BBC’s Knell promotes political church campaign supported by BBC funder

Here is a Tweet dated April 26th 2013 from the BBC Jerusalem Bureau’s Yolande Knell.

Knell St Yves tweet

The link promoted by Knell leads to a press release on the website of the Society of St. Yves (also known as the Catholic Centre for Human Rights) and relates to the result of an appeal against the proposed route of the anti-terrorist fence in the Cremisan Valley between Beit Jala and Jerusalem – a subject which Knell wrote about just over a year ago. 

If BBC licence fee payers had perhaps assumed that information regarding the appeal promoted by Yolande Knell to her Twitter followers would come – according to BBC standards – from an objective source, they would be sadly mistaken. In fact, the Society of St. Yves has provided the legal representation for some of those appealing the route of the fence. 

Founded in 1991 by the former Latin Patriarch Michel Sabbah, the Society of St. Yves partners a plethora of politically motivated NGOs  active within the sphere of the Arab-Israeli conflict, including  ‘Stop the Wall’. The involvement of a church organization in such political activities will come as no surprise to those familiar with political campaigns in the region, especially given the fact that Michel Sabbah was one of the initiators (along with Naim Ateek of Sabeel and Atallah Hanna) of the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions promoting Kairos Document launched in Bethlehem in 2009 and is also the international president of Pax Christi

But there is another interesting twist to this story. Writing in the Guardian last October, Harriet Sherwood reported that the legal campaign mounted by the Society of St. Yves with regard to the anti-terrorist fence was funded in part by the British government and that the campaign was being supported (rather undiplomatically, some might consider) by the British Consulate in Jerusalem and the British Foreign Secretary.

“The British foreign secretary and the Archbishop of Westminster have joined forces in opposing the route of Israel’s vast barrier along the West Bank, which adversely affects a community of monks, nuns and Christian families near Bethlehem.[…]

In addition to Hague’s personal intervention, the British consulate in East Jerusalem is supporting the community and the Department for International Development (Dfid) is providing indirect funding for the legal challenge. […]

Dfid has given a two-year grant of £2.9m to the Norwegian Refugee Council, which in turn is funding the Society of St Yves, a Jerusalem-based Catholic human rights organisation, which is assisting the Beit Jala community with its case.”

What a coincidence then that a correspondent for the (still) Foreign and Commonwealth Office funded BBC tweets a link to an organization running a campaign supported by the FCO and funded by another UK government department. 

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