BBC World’s War on Israel Hits New Low

Context.  Relevance.  These are two very important words I always keep in mind when I watch television news: and I’m disappointed more often than I would like when see so many stories that are reported solely because the pictures are easy to come by (accidents, fires, press conferences) or the story can incite a sought after reaction, even if it really has little or no relevance to our lives.

BBC World is the largest world-wide news service, offering radio, internet and television news coverage around the world in several different languages.  It has millions upon millions of followers … so packs a major punch in shaping public opinion on issues. And in most of its coverage, it does a highly credible job of reporting … both from the points of view of context and relevance.

Until it turns to coverage of the Middle East.

I don’t know if the BBC is controlled editorially by a cabal of far-left ideologues or militant  pro-Arab activists, but readers of this blog know I have pointed out several examples of  what I see as a terrible anti-Israel bias in what BBC World reports and especially in how they cannot seem to  report any story involving Israel, except in a negative way. And as a journalist with 38 years experience and having won many national and regional awards, I think I can tell bias when I see it ..and I see it often on BBC World in reporting Mid East issues.

Their one-sided biased coverage hurts the BBC’s once proud reputation of fairness and insults the intelligence of viewers … and this week they hit a new low that I believe provides a perfect example of  a totally irrelevant story that could only elicit a negative reaction and denigrate Israel  (once again) amongst it’s worldwide audience.

The “story”  surrounded  an Orthodox chief rabbi in the small Israeli town of  Tzvat  (ever even heard of it?) who had issued a decree ordering a Jewish landlord NOT to rent a suite to Arabs … a story that would no doubt cause discussion among  Israelis ….Jews, Muslims and Christians. But this was one rabbi, in a small town, in a society that is largely secular.  Worthy of worldwide news coverage?

 Apparently so, to BBC World News.  And they would no doubt argue that it made a good “human interest” piece.

However, anyone who is interested in rooting out slanted journalism should take a hard look at BBC World’s decision to run …not just a voice-over note about this one radical rabbi …but do a full news piece on a newscast that tries to cover the entre world in under 25 minutes.

And here’s where I see the bias: I’d bet that, for every radical Israeli rabbi that told the landlord not to rent to Arabs… there are  dozens …maybe even  hundreds … of  radical mullahs and imams in the Arab states and Palestinian lands surrounding Israel who openly preach much worse: that Israel must be obliterated, that Jews and Christians are infidel  pigs and snakes worthy of destruction and death.  Not to mention all those  textbooks given to children in Arab countries, spewing rabid racial anti-Israeli and anti-Jewish hate on almost page.

Seems to me that’s worse thn some racist rabbi (I’m not defending him in any way) urging a landlord not to rent to someone.

Where are …or have been …the BBC World stories exposing these much more horrible Islamic Arab transgressions?  Have I missed them?  I’d bet BBC World could come with a new nutty imam every day: why just the loony rabbi?

Because, I suspect, the BBC World editorial philosophy is to report ONLY stories like that, which embarrass and denigrate Israel …but NEVER the Arab world. This is their bias .. clearly shown.

In fact, there was an even more serious case of what I view as  BBC World selective reporting  just recently: the terrific story broken by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation about a  secret UN investigation  report attributing the assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri to Hesbollah.

That story…huge news considering the report came freom the UN itself…. made major news right around the world: but though I looked, I could not find it highlighted on BBC World News. Did I miss it?  The story did make it ot the BBC website…but even though I looked in many times over several days, I never saw it covered on BBC World television.

In fact, as the CBC ably reported, there were MANY angles here worth noting: not just that evidence indicates Hesbollah killed Hariri; but that the UN..five years after the murder… has still not released or acted upon its own report.  All it has done is demand CBC return its leaked documents.

 I can just imagine how BBC World would have headlined to story for days had the UN investigation concluded Israel was behind the assassination of Hariri!!!!  We would be hearing stories on that for weeks on BBC World.  Clearly a double standard …almost complicity …by BBC World …. in how it has almost ignored the Hesbollah/Hariri murder link.

We all saw how the BBC World, for days and days,  was all over the UN critical report into Israel’s attacks on Gaza after being shelled for more than a year; we all saw how BBC World, for weeks,  was all over the UN critical report into Israel’s barring of aid ships bound for Gaza.   No problem with that ..IF BBC World treated the UN report into Hariri’s murder by Hesbollah the same way …but clearly THEY DID NOT!  Why?  Why?  Why?

