Arab Media Watch, Muslim Public Affairs Committee, Friends of Al-Aksa and the Institute of Islamic Political Thought filed a joint complaint to the BBC after a presenter on the BBC's Football Focus (yes, football) program on March 24 called Jerusalem Israel's capital and "historic soul." The Institute of Islamic Political Thought is run by Azzam Tamimi, a Hamas supporter and a member of the Muslim Association of Britain, part of the Muslim Brotherhood.
On its Web site, the BBC's Editorial Complaints Unit posted this response
"The reference was a passing one in a context where the focus was on sport, not politics. While recognizing the sensitivity of the issue of the status of Jerusalem, the ECU took the view that the program-makers had taken sufficient action by acknowledging the error and rectifying the Web site."Then in a letter to the complaining parties, the head of editorial complaints at the BBC said:
"We of course accept that the international community does not recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, and that the BBC should not describe it as such. I was therefore pleased to see that Katherine Tsang [BBC Information adviser], when she wrote to you in April, acknowledged the error and apologized for it. [Presenter] Steve Boulton and other senior managers in BBC Sport told us they very much regret the mistake and apologize for it. Senior managers will try to ensure, as you suggest, that the mistake is not repeated. Because it appears on the Web site, there will be a public acknowledgement of the error, and the action taken in consequence. I'd like to add my apologies for this most regrettable, but I'm sure accidental, factual mistake. I appreciate that the status of Jerusalem is of particular concern to Palestinians, and it is important that it is not misrepresented. I am confident that lessons have already been learned, and they will be emphasized as a result of my decision."The Jerusalem Post points out this morning that the Institute of Islamic Political Thought is run by Azzam Tamimi, a Hamas supporter and a member of the Muslim Association of Britain, part of the Muslim Brotherhood. Tamimi's kinswoman is serving 16 life-sentences in an Israeli prison for the murder of 15 people in a Jerusalem restaurant. One of those victims was our fifteen year-old daughter Malki. Tamimi spoke at last Saturday's anti-Israel rally in London's Trafalgar Square where, to huge applause, he called Israel "a racist entity that sees us [Palestinians] as subhuman while they see themselves as superhuman."
No stranger to the BBC, Tamimi said in a 2004 interview that he would be willing to become a suicide bomber. (The JPost points out that in 2006, Merrill Lynch pulled its sponsorship from an event hosted by the London Middle East Institute because of Tamimi's participation.)
The Jerusalem Post has some background here on the history of racism and prejudice which characterizes the work of the four victorious complaining parties.
For years, anyone listening to BBC reports on events in this part of the world will have gotten used to the absurd phrase "the authorities in Tel-Aviv" when referring to decisions made by the government of Israel. For the record, and notwithstanding the BBC's world-is-flat-because-we-say-it-is logic, Israel's parliament is in Jerusalem (and not 60 kilometers away in Tel-Aviv); Israel's central government offices - all of them - are in Jerusalem (and not 60 kilometers away in Tel-Aviv); and the BBC's own bureau is in Jerusalem (and not 60 kilometers away in Tel-Aviv) along with the bureaus of Sky, the New York Times and almost every other major media player who wants to cover what happens in the government of Israel. The address of that building is 206 Jaffa Rd. We Jerusalemites know it better by the sign on the outside of the building, the Jerusalem Capital Studios building.
This is all known to the people of the BBC, of course. They are not pretending to change the facts on the ground. They realize that Israel and its democratically-elected government can choose to put its capital anywhere it chooses, just as any other country can. They also know that Jerusalem has been the beating heart of the Jewish people and of the sole Jewish sovereign entity since the time of Jesus and long before it. No capital city anywhere comes close to making a claim as solid as this for any other people.
Plainly, this is embarrassing to people who are uncomfortable with the fact that there is a Jewish state, a sovereign political entity that is the home of the Jewish people. Even more embarrassing to those who know the story of wanton vandalism that the occupying Jordanian power carried out in this city during the nineteen years between 1948 and 1967 when it was in control of half of Jerusalem.
The BBC's self-humiliating apology has nothing to do with accuracy or objectivity, and everything to do with politics, appeasement and hypocrisy.