How the BBC blames Israel and absolves Palestinians for the mistreatment of journalists

Activist journalism to promote anti-Israel animus at the expense of truth.

By Hugh Fitzgerald, Front Page Magazine

Everyone remembers the death of Palestinian-American reporter Shireen Abu Akleh, who worked for Al Jazeera.

She was standing just outside the entrance to Jenin on May 11, 2022, while a firefight went on between the IDF and terrorists from Jenin camp, when she was shot and killed.

The Israelis have said that they believe there was a “high possibility” that an Israeli bullet had hit Abu Akleh, but that there had been no intent to kill her; in the fog of war, errors are made.

And indeed, it would have made no sense for the IDF to have deliberately killed her; there was nothing to be gained, and everything to lose, in the propaganda bonanza that the Palestinians could — and did — exploit as they denounced the IDF’s “deliberate murder.”

The American government, having studied the evidence, came to the same conclusions as the Israelis: that the IDF had likely fired the shot that killed Shireen Abu Akleh, but had “no intent” to do so.

The killing of Abu Akleh continued to receive extensive coverage from the BBC, which treated with great skepticism Israel’s version of events, as part of its well-known anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian coverage, demonstrated by such BBC reporters as Robert Fisk, Jeremy Bowen, Barbara Plett, Orla Guerin, and Yolande Knell. More on how the BBC covers the “mistreatment” of Arab journalists when Israel is not involved can be found here: “The Limitations of BBC Interest In the Safety of Palestinian Journalists,” by Hadar Sela, CAMERA, August 11, 2023:

BBC coverage of the death of the Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh in Jenin in May 2022 included cross-platform promotion of an interview with one of her colleagues who was injured at the same time, Ali Samoudi, from his hospital bed.

Samoudi was Abu Akleh’s producer at Al Jazeera. From his bed, he claimed that the Israelis had first shot him in the shoulder before shooting Abu Akleh. Unlike its taking responsibility for Abu Akleh’s killing, Israel has not accepted blame for wounding Ali Samoudi.

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In that [the hospital interview with Ali Samoudi] and additional content, the BBC repeatedly promoted the notion that Israel deliberately targets journalists, as claimed by Abu Akleh’s employer at the time.

Israel does not have a policy of deliberately targeting journalists. As in every war, journalists may be caught between the sides. Bullets fly everywhere. And sometimes journalists are hurt or even killed.

But every time a Palestinian journalist is hit, and Israel is blamed, the Palestinians win a propaganda victory. It makes no sense, under these circumstances, for the IDF soldiers to deliberately shoot at journalists. And they don’t.

On August 5th 2023, following the fatal terror attack in Tel Aviv which was barely reported by the BBC, members of terror groups in Jenin took to the streets for a celebratory procession which was reportedly dispersed by Palestinian Authority security forces using tear gas and live fire. During those events, two journalists were injured, one of whom was Ali Samoudi.

As the Palestinians in Jenin were celebrating a terrorist murder in Tel Aviv, the Palestinian Authority rightly concluded that this would look bad in the eyes of the world, and they decided to shut down that Jenin procession using tear gas and even live fire.

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While the source of Samoudi’s injury is disputed, the Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedom (MADA) blamed the PA security forces.

The Palestine Center for Development and Media Freedom (MADA) is one of the few sometimes trustworthy Palestinian groups. It claims that the PA security forces wounded Ali Samoudi in the course of dispersing the celebratory crowd in Jenin.

BBC audiences have not seen any coverage whatsoever of Ali Samoudi’s latest injury or of that procession in Jenin celebrating the fatal attack by a Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist and its dispersal by PA security forces.

The BBC audience was not shown the wounded journalist Ali Samoudi on this occasion, nor was he interviewed, as the BBC had been so eager to do when reporting on the killing of Shireen Abu Akleh.

Nor was the network’s worldwide audience provided by the BBC with MADA’s considered conclusion that Samoudi had been deliberately shot by the PA security services.

The BBC is clearly in the business of protecting the PA, not in reporting truthfully on its violent suppression of journalists. And it is also determined not to report on anything that makes the Palestinians look bad, such as those ghoulish celebrations in Jenin of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad murder of an Israeli civilian in Tel Aviv.

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If you are seeking journalistic fairness in the coverage of Israel and the Palestinians, don’t ever rely on the BBC. Don’t listen to those attempting to emulate, in their anti-Israel animus, such BBC reporters as Robert Fisk, Jeremy Bowen, Orla Guerin, and Yolande Knell. Even such an outlet as NPR would be vastly preferable.