In the past few weeks alone the BBC has refrained from informing its English-speaking audiences about the Iranian regime sponsored annual hatefest known as Al Quds Day, told audiences that Israel is not under threat from Iran, framed Israel as a greater threat to Middle East stability than Iran, censored the Iranian leader’s pledge to continue supporting terror, whitewashed Iranian patronage of terror organisations, claimed that Israel can defend itself against a nuclear armed Iran and avoided reporting on admissions of Iranian funding for Hizballah and Hamas.
Audiences might therefore not have been overly surprised to find a rosy view of Iran promoted in an interview by Tim Franks with an American Jewish journalist who recently visited the country in the August 12th edition of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newshour’.
One of its more bizarre features is Tim Franks’ focus in the later part of the conversation on the fact that his interviewee flew to Israel after his visit to Iran.
“You went in [to Israel] with the same passport? You didn’t have two passports?”
“That’s extraordinary! And you were let in?”
“…to Israel, with a stamp from an Iranian visa in your passport.”
Had Franks bothered to take a quick look at the consular services section of the Israeli Foreign Ministry website, he would have discovered that not only is it not in the least “remarkable” or “extraordinary” that a US passport holder with an Iranian visa in his passport was “let in”, but that holders of Iranian passports are able to enter Israel too after securing a visa.
The main messaging comes early on in the item:
“…even among some senior Islamic leaders [….] I found that while there was not one warm word among any of them about the State of Israel, in several cases I saw that there was a diversity of opinion about whether the problem was Israel’s mere existence or whether it was the policies. I had an ayatollah who is very close to the senior leadership tell me that the problem is Israel’s violation of international law.”
With regard to the “real issue” of the approach of the “Supreme Leader and the hardliners”, Cohler-Esses says:
“The main thing I came away with is the understanding that this was a matter for debate – it wasn’t about a uniform policy.”
Unfortunately, at no point during the item did Tim Franks inform listeners that Larry Cohler-Esses was accompanied by a government-approved fixer and translator throughout his one-week trip.
On the basis of his interviewee’s experiences, Franks even goes so far as suggesting that:
“…the sense that dissent is not tolerated [in Iran] is perhaps erroneous.”
Of course if BBC audiences were already equipped with accurate and impartial information concerning the Iranian regime’s patronage of terrorist organisations dedicated to the eradication of Israel and if they were adequately informed about the nature of statements concerning Israel coming from high-level Iranian officials, they would be able to put Mr Cohler-Esses’ impressions into context and proportion. However that – as can be seen above – is not the case.