BBC News website runs ‘bombing babies’ headlines on day of UK demonstrations

Last Wednesday the Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA) held an event with two senior BBC executives at a London synagogue. The Jewish Chronicle’s November 10th report on that Q&A with Rhodri Talfan Davies (Director of Nations at the BBC) and David Jordan (Director, Editorial Policy and Standards) includes the following:

“A senior BBC executive has admitted that errors in its news coverage of the Israel could endanger British Jews – but insisted such mistakes were inevitable because of the “fog of war”. […]

Davies said he realised that since the October 7 atrocities, “the fear factor for the Jewish community is significant”, citing police figures suggesting that antisemitic incidents have soared.”

The JC’s report also includes the following:

“At times, the atmosphere grew heated, with members of the audience claiming that the BBC was “institutionally antisemitic” – a claim that the two executives vehemently denied.  

“I can accept the criticisms that have been made about our news coverage,” Jordan said.

“But the idea that the BBC anyway endorses or has antisemitism at its core? I just can’t agree.””

Less than three days after that event in London, the lead headlines on the BBC News website’s ‘World’, ‘Europe’ and ‘Middle East’ pages on the morning of November 11th read as follows:

The links on those various pages lead to a report headlined ‘Macron calls on Israel to stop killing Gaza’s women and babies’ which is credited to Katya Adler & Toby Luckhurst. Readers may recall Adler’s problematic reporting on the IDF in 2009 during a stint in the Middle East.

An additional report appeared in the ‘updates’ section of the ‘Middle East’ page – credited to the BBC’s Europe editor Katya Adler alone and tagged ‘Russia-Ukraine war’ – under the headline ‘Macron condemns rising antisemitism and Israeli bombing of civilians’.

On the same morning, the ‘Watch/Listen’ section of the ‘Middle East’ page included a filmed report titled ‘France’s Macron urges Israel to stop killing Gaza’s women and children’.

Clearly someone at the BBC News website was very keen to mainstream and spread the notion that Israel kills babies – despite the obvious issues arising from promotion of that version of a classic antisemitic theme.

The report by Adler and Luckhurst opens thus:

“Israel must stop killing babies and women in Gaza, French President Emmanuel Macron has told the BBC.”

The BBC’s reporters fail to inform readers in their own words that Israel does not ‘kill’ or ‘bomb’ civilians of any age or gender deliberately. Only in paragraph eight do readers find the following ‘Israel says’ statement:

“Israel says it attacks military targets in line with international law and takes steps to reduce civilian casualties, like issuing warnings ahead of strikes and calling on people to evacuate.”

Later in their report, Adler and Luckhurst present the following description of the Hamas atrocities which sparked the current conflict:

“…Mr Macron said France “clearly condemns” Hamas’s attacks on Israel on 7 October which sparked the war. Hamas gunmen killed about 1,200 people and took 240 others hostage in its unprecedented cross-border assault it launched that day.”

Notably, their dry portrayal does not inform BBC audiences how many of the 1,200 “people” slaughtered by Hamas terrorists were babies, children or women. Their reference to the “240 others” taken hostage also fails to clarify that over thirty are children or babies, at least ten are senior citizens and many are women.

Adler and Luckhurst also completely fail to mention that Hamas and other terrorist organisations operating in the Gaza Strip are still targeting Israeli babies, children and women every day with missiles – as they have been doing for five consecutive weeks – or that five weeks on, Israeli authorities have still not managed to complete the process of identifying all the dead. 

While Macron’s calls for a ceasefire are noted several times in the report by Adler and Luckhurst, no attempt is made to clarify to readers how a ceasefire would supposedly “get rid of terrorism” or bring about the release of the hostages.

“We do share [Israel’s] pain. And we do share their willingness to get rid of terrorism. We know what terrorism means in France.” But he [Macron] said there was “no justification” for the ongoing bombing of civilians in Gaza.”

In the report credited to Katya Adler, readers are told that:

“On a number of occasions he [Macron] listed the women, the babies, the old people in Gaza who, he said, had nothing to do with terror attacks, being killed in bombings by Israel. He insisted there was no justification for that and the bombing campaigns must stop. Palestinian lives matter, he said, humanitarian law must be respected.”

However readers find only references to “people” and “others” in Adler’s portrayal of the atrocities perpetrated against Israelis by Hamas that are the reason for the current war:

“Mr Macron also spoke with empathy for Israel following the Hamas massacre of about 1,200 people, mainly civilians, and the hostage-taking of more than 220 others, including French citizens, just over a month ago.”

Once again, the continued rocket attacks against Israeli civilians were apparently not newsworthy enough for Adler and although she repeatedly referred to Macron’s calls for a ceasefire, yet again no explanation was provided as to how that proposal is supposed to resolve the issue of a terrorist organisation committed to Israel’s destruction or bring about the release of the hostages, including those French citizens.

Notably, part of the interview in which Macron spoke about the French citizens murdered in Hamas’ rampage and those still held hostage by terrorist organisations in the Gaza Strip appears to have been edited out of the filmed report posted on the BBC News website – and apparently from televised versions too.

There are of course many headlines which the BBC could have used to promote Katya Adler’s interview with the French president – with ‘Macron calls for ceasefire’ being perhaps the most obvious. However as we see, in its three reports and their related promotion on the BBC News website, the BBC chose instead to present Israel as the indiscriminate killer of babies, children and women.  

Rhodri Talfan Davies and David Jordan now have ‘hot off the press’ examples of how irresponsible BBC reporting – notably not covered by the “fog of war” excuse cited by Davies and even promoted on the very day that UK authorities were expecting mass demonstrations – can endanger British Jews.

Update:

Related Articles:

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