Once Again BBC Changes a Headline to Conform to Israeli Government Demand
Once Again BBC Changes a Headline to Conform to Israeli Government Demand
Murder of a Hospital Visitor by Israeli Death squad is Changed to Arrest of
Brighton PSC Demonstration outside Radio Sussex
Even a child realises the truth!
Before (left) and after: a BBC headline was changed to obscure the fact Israeli killed a Palestinian in cold blood. (Screenshots by Media Lens)
November, an Israeli death squad entered Hebron hospital disguised as a
pregnant Palestinian woman in a wheelchair and accompanied by minders. They brandished weapons threatening medical
staff and doctors and seized a ‘suspect’ from the hospital.
Demonstration outside Radio Sussex
the process a cousin of the patient, who was unarmed and had just come out of the
bathroom, was gunned down and killed. No
attempt was made to save him and the killers left him where he was. The lie was broadcast, which the BBC of
course lapped up, that he had attacked a heavily armed military squad. Unlikely in the circumstances.
Hospital Visitor Gunned Down by Israeli Death Squad
death squad then made away with their kidnap victim.
the article below from Electronic Intifada shows, the BBC in a rare example of reporting an Israeli atrocity covered the
story with a headline“Israelis shoot dead Palestinian in
Hebron hospital raid.”.
However this was too near the truth for the Israeli government’s liking and
so the headline was changed later in the day, after Israel exerted pressure no
doubt, to “Israelis
in disguise raid Hebron hospital, seizing suspect.”. The emphasis therefore changed from the
murder of an unarmed Palestinian visiting a relative in hospital to ‘Israelis
in disguise’ [Father Xmas?] raiding a hospital in order to arrest a suspect.
Doctors and staff at Makassed hospital protest at attack on hospital
Here is a major
story on an Israeli atrocity and a breach of international law.
What is the BBC response? It didn’t
cover it in its news broadcasts of course but even in the obscurity of the web
it changed the headline to emphasise that it was a ‘suspect’ was was arrested, as
if there is any chance that he will receive a fair trial under military law.
Israeli attacks on media in Occupied Territories – using pepper at journalists – not something the BBC ever covers
heading ‘Palestinian shot dead after Jerusalem attack kills two’ was changed,
three times under Israeli pressure, to ‘Jerusalem: Palestinian kills 2 Israelis in Old City’.
In a story Israel
raps BBC for ‘unethical’ terror attack headline The Times of Israel reported that ‘A harshly-worded
letter was sent to Richard Palmer, the head of the BBC bureau in Israel, by the
head of the GPO after the British network initially published a headline that
read “Palestinian shot dead after Jerusalem attack kills two.”
The BBC’s offence was
that the report referred to the two Israeli victims ‘in a passive voice and neglected to mention that the Palestinian
casualty — Muhannad Halabi, 19 — was shot by police at the scene of the deadly
attack, was widely condemned in Israel.’
Demonstration in Queens Road Brighton outside BBC Radio Sussex
Naturally the BBC
rushed to accommodate the Israeli Ministry of Propaganda’s desires but ‘head of
the GPO [General Propaganda Office] Nitzan Hen told [the BBC’s Head of Bureau
in Jerusalem] Palmer in the letter that the BBC’s efforts were “far
from satisfactory.” The Times reports how
Brighton PSC Demonstration
‘Hen charged that the
BBC coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was “unethical” and
could serve to incite more violence against Israelis.
Officials in both the
GPO and the Israeli Embassy in London asked the network to change the headline
and it was changed at least three times, but each time to a phrase that did not
accurately reflect the events of Saturday’s attack, the Hebrew language NRG
The BBC responded by
accepting that it’s headline wasn’t pro-Israeli enough. The BBC“identified that the headline
didn’t accurately reflect the events, nor the details reported in our online
story, so changed it of our own accord.”
‘According to a GPO official, Israel expects an
official apology from the network, and said the office was considering
annulling the press cards of BBC journalists.’
You might now expect
the BBC, which is not know for possessing a spine, would call a halt to this
self abasement and tell the Israeli Propaganda Office where to get off. Any self-respecting news agency would take
umbrage at this threat and defy Israel to do its worst. After all that is what
happened in Zimbabwe. The BBC wouldn’t
comply with Mugabe’s dictates and it had to report covertly or from South
Africa. But of course in Zimbabwe, the British government
was at loggerheads with Robert Mugabe.
In Israel the British government is all over Netanyahu.
