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Can the BBC Ever Be Trusted Again After Israel-Hamas War?

The BBC logo is seen at the entrance at Broadcasting House, the BBC headquarters in central London. Photo by Vuk Valcic / SOPA Images/Sipa USA.

In summarizing its mission as the publicly-funded broadcaster in the United Kingdom, the BBC states it must “provide impartial news and information to help people understand and engage with the world around them.”

This involves — the corporation promises — providing accurate and impartial news, current affairs and factual programming that conforms to the highest editorial standards.

The commitment to impartiality is — or should be — what sets the BBC apart from other media organizations that nail their political colors to their mast.

While the BBC has staunchly defended itself against criticism that it has a deep-seated bias against Israel, its critics have pointed to many examples over the years of the broadcaster’s journalists brazenly breaking the corporation’s impartiality guidelines.

But the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war on October 7 has seen criticism of the BBC reach a climax amid accusations of an abject failure by the organization to report on the Israel-Hamas war fairly, accurately, and transparently.

Spreading Misinformation

There is an irony in the BBC’s publishing a piece one week after Hamas terrorists invaded southern Israel that asked: “Who’s behind Israel-Gaza disinformation and hate online?

The article, by the corporation’s so-called “disinformation and social media correspondent” Marianna Spring, reported how social media was “awash with false claims, conspiracy theories and hateful content surrounding what’s happening in Israel and Gaza.”

This, Spring warned, was resulting in successful attempts to distort and confuse the online conversation, which “can have serious implications for the international community when it comes to investigating allegations of war crimes, providing aid and figuring out what’s happening where.”

Yet, the BBC itself has been guilty of spreading distortions and false claims about the Israel-Hamas war online.

One of the most damaging was undoubtedly the corporation’s reporting on the Al-Ahli Hospital explosion in Gaza, which saw the BBC print unverified (and later debunked) claims by Hamas-linked officials that hundreds of Palestinians had been killed in an Israeli airstrike at the hospital.

Even as Israel said it was investigating the blast and as facts were still emerging, the corporation doubled down on its misinformation when BBC correspondent Jon Donnison announced live on air that he thought it was most likely that Israel was to blame.

And when conclusive evidence emerged that a Palestinian Islamic Jihad rocket was responsible, the BBC still sought to defend its coverage on the basis that while it made a mistake, it was a “fast-moving story,” where there were “claims and counter-claims” and where its journalists were “reporting in difficult and dangerous conditions.”

.@BBCNews likes to tell us that Israeli videos “cannot be verified.” But they’ve got no problem broadcasting footage featuring a Palestinian who has appeared in multiple videos playing different characters, including one where he fakes his own death. https://t.co/BaGMchjUxn

— HonestReporting (@HonestReporting) November 3, 2023

The Obsession With Balance

Balance is important when it comes to the news: outlets have a duty to report both sides of the story.

However, the BBC has been accused of having a fetish with its attempts at balance in its reports on the current war.

But giving equal weighting to claims made by an internationally recognized terrorist group to those of a democratic state such as Israel is simply absurd.

The absurdity of this was perfectly encapsulated in the BBC’s refusal to call Hamas what it actually is — a terrorist organization.

The BBC’s world affairs editor, John Simpson, even defended the decision not to call Hamas terrorists because, “terrorism is a loaded word, which people use about an outfit they disapprove of morally. It’s simply not the BBC’s job to tell people who to support and who to condemn — who are the good guys and who are the bad guys.”

While the corporation eventually walked back from its insistence that it would refer to terrorists as “militants” following a considerable backlash — announcing that in future coverage it would make clear that Hamas is a UK-proscribed terrorist organization — the fact that the BBC couldn’t decide who was the good guy and the bad guy between Israel and Hamas speaks volumes.

Another example of the BBC trying to offer “two sides” in a report where none exists was during the IDF’s raid on Al-Shifa Hospital, which for many years has been used as a Hamas command center.

