case of Jenin started in March 2002. In this one single month 16
Palestinian terror bombings and other acts targeted and deliberately
killed 102 Israeli civilians. For most of the killings Palestinian
organizations sitting in Jenin proudly took responsibility. In the
next month, on 3d April the IDF - Israeli Defence Forces - entered
the city of Jenin, as part of 'Operation Defensive Shield', to
capture the perpetrators.
Since the first day of this
operation the BBC radio and TV news and
special reports "informed" the world on the "Israeli massacre" of
the Palestinian civilian population of Jenin in at least half-hourly
sensational reports. The BBC News and World Service gave the
microphone to and quoted unchallenged the
Palestinian Authority spokesman, Saeb Erekat and other Arab sources
to talk on an 'Israeli massacre', starting with "data" of 3000 and
switching later to 500 or 520 Palestinian civilian casualties. The
BBC broadcasted very intensively the big story of the Israeli
'massacre' of Palestinian civilians, through reports, unchallenged
quotations and renewing reminders. False allegations of
massacre and false data were actively repeated literally thousands
of times (see data later), at least until 29.10.2002, their traces
and repetitions by others are on the net
until now, November 2005.
The BBC mentioned
rarely and then downplayed or even ridiculed the dry official
Israeli statements which came of course somewhat late, because a
democracy can not speak without fact-finding done before - on '52
Palestinians dead; 5 women, one child and 46 adult males mostly
By mid-April most
major media organs, i.a. AP, CNN or the Washington Post, found out
that the Palestinian statements on a massacre in Jenin were
unfounded and therefore stopped the 'massacre' story. Not so the
On 1 August 2002 a UN
Report showed that the Israeli figures were right; it said that 52
Palestinians had been killed in Jenin, the majority was proven as
gunmen, and former Palestinian reports about
500 civilians killed - were not true. **
(**The Report of the Secretary-General prepared pursuant to General
Assembly resolution ES-10/10 2002 [
http://www.un.org/peace/jenin/index.html Paragraph 56]
says [quote] "
Fifty-two Palestinian deaths had been confirmed by the hospital in
Jenin by the end of May 2002. IDF also place the death toll at
approximately 52. A senior Palestinian Authority official alleged in
mid-April that some 500 were killed, a figure that has not been
substantiated in the light of the evidence that has emerged."
The exact figure of
civilians out of the 52 dead was more difficult to prove. The
Israelis claimed 7 Palestinian civilian casualties. The Palestinians
claimed twenty, however admitted that most of their dead had been
fighters and took pride in killing 23 Israeli soldiers in the battle
of Jenin. Israel paid the life of these 23 soldiers for doing a
surgical land operation instead of air strikes in order to save the
life of Palestinian civilians who were routinely used as human
shield by Palestinian gunmen***. (***Quoting
the UN Report: "Much of the fighting during Operation Defensive
Shield occurred in areas heavily populated by civilians, in large
part because the armed Palestinian groups sought by IDF placed their
combatants and installations among civilians. Palestinian groups are
alleged to have widely booby-trapped civilian homes...")
So the 'Israeli
massacre' story turned out to be a straightforward lie unwittingly
but very effectively served by the BBC
- but the BBC has never admitted it so clearly. It never condemned
Saeb Erekat and other Palestinian spokespersons involved as
unreliable sources if not simply as barefaced liars. No BBC reporter
or editor ever publicly apologised or corrected the shamefully
inaccurate story or has subsequently been disciplined for
uncritically and unprofessionally disseminating a version of
events which rapidly became apparent as a tissue of lies designed as
anti-Israel propaganda. In fact the Director of BBC News on whose
watch this happened, Mr Richard Sambrook , has since been promoted.
A crucial question is how many times and how long did the BBC
spread the false and libellous story of the 'massacre'?
To the 'how many times' question
a simple Google search (with all the words: "BBC" "Israel" "Jenin"
"massacre" "2002") finds 57000 (!) items. Many thousands of
these are relevant evidences. We have not had the resources to fully
analyse this amazing amount of evidences within the limited time until
submission, however even a first screening illustrates safely that after
the deduction of less relevant entries and duplicities there are still
thousands of evidences on hundreds of false and defamatory BBC
publications libelling Israel with the 'Jenin massacre' instead of
relating to the Jenin battle. See a few examples here*.
