BBC upholds complaint on Israeli settlers article

24th Dec 2013


By Elham Asaad Buaras


A BBC Online article [published on February 4, 2013] about the life of Israeli settlers breached editorial guidelines on accuracy, the BBC has ruled.


The article titled West Bank: Why do some UK Jews settle in Israeli occupied land? focused on two British expats living in Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian West Bank.


Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) wrote to the BBC to question why it had run a feature on internationally recognised Palestinian land, without interviewing a single Palestinian about the impact of settlements on their lives.


PSC also pointed out inaccuracies in the article, including this statement from Daniel Cohen, one of the settlers who was interviewed: “About 90% of settlements are right on the border of the Green Line [the 1949 armistice line]. It is relatively rare to find a hilltop settlement.”


This month, the BBC ruled that Cohen’s comments “were inaccurate in a way which, in the context, was materially misleading.”


The BBC also ruled that; “Writers will be reminded of the need to ensure that a misleading impression does not arise from the use of quotes from interviews.


The comments have now been removed from the original article.


In a statement to The Muslim News PSC Director, Sarah Colborne, said: “Israel’s illegal settlements are mainly built on hilltops dominating Palestinian villages below, and cut deep into occupied Palestinian territory, stealing land and water resources from the Palestinian people. The BBC’s journalists and editors should have known better than to publish the lies of an illegal settler, claiming otherwise.”


Colborne added: “We still find it extraordinary that the BBC chose to run a soft feature of more than 1,000 words on the lives of settlers, allowing them to say that they are misunderstood and contribute to civil society.”


“The reality is that the settlers’ very presence on Palestinian land contravenes international law, and they are part of a brutal military occupation and apartheid system that discriminates against Palestinians.


“Palestinians have had their lives and their livelihoods destroyed by the creation of settlements, and are constantly subjected to violent assaults by armed settlers. Palestinian olive groves, which are a vital source of income, are uprooted or torched throughout the year by settlers, and Palestinians are attacked when they try and harvest their crops.


“None of this was mentioned in the BBC’s article; indeed the BBC did not even bother to seek a Palestinian point of view on settlers. This article was written in a way that promoted illegal settlers while ignoring the huge suffering they cause to Palestinians. It was a one-sided and irresponsible piece of journalism by the BBC.”

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