BBC News Paris correspondent goes adrift on Paris beach story

As readers may have heard, a plan by the Paris municipality to hold a Tel Aviv themed day at its annual ‘Paris beaches’ event was predictably exploited by anti-Israel campaigners and far-Left politicians for the opportunistic promotion of delegitimising propaganda.

“The monthlong festival turns the banks of the Seine River and the Bassin de la Villette artificial lake into beaches, trucking in sand and other coastal paraphernalia. This year, each day will be dedicated to a different famous beach around the world, and on Thursday, the outdoor space is slated to be turned into the shores of Tel Aviv. […]But across social media, and even among local politicians, the decision has caused an outcry.”

The event – which reportedly attracted more media attention than members of the public – passed off without incident. Nevertheless, the BBC found it appropriate to promote amplification of the nay-sayers’ cause with an item by its man in Paris, Hugh Schofield, which was placed in the ‘Features’ section of the BBC News website’s Middle East page under the title “Paris-Plages: Tel Aviv invite prompts Palestinian protests“.Schofield art on ME pge

In addition to the curious use of the phrase “Tel Aviv invite” in that title,  Schofield opens his piece with another unfounded assertion.

“The holiday atmosphere along the River Seine will be severely tested on Thursday as friends and enemies of Israel take their respective beefs to the sandy esplanades of Paris-Plages.” [emphasis added]

Exactly which “beefs” – i.e. grudges -“friends…of Israel” were supposedly harbouring is of course not clarified. 

Failing to provide his readers with any background information concerning its political agenda as demanded by BBC editorial guidelines on impartiality, Schofield unquestioningly presents one of the campaigning organisations as “pro-Palestinian” rather than anti-Israel.  

“There has been a storm of outrage from the pro-Palestinian camp. An online petition calling for the event to be banned has drawn 15,000 signatures.

A group called CAPJPO-EuroPalestine has announced plans for a demonstration on the quays next to the artificial beaches.” 

He likewise fails to challenge misleading and inaccurate statements made by one of his sources.

“For opponents, the event is “indecent” and the city authorities are gullible purveyors of Israeli PR.

“A few days ago a Palestinian baby was burned to death; exactly a year ago the people of Gaza were being massacred; there’s a permanent policy of excluding Palestinians from east Jerusalem.

“You can’t just sweep that to one side for a festival of electro-dance,” said Eric Coquerel, national secretary of the Left Party.”

But Schofield does not stop there: he also adds some partisan commentary of his own.Schofield art

“It all began with an idea from the Hotel de Ville [Paris municipality – Ed] to devote a day to Tel Aviv.

Tel Aviv, the Paris authorities decided, is a beach city par excellence. It is liberal. It is fun-loving. It is NOT Jerusalem.

What better way to reach out to the good guys in Israel than to create a special day of Paris-Plages (the capital’s summer attraction since 2002), with falafels, electronic music and other TA staples?”

Get it? The “good guys in Israel” are “liberal” and “fun-loving” and live in Tel Aviv. By implication readers understand that there are also people in Israel (the majority, in fact) who do not fall into the category of “good guys”.

Similar insinuation is seen in a later passage:

“What is certain is that demonstrations of pro-Israeli friendship like this are increasingly rare in Europe.

Is that because Israel’s actions are becoming so egregious? Because of a new alliance between the far-left and Europe’s increasingly populous Muslims? Because of the success of the boycott Israel movement?

Who knows?” [emphasis added]

Schofield doesn’t tell readers exactly which Israeli actions he considers to be “so egregious” – he just parks that statement there as though it were a matter of common knowledge. Coupled with his previous failure to challenge or offer fact-based context to the allegation that “exactly a year ago the people of Gaza were being massacred”, that one-liner provides yet another example of the manner in which partisan journalists casually turn delegitimizing sloganeering into ‘common knowledge’.

A BBC correspondent based in a country in which 51% of the hate violence committed in 2014 was against Jews (who make up less than 1% of its population) really should know better.

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