BBC Arabic Quietly Scrubs Program Promoting Map Which Erased Israel

In late October CAMERA’s BBC Watch posted an article by CAMERA Arabic concerning BBC Arabic’s promotion of an “educational” project by environmental engineer Omar Asi: an Israel-free, child-friendly map of “Palestine” from the river to the sea (“BBC Arabic radio promotes Israel-free map of ‘Palestine’ for children”).

During his interview with the BBC Arabic radio show “Dardasha Layliya,” Asi elaborated on several of the areas of “Palestine” featured on his map including Jaffa and the Negev, both of which are internationally recognised as Israeli territory.

He spoke disapprovingly of the geographical education children from the “interior of Palestine” (i.e. Israeli Arabs) are getting, namely the fact they are being exposed to “maps of Israel” rather than “maps of Palestine.”

He revealed that the map contains a reference to the autobiography of a Hamas mass-murderer Abdullah Barghouthi, currently imprisoned in Israel. Barghouthi is a bomb-maker who was given 67 consecutive life sentences for his part in the murder of 66 Israelis in numerous suicide bombings during the early 2000s.

He expressed his conviction that the illustrations of places on the map would prompt children to find out more about stories behind them which relate to the Palestinian national struggle.

He received full and complete support for his campaign from the show’s host Heba ‘Abd al-Baqi who wished him and his team the best of luck and stated he was calling “from Palestine.” At no point during the interview did Abd al-Baqi challenge, criticise or contextualise Asi’s ideas.

In conclusion, the BBC Arabic radio item normalised the negation of Israel’s right to exist within any borders and denied the right of Israeli Jews to live peacefully while exerting their right of self-determination in their homeland. Asi’s mention of Abdullah Barghouthi also mainstreamed implied support for terrorism against Israeli civilians.

All of the above is a breach of BBC’s editorial guidelines regarding impartiality and offensive speech, as well as a breach of BBC’s style guide regarding the use of the term “Palestine.”

In late November, not long after a CAMERA Arabic submitted a complaint about the item to the BBC, it was mysteriously removed from BBC Arabic’s Soundcloud channel and Facebook webpage. Notably, the other two items aired in the same program on Oct. 24 still appear on both the Soundcloud channel and the Facebook webpage (the first link leads to the opening item of the show which includes a short description of the map item – the second of the three – at 0:40). 

Although CAMERA Arabic has yet to receive any response to the complaint submitted in November, it would appear that somebody at BBC Arabic took action to hide evidence that this embarrassing item had existed in the first place.

This post first appeared at CAMERA’s BBC Watch.