(*The first - that
is the most popular- Google item is BBC's "Jenin
Another most quoted
libellous BBC title is: "Expert
weighs up Jenin 'massacre' " we'll discuss this one later. The
BBC News title on 4 May 2002 is: "Arabs press UN over
And this is what the
BBC News article "Palestinians reject UN's Jenin findings" says even
on the day of the release of the UN Report on 1August(!): (quote)
"Palestinian officials have rejected a United Nations report on Israel's
assault on a West Bank refugee camp, after it said it found no evidence
that Israeli troops had committed a massacre there. Chief Palestinian
negotiator Saeb Erekat said mass killings of civilians had "clearly
happened" when Israel attacked the Jenin camp in April, calling Israel's
actions a "war crime". "This is a war crime and crimes against humanity
also took place " " (unquote). The BBC did not challenge again the by
then proven liar Saeb Erekat.
Another example of
the massacre libel as late as 29 October we'll discuss later.
Further there are
thousands of external items leaning on false BBC info. Thousands of
Palestinian website and other statements spoke on the 'Jenin massacre'
quoting BBC libels, from the articles above or elsewhere.)
Though in May some dry and downplayed BBC denials of the 'massacre'
started to come, BBC's false and defamatory quotations, commentaries and
reminders about the "Jenin massacre" also continued at least until 29
October, 2002. We have seen above what the BBC News wrote on 1 August
in the article "Palestinians reject UN's Jenin findings". On 29
October, 2002, the BBC News web article "Arrest call for Israeli ex-army
chief" wrote this: "He directed some of Israel's most controversial
military operations in the West Bank earlier this year, including Jenin
- where Palestinians claim a massacre took place". After complaints by
Honestreporting, the BBC had to change the sentence twice to reach its
still hostile but not totally false wording one can see today on the
The BBC did this 3 months after the UN
Report (1 August) or 6 months after CNN, AP or the Washington Post found
out the lies. Or exactly 6 months after when on April 29
British military expert David Holley, returning from his official audit
in Jenin, told to the BBC itself that : "There was not a massacre in
Jenin. 54 dead bodies were found." !
An interesting sub-study is to analyse
the BBC's misleading and libellous title even for this fact-finding
article with David Holley. The title was:
weighs up Jenin 'massacre' ". As if there was a massacre. The
capture under the top photo is: "Palestinians say there was a massacre
in Jenin". Again, as if there was a massacre. Could it be a mistake
made by chance? Probably not; the BBC knows better than myself that 70%
of the readers never see more than the title and the photo with the
capture. Now, how many readers, does the Select Panel believe,
understood that the title and the capture were misleading and the '...'
sign should have meant that the 'massacre' term was probably untrue?
What percentage of the readers, you believe, have read and perceived the
truth written in small letters much later, where the
British expert said clearly: "There was not a massacre in
Jenin"? Thus, the BBC actually conveyed the blood libel of the
'massacre' to many readers even with that very article which should
have cleansed the previous misinformation! We found the BBC quoting this
title libellous in itself as late as in November 2002!
The question arises who did this
cunning editing manipulation and where is he or she today? Similar
couvert misleading defamatory misinformation by the BBC can be
documented in the hundreds. Practically each and every report by Ms Orla
Guerin or Ms Barbara Plett mentioning Jenin contained this type of
defamatory slant against Israel.
A possible line of defense might be
that the origins and the sources of false information were in the main
not BBC journalists themselves but rather overzealous Palestinian or
other anti-Israel activists quoted by the BBC. However, as the BBC
lawyers have taught me in several legal threats that they have made to
me; when you quote and repeat false and libellous statements of
doubtful sources verbatim and unchallenged, it leaves the whole
responsibility for the quoted libels on yourself. The BBC therefore
is fully responsible for all the falsehoods about Jenin that it has
repeated and disseminated.
Among the many further anti-Israeli BBC
News slants about Jenin we would mention one more case only, where the
source was within the BBC itself. The BBC's young reporter personally
'testified' on the TV screen from the spot of the Jenin battle pointing
at a manmade heap under his feet where he said the massacred hundreds
of Palestinian corpses were 'allegedly' bulldozed by the IDF. He
reckoned he could smell the rotting corpses. One may believe he smelled
them, but how could he have known their number? The BBC News article of
April "UN names
Jenin inquiry team" contains on six occasions again the 'massacre'
allegations including three times the 'smell of the rotting corpses'.
The BBC 'proved' this with a photo where 3 Palestinians cover their nose
and make faces towards the lens like schoolboys do in a practical joke.
