If – as one sincerely hopes is the case – it can be assumed that BBC staff are sufficiently well-informed to be able to recognize Mahmoud Abbas’ inaccurate and repeated use of the term ‘genocide’ to describe this summer’s conflict in his recent speech at the UNGA as nothing more than the agitprop that it is, then one must necessarily ask why BBC editors considered it appropriate to plaster that and additional defamation on the pages of the BBC News website.
One must also ask why the September 27th article titled “Palestinian leader accuses Israel of ‘genocide’ at UN” makes no effort to clarify to readers that the accusation amplified in its headline and in the body of the report is entirely baseless and that Abbas’ additional accusations of “war crimes” have not been proven in any legal forum.
The BBC’s report on Abbas’ polemical speech is highly selective, dealing only with specific parts of its content.
“Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has accused Israel of carrying out a “war of genocide” in Gaza in his speech at the UN General Assembly.
Mr Abbas said Israeli “war crimes” in Gaza should be punished, but stopped short of saying he would take the issue to the International Criminal Court.” […]
“Mr Abbas said the scale of damage in Gaza was unprecedented and surpassed that of earlier wars.
“This last war against Gaza was a series of absolute war crimes carried out before the eyes and ears of the entire world, moment by moment,” he told the UN General Assembly in New York.
He added that it was “impossible” to return to negotiations with Israel that did not address what he called “fundamental questions”.
“There is no meaning or value in negotiations for which the agreed objective is not ending the Israeli occupation and achieving the independence of the State of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital on the entire Palestinian Territory occupied in the 1967 war,” he said.” […]
The Palestinian leader also said the “hour of independence of the state of Palestine” had arrived. He added that he would be seeking a UN Security Council resolution on a two-state solution, but gave no time frame.”
Notably, the BBC ignored Abbas’ delusional and embarrassingly uninformed claim that the “devastation” in Gaza is “unmatched in modern times”. It erased from audience view his hallucinatory allegations concerning Jerusalem and the Al Aqsa mosque and – perhaps most significantly – Abbas’ references to “our national struggle established by the Palestinian fedayeen […] in early 1965” and “Al-Nakba of 1948” which clearly indicate that his interpretation of the causes of the conflict (and its solutions) does not begin in 1967. That point is of course critical to proper understanding of the rest of Abbas’ speech, including the short sections which the BBC did elect to report.
The BBC is of course perfectly entitled to report inaccurate and misleading allegations and claims made by Mahmoud Abbas or anyone else. What it is not at liberty to do is to mislead audiences by failing to provide them with the relevant factual information which would enable them to put falsehoods amplified by the BBC into their correct context.