A case of serious misrepresentation by the BBC:
Summary of a 2008 Beyond Images report

Published: 2 August 2008
Briefing Number 218

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The BBC news website, which is an influential international source of news and commentary, seriously misrepresented the content of a documentary by BBC TV journalist Jane Corbin about Hamas in Gaza , which was broadcast in August 2007 and had courageously exposed Hamas activities.

The website article did not merely summarise or give advance ‘promotion' to the Corbin programme. Its effect was to rewrite what she had said, to be misleadingly selective about the parts of the TV programme which it referred to, and to whitewash Hamas to the maximum possible extent.

In March 2008 we on the Beyond Images project submitted a 5000 word report to the BBC, via its official complaints procedure. You can read our report on the Beyond Images website: Briefing 213, called ‘Whitewashing Hamas? How the BBC News website misrepresented a BBC TV documentary'. Click on All Beyond Images Briefings, under ‘the BBC, the media and public opinion'.

We have received a formal response from the BBC, which we do not find satisfactory, and we are in ongoing communication with them. For convenience, here is a summary of our original report:-

•  Jane Corbin states that Hamas bombers have killed “hundreds of Israelis” (the actual figure is over 400). The BBC website alters this phrase and instead states that Hamas have killed “over a hundred” Israelis

•  Jane Corbin states that Hamas calls for the destruction of Israel . The BBC website summary omits to mention this aspect of Hamas, which Corbin herself had referred to

•  Corbin refers to Hamas suicide bombers as ‘infamous'. The BBC website changes this expression to ‘better known'

•  Corbin refers to Palestinian weapons ‘smuggling' through tunnels into Gaza . The BBC website changes this to weapons ‘flowing' into Gaza

•  Corbin films Palestinian weapons smuggling into Gaza – the BBC website summary omits to refer to this sequence

•  Corbin includes footage of the violence of the Hamas takeover of Gaza of June 2007. The BBC website omits to refer to this footage

•  Corbin interviews a Palestinian family, who make harrowing allegations of torture against Hamas. The BBC website omits these allegations

•  Corbin films an attack on a Palestinian wedding party in Gaza by the Hamas Executive Force. The BBC website omits this sequence

•  Corbin shows how Palestinians burnt out a Gaza nightclub for being ‘decadent'. The BBC website omits this sequence

•  The BBC website summary highlights those parts of the Corbin programme which show Hamas as positive enforcers of law and order

•  Corbin's conclusions criticise both Hamas and Israel . The website summary omits her concluding criticisms of Hamas, but repeats her criticisms of Israel

In May 2008 we received a letter from the BBC complaints coordinator stating that the website article was “intended as a promotional tool” for the Corbin programme. But the website article was not merely “promotional”: it whitewashed the actions of Hamas to the maximum possible extent. Such a whitewash is disservice to the viewing public, and to both the Israeli and the Palestinian people, which is why we are pursuing the matter.