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Thursday, 5 November 2015

BBC – The Voice of Israel & Zionism


John Humphries of BBC's Today Programme
Israel's Unpaid Spokesman 

Brighton PSC Demonstration outside BBC Radio Sussex
Whenever there is an upsurge in violence in Israel and the Occupied Territories, be it the genocidal bombing of Gaza or the shooting on sight of Palestinians or just extra-judicial executions, you can rely on the BBC to ensure that only the Israeli side of the conflict is told.  No matter what the atrocities, whether it is phosphorous bombs, attacks on journalists or even attacks on hospitals, the BBC will ensure that only the version of the war criminals gets put over.
Israeli soldier attacks the press with pepper spray - one person is on the floor - not newsworthy for the BBC as no Israelis were hurt
For example there was the recent attack on the press.   If it had happened in Russia or Venezuela it would have been a big story.  In the Occupied Territories?  The BBC didn’t touch it.  Then there was the attack on the Makassed hospital in East Jerusalem.    Again the BBC didn’t go near the story.  Instead it linked to another news outlet Jerusalem Hospitals Pressured to Give Up Injured Palestinian 'Terrorists'  .   The BBC no longer even links to this story.
The most moral army in the world dealing with terrorist cameramen - doesn't accord with the BBC narrative that violence is from the Palestinians only
On October 20th there was, even by the BBC's abysmal standards, a truly amazing dialogue between the overtly pro-Zionist presenter for the Today programme, John Humphries, and Kevin Connolly, someone who passes for a BBC Middle East correspondent.  Below is the dialogue between them and below that is my complaint to the BBC and my appeal against the first stage decision.  Rather than comment further I shall let you be the judge.

Tony Greenstein
Transcript 20.10.15. Today Programme 6.39 a.m.

Humphries – 21 minutes to 7 - Yet another attack on Israelis last night.  This time an Arab man with a gun and a knife killed a soldier & wounded 10 people.  The number is mounting, it’s about 50 now isn’t it? 

No mention that 40 of them Palestinians – including executions

Kevin Connolly: We think about 50 in the past month.  Sharp uptake of violence – Not just that attack in Beer Sheba inside Israel itself.  On Saturday a wave of stabbing attacks in Hebron & Jerusalem.  No sign that this wave of rising tension & rising casualties is going to abate.  The Israeli government frankly is casting about for a convincing answer because the nature of the acts of violence still appears to be random and spontaneous.  The decisions of individuals at a given moment to stage an attack are not the work of organised extremist groups. For that reason it’s been very tough to formulate a convincing security answer
Demonstration outside Currys which sells Hewlett Packard machines
Humphries It is not Intifada is it?

Kevin Connolly:        It’s a very difficult question part of the problem is that media organisations begin asking that question very early in these upsurges of violence.  Whatever we call it, it’s an extraordinarily difficult situation for the Israeli government to deal with because its own people look to it for security.  That very random and spontaneous nature of the attack has left many Israeli citizens feeling that any Palestinian passing them in the street might be carrying a knife, might be planning to attack them and any passing car might at any moment be used as a vehicle against Israeli civilian pedestrians. So although it’s not at all at the level of critical mass of violence that you would need to use the word Intifada, it doesn’t have the leadership perhaps that an Intifada might require it has achieved an extraordinary change in the atmosphere of daily life here, hence the political urgency for the Israeli government.
Humphries: There is talk of more powers for the Police to stop and search but that seems to be fairly inadequate in a way doesn’t it?

Kevin Connolly:  I think that is true.  They are reviving a plan which existed a few years ago to expand stop and search powers so the Police wouldn’t need reasonable suspicion that a crime was being committed before they stopped and searched somebody. I think that was actually originally formulated to deal with a wave of night club stabbings.  So they have that on the books, they have erected a concrete screen between an Arab and Jewish area of Jerusalem, not far from where I’m talking to you, that also has a bit of an ad-hoc feeling to it and they also of course have armed reinforcements in the West Bank. You have Police reinforcements here in Jerusalem.   So they are doing what they can with visible security.  But you can’t get away from the fact that they are struggling with the nature of this upsurge of violence. And that’s also a problem for the politicians.  Because you will be having Benjamin Netanyahu meeting John Kerry later this week.  Probably Kerry also meeting Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority.  So the big politics is beginning to kick in here.  But it’s hard to see where the connecting wheels are between those big political meetings and the fact that individuals are taking the decision to stage these attacks for reasons which we are often left to guess at.  Because the attackers often die in the course of the attack.


