Jordanian disinformation goes unchallenged on BBC Radio 4

Previously we looked at omissions in BBC News website reporting on disturbances on Temple Mount on the night before the Pessah holiday commenced:


We also reviewed BBC News website reporting on the topic of later rocket attacks launched from both the Gaza Strip and Lebanon:


On the night of April 8th – 9th two barrages of rockets were launched from Syria towards communities in the south Golan Heights and Israel subsequently responded with strikes on the rocket launchers used to carry out the attacks and military installations.

In his introduction to the April 9th edition of the BBC radio 4 programme ‘The World This Weekend’ (available here) presenter Jonny Dymond promoted false equivalence in his description of the rocket attacks on civilian communities and the ensuing strikes on military installations: [emphasis in italics in the original, emphasis in bold added]

Dymond: “Passover, Ramadan and Easter but no peace in the holy land as Israel and Syria exchange rocket fire.”

Following Dymond’s introduction (from 01:11) listeners heard a news bulletin read by Tina Ritchie which failed to inform listeners who had fired the rockets from Syria, inaccurately described agitators who had once again barricaded themselves inside Al Aqsa mosque as “worshippers” and once again whitewashed Hamas incitement by claiming that the events are attributable to a calendarial coincidence.

Ritchie: “There’s been a stand-off between Muslim worshippers and police at a holy site in Jerusalem known by Jews as Temple Mount. Tensions are high as holidays have converged. Earlier, Israel’s military said it struck multiple targets in Syria after rockets were fired at the occupied Golan Heights overnight. From Jerusalem, here’s our Middle East correspondent Yolande Knell.”

Yolande Knell repeated the same uninformative and misleading talking points, failing to clarify why the police found it necessary to provide protection to non-Muslims visiting the site during official opening hours.

Knell: “Hundreds of Palestinian Muslim worshippers had barricaded themselves in Al Aqsa mosque overnight, raising fears of a further escalation in tensions with Israeli police. But this morning, instead of forcing all Palestinians marking Ramadan to leave after dawn prayers, heavily armed police lined up to separate them from hundreds of Jewish visitors who were escorted around the site. A mass blessing for Passover then took place at the Western Wall which lies below the hilltop site. In the past few days the Al Aqsa compound, which is sacred to both Muslims and Jews, has once again been a flashpoint for violence, leading to regional condemnation. After rockets were fired into Israel from southern Lebanon and the Gaza Strip last week, last night six rockets were fired from Syria at Israeli controlled territory.”

As we see, Knell used the politicised term “Al Aqsa compound” to describe the site that the BBC style guide states should be referred to as Temple Mount and Haram al Sharif and failed to clarify who was responsible for launching rockets at Israeli civilian communities from Lebanon, the Gaza Strip and Syria.

The lead item after that news bulletin also included a report from Knell in which she mentioned the two fatal attacks that had taken place two days before in the Jordan Rift Valley and Tel Aviv, but without using the term terrorism.

From 08:27 Dymond introduced an interviewee by mentioning Israel’s relations with Arab nations in the region and going on:

Dymond: “The kingdom of Jordan, side-by-side with Israel and the occupied West Bank, has a particular interest in the security and stability of its neighbour. The Jordanian government warned earlier that there would be catastrophic consequences if Israel repeated the entry into the Al Aqsa mosque that it carried out on Wednesday. Jawad al Anani held numerous posts in the government of Jordan, including as foreign minister.”

Anani: “First of all there is a deep sense of obligation since this is…you know, the Al Aqsa mosque is under the patronage of the Hashemite family which is ruling Jordan and this has been going on since 1924. So in a way, you know, we see this as a continuously flagrant attack on the integrity of the mosque. So in a way Jordan, you know, does not want to escalate the situation but the response should be measure for measure, ya’ani. This is on one side.”

Anani’s mention of 1924 relates to a verbal agreement between the Supreme Muslim Council – the body in charge of Muslim community affairs in Mandatory Palestine, which had been given custodianship of Temple Mount by the British mandate authorities – and Sharif Hussein Bin Ali.

Anani went on:

Anani: “The second, most important, factor is the fact that all Muslim countries, many Christian countries even, let alone the Christian population which nobody is talking about, actually is extremely threatened. And there are continuous Israeli attempts to try to evacuate the Christian community from Jerusalem in order to show that this is a religious fight between Jews and Muslims. And this is also another escalation that should not be allowed to continue.”

The best Dymond could do to relieve listeners of the inaccurate impressions given by that politically motivated disinformation was:

Dymond: “Israel has always said, sir…Israel has always said that it is one of the protectors of the holy sites for Judaism, Christianity and Islam.”

Anani: “They can claim whatever they want but in reality they don’t. Actually, even before 1967 Jordan respected the rights of Jews to go and come to their holy places. So anyway, what kind of…what kind of respect and protection is that when they allow soldiers [sic] to [unintelligible] inside the mosque?”

Dymond likewise failed to challenge that blatant disinformation. Not only did Jordan not ‘respect’ the rights of Jews during its illegal occupation of parts of Jerusalem between 1948 and 1967, it destroyed dozens of synagogues and desecrated the ancient Mount of Olives cemetery. In direct contravention of the 1949 armistice agreements, Jordan did not permit Jews access to their holy sites or to the Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives during that period and, notably, Israeli Arabs, were also denied access to the Al Aqsa mosque on Temple Mount.

Dymond however found it appropriate at that point in the interview to move on to the topic of the “broader regional situation”, leaving BBC domestic audiences with the inaccurate impressions created by his interviewee’s unchallenged disinformation.

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  1. says: Neil C

    BBC reporters are all tarred with the same antisemitic brush. Haters of the truth, haters of history and haters of Israel and very much pro Islamic #defundthebbc

  2. I sent the following email to the BBC last Sunday.

    Dear Mr Dymond,

    I’m writing to you via The World at One because I was unable to contact you via The World This Weekend website.
    On today’s The World This Weekend (9/4/2023) you interviewed a Jordanian politician who said that when his country controlled East Jerusalem everyone was free to visit all holy places in the city. You failed to challenge that statement despite it being wholly incorrect and widely known to be incorrect. Between 1948 and 1967 Jordan would not permit Jews to visit any site holy to Jews in Jerusalem or in the West Bank. I don’t expect to hear back from you as the BBC never replies to my criticisms, but I’d be grateful if you would acquaint yourself with some basic facts about the Arab-Israeli conflict before engaging further with this issue.


    (Dr) Geoffrey Short

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