Friday, April 17, 2009


We've known for some time that Jeremy Bowen of the BBC is guilty of bias when it comes to the conflict between Israel and its Arab neighbours and now, even the BBC has pronounced him guilty.

According to Honest Reporting the "BBC Trust, which oversees complaints to the British state broadcaster, has ruled that Bowen's coverage of Israel in an article on the BBC's Web site and a radio broadcast was partially inaccurate and that aspects of the Internet article lacked impartiality."

In a piece Bowen wrote for the BBC website last June under the headline "Six days that changed the Middle East," about the Six Day War, which was criticized at the time by HonestReporting UK, Bowen referred to "Zionism's innate instinct to push out the frontier". He also wrote that Israel showed a "defiance of everyone's interpretation of international law except its own" and that its generals felt that they were dealing with "unfinished business", left over from the 1948 War of Independence. These references were deemed inaccurate or lacking impartiality by the BBC Trust:

"Readers might come away from the article thinking that the interpretation offered was the only sensible view of the war," it said. "It was not necessary for equal space to be given to the other arguments, but ... the existence of alternative theses should have been more clearly signposted."

The second finding related to a broadcast Bowen delivered on From Our Own Correspondent on BBC Radio 4 in January 2008, in which Bowen said the US government considered the Israeli town of Har Homa on the outskirts of Jerusalem as illegal.

The committee found the assertion was inadequately sourced: "The Middle East Editor had stated his professional view without qualification or explanation, and that the lack of precision in his language had rendered the statement inaccurate." It ruled the report had partially breached accuracy guidelines.

Bowen's position as BBC Middle East Editor is now completely untenable but is the BBC going to do anything about it?

Heavens no. Not even a rap over the knuckles.

That's a pity because if there were any ethics left in journalism Bowen would be looking for a new line of work. And based on the photograph of the man (see above), he would be eminently suited for a job as a used car salesperson.


Anonymous said...

What hogwash. That phoney Bowen would never be accepted into the honourable ranks of used car salespeople.

Eric Postlethwaite (Chairman of the National Association of Use Car Salespersons)

Pommie Bastard said...

BBC Admits to Bias by Jonathan Hoffman, co-Vice Chair of the UK Zionist Federation

The BBC is a unique institution. It is the largest broadcasting organisation on the planet (with an annual operating expenditure over £4 billion) and it is a public service broadcaster. The former gives it tremendous power. Even in the internet age, more people almost certainly relied on the BBC than on anyone else for their information about the recent Gaza conflict.

The combination of size with 100% public ownership means that the BBC has very clear Editorial Guidelines.

They state: “The BBC’s commitment to accuracy is a core editorial value and fundamental to our reputation… Impartiality lies at the heart of the BBC’s commitment to its audiences.“

As one might expect, the BBC has a formal structure for handling complaints.

It is a three stage structure. The highest stage - for complainants who have been through the first two stages and who are still unhappy - is to appeal to the Editorial Standards Committee of the BBC Trust. At that stage the BBC has enormous resources - including for example commissioning external academic studies - which it can deploy into investigating a complaint.

Now to the BBC’s coverage of the Middle East. Many Israel experts have felt over the years that the BBC’s coverage has often been unfair to Israel. Trevor Asserson (a British lawyer who now lives in Jerusalem) did a stack of work to document this some 5-7 years ago.

In November 2003 in response to criticism (from both sides) about its Middle East coverage, the BBC appointed Malcolm Balen as Senior Editorial Adviser on the Middle East.

He wrote a long Report which was supposed to be internal. Reportedly it found anti-Israel bias. A legal case to require the publication of the Report has recently received a favourable judgment in an appeal to the House of Lords, the upper chamber of the British parliament - though the BBC is continuing to fight the legal case against publication.

Also in response to criticism the BBC appointed its first Middle East Editor, Jeremy Bowen.

What happened today was the publication of a landmark decision. The highest level of the BBC’s complaints-handling structure - the Editorial Standards Committee of the BBC Trust - has ruled that Jeremy Bowen breached both the guideline on accuracy and that on impartiality.

The decisions were in response to two complainants: Jonathan Turner, a London barrister, and a complainant from CAMERA (the ‘Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America’). Here are brief details:

1: “How 1967 Defined the Middle East” - BBC Website, 4 June 2007

An article “How 1967 Defined the Middle East” by Jeremy Bowen was posted on the BBC Website on 4 June 2007 (it is still there) :

The ESC found that the article breaches the BBC’s guideline on impartiality.

