BBC WS radio’s ‘The History Hour’ recycles 2017 inaccuracy

Previously we looked at five editions of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Witness History’ which were aired between September 11th and September 15th to mark the 30th anniversary of the Oslo Accords:

BBC WS RADIO’S ‘WITNESS HISTORY’ DOES OSLO ACCORDS WEEK

On September 16th BBC World Service radio chose to re-promote all those five programmes in an episode of its programme ‘The History Hour’ titled “Israeli and Palestinian history” which was subsequently repeated on September 18th and 19th.

“Max Pearson presents a collection of this week’s Witness History episodes from the BBC World Service.

It’s thirty years since the Oslo Accords were signed. This agreement in 1993 aimed to bring about peace between the Israelis and Palestinians. So this week, we’re bringing you stories from Israeli and Palestinian history.

We hear about attempts at peace – the secret talks behind the Oslo Accords, and President Bill Clinton’s failed attempt to end the conflict at Camp David.

Plus, one of the most dramatic sieges of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that took place in a church.

We also hear from a Palestinian and an Israeli who were there when rioting broke out in 2000, after the Israeli opposition leader, Ariel Sharon, made a visit to the al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

And finally a hope of peace with the orchestra, made up of young people from both sides of the conflict, which performed a concert in the Palestinian city of Ramallah.”

Introducing the episode about Camp David, Max Pearson tells listeners to the programme – which will be available online for over a year – that: [emphasis added]

“There was first talk of creating a Jewish state on the lands in the Middle East way back at the end of the nineteenth century but Israel only came into being in 1948 following the atrocities inflicted on Jews in the Second World War. Its borders were drawn on previously Palestinian lands and, following the Six Day War in 1967, Israel has occupied the area known as the West Bank, which had been designated by the UN for the Palestinians. So no surprise then that this has become one of the longest-running conflicts in the world.”

Readers may recall that six years ago, the same programme made a similar claim about Israel having been “carved…out of land which had belonged to the Palestinians” in the introduction to that same episode about Camp David.

That inaccurate claim was the subject of complaints which resulted in the removal of that edition of ‘The History Hour’. The reply we received on September 11th 2017 included the following:

Thank you for your email.  I am sorry you feel that the edition of the History Hour that went out on August 7th, was factually incorrect against Israel.  That was certainly not our intent – and I am very sorry that you got that impression. I have listened again to the programme and can see that the assertion that Israel was ‘carved out of land which had belonged to Palestinians’ should have been worded differently. I have spoken to the presenter to make sure we are more careful with our language in future. 

The presenter of that 2017 programme was none other than the same Max Pearson who this time around not only repeated that inaccurate claim but failed to clarify to listeners that the terminology “the West Bank” was invented by the Jordanians after their illegal invasion of the area in 1948 and that the 1947 UN Partition Plan – which is apparently the basis for his claim that the area was “designated by the UN for the Palestinians” – was rejected by the Arabs and therefore its recommendations were never implemented.

CAMERA UK has submitted a complaint concerning Pearson’s misleading claims.

Later in the programme (from 19:10) listeners hear a contribution from the BBC Jerusalem bureau’s Yolande Knell who tells listeners that “the Oslo process” was built “on UN Security Council resolutions to fulfill the right of the Palestinians to self-determination”.

As we pointed out when Knell made similar claims in an article published three days earlier on the BBC News website,  the Oslo Accords in fact make no mention of the two-state solution or a Palestinian state. They certainly did not dictate that the end-product of negotiations would be “an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel in the West Bank, Gaza Strip with East Jerusalem as its capital” as Knell later portrays the PLO’s Oslo days aspirations.

As in her written article, Knell claims that the PLO “renounced terrorism” without mentioning the fact that terrorists from PLO member organisations continued to carry out attacks against Israelis in the years immediately following the signing of the Oslo Accords, during the second Intifada and to this day. Palestinian terrorist organisations belonging to factions which are not party to the PLO such as Hamas are again absent from Knell’s portrayal, despite the effects of their actions on the outcomes of the Oslo Accords.

Knell tells BBC audiences that the PLO “recognised the State of Israel” and (inaccurately implying that the Palestinians had some sort of prior claim) that it no longer wanted to “reclaim all of the land of mandatory Palestine”. Once again Knell fails to clarify that the Palestinians continue to reject Israel’s right to exist as the Jewish state and makes no attempt to explain that Palestinian factions including Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad have not given up on the idea of taking the entire territory.

Again erasing the Palestinian terrorism in the years that followed the signing of the Oslo Accords, Knell recycles a myth long promoted by the BBC concerning Ariel Sharon’s pre-coordinated visit to what – using PLO approved terminology – she describes as “the al Aqsa Mosque compound”.

Knell: “…the collapse of peace talks at Camp David in 2000 was followed by really a lot of Palestinian anger when the opposition leader of Israel at the time visited Jerusalem’s most sensitive holy site: the al Aqsa Mosque compound, known to Jews as Temple Mount.”

She goes on to claim that Sharon’s visit “led to lots of protests and not long afterwards the deadly violence of the second Palestinian intifada or uprising” before stating:

Knell: “And you can say really that’s what left the peace process in tatters. It strengthened the hawkish Israeli Right-wing.”

While it may come as no surprise to find Yolande Knell once again promoting one-sided accounts concerning the Oslo Accords and later attempts at negotiations (such as the one she again claims “fell apart” in 2014 without clarifying that those talks ended because the Palestinian side announced a reconciliation deal between Fatah and Hamas), it is of course disturbing to see such politically motivated narratives presented as “Israeli and Palestinian history” in content broadcast to audiences around the world.

Related Articles:

BBC WS HISTORY SHOW CLAIMS ISRAEL ‘CARVED OUT OF PALESTINIAN LAND’

BBC WS ACKNOWLEDGES INACCURATE CLAIM IN HISTORY SHOW

WHY DOES THE BBC TRUST’S ESC PRETEND THAT THE 1947 PARTITION PLAN IS A THING?

THE FCDO, THE BBC AND ISRAEL’S CAPITAL

BBC’S KNELL GIVES A NARRATIVE DRIVEN PORTRAYAL OF THE OSLO ACCORDS

BBC WS RADIO’S ‘WITNESS HISTORY’ DOES OSLO ACCORDS WEEK

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1 Comment

  1. says: Neil C

    The BBC never learn, they are repeatedly trying to change the history of the region in favour of the Palestinians, ignoring the real facts and spoon feeding worldwide audiences with their own distorted view of events that took place at the end of WW1. The San Remo Conference of 1920 organised by the UN forerunner The League of Nations, which the BBC constantly try to bury, by ignoring the fact that any conference took place, determined that the whole of the British Mandate should be given to the Jewish Nation. At the end of the day Israel was granted only 23% of that land following 25 years of arguments and Arab attacks, but unlike the Palestinians Israel grabbed it with both hands. Since that time repeated attempts by surrounding Arab countries have failed the achieve the ethnic cleansing of Jews from the region that they desire. #defundthebbc

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