BBC Cheerleads Palestinian Violence

In a remarkable Dec.12 interview with Palestinian human rights campaigner Bassem Eid, BBC anchor Clair Bolderson appeared indignant at Eid’s contention that Palestinians should stop shooting at Israelis, and should instead – despite its flaws – continue with the peace process.

Irate, Bolderson instructed Eid on the justice of attacking Israelis:

The Palestinian people are the people who are rising up against what they see as the Israeli occupation, the brutality of the Israelis – are you saying they just shouldn’t do that at all – that they should be just completely peaceful and quiet?

Eid replied that Palestinian attacks were counterproductive, succeeding only in provoking Israeli retaliation, and he noted that “we signed an agreement with the Israelis … to put an end to the conflict … [via] the peace talks and the peace process rather than doing the shootings.”

But Bolderson pressed on, at one point scolding Eid:

But aren’t we just seeing a spontaneous uprising of the people who are frustrated with the process, with the fact that the peace process hasn’t moved forward? Are you saying that they should keep their frustrations bottled up, that they shouldn’t take to the streets?

The BBC anchor also characterized the Oslo agreements as having failed the Palestinians, asserting that “the agreement exists, it’s not working for the Palestinians.” Bolderson’s opinion-laden eruptions are perhaps a new low in advocacy journalism.

Of course, while Bolderson and other BBC anchors and reporters are quick to point the finger of blame at Israel for any failures of the agreements, the network has consistently misrepresented what the agreements actually call for, and has routinely ignored Palestinian violations. On Dec. 13, for example, anchor Alex Brodie noted that Israeli settlements in the territories had become regular targets for Palestinian attacks, and BBC reporter Paul Adams responded that settlements are:

from the Palestinian point of view, the principal problem. The Palestinians thought seven years ago, when the Oslo peace accords were signed, that this was the start of a gradual disappearance of the Israeli occupation, and by the occupation they principally mean the Jewish settlers who live illegally on occupied land and the Israeli military forces who are there to protect them.

Neither Adams nor Brody pointed out that these Palestinian attacks, which Bolderson had all but demanded the day before, are a grave breach of the Oslo Accords. Also, like Bolderson, Adams here presents Palestinian assertions as if they were facts. Thus, while it is certainly true that Palestinian negotiators pressed for the dismantling of Israeli settlements, it is just as true that the Israelis refused and instead offered greater concessions in other areas. Palestinian negotiators, in coordination with Yasir Arafat, accepted this compromise, with the result that the Oslo agreements do not call for the dismantling of a single Israeli settlement. Listeners would wait in vain to ever hear this fact on the BBC.

Adams also parrots Palestinian positions when he asserts that Israeli settlers “live illegally on occupied land.” While some legal scholars would agree with Adams, many others would not, arguing, for example, that Israeli settlements are legal because the West Bank and Gaza are unallocated territories of the Palestine Mandate, which called for “close settlement by Jews on the land.”

By selectively omitting information, cheerleading Palestinian violence, and falsifying facts, the BBC has once again justified its reputation for Bias, Betrayal of journalistic ethics, and Chicanery.


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