Doctors and health workers protest at the attack on East Jerusalem's Makassed Hospital - not newsworthy enough for the BBC
Humphries:  Kevin, many thanks. It’s 17 minutes to 7. 19th October 2015

Grounds for Complaint by Tony Greenstein 20.9.15.
Humphries interview with Kevin Connolly re violence in Israel.  Mentions 50 dead but not that 40 are Palestinians.  No mention mob violence against Palestinians or  murder of Fadi Alloun, chased by lynch mob, executed by Police. No background to events eg firebombing of Dawabshe family in Duma.  3 dead.  No prosecutions - culprits known.  No mention that West Bank is Occupied.  No mention of 'Death to Arabs' marches in Jerusalem.  And no mention of murder of Eritrean refugee last night though other reporters picked it up.  All of these are documented by video footage Connolly doesn't report.

Brighton Demonstration Against Apartheid Israel
Connolly says 'individuals are taking the decision to stage these attacks for reasons which we are often left to guess at.'  Let me see, what might be the reasons:

i.  An occupation for 48 years.  
ii.  settler violence that is abetted by Military.  
iii.   That this is not a question of law and order but one where the law is in the hands of one party which deprives the other party of basic human rights.  
iv.   Israel is in breach of perpetual breach of international law.  
v. The attack by Police on the Al Aqsa mosque and the Temple Mount Institute and similar messianic groups which openly call for the Mosque's demolition, its replacement by 3rd Temple.  Groups r funded by Israeli gov.  Connolly mentioned Hebron, where violent settlers repeatedly attack Palestinian civilians.  No mention of death of Hadeek al-Hashlamon last month killed by army. 
In other words a complete lack of context

BBC Response 1:

The first BBC response was a standard response, which didn’t address any of the particulars of the complaint.
21 October 2015

Dear Mr  Greenstein 



Thank you for contacting us about the recent escalation in violence in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. We have received a wide range of feedback about our coverage of this subject across our television and radio programmes, and the BBC News website. In order to use our TV licence fee resources efficiently, this response aims to answer the key concerns raised in complaints received by us, but we apologise in advance if it doesn’t address your specific points in the manner you would prefer.

We appreciate you believe our coverage of this story has shown bias in favour of Israel and against the Palestinians. In this response we hope to explain why we feel this has not been the case.

Across our news bulletins and programmes we have reported on the increasing number of Palestinian deaths and casualties following the actions of Israeli security forces. We have broadcast reports where our reporters have spoken to the families of Israelis and Palestinians killed in the recent violence and have heard their respective stories and own specific takes on the conflict.

We have reported on criticism of Israel’s response to the attacks, which has included the implementation of curfews in East Jerusalem and the West Bank and the destruction of homes of Palestinians Israel claims are connected to the attackers.

We have tried to explain how the current situation has come to pass from the Israeli and Palestinian perspectives. This has included reporting on the tensions around the holy sites in occupied East Jerusalem, the building of settlements and on the daily realities faced by Palestinians living under occupation. We have explored the apathy held by many Palestinians toward the impasse in reaching a lasting peace settlement, and on what many see as Israel’s unwillingness to end the occupation which would see the creation of an independent and sovereign Palestinian state.

BBC News tries to report on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in an accurate and duly impartial manner. Sometimes this means we can’t always reflect the full extent of the complexities of the conflict during one standalone report or bulletin. We try to tell the story of the conflict as experienced by both sides, across programmes and bulletins and over time. We believe this has been the case during our coverage of this recent spike in violence.

We have raised your concerns with senior editorial staff at BBC News, who consider the range of feedback received from our audience when deciding how they approach reporting on stories. Thanks again for taking the time to contact us.