The IDF clearly states it is bringing medical teams & Arabic speakers into Al-Shifa Hospital to help patients.@BBCNews reinterprets it to libel the IDF as *targeting* medical teams & Arabic speakers.

Just how much lower can the BBC go? https://t.co/I9kVy3MC87

— HonestReporting (@HonestReporting) November 15, 2023

When the IDF provided real-time evidence of how Hamas had embedded itself within the hospital, the BBC seemed to work overtime to try and undermine and discredit as much of the IDF’s proof as possible.

In one the many instances of its disturbing tendency to give weight to the claims of a bloodthirsty terror group, the BBC’s international editor, Jeremy Bowen, suggested that the caches of weaponry uncovered by Israeli soldiers inside Al-Shifa may have belonged to the hospital security team.

Utterly incredible. @BowenBBC trying to “normalize” the presence of weapons in a Gaza hospital. Anything to avoid acknowledging that Hamas could be using Al Shifa for nefarious means.

Keep going, Jeremy. Maybe you’ll end up on Israel’s favorite satirical comedy show next week. https://t.co/jN3kZ40rPc

— HonestReporting (@HonestReporting) November 17, 2023

The BBC is also facing what appears to be growing anger from within its own ranks at how the corporation is covering the Israel-Hamas war.

HonestReporting recently revealed that the head of the BBC’s Global Service, Liliane Landor, was forced to address allegations from reporters based in the Middle East that the corporation is biased in favor of Israel.

Yet, rather than robustly challenge staff who threatened to walk out in protest, Landor reportedly promised to set up a special team to handle staff complaints and receive opinions on rectifying harm caused by the alleged pro-Israel bias.

Meanwhile, bosses at the BBC’s London HQ denied permission for journalists to attend a massive march against antisemitism using guidelines that prevent employees from attending demonstrations deemed “controversial.” This despite the BBC having a policy that allows staff to demonstrate in “opposition to racism [which] is a fundamental democratic principle.”

As mentioned, allegations of an anti-Israel bias have dogged the BBC for years.

But the barrage of criticism aimed at the BBC over its coverage of the current Israel-Hamas war has shown that the corporation cannot continue burying its head in the sand where this issue is concerned.

The BBC will lose all credibility if it does not.

The author is a contributor to HonestReporting, a Jerusalem-based media watchdog with a focus on antisemitism and anti-Israel bias — where a version of this article first appeared.

The post Can the BBC Ever Be Trusted Again After Israel-Hamas War? first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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University of California Student Government Passes BDS Legislation

Graphic posted on a social media account administered by University of California-Davis chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine on February 17, 2024. Photo: Screenshot/Instagram

The University of California-Davis (UC Davis) student government passed on Friday legislation adopting the boycott, divestment, and sanctions, (BDS) movement and falsely accusing Israel of genocide.

“This bill prohibits the purchase of products from corporations identified as profiting from the genocide and occupation of the Palestinian people by the BDS National Committee,” says the measure, titled Senate Bill (SB) #52. “This bill seeks to address the human rights violations of the nation-state and government of Israel and establish a guideline of ethical spending.”

Puma, McDonald’s, Starbucks, Airbnb, Disney, and Sabra are all named on SJP’s “BDS List.”

Powers enumerated in the bill include veto power over all vendor contracts, which SJP specifically applied to “purchase orders for custom t-shirts,” a provision that may affect pro-Israel groups on campus. Such policies will be guided by a “BDS List” of targeted companies curated by SJP. The language of the legislation gives ASUCD the right to add more.

“No ASUCD funds shall be committed to the purchases of products or services of any corporation identified by the BDS List as being complicit in the violation of the human rights guaranteed to Palestinian civilians,” the bill adds.

A notable provision of the bill regards the charter for the Special Committee on Ethical Standing. It says the committee must be “dissolved” in a year and its”responsibilities” absorbed by UC Davis’ Ethnic and Cultural Affairs Commission, a division of the student government that which describes itself as a special advocacy group for non-white students. The requirement makes BDS a permanent policy of the school and links it to the issue of racial justice, which, on a college campus, serves as a safeguard against any future attempt to pass legislation proscribing the adoption of BDS.