I believe it’s BBC World anti-Israel bias…pure and simple …over and over again, and we all have a duty to expose and stand up against such inequal treatment of a country and a people  by a major world news network.

The same bias,by the way as I have blogged about before, that still has no Israeli cities regularly listed on BBC World’s Mid-East weather maps or drop down menus of Mid East cities  … only Arab ones. Why?

The same bias that I believe explains why I have only seen ONE story from Israel on BBC World’s Mid East Business Report … and  that was only a story about an Arab businessman working in Israel. Apparently, from BBC World’s point of view, there are almost  no Israeli businesses or ventures or economic accomplishments worth noting … just Arab ones.

It is absolutely disgraceful discrimination in my view and I will continue to expose it whenever I can.

And by the way, this blog is about BBC World’s journalistic ethics ..or lack thereof.  As always, I welcome comments on the topic.  But it is not about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict itself … pro or con either side…so I won’t publish diatribes on that issue…just the journalistic questions raised here.

Happy Chanuka to all my Jewish readers ..and the Israeli people.

Harv Oberfeld

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18 Responses to BBC World’s War on Israel Hits New Low

  1. Susaan R. says:

    Thank you very much for your honesty and balance. It seems almost unbelievable that BBC World’s readership wouldn’t react to some degree at the inherent bias the Beeb is showing on the middle east. Maybe they are but it’s not too evident.

    (Response; I wonder why we don’t hear loud and clear from the Israeli government or Israeli population…they, more than you and I , must know how staying silent doesn’t work. h.o)

  2. Terrence says:

    The Beeb has been blatantly anti-Israel for a long time now. It sometimes says it is “anti-Zionist”, not anti-Israel.

    But, it is clear to anyone who watches, reads, or listens to the Beeb, that is extremely anti-Israel; and it is blatantly pro-Palestinian and pro-Arab.

    I do not think the Beeb has ever reported on the thousands of rockets the Palestinians have fired into residential areas of Israel, and the damage, injuries and deaths these rockets cause.

    Those who say the Beeb is not anti-Israel, usually show themselves to be anti-Israel.

    (Response: It’s one thing if individuals are anti Israel or anti Arab..but a news organization should be as critical of one side as the other, and ask equally tough questions of both. Of course, BBC World is not alonew: Fox News in my vew is totally pro-Israel, which is also wrong, butit doesn’t have anywhere close to the worldwide reach of BBC World ..which makes BBC World much more despicable and dangerous. At some point the British government and/or the British people will have to step in and clean house of its apparently huge editorial staff of pro-Arab sycophants, posing as news producers and reporters. h.o)

  3. 13 says:

    Not just the BBC but many news shows have lost the ability to report. Often they not only show a bias but they will run file footage that has little to do with the current event other than to stir the pot.

    Or they take one news story to embellish another. When Carol Berners son was convicted of murder and sentenced the news people always mentioned that the mother was out on bail for a totaly unrelated crime.

    The list goes on and on . But this is at least news. On a slow news day they get very inventive. Hours have been spent on the downturn in charitable donations. People have lost jobs so they have less money to give. DUH. This is not a news story. Why the people have lost jobs. Why stimulus has not brought jobs back.
    These are news stories and the charitable downturn is a small issue that belongs in a larger story
    But they do have to fill the time slot with something. I guess that with less money to spend on news gathering its cheaper to run a story about an empty Sally Ann kettle

    (Response: Yes, as we’ve discussed on here many times, too much news is irrelevant and stories chosen because they are cheap and easy to do. But when a station ..or network … takes a biased poliitcal stance (BBC World, Fox, MSNBC) it becomes a propaganda machine. And with the BBC World broadcasting throughout the world in several different languages, it is exploiting its former reputation of fairness to become a dangerous missive of anti-Isaeli pro-Palestinian pro-Arab and even pro-Hamas terrorist group messages and has become a one-sided advocate that influencse millions of unwary people to become hateful and even anti-Semitic. Very dangerous…time the democratic world spoke up, and the British government took a hard look at it. h.o)

  4. Genuine says:

    It’s good to have a counter point from one broadcaster,all the rest are pro and personally I couldn’t give a shi. one way or the other let’s clean our own house first then start thinking of cleaning the others nothing but a bunch of pots calling the kettles black…friggin hypocrites,nobodies life is more important than someone else,and nothing will change till change is wanted.

