The partial sources behind Andrew Marr’s BBC One talking points

h/t SFoI, JH

The January 24th edition of BBC One’s ‘Andrew Marr Show’ included an interview with Israel’s minister of health Yuli Edelstein which will remain available on BBC iPlayer for the next eleven months.

As has been the case in so much of the BBC’s coverage of Israel’s Coronavirus vaccination drive, after an initial discussion concerning that topic, Marr changed the subject. [emphasis in italics in the original, emphasis in bold added]

Marr: “The United Nations says it’s your legal obligation to make sure the Palestinian people under occupation have a swift and equitable access to Covid-19 vaccinations. Why aren’t you doing this?”

In fact the source of that reference to “swift and equitable access to Covid-19 vaccinations” is a statement put out not by “the United Nations” but by two UN special rapporteurs for the notoriously anti-Israel UN Human Rights Council – Tlaleng Mofokeng and Michael Lynk. As the UN’s own material clarifies:

“Special Rapporteurs are not United Nations staff members; they do not receive a salary from the United Nations…”

In common with another BBC journalist who cited the same UNHRC document a few days earlier, Marr made no effort to inform viewers of the obviously relevant anti-Israel record of one of the authors of the document he misrepresented as coming from the United Nations before going on to quote it further.

Marr: “…but the Palestinians have asked you for vaccines and you haven’t given them some and under the Geneva Convention – the Fourth Geneva Convention – Israel is required to do so. I can read it back. Article 56 says that Israel must adopt and supply the prophylactic and preventative measures necessary to combat the spread of contagious disease and epidemics in cooperation with the local authorities. Now that means the vaccine. Why aren’t you giving them the vaccine?”

Article 56 of the Fourth Geneva Convention of course does not mention the word “Israel” as claimed by Marr. The document written by Lynk and Mofokeng (which, incidentally, promotes a blatant falsehood in its final paragraph) however states:

“The experts said that as the occupying power, Israel is required under the Fourth Geneva Convention, “to the fullest extent of the means available to it”, to maintain health services in the occupied territory. Article 56 requires Israel to adopt and apply “the prophylactic and preventive measures necessary to combat the spread of contagious diseases and epidemics” in cooperation with national and local authorities.”

In other words it is obvious that Marr simply copy-pasted from that document to his script without fact checking and without questioning whether the Fourth Geneva Convention is actually applicable in this situation.

When Edelstein brought up the topic of the Oslo Accords and the transfer of “Powers and responsibilities in the sphere of Health in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip…to the Palestinian side” under those agreements, Marr interrupted:

Marr: “But the United Nations says that international law should supersede the Oslo Accords on this.”

He then went on to make a point based on yet another inadequately presented source:

Marr: “Let me put it to you that many of your own citizens also think you should be doing more. There was a petition by two hundred rabbis which says Judaism teaches a moral imperative not to show indifference as our neighbours suffer but to mobilise and offer help in times of need. The rabbis are right, aren’t they?”

That petition (published just four days after Israel began its vaccination roll-out) was initiated by the political NGO ‘Rabbis for Human Rights’. Marr made no effort to inform viewers of that fact or of that NGO’s political agenda. Neither did he bother to clarify that a very significant proportion of the signatories are, as the petition’s heading states, “from around the world” and hence do not in fact represent “many” of Mr Edelstein’s “own citizens”.

As we see Andrew Marr’s talking points were based entirely on material coming from inaccurately and inadequately presented highly partisan sources. So much – once again – for the BBC’s supposed commitment to accurate and impartial journalism.


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  1. says: Michael Zeffertt

    I saw the programme and wanted to throw up. The BBC do this sort of thing repeatedly. They are corrected repeatedly but carry on regardless. Whilst they themselves may not be Antisemites they allow themselves to rely on Antisemites for their misinformation basically because they are lazy. This makes them accessories to Antisemitism.

  2. says: Neil C

    The BBC regrettably are a law unto themselves, answerable only to their Iranian paymasters, certainly not to the British public, indeed the BBC are quickly becoming an anti-British organisation, let alone anti-Israel, that’s what happens when you let the fox be in charge of the hen house, just like the United Nations, bigots and despots have taken over.

  3. says: Leila Cumber

    It is well known the BBC uses these tactics as one can read from the comments. Israel interviewees surely are aware of such methods. The issue raised by Marr was headline news and promptly refuted by Israel and Palestinians too. It is common for provocative interviewers to ask such questions coming to the end of the allotted time. Zuckerman, though, should have been prepared for that and the question with an initial quick fire response instead of starting with the long lengths of the Oslo Accords and risk being out of time and cut off which he was. Thus the programme concluded with Marr’s accusations.

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