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November 2, 2015 7:26 am

The BBC Explains Why It Cannot Report Israeli History Truthfully

avatar by Hadar Sela

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Pre-state Israel/British Mandate of Palestine, 1947. Photo: Wikipedia.

Pre-state Israel/British Mandate of Palestine, 1947. Photo: Wikipedia.

Readers no doubt recall the audio report from BBC Jerusalem Bureau staffer Kevin Connolly, which — despite including inaccurate portrayals of both Israeli and British history — was broadcast on BBC Radio 4’s “From Our Own Correspondent” on October 24.

A citizen who wrote to the BBC to complain about that report received a response that includes the following “explanations.” [all emphasis added]

I fully appreciate your concerns surrounding BBC reporting of the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians during “From Our Own Correspondent” broadcast on 24 October, 2015.

There are lots of newsworthy events happening the world over that deserve just as much time spent on them as that dedicated to the Middle East. We’ve to make difficult decisions based on the evidence and independent verification our news teams can gather in order to report on the news we do. This does lead to subjective decisions being taken on what news we report on and as is often the case the lack of reporting on any issue lays the BBC open to criticism from interested groups/supporters who accuse the BBC of deliberately failing to tell the whole story. This is never our intention.

We’re subject to ensuring our news coverage is of national interest to our domestic audience and there isn’t the time or resources available to cover every current or historical aspect of a conflict that some sections of our audience would like.

As a public service broadcaster and ingrained in our Royal Charter all journalists and news teams have a firm commitment to impartiality and we cannot be seen to be taking the word of interested groups and we always aim to verify all stories we receive before we give airtime to them. The situation in Israel and the Palestinian territories is fraught with difficulties, two sides with opposing views, each seeking to undermine the other. It is a difficult path our journalists take, they’ve to bury their emotions as much as possible to remain impartial when reporting on the attacks that take place in Israel and the Palestinian territories, and any other conflict. They come under intense pressure to report on what one side is saying but they’ve to keep a clear head and remain committed to reporting events as they happen to avoid emotional language.

I can tell you feel very strongly that the BBC has failed to properly convey the impossible situation that Israelis are in. Our only goal is to report truthfully and honestly the situation faced by both Israelis and Palestinians without bias.

Common sense would of course dictate that if indeed “there isn’t the time or resources available to cover every current or historical aspect of a conflict,” then it would be prudent to avoid featuring sloppy and inaccurate accounts that mislead the BBC’s “domestic audience” about its own (and others’) history. The “national interest” of that audience is surely not served by misrepresentation of Britain’s administration of the Mandate for Palestine, and one must also ask just how much “time or resources” are required in order for BBC correspondents to portray the well-recorded events of history accurately.

Perhaps if the BBC focused more on reporting facts rather than promoting narratives, it would find the presentation of historic events — which in this case were crucial to audience understanding of the context of a news story — far less time- and resource-consuming.

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  • Pat Mc Ginley

    Since its inception the BBC has been the main Establishment mouthpiece. Hence, it’s impossible for it to be fair and impartial. Indeed, Churchill said ‘to do so would be preposterous’. But it must give the impression of being unbiased to justify public funding.
    However, its blatant pro-Israel bias threatens to give the game away.
    Just about every excuses it gives in the above article are pathetic. e.g. the issue ‘must be of national interest’. Slaughter, genocide, war crimes by a close ally might not be of national interest? ‘Two sides with opposing views, each trying to undermine the other’? This totally and deliberately ignores the horrific reality of Israeli barbaric treatment of the most abused people on earth.
    Absolutely shameful. The BBC should be boycotted and indicted for its criminal misuse of public money to distort, censor ‘news’ and expertly disguise its right-wing agenda.

  • Were it not for English recalcitrance after WWII, when they were forced to give up the real Palestine; were it not for ingrained English anti-Semitism; were it not for the English realization that England was no longer a major factor on the international stage, and was it not for current English bitterness that England is only a toothless bit player in world events, perhaps the stark realization would face England that it is time to tell true about English sabotage of Israel.. Were it not for America, England would cease to exist.

