As readers may recall, last month BBC Radio 4 chose to feature a book titled “Where the Line is Drawn” by Raja Shehadeh in its ‘Book of the Week’ programme.
Among the many issues arising in those five programmes, one factual inaccuracy stood out in particular.
“…in episode five listeners heard a long section relating to an incident in Hebron in March 2016 which was inaccurately portrayed as having begun when:
“Abdul Fattah al Sharif, 21, from the occupied old city of Hebron lay on the ground shot after he allegedly tried to stab an Israeli soldier.” [emphasis added]
As the BBC’s own reports on that incident show, the words “allegedly” and “tried to” are completely superfluous and materially misleading.
“Sharif and another 21-year-old Palestinian, Ramzi Aziz al-Qasrawi, had stabbed and wounded an Israeli soldier before troops opened fire on them, wounding Sharif and killing Qasrawi.”
BBC Watch submitted a complaint on that point and has now received the following reply.
If – despite BBC editorial guidelines on accuracy which state that even in factually based drama “we should ensure it does not distort the known facts” – the BBC is of the view that “[i]t wouldn’t be appropriate for us to edit it”, then the obvious conclusion is that the corporation needs to be more careful with its choice of material and that politically motivated polemics that intentionally distort facts and materially mislead BBC audiences are clearly not the best choice for Radio 4’s “[s]erialised book readings, featuring works of non-fiction, biography, autobiography, travel, diaries, essays, humour and history”.