The BBC has been criticised for its failures during an episode of the BBC Two “Victoria Derbyshire” show broadcast on 27 April – see article here. The BBC was found to have given a platform to pro-Israel campaigners without making their campaigning role clear.

BBC Scotland reporting is unsurprisingly no better.  A look at a recent article published by journalist Fiona Stalker on November 2nd (Israeli businessman claims anti-Semitic 'hounding' in Scotland) reveals many of the same faults found in the BBC2 broadcast.  These include:

  • Failing to say that Jewish Human Rights Watch, quoted heavily, are a campaigning organisation set up to counter BDS (the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Campaign).Instead Stalker describes the group only as “an organisation which was set up to address a claimed rise in anti-Semitism in the UK”. They have repeatedly shown themselves to be obsessed with progressing “lawfare” against successful BDS campaigns in England and Wales, as well as sending threatening letters to a venue hosting an event celebrating Palestinian culture – see Ben White’s articleIsrael and friends battle the boycott in Britain”.
  • Failing to state that Jewish Human Rights Watch spokesman Robert Festenstein is a long-time campaigner for Israel, Times of Israel blogger, was previously a Committee Member of the North West Friends of Israel, and was (perhaps still is) vice chair of the Zionist Central Council whose mission is to promote and defend the democratic state of Israel.
  • Failing to highlight that Councillor Martin Greig, quoted within the article, is an active supporter of Israel, having attended a Taste of Israel event in Aberdeen in late 2016, posting on the Facebook page The Confederation of the Friends of Israel Scotland, and expressing interest in attending a celebration event marking the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration.

Scottish PSC will soon be submitting a complaint to the BBC about the coverage (to make a complaint visit the BBC website here).

The BBC’s kowtowing to the Israel lobby in Scotland comes hot on the heels of criticism of Police Scotland from the official police watchdog for potentially infringing on the rights of pro-Palestine campaigners (see full article here).  Previously Freedom of Information requests have revealed friendly and jovial correspondence the Crown Office and pro-Israel activists. 

Attempts to get the BBC on board with shutting down pro-Palestinian activism are just the latest in a long list of tactics deployed by the Israel lobby in Scotland, including legal threats against activists which have not been followed through, and the publishing of photos, names and occupations of individual activists online.

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