    (Response: The job of the media is to report…not take sides on any side of an issue. Maybe that’s why so many have lost fair and trust in the media ..whether BBC World, Fox, MSNBC. h.o)

  5. BC Mary says:

    Oh, how I would like to believe you, Harvey. But despite your “38 years of journalistic experience and many awards”, you point to press bias of those other guys way over there — the BBC [i.e., press bias someplace else].

    And you say this with a straight face, while your own byline is Vancouver BC — world headquarters for press bias. Like, for example, how much of WikiLeaks have you seen in BC dailies?

    Good for you, Harv, to speak up for an honourable media even if it’s on the other side of the planet. The thing is: many people in BC have been so badly served, they have already forgotten that good media should accurately reflect what’s going on, so as to inform a democratic society … not pre-digest and revise current events and provide our opinions for us.

    In BC, we know more about Victoria’s Secret Underwear than we know about who decided to reward the “guilty” in the BC Rail Trial. We know more about a pig farm in Coquitlam than we know about how BC lost a vital public asset like BC Rail. Slipping away: BC Ferries. Also: BC Hydro. And much, much more … but where was BC coverage of the secret work creating the monster new Ministry of Natural Resource Operations, designed to be a One-Stop-Shop for anybody anywhere to seek BC Government permits to exploit anything anywhere in BC. Like a complete overthrow of the government apparatus … and not a word from Big Media in BC until a tiny independent newspaper (Island Tides) began writing about it.

    The bleak political landscape at this time in BC reflects back very badly upon Big BC media where opinion pieces (telling us what to think) replace hard news. They used to call it “dumbing down”, as opposed to “smartening up”.

    You’re missing the big story: that West Coast media has not only failed the people of BC but, with the help of Campbell’s Public Affairs Bureau, BC media has been overriding the news with propaganda, revisions, and media meddling. Dumbing people down, wherever they can. No bias? How honourable is that?

    Good luck with BBC. But British Columbia is long overdue for a bit of fair play, too. You’ve had 38 years of indoctrination. You should be able to tell us about that, too, without pretending that British Columbia is being well served by its media.

    (Response; Anyone reading this blog will know how critical I have been,many times, about our local media and their failings. And I’ve paid a price for that… former boss called me “Judas” at a retirement party for one of our co-workers, I’m not terribly welcome by some at the station where I worked for 26 years, and I was dropped as a judge at the Webster awards. But frankly, B.C.’s problems and issues, are miniscule compared to what is going on in the rest of the world, where countries struggle to survive, people still fight for their own independent states and others are shelled or face military strikes, suicide bombers etc almost every day. h.o)

  6. a.j. says:

    I wonder if it is a directive from the owners of BBC?
    i remember back in the Nishga treaty days David Black said his editors of his newspapers were NOT allowed to offer a positive editorial on the treaty,they were allowed to report on it but not editorlize it in the positive.
    therefor it leaves me to believe that the owners of these news agency have a lot of clout in what goes into their news formats.

    (Response: The BBC, like our CBC, is publicly owned by the taxpayers. I suspect what happened is that, under Labour, management of the Corp slowly became under the control of some verey far left wing types (like some of our own labour unions) …who for some reason hate the U.S., Israel, the West and feel some compulsion to support “revolutionary” forces. That’s why they constantly attack our records, problems and roles on human rights, various issues, but ignore or are soft on others even worse records…like Cuba, China, Russia, Iran, the Palestinians, Arab countries etc. Add to this the apparently growing numbers of Muslims in Britain and their increasing influence and it sure looks like they are flexing their power in influencing news coverage. Anyone who watchs BBC World can’t help but have noticed the massive number of shows and specials on Arab countries, how they regularly fawn all over Dubai, U.A.E. etc. …even a multi-part series on how wonderful Iranian food, music, culture is ….while NEVER showing or feature anything favorable about Israel. It’s pure Arab propaganda now and, as a journalist who cares about fairness, I must speak up about it. h.o)

  7. Genuine says:

    Harvey we don’t hate you and a Judas you are not,don’t you think it’s better not to be a judge the Webster award has become a joke and as for Judas your ex bosses seem to fit that bill ,they are the Judas they sold their collective soul for a sheckle look at they way news is broadcast(did I say news),they even read their pab crap as it was news if people really new what was going on they would be marching in the streets ,for instance they hydro rate increases ,most people are unaware that they’ve doubled in the last six years now it will be going up another thirty % over the next three years and the stun prints three lines if any other party did that they would be screaming bloody murder in that rag where’s the outrage here,I’d like to know what’s truly going on here with the media?

