distinctly unsavoury, far-right groups with whom the Conservatives in Europe are now associated.

Passionate though I am about Israel and ending anti-Israeli bias, I cannot see that the Conservatives will be better for Britain and won't be voting for them..


Stephen Franklin

Sun, 03/07/2010 - 22:07

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I don't think that this should be a party political issue, and the problem of BBC bias existed throughout the 18 years of Tory rule as well as the 13 Labour years that have followed.

The point is the totally obscene bias that infects not just the BBC Middle East team, but also the people who are supposed to investigate complaints against them. If anything the bias exhibited by the chairman of the Trust's ESC, as demonstrated in the example highlighted on this page and in his interview on Radio 4's Feedback programme following the decision made in his absence with regard to complaints about Bowen, is more extreme than that of the BBC's Middle East reporting team.


Akiva

Mon, 03/08/2010 - 09:25

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JLCohen - I fear you have some misplaced loyalties, friend. I'm not saying I will vote Tory, but Klal Yisrael is far more important than 10p tax increases etc.

That said, I doubt the Tories would do a thing about the BBC. It's always been infected with liberal bias, possibly on even a larger scale than the Guardian. It's also always weilded far too much influence and been afforded too many luxuries. Why should the public have to pay for a broadcaster which produces propaganda that the majority are (Baruch HaShem) too smart to buy into?


moshetzarfati2 (not verified)

Mon, 03/08/2010 - 10:06

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Akiva, if you want to vote for a party which is in bed with pogrom-denying Poles and SS-loving Latvians don't come talking about Klal Yisrael. It is you, I fear, who has misplaced loyalties.


Stephen Franklin

Mon, 03/08/2010 - 11:11

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Please don't use this site for party politics. You can have that conversation anywhere and will do so in lots of places for the next three months.

Please keep to the issue of BBC bias, the BBC Trust's Editorial Standards Committee (ultimately who we complain to about BBC bias) and its leadership, and what we can or should do about it.


Yvetta

Mon, 03/08/2010 - 13:03

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The arrogant flushed-with-licence-payers'-cash BBC is a law unto itself. I know this from my own experience of complaining to it regarding a series of egregiously distorted reports regarding Israel. In effect, the response from Fraser Steel stuck two fingers up to me.
Things will never improve until adjudication of complaints of bias is taken out of the BBC's hands into a truly independent panel; that the BBC is permitted to determine allegations of bias in-house is ludicrous and outrageous.
Like it or not, Stephen, Jonathan is arguably correct in intruding party politics into this issue; that the Tories are pledged to tame the BBC beast is welcome news. I can only lament that Maggie T did not privatise Al Beeb when she had the chance.


moshetzarfati2 (not verified)

Mon, 03/08/2010 - 13:05

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I wouldn't privatise the Beeb, but I do agree, Yvetta, that adjudication needs to be taken out of its hands. I don't think any institution, private or public, can police itself. And I'd dump BBC3 and save 6Music.


JLCohen

Mon, 03/08/2010 - 14:12

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Thank you, Moshe - you said precisely what I was going to say re. the Tories and their friends in Europe, thereby saving wear and tear on the old laptop keys.


moshetzarfati2 (not verified)

Mon, 03/08/2010 - 14:41

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JLC, it also looks like the Conservative boycott of the Muslim Council of Britain has crumbled. On Friday, the Shadow Minister for Justice, David Burrows, attended a closed meeting on “Islamophobia” at Westminster.
The meeting was a production of the worst elements on the Islamist far right. The meeting’s sponsor was Labour MP Mohammad Sarwar, a trustee of the Muslim Brotherhood-friendly North London Central Mosque. Notably, however, the Labour mainstream saw this event for what it was and had the sense to stay away.


Stephen Franklin

Mon, 03/08/2010 - 15:46

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Both Tories and Labour have, quite rightly, found fault with the complaints system and will probably change it after the next election.

The fact is that the situation will only change if the people who run the complaints system are not the same people who used to produce or edit biased reports themselves.

The trouble is in my experience OFCOM's system isn't much better than the BBC Trust.

OFCOM failed to uphold a complaint when an accusation against Israel (of killing Muslim inhabitants of the Moroccan Quarter of Jerusalem when it that slum in front of the Western Wall was cleared in 1967) that was the centre piece of the programme was based purely on a report in a Jerusalem newspaper that only exists in Arab propaganda web sites.


Akiva

Mon, 03/08/2010 - 18:31

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"Akiva, if you want to vote for a party which is in bed with pogrom-denying Poles and SS-loving Latvians don't come talking about Klal Yisrael. It is you, I fear, who has misplaced loyalties."

Good job demonstrating your tremendous lack of reading comprehension.

My comment had nothing to do with voting Tory. It was stating that as important as local issues are, Klal Yisrael is more important by far. Whichever party is the most favourable towards Eretz Yisrael should be (and generally is) the choice for Am Yisrael. Except for the self-hating eccentrics amongst us, of course.

Whether the above applies to the Conservatives or not is irrelevant. Though personally I don't believe they can be trusted (whereas Gordon Brown is well known to be pro-Israel).


Yvetta

Mon, 03/08/2010 - 21:38

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The fact that J. Bowen Esq. was made Middle East editor by Al Beeb despite widespread complaints about his bias (vide Trevor Asserson's several painstaking reports substantiating Bowen's bias) speaks volumes, as does Katya Adler's revelation that she admires Bowen as her journalistic mentor.


moshetzarfati2 (not verified)

Mon, 03/08/2010 - 22:20

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Yvetta, Asserson and the other "watchers" can write 50 million reports and it won't make a blind bit of difference. They are essentially mosquitoes, which ultimately annoy but do no more.


moshetzarfati2 (not verified)

Mon, 03/08/2010 - 22:26

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Akiva, if I want to influence what goes on in Israel, I vote in the Israeli elections (Kadima last time, Labour before that, Shinui before that etc). But in British elections, I vote on British issues, not Jewish ones. And to paraphrase Larry David: I might hate myself, but this has nothing to do with me being Jewish.


Yvetta

Mon, 03/08/2010 - 22:55

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That all depends on whether a mosquito net is at hand, Moshe!


moshetzarfati2 (not verified)

Tue, 03/09/2010 - 11:11

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Or anti-mosquito spray…

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