SJP praised the bill’s passing and signing by ASUCD’s president, Francisco Javier Ojeda.

“The bill that was passed prevents any of the $20 million in the ASUCD budget from being spent on companies complicit in the occupation and genocide of Palestinians, as specified by the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement,” the group said on social media. “From McDonald’s to Sabra to Chevron, none of our student feeds that fund ASUCD operations will be used to financially support 30+ companies that are complicit in Zionist violence.”

Students for Justice in Palestine at University of California-Davis is one of many SJP chapters that justified Hamas’ massacre across southern Israel on Oct. 7. In a chilling statement posted after the world became aware of the terrorist group’s atrocities on that day, which included hundreds of civilian murders and sexual assaults, the group said “the responsibility for the current escalation of violence is entirely on the Israeli occupation.”

According to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapters — which have said in their communications that Israeli civilians deserve to be murdered for being “settlers” — lead the way in promoting a campus environment hostile to Jewish and pro-Israel voices. Their aim, the civil rights group explained in an open letter published in December, is to “exclude and marginalize Jewish students,” whom they describe as “oppressors,” and encourage “confrontation” with them.

The ADL has urged colleges and universities to protect Jewish students from the group’s behavior, which, in many cases, has violated Title VI of the Civil Rights Act.

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

The post University of California Student Government Passes BDS Legislation first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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‘Horrifying and Heart Wrenching’: IDF Releases New Footage of Shiri Bibas and Her Young Sons in Gaza 

Ofri Bibas Levy, whose brother Yarden (34) was taken hostage with his wife Shiri (32) and 2 children Kfir (10 months) and Ariel (4), holds with her friend Tal Ulus pictures of them during an interview with Reuters, as the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas continues, in Geneva, Switzerland, Nov. 13, 2023. Photo: REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

The IDF released “horrifying” new footage on Monday showing Israeli hostage Shiri Bibas and her two children flanked by gunmen in the Gaza Strip, filmed shortly after their abduction during the October 7 Hamas-led attack on southern Israel. 

Captured by surveillance cameras in Khan Younis, the footage shows Bibas wrapped in a sheet and clutching her red-haired sons, Ariel, aged 4, and Kfir, who was only 9 months old at the time of their abduction, and is the first proof of life since October 7. The children’s father, Yarden Bibas, was separately abducted and his condition remains unknown.

IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari expressed the military’s deep concerns over Shiri and her children’s fate. 

“Seeing this young mother clutching her babies surrounded by a group of armed terrorists is horrifying and heart wrenching,” he said at a press conference on Monday. 

“Those who have the audacity to question our need to operate in Gaza, but don’t have the basic decency and humanity to demand that Hamas release our hostages first of all, they all should take a good look at this terrified mother, Shiri, clutching her babies,” he said, adding that the IDF would “leave no stone unturned” in returning the hostages. 

The IDF, according to Hagari, lacks sufficient information to ascertain whether they are alive or dead but is “making every effort to obtain more information about their fate.” The footage was obtained from a Khan Younis military post belonging to the Mujahideen Brigades, a small armed group who are holding Bibas and her children. 

The Bibas family said in a statement that the videos “tore our hearts out.”

“Witnessing Shiri, Yarden, Ariel and Kfir, ripped away from their home in Nir Oz into this hellscape, feels unbearable and inhumane,” the family said.  “We’re issuing a desperate call to all the decision-makers in Israel and the world who are involved in the negotiations: Bring them home now. Make it clear to Hamas that kidnapping children is out of bounds.”

The family also called for Shiri and her children to be prioritized in any future hostage release deal with Hamas. 

Hamas had claimed in November that Shiri, Ariel, and Kfir were casualties of an IDF strike, a claim the IDF has contested as unverified and said at the time that the claim was part of the terror group’s “cruel and inhuman” psychological warfare. Hamas also released a video of a visibly distressed Yarden Bibas after he had been informed by his captors that his wife and children were killed by the IDF. 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the footage as “heartbreaking” and said it “reminds us who we are dealing with — brutal baby kidnappers.”