    (Response; I agree. I do some bright spots occasionally in the media…still some very good people there…and I always live in hope there will be more. h.o)

  8. MariaS says:

    Good one.
    If you visit the
    website you will see examples of countless more. The BBC has become a tool of the Left (I know, I know… you are a leftie yourself, but I think of you as a leftie with one eye above the sand hole) and by extension a tool of the arab world view.

    (Response: Yes..I think I tend to lean left on social issues and centrist on fiscal matters…probably just an average Canadian. But when I worked, I tried very hard to get the other side into my stories… I thought that’s what journalism, unlike blogging, was about. Maybe they should call igt BBCBlog instead of BBC News. h.o)

  9. Keith says:

    Ayup Harvey,

    part of a response by you

    ” Add to this the apparently growing numbers of Muslims in Britain and their increasing influence and it sure looks like they are flexing their power in influencing news coverage. ”

    It’s not just the growing number of muslims. Since the quadrupling of oil prices in the mid 1970s, money has been pouring into Britain from Arab oil producing countries on a scale that most of can’t imagine here in B.C., so it’s not a stretch to suggest that all of the political parties are the recipients of large contributions. By extension it doesn’t matter which government is in power the beeb now does what is expedient. Sadly I think it’s unbiased independence has now been compromised by politics and Britains reliance on other peoples money.

    In the recently leaked documents to wikileaks some Arab countries had discussions with the U.S. to attack Iran, which surprise surprise, the Arabs were asking somebody else to do their dirty work for them, seems to me the beeb appears to be doing just that.

    (Response: It’s well known that some of the Arab states have even given Israel the green light to go after Hamas and Hesbollah …who they fear more than Israel. I even heard Saudi Arabia gave the Israelis secret approval to overfly their teritory on their way to Iran. But that’s politics between countries/governments, which I can understand. However i expect/demand more honesty from the media (guess I’m naive!) …and I suspect you are right about the Arab oil $$$ flowing into Britain. Maybe that has influenced policy, helped the BBC to set up its new channels broadcasting in Arabic, fund their Doha Debates, do so many puff pieces of Dubai and other Arab states. We can’t stop it…but we should at least call them on it. H.O)

  10. Mo says:

    GlobalTV and CTV are a joke. the Vancouver stopped being a newspaper the day Izzy the Younger took it over and fired the independents. The Bill Goods of radio land are an embarrassment, this includes Christy Clark.
    What in gawds name has happened to Journalists in BC and their roles as protectors of democracy?
    ? A free and independent press is one of democracy’s most important institutions. ?

    An illustration of just how low they have gotten: a month or so back. on GlobalTV Chris Galius was _supposed_ to be interviewing the premier over the HST controversies, but which ended up with Galius throwing soft-underhane questions to a smug Campbell who provide his stock responses. the interview end with Galius thanking the premier and that he would see him later at a social function! As if to say Thanks for doing this Buddy. We’ll have a drink later together and laugh about it all.

    What pap!

    PS I hear Bill Good is trying to make light of “blogger” as was Vaughn Palmer. Got news for them. Many of us follow these much more than their “official” money backed outlets!

    I have never listened to Good or the other radio mouth pieces. I stopped reading the Vancouver Sun many years ago. … I can do without sycophantic journalists and radio blabbermouths.

  11. e.a.f. says:

    The British have never been overly fond of Jews.
    England insisted Jews not be permitted into their country prior to WW II thus dooming them to death. The “rules” for Jews to enter England were so strenous they couldn’t get in. (Lily Palmer mentions it in her book.)
    The British acted as if they owned the middle east and the Jews threw a huge spanner into it when they argued before the United Nations and won their own state, Israel.
    The British upper classes have never liked the Irish, Jews, etc. I do recall their expression, “the wogs begin at Calais”.
    We now maybe in the 21st century but somethings never change.
    I believe the British also disliked the Jews because inspite of them being banned from most professions, at one time, they managed to become a force.
    Well if you couldn’t be a doctor, lawyer, etc. what else was there than the money business.
    I do not expect to see a change in the BBC/British attitude any time soon. I would expect to see a change in the Arab’s attitudes before the British.