Kind Regards

BBC Complaints



After I had pointed out that this was unsatisfactory I was sent a second, equally unsatisfactory response.
BBC Response 2:
31st October 2015
Dear Mr Greenstein

Reference CAS-3535889-VX0RCY

Thank you for contacting us regarding the BBC Radio 4 'Today' programme on 19 October.
I've taken a look into this and note your original complaint to us along with our response - we apologise for the initial misunderstanding.

We raised your complaint with Today, who responded as follows:

“We’re sorry you didn’t enjoy Kevin Connolly’s discussion with John Humphrys on Monday morning.

Having listened back to it, we don’t agree with your interpretation of the exchange. Kevin was reporting on the security situation inside Israel. The attack at Beersheba bus station attack was the latest in a serious of attacks by Palestinians in Israel. We talked about the attacks and the security measures being taken to counter them by Israel security agencies. There was also discussion of the random nature of this violence.


Doctors and health workers protest at the attack on East Jerusalem's Makassed Hospital - not newsworthy enough for the BBC
John started by saying “Yet another attack on Israelis last night” but as this was one of a number of similar attacks recently so I think that is fair.

The other exchange was;

JH : “The number is mounting now isn’t it Kevin. it’s about 50 now isn’t it?”

KC “we think around 50 dead over the last month or so in this sudden, sharp, uptick in violence”
At no point did either John or Kevin say that it was solely Israelis dead in this period of violence.
Again, the report was about the internal security situation in Israel and the political problems it was causing the Netanyahu government. In that context it is legitimate to discuss how scared this latest violence is making Israeli citizens.

Kevin states that the most of the motives are unknown, because in the context of recent history, they are. This nature of these attacks, and the fact the attackers often die in the attacks mean they cannot be investigated, therefore the precise motivation is unknown. We think anyone listening to the piece will understand that Kevin was talking about why this form of violence is happening now. The wider causes and context of the Israel/Palestinian conflict are frequently discussed across the BBC.

We know this subject inspires real passion on both sides but at the BBC we remain committed to impartial reporting on all controversial issues.”

We hope you now find this satisfactory and thank you once again for taking the time to contact us with your concerns.

All complaints are sent to the relevant news teams and to senior management, I've included your points in this report. This is a daily report of audience feedback that's circulated to many BBC staff, including members of the BBC Executive Board, and other senior managers. This helps inform their decisions about current and future programmes.

Once again, thank you for contacting us.

Kind regards

Anna Sweeney
BBC Complaints

I have now made a second stage appeal (below) to the Editorial Complaints Unit.  I won’t be holding my breath!

2nd November 2015

Reference CAS-3535889-VXORCY

To ecu@bbc.co.uk, Alison.Wilson2@bbc.co.uk

Dear ECU,

I wish to appeal against the dismissal of the complaint which I submitted to you on 20th October 2015 concerning John Humphries conversation with Kevin Connolly on the upsurge in violence in Israel.

Despite being assured by Alison Wilson, the Complaints Manager for the Editorial Complaints Unit  on 22nd October 2015 that ‘BBC Complaints will establish whether there is anything further to be added to the response that has been given, and advise the complainant on the appropriate path for escalation.’ I was not advised on the appropriate path for escalation.