“We will bring these kidnappers of babies and mothers to justice. They won’t get away with it,” Netanyahu said.

Irit Lahav, spokeswoman for the embattled community of Nir Oz, said that the video “reminds us that we are all held hostage until the return of all the hostages.”

A quarter of Nir Oz’s residents were either kidnapped or murdered on October 7. 

The post ‘Horrifying and Heart Wrenching’: IDF Releases New Footage of Shiri Bibas and Her Young Sons in Gaza  first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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Antisemitism Accusations Lodged Against Middlebury College

Illustrative: Pro-Hamas demonstrators are detained by police officers in New York during a protest at the Brooklyn Bridge. Photo: Reuters/Shannon Stapleton

Accusations of institutional antisemitism against Middlebury College in Vermont have been lodged in a civil rights complaint filed by StandWithUs (SWU), a nonprofit that promotes education about Israel.

The complaint, filed with the US Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (OCR) argues that high level Middlebury College officials, by refusing to enforce anti-discrimination policies equally, have fostered a “pervasively hostile climate,” which prevents Jewish students from enjoying the full benefits of being a college student at a higher education receiving federal funds, according to the complaint.

A timeline of events laid out in documents provided by SWU begins after Hamas’ massacre across southern Israel on Oct. 7, when the school issued a statement that did not acknowledge the deaths of Israelis, but instead only alluded to “violence happening now in Israel in Palestine.” The following week, the administration allegedly obstructed Jewish students’ efforts to publicly mourn Jews murdered on Oct. 7., denying them police protection for a vigil, forcing them to hold it outside, and demanding that the event avoid specifically mentioning Jewish suffering. In an email to one Jewish group that planned a vigil, Vice President and Dean of Students Derek Doucet said, “I wonder if such a public gather in such a charged moment might be more inclusive.”

A month later, the administration uncomplainingly accommodated Students for Justice in Palestine’s “Vigil for Palestine,” providing campus police, space on campus, and a speech from a high ranking official, a request which organizers of the Jewish vigil had been denied.

StandWithUs also noted that Middlebury allegedly ignored numerous complaints of antisemitic harassment committed by anti-Zionist groups. After a local Chabad rabbi  wrote to school officials reporting acts of “intimidation,” including preventing Jews from entering the cafeteria, during a “Day of Resistance” event organized by Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), the school’s associate vice president of safety warned him not to report the incidents to outside law enforcement, saying that doing so would be a “risk to individuals and to our community.” The official also denied being aware of any antisemitic incidents.

“The hostile environment at Middlebury College and the administration’s failure to act to correct it are unacceptable,” Carly Gammill, Director of Legal Strategy at SWU Center for Legal Justice, in a press release issued on Friday. “Too often, when Jewish students raise concerns about antisemitism, they are subjected to administrators who deflect the bigotry at play”

“Jewish students deserve the same level of respect, consideration and lawful response as all minority groups when they report cases of bigotry and discrimination,” Gammill added.

Middlebury also allegedly refused to punish anti-Zionist students for using their social media accounts to publish hate speech. Social media posts that cheered Hamas’ atrocities as “decolonization,” called Jews “colonizers” deserving of being victims of violence, and said “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” proliferated in the days and weeks after Oct. 7, but this day, Middlebury has never issued a statement condemning antisemitism.

The Algemeiner has asked Middlebury College to comment on SWU’s allegations.

“Middlebury college has failed egregiously to provide adequate protecting for Jewish students seeking to remedy persistent antisemitic bigotry on campus,” Yael Lerman, SWU director of the Center for Legal Justice said in Friday’s press release. “Middlebury administrators disregarded student allegations, attempted to silence them, neglected to enforce its own rules, and at times were complicit in discriminating against Jewish students. In doing so, the college has violated its obligations under Title VI and must be held accountable.”

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

The post Antisemitism Accusations Lodged Against Middlebury College first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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