Visitors to the BBC News website last week found two reports relating to a short visit to Temple Mount by an Israeli politician.
January 3rd: ‘Jerusalem: Palestinian anger over far-right Israeli minister’s holy site visit’ by Yolande Knell & Raffi Berg
January 6th: ‘Israel and Palestinians in holy site war of words’ by Raffi Berg
Both those reports include the following graphic:
In both reports readers are told that:
“The hilltop site is the most sacred place in Judaism and the third holiest in Islam. It is known to Jews as the Temple Mount, site of two Biblical temples, and to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif, the site of Muhammad’s ascent to Heaven. The entire compound is considered to be al-Aqsa Mosque by Muslims.” [emphasis added]
As long-time readers will be aware, the claim that the whole of the Temple Mount compound is the Al Aqsa mosque was made by the PLO in a ‘media advisory’ published in November 2014:
“Al-Aqsa Mosque Compound, sometimes referred to as the Noble Sanctuary (“Haram al-Sharif” in Arabic), is the compound that contains Al Aqsa building itself, ablution fountains, open spaces for prayer, monuments and the Dome of the Rock building. This entire area enclosed by the walls which spans 144 dunums (almost 36 acres), forms the Mosque.” [emphasis added]
As we have documented here over the years, the BBC began to adopt the politicised terminology “Al Aqsa Mosque compound” – or even just “Al Aqsa Mosque” – to describe the area that its style guide says should be referred to as Temple Mount and Haram al-Sharif immediately after the publication of that document:
More recently, the BBC also began promoting the claim that the entire area of Temple Mount is a mosque – i.e. an exclusively Muslim holy place – in graphics: a practice that was not seen before November 2014 (see for example here and here).
As we have also documented on numerous occasions, the BBC’s decision to adopt and promote that one-sided politicised terminology has often caused confusion and resulted in inaccurate reporting of stories relating to Temple Mount.
Both reports tell BBC audiences that:
“Jews and other non-Muslims are allowed to go to the compound but not pray, though Palestinians see visits by Jews as attempts to change the delicate status quo.”
In fact, visits to Temple Mount by non-Muslims were permitted long before the Jordanian occupation of parts of Jerusalem in 1948 and have been part of the status quo since 1967 but as we see, the BBC chooses to promote the discriminatory Palestinian narrative on that issue too.
“Muslim prayer continued to be the only form of worship allowed there, although a bar on Jewish visits was lifted. Palestinians argue that in recent years, steps have been taken that undermine the status quo, with Orthodox Jewish visitors often seen praying quietly without being stopped by Israeli police.”
Unsurprisingly, the BBC chose in the earlier to provide amplification for extremist hyperbole: [emphasis added]
“Following the 15-minute walkaround, the Palestinian foreign ministry denounced what it described as “the storming of al-Aqsa mosque by the extremist minister Ben-Gvir and views it as unprecedented provocation and a dangerous escalation of the conflict”.
Palestinian Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh called for “thwarting the raids that aimed at turning the al-Aqsa Mosque into a Jewish temple“, saying Mr Ben-Gvir’s visit was “a violation of all norms, values, international agreements and laws, and Israel’s pledges to the American president”.
A spokesman for the Palestinian militant Islamist group, Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip, called it a “crime” and vowed the site “will remain Palestinian, Arab, Islamic”, AFP news agency reported.”
Referring to Operation Guardian of the Walls, Knell and Berg tell readers that:
“Tensions between Israel and Palestinians which escalated into violence at the site in May 2021 saw Hamas fire rockets towards Jerusalem, triggering an 11-day conflict with Israel.”
“A visit to the site in 2000 by Israeli right-winger Ariel Sharon, then opposition leader, infuriated Palestinians. Violence which followed escalated into the second Palestinian uprising, or intifada.”
“The Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif is the most sensitive site in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Situated in East Jerusalem, it was captured by Israel from Jordan in the 1967 Middle East war. Under a delicate set of arrangements, Jordan was allowed to continue its historical role as custodian of the site, while Israel assumed control of security and access.”
Whatever one’s views on Itamar Ben Gvir’s quarter-of-an hour-long visit to Temple Mount within regular opening hours (or visits and restrictions on prayer by non-Muslims in general), it is obvious that BBC audiences were not provided with accurate and impartial information which would enable their full understanding of this story – not least because the BBC continues to embrace and promote politicised and discriminatory Palestinian narratives aimed at erasing Jewish history and legitimacy in any report relating to that site.