BBC World Service radio promotes excuses for terrorism

Previously we looked at coverage of the terror attack in Jerusalem on November 21st on the BBC News website and in the afternoon edition of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newshour’, both of which included contributions from the BBC Jerusalem bureau’s Tom Bateman:


Just hours after the attack had taken place, ‘Newshour’ producers decided that what listeners to its evening edition most needed to hear was a Palestinian point of view on the topic of the murder of one Israeli and the wounding of four others.

Presenter Julian Marshall introduced that nearly five-minute-long item (from 34:32 here) as follows:

[emphasis in italics in the original, emphasis in bold added]

Marshall: “A member of the Palestinian movement Hamas opened fire in Jerusalem’s Old City this morning, killing an Israeli and wounding three others before being shot dead by police. The attack occurred near one of the gates to the Al Aqsa compound, which has been a regular flashpoint. The man who was killed has been identified as Eliyahu David Kay, an Israeli immigrant originally from South Africa. The attacker has been named as Fadi Abu Shkhaydam. Hamas confirmed that he was a member of the group’s political wing in East Jerusalem.”

As we see, Marshall promoted the myth of separate ‘wings’ to Hamas (as was the case in the BBC News website report), using the bland term “movement” to describe that terrorist organisation. He erred on the number of people wounded in the attack and breached the BBC’s style guide by referring to Temple Mount as “the Al Aqsa compound”.

Marshall then introduced his sole interviewee, Nour Odeh.

Marshall: “Nour Odeh is a Palestinian political analyst and a former spokesperson for the Palestinian Authority. She’s based in Ramallah in the West Bank.”

Odeh began by promoting a litany of context-free allegations that went completely unquestioned by Marshall:

Odeh: “The situation in Jerusalem has been one of extreme tension. Palestinian Jerusalemites have come under increasing Israeli pressure in the past year. Home demolitions are at an all-time high. Nightly raids. The eviction orders against hundreds of Palestinian families coupled with the increasing settler attacks, the raids on Al Aqsa Mosque and the provocation of religious feelings have all really created the perfect storm, so to hear of such an attack was not a surprise at all.”

Marshall’s total failure to challenge Odeh’s politically motivated talking points (which are the same as the ones promoted by Hamas) meant that listeners were not provided with the essential context of illegal building in relation to demolitions, terrorism in relation to supposed “nightly raids”, the decades-long Sheikh Jarrah property dispute in relation to “eviction orders” that have actually not been issued or the incidents of pre-planned violence in relation to so called “raids on Al Aqsa Mosque”.

Instead, Marshall once again promoted the myth of separate ‘wings’ to a terrorist organisation.

Marshall: “We don’t yet know the motive of the shooter but we do know that he was a member of Hamas’ political rather than military wing. I mean that’s significant, surely?”

Odeh: “I think if you take it in the wider context, it’s almost irrelevant. This could have been anybody. Because the situation on the ground is so tense, we’ve seen these lone attacks happening in response to these Israeli tensions. The fact that this attacker belonged to Hamas’ political wing and the wording of the Hamas statement tells observers like me that this was a lone attack. The statement said that Hamas was proud of the fact that this person was a member of the movement but it didn’t claim responsibility.”

Marshall: “But it did congratulate him.”

Odeh: “Well, well yes [laughs] it did of course. You know this is in line with its agenda or with its policy. But it does not seem that this attack was planned or ordered at a higher political or military level. Usually the two wings do not work hand in glove, judging from the past.”

Marshall failed to raise the relevant question of how this supposedly “lone” terrorist obtained a Beretta M12 submachine gun with which to carry out his premeditated attack.

Marshall: “But to congratulate a member of your political wing for shooting dead an Israeli who by all accounts was unarmed, is that a cause for congratulation?”

Odeh then spouted more context-free accusations against Israel, again with no challenge whatsoever from Marshall.

Odeh: “Look you have to put this in the context of occupier and occupied, whereby the occupying power – Israel – is carrying out several policies and actions that place extreme pressure on Palestinians. It is outlawing, it is criminalising their civil society organisations. It is persecuting their human rights advocates. It is imprisoning their student activists. It is listening in on their conversations and hacking the phones of political and human rights defenders. And at the same time it is rejecting any kind of political dialogue with their leaders. So in that context, confrontation has become the norm of exchange between the two sides.”

Once again, Marshall’s failure to question Odeh’s talking points resulted in listeners remaining unaware of the fact that, for example, “criminalising civil society organisations” actually refers to the recent designation of NGOs linked to another Palestinian terrorist group.

Listeners next learned that Marshall would apparently have no issue with Palestinian terrorists shooting people on the streets just so long as their targets were members of Israel’s security forces.

Marshall: “So…so direct your response at a military target, not at a civilian then.”

Odeh then lied about the attack that had taken place hours earlier.

Odeh: “Right well I don’t have the full details of all those who were targeted but my understanding is that the targets were border police. They were the symbols of Israeli occupation.”

As reported by the Times of Israel and others:

“According to police, Abu Shkhaydam entered the Old City armed with a Beretta M12 submachine gun and opened fire at three Israeli men who were walking through the area, near the Chain Gate entrance to the Temple Mount, fatally wounding one of them and seriously injuring the other two.

Two female police officers rushed to the scene from one side of the alleyway, opening fire at Shkaydam. Shortly thereafter, two male officers ran in to assist them. […]

The three Israeli men who were shot in the attack were walking through the area as they left the nearby Western Wall, where they had been praying, still wrapped in prayer shawls and wearing tefillin, one of the victims, Rabbi Zeev Katzenelnbogen, said, speaking from his hospital bed.

Two police officers, aged 30 and 31, were lightly wounded in the exchange, likely by shrapnel, according to the Israel Police.”

With that information being available hours before this programme was aired, Marshall had no excuse not to challenge Odeh’s deliberate falsehoods concerning the targets of the attack and her attempt to ‘legitimise’ it. Nevertheless, he allowed her to continue to ‘justify’ acts of terrorism. 

Odeh: “And again, I’m not here to speak on behalf of the attacker or the group that he belonged to, but I’m trying to give context of how this is viewed from the Palestinian side that is being crushed under these Israeli practices and policies, where even dialogue with human rights advocates are being criminalised. It’s almost like the Palestinians are being pushed into a corner of confrontation because everything else is also being outlawed. That can only change with international pressure. As long as Israel can get away with this, get away with being an occupier and with committing violations of international law, then nothing about this very desperate situation will change, unfortunately.”

Marshall closed the item with another erroneous portrayal of the number of people wounded in the attack:

Marshall: “Nour Odeh; a Palestinian political analyst and former spokesperson for the Palestinian Authority. And an Israeli police spokesperson today told reporters that two of those shot were civilians and two were police and a Jerusalem hospital said that one of the wounded civilians had died.”

Clearly this item did nothing to enhance audience understanding of the terror attack that took place in Jerusalem’s Old City on the morning of its broadcast. Neither did it provide accurate information concerning the alleged issues – also employed in Hamas’ talking points – that were touted as “context” to that attack and others. It did however totally ignore the not unrelated topic of Hamas attempts to undermine the Palestinian Authority, which have not received any BBC coverage to date.

The bottom line of this extremely ill-considered item is that just hours after a fatal terror attack, the BBC chose to give worldwide promotion to an apologist for terrorism touting tawdry but unchallenged excuses in an effort to justify the cold-blooded murder of an Israeli walking to work.  

Related Articles:



More from Hadar Sela
BBC corrects inaccuracies in reports on Israel’s coalition government
As was noted here last week, an article which appeared on the...
Read More
Join the Conversation

1 Comment

Leave a comment
Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *