BBC News framing of amendment to Israel’s citizenship law

On February 15th a report by Yolande Knell appeared on the BBC News website’s ‘Middle East’ page under the imprecise headline ‘Israel passes law to revoke Israeli Arab attackers’ citizenship’.

Knell’s article relates to an amendment to the 1952 Citizenship Law passed in the Knesset on the same day which does not specifically relate to “Israeli Arab attackers” as claimed in that headline but to any Israeli citizen or permanent resident convicted of terrorism who has chosen to accept financial reward for his or her actions from the Palestinian Authority.

The caption to the image illustrating Knell’s report similarly misleads BBC audiences:

“Critics say the law is discriminatory for applying only to Israeli Arabs”

The opening lines of the report likewise mislead: [emphasis added]

“Israel has passed a law to revoke the citizenship of Israeli Arabs convicted of terrorism and who get financial aid from the Palestinian Authority (PA).

It could also see Palestinian residents of occupied East Jerusalem stripped of their residency rights.”

Knell goes on to amplify the opinions of unidentified “critics”:

“Critics say it is racist and violates international law by rendering people stateless.”

Later in the report readers find another mention of “racism”:

“The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs described the law as “the ugliest form of racism.””

Knell of course refrains from informing BBC audiences that another Palestinian Authority official has in the past called upon other countries to “withdraw the passports” of dual-nationality Israelis living in locations of which he does not approve.

Knell also uncritically amplifies the strawman arguments of Knesset member Ahmed Tibi, failing to point out that the murderer mentioned did not receive payments from the Palestinian Authority.

“Opposition lawmakers who objected to the bill said it was discriminatory because it would not apply to Jewish Israelis convicted of attacks against Palestinians or other serious offences.

“For example, Yigal Amir murdered a prime minister – not only was his citizenship not revoked, there was no proposal,” said Ahmed Tibi, referring to the Israeli Jewish extremist who assassinated the former prime minister, Yitzhak Rabin.”

In contrast to her portrayal of the newly passed amendment as “racist” and “racism”, the adjective chosen by Knell to describe the long-standing Palestinian Authority practice of paying salaries to convicted terrorists is “contentious” and the recipients are portrayed as “heroes”.

“The monthly stipends offered by the PA to Palestinian prisoners who have carried out attacks on Israelis, or their families, have long been highly contentious.

Israel describes them as a “pay for slay” policy which encourages violence.

It already acts to freeze the bank accounts or seize assets of those who hold Israeli citizenship or Jerusalem residency rights whom it suspects of taking the financial support .

Many Palestinians see the prisoners in Israeli jails as heroes of their nationalist struggle and the PA considers the payments made to them as social welfare.”

Interestingly, Knell chose not to remind her readers that other countries – including the UK, Australia and 14 EU member states – also remove people’s citizenship in certain circumstances, including in cases related to terrorism.

Knell closes her report with the following statements:

“About a fifth of Israelis are Arab citizens who often identify as and with Palestinians.

Most Palestinians in East Jerusalem, which Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war and later annexed in a move not recognised internationally, have the status of permanent residents.”

As we have all too often had cause to note here in the past, the majority of Arab-Israelis do not identify as Palestinians, despite the best efforts of the BBC to convince its audiences otherwise.

Knell refrains from informing her readers that residents of East Jerusalem are entitled to apply for Israeli citizenship and, as is inevitably the case in BBC reporting, she fails to inform readers that the parts of Jerusalem to which she refers were invaded and illegally occupied by Jordan in 1948.

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  1. says: Sid+Levine

    Knell refrains from informing her readers that residents of East Jerusalem are entitled to apply for Israeli citizenship – yet she herself lives in Beit Safafa and probably holds Israeli citizenship!!!!!!!!

    Also for good measure the BBC could have mentioned the Arab countries, including Saudia Arabia, Yemen, Iraq etc who do NOT allow Jews even to enter thier countries!!!

  2. The BBC consistently lies and misinforms its viewers and subscribers when it comes to Israel
    They are on the same level as the NY Times, the Guardian, the Washington Post, AP, Reuters and almost all mass media. I don’t believe a word they publish.

    Keep up the good work, CAMERA!!!!!

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