BBC’s All-Out ApologyJune 19, 2007 12:00 by ManagingTeam
As many of our subscribers have personally found, getting the BBC to admit to a mistake is extremely rare. This time, however, the BBC has issued a sincere and profound apology for its Israel coverage. As the Jerusalem Post reports:
The BBC apologized this week for referring to Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and promised not to repeat “the mistake,” following a complaint by four British organizations.
Arab Media Watch, Muslim Public Affairs Committee, Friends of Al-Aksa and the Institute of Islamic Political Thought sent a joint complaint to the BBC after a presenter on its Football Focus program on March 24 mentioned that Jerusalem was Israel’s capital and “historic soul.”
The BBC’s Editorial Complaints Unit posted a response on its Web site: “The reference was a passing one in a context where the focus was on sport, not politics. While recognizing the sensitivity of the issue of the status of Jerusalem, the ECU took the view that the program-makers had taken sufficient action by acknowledging the error and rectifying the Web site.”
The Editorial Complaints Unit’s ruling was: “Complaint resolved.”
In a letter to the complaining NGOs, Fraser Steel, head of editorial complaints at the BBC, said: “We of course accept that the international community does not recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and that the BBC should not describe it as such. I was therefore pleased to see that Katherine Tsang [BBC Information adviser], when she wrote to you in April, acknowledged the error and apologized for it. [Presenter] Steve Boulton and other senior managers in BBC Sport told us they very much regret the mistake and apologize for it.”
“Senior managers will try to ensure, as you suggest, that the mistake is not repeated. Because it appears on the Web site, there will be a public acknowledgement of the error, and the action taken in consequence.”
Steel added: “I’d like to add my apologies for this most regrettable, but I’m sure accidental, factual mistake. I appreciate that the status of Jerusalem is of particular concern to Palestinians, and it is important that it is not misrepresented. I am confident that lessons have already been learned, and they will be emphasized as a result of my decision.”
Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said in response: “Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. It is the right of every sovereign state to determine which city will be its capital. If this is not accepted by everyone today, I am confident it will be in the future.”
GAZA: THE “BLAME ISRAEL SYNDROME”
The brutal Palestinian infighting and Hamas takeover of Gaza does not fit comfortably into the all-too popular and one-sided conception that Palestinians bear no responsibility for their own actions. See how some of the UK media has taken to blaming Israel for the situation in Gaza – Read HonestReporting UK’s latest communique.
BBC REPORT ACKNOWLEDGES BIAS
Bias at the BBC is not confined to its coverage of Israel. As reported in many UK newspapers, including the Daily Telegraph: “The BBC is operating in a “left-leaning comfort zone” and has an “innate liberal bias” according to a report commissioned by the corporation. The report, From Seesaw to Wagon Wheel (PDF format), said that the BBC’s drift towards a liberal-minded approach to programmes risked stifling originality and angering viewers.”
Commenting in the Daily Telegraph, Damien Thompson writes:
When it comes to accusations of Left-liberal bias, the BBC is a bit like an alcoholic. People have been sniggering about his drinking for years; he pretends not to notice. There have been complaints; he brushes them aside. Throwing up at that wedding reception? Someone spiked the punch. …
Ah yes, Israel. One of the few BBC journalists criticised in yesterday’s report was Barbara Plett, who burst into tears when Yasser Arafat was airlifted out of his compound and then boasted about it in an article. She was caught red-handed, in other words; the incident became famous and so the report produces her as a burnt offering.
If the BBC is prepared to admit that it has an overall bias problem, why can it not publicly recognize the deep-rooted bias of its treatment of Israel?
ICON OF HATRED
HonestReporting has previously highlighted The Second Draft‘s series of documentaries examining the real story behind the death of Muhammad al Durah. Now, according to The Second Draft, the newly-released third film in the series, Icon of Hatred, explores:
- how PA TV took the footage of what was, at most, an Israeli error, most likely a work of Pallywood, and turned it into an accusation of cold-blooded murder, a proof of Israeli intentions to commit genocide.
- how this “blood martyr” became the icon not only of the “Al Aqsa Intifada,” but of global jihad, catapulting Jihadism from the margins to the center of Muslim “street,” making suicide bombing the weapon of choice.
- how Al Durah became the symbol of outraged compassion in the West, fueling an anti-Zionist crusade that aligned the “human rights” and “anti-war” left with the most murderous theocrats on the globe. And how, in embracing the Muslim equation of Israel with Nazis, European intellectuals have encouraged the surge of Islamist triumphalism not only in the Middle East, but within their own countries.