A report to be published on Wednesday by a media monitoring organization says that the BBC’s coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for the first quarter of 2010 was steeped with an anti-Israel bias.
In a detailed analysis of BBC News, Honest Reporting (HR) shows among its findings that its daily coverage focuses on Israeli action, which it deems as “undermining the peace process,” while Palestinian actions that violate peace agreements are either ignored or downplayed.
“The issue of Israeli housing construction in Jerusalem gets wide coverage by the BBC, while constant and ongoing Palestinian glorification of terror, a major breach of every agreement, is almost ignored,” the report says.
The 31-page report uses 57 articles from the BBC News Web site from January until March. It accuses the broadcasting organization of leading with the Palestinian perspective or quoting “partisan, agenda-driven” Israeli organizations critical of Israel.
The report also accuses the BBC of presenting historical issues without context: referring to Jerusalem as occupied with no reference to its 3,000-year Jewish history is more misleading than informative, it says.
Inaccurate terms are often used, out of a fear of passing judgment: examples include referring to Hamas as “militants” or “fighters” or Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s coalition government as “right-wing.”
“By using this term – which we have never seen applied by the BBC to even the most extreme Palestinian political parties – isn’t the BBC passing its own judgment? Especially considering the fact that “right wing” is usually used as a pejorative rather than simply descriptive label, it has no place in objective journalism,”the report says.
“While some British media outlets such as The Guardian contribute to the demonization of Israel by way of sheer Israel bashing, the BBC’s reporting, while more subtle, is just as dangerous to Israel,” said Simon Plosker, HR’s managing editor.
During the period of analysis, the report says the BBC published 27 articles which dealt with settlements and Jewish housing in Jerusalem; 12 on difficulties for Palestinians as a result of Israeli measures; nine on Israeli military operations and three describing acts of vandalism allegedly perpetrated by Israelis against Palestinians.
According to the report, during the same period the BBC published one article on Palestinian glorification of terror; one detailing corruption in the Palestinian Authority and none on Palestinian weapons smuggling into Gaza.
“Despite BBC claims to be objective and impartial, we routinely find that its choice of stories are highly selective, focusing on Israel as an obstacle to peace while ignoring or downplaying issues such as Palestinian incitement or glorification of terror,” Plosker said.
The report, which has been sent to the BBC’s director general, head of news and Middle East reporter Jeremy Bowen, makes a number of recommendations, including a call to the BBC to use a full spectrum of Israeli voices and official sources.
“The BBC should report on Palestinian violations of signed agreements with the same volume, detail, and scope as Israeli actions,” the report recommends.
Another recommendation says the BBC should use terms “that reflect accuracy rather fear offending sensibilities” and uses an example: “Hamas terrorists fire rockets at Israeli kindergarten.”
The BBC declined to respond, saying it would do so only after the report’s official release on Wednesday.
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