The BEEB is known for it’s hatred of the Jewish state of Israel. This interview was published at Israel National News, and republished here with the author’s consent.
The BBC: Widespread Antipathy toward Israel
Manfred Gerstenfeld interviews Trevor Asserson
From 2001-2006, Trevor Asserson a leading British litigation lawyer, has undertaken six well-documented studies detailing the BBC’s systematic bias against Israel. These may be found at www.bbcwatch.com. His methodology can also be used to analyze other media. He states: “The BBC’s coverage of the Middle East is infected by an apparent widespread antipathy toward Israel. This distorted media reporting creates an atmosphere in which anti-Semitism can thrive. I felt the BBC should be analyzed because its significant influence on public opinion is combined with a unique obligation to produce ‘impartial’ news.”
Asserson heads an Israeli law firm. Before coming to Israel, he was a senior international litigation partner in the London office of one of the world’s largest law firms.
Asserson continues: “The BBC’s monopoly derives from a legally binding contract with the British government. It has fifteen legal obligations under its charter, which include among others: fairness, respect for truth, due accuracy, attachment to fundamental democratic principles, not broadcasting their own opinions on current affairs or public policy, ensuring that opposing views are not misrepresented, and not letting the audience gauge reporters’ personal views.
“In my analysis I found that the BBC breached several of these guidelines, in some cases even most. Its news reports concerning Israel are distorted by omission, by inclusion, by only giving partial facts, by who is interviewed, and by the background information provided, or lack of it. I also found that there is a systemic problem with the BBC complaints system. The only way to establish all this factually was to do a proper forensic analysis. I then prepared my reports in the way in which a judge would expect the evidence to be presented in a court of law.”
In a study “The BBC: The War on Iraq—An Analysis,” which appeared in June 2003, Asserson and Lee Kern analyzed BBC coverage from 3-18 April 2003, when the war was a few days old until after the war had effectively ended. When comparing the BBC’s treatment of the coalition forces in Iraq with its coverage of Israeli army operations, the authors found ‘that the partiality of the BBC’s reporting quite possibly infects its coverage of all politically sensitive issues.’
“In Iraq, Western coalition troops are described in warm and glowing terms, with sympathy being evoked for them both as individuals and for their military predicament. In contrast, Israeli troops are painted as faceless, ruthless and brutal killers, with little or no understanding shown for their actions.”
In his fourth BBC Watch’s report in 2004, Asserson analyzed all documentaries on the subject of the Middle East shown on BBC 1 and 2 from late 2000 to June 2004. He found that the BBC was conducting “what amounts to something equivalent to a campaign to vilify Israel, broadcasting a documentary critical of Israel every two to three months…88% of documentaries on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict paint either a negative impression of Israel or (in two cases) a positive image of Palestinians.”
Asserson adds: “The thing that I did not include in my reports, which I probably should have, is the impressive record Israel has for protecting human rights. This evidence is entirely ignored by the BBC. Many examples can be given. For instance, the number of cases in which individual human rights are taken through the procedure of order nisi to Israel’s Supreme Court, and the way it protects individuals. Any democracy would be proud to have such a legal history of protection of individual rights. When one looks at the political context of daily violence against the civilian population in which these decisions are being made, it is even more remarkable.
“I do not think there has ever been a democratic country that can begin to compare with the decisions that the Israeli Supreme Court has made, under the pressures in which it finds itself. This is a completely positive area about Israel that is totally ignored by the BBC and many others.
“On the Palestinian side, matters that have been ignored include major issues such as Palestinian education, which is training people to hate. Another area is several Palestinian movements’ aims to eradicate Israel. They are not concerned with territories. What Islamic Jihad and Hamas say is that it is their aim to destroy the whole of the State of Israel. In fact, the aim is to kill Jews wherever they are.”
Asserson concludes “On the basis of my interviews with present BBC journalists and those who have recently left, Israel is a hated state by many in the organization. What is insidious is that the BBC enjoys the hallmark of fair play and reasonableness because as an institution it is ‘approved’ by the British government. This cloak of fairness allows it to take a range of partial political stances in its broadcasting in an almost surreptitious way.”