A report which originally appeared on the BBC News website’s ‘UK politics’ page was also published on its ‘Middle East’ page on February 1st, with one of its three tags being ‘Israel’.
Headlined ‘Kim Johnson: Labour MP apologises for calling Israeli government ‘fascist’’, that story about domestic UK politics relates to remarks made in Parliament by the Labour MP for Liverpool Riverside and her subsequent apology.
The report opens:
“Labour MP Kim Johnson has apologised for describing Israel’s recently-formed coalition government as “fascist”.
The Liverpool Riverside MP made the comment in Parliament, as she asked Rishi Sunak about “human rights violations” against Palestinians.
She apologised shortly afterwards, after being ordered to do so by party bosses.
The MP said she acknowledged using the term ‘fascist’ was “particularly insensitive” given Israel’s history.
“While there are far-right elements in the government, I recognise that the use of the term in this context was wrong,” she added.”
The BBC found it appropriate to offer readers links to two of its reports relating to Israel’s new government dating from December, one of which was discussed here, as well to promote the first of those two reports as a link.
“Israel’s new government, formed after elections in November, includes senior ministers from the ultranationalist far right.
There is domestic and international concern it will inflame the conflict with the Palestinians, damage the judiciary and restrict minority rights.
Benjamin Netanyahu, who has returned as prime minister after his Likud party formed a coalition with ultranationalist and ultra-Orthodox Jewish allies, has promised to pursue peace and safeguard civil rights.”
The report continues:
“Ms Johnson also apologised for saying, during her intervention during Prime Minister’s Questions, that rights group Amnesty International had described Israel as an “apartheid state”.
“Whilst I was quoting accurately Amnesty’s description, I recognise this is insensitive and I’d like to withdraw it,” she added.”
Notably, the BBC – which, as regular readers will be aware, has repeatedly and uncritically amplified that politically motivated smear from Amnesty International and others – did not bother to inform its audiences why Johnson’s description was not only “insensitive” but also inaccurate.
“However, the spokesman’s decision to denounce Ms Johnson’s language was criticised by Momentum, the Corbyn-supporting left-wing pressure group.
The group accused Sir Keir of an “outrageous abuse of power,” and wanting to “silence wholly legitimate criticism of the Israeli government”.
Momentum is calling for the reinstatement of Mr Corbyn, whom Sir Keir suspended as a Labour MP in 2020 after a long running row about antisemitism.
Mr Corbyn was suspended for saying the scale of antisemitism within Labour had been “dramatically overstated” by opponents, in his reaction to a watchdog’s report on how the party had handled allegations of anti-Jewish prejudice within the party.”
Seeing as the BBC elected to promote this report not only to domestic audiences but also on its ‘Middle East’ page, it would clearly have been helpful had it been clarified that the MP who is the topic of this report is a Corbyn supporter and a member of the Socialist Campaign Group, which is linked to ‘Momentum’.
Readers around the world would obviously also have benefitted from being informed that Corbyn’s claim concerning “the scale of antisemitism within Labour” was shown to be baseless by the Forde Report. As we have previously documented on these pages – the BBC has similarly avoided clarifying that issue in the past.
In short, while the BBC is able to inform its audiences on the topic of “Israel’s hardline new government”, “Israel’s most right-wing government” and “the ultranationalist far-right”, it is remarkably less forthcoming about applying comparable labels to politicians and political groups on the other side of the map in its own domestic arena.