An article about Easter celebrations in Jerusalem which first appeared on the BBC News website on April 19th under the title “Easter’s Holy Fire ceremony celebrated in Jerusalem” was later turned into a blatantly political piece when an amended version was republished under the title “UN envoy and Israel in Easter ritual access row“.
Readers can view the changes made to that report here.
The report’s latest version opens thus:
“The UN’s Middle East peace envoy has criticised Israeli authorities for allegedly preventing him from reaching an Easter ritual in Jerusalem.” [emphasis added]
According to the Oxford dictionary, the word prevent means to “keep (something) from happening” or to “stop (someone) from doing something” and so readers would reasonably assume that Robert Serry was unable to take part in the Easter ritual.
In fact, as the Washington Post informs us, Mr Serry’s arrival at the ceremony was delayed for thirty minutes due to necessary security measures of the type seen anywhere in the world when a large crowd arrives in one place at the same time – and all the more essential in a city which has been the target of numerous terror attacks over the years.
“Serry spokeswoman Elpida Rouka said that the envoy and his party were trapped for about 30 minutes but that eventually the police retreated and the group, along with “an anxious crowd of worshipers,” was able to enter.”
Contradicting its own earlier assertion that Serry was ‘prevented’ from reaching the ceremony, the BBC report also later uses the words ‘delay’ and ‘held up’:
“Robert Serry said the delay was “unacceptable behaviour” and called on all parties to “respect the right of religious freedom”.” […]
“Mr Serry said that he was held up at a checkpoint along with other diplomats and dozens of Palestinians trying to make their way to the ceremony.”
Of course the general public is not as a rule overly interested in stories about people inconveniently held up for half an hour and so in order to justify the appearance of this one – and its promotion of Serry’s bizarre claims – the circumstances had to be exaggerated and audiences drawn in by means of the inaccurate use of language.