Former chairman slams BBC for failing on “impartiality” over Israel coverage

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Former chairman slams BBC for failing on “impartiality” over Israel coverage

Justin Cohen is the News Editor at the Jewish News

A masked Palestinian youth carries an axe in the West Bank (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)
A masked Palestinian youth carries an axe in the West Bank (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

by Justin Cohen, News Editor

Former BBC chairman Lord Grade has accused the corporation of repeatedly failing to maintain standards of “reporting and impartiality”  in its coverage of the recent attacks in Israel over the past week.

The Tory peer said the broadcaster had failed to show examples of Palestinian Authority officials encouraging attacks, which has “played an undeniable part in stoking tension”, and insisted: “This lack of balance cannot be allowed to continue.”

His uncompromising attack came in a letter to BBC head of news James Harding and focused on a report by Orla Guerin, broadcast on the 10pm bulletin last week.

Lord Grade, who chaired the corporation between 2004-6, wrote: “I must object to the fact the report appeared to promote equivalence between Israeli victims of terrorism and Palestinians who have been killed by Israeli security forces in the act of carrying out terror attacks.


“An understandably emotional interview is conducted with the father of a dead Palestinian youth who had been killed committing a fatal terror attack. However, the report failed to show the emotional distress caused to Israelis by any of these recent attacks. This is not balance.”

In the letter, first reporting by Conservative Friends of Israel, he also condemned as “misleading and untrue” the reporter’s assertion that “there’s no sign of involvement by militant groups”.

He added: “Regrettably, this is not the first time the standard of reporting and impartiality has been unsatisfactory in recent weeks. I was disappointed to see the BBC News website publish a misleading and counter-factual headline: ‘Palestinian shot dead after Jerusalem attack kills two’. I note this headline underwent four revisions following public criticism.”

Jewish News dedicated its front page last week to condemning coverage of the violence, particularly by the BBC and Independent. 

The BBC has over the years faced accusations by both supporters of Israel and of the Palestinians of bias.

Seven Israelis have been killed in knife and shooting attacks over the last two weeks. 40 Palestinians have been killed, many of whom were shot whilst attacking Israelis. Three were killed today in attempted stabbings.

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