BBC Radio 4’s ‘PM’ resuscitates a two month-old story

Back in March, the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newshour’ produced a report about a woman who is suing the El Al airline after having been asked to move to a different seat.

At the time, presenter Razia Iqbal chose to frame the story as being indicative of negative trends in Israeli society as a whole but failed to provide any factual evidence to support her anecdotal assertion.

“Noa, I wonder if you would care to comment on what you think has shifted in Israeli culture and society that has made this sort of encounter that Renee has had more frequent.”

“Renee, when you listen to Noa put this into the context of this having been a shift that’s taken place over the last 15 to 20 years […] what are your reflections on that cultural shift that’s taken place?”

In April the BBC World Service promoted on social media a section from the radio programme ‘Newsday’ ostensibly relating to a story from Switzerland about male Muslim pupils refusing to shake hands with female teachers. However, almost half that promoted item was devoted to the same El Al story.PM R4 13 5

On May 13th the BBC Radio 4 programme ‘PM’ included an item (from 44:40 here) about the same story. Following an interview with the woman suing El Al, presenter Eddie Mair told listeners in the UK:

“If you have experience in the same area, you know our e-mail address.”

Considering that this is a two month-old story about an Israeli woman suing an Israeli airline in an Israeli court, the editorial decisions behind BBC’s repeated promotion of it – particularly on a domestic radio station – are decidedly curious.

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