BBC misreports John Kerry on talks failure
By Nureddin Sabir
Editor, Redress Information & Analysis
For once, US Secretary of State John Kerry was not mincing his words when he blamed Israel for the breakdown of talks with the Palestinians.
But you would not have known this if you were following the story from the BBC News website.
What Kerry actually said
Here is how Philip Weiss, founder and co-editor of the news website Mondoweiss characterized Kerry’s testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on 7 April:
John Kerry, Secretary of State, blamed the Israelis for the breakdown of peace talks during a hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee yesterday. Israel failed to release prisoners on time according to a deal it had with Palestinians, then announced 700 settlement units – “poof!”– causing the latest breakdown in the talks…
And this is what Kerry actually said:
In my judgment both leaders have made courageous and important decisions up until now. For Prime Minister Netanyahu to release prisoners is a painful, difficult political step to take, enormously hard, and the people of Israel have been incredibly supportive and patient in giving him the space in order to do that. In exchange for the deal being kept of the release of prisoners and not going to the U.N. Unfortunately, the prisoners weren’t released on the Saturday they were supposed to be released. And so day went by, day two went by day three went by and then in the afternoon when they were about to maybe get there, 700 settlement units were announced in Jerusalem. And poof! That was sort of the moment.
Weiss called it possibly a historic moment.
As Juan Cole, Professor of History at Michigan University, stresses:
Kerry attributed the breakdown to two separate Israeli moves. One was to decline to release the remaining 25 or so Palestinian prisoners jailed before 1993, whose release had been agreed to in the Oslo Peace Accords (a pledge on which Israel reneged, as it did on the whole Oslo process), and which Israel had undertaken to free last August. The second was the announcement of 700 new squatter homes in Palestinian East Jerusalem by fanatical Israeli expansionist Housing Minister Uri Ariel.
Even the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office said it was disappointed over Kerry’s remarks, which implicitly means they saw it as apportioning the blame for the talks’ collapse on Israel.
How the BBC reported Kerry to absolve Israel
However, the BBC News website chose to fudge the truth by making it seem that Kerry had blamed not Israel but both Israel and the Palestinians in equal measure.
According to the BBC, Kerry “blamed both sides for taking ‘unhelpful’ steps”.
But search Kerry’s full statement and you will not find the word “unhelpful” anywhere. The only person who mentioned the word “unhelpful” was State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki, as reported by the Israeli news website Ynet.
So, either the person who wrote the BBC report is sloppy or incompetent, or there is something more sinister at work.
Although sloppiness and incompetence are no strangers to the BBC, there is reasonable ground to suspect that there is something more sinister.
Raffi Berg, the BBC’s in-house Israel flag waver
This is none other than Raffi Berg, the head of the Middle East section of the BBC News website.
As we reported last August, Berg had been caught sending his staff emails advising them to write more favourably about Israel. According to Electronic Intifada, which exposed Berg’s behind-the-scenes work on behalf of Israel, Berg sent an email to staff during Israel’s eight-day assault on Gaza in November 2012, which killed nearly 200 Palestinians, asking them
to word their stories in a way which does not blame or “put undue emphasis” on Israel for starting the prolonged attacks. Instead, he encouraged journalists to promote the Israeli government line that the “offensive” was “aimed at ending rocket fire from Gaza”.
This was despite the fact that Israel broke a ceasefire when it attacked Gaza on 14 November, a ceasefire which the Palestinians had been observing – firing no rockets into Israel
In a second email, sent during the same period, Berg told BBC journalists: “Please remember, Israel doesn’t maintain a blockade around Gaza. Egypt controls the southern border.” He omitted to mention that the UN viewed Israel as the occupying power in Gaza and has called on Israel to end its siege of the Strip. Israel’s refusal to do so is a violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1860.
The similarity between the instruction to misreport the Israeli aggression on Gaza and the BBC News website’s downplaying of Kerry’s blame for the failure of the talks with the Palestinians is too close to be accidental. We detect the hands of Berg.
Zionists at the BBC’s helm
To be fair, Berg is not the only Israel pimp working at the BBC. Others include the notorious Zionist James Purnell, who in February 2013 was put in charge of BBC policy and strategy, and the head of BBC News, James Harding.
According to Electronic Intifada, in 2011 Harding spoke at a media event organized by the Jewish Chronicle, telling his audience:
I am pro-Israel. I believe in the state of Israel. I would have had a real problem if I had been coming to a paper [The Times, of which he was editor before taking up his BBC job] with a history of being anti-Israel. And, of course, Rupert Murdoch is pro-Israel.
Eight years ago the BBC’s governing body commissioned an independent report which concluded that BBC coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict “does not consistently constitute a full and fair account of the conflict but rather, in important respects, presents an incomplete and in that sense misleading picture”. The reasons for this have long been the subject of serious academic studies, the best known of which is Greg Philo’s and Mike Berry’s More Bad News from Israel.
Without a doubt, the presence of Raffi Berg, James Purnell, James Harding and other Zionists in key positions at the BBC will ensure that the corporation’s bias in favour of Israel will not only continue but will get worst.
As we never tire of repeating, it is past time that an independent authority investigate how Zionists in key positions at the BBC are shaping coverage of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
This is a matter of grave concern because not only is the BBC a publicly-funded news organization, but it is also self-regulated, which means that it pretty much gets away with murder before anyone will say “poof’, to use Kerry’s word.