​Pro-Israel bias: BBC admits editorial breach in interview with Israeli defense chief

(RT) – The BBC has reached a “provisional finding” to uphold complaints made by Palestinian activists that the broadcaster breached its editorial guidelines in a “soft” interview with the Israeli defense minister.

Complaints focused on BBC journalist Sarah Montague’s alleged failure to challenge
controversial claims made by Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon.

Journalist Amena Saleem, who works with the Palestine Solidarity
Campaign (PSC), wrote on Electronic Intifada that she received an
email last week from the BBC’s Editorial Complaints Unit (ECU)
indicating grievances lodged by the PSC would be upheld.

However, a BBC spokesperson said the finding was
provisional” and the outcome was yet to be finalized.

According to a PSC transcript of the interview, broadcast on BBC
Radio 4’s flagship news program “Today” on March 19,
Ya’alon said that Palestinians enjoy political independence.

If the complaint is upheld, it is the second time in recent
months the ECU has censured the state-run corporation for its
pro-Israel bias.

BBC News Online was found to have breached its editorial
guidelines last July when it described the author of an article
about Gaza’s hidden tunnels as an “independent defense
analyst
.”

The author, Dr Eado Hecht, is a lecturer in military doctrine at
Bar Ilan University, an institution described by the ECU as being
explicitly pro-Israeli.

The complaints board also acknowledged the author had
published articles written from a clearly pro-Israeli
perspective
.”

In Montague’s interview with Ya’alon, the senior BBC journalist
failed to address misleading statements by the Israeli defense
minister.

According to a transcript, Ya’alon said Palestinians “enjoy
already political independence. They have their own political
system, government, parliament, municipalities and so forth. And
we are happy with it. We don’t want to govern them
whatsoever
.”

The PSC has challenged Ya’alon’s statement, claiming Palestinians
live under occupation and, in Gaza, under siege.

The UN General Assembly, Security Council and the International
Court of Justice all consider Israel to be an “occupying
power
.”

Ya’alon also said that the 1.5 million Arabs living in Israel
have the “same civil rights as we enjoy.”

According to Hassan Jabareen, head of the Legal Center for Arab
Minority Rights in Israel (Adalah), Israel has 45 laws that can
be considered discriminatory against Arab citizens of Israel.

The discrimination started with laws related to land before
it turned to laws related to humans; new laws now target
citizenship, identity and freedom of speech
,” he told the
Journal of Turkish Weekly last week.

Saleem claims the ECU sent her an email in which they upheld the
complaints against the broadcaster.

She quotes ECU head Fraser Steel: “Mr. Ya’alon was allowed to
make several controversial statements … without any meaningful
challenge, and the program-makers have accepted that the
interviewer ought to have interrupted him and questioned him on
his assertions.

The result was that the output fell below the BBC’s
standards of impartiality
,” he added.

A BBC spokesperson said: “The BBC has reached a provisional
finding that the complaints should be upheld and will be taking
comments from the complainants into account before finalising the
outcome.

The broadcaster has come under scrutiny from Britain’s
communications regulator Ofcom in recent years.

A BBC Radio 1 Newsbeat program was found to be in breach of
broadcasting guidelines when it interviewed a British jihadist in
Syria who compared the war to playing the computer game “Call
of Duty
.”

Ofcom ruled the comments had no context and were inappropriate
for a younger audience.

Montague was responsible for another slip-up in 2013, when crime
writer Lynda La Plante used the word “retard” during an
interview on the Today program.

Montague changed the subject during the interview in an
implicit criticism,” but Ofcom said she should have
addressed the point more explicitly.

This piece was reprinted by RINF Alternative News with permission or license.