BBC pictures reveal more about their attitudes to the Middle East Conflict than they might wish

With the BBC continuing to report on the Middle East conflict in the way it does - who needs the Balen Report?

by The Commentator on 20 July 2012 13:38


On Wednesday, The Commentator brought you the exclusive story that the BBC refused to recognise anywhere as the capital city of the State of Israel.

While our other outlets picked up on the story (and failed to credit us, ahem) we were busy celebrating what was bound to be a BBC response, especially after Mark Regev, foreign press officer for the Prime Minister of the State of Israel, issued a stern letter to the BBC.

Sure enough, a partial cave from auntie’s end has occurred (Oo-er). Instead of now leaving the capital up to the imagination of the reader, the BBC Olympics page now recognises that the government sits in Jerusalem, although a caveat insists that most foreign embassies are based in Tel Aviv (spin, spin, spin).

Nonetheless, The Commentator was also the first to discover on Wednesday night that this wasn’t an incident limited to the BBC Sport site. In fact, this was a trend set by the BBC News section in the first place, confirming our suspicions of an institutional line on the State of Israel having no recognisable capital. As an extension of the British government - question must now be asked of the British Foreign Office as well.

Many of our readers will be familiar with the Balen Report from 2004 which examined the BBC coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This report has since been the subject of intense speculation as the BBC continues to plough taxpayer’s resources into shielding the document from the public eye. But why?

Several reasons spring to mind.

1. The Balen Report contains damning evidence of BBC bias and would effectively ruin the organisation’s credibility in the field of news reporting;

2. The BBC insist so heavily on not disclosing information pertaining to journalistic endeavours that the release of this report would result in a deluge of information requests from across the network;

3. Having spent over £200,000 on masking the report already, the BBC would look pathetic if it finally caved to pressure after all.

The likelihood is that a combination of these three possibilities exists. The BBC has been keen to keep the Balen Report shrouded in mystery, although snippets of what the report may well criticise can be seen when the BBC reports on the Israeli capital, or indeed in terms of which picture it chooses to illustrate Israel for its readers.

What do you think they chose? Was it a group of Rabbis shuffling around Jerusalem? Nope. How about a picture of the increasingly populay gay pride parade in Tel Aviv? No, not that either.

The Beeb has decided that the image most likely to convey what Israel is all about is a picture of an IDF officer screaming in the face of a dark skinned man – captioned as a Palestinian. The caption reads, “Israelis and Palestinians have been at loggerheads for decades.” Interesting.

Fast forward to the Palestinian territories profile on the BBC and the picture shows some hoodie and keffiyeh clad youths hurling stones, presumably at Israelis, while the caption reads: “Palestinians have strenuously resisted Israeli control”. Ah, yes. The shouty man from the Israel page. He’s trying to control the hooded youths. We get it now.


And so it makes you wonder if we even need to see the Balen Report. The reporting which it likely criticises is clear as day – as is the editorial line of the BBC. Israelis = bad. Palestinians = good. It’s just that black and white to them.

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