It found that the article breaches the BBC’s guideline on accuracy in three respects:

It wrongly says of the settlements that Israel is “in defiance of everyone’s interpretation of international law except its own.”

In the imprecise use of the phrase “unfinished business” in the statement “The Israeli generals, hugely self-confident, mainly sabras (native-born Israeli Jews) in their late 30s and early 40s, had been training to finish the unfinished business of Israel’s independence war of 1948 for most of their careers”;

It wrongly refers to Zionism’s “innate instinct to push out the frontier”.

2: BBC Radio 4 “From Our Own Correspondent” - 12 January 2008 The ESC found that a statement that the Har Homa settlement was considered illegal by the United States breached the BBC’s guideline on accuracy.

The finding that Mr Bowen’s article on the Six Day War breaches the guideline on impartiality is particularly significant, since he has written a book about this episode (”Six Days: How the 1967 War Shaped the Middle East”), which he regards as fundamental to understanding the Middle East. Indeed, that book is frequently cited by the BBC as a defence against complaints about Mr Bowen’s reporting, even though it had already given rise to questions about Mr Bowen’s objectivity - in his submission to the BBC, Mr Turner noted that in July 2005, Professor Efraim Karsh (Head of Mediterranean Studies at Kings College, London) described the book as “rife with standard anti-Israel prejudice, namely, the portrayal of Israel as the source of the ME conflict and the whitewashing of Arab-Palestinian rejection of Israel’s legitimacy and decades of relentless violence against the Jewish state.”

Mr Bowen’s submissions in the complaints procedure only add to concerns. For example, he said: “if Zionism didn’t have ‘an innate instinct to push out the frontier’ it’s hard to make sense of how the yishuv (the pre-state Jewish community in Palestine) grew from a handful of immigrants on a few patches of land into the powerful and rich regional superpower Israel has become”. In fact, the yishuv included, inter alia, a very longstanding Jewish majority of the capital city, Jerusalem. And it is difficult to see why Mr Bowen referred in this connection to Israel being “rich”, if not out of prejudice. Israel’s economic success in recent years has been largely based on its high-tech industries which cover only a very small area of the country. In contrast Mr Bowen seems to think that Jews can only become rich by taking other people’s land.

The BBC committed extensive resources to the complaints. Two Editorial Advisers were available to the ESC; moreover they consulted two historians: Sir Martin Gilbert and Avi Shlaim.

The ESC’s findings are therefore serious. They demand urgent and visible action by the BBC to restore public confidence. The BBC should start by publishing the Balen Report, which it has spent 5 years and a reported £200,000 trying to keep under wraps. The Law Lords have ruled that the Report is within the jurisdiction of the Information Commissioner and so there is no justification whatever for the BBC to hand over yet more licence payers’ money to lawyers, in what will inevitably prove a fruitless attempt to prevent transparency.”

Anonymous said...

Jeremy Bowen guilty of breaking guidelines on inaccuracy and impartiality by Chas Newkey Burden

"Breaking news: The BBC's Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen has been found guilty by the BBC Trust's Editorial Standards Committee (ESC) of breaking BBC guidelines on accuracy and impartiality in his coverage of Israel. (This is the news I mentioned that was due to break tomorrow morning. The announcement has been brought forward.)

This has been a long time coming. Time and time again Bowen has distorted and twisted his coverage of the Middle East. To list all the examples would be a mammoth undertaking. I have included a mere selection here, and here, and here, and here, and here and here.

I got a first-hand experience of Bowen's hideous bias when I saw him speak at a literary event some years ago. He preened and puffed out his chest as he claimed he was an impartial reporter. Yet all night, every time he said the word "Palestinian" his eyes glazed over, almost romantically, and every time he said the word "Israel" he spat it out.(Incidentally, Bowen's book that he was launching that evening, about the Six Day War, has been described by Professor Efraim Karsh, a leading expert on the modern history of the Middle East, as: "superficial, derivative and rife with standard anti-Israel prejudice". I've read the book, I think the Professor was too kind.)

It is extraordinary to think that the BBC entrusts a man such as Bowen with coverage of such a monumentally important issue. As we saw during Operation Cast Lead, anti-Israel distortion contributes to the atmosphere of hate that leads to violence against Jews on the streets of Britain.

The Zionist Federation said in response to today's news: "Mr Bowen's position as Middle East Editor of a public service broadcaster is untenable in the light of the ESC’s findings."

Too right. He is now officially guilty of breaking guidelines on impartiality and inaccuracy.

He has to go."

Anonymous said...

I highlighted part of the previous comment to demonstrate that Bowen is just a common, garden variety, low life racist.