BBC outsources coverage of Israeli elections to writer for far-Left magazine

It seems that the BBC has been doing some outsourcing of its coverage of issues relating to the Israeli elections. 

On January 16th 2013 the Middle East section of the BBC News website featured an article entitled “Campaigns struggle to impress as Israeli elections loom” which – in keeping with the BBC’s overall tone of reporting on the subject of the elections – predicts a gloomy shift to the Right:

“I expected to find a myriad of conflicting views, but conversations on the first two days as I travelled from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem all pointed in a single direction – Shas.

Initially, it seemed that everyone I met – Jewish, Muslim, religious or secular – intended to vote for this party, which traditionally represents Orthodox Mizrahi Jews – those hailing from across the Middle East and North Africa.”

Shas, by the way, is expected to win less than 10% of the overall vote. 

Two days later, on January 18th, the BBC News website published another article – entitled “The Israelis who give their vote to Palestinians” – about a tiny fringe group of far-Left Israeli voters who, under the somewhat eccentric title Real Democracy, are (as also reported in the Guardian) ‘donating’ their votes to Palestinians who are not entitled to vote, either because they have chosen not to accept Israeli citizenship, or because – as citizens of the Palestinian Authority – they are not entitled to it. 

'Real Democracy'

In that article we get to meet Aya Shoshan who, we are told, “is an informed, concerned Israeli citizen”. The writer knows that because she “is a member of an organisation helping struggling Palestinian communities in the South Hebron hills benefit from renewable energy sources”. Readers are presumably supposed to understand that any Israeli who does not engage in such activities is neither “informed” nor “concerned”.

The article presents Ms Shoshan as “a politics student”, conveniently omitting the rest of her CV, which includes a leading role in the 2011 tent protests and connections to the 15M movement and the ‘Occupy’ movement. She is quoted as saying:

 “I believe that that the act of voting is far less important than that of creating public awareness.” She says “There are almost four million Palestinians living under Israeli rule with no civil rights and in a state of shocking inequality.”

Four million? Really? Even the BBC cannot pretend that is really the case, and so the article goes on to bizarrely contradict the quotation just used by stating:

“Around a million-and-a-half Palestinians are citizens of Israel, and may vote in its elections. Two-and-a-half million others are governed by the Palestinian Authority in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, and by Hamas in Gaza, and have the vote in Palestinian municipal and legislative elections.”

That obviously complicates matters as far as Ms Shoshan’s quoted statement goes, so the author then adds the caveat:

“To varying degrees, the residents of all territories remain subject to Israeli policies.”

The fact that such mysterious, unspecified “Israeli policies” might have something to do with decisions made by some of the Palestinian leadership – such as the policy of firing military-grade missiles at civilian populations – obviously escapes the writer and his interviewee. 

By now, the average BBC audience member who actually logged on to the BBC News website in the hope of finding some accurate and impartial information on the subject of the different political parties running in the current Israeli elections may well be asking what on earth is going on. 

Both the above articles were written by Yuval Ben Ami who, we are informed on the far-Left “+972 magazine” website where he also writes, is “an author, journalist, traveler and cultural critic”. Other contributors to that outlet include Larry Derfner (fired from a previous position at the Jerusalem Post for justifying a terror attack in which eight Israeli civilians were murdered), ‘one-stater’ Yossi Gurvitz, Ramallah resident and former would-be flotilla passenger Joseph Dana and Ami Kaufman

+972 magazine showcases the opinions of a tiny fringe on the far Left of Israeli politics which is alien to mainstream Israeli opinion. As its Editor himself admits, its English language format is intended to appeal primarily to foreign readers, with the aim of securing “dramatic pressure from abroad” in order (rather undemocratically, some might think) to influence the internal Israeli political process. 

The BBC’s decision to outsource some of its election coverage to a contributor to such a forum is the equivalent of its publishing analysis of British elections by a writer for the ‘Socialist Worker’. One doubts very much that the BBC would dare to try that one at home. 

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