Listeners to the June 15th edition of BBC Radio 4’s ‘The World Tonight’ – presented by Ritula Shah – were inaccurately informed no fewer than three times that Jerusalem Day marks an annexation that never happened in 1967.
At 04:11 newsreader Neil Nunes told listeners that: [emphasis in italics in the original, emphasis in bold added]
Nunes: “In Israel the centrist party leader Yair Lapid from the new coalition government has condemned what he called extremist elements involved in a contentious march marking Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem in 1967. Far-Right ultra-nationalist groups waved Israeli flags in front of Damascus Gate: the main entrance to the Muslim quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City.”
That portrayal does not inform listeners of the real context to Lapid’s remarks.
The final item in the programme – from 38:53 – was introduced by Ritula Shah as follows:
Shah: “A large group of flag-bearing Israeli ultra-nationalist groups marched through occupied East Jerusalem today on what is an annual march marking Israel’s 1967 annexation of Jerusalem’s Old City. […] Palestinians see today’s march as a provocation…”
Shah: “Will this government seek a return to the two-state solution and some kind of return to the process itself?”
Roll: […] I think you must take into consideration the terrorist organisation Hamas in Gaza. As long as they are threatening to wipe Israel off the map, they are blocking any way for direct negotiations with the PLO, for reaching new agreements…”
Shah [interrupts]: “But there are other Palestinians that you could speak to and it seems impossible for this coalition to do so. Naftali Bennett is opposed to any kind of Palestinian state and has championed settler activity.”
Shah’s declarations concerning the views of Israel’s prime minister and the abilities of the coalition government obviously prompt one to wonder why she bothered to ask her first question. Her dismissal of Roll’s very relevant mention of Hamas with the claim that “there are other Palestinians that you could speak to” is a dismal indicator of her comprehension of the issue.
At 43:37 Shah returned to the topic of the postponed Jerusalem Day parade.
Shah: “How much of a challenge is it for you as this broad-based coalition that includes Arab-Israeli parties [sic] that there was today a march of far-Right nationalists through East Jerusalem?”
Roll: “The flag parade today was part of a tradition celebrating the Jerusalem Day…”
Shah: “It’s a tradition that marks Israel’s annexation of the Old City in 1967 which clearly for Israelis is a moment of triumph but it’s provocative for Palestinians.”
Roll: “It hasn’t been provocative until this year when Hamas threatened that if it happens, it will break the status quo. This has happened as part of the status quo for decades now.”
Israel of course did not ‘annex’ the Old City or any other part of what the BBC chooses to call “East Jerusalem” in 1967. The Basic Law: Jerusalem, Capital of Israel was passed thirteen years later on July 30th 1980 and amended in November 2000. It does not include the word annexation.
Since early May the BBC has been telling its audiences that Jerusalem Day “marks Israel’s capture of East Jerusalem in 1967” while erasing the fact that Jordan had belligerently invaded and occupied the area in 1948, ethnically cleansing Jews from the Old City in the process.
Jerusalem Day in fact marks the reunification of the city after the 19 years of Jordanian occupation that the BBC so carefully avoids mentioning.
Now we see that BBC Radio 4 has invented another interpretation of the meaning of Jerusalem Day which is even more inaccurate than the one promoted in recent weeks. Seeing as this programme will remain available online for the next year, CAMERA UK has submitted a complaint on that issue. However, as we will see in an upcoming post, Radio 4 was not the only BBC platform to promote that inaccuracy.