(April 17, 2019 / BBC Watch) The BBC’s charter sets out the five public purposes to which it is obliged to adhere, with the first one being:
“To provide impartial news and information to help people understand and engage with the world around them: The BBC should provide duly accurate and impartial news, current affairs and factual programming to build people’s understanding of all parts of the United Kingdom and of the wider world. Its content should be provided to the highest editorial standards. It should offer a range and depth of analysis and content not widely available from other United Kingdom news providers, using the highest calibre presenters and journalists, and championing freedom of expression, so that all audiences can engage fully with major local, regional, national, United Kingdom and global issues and participate in the democratic process, at all levels, as active and informed citizens.”
Readers can judge for themselves to what extent the “people’s understanding” was enhanced by statements made by some of the participants in the April 13 edition of the Dateline London program (aired on the BBC News channel and the BBC World News channel) during a discussion about the outcome of the general election in Israel.
Dateline London regular Abdel Bari Atwan told viewers that:
U.S. President Donald Trump worked as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s campaign director—obviously not true.
Netanyahu is “creating an apartheid state” and “establishing” an “apartheid state in Israel”—all Israeli citizens enjoy equal rights.
Israel’s Basic Law: Israel–the Nation State of the Jewish People states that “anybody who is non-Jewish, he wouldn’t have a place in this state”—the Nation-State law says nothing of the sort.
Netanyahu “said Israel is a state of the Jews. Non-Jews, they are not actually citizens of this state”— false.
Netanyahu is “going to annex the West Bank”—Netanyahu did not say that. He did say (days before the election) that he was considering extending Israeli law to Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria.
Israel has “300 nuclear warheads”—pure speculation.
Israel has the “fourth biggest army on earth”—the fourth largest army belongs to North Korea. Israel is in 29th place.
Palestinians don’t have the support of the international community—it is of course enough to look at the UN’s record on Israel to refute that claim.
Netanyahu is “re-stabilizing, re-creating, re-encouraging radicalism in the Arab world.” Atwan mentioned Algeria, Sudan and Yemen before making that claim. None of the uprisings in those countries have anything to do with Israel.
The Times journalist Iain Martin claimed that Netanyahu’s re-election is a “tragedy” and no less than a “potential geo-strategic catastrophe.”
Italian filmmaker and journalist Annalisa Piras claimed that Israel has a “prime minister who’s going to be indicted in the next few months”—no: Netanyahu may be indicted in the next few months, but that decision has not yet been made because it depends on hearings that have yet to take place.
The Oslo peace accord “would create a two-state solution”—the Oslo Accords in fact do not mention the two-state solution.
Program presenter Carrie Gracie did very little indeed to relieve viewers of the inaccurate impressions created by those statements and others from members of her panel. It is of course worth remembering that—in relation to the same program—the BBC has in the past claimed that the promotion of such unchallenged falsehoods is part of “a legitimate debate.”