UPDATE: 30 JANUARY 2021
Press release from Amnesty International on this subject.
UPDATE: 19 January 2021
In the BBC’s World at One on Radio 4 today, programme went someway to rectify the complete failure to mention Palestinians in their earlier broadcasts. They had a lengthy clip and an interview with Tom Bateman in which this matter was discussed. Whether this was in response to complaints about their previous bias we cannot know. Amnesty was mentioned in the clip.
Serious bias in BBC report on progress with vaccination in Israel
Last week, on the BBC’s radio 4 programme PM which is broadcast between 5pm and 6pm each day, the presenter, Evan Davies interviewed a journalist from the Jerusalem Post about the rapid progress being made in Israel with vaccinating its citizens. Around 12% had already had their first vaccination and Evan Davies was clearly impressed.
What neither he, nor the journalist, mentioned it was only Jewish citizens who were being vaccinated, not Palestinians in the occupied territories or in Gaza. Perhaps this news item was put together in haste and slotted into the programme as it was a rare good news story in the current gloom.
However, a detailed report has been produced six days ago by B’Tselem, based in Israel, which analysed in considerable detail the second class status of Palestinians (not just with vaccinations) and their report, called This is Apartheid, concludes that Israel is effectively an Apartheid state. The BBC cannot claim ignorance.
BBC fails to mention that no Palestinians are being vaccinated in Israel
It is therefore very surprising and extremely troubling that on the BBC’s World at One programme today (18 January 2021), Sarah Montague hosted a 4 and a quarter minute clip – including an interview with the BBC’s Jerusalem correspondent, Tom Bateman – again lauding the rapid progress made with Israel’s vaccination programme which has now reached 20%. The interview was again a fulsome piece about what is happening in Israel but shockingly, neither of them mentioned that no Palestinians are being vaccinated.
Human Rights Watch points out that Israel, as the occupying power, is obliged under the 4th Geneva Convention to ensure that adequate medical supplies are available including for contagious diseases and epidemics.
The reasons for Israel’s actions are complex and they claim they have insufficient vaccines to give and that they have not received any request from the Palestinian authorities. Given the pace of the vaccination programme, the former seems a weak argument. Whatever the reasons, there seems no credible reason why the BBC, which is supposed to provide balanced reporting and impartiality, should twice broadcast pieces and interviews and completely fail to mention the lack of vaccination of Palestinians.
See our earlier blog on the B’Tselem.
The Israeli Government has strongly denied the Apartheid claim.
Sources: BBC; Independent, HRW