BBC News again airbrushes extremism in reports on anti-Israel protests

On December 7th four very similar reports about anti-Israel protests in the UK were published on UK regional pages of the BBC News website, three of which also appeared on the website’s ‘Middle East’ page.

Most of those reports follow a similar template which includes uncritical amplification of unverified claims made by the protesters, unchallenged quotes from mostly inadequately identified participants and links to reports about additional protests in other locations. [emphasis added]

1) ‘Gaza protesters blockade aerospace firm in Dorset’ (Dorset page)

“The Workers for a Free Palestine group protested at the entrances to Eaton Mission Systems in Wimborne.

The factory makes air-to-air refuelling systems which the group says are used by the Israeli military.”

“Other demonstrations are also being held at defence factories in BrightonLancashire and at BAE Govan, Glasgow.”

“Protesters were seen holding a banner saying: “Weapons made here kill in Gaza.”

Mesh, a junior doctor who did not want to give his surname, said: “I felt compelled as a health worker to stand in solidarity with healthcare workers in Gaza… by trying to stop the UK arming of Israel.”

Emergency department doctor, Harriet, who also did not want to give her surname, said: “It’s heartbreaking, we feel helpless as a profession.

“We come to work every day and you can see people becoming more and more broken by it.””

In an interview with another media outlet, the same “junior doctor” quoted by the BBC compared Israel to cancer and promoted baseless accusations of ‘ethnic cleansing’ and ‘occupation of Palestine’.

“Mesh, a doctor speaking on behalf of Health Workers for a Free Palestine, which is taking part in the blockades, said: ‘As healthcare workers, we are tired of mourning the deaths of our colleagues — fellow nurses, doctors, dentists, medical students and other health workers — along with all of the Palestinians massacred by the Israeli regime. We stand here ashamed that the weapons used in the ongoing ethnic cleansing of Palestine are partly made on our own doorstep.’

‘Our government could only bring itself to advocate for a temporary pause in these atrocities. Israel has now resumed its violence: turning hospitals into graveyards, using equipment manufactured in this very factory. As health workers, we have a moral responsibility to act and we will not rest until the occupation ends. We cannot simply worry about the disease when the root cause is clear. Just as smoking causes lung cancer, so the Israeli occupation of Palestine causes untold death and destruction in the region.’”

2) ‘Pro-Palestinian protesters blockade Brighton factory’ by Hamish Mureddu-Reid (Sussex page) tagged ‘Israel-Gaza war’

“The Workers for a Free Palestine group is targeting four factories in the UK which it says supply components for arms used by Israeli forces.”

“Protests are taking place at Eaton Mission Systems in BournemouthBAE Systems at Samlesbury Aerodome in Lancashire and BAE Systems at Govern in Glasgow.

The Workers for a Free Palestine group also says similar action is also taking place on Thursday in France, Denmark and The Netherlands.”

3) ‘Gaza protesters block BAE Systems aerospace factory in Lancashire’ by Paul O’Gorman & Ewan Gawne (Lancashire page)

“Protesters have blocked an aerospace factory to call against the production of fighter jets which they say are being used in the Israel-Gaza war.

Workers for a Free Palestine gathered outside BAE Systems in Samlesbury, Lancashire.

Similar protests have been held at BAE in GlasgowWimborne and Brighton.”

“Cameron Stocks from Manchester was one of those who arrived at about 07:00 GMT for the protest.

He said they were opposed to the production of the F-35 fighter jet parts at the Lancashire factory, which he believed was being used by the Israeli military in Gaza.”

4) ‘Gaza protesters block BAE Systems shipyard in Glasgow’ by Auryn Cox (Glasgow & West page) tagged ‘Israel-Gaza war’

“Campaigners have staged a blockade at the BAE Systems shipyard in Glasgow in opposition to its ties to Israel.

The protest at the entrances to the defence firm’s site in Govan has been organised by a local group alongside Workers for a Free Palestine.

The campaign group said it had also blockaded defence factories in DorsetBrighton and Lancashire.”

“Workers for a Free Palestine said BAE Systems produces components of weapons sold to Israel – including the F35 combat aircraft and the Mk 38 Mod 2 machine gun.”

“Protester Bint Sanna, who did not want to give her real name, told BBC Scotland News the group wanted to “put a stop to UK government support for Israel”.

She added: “They are supporting them to commit genocide to kill thousands of innocent children, thousands of innocent women and men and destroying homes.”

