On January 30th an article by BBC music reporter Mark Savage titled “Stars urge BBC to ask for Eurovision to be moved out of Israel” appeared on the BBC News website’s ‘Entertainment & Arts’ and ‘Middle East’ pages.
The article relates to a letter published – as usual – by the Guardian newspaper the previous day and most of Savage’s report is composed of unqualified quotes from that letter (together with a link to the original) and statements made by the BBC in response.
Among the quotes that went unchallenged by Savage was an ‘apartheid’ smear.
“The letter comes a week before Eurovision: You Decide, a live BBC TV show through which the British public will vote for the act to represent the UK.
“For any artist of conscience, this would be a dubious honour,” the letter said.
“They and the BBC should consider that You Decide is not a principle extended to the Palestinians, who cannot ‘decide’ to remove Israel’s military occupation and live free of apartheid.””
At the end of the report readers were told that: [emphasis added]
“Many of the signatories to Wednesday’s [sic] letter have previously made calls for a cultural boycott of Israel, criticising artists such as Nick Cave, Radiohead and Lana Del Rey for organising concerts in the country.
Their campaign follows an earlier call for Eurovision to be relocated, made last September by a coalition of artists from across Europe.
That was organised by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which urges a complete boycott of Israel over its policies towards the Palestinians.
Israel says BDS opposes Israel’s very existence and is motivated by anti-Semitism.”
That unsatisfactory “Israel says” formulation has been in evidence since April 2018.
There is of course nothing novel about the BBC avoiding informing audiences in its own words that what the BDS campaign ultimately seeks to achieve is the end of Israel as the Jewish state. For years we have documented on these pages how the corporation has serially failed to provide an accurate and impartial portrayal of the aims and agenda of the BDS campaign – even as it has frequently provided that campaign and some of its supporters with free PR. Moreover, in August 2015, we learned that the BBC considers the provision of such crucial background information “not our role“.
Research carried out in the UK shows “a clear link between antisemitism and hostility towards Israel, finding that a majority of people in the UK who support boycotts or regard Israel as an apartheid state hold anti-Jewish views.”
“…sought to examine the relationship between anti-Jewish sentiment and a belief that Israel should be boycotted and is an apartheid state – two of the central, interrelated claims of the country’s critics in the UK. […]
“A relationship exists between British people’s agreement with each of the two key contentions and their predisposition towards anti-Jewish sentiment – as one scale increases, so does the other,” write the authors, Dr. Jonathan Boyd, executive director of the Institute for Jewish Policy Research, and Dr. David Graham, its senior research fellow. […]
The correlation between anti-Jewish sentiment and support for BDS was stronger than the belief that Israel is an apartheid state and bigotry against Jews, although the latter correlation is “clearly evident”.”
Among the public purposes set out by the Royal Charter and Agreement that are the constitutional basis for the BBC are the provision of “accurate and impartial news” and “learning for people of all ages”.
As long as the BBC continues to unquestioningly amplify politically motivated delegitimisation such as the ‘apartheid’ smear and to report stories relating to the anti-Israel BDS campaign without providing audiences with the full range of information concerning the aims of that political campaign, it not only neglects those public purposes but, as the above research shows, opts out of playing a part in tackling anti-Jewish racism in the UK.
The Guardian: Platform of choice for anti-Israel activism (UK Media Watch)
BBC Music again covers a BDS story without explaining that campaign’s agenda
BBC Music promotes falsehoods and BDS campaign website
BBC Radio 4 provides a stage for anti-Israel activist’s agitprop and defamation
Reviewing BBC reporting on the BDS campaign in 2018