In May 2021 the BBC repeatedly promoted a politically partial portrayal of a decades-long property dispute in the Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah on multiple platforms:
In the eighteen months since then, BBC audiences have still not seen or heard a proper explanation of that issue, including the basic fact that the residents concerned had compromised their status as protected tenants by not paying rent for 39 years. When the High Court issued a ruling in March 2022 allowing four families to remain in their homes in Sheikh Jarrah until the dispute over the ownership of the property is resolved, the BBC refrained from reporting that story.
Moreover – as we saw in February of this year – BBC Jerusalem bureau correspondent Tom Bateman promoted a simplistic and misleading description of that neighbourhood as a place “where Palestinian families face eviction from their homes to make way for Jewish settlers” even though the story he was reporting at the time did not relate to that property dispute.
That pattern was again seen in a report by Bateman published on the BBC News website’s ‘Middle East’ page on October 29th under the headline “Israel’s far right advance in polls as election looms”.
The report opens:
“Kept well away from the smoke and stun grenades in a flashpoint neighbourhood of occupied East Jerusalem, he pulled out his pistol and called for Palestinians who threw stones to be shot by police.
Itamar Ben-Gvir’s shouts came as he was shuffled behind a lorry by his parliamentary security team, one armed with a machine gun.
The ultranationalist Israeli MP is often found wherever tensions flare – pouring on fuel, say his critics – in this case Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah where Palestinians have long faced threats of eviction to make way for Jewish settlers.” [emphasis added]
Significantly, the October 13th incident described by Bateman had nothing to do with the long-running property dispute in Sheikh Jarrah. As reported by the Jerusalem Post and others, rioting took place in that neighbourhood and elsewhere in Jerusalem as police searched for a terrorist who had carried out a fatal attack several days earlier:
“[Minister] Bar-Lev said the riots in east Jerusalem “were very serious,” but the police were able to bring them under control.
“We have no intention of allowing disruption of order and violence, the police will work against whomever necessary to keep the peace, while continuing the search after the terrorist who carried out the shooting attack on Saturday,” he said. […]
Overnight Wednesday, Palestinians hurled rocks, Molotov cocktails and fireworks toward security forces, and set tires and dumpsters on fire throughout neighborhoods in east Jerusalem.
The riots, over the closure of the Shuafat refugee camp following last week’s deadly shooting, were the most violent clashes in the area in years. Clashes also broke out in Kalandiya, north of Jerusalem.”
As noted here previously, the BBC did not report the October 8th terror attack in Shuafat in which Sgt. Noa Lazar was shot dead or the subsequent rioting in Jerusalem: the first mention of those incidents came five days later in a report by Tom Bateman.
So as we see, there was no reason whatsoever to bring up the topic of the property dispute in Sheikh Jarrah in this latest article. That gratuitous and unhelpful reference to “threats of eviction” and “Jewish settlers” was nevertheless shoehorned into Bateman’s reporting.