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Media Analyses





BBC Promoted False Palestinian Eviction Story in Parliament


Back in December CAMERA had secured corrections to inaccurate information appearing in an article published by Associated Press [AP] which was largely sourced from an employee of a political NGO previously promoted in BBC content. AP's account of the looming eviction of Nura Sub-Laban from her home in Jerusalem's Muslim Quarter reflects a narrative of supposed Jewish encroachment in the holy city at the expense of dispossessed Palestinians, blameless "victims of discriminatory use of Israeli property law."

CAMERA wrote at the time that the story grossly misrepresented basic facts about the Sub-Laban case, initially ignoring critical essential information and falsely casting it as part "of a wider settlement campaign."

The subject matter of that AP article cropped up again last week during Prime Minister's Questions in the UK Parliament. The ‘BBC Parliament’ TV channel of course broadcast the February 24 session.

Imran Hussain (Bradford East) (Labor) stated:

Last week, together with several of my hon. Friends, I visited Palestine, where we went to the home of Nora and her family, who have lived in the old city of East Jerusalem since 1953. Israeli settlers, however, are now trying to force Nora from her home of over 60 years. There are many other cases like that. Does the Prime Minister agree with me that illegal settlements and constructions are a major roadblock that hinder peaceful negotiations? What are this Government doing to help prevent these infringements into Palestinian lives and land.

Mr Hussain and additional Labour MPs did indeed visit the region earlier in February on a trip organized by the charity Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) and the Council for the Advancement of Arab-British Understanding (CAABU. According to CAABU's Joseph Willits the part of the trip which involved a visit to the Sub Laban family was facilitated by the foreign funded political NGO Al Haq which is active in the ‘lawfare’ campaign against Israel and is from time to time promoted in BBC content described that visit as follows:

On Thursday, the MPs met Palestinian communities living in the shadow of Israel's 440km-long separation wall, and heard from the Gaith-Sub Laban family who have threatened [sic] with eviction from their home of 62 years in East Jerusalem.

Unsurprisingly given the agendas of all the groups involved in organising this visit, the British parliamentarians were not told the Sub-Labans were never the owners of the property, but rather enjoyed "protected tenant" status. That status can be lost if the tenant abandons the property without intention of returning – and it is irrelevant whether the tenant is Jewish or Palestinian.

In fact the history of the property reveals its original tenant was a Jewish Trust called Kollel Galicia. The Sub-Labans moved into the property after Jordan seized control of that portion of Jerusalem in 1948. The Sub-Labans received protected tenant status after Israel took back the area in 1967.

The Sub-Labans claimed to have been forced out between 1984-2001, but in 2001 the family failed to move back into the property, which is the crux of the legal argument against them.

The magistrate court (34656-11-10) (in a decision upheld by the district court 28083-12-14) found that the family had not returned to the apartment in 2001. According to the court from 2001-2010 (when the property was transferred to the trust) the family did not live in the apartment. From 2010 until 2014, they had only “pretended” to live in the apartment.”

In other words, the claim made by Mr Hussain in Parliament that “Israeli settlers are now trying to force Nora from her home of over 60 years” is inaccurate because two courts of law have established that she did not live in that rented apartment for thirty years.

One result of the BBC's unchallenged promotion of information provided by NGOs often portrayed as ‘human rights groups’ is the ensuing ‘halo effect’ which leads members of the public and politicians alike to refrain from critical examination of the facts behind claims made by campaigning groups with a clear political agenda – as, sadly, the above example shows only too well.

For the full article, read BBC Watch.

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