BBC News had to issue an on-air correction after it branded pro-Palestine marches in the UK as being ‘pro-Hamas’ – twice. However, it was just that – a correction; in no way was it an apology. Moreover, it came against a backdrop of ongoing BBC bias towards Israel and against Gaza and the Palestinians.
When are pro-Palestine supporters pro-Hamas? When the BBC says so
During a live broadcast on Monday 16 October, BBC anchor Samantha Simmonds said:
Here in the UK, the prime minister Rishi Sunak… visited a Jewish school in London to underline his support for the community. The visit followed several demonstrations across Britain during which people voiced their backing for Hamas, which many countries including the UK and US consider a terrorist organisation.
"Here in the UK Sunak visited a Jewish school in London to underline his support for the community. The visit followed several demonstrations across Britain during which people voiced their backing for Hamas"
BBC News. No words. pic.twitter.com/Va9KcU8TKY
— Saul Staniforth (@SaulStaniforth) October 16, 2023
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The demonstrations Simmonds was referring to were, of course, pro-Palestinian ones. As the Canary previously reported:
Tens of thousands of people across the UK took to the streets in support of Palestine. Whilst many of the rallies successfully provided space for Palestinian voices, some were marred by antagonistic policing…
As Israel continued bombing Gaza, Palestinian solidarity groups across the country called for rallies on 14 October. The biggest and most significant of these was in London, where an estimated more than 100,000 people turned out.
BBC News host Maryam Moshiri repeated the broadcaster’s claim later on 16 October:
"Here in the UK Sunak visited a Jewish school in London to underline his support for the Jewish community. The visit followed several demonstrations across Britain during which people voiced their backing for Hamas"
— Saul Staniforth (@SaulStaniforth) October 16, 2023
People on X were immediately furious:
This is profoundly irresponsible of @BBCNews.
They absolutely must publicly apologise for this deliberate misrepresentation. https://t.co/4N5Z08JdTW
— Mike Galsworthy (@mikegalsworthy) October 17, 2023
the clearing of the throat is the presenter readying herself to tell a massive lie https://t.co/miX9atPjNV
— Karl Hansen (@karl_fh) October 16, 2023
Clearly, the BBC noticed the uproar. Later on 16 October it issued a retraction:
We accept that this was poorly-phrased and was a misleading description of the pro-Palestinian demonstrations. Now, here’s the weather…
Not an apology for tacitly labelling tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of people as Hamas supporters, which under UK law may make you a criminal. No – the BBC issued a correction, admitting effectively to a mistake.
A “mistake” is getting your maths homework wrong, or making a grammatical error in an article. A “mistake” is not the BBC writing an autocue, which must have had editorial oversight, and then allowing it to be read out not once but twice.
However, given the BBC‘s track record during Israel’s assault on Gaza, as well as historically, it’s of little surprise the BBC would present these lies which favour Israel.
The BBC: a history of being a colonialist state mouthpiece
Not long before it issued its retraction, the BBC was still spreading what people considered to be propaganda:
So we shouldn’t be upset if schools and hospitals are bombed, right? Getting the excuses in early… https://t.co/279XAQWa0x
— Prof Paul Bernal (@PaulbernalUK) October 17, 2023
As the Canary previously reported, the BBC uses the passive voice when referring to Israel’s killing of Palestinians. People mysteriously “died” in Gaza – but in Israel they’re “killed”:
More than 500 people have died in Gaza after Israel launched massive retaliatory air strikes, according to Gaza's health ministry
More than 700 people have been killed in Israel since Hamas launched its attacks on Saturday
Follow the latest ⬇️
— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) October 9, 2023
a Today broadcast on 19 October saw John Humphrys and Middle East correspondent Kevin Connolly imply that all of those who had been killed in that month’s violence had been Israeli – a suggestion that was untrue.
In fact, Israel had killed more than 40 Palestinians, while Palestinians had killed less than 10 Israelis.
On top of all this, the BBC‘s bias extends well beyond laying cover for Israeli war crimes. As the Canary previously wrote:
during the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic the BBC went onto a war footing. It was a similar MO to the one it had during WWII. It’s also the same one that led it to it being directly involved in espionage during the 1953 Iranian coup. It’s the same MO that led Marr to stand outside Downing Street at the end of the Iraq invasion in 2003 and say:
“it would be entirely ungracious, even for [Tony Blair’s] critics, not to acknowledge that tonight he stands as a larger man and a stronger prime minister as a result”.
And it’s the same MO that saw the government fund the BBC to push Western propaganda in North Korea. The point being, the BBC has often worked as a propaganda arm of government; regardless of whether that government is Tory or Labour.
The BBC will defend the colonialist state, and the system, at any costs – whether that be propping up the UK political narrative about Israel, or pushing Tory coronavirus policy. In the context of Gaza, though, it participates in the sickening villainisation of the Palestinian people Israel is currently killing.
Featured image via Saul Staniworth – screengrab
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