If I forget thee O Jerusalem, my name is the BBC (and the Guardian)
If I forget thee O Jerusalem, my name is the BBC (and the Guardian)
The fast of Tisha Be’Av, the saddest day in the Jewish calendar, is almost upon us (beginning tomorrow night, because the 9th itself falls on Shabbat), and the destruction of Jerusalem, even if only virtual, continues to this day.
The BBC has been particularly egregious – although by far the only culprit – in denying Jerusalem’s connection to Israel. Honest Reporting has been documenting and following the BBC’s denial of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital:
It all started when the BBC’s Olympics page mentioned “Palestine’s” capital as “East Jerusalem” and Israel as having no capital at all. As Honest Reporting writes:
So if the BBC were to be consistent, it would presumably state (also inaccurately) that Israel’s capital is “West Jerusalem”. Wrong.
The BBC’s Olympic country profile for Israel simply fails at all to include a listed capital city. This despite the inclusion of Jerusalem on the map of Israel. While the only partially-recognized entity of “Palestine” has a listed capital that isn’t even under its sovereign control, the very real and recognized state of Israel has no capital despite being sovereign over the entire city of Jerusalem.
Mark Regev of the Prime Minster’s Bureau wrote a letter of protest to the BBC (see at above link), a facebook campaign stating that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital was started, and the game was on.
How the BBC views Israel’s capital
Following this protest, the BBC updated their Olympics page – but not with the wording that one would expect. As Honest Reporting’s update reports:
The new text replaced the word capital with “Seat of Government” in Jerusalem,while adding that most foreign embassies “are in Tel Aviv.” It made a parallel change to the listing for “Palestine”, listing “East Jerusalem” as the “Intended seat of government.”
The BBC’s refusal to mention Jerusalem as Israel’s capital has been covered by several other sites, all of which are worth a read.
The Commentator writes that “According to the BBC, Israel has no capital city”:
Every other nation represented on the BBC website has a profile of the country which lists ‘Key Facts’. For instance, Djibouti’s top medal sport is athletics, its population is 879,100 and its capital is Djibouti. In case you were unsure, Iranians are good at wrestling, their capital is Tehran and there are just over 75 million people living there.
But if you’re interested in the state of Israel, you’ll have a hard time obtaining a certain bit of information from the BBC website. Sure, Israel shines at sailing and judo (no Mavi Marmara or IDF jokes, please) and it has a population of 7.3million. But we were interested to know where the BBC placed Israel’s capital.
It seems… nowhere.
Israellycool has excellent coverage of the whole scandal in their post entitled “What is the point of the BBC?”.
And yesterday’s Jerusalem Post really hit the nail on their head with their editorial entitled “BBC bias“. An excerpt:
Evincing no hint of regret, the BBC later waxed indignant and argued that the modifications on its website were “generated by online lobby activity.” The inference is that there was something untoward in said “online lobby activity” and that the BBC had its arm unjustly twisted.
Moreover, no opportunity appears to have been missed to render Israel’s image disagreeable. The photo chosen to represent Israel on its BBC profile shows an IDF soldier screaming at an Arab, with the caption reading: “Israelis and Palestinians have been at loggerheads for decades.”
The Syrian page, in contrast, looks idyllic. It pictures three pretty girls in white Muslim garb with older black-clad women in the background, all smiling. The caption informs us innocuously that “the overwhelming majority of Syrians are Muslim.”
Concomitantly, the campaign to commemorate the 11 Israeli athletes slain by Arab terrorists at the Munich Olympics exactly 40 years ago received zero coverage on the BBC. That’s starkly different from the choices made by other international news providers, British ones notably among them.
The BBC is not alone in its refusal to mention Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The Guardian (no surprise there) not only denied Jerusalem’s status, but, as CifWatch reported, pronounced that Tel Aviv is Israel’s capital.
Now read the following correction made by the Guardian on Sunday 22 April 2012, which is found on the web here. As I did, you may have to read it twice to realize what it says:
• The caption on a photograph featuring passengers on a tram in Jerusalem observing a two-minute silence for Yom HaShoah, a day of remembrance for the 6 million Jews who died in the Holocaust, wrongly referred to the city as the Israeli capital. The Guardian style guide states: “Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel; Tel Aviv is” (Eyewitness, 20 April, page 24).
Did you need to read it again to grasp the “wrong reference” that the Guardian is correcting? In case you missed it, here it is again: the caption, the Guardian claims, violated its style guide by noting in passing that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel.