Given your failure to follow your own procedure I will now submit this to ECU and trust there will be no further attempt to delay considering an appeal.  Given the cursory treatment to date, please also advise of any further escalation that will be necessary if the complaint is treated the same as at the first stage.
I didn’t enjoy the repartee between John Humphries [JH] and Kevin Connolly [KC].  It told me nothing and its bias was self-evident.
My appeal in respect of your response is:
i.                The unnamed person who responded from Today is either hopelessly biased or is simply incapable of understanding the complaint.  S/he says:
‘Kevin was reporting on the security situation inside Israel. The attack at Beersheba bus station attack was the latest in a serious of attacks by Palestinians in Israel.’ 
This precisely sums up what my complaint is about.  What actually happened at the Beersheba bus station was not just an attack by a lone Palestinian but also the lynching of an Eritrean refugee.  KC failed to make even a cursory mention of the fact that an Eritrean refugee, guilty of nothing other than being in the despise category of refugee in Israel, (Israel doesn’t admit refugees as a matter of policy, they are called ‘infiltrators) was murdered.  Shot by a security guard and then kicked and beaten until he died.  Not one word of this lynching passed KC’s lips. 
By way of contrast the on-line version of Israel’s largest daily paper, Yediot Aharanot, on 18th October, managed to include in its report both the killing of an Israeli soldier and the murder of a refugee.  Perhaps you could explain such an omission – bias or just ignorance? http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4712997,00.html
ii.              You say that ‘We talked about the attacks and the security measures being taken to counter them by Israel security agencies.’  That is indeed the problem.  It is just a security situation, what is happening is simply a matter of individual criminality.  There is no recognition that what is happening is a reaction, on an individual level, to a harsh military occupation of the West Bank and Jerusalem, to say nothing of the nakedly racist treatment of Israel’s own Arab citizens.  It’s just a situation of law and order, so the BBC avoids all context.  It is a continuation of your bias against understanding.
iii.             The response to that part of my complaint relating to the suggestion that those who were killed were treated as being solely Israelis (i.e. Israeli Jews) is incomprehensible.  You simply deny what is plain and evident from the transcript.  Like Humpty Dumpty words mean what you want them to mean.
JH says:  “Yet another attack on Israelis last night” and you comment on this saying that ‘this was one of a number of similar attacks recently so I think that is fair.’   You then say that ‘The other exchange was;
JH : “The number is mounting now isn’t it Kevin. it’s about 50 now isn’t it?”
KC “we think around 50 dead over the last month or so in this sudden, sharp, uptick in violence”
You assert that ‘At no point did either John or Kevin say that it was solely Israelis dead in this period of violence.’
The reference by JH and KC was solely to Israelis and yet most of the dead were Palestinians.  So even at the most basic level it was wrong.  There was no mention of Palestinians other than as attackers.  Hence it would have been reasonable for viewers to conclude that the only people who were dead were Israeli Jews. 
Of course you could have mentioned the fact that there have been a number of attacks on Palestinians by Israeli Jews and even attacks by Jews on Jews, who were mistaken for Arabs.  These are dressed up as retaliations, for example the murder of Fadi Alloun.  For example the online news magazine +972 carries the video of his shooting plus an accompanying article. New video shows accused stabber posed no threat when shot  http://972mag.com/new-video-shows-accused-stabber-posed-no-threat-when-shot/112593/
In Jerusalem there are regular attacks by Jewish mobs on individual Palestinians led by groups such as Lehava, which target Arabs in ‘Jewish’ areas.  Their favourite chant is ‘death to the Arabs’ [Mavet La’aravim]  But this phenomenon has never been reported on by the BBC.  Fadi Alloun is believed to have been targeted  by just such a group and executed by the Police who only asked questions afterwards.
There have been a number of other such shootings for example of an Arab woman in Afula bus shelter who it was later admitted had not been trying to stab anyone.  Israeli Arab Woman Shot in Bus Station Not a Terrorist, Conclude Security Services http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.682928  Of course since the BBC never seems to manage to report on such things they didn’t happen.  It’s a vicious circle which maintains the constant bias that you indulge in.
iv.            You said that
‘Kevin states that the most of the motives are unknown, because in the context of recent history, they are. This nature of these attacks, and the fact the attackers often die in the attacks mean they cannot be investigated, therefore the precise motivation is unknown. We think anyone listening to the piece will understand that Kevin was talking about why this form of violence is happening now. The wider causes and context of the Israel/Palestinian conflict are frequently discussed across the BBC.’
This is totally absurd.  It is as if you have compartmentalised the knife attacks and associated violence on the one hand and the Occupation on the other, ne’er the twain do they meet.  Are you really saying that it has never occurred to your correspondent in Israel, KC, that there might, just might, be a connection between the random violence of individual knife attacks and the fact of the Occupation?  Does he not consider that the daily ritual humiliations of being harassed by the security forces, stopped at check points, subject to random violence by unaccountable border police, living in an uncertain situation where land confiscation takes place all around you, where your residency rights in Jerusalem can be withdrawn at a moments notice etc. etc. might just have some connection with the violence that arose?  If KC really does not appreciate these things, perhaps you might consider transferring him to report on the Chelsea Flower Show?
v.              You talk about how ‘this subject inspires real passion on both sides’.  That is a convenient way of dismissing a complaint but my concern is not passion but accuracy or the lack of it and now dissembling by the Today team.
vi.            You also state that ‘we remain committed to impartial reporting on all controversial issues’.  RT and Al Jazeera have reported tonight on the attacks on Palestinian and Lebanese journalists by the Israeli para military Border Police.  Nothing on BBC.  No doubt if Israeli journalists were being attacked in an Arab country, it would be headline news.  Bias by omission is another facet of your coverage.  Your commitment to reporting on all controversial issues is therefore just a pious statement of intent rather than an established practice.
I therefore do not find your handling to date of the complaint as satisfactory.
Yours faithfully,

