BBC WS ‘Newshour’ continues to mislead on Temple Mount issues

We noted here the other day that Yolande Knell had promoted the inflammatory and dangerous falsehood that Jews are trying to enter Al Aqsa Mosque on the BBC World Service’s ‘Outside Source’ on November 7th.

Two days prior to that, on November 5th, the evening edition of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newshour’ – presented by Tim Franks – included a no less pernicious interview with a former Jordanian ambassador to the UN. The item is available here from 14:05.Newshour 5 11 Jordanian amb

Tim Franks: “It’s been another bloody day in Jerusalem. One person was killed, several others injured, when a man drove his van into pedestrians. The driver was later shot dead by Israeli police. The Palestinian Islamist group Hamas said it had organized the attack. For his part, the Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu condemned the car attack and blamed the group for tensions at a religious site in Jerusalem. [Recording of the Israeli PM speaking in Hebrew]

That’s the Israeli prime minister saying that in recent days we’ve witnessed increasing incitement, not by Hamas but by the head of the Palestinian Authority – in other words Mahmoud Abbas – including sending of a condolence letter to the family of the killer – or the man who shot dead – eh – didn’t shoot dead but shot and seriously injured – Yehuda Glick; a prominent Right-wing Israeli activist.

Well…err….there were clashes between Palestinian protestors and Israeli police at the Al Aqsa Mosque compound – the place also known to Jews as the Temple Mount – in Jerusalem. And a little bit earlier I spoke to Hassan Abunimah. He’s a former Jordanian ambassador to the UN who is in the Jordanian capital Amman. The reason for speaking to him is that Jordan acts as a custodian of the Al Aqsa Mosque and it withdrew its ambassador to Israel today and said that it will lodge a complaint at the UN Security Council about Israel’s actions around the compound.”

Hassan Abunimah: “The Jordanian people have been boiling with anger for quite a long time at the Israeli constant provocations and the constant incursions on the Aqsa Mosque. Jordan did its utmost – I mean His Majesty the King did use his diplomacy, the government activated all its international contacts – to try to dissuade Israel from continuing these daily incursions and…”

TF: “Sorry – forgive me for interrupting – what do you mean exactly by incursions? Because the police would say – the Israeli police would say – all they’re trying to do is to stop Palestinian protesters from throwing stones.”

HA: “Well [laughs], I mean the Israelis – the Israeli police – is preventing Palestinians from praying in this place and it has been a tradition for a long time that only people of a certain age are allowed in, while Jews are allowed in the place. The Israeli chief of police, two days ago has published in the Times of Israel, was saying we will protect them with [unintelligible]. Ministers, officials do intentionally…eh…cross into this area, not minding the sensitivities of the Muslim world and not minding also the peace treaty between Israel and Jordan; the right of custodianship for Jordan for the holy places. This morning there was shooting…”

TF: “Well do you agree with the…”

HA: “…there was an invasion inside the mosque, there was people there. When people are attacked, probably they throw stones, yes.”

TF: “Do you agree with the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas when he says Jews should not be allowed up onto the top of the Temple Mount or Haram al Sharif?”

HA: “Why should they be there? I mean this is…”

TF: “Because it’s a holy place…it’s a holy place for Jews as well.”

HA: “It’s not. Not the mosque – no. No it’s not a holy place. No the mosque is not. The Western Wall, where the Jews pray all the time; nobody is impeding or trying to obstruct that. But the holy mosque is a Muslim shrine. It is revered and considered holy by all the Muslim world. It is under the custodianship of the Jordanian government and the Hashemite royal family as recognized by the treaty and Israel is violating all that, knowing very well that this place very well in the hands of extremists. We are engaged in a war against extremism and at the same time Israel continues to throw oil on the fire, driving young people into despair not only in the Arab world and the Muslim world, but even in Europe and the Western world.”

TF: “That was Hassan Abunimah, the former Jordanian ambassador to the United Nations.”

So as we see, here is another example of BBC audiences worldwide being wrongly informed that Jews are going to Al Aqsa Mosque. Additionally, listeners are led to believe that Temple Mount is not a holy site for Jews with Franks’ intervention doing little to clarify the fact that not only is that not true, but it is actually the most holy site in Judaism.

No effort was made by Franks to counter the inaccurate version of the same morning’s events (in which Palestinian began rioting before the police entered the compound rather than the other way round) and the fact that age restrictions on entry to Temple Mount are intended purely to prevent organized – and often paid – rioters from disturbing the peace was not adequately clarified.

Whilst Abunimah invoked the peace treaty between Israel and Jordan on several occasions as supposed back-up to his claims, no attempt was made to inform audiences that Israel is responsible for security at the site or what that treaty actually says with regard to Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem. The reality is in fact considerably different to the picture presented by Franks’ guest.



Each party will provide freedom of access to places of religious and historical significance.

In this regard, in accordance with the Washington Declaration, Israel respects the present special role of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in Muslim Holy shrines in Jerusalem. When negotiations on the permanent status will take place, Israel will give high priority to the Jordanian historic role in these shrines.

The Parties will act together to promote interfaith relations among the three monotheistic religions, with the aim of working towards religious understanding, moral commitment, freedom of religious worship, and tolerance and peace.”

Neither were audiences informed that in March 2013 Jordan’s king signed a treaty with the Palestinian Authority concerning sites which are not under the control of either of those entities and which, according to at least one legal opinion, appears to interpret the topic of Jordanian custodianship in a manner at odds with the spirit of the peace treaty signed 19 years earlier.

“The definition of the Temple Mount (Haram al-Sharif) as outlined in the agreement is so broad that it even includes the Western Wall. The apparent attempt of the custodianship to appropriate authority over non-Muslim Holy Places as well is unacceptable and unrealistic.”

The former ambassador was at least right on one point: the issue of Temple Mount is one which has the potential to incite and inflame far beyond the borders of Jerusalem. For that reason alone, it is vital that the BBC – particularly in its broadcasts to audiences worldwide – should ensure that content relating to the topic is meticulously accurate and impartial and should avoid the propagation of the type of dangerous falsehoods given amplification in this pre-recorded interview.

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BBC WS ‘Newshour’ gives platform to PA falsehoods and incitement on Temple Mount

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