BBC slams pro-Israel Jewish lobby
The same rights do not extend to the BBC, which is publicly owned and financed by the British taxpayer, with a commitment to broadcast impartiality and factual accuracy.
His Grace has been following this story closely for the past week: The Commentator blog drew attention to the fact that the BBC’s online Olympic coverage was manifestly anti-Israel and pro-Palestine: every participating nation had its capital city listed, bar the state of Israel, which was left blank. Yet the non-state of Palestine had its capital listed as ‘East Jerusalem’. Despite Israel’s seat of government – the Knesset – being in Jerusalem, and despite a plethora of foreign embassies being located in Tel Aviv, the BBC opted to identify neither as Israel’s capital city. And yet, despite the Palestinian seat of government being in Ramallah, and despite Jerusalem not being divided, the BBC opted to carve the East away and hand it, lock, stock and barrel (Temple Mount, Western Wall and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre) to the self-proclaimed Palestinian Authority.
This was a blatant bias and factual inaccuracy. Even those who might defend the BBC with an appeal to UN declarations on the ‘international’ status of Jerusalem – contra Israel’s own assertion about its capital – are left floundering in the knowledge that any part of Jerusalem claimed by the non-state of Palestine is nothing more than self-proclamation.
Yet the BBC summarily dismissed what Israel says of and claims for Jerusalem, while validating and authenticating what Palestine says and claims of the city.
Unsurprisingly, people wrote to the BBC to complain, including the Office of the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, which wrote:
...we were astounded by the decision of the BBC to discriminate against Israel in the network’s Olympic page. For each country (and non-country) participating in the London Olympics, a special page was given on your internet site which included background information such as capital city. For each country (and non-country) apart from Israel. Jerusalem is the capital city of the state of Israel, and accordingly we request that you correct this matter immediately.The BBC acknowledged:
Due to an error which was made at the time the information was added onto the website, incorrect details and mistakes appeared on the Israeli and Palestinian team pages. This has since been rectified in line with BBC policy.And so the offending page was amended to read: ‘Seat of government: Jerusalem, though most foreign embassies are in Tel Aviv.’
Still no mention of a capital city.
The Israeli Prime Minister’s Office sent a further letter of complaint, but the BBC made it clear that this was as far as they would go.
So the Prime Minister’s Office launched a Facebook page to increase awareness and to pressure the BBC in this matter. The page description states: ‘Following the BBC's decision to omit Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel from its Olympic Games website, this is your place to support Jerusalem – the one and only Capital of Israel.’
The Mayor of Jerusalem Nir Barkat wrote: “We will not accept those who deny our history, our sovereignty, and our right to determine our own capital. Irrespective of the BBC's political agenda, Jerusalem was, is, and will always be the capital of Israel and the spiritual, political, and physical center of the Jewish people.”
The changes to the BBC’s website are inadequate: they not only constitute an overt attempt to deny and de-legitimise Israel's capital; they amount to a breach of the BBC’s own Charter which requires impartiality and factual accuracy.
His Grace is loath to ask his readers and communicants to complain to the BBC about this matter, because it appears that those who believe in and proclaim Israel’s sovereignty over its destiny and eternal capital city are held in contempt. A viewer who did complain received a response which included the distasteful line: ‘...we feel it is worth explaining that a considerable number of complaints have been generated by online lobby activity’.
Media Guido asks ‘Which “lobby” could they possibly be referring to?’
And that is an interesting question, for one never hears of the BBC complaining about the ‘online lobby activity’ of (say) Muslims or gays, lesbians, bisexuals and the transgendered...
The Jewish Chronicle appears to be in no doubt, and neither should we be.