CUFI has called for an independent inquiry into BBC anti-Israel bias and demanded the release of the unpublished internal 2004 Balen Report into anti-Israel bias in their coverage.
The bias in the BBC’s coverage of the Israel-Hamas war is contributing to anti-Israel sentiment in the UK and this in turn has caused a spike in antisemitic incidents targeting British Jews. The BBC’s complicity in anti-Israel propaganda is also having an impact internationally, and as British public broadcaster they should be held to account.
Here are some examples:
- The BBC’s initial stance was to refuse to describe Hamas as terrorists, despite them being a proscribed terrorist organisation, and having perpetrated a horrific range of terrorist acts on a massive scale on 7th BBC News has even referred to the terrorism of 7th October as a “‘cross-border attack”, as though it was a conventional military operation.
- The BBC reported on 17th October at face value, with no time to verify what had actually happened, claims from the Hamas controlled Gaza Ministry of Health that 500 deaths had been caused by an Israeli airstrike on the Al-ahli hospital. In fact, a Palestinian Islamic Jihad rocket had misfired and hit the car park, not the hospital itself, causing a far smaller number of casualties. This rush to accept Hamas’ framing of a horrific incident in a way that demonised Israel resulted in inflamed tensions in the wider Middle East.
- The BBC had to apologise for reporting on 15th November that the IDF was ‘targeting’ medical teams and Arabic speakers in the Al-Shifa Hospital. In fact, the IDF’s teams going into the hospital ‘included’ medical teams and Arabic speakers in order to reassure staff and patients.
- The BBC’s diplomatic correspondent Caroline Hawley’s Twitter feed reads, according to Danny Cohen in the Daily Telegraph “like a series of press releases from Hamas central command. Day after day Hawley reposts messages and photographs from Gaza without context or any apparent attempt at basic journalistic verification.”
- BBC reporter Rhami Ruhayem’s Twitter feed writes of casualties in Gaza and blames “Western media for being complicit in Israel’s attack”.
- The BBC has whitewashed calls to annihilate Israel and kill Jews at the recent demonstrations within the UK where slogans such as ‘from the river to the sea’, ‘Intifada’, ‘Jihad’ or ‘Khaybar ya Yahud’ have been utilised. On 31st October the BBC News website published a report by the corporation’s religion editor Aleem Maqbool on its UK page. Maqbool reported and offered a one-sided discussion of the phrase from the river to the sea: “The Palestine Solidarity Campaign, which helps organise the demonstrations, contests this interpretation of that particular chant, saying the slogan refers to “the right of all Palestinians to freedom, equality and justice”.
- The BBC on 3rd November published an article titled: “When can protesting over the Gaza war be illegal in the UK?” Since then, the Daily Telegraph on 5th November has challenged the BBC’s claim that people are allowed to fly flags on private property “as long as it meets standard conditions such as it being in a safe location and not obscuring roads or railways”. The Telegraph response states: “This is not correct. It is generally contrary to planning regulations to fly a flag outside a building, or even inside a building within one metre of an external door, window or other opening through which it is visible from outside the building, unless planning permission is obtained.” There are exemptions, including flying a country’s national flag, the lawyers note. Jonathan Turner, the chief executive of UK Lawyers for Israel, said: “It is very unsatisfactory that the BBC is encouraging unlawful conduct, particularly in this highly sensitive context. It also gives the appearance that BBC journalists are keen to encourage demonstrations hostile to Israel and adds to concerns that the BBC is fundamentally biased against Israel.”
- BBC Arabic appears to have an inherent bias against Israel in that six journalists have been suspended for praising the attacks by Hamas on Oct 7th and liking related posts.
- BBC Arabic gave Hamas Political Bureau member Musa Abu Marzouq a platform to tell the Arabic-speaking world that the 239 Israeli hostages in Gaza were actually “guests” of Hamas. This was not challenged by the presenter.
Please help CUFI tackle the appalling BBC bias against Israel. Using our suggested wording and automated form, we invite you to contact your MP, asking them to demand higher standards of reporting of this conflict. Our letter asks the BBC to review their editorial guidelines and calls for a wider backbench debate on the BBC and BBC Arabic’s bias against Israel. It also asks your MP to call for an independent inquiry into BBC anti-Israel bias and to finally release the unpublished internal 2004 Balen Report into anti-Israel bias in their coverage.