Creating new perspectives since 2009

BBC map ignores occupation of Jerusalem

October 9, 2014 at 5:12 pm

The BBC has published a map on its website, which indicates that Jerusalem is not occupied by Israel. 

This graphic (see above) was used to illustrate at least two stories on the BBC website in recent months.

It can be viewed online two thirds of the way down a story titled “Israel: Hamas ‘will pay price’ after teenagers found dead.”  The map shows the city of Jerusalem as being wholly inside Israel. In reality, Jerusalem is under Israeli military occupation. 

The false map was also used at the bottom of a story from 23 September titled “Israel kills Palestinians suspected of teenagers’ murders.” However, following a complaint from the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), made on 8 October, the map was altered, and Jerusalem is now depicted as nudging the Green Line — which separates present-day Israel from the territories it captured in 1967.  

Although those territories include East Jerusalem, the entire city is depicted as being within Israel even in the revised map.

The BBC’s decision to deliberately move the physical location of the city on a map and place it within Israel defies belief.

However, it does not defy understanding. In 2013, following a challenge from the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), the BBC Trust ruled that BBC journalists were not being inaccurate if they referred to Jerusalem, in its entirety, as an Israeli city.

In an email sent to the PSC in May that year, the Trust referred to the judgment of Leanne Buckle, BBC’s senior editorial advisor, stating: “The advisor acknowledged that Israel’s sovereignty over the whole of Jerusalem was not recognized under international law. However, she considered that Israel had de facto control over the entire city in a political, administrative and military sense. She also noted that Jerusalem was administered as a single entity by the Jerusalem municipal authority which made no distinction between East and West.”

For this reason, the Trust told the PSC, it would not consider any further complaints, which asserted that the BBC was in breach of its editorial guidelines on accuracy if it referred to Jerusalem as an Israeli city.

“Misleading its audiences”

This is despite the fact that the editorial guidelines on accuracy clearly state: “The BBC must not knowingly and materially mislead its audiences.”

The PSC made a further challenge over the BBC’s online country profile page for Israel, which gives Israel’s seat of government as Jerusalem.

The PSC pointed out that East Jerusalem is under occupation.

In July 2013, Richard Hutt, the BBC’s complaints director, emailed to say: “Although all Israel’s government buildings are in the West of the city, it does not alter the fact they are in Jerusalem.”

The PSC’s request for accuracy in BBC reporting, for BBC journalists to recognize that Jerusalem is under a military occupation, was consequently dismissed.

Hutt’s response belongs in the theater of the absurd. Buckle, shockingly, accepts the fact that Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem was illegal under international law and reveals that the BBC is happy to peddle Israeli claims that Jerusalem is an Israeli city as fact.

This is the background that provides an understanding of why the BBC’s next logical step in any campaign to assert Jerusalem as a wholly Israeli city is to produce maps which transplant it into Israel.

The BBC is abandoning its role as a news broadcaster, and one that is supposed to be independent, in favor of acting as a champion of Israel’s claims to Jerusalem.

Inaccurate news reporting is one thing. But producing false maps and inserting them into online articles takes the BBC’s support of Israel and its illegal territorial claims to a frightening new level.

This article was originally published on Electronic Intifada.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.