Notable aspects of BBC promotion of its coverage of the September 6th football match between Israel and Wales included the gratuitous use of an image showing a flag belonging to neither of the countries participating in the game and no less ‘creative’ use of an apostrophe.
Visitors to the BBC News website’s Wales page also found a short article headlined “Pro and anti-Israel demonstrations ahead of Euro game” but in the body of the article the demonstrators previously accurately described as ‘anti-Israel’ became “protestors backing Palestine”.
“Protestors backing Palestine and supporters of Israel have held counter demonstrations ahead of Wales’ crunch Euro 2016 qualifier in Cardiff.
Up to 2,000 people joined a march for Palestine from City Hall towards Cardiff City Stadium, where Wales kicks off against Israel at 17:00 BST.”
Whilst other media outlets quoted smaller numbers of participants (WalesOnline had 75% of the BBC’s figure, the Guardian used the term “hundreds” and Ha’aretz “a few hundred”), the outstanding feature of this report is its evasive representation of the organisers of the demonstration and their motives.
“Organisers claim sport is being used as a public relations tool by Israel. […]
The pro-Palestine protest was organised by Fair Play for Palestine, with calls for Israel to be stripped of its membership of football’s governing body, Fifa.”
Readers are not told that the Palestinian delegation to the FIFA congress held at the end of May dropped its motion to have Israel suspended from the organization or that FIFA’s executive committee ruled that the Congress “cannot interfere into political territories”.
Neither are they told that the organisations behind the ‘Fair Play for Palestine’ campaign (and the demonstration in Cardiff) are the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, the Stop the War Coalition, Friends of Al Aqsa (headed by Ismail Patel) and a straw-man front called ‘Red Card Israeli Racism’ which includes some of the above actors and which aligns itself with the BDS campaign.
“Our campaign activists are mostly British or Irish members of organisations that strive to support the Palestinian people: PSC (Palestinian Solidarity Campaign), FOA (Friends of Al-Aqsa), JBIG (Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods), BIN (Boycott Israel Network) and BNC (Boycott National Committee, Palestine). We see our work as part of the wider BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) activity that was formally established by Palestinians in 2005. We are part of a group of several European nations active in this area.” [emphasis added]
Without that essential information, BBC audiences were of course deprived of the opportunity to understand that this story is actually not about football at all but concerns yet another of the quotidian attempts to delegitimize Israel by the usual small groups of extremist political actors – as captured on camera by one photographer present.
However, seeing as the BBC does not think its job includes informing audiences of the BDS campaign’s full agenda, the omission of that vital background information is entirely in keeping with the corporation’s existing editorial approach to this issue.