This calls for a correction, since the Guardian style guide apparently decrees:
“Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel; Tel Aviv is”
The Guardian has decided that even though Jerusalem has been Israel’s capital since the founding of the state, its Parliament, Supreme Court and ministerial offices are there, it, the Guardian, believes that Tel Aviv is the country’s real capital. It has apparently enforced this absurdity by codifying it in its style guide.
Is there any other country in the world for which the Guardian’s style guide defines the capital as being other than the city that country has selected as its capital? If any newspaper’s “style guide” decreed that London is not the capital of England, would that not be ludicrous? Is the next step for the Guardian style guide to decide that Israel is not a country but Palestine is, even though exactly the opposite is true?
The ludicrous absurdity of this political-correctness turned denial of reality is depicted brilliantly in Benji Lovitt’s sadly hilarious (note: language-warning) blog post “BBC, I’m the capital of your mom“.
Last I checked, the BBC is not a policy-making body. It exists to report the news, not make it. What if Sports Illustrated decided that Maccabi Tel Aviv won the World Cup? BBC, you can’t just make things up.
Responding to the uproar later last week, the BBC edited Israel’s profile on their site. Did it list Jerusalem as the capital of Israel? Of course not. It listed it as the “seat of government.” What the flying falafel does that even mean? Okay, BBC, as far as I’m concerned, the city of London is no longer hosting the Olympics. It’s hosting “the seat of track and field.” Have fun reprinting all your souvenir t-shirts.
Seriously, BBC, if you’re willing to list Jerusalem as the “seat of government,” is it such a stretch to simply write the word “capital?”
BBC, if you’re lying about something as fundamental as our capital, what kind of favorable coverage can we expect during the Games themselves? That the Israeli swimmer finished in ninth place out of five? That the Israeli sprinter clocked a time of 25 hours in the 100-meter dash? I look forward to learning that the Palestinian shot-put thrower was attacked by Israeli security with disproportionate force or that the Israeli team is occupying the Olympic village.
And for one more piece of madness on the issue of Jerusalem, I give you Al Arabiya, who report that a video clip about rebuilding the Bet Hamikdash (Temple), produced by theTemple Institute in Jerusalem, is in fact a plot to overthrow Egypt’s new President Morsi.
Here is the video in question. I think it’s cute.
Now have a go at trying to decipher the convolutions of Arab thinking:
An Israeli advertisement circulating online this week has ruffled the feathers of online commentators in Egypt who claim the ad “insults” President Mohammed Mursi, prompting the premier on Wednesday to launch an investigation.
Mursi ordered the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to prepare a report about an Israeli ad that has been decried as “offensive” to the Egyptian president, the state-run news agency MENA reported.
The advert named “The Children are Ready” is produced by the Israel-based Temple Institute – a non-profit educational and religious organization which promotes the rebuilding of the Temple of Solomon – and begins by showing an Israeli family on the beach.
The family is playfully running on the beach; the children build an elaborate sand castle, or temple, while a man, presumed to be their father, sits to read a newspaper.
But after they build the temple and to look at it, the father throws the newspaper. It falls at his feet, clearly showing an image of Mursi on the page.
Social media users “allege that the symbolic message [within the advert] is that the Egyptian president will not prevent Israel from building temples,” Egypt Independent reported on Tuesday.
A caption beneath the video, posted by the organization on video sharing site YouTube states: “Two children change the world while their father reads the newspaper.”
The video was re-posted by Arab users with the title (in Arabic): “An Israeli advert insults President Mursi.”
While the newspaper that the father is reading has a number of stories about the Middle East, such as ”Assad forces advance on rebel northern town,” “Syria set to win seat on UN Human Rights Council,” and about Iranian plans to build a nuclear powered submarine – all stories from July 5, by the way – the Arab media is fixated on the photo of Mohamed Morsi that is briefly and barely visible when the father drops the newspaper
When you are looking for reasons to be insulted, you tend to find them.
When contacted by Al Arabiya on Tuesday, a spokesperson from the Temple Institute was unable to be reached for comment.
Meanwhile, a statement on the group’s website says: “The Temple Institute is dedicated to every aspect of the Holy Temple of Jerusalem, and the central role it fulfilled, and will once again fulfill, in the spiritual wellbeing of both Israel and all the nations of the world.”
The Temple of Solomon was built in the 6th century BC. It was expanded by King Herod before its destruction in 70 AD. According to regional media reports, rebuilding the temple would likely undermine the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex in Jerusalem, which is located near where the temple once stood.