As readers no doubt recall, BBC reporting on the Eurovision Song Contest held in Tel Aviv in May was highly politicised and included months of amplification of the anti-Israel BDS campaign’s calls to relocate/boycott the event.
Some of the most blatantly politicised content was produced by ‘Newsbeat’ – which creates content specifically aimed at 16 to 24 year-olds – with that BBC department’s journalists apparently rather enamoured of the politics behind the Icelandic entry to the competition.
Anyone who had assumed that episode of overtly politicised ‘journalism’ was behind us may have been surprised to find a report tagged ‘Eurovision Song Contest’ on the BBC News website’s ‘Middle East’ page on July 14th – two months after the competition had taken place.
Once again produced by ‘Newsbeat’, the report is titled “Meet Bashar Murad: The Palestinian singer blurring gender lines”. Readers are told that:
“Whether he’s performing in a wedding dress or singing about LGBT issues, Palestinian musician Bashar Murad is used to taking risks.
As an Arab living in Jerusalem, he says he’s constantly challenging many of the conservative elements of his society.”
The article goes on to provide an example of such a “challenge”.
“As an example, he mentions his song Everyone’s Getting Married, which riffs on his society’s traditional view of marriage. […]
“There were some negative comments here and there,” he says. “But people tend to make these assumptions because not a lot of people have tried to take the risks I have.””
As Liel Leibovitz noted at the Tablet last month:
“Murad is a resident of East Jerusalem […] As such, he is free from the rampant persecution of LGBTQ individuals in Palestinian society, a subject he has yet to take on ardently. He was educated in an American school in Jerusalem, attended Bridgewater College in Virginia, and had his work sponsored by the United Nations’ Men and Women for Gender Equality program.”
The ’Newsbeat’ report fails to provide readers with any substantial information on the issue of the challenges faced by LGBTQ Palestinians living under Hamas or Palestinian Authority rule but instead goes on to dig up the Eurovision.
“Recently, Israel received a lot of international attention when it hosted the Eurovision Song Contest.
Organisers will always say the contest is strictly non-political, which Bashar finds “a little ridiculous”.
“It was already political because it was taking place in Tel Aviv.”
There had been calls to boycott the event by critics of Israel’s policies towards Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem.”
Once again ‘Newsbeat’ avoids explaining what “Israel’s policies” are and policies such as the supply of electricity and provision of medical treatment to Palestinians of course do not get a mention. The article continues with a quote from Murad which, given the BBC’s own generous politicised reporting on the Eurovision Song Contest, is obviously inaccurate.
“”The whole Eurovision contest in Tel Aviv went on without any mention of what is happening to Palestinians.”
Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank say they’re suffering because of Israeli actions and restrictions. Israel says it is only acting to protect itself from Palestinian violence.”
The report goes on to note Murad’s collaboration with the Icelandic entry.
“Shortly after the contest finished, Bashar released a duet with Icelandic entrants Hatari, who gained attention for unfurling ‘Palestine’ scarves during the results show.
“I was proud of the guys,” he says. “They were the only contestants who actually made a statement.”
To many people, the use of the name ‘Palestine’ is contentious because some see it as not just pro-Palestinian, but as an anti-Israel expression too.”
The writer of this report refrains from informing readers that there is no such country as ‘Palestine’ because the leaders of the Palestinian people have turned down numerous opportunities to create one.
As we see ‘Newsbeat’ continues its overtly political ‘journavism’ with yet another report promoting the bizarre idea that a host country’s conflicts and disputes should be part of Eurovision Song Contest coverage. We can of course be fairly confident that any ‘Newsbeat’ reporters covering the Eurovision Song Contest in the Netherlands next year will not be visiting Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan or showcasing singers from several small islands in the Caribbean Sea.
Notably, the BBC News website found this item worthy of promotion on its ‘Middle East’ page in a week in which it has totally ignored arson and rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip, the death of a woman injured in a rocket attack in May, a vehicular attack in Jerusalem and Palestinian glorification of terrorism.