by Robin Shepherd

Richard Falk

It was another one of those do-I-laugh-or-do-I-cry moments as I came across the latest piece of flagrant anti-Israeli propaganda[1] on the BBC`s website.

It started off badly enough with the headline – UN "appalled" by Israel treatment of hunger strikers. Sorry, that's just not a story. The UN is always "appalled" by something to do with the Jewish state, and that's because its members are overwhelmingly in thrall to an obsessive anti-Zionist bigotry which appears to know no bounds.

So, it was clear from the outset that this was going to be something of a gratuitous hatchet job. Then again this is the BBC, so no surprises there. But even I have to admit to having been surprised about just how gratuitous it was going to be. Here are the first two paragraphs from Yolande Knell's story:

"A UN expert has said he is appalled by the "continuing human rights violations in Israeli prisons", as Palestinian inmates continue a mass hunger strike.

"Special Rapporteur Robert [sic] Falk said Israel had to treat hunger strikers in line with international standards."

Oh dear, oh dear. The BBC is pinning its stories on the words of Robert Falk. Or rather, that's Richard[2] Falk – the BBC was obviously so excited at the prospect of a piece of Israel bashing that in the news room's heightened state of euphoria nobody bothered to check out the man's name. (I have remarked before that the hysteria which usually drives anti-Zionism frequently results in an abandonment of basic standards of normal behaviour and practice.)

Now, Richard Falk is actually rather well known, and here's why.

Most bizzarely, perhaps, he's a high profile "truther" about the events of September 11, 2001. In other words he thinks the attacks may all have been cooked up in the White House, quite possibly by the dreaded neo-Cons.

His abilities as a judge of events and character are also amply demonstrated by his musings on Islamist mass murderer Ayatollah Khomeini, who led the Iranian revolution and then unleashed a reign of terror. Back in 1979, Falk's view was that the new regime in Iran "may yet provide us with a desperately-needed model of humane governance for a third-world country."

But it is his views on Israel that have really earned him his reputation. And if BBC reporters and editors either do not know or do not care what that reputation entails, they should not be working for a (supposedly) public service media organisation.

In a nutshell, Falk is so hostile to Israel that he's a de facto anti-Israel activist. But even that fails to do justice to the sheer viciousness of his diatribes against the Jewish state. Here's just a smattering of examples of his approach. First there are the suggested comparisons with Nazi Germany. He has sometimes claimed that he doesn't quite mean it literally. On others he has talked of Israeli policies as "genocidal".

He's ambivalent about Hamas as a terrorist outfit. His language about Israel is peppered with references to "apartheid", "criminality", "collective punishment" and so on. The picture is clear enough.

I can't see how he can be described as anything other than an obsessive, anti-Israeli fanatic.

Which brings us back to the BBC and its decision to hang an entire story on the testimony of a man with a record like that. I find it difficult to believe it was pure ignorance. Falk has been on the scene for years, and his attacks against Israel are legendary. The BBC's story did not even include a single line informing the reader of his anti-Israeli reputation.

And this is how the propaganda against Israel is spread: a mainstream media outlet feeds an unsuspecting public with a story purporting to hang on an objective source, all the while knowing that 95 percent of the readers will swallow it because they don't know Richard Falk from Adam.

It's another shameful day for the BBC, or rather it should be. But over the years a once great media outlet has demonstrated time without number that it knows no shame on Israel and the Middle East, and on many other issues too. One day there'll be a reckoning for all this, and when there is they'll have no-one to blame but themselves.

UPDATE: The BBC, in response to this piece has now made a change to its story: it has finally changed the name of the fanatical anti-Israel UN "expert" on which it runs the story from "Robert" to "Richard Falk". We understand that anyone can make a mistake. But this is so basic that it speaks to an extreme agenda that views Israel as a pantomime villain (and they needed us to tell them a full 24 hours after their piece was published). Usual journalistic practice is to check and verify sources as a matter of course. When it comes to Israel, the BBC does not do this. We would like to know how this "mistake" happened and why even after the correction the story was not withdrawn in its entirety due to the complete lack of credibility of the source?




Robin Shepherd is the owner/publisher of @CommentatorIntl.
Follow him on Twitter @RobinShepherd1.
He is Director of International Affairs at the Henry Jackson Society.
This article appeared May 3, 2012 in The Commentator and is archived at

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