The millions of people who visit the BBC News website on a regular basis have been told on countless occasions throughout the years that:
“The settlements are considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.”
In breach of its own editorial guidelines on impartiality, the BBC consistently fails to advise its audiences that the view promoted in that frequently used mantra is just one of several legal opinions on the issue and never presents them with any alternative views.
Concurrently, the BBC repeatedly avoids informing its audiences of the fact that some of the communities it brands as ‘illegal settlements’ are located on land purchased by Jews even before Israel came into existence and that Jews lived in those areas until the Jordanian invasion in 1948.
Thus, according to the BBC’s narrative, is completely irrelevant that Jewish communities were expelled during an unprovoked act of aggression by the Jordanian army in 1948 and that the places in which they lived were placed under Jordanian occupation (unrecognised by the international community) for 19 years. Rather, the BBC promotes the narrative that any area conquered by Jordan (or any of the other Arab countries which took part in the military campaign to destroy the nascent Israeli state) is “Palestinian land”.
Whilst we are long used to reading and hearing that narrative, recently the BBC News website managed to outdo even itself by taking it to the absurd.
An article originally published on the BBC News website on October 15th under the headline “Is social media driving Israel-Palestinian violence?” has since been amended numerous times and its later versions – retitled “Is Palestinian-Israeli violence being driven by social media?” – include a map displayed under the sub-heading “What is the East Jerusalem connection in all of this?”.
The map – sourced from OCHA and its partner the political NGO B’tselem – purports to show “Palestinian urban areas” in a greenish hue and “Israeli settlements” – i.e. those places the BBC repeatedly tells its audiences are “illegal”, with the obvious implication being that Jews should not be there – in dark red. In addition, the article provides readers with a link to a B’tselem article which promotes the view that all ‘settlements’ should be ‘evacuated’.
As readers can see for themselves below, that map tells BBC audiences that the Jewish Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem – a place where Jews lived for centuries until they were ethnically cleansed from the location by Jordan for a period of nineteen years – is an “illegal settlement” and that Temple Mount is located in a “Palestinian urban area”.
That, however, is what happens when journalists uncritically embrace a narrative promoted by political NGOs and become activists instead of reporters. But whilst such ‘journavism’ undoubtedly serves a predetermined ideological cause, it certainly does not serve the interests of members of the funding public who whom the BBC is obliged to provide information which will enhance their “awareness and understanding of international issues” and it causes serious damage to the BBC’s reputation as a broadcaster of accurate and impartial news.