  • Media accuracy and unbiased reporting must be enforced r3
    It seems the Media cannot regulate itself to present a true and honest reporting.
    Responsible and honest reporting has been replaced with ambiguous confusing and illusory news reports, with no regard to the consequences. Facts and sources are not properly verified and an inaccurate unsubstantiated news story gets released to the public, and that may cause substantial harm.
    Why is the Media not charged with incitement?
    Why is the Media not punished for staging a scene?
    They pay some individuals to throw stones at soldiers in order to film a reaction and sensationalize the episode with distorted fabricated reports. There are numerous staging of events by the Media that incite hatred and violence. Should the reporters and their management not be charged with incitement?
    Where is the professionalism, neutral and unbiased reporting?
    What has happened to ethics in Journalism?
    Has Social Media added a new dimension to honest reporting?
    Can we overcome distorted Social Media for accuracy?
    How can we verify instant Social Media images from being
    Can we impose responsible Social Media without affecting the freedom of speech?
    Whether we like it or not, the masses are influenced by the Media, could you imagine how children and young adults absorb the Media hype, regardless weather it is truth or illusion. The damage is long term and may not be reversible.
    Children are very impressionable, they think what they see on TV emulate real life, which we know is distorted and make believe, they carry these illusions as reality which affects their future adversely.
    The Media reporting must be neutral, unbiased, balanced, objective and impartial. Violators should be subject to fines and criminal charges if people suffer due to intentional distortion of reports or intentionally slanted news to deceive or promote favoritism that escalates into violence and or cause harm and or financial loss.
    When a Media outlet intentionally distorts and misinforms the news and events, it should forfeit the right to free speech and free press and face the music. It is a form of incitement.
    In the past decades Media outlets have expanded the creation of sensationalism to promote readership and revenues. These types of reports are many times intentionally distort the facts and true dimension of the report. Thus, it creates more unwarranted dissension and crisis that leads to violence and death.
    It seems that the Media today has no emotion, no compassion. Much of the news is choreographed for the sake of sensationalism and rating. Which comes down to increased revenues and financial gain? Society today is so hungry for money, power, instant gratification and glamour, that it crosses the line of honesty and integrity on a regular basis.
    Is there a chance of going back to honor, honesty, integrity and fighting for truth and justice the old American way?
    Can the Media Overcome false showmanship, artificial presentation and insincerity.
    Broadcasting truth and reality, thereby regaining public trust in the Media?
    This very same rebuke and standards must be applied to our elected government officials, who will promise you anything to get elected. Getting them to live up to their promises is another thing altogether.
    A change for the better must be initiated and it must start at the top.

    YJ Draiman

    P.S. “The biases the media has are much bigger than conservative or liberal. They’re about getting ratings not informing the public about the true facts; it’s about making money, about doing stories that are easy to cover and keeping us in an uproar.”

  • Reform School

    The BBC is out to swap UK sovereignty the way CAIR is doing in the United States. Its Far Left management imagines a worldwide Islamic caliphate would be a natural partner to their own goal of a socialist One World government based at the United Nations. Their drug-induced, utopian LaLaLand mindset blinding them to the realities of sharia law threatens the very people who chartered BBC as a tax-exempt public service. The BBC spins reality to such a degree its offshore transmitters at college campuses throughout the free world have indoctrinated academics for generations. A small but growing movement within the UK to NOT RENE?W its long-term public charter, up for renewal shortly.

    It is time to put the renegade, treasonous BBC to sleep.

  • LynneH

    I have gone through the BBC’s complaints system numerous times about the lack of or biased coverage on several reports over the years and have to date never had a satisfactory reply, even when you go through all the stages. They are biased, antisemitic and not fit for purpose and I sincerely hope that the Government closes them down.

  • Reform School

    Anyone who has passed an hour listening to its spinning of stories to fit its socialist One World Government agenda should understand how its international mission earned the moniker, “The BBC WHIRLED SERVICE.” Up for renewal during 2016, its singular mission to overthrow the UK government from within via gradual indoctrination, citizens of the UK trained to think critically and effectively should do all in their power to revoke that charter!

