BBC says made error in deleting 'Death to Arabs' chant from Israeli 'Flag March' article

BBC says made error in deleting 'Death to Arabs' chant from Israeli 'Flag March' article
3 min read
London
07 June, 2022
The BBC removed and then reincluded information about attendees chanting 'Death to Arabs' and attacking its crew from an article about an Israeli 'Flag March' in May.
The yearly 'Flag March' lauds Israel's 1967 seizure of Palestinian East Jerusalem [AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP/Getty]

The BBC said it made an editorial error when it deleted now-reincluded information about Israelis chanting "Death to Arabs" from an online article about a far-right rally in Jerusalem last month.

The story stated that a "group of Israeli marchers" were "shouting 'death to Arabs'" at the Old City of East Jerusalem's Damascus Gate entrance during an Israeli 'Flag March' on 29 May, according to media tracker News Sniffer.

But around an hour later that day, this line and other reporting - including of an attack by two rallygoers on a BBC crew - was removed, News Sniffer indicates.

The BBC replaced this section with an account saying it was "raucous" near Damascus Gate as "young Israelis chanted and danced, carrying flags and playing drums" and shouting: "The people of Israel live."

This prompted criticism on Twitter, but the corporation said it was an editorial oversight that saw it delete some information, including the threatening chants, as it sought to keep its article updated and within a workable length.

The day after the march took place, the BBC updated its article to again report that some attendees had shouted "Death to Arabs!" and added that there were also chants of: "May your village burn!"

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At the same time, the corporation reincluded a mention of the attack on its crew, saying they were "verbally abused" and "forcefully shoved" by two rallygoers, according to BBC Middle East correspondent Tom Bateman.

The BBC placed an acknowledgment of the change at the bottom of the article, saying that the reporting of this "assault" had been "removed as the story was updated" but was now "restored".

But the note did not make clear to readers that the same had happened with the "Death to Arabs" slogan.

It said: "Abusive chants and threats which were made by some marchers against Palestinians have been included in this version of the story, in order to give a fuller picture of events."

In response to a request for comment from The New Arab, a BBC spokesperson said: "This was a developing news story which we edited and revised for the online article as new details came through.

"Our robust, extensive live coverage of the march ran across TV and social media.

"The coverage included the abusive chants, as well as footage of violence carried out by some marchers."

Far-right Israelis hold 'Flag March' rallies every year to laud Israel's 1967 seizure of Palestinian East Jerusalem - the section of the city it has illegally occupied ever since.

This year's event, which passed through the Old City's Muslim Quarter and attracted thousands of participants, generated anger after footage shared online showed an elderly Palestinian woman being pepper-sprayed by an Israeli.