Ex-BBC chairman Lord Grade attacks corporation over Israel coverage

By Marcus Dysch, October 19, 2015

Former BBC chairman Lord Grade has criticised the corporation’s coverage of the ongoing violence in Israel and the West Bank.

He wrote to the BBC’s director of news and current affairs, James Harding to say coverage had at times been misleading and failed to give context to what he called an “undoubtedly complex issue”.

Lord Grade, the nephew of the late Jewish showbusiness impresario Lew Grade, highlighted a series of concerns he had with television and website reports of the knife attacks on Israelis in the past two weeks.

The BBC had failed to “fulfil its obligation to viewers” by not showing Palestinian Authority officials praising the attacks, he wrote.

His complaint was prompted by a broadcast by correspondent Orla Guerin on Sunday last week.

Lord Grade said the report had implied “equivalence between Israeli victims of terrorism and Palestinians who have been killed by Israeli security forces in the act of carrying out terror attacks”.

He wrote: “An emotional interview is conducted with the father of a dead Palestinian youth who had been killed committing a fatal terror attack. However, the report failed to show the emotional distress caused to Israelis by any of these recent attacks. This is inexcusable.

“Additionally, it was improper of the correspondent to claim that ‘there’s no sign of involvement by militant groups’, before immediately showing footage of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) banners at the home of a 19-year-old terrorist who carried out a deadly knife attack at Lion’s Gate in Jerusalem on October 3.

“PIJ is a well-known Palestinian terror organisation and it has since claimed responsibility for the attack and been praised by Hamas, another internationally proscribed terror organisation. This directly misleads viewers”.

Lord Grade said coverage had failed to show stone-throwing Palestinians and failed to give viewers “the wider context, thereby limiting their awareness and understanding of what is an undoubtedly complex issue”.

The television executive was also critical of a headline on the BBC News website earlier in October.

The BBC said in a statement: “We are committed to reporting all aspects of a very complex conflict in a fair and balanced way, reflecting a range of voices.

"We believe our impartiality is best measured by considering the full spectrum of the BBC’s reporting, rather than an individual story.”

Last updated: 1:50pm, October 23 2015