  • Robert Davis

    bbc does not give a damn for national interest they only promote their own Financial interest!

  • Mike Kushinsky

    Popular news does not inform; it simply spits back what the majority already consider the truth. It’s like gazing into a mirror and validating that you still exist (in some form). Only a keen skeptic can identify the hidden bias in news stories, and the less often one looks at the news, the greater his ability to maintain that objectivity.

  • VictorMc

    Looks like every response I have ever received from the BBC to my complaints over many many years and many different subjects.
    I am convinced they are out of a complaints response book written by chimpanzees.

  • Sharon Klaff

    The sloppy language of the excuse is indicative of the sloppy attitude of the BBC’s journalists and editors. It is incredulous that the BBC can send out a letter that is convoluted and grammatically wanting as is this one.

  • Deena

    The BBC is wastes masses amounts of money each year,so pretty surprising they don’t have enough money. They are the only station without advertisements on their TV channels. The BBC is completely state funded by the tax payer’s TV licensing fee. They are an anti semitic, anti Israel propaganda station.

  • I have written to the BBC many times to complain. The BBC NEVER make a mistake or do anything wrong. They are infallible, even more than the Pope. Don’t waste your time sending them a complaint.

  • SteveHC

    Every news reporting organization – including those that broadcast, such as the BBC – always reflect to at least sine degree the sentiments and world view of the country and society that they hail from. BBC News is no exception.

  • Instead of giving excuses, why doesn’t BBC just say if they tell the truth they won’t make any money. What is the price for your soul BBC?

  • Ostensible fairness is a fraud under BBC’s circumstances.
    They know full well that as the new Labour Chairman Corbyn is a known anti-Jewish, anti-Israel advocate given their ideology (BBC) it’s only natural for them to be lapdogs for the Arab propaganda machine which is as successful as Obama’s transformative effort has been in the U.S. to uproot historic American ideology and attitudes and render the blend we have of political correctness and pro-Islamic ideology as part of the drive to nullify Western Civilization — see Europe becoming Islamic by the day.

  • I don’t believe that the UK ever wanted to give up the Mandate in Palestine. I spent many months in the recently unrestricted Ralph Bunche papers from his UN stint as Acting Mediator after the Bernadotte assassination. I wrote a blog about my overall analysis here: The article has links to an earlier blog on Bunche’s career in the UN. This is all original research and has not been published except on my website.

  • Jeffrey Zucker

    Isn’t it true with most news media including BBC and NYT among others that the story is more important than truth.

  • brenrod

    Since the inception of BBC arabic, the BBC must satisfy those tens of millions of viewers. They will not subscribe to a news channel which does not tow the line and blame Israel for everything. BBC needs those viewers to exist economically, hence they are willing to twist the truth, intentionally.

    • This is the real reason for the British media’s misrepresentation of the facts : ” My kingdom for Burak…”

    • Ellenl

      Sorry, but the BBC, nor any other news reporting agency, is not required to satisfy anyone. They are only required to report the news–not create it. When a reporting agency is found to be creating news, they should be roundly and openly criticized and brought to the light of day so that no one will rely upon their so-called reporting as being newsworthy.

    • Tzvi Berkson

      Good point Brenrod. I can totally buy the financial motivation angle.

    • Jeremy Zeid

      Absolute ROT. No they don’t. The BBC is State funded via a compulsory TV tax. Any commercial considerations are purely incidental. The BBC has been infested with hard left apologists for decades. Most of the reportage and editorial staff are so far up the Arab’s arses you can barely see the soles of their feet. The culture is as deeply engrained in the vile and egregious Foreign Orifice.

  • Chris Rettenmoser

    The BBC is an antisemitic propaganda organisation.

    • benny salomon salz


    • Janet Clare

      Now, there’s the truth we were looking for.

    • isahiah62

      Jeremy got it right here-
      Bloviating Brit Chav’s are just run of the mill lefties/labor/Muslim mouthpieces aka jewhaters & Muslim apologists