Tony Greenstein

I also made a complaint today against the fact that Danny Cohen, one of the most senior BBC Executives, had signed a letter in the Guardian last week which opposed the Cultural Boycott of Israel.  Couple this with the complaint of former BBC Chairman Lord Grade Ex-BBC chairman Lord Grade attacks corporation over Israel coverage  that the BBC is too sympathetic (!) to the Palestinians and one gets a measure of the institutional and systematic bias in favour of Zionism and the Israeli State that exists in the BBC.
Complaint Against Danny Cohen, BBC Director of Television
PO Box 173
Rottingdean
Brighton
BN51 9EZ
Rona Fairhead,
Chair,
BBC Trust,
BBC Broadcasting House,
Portland Place, London, W1A 1AA

Wednesday, 04 November 2015

Re Danny Cohen

Dear Ms Fairhead,

On Thursday 22nd  October a letter headed Israel needs cultural bridges, not boycotts appeared in the Guardian.  One of the signatories to this letter was a certain Danny Cohen, the BBC’s Director of Television.  Mr Cohen was one of 150 people calling for Israel to be protected from cultural boycotts.

Cohen joined senior figures from the Conservative Friends of Israel, 13 of whose officers and members signed it, and one from the Labour Friends of Israel.  Unsurprisingly, there were no pro-Palestinian MPs among the signatories.

The letter claimed that “Cultural boycotts singling out Israel are divisive and discriminatory” and goes on to call for “cultural engagement” in place of boycotts.  Perhaps if the BBC were to fairly cover Israel’s behaviour in the Occupied Territories, East Jerusalem or indeed inside Israel itself, you would soon be aware of what discrimination really means. 

The BBC has consistently failed to cover the attacks of the Israeli military on journalists or even the recent attack, with tear gas, sound bombs and rubber bullets on the Makassed hospital in East Jerusalem, which other news outlets (RT, Al Jazeera) manage to cover.  Its news agenda is that of Israel’s Information Ministry and Press Office.  If you were at all concerned about discrimination then how can one account for your consistent failure to cover the persistently high levels of racism in every aspect of Israel as a Jewish state, as measured by opinion polls.  For example the fact that 75% of Israeli Jews oppose the idea of living next to an Arab. http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3381978,00.html

There is of course nothing new in this.  Throughout the period of the cultural Boycott against South Africa, the BBC consistently supported Margaret Thatcher’s policy of ‘constructive engagement’.  We expect nothing better from the BBC, which was born in the womb of the state.  Nonetheless you have a formal legal obligation to be neutral and it is that which you are in persistent breach of.

Cohen is a member of the BBC’s executive board and one of the most senior figures in the organisation. His role within the BBC demands neutrality and yet he has publicly made known his support for Israel and its Apartheid policies and practices.

The Royal Charter, which governs the BBC, demands that the organisation must be impartial in its reporting.  This must also be a key requirement of its staff. The fact that Danny Cohen has signed this letter, in the company of openly pro-Israel figures, without subsequent censure from the BBC, demonstrates that this is not the case.”

Cohen has so far faced no public censure from the BBC Trust for his behaviour.  I am therefore writing to you to ask whether or not you intend to take any action against him. 

Cohen is not just another employee of the BBC.  He has huge influence within the organisation, overseeing the BBC’s four main channels, in addition to BBC iPlayer, and online content for BBC Television. He also oversees the Drama, Entertainment, Knowledge and Comedy genres and BBC Films. Further responsibilities include the BBC Television archive and BBC Productions, Europe’s largest television production group.

Yours sincerely,


Tony Greenstein


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