The BBC’s Israel coverage is under the spotlight again as the BBC Trust, the body charged with overseeing the corporation’s output has upheld a complaint against a BBC Radio 4 program in a case that BBC News has been contesting for an astonishing two and a half years:
The latest complaint relates to an item which aired on the Today programme in June 2011. The report, by Kevin Connolly, one of the BBC’s Middle East correspondents, examined the legacy of the 1967 conflict between Israel and several neighbouring states.
According to the trust’s findings, which were obtained by The Times, a listener alleged that the Today report wrongly gave the impression that Israel occupied land three times its original size as a result of the war, when it had given 90 per cent of the land captured in 1967 back to Egypt. The programme also, the complainant alleged, gave a misleading impression that Israel was not willing to trade land for peace, when it had reached peace deals with Jordan and Egypt that included transfers of conquered territory.
The trust found that the Today report had been inaccurate on both points and that the complaints should be upheld.
The findings state: “The combined effect of the two breaches meant that due weight had not been correctly applied, as the item left the incorrect impression that Israel had not handed back territory since 1967. Consequently, there had been a failure to observe due impartiality.”
The Times writes that this latest ruling will “inflame internal tensions” and “is likely to lead to outrage among the corporation’s journalists.” The Times also states:
The trust’s findings would appear to show the corporation has failed to learn from the 2004 Balen Report, which the BBC commissioned to look into its coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Indeed, HonestReporting and others have campaigned for many years for the Balen Report to be released to the public and for the BBC to finally come clean on its contents. This latest complaint and the resulting ruling is simply further proof of the anti-Israel bias in the BBC newsroom.