BBC’s Bomb Plot

Please read the article “Jerusalem ‘bomb plot’” by Paul Wood.

Then read our critique below, and if you feel that the story is biased, please send your complaints and thoughts to:

newsonline@bbc.co.uk

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To the BBC Editor:

BBC’s article “Jerusalem ‘bomb plot’” by Paul Wood (16 January 2001) includes some blatant violations of journalistic objectivity.


DISTORTION #1 – DISTORTION OF FACTS

Wood generalizes that religious Jews are seeking to blow up the mosques on the Temple Mount. His article leads with a casual reference to a film about “ultra religious Jews” who want to blow up the mosques. He then writes: “Near the Wailing Wall there have been sit-down protests by religious Jews.” And he closes the article speaking of “the cataclysmic effects predicted by the religious Jews trying to build the temple.”

Had Wood bothered to poll a sampling of the one million religious Jews living in Israel, he would have found that but a tiny fringe group — one that is rejected by the religious mainstream — have ever called for violent action to destroy the mosques. Wood’s generalization, which demonizes all religious Jews with no counter-point, leaves me concerned about BBC’s standards.

* * * * *

DISTORTION #2 – SELECTIVE OMISSION

Wood reports of “angry demonstrations in Jerusalem’s old city as fears grow among religious Jews that Israel will surrender control of the holy sites,” and then mentions that “30 hardliners have already attempted to storm the Temple Mount.”

Wood does not identify these angry demonstrations. When did they occur? And why does Wood ignore the fact that on January 8, just days before this article appeared, a quarter of a million Jews — religious, secular, left and right — demonstrated peacefully in support of united Jerusalem. No speaker called for the destruction of Arab religious sites; no signs were held aloft calling for the battle of Armageddon. In the words of The Wall Street Journal: “The protest, in which both Israeli and diaspora Jews participated, was remarkable for its size, but also for its peacefulness.”

BBC, by placing the focus on the provocative actions of 30 people — and ignoring the peaceful actions of 250,000 — is a troubling indication of bias on the BBC.

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