On December 2nd the BBC News website published a report by David Gritten headlined ‘Israel to deport Palestinian lawyer to France – rights group’. An Arabic translation of the same report appeared on the BBC Arabic website.
The person who is the topic of that report is similarly portrayed in its opening lines as “A Palestinian-French human rights lawyer”. Readers have to get all the way down to the seventeenth – and final – paragraph of the report before they learn that Salah Hammouri has rather more than that on his CV:
“Mr Hammouri previously spent seven years in prison after being convicted by an Israeli court of participating in a plan to murder the late Chief Rabbi Ovadia Yosef. He was released as part of a 2011 prisoner swap with the militant group Hamas.”
Gritten’s report is notable for its promotion of inadequately portrayed political NGOs, the first of which is HaMoked. [emphasis added]
“A Palestinian-French human rights lawyer who Israel has stripped of his Jerusalem residency is at imminent risk of deportation, an Israeli group says.
HaMoked said it had been informed that Salah Hammouri’s detention without charge would not be renewed on Friday.
It comes after Israel’s Supreme Court rejected an appeal against the decision to revoke his residency on the grounds of “breach of allegiance”.”
Gritten goes on to uncritically promote quotes apparently taken from the website of Amnesty International but with no effort made to inform readers of that NGO’s long-running delegitimisation of Israel:
“Amnesty International’s Middle East director, Heba Morayef, said: “Salah Hammouri has already spent nine months in administrative detention without charge or trial this year, in retaliation for his tireless campaigning for an end to Israel’s apartheid against Palestinians.
“These latest plans are not only a shameless attempt to hinder Salah’s human rights work, they are also an expression of the Israeli authorities’ chilling long-term policy aim of reducing the number of Palestinians in East Jerusalem.””
Gritten is clearly quite happy to let that baseless ‘apartheid’ smear go unchallenged as well as to amplify false claims concerning a “chilling long-term policy aim” which does not exist in relation to a city in which the numbers and proportion of the Arab population has steadily grown since 1967.
The third NGO – Addameer – is presented as a “legal aid and prisoners’ rights group” together with a link to a problematic BBC report from October 2021 which is also offered separately as related reading.
“Mr Hammouri is a 37-year-old lifelong Jerusalem resident with French citizenship through his mother.
He works for Addameer, a Palestinian legal aid and prisoners’ rights group that was designated a terrorist organisation by Israeli military in October 2021 along with five other Palestinian civil society groups. The military said they were linked to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a Palestinian militant group that Israel considers a terrorist organisation.”
In fact Addameer and the other five PFLP linked NGOs were designated by Israel’s Ministry of Defence rather than by “Israeli military”. Gritten makes no effort to inform BBC audiences of the ties between Addameer and the PFLP, including involvement in terrorism, in his own words. Neither does he bother to clarify that not only “Israel considers” the PFLP a terrorist organisation; it is similarly designated by the US, Canada and the EU.
Linking to the UNHRC website, Gritten tells readers that:
“UN independent experts said recently that Mr Hammouri had been subjected to detention practices that were “not just unlawful” but “sadistic”.
They also noted that his permanent residency in Jerusalem had been revoked in October 2021 on the basis of “secret information”. Ms Shaked said at the time that his actions had constituted a “breach of allegiance to the State of Israel”.
“Israel’s acts of forcibly deporting protected persons from the occupied territory and forcing their allegiance to the occupying power, would constitute grave breaches of international humanitarian law, and may amount to a war crime,” the experts warned.”
However, readers are not informed that one of those “UN independent experts” (some of whom are ‘special rapporteurs’ and hence not UN employees) is Francesca Albanese whose publicly displayed anti-Israel bias predates her appointment.
Another link offered as related reading leads to a BBC report from 2012. At the time of its publication we noted that:
“Some thorough investigative reporting on the part of the BBC into the subject of Palestinian NGOs would do much to advance its audience’s (and its own) understanding of the fact that in the Middle East, “human rights defenders” are not always all they claim to be.”
As can be deduced from the ‘related articles’ below, no such investigative reporting has taken place during the past decade. Rather, the BBC continues to self-conscript to uncritical promotion of the political agendas and campaigns of NGOs it often describes as ‘human rights groups’ while repeatedly ignoring the links of some to terrorist organisations and acts of terror.
Clearly that editorial policy does not meet supposed standards of impartiality or the corporation’s public purposes obligation to provide audiences with “accurate and impartial news, current affairs and factual programming to build people’s understanding…”.