BBC airs a weekly programme, “From Our Own Correspondent,” presenting the personal perspectives of the network’s news reporters on the stories they cover. According to the BBC Website:
Correspondents have always enjoyed writing for FooC, as they call it, because after a busy day in the field covering a big news story, it can often be cathartic for the correspondent to sit down, compose his or her thoughts, and start writing.
BBC touts these “cathartic” exercises as deeper, behind-the-scene investigations where “the reporter can tell us so much more: a bit of context, some relevant history, one or two of the characters encountered en route, some description of a foreign country or capital.” What the BBC does not acknowledge, however, is that the programme is frequently used as a platform for propaganda – a means for partisan BBC correspondents who cover world conflicts to champion the position of the side they favor.
Take, for example, Orla Guerin, who reports on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The correspondent wrote a FooC segment on Israeli building in and around Jerusalem that aired on BBC 4, World Service and on the Web site on April 28, 2005. Guerin used her segment to bolster false Palestinian allegations with distorted information, demonstrating how easily journalism can be compromised by a reporter’s political leanings.
(Although Guerin has come under sharp criticism for her anti-Israel reporting, she was awarded an MBE – Member of the British Empire – award for her work, one of several awards distributed each year by the British monarch. As former Israeli Member of Knesset Natan Sharansky wrily commented: “It is very sad that something as important as anti-Semitism is not taken into consideration when issuing this award, especially in Britain where the incidents of anti-Semitism are on the rise.”)
Guerin begins her segment by positing the Palestinian allegation that Israel is precluding a two-state solution by building in and around Jerusalem. The rest of the piece is devoted to lending her highly personalized support to this baseless claim.
Two states for two peoples. That has been the accepted formula for resolving this conflict. But where is the space for a Palestinian state?
Watch carefully and you can see it shrinking, thanks to Israel’s relentless construction.
The BBC correspondent also falsely implies Israel’s security fence – built to thwart Palestinian terrorist attacks – is entirely a concrete barrier. Only about 5% of the structure is concrete, this in areas where sniper fire is a danger:
In the distance, on a clear day, the hills of Jordan beckon.
But in the foreground, I can see a new monument to the conflict, a wall built of concrete and mistrust, snaking its way along the hills.
This is what Israel calls its security fence, its barrier against suicide bombers.
But within months the wall will seal off Arab East Jerusalem, which the Palestinians claim as the capital of their future state.
Guerin adds further false accusations against Israel:
In defiance of international law, Israel plans to build another 3,500 more houses here, a massive project called E-1.
In fact, there is no international law that precludes Israeli building on disputed territory. In writing about the specific legal aspects of the Arab-Israeli conflict in 1980, the prominent authority on jurisprudence and international law, Professor Julius Stone maintained that the effort to designate Israeli settlements as illegal was, in fact, a “subversion. . . of basic international law principles.”
If the plan goes ahead, the new settler homes will block the Palestinians of East Jerusalem from the remainder of their national state, the cities and towns of the West Bank.
In fact, Palestinian contiguity in the West Bank would be no more cut off with the so-called E-1 corridor than would Israeli contiguity if Israel were to withdraw to its pre-1967 borders, even with slight modifications.
To further bolster her advocacy of the Palestinian allegations, Guerin draws upon the words of Palestinian Authority member and activist Ziad Abu Ziad and the support of anti-Israel activist Jeff Halper, who is committed to Israel’s dismantlement as a Jewish state. Halper makes no secret of his opposition to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, devoting himself to de-legitimizing the Jewish state. His fabrications are well-known and have been repeatedly disproven. Nevertheless, Halper’s erroneous pronouncement that there cannot be a two-state solution and that Israeli construction is cutting the West Bank into two is eagerly supported by Guerin, who states: “Looking at the lines on the map, it is hard to argue.”
It will also be harder now to argue that BBC’s reporting on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is objective and unbiased!