Only this time it was no joke. The BBC News had recruited one more
sense, the closest one to our subconscious, to hammer through the
In summary of the facts
the BBC reported, in thousands of
broadcasts, TV and text news, to hundreds of million people around the
world, the false 'news' and 'data', which Palestinian fantasists
invented out of thin air, namely that there had been a massacre by
Israeli troops in Jenin in which hundreds of Palestinian civilians were
deliberately killed. The BBC continued it despite the fact that the
truth had already been documented that 52 Palestinians, mostly fighters
(and 5 women and one child) were killed, in an Israeli pinpoint hand
operation instead of air strikes in order to minimise Palestinian
civilian casualties. 23 Israeli soldiers gave their lives for this.
1.2 The effects of the 'Jenin
The BBC News reporting on the Jenin
battle was a blunt distortion of the truth and has done enormous damage.
Considering the amazing amount of repetition of the BBC's false and
defamatory statements, in 43 languages, to hundreds of million people,
it is no wonder that this libel stuck very
strong on its victim. It is not an exaggaration to say that If
there was any massacre in Jenin - it was the massacre of the truth by
the BBC News.
The question arises, whether the BBC's
false and defamatory coverage on a massacre that never happened,
repeated long after the falsity was already widely known, and never
proportionally corrected, may or may not be perceived as a blood-libel
I have personally experienced in many
encounters that the BBC's coverage on the Jenin battle and the
'massacre' libel have left a horrible stain on Israelis. I have met,
heard or read of many people from all over the world and from all walks
of life; professors and men in the street, Christians, Muslims, Jews or
secular, haters or lovers-once of Israel, naοve laymen or seemingly
seasoned politicians like a Ken Livingstone or the Deputy Head of the
Danish Parliament, who became convinced, misled by the false
reporting on the 'massacre' in Jenin lead by BBC News, that Israel
had committed something close to a genocide. The blood libel has worked
only too well.
So to me it seems clear that a horrible
blood-libel was very effectively disseminated by the largest news
organization on earth against the Israeli army and against the Israeli
I believe that
the BBC News' false and libellous coverage on Jenin has significantly
contributed to the climate of opinion in the UK and elsewhere today that
tolerates the deliberate killing of children, women and men - provided
that they are Israeli Jews.
I have never assumed that the BBC wanted to achieve these awful
consequences but I am afraid that in fact it has done so.
1.3 Possible Solution 'Correction
Beyond Admitting Mistakes'
Even after the BBC's terrible mistakes
became known beyond doubt, it has never made a proportionally large
effort to correct the tremendous hatred against Israel what the
misreporting of 'massacre' sowed amongst Palestinians as well as in the
UK and in the whole world. The BBC has,
until this day, never seriously apologized and made an honest effort to
cleanse the blood libel it had unwittingly but so effectively spread.
However, we don't intend to dwell on
past complaints. The question is what is a fair and practical
solution now? How could the BBC honestly sooth the unhealed wounds of
the 'Jenin massacre' libel? We believe that for an effective healing
(1) You can re-assess whether the
BBC really did spread false news and data, libellous about Israel; and whether it has really
failed until now to clean and heal the wounds it caused. Should you
find this complaint to be justified, as I believe it to be, then:
(2) The BBC should publicly admit responsibility. In addition to this
and beyond mere admission, the BBC should actively repair the damage to
which it has contributed. It can be done for example by
a new series of TV and radio
broadcasts telling the truth about Israel and specifically on the Jenin
battle and on how the original BBC misinformation happened. How
and why the BBC serve the terror's propaganda machinery on this issue
unchecked, and for so long. This series should convey the
truth to all who had been misled, and repeat it again and again - at
least thrice as many times as the BBC broadcasted the untrue accusations
earlier. Because it takes much more to rebuild a good name than it
takes to destroy one.
(3) We do believe that the
corporation is at a cross-road in its history and has to do its
best to restore public confidence. With the above 'Correction Beyond
Admitting Mistakes' approach the BBC could commendably create a
revitalised high standard of impartiality and morality for the global
media. After a major blunder one has to admit the error, and then
not stop at admitting responsibility, but continue to actively repair to
the largest extent possible the damage that has been done.
When this is done by the BBC with
regard to Jenin we'll be only happy to see the BBC emerging again as the
global standard-bearer of moral and responsible journalism.
(4) The BBC should find out how its biased and untruthful Jenin
reporting blunder happened - and make the procedural and personal
changes required in order to ensure that something like this never