The jury in a New York court today found the Palestinian Authority and PLO guilty of direct involvement in six acts of terrorism in Israel that killed American citizens in each case (as well as hundreds of Israelis killed and wounded). The evidence was overwhelming, with documentary proof that the terrorists were paid by the Palestinian Authority before and after the attacks. In many cases the terrorists were members of the Palestine Authority security services and police.
Yet, in its reporting of the verdict, the BBC website has removed all reference to terrorism and therefore not only redefines American law, but is factually incorrect. The report is in clear breach of the BBC guidelines - being demonstrably inaccurate and misleading since the verdict it describes is not the actual verdict in the case.
To make matters worse the report is nothing more than an appeal on behalf of the Palestinian Authority. Normally when someone is convicted of terrorism you would expect detailed reporting of the attacks and the victims (see Daniel Greenfield's report for examples of some of the victims' harrowing testimonies). But instead of reporting the evidence that led the jury to its conclusions, the report simply accepts the Palestinian statement of innocence, and presents the story as a kind of obvious miscarriage of justice, even including the bizarre and irrelevant quote "The Israeli government has denied any official involvement in the lawsuit." as if to prove their case.
Compare, in particular, the different use of words to describe the two sides claims. Whereas the report says the PLO
described the charges as "baseless"when it comes to the victims' families it says they
allege that internal documents show ...The report also fails to mention that the Palestinian Authority's claims of innocence are completely compromised by the fact that they continue to pay convicted terrorists - with higher salaries for the more Jews they killed - and treat them as heroes/martyrs.
I have submitted a formal complaint to the BBC.
The only thing I will say in favour of the BBC is that it did actually report this important story (albeit being hidden away in its 'world news' section). The story has been completely ignored by all other main stream news media.
Here is the full text of the BBC report:
Palestinian groups face $218m Israel attacks fine in US
A US court in New York has found the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority liable for attacks in Israel over 10 years ago.
Six attacks in and around Jerusalem killed 33 people and wounded hundreds more during the second Palestinian intifada between 2002 and 2004.
The jury awarded victims of the attacks more than $218m.
The Palestinian groups expressed dismay at the court's decision and vowed they would appeal.
As some of the victims were American citizens, the lawsuit was filed in a US court.
After deliberating for a day, jurors ruled in favour of 10 American families who were seeking damages related to the six attacks.
The Israeli government has denied any official involvement in the lawsuit.
The Palestinian groups have said they will appeal against the ruling. A joint statement by the PLO and the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) described the charges as "baseless" and said they were disappointed by the ruling.
The victims' families allege that internal documents show the attacks were approved by the Palestinian authorities. "Those involved in the attacks still receive salaries from the Palestinian Authority and still get promoted in rank while in jail," said Nitsana Darshan-Leitner of the Israel-based Shurat HaDin Law Center, a lawyer who is representing the victims' families.
But defence lawyer Mark Rochon told jurors that the PA and PLO did not have knowledge of the attacks before they took place. And he said the organisations could not be held liable for the actions of suicide bombers and gunmen, whom he argued acted alone.
The victims had requested more than $350m. The US Anti-Terrorism Act could yet allow for the fine to be tripled.
Update: How the Media is Trying to Deny Justice to the American Victims of PLO Terrorism
25/2/2015 UPDATE. BBC Response to my complaint:
Dear Mr Davidson
Thanks for contacting us regarding the BBC News website.
I understand you believe a report titled ‘Palestinian groups face $218m Israel attacks fine in US’ omitted references to terror and therefore misled readers.
Having looked at the report, it offered a brief overview of the case with a response from the Palestinian groups however I can’t agree that this was misleading. The BBC doesn’t take any particular stance on any matter when reporting the news as the BBC is impartial. The report states “The US Anti-Terrorism Act could yet allow for the fine to be tripled” and details that the attacks killed 33 people and wounded hundreds more. Offering a statement from the PLO also does not constitute as an appeal on behalf of them.
Please note that we can cover a lot more information across our network, including television and radio, and one report doesn’t reflect all of our coverage.
Nevertheless, we value your feedback in that you feel there should’ve been more references to ‘terror’ in the article for a more accurate account of the case. All complaints are sent to senior management and news teams every morning and I included your points in this overnight report.
These reports are among the most widely read sources of feedback in the BBC and ensures that your complaint has been seen by the right people quickly. This helps inform their decisions about current and future programmes.
Once again, thank you for contacting us.
Philip Young BBC Complaints