The Times of Israel, in the best traditions of
neutral Israeli journalism, reported that ‘The [BBC] network, which has a long
history of alleged anti-Israel bias, claimed in its defense that the headline
in question was written by a junior editor and was not the result of an
What the Times of Israel means by anti-Israel bias is not jumping
quick enough when the Zionists kick up a fuss.
the early hours of 12 November, approximately two dozen Israeli gunmen,
one disguised as a pregnant Palestinian woman, others wearing fake beards, invaded a hospital in Hebron and
gunned down a 28-year-old man.
a rare burst of reporting on an Israeli atrocity, the BBC ran an article on its
website headlined: “Israelis shoot dead Palestinian in Hebron hospital raid.”
is standard practice for the BBC, the amendment was not noted at the bottom of
the page, so newcomers to the story would not have known the headline had been
was spotted, however, by the watchdog Media Lens, which posted a
screengrab of the two headlines on its Facebook page, asking:
“What happened? Pro-Israeli flak? Bending to pro-Israeli pressure?”
questions are even more pertinent in the light of a documented exchange which
took place between the BBC, the Israeli Government Press Office (GPO) and the
Israeli embassy in London at the beginning of October about another of the
headline is factually correct, but offense was caused to Israel’s PR machine
because the killing of 19-year-old Muhannad Halabi took precedence in the
headline over the slaying of two Israelis.
The Times of Israel wrote: “The [Israeli] Government Press Office on
Sunday warned the BBC it could face sanctions for running a news headline
highlighting the death of the Palestinian terrorist shot by the police Saturday
after fatally stabbing two Israelis, rather than the attack itself.”
website added that a “harshly worded letter was sent to Richard
Palmer, the head of the BBC Bureau in Israel, by the head of the GPO,” and
that “the Israeli Embassy in London asked the network to change the headline.”
the GPO’s harsh words were, they appear to have been enough to scare the BBC
into changing the headline, which went through three alterations – documented by the Zionist lobby group BBC
Watch – before it met with the satisfaction of the Israeli embassy and the
Israeli-approved headline ran: “Jerusalem: Palestinian kills two Israelis in
its report of 4 October, The Times of Israel noted: “According to a GPO official, Israel expects an official apology
from the network, and said the office was considering annulling the press cards
of BBC journalists, a decision that if implemented would not allow the network
to continue operating in Israel.”
is not an idle threat, and BBC staff know it.
“A very evil light”
2003, the Israeli government severed ties with the corporation,
accusing it of the “worst of Nazi propaganda” after it broadcast the documentary Israel’s
Secret Weapon which shed light on the
country’s nuclear and chemical arsenal.
Seaman, then head of the Israeli GPO, said it was “because of what we feel to
be a bias and an anti-Israel line … that portray Israel in a very evil light.” Seaman said government officials would no longer help BBC journalists get
expedited press accreditation.
Orla Guerin, then a BBC Middle East correspondent, questioned Israel’s
repressive attitude towards the corporation, she too found herself in
the Israeli government’s line of fire.
an interview with the London Evening Standard in 2003, she said, “How can you still
be a democracy and try to harass the press? This is not how a democracy
was later pulled from the Middle East, the
decision being announced just days after the BBC’s director general at the
time, Mark Thompson, returned from a visit to Israel in 2005 where he met with
then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
Keith Dovkants, writing in the London Evening
Standard in 2012, noted that “on [Thompson’s]
return to London the corporation instituted the Middle East reporting regime
that exists today and which, many believe, influenced the decision to refuse to
show the charity aid appeal for Gaza.”
is a reference to the Disasters Emergency Committee appeal of January
2009, which was aired by major television channels to raise money for Gaza as
another Israeli massacre there came to an end. But the BBC, in an unprecedented
move, refused to show it.
Arthur Neslen, a journalist who
worked at the BBC for four years, told me: “They take Israeli calls very
seriously, and critical stories about Israel get shot down through official
pressure and the fear of official pressure. These are very powerful lobbyists
— people know their careers can be broken.”
academic and media expert Leon Barkho told Dovkants: “I
have investigated this and I am convinced [BBC] policy is dictated from
the top because of the enormous sensitivity … The message is: don’t antagonize
so the questions asked by Media Lens when the BBC amends a headline to soften
public perception of an Israeli crime — “What happened? Pro-Israeli flack?
Bending to pro-Israeli pressure?” – answer themselves.
is a sad state of affairs for a news organization which prides itself as a
leader in global journalism. BBC journalists and editors, it would seem, sit at
their desks in London and cower in fear at the thought of an angry phone call
from the Israeli embassy.
let us all down, but, most of all, they let down the Palestinian people, whose
cry for freedom goes unheard at BBC Broadcasting House, drowned out by the undemocratic
machinations of the Israeli PR machine.