BBC Radio 4 news bulletin framing of PFLP linked NGO designations

Listeners to the news bulletin read by Alan Smith near the beginning of the October 22nd edition of BBC Radio 4’s ‘The World Tonight’ (from 05:11 here) soon discovered how the BBC had chosen to frame a story which had broken several hours earlier. [emphasis in bold added]

In addition to early signposting of the organisations concerned as “human rights groups”, listeners to that Friday night programme were told of a claim made by a spokesman for a country unconnected to the story. 

Smith: “Israel has declared six Palestinian human rights groups to be terrorist organisations. The US said it had no advance warning of the move and was seeking more information on the reasons. Yolande Knell reports.”

That claim was refuted the following evening:

“An Israeli defense official on Saturday disputed American claims that the United States was not informed of a highly contentious decision by Jerusalem to label six Palestinian rights organizations as terror groups, insisting Washington had been told in advance.

“Officials in the American administration were updated in advance of the intention to make this declaration and they received intelligence information about the matter,” the defense official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.”

Yolande Knell began her report by describing an order issued by the Israeli government’s minister of defence as a “military order”. She too framed two of the NGOs concerned (Addameer and Al Haq) as “human rights organisations”.

Knell: “This change was issued by a military order and effectively outlaws the activities of the groups. The Israeli defence ministry says that all have ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine: a left-wing political faction with an armed wing that’s carried out deadly attacks on Israelis. The organisations include Palestinian human rights organisations Al Haq and Addameer which highlight alleged rights violations by Israel and the Palestinian Authority. In a joint statement, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, which work closely with several of the groups, described the decision as outrageous.”

Interestingly, Knell made no mention of the fact that the PFLP (which has had a BBC profile with an inaccurate illustration for seven years) is designated a terrorist organisation by the United States, the European Union, Japan, Canada and Australia. Instead she chose to euphemistically characterise it as “a left-wing political faction with an armed wing”, with the word terror conspicuously absent from her vague reference to its long history of attacks that, contrary to her claim, were actually not only “on Israelis”.

Unsurprisingly, Knell chose to amplify a statement quickly put out by two political NGOs regularly quoted and promoted by the BBC but failed to inform listeners that Al Haq’s director general Shawan Jabarin sits on Human Rights Watch’s MENA advisory committee.

Significantly, Knell failed to explain to listeners that those six foreign funded NGOs had been shown to be involved in terror financing.

“The Shin Bet investigated the organizations between March and May this year and found that they raised and laundered money, as well as forged documents to assist the PFLP, recruited activists to join the group and witnessed several meetings of senior group members, including individuals convicted of terrorism, at the offices belonging to the six NGOs. […]

In Friday’s press release, the Defense Ministry charged that the NGOs serve the PFLP’s leadership and pursue its interests on a global scale.

In addition to diverting donations for terrorist activities, some of the funding is also alleged to have been given for stipends for the families of deceased Palestinian terrorists, as well as the promotion of terrorism and violent ideologies.”

Readers may recall that last month ‘The World Tonight’ listeners heard an audio report by Yolande Knell which featured an employee of two more of the newly designated NGOs while failing to disclose that he had been arrested at least three times due to his PFLP activities.

Clearly this news bulletin failed to adequately inform Radio 4 listeners of the full story. Knell instead preferred to frame the topic by amplifying a statement from an underinformed American official and talking points put out by the political NGOs Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, which are apparently unconcerned about terror financing despite the fact that they present themselves as ‘human rights’ advocates. 

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