BBC impartiality compromised by reporting on UK demonstrations

On November 3rd the BBC News website published a handy guide for those protesting against Israel under the title ‘Israel-Gaza war: Your common questions on showing support’.

Credited to Yasmin Rufo of BBC London, the aim of that item was portrayed as follows:

Over the past two weekends, tens of thousands of people have attended pro-Palestinian marches in London.

The BBC has been answering your questions about what your rights are when it comes to protesting and showing support.”

Not long after the appearance of that item, UK Lawyers for Israel contacted the BBC to point out its inaccuracies.

“It purports to be a helpful guide for people unsure of the laws around protests. However, it contains some serious inaccuracies and far from helping people to avoid committing offences, it risks encouraging people to break the law.

UKLFI has complained to the BBC about their guide, pointing out inaccuracies. […]

Jonathan Turner, chief executive of UK Lawyers for Israel, said: “It is very unsatisfactory that the BBC is encouraging unlawful conduct, particularly in this highly sensitive context. It also gives the appearance that BBC journalists are keen to encourage demonstrations hostile to Israel and adds to concerns that the BBC is fundamentally biased against Israel.”

On November 9th the BBC News website published another, longer, report by Yasmin Rufo at the same URL under the headline ‘When can protesting over the Gaza war be illegal in the UK?’.

A report by Dominic Casciani which appeared on the BBC News website’s ‘UK’ page on November 9th under the headline ‘Why Suella Braverman can’t stop Palestinian protests’ included an appeal for those planning to participate in the anti-Israel demonstrations on November 11th to contact the BBC.

On November 10th an uncredited report titled ‘Where will Scotland’s pro-Palestinian demos be held on Armistice Day?’ was published on the BBC News website’s ‘Scotland’ page.

That item also includes information intended to aid anti-Israel protesters:

Notably, the report makes no effort to inform readers about the records of the people and organisations behind those demonstrations. 

Marches are being organised by the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, an affiliate of the Scotland-wide Gaza Genocide Emergency Committee. […]

Protests are scheduled for Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Dundee and Forres in Moray.

In Edinburgh, a short Armistice Day service is expected to start at 10:52 on Saturday in Princes Street Gardens. There will be two-minute silence at 11:00.

A pro-Palestinian protest is scheduled on nearby Waverley Bridge at 12:00.”

So as we see, in the days before the November 11th anti-Israel demonstrations, the BBC News website had already provided potential protesters with a handy guide to their legal rights and given its Scottish audiences details of events organised by anti-Israel activists – but without informing them that the recently formed and offensively and inaccurately named “Gaza Genocide Emergency Committee” includes organisations with links to Hamas such as ‘Friends of Al Aqsa’ as well as controversial groups such as the SACC MEND and ‘Palestine Action‘. 

The BBC News website’s reporting on the November 11th demonstrations themselves was mostly found in a written report titled ‘Rishi Sunak condemns criminality on day of protests in London’ which focused on events in Britain’s capital.

“Rishi Sunak has condemned “violent, wholly unacceptable” actions by far-right groups and “Hamas sympathisers” after protests and clashes in London.

About 300,000 pro-Palestinian protesters marched to call for a ceasefire, in the biggest UK rally since the Israel-Gaza war began. […]

BBC reporters at the protest said the rally appeared largely peaceful. […]

On the pro-Palestinian march, chants of “free Palestine” and “ceasefire now” could be heard as crowds began marching from London’s Hyde Park.”

Apparently those “BBC reporters at the protest” somehow happened to miss the calls for “death to all Jews” and the annihilation of Israel, the praise for Hitler, the antisemitic chants, slogans and imagery, the presence of Hamas supporters and the antisemitic pamphlets.

Towards the end of the BBC’s report readers find a vague account of part of a statement from the Metropolitan Police:

“The Met was also looking for three individuals it suspects of antisemitic hate crimes during Saturday’s protest.

One shows a woman carrying a placard on which the Jewish symbol, the star of David, is shown to incorporate a Swastika.

Two other men are shown in photographs apparently taken during the march.”

The BBC refrained from informing its readers that the “two other men” were wearing Hamas-style headbands and failed to mention that the police are also looking for a woman who carried a racist placard as well as others.

The BBC’s written report also fails to mention the use of fireworks by protestors or the intimidation of Jewish families leaving a synagogue.

In addition, the BBC News website published filmed reports titled ‘Michael Gove surrounded by pro-Palestinian protestors shouting ‘shame on you’’ and ‘Massive crowds in London demand ceasefire’.

BBC audiences have of course long been used to seeing the BBC downplay antisemitism at anti-Israel demonstrations in the UK:

HOW DID BBC NEWS COVER THIS SUMMER’S ANTI-ISRAEL DEMONSTRATIONS IN THE UK?

BBC NEWS CONTINUES TO IGNORE ANTISEMITISM AT UK ‘PRO-PALESTINIAN’ RALLIES

What is different this time, however, is that the BBC is no longer confining itself to denying its audiences information crucial to their understanding of the real agendas and motivations of such anti-Israel protests. Now BBC audiences are seeing the corporation has chosen to take an active stance by whitewashing an antisemitic slogan, offering advice to anti-Israel protesters on their legal rights and advertising the times and locations of anti-Israel demonstrations.

The BBC really does seem to be determined to compromise whatever is left of its reputation as an ‘impartial’ broadcaster.

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