    (Response: Well, there was the Balfour Declaration. I still want to know why the Israelis havent gone public with this…they surely must have noticed the double standard, the biases etc. And where is the British and world Jewish community? History ahs surely taught them that staying silent in the face of bigotry and bias is not the way to go. h.o)

  12. KL says:

    Harvey, here in Canada thanks to the Asper family we’ve had a completely pro Israel media. Nothing has changed since Canwest was bought out. Now, if you decry the bias the BBC shows then surely you must also decry the bias Canadian media shows in its coverage of Middle East affairs. Bias is bias no? You can’t have it both ways.

    Or, I guess that a pro Israel bias is perfectly acceptable while anything that deviates from that is not.

    (Response; No bias is acceptable. And I have written on this blog about the danger of concentrated ownsership. Canwest, the National Post, Fox News, MSNBC have all shown their biases. The difference is they are all privately owned and confined to North America or an even smaller area. BBC World is government funded and broadcasts all around the wrld in several different lasnguages. Its influence is huge…and because it is taxpayer finded, not privately owned, I believe it has a much larger responsibility and duty to report news fairly, with both sides of every story reported asnd both sides of every issue questionned equally. It’s realy basic journalism and although though who disagree with private media biases can cancel subscriptions or boycott advertisers, taxpayers can do nothing aboytgovernment-funded news orgs, except complain and expose their behaviour. h.o)

  13. Henri says:

    Harv your a believer in polls ,surveys
    if you did a poll- survey on who listens (or even cares) about BBC here in BC, Id be surprised if out of a 1000 surveyed they may have 1 or 2 regular listeners.

  14. kootcoot says:

    As to:

    It’s well known that some of the Arab states have even given Israel the green light to go after Hamas and Hesbollah

    You seem to be confused with what the propped up dictator Sheiks think and what the actual people of the Mid-East think. According to the people, the US and Israel are the greatest threats to stability in the region with most (almost sixty percent) feeling that Iran’s (who 10% or less consider a “threat”) acquistion of nuclear weapons would actually INCREASE stability – making Israel think twice before bombing anyone anytime with backing by Uncle Sam if the going gets nasty. But then it is almost considered treason to criticize any Israeli policies in North America or Stephen Harper’s remnants of Canada.

    For a more balance view of Zionist policy etc. read the range of press media published IN ISRAEL – it is far more balance with all perspectives represented – I guess it is like having to be black to use the “N” word – non Israeli’s have to consider them all recent released death camp survivors.

    You didn’t really address BC Mary’s comments either, but certainly are good with the whining. Imagine that, getting kicked off the phoney Webster Panel (that Jack himself would sue for improperly using his name) or being unwelcome at a party for professional paid liars- as the Powell River Persuader would say – “Oh the Inhumanity!”

    (Response: You missed the point. I don’t mind critical analysis or criticism of any country…I just don’t like one-sded 24-7 biased reporting. Israeli media are often critical of their governments and actions…but that’s great..a free press. Unlike BBC World where it’s all one sided ..or the media in Arab countries, where criticism can get you arrested …or dead.! h.o)

  15. Mike Boileau says:

    I figured you would tow the Zionist line and not allow Free Speech when you don’t like to hear the facts. No surprise here, HARV.

    (Response: Did you even read my blog? It said clearly that I was discussing press/media coverage … so that’s the area I am welcomnig comment …either way…on this one. I clearly said I would not go into publishing froth on either side of just the whole Mid East debate. Sorry Mike there is not a special exemption for you. h.o)

  16. Mike Boileau says:

    Harvey, you would be well advised, and your readers also, to log onto Press TV.
    You might get some “Inconvienient Facts”.

  17. Splendor Sine Occasu says:

    Press TV…owned by the Islamic Republic of Iran. There’s balance!

    (Response: Thanks! LOL! h.o)

  18. Thanks for reminding me what I don’t miss about my Sirius radio while I’m here in KAF.

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