BBC Radio 4 platforms pernicious parity from Mustafa Barghouti

The November 22nd edition of BBC Radio 4’s ‘Today’ programme included several items relating to the deal to free some of the hostages kidnapped by Hamas on October 7th.

One of those items was an interview with Mustafa Barghouti (from 2:41:32 here).

Given that Barghouti is a frequent contributor to BBC content, one would have expected presenter Martha Kearney to have been much better prepared to challenge his lies and distortions in real time. That, however, was not the case.

Barghouti’s main aim in this interview was to promote the pernicious notion of parity between the women and children kidnapped by Hamas and females and minors held by Israel due to their having committed crimes involving violence, terrorism or terror related activities. Throughout the interview he deliberately used the word ‘prisoners’ to describe both Israeli hostages and Palestinians arrested by Israel. [emphasis in italics in the original, emphasis in bold added]

Barghouti: “I’m very happy that the Israeli prisoners would come back safe – at least 50 of them – as well as 150 Palestinian prisoners. And these are not just any prisoners. I mean the Palestinians are children and women…”

Barghouti went on to refer to an “exchange of prisoners” which he claimed serves as “reminding the world that there are also Palestinian children and women held as hostages in Israeli jails.”

Kearney then asked a question which indicates that she was entirely aware of Barghouti’s semantics:

Kearney: “…would you urge Hamas to release more hostages – I know that you’re calling them prisoners, but hostages – in coming days…?”

Barghouti: “No, I’m ready to use the word hostage on both sides but you can’t call the Israelis hostages and the Palestinians prisoners. I mean both of them are women and children and the same rule should apply to both.”

Following Barghouti’s claim that all the Israeli hostages held in the Gaza Strip could be released if Israel were to agree to release all the Palestinian security prisoners, including those “who have been in Israeli jails for 44 years”, Kearney made the unnecessarily qualified observation that “many of them, the Israeli government would argue, have committed serious crimes”.

Barghouti responded with a lie that went completely unchallenged by Kearney:

Barghouti: “The Israeli also soldiers committed horrible crimes, killing fourteen thousand Palestinian children so far in this war alone.”

At no point throughout the four-minute interview did Kearney bother to inform Radio 4 listeners that the people (some of whom belong to terrorist organisations including Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad) blandly presented as “Palestinian women and children” by Barghouti who may be released under the terms of the deal were imprisoned because they committed crimes such as stabbing a mother of five in front of her children, stabbing a passer-by in Jerusalem, shooting two civilians and attempting to stab a policeman.

Obviously the BBC is perfectly happy to continue to provide a challenge-free platform for Mustafa Barghouti’s entirely predictable terrorism-washing falsehoods, distortions and politically motivated framing under the guise of “news and current affairs” despite the fact that his ‘contributions’ in no way “build people’s understanding” of the topic concerned.

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