Another campaigner, Hex, said he travelled from Edinburgh to attend after a call to action from Palestinian trade unions.

He said: “While we can shut down this door and we can prevent the factory from running for a day, it’s really the guys in there that have the real power.”

Protester Oli said the group was not targeting yard workers with the action.”

Notably, the woman who “did not want to give her real name” was apparently less concerned about having her photograph used in this report.

The BBC’s guidance on anonymity includes the following:

“Granting anonymity is not ideal for programme makers or for our audiences.  Sources and contributors should speak on the record whenever practicable and their identities and credentials made known to the audience so that they can judge the source’s credibility, reliability and whether or not they are in a position to have sufficient knowledge of the subject or events.”

Clearly those concerns did not trouble the BBC journalists who uncritically amplified allegations and accusations – including ‘genocide’ – from contributors whose only “credentials” were having turned up to a protest.

Remarkably, although all four of the BBC’s reports identify the group that organised those protests as ‘Workers for a Free Palestine’, no effort is made in any of them to inform readers of the origins and agenda of that fairly recently formed group, which previously organised events on October 26th and on November 10th in Kent, with the latter having been reported on the BBC News website.

Following that November 10th protest, the ‘Workers for a Free Palestine’ group described itself as having been formed in response to calls from Palestinian trade unions, including the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate.

“In the wake of the genocidal bombardment of Palestinians in Gaza by the Israeli occupying forces and violence across historic Palestine, Palestinian trade unions issued a call to workers across the globe. They asked for a shutdown of sections of the arms industry involved in sending weapons to Israel. Inspired by previous worker struggles that prevented the shipment of arms to Chile during Augusto Pinochet’s coup and South Africa during apartheid, we have heeded the call from our comrades in Palestine.”

BBC audiences were not informed which British trade unions are party to the group:

“Workers for a Free Palestine comprises workers active in major British trade unions including Unite, Unison; GMB; the National Education Union; the British Medical Association; the University and College Union; the Broadcasting, Entertainment, Communications and Theatre Union; The Bakers, Food and Allied Workers’ Union; and the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain, alongside housing organizers and student activists.”

Neither were they told anything about that group’s use of hateful rhetoric, baseless accusations and historically inaccurate propaganda:

“We are workers who have come together to stop the flow of arms that fuel the Israeli war machine. Weapons produced in Britain’s factories and supported by British institutions enable the Israel Defense Forces to kill Palestinians every day — we believe that we in Britain have a special duty, as residents of the metropole, to actively resist the genocide and ethnic cleansing of Palestine.” […]

“In the 1917 Balfour Declaration, Britain laid the foundations for the mass killings, dispossession, and displacement of Palestinians during the 1948 Nakba perpetrated by British-supported Zionist militias. This colonial legacy reverberates today as Britain aids and abets a second Nakba.” […]

“Workers for a Free Palestine is inspired by our Palestinian brothers and sisters who remain steadfast in their refusal to let Israel complete the colonization of historic Palestine. We honor the over ten thousand Palestinian martyrs who have been killed in the past month, and the over ten thousand Palestinians thrown into Israeli prisons for the simple crime of existing as Palestinians.”

This of course is far from the first time that the BBC has reported on anti-Israel protests in the UK without providing even the most basic information about the ideologies and political aims of extremist groups such as ‘Palestine Action’.

Nevertheless, even in the current climate of rising antisemitism in the UK, the BBC once again chose to airbrush extremism and hinder audience understanding by failing to provide the full range of information about the real agenda of the group behind political stunts that were the topic of no fewer than four reports on one day alone, while providing uncritical amplification for baseless allegations such as ‘genocide’.

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2 Comments

  1. says: Grimey

    The Antisemites’ Club – IPC (aka BBC), CNN, The Grauniad, the Indy, the UN, Amnesty Intnl, recently-joined Private Eye and lots of other ignorant media should get it into their thick heads that the more that they spout their anti-Israel message, the more they demonstrate the need for Israel to exist. It’s as simple as that.

  2. says: Neil C

    Any protester who wears a mask like a Hamas terrorist is just an extreme Islamist whose sole purpose is to support a proscribed organisation and further the Islamic takeover of Western democracies. For some reason the BBC many years ago decided it wished to side with Islam, an ideology that will take us back 1400 years. The government needs to proscribe the IRGC to rid the country this Iranian takeover bid #defundthebbc

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