Readers may recall that last month BBC Trending’s Anne-Marie Tomchak produced a filmed report titled “Israel’s unwelcome African ‘infiltrators'” which was widely publicized on various pages of the BBC News website. As was noted here at the time:
“Tomchak’s entire report is constructed around the video posted by David Sheen…[…] Anne-Marie Tomchak should obviously also have adhered to BBC editorial guidelines on impartiality by ‘summarising the standpoint’ of her interviewee and main source, providing rather more information than the meaningless description “campaigner”.”
In that post we noted some of David Sheen’s prolific anti-Israel activities – none of which were communicated to BBC audiences in order to enable them to put Sheen’s claims into their appropriate context.
Recently, the source of that material upon which an entire BBC report was based has been making headlines in Germany.
“Blumenthal and Sheen, who are often hosted by groups campaigning for BDS, have been in Berlin for the past few days. They were scheduled to speak at several events, including one at the Volksbühne theater on November 9 and another one hosted by some members of The Left (party) at the German parliament on November 11. […]
However, Gregor Gysi, the leader of The Left, as well as several prominent left-wing politicians and other public figures, opposed giving Blumenthal and Sheen prestigious platforms like the Volksbühne and the German parliament for fear that they would repeat their usual anti-Semitic rhetoric demonizing Israel as the Nazi Germany of our time. […]
But while party leader Gysi had announced that the event at the German parliament would also be cancelled, the two party members who had invited Blumenthal and Sheen defied his decision and hosted them in a conference room available for the use of MPs. […]
After their presentation, Blumenthal and Sheen reportedly insisted on a meeting with party leader Gysi, and when this meeting was not granted, they apparently waited for Gysi in the hallway near his office, accosted him when he left to go to the bathroom and pursued him aggressively through the corridors until he managed to shut the door of the bathroom stall. Astonishingly, Blumenthal and Sheen felt their conduct was something to be proud of: they filmed their harassment of Gysi, posted the clip on YouTube and promoted it on Twitter, boasting about having forced him to seek shelter in the toilet – and unbelievably enough, they even demanded an apology from Gysi.
Unsurprisingly, the German media reacted with shock and bewilderment. The popular Bild posted the blunt headline “Lunatic Israel-haters pursue Gysi into the loo” and featured several screen shots showing a clearly distressed Gysi – who, it should perhaps be noted in this context, survived brain surgery and a heart attack 10 years ago. Berlin’s B.Z. featured similar pictures under the headline “Political thugs [Polit-Pöbler] chase Gysi through the Bundestag [i.e. parliament building];” the magazine Focus headlined their story “Shocking incident: Enemies of Israel chase Gysi through Bundestag,” while Spiegel Online run the headline “Harrassed leader of The Left: Israel critics pursue Gysi into the loo.” The high-brow Zeit reported about “Gysi’s uninvited guests,” noting that Blumenthal and Sheen were “hostile” to Israel and had “aggressively” tried to confront Gysi. The headline in the respected Welt read: “Gregor Gysi flees from anti-Zionists to the toilet;” the report noted that the video of the incident showed “scary” and “grotesque” scenes reminiscent of a “hunt” or a “school mobbing.” “
“Both men [Sheen and Blumenthal] are banned from entering the German parliament in the future, according to an e-mailed statement today by the chamber’s president, Norbert Lammert.
“Every attempt to exert pressure on members of parliament, to physically threaten them and thus endanger the parliamentary process is intolerable and must be prevented,” Lammert said, according to the statement.”
Anne-Marie Tomchak’s report remains available to BBC audiences online; still with no information advising viewers of its source’s political agenda – in clear breach of BBC guidelines on impartiality. In addition to addressing that urgent issue, the above-described events in Germany obviously further indicate that a review of BBC Trending’s sourcing policies is in order.