Updated 4 August 2015
I (along with a number of people including Denis MacEoin - see below) complained to the BBC following a typically outrageous interview on Radio 4 with an Israeli representative.
During the Newshour interview with Danny Danon (July 14) the interviewer Razia Iqbal said nobody in Iran has threatened Israel for a very long time. In fact the threats to annihilate Israel have never stopped and during the last week the supreme leader Ayatollah Khamanei and the President Rouhani both repeated their threats and intent. See: http://www.algemeiner.com/2015/07/07/as-iran-nuclear-talks-extended-iranian-leader-repeats-threat-to-destroy-israel/# and http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/6160/iran-quds-day-death-america-israel (an event ignored by BBC: http://bbcwatch.org/2015/07/12/bbc-news-ignores-al-quds-day-in-english/)BBC response:
Dear Mr DavidsonMy follow-up response to Dejan Calovski
Thank you for your email in which you complained about the interview with the Israeli Minister for Science, Technology and Space Danny Danon the BBC World Service broadcast in Newshour on 14/07/2015 in the wider context of the agreement reached about Iran’s nuclear programme.
We have received a wide range of feedback about this interview referring to the segment of it in which our presenter, Razia Iqbal, broached the subject of how and why the Israeli government perceives Iran as a threat.
In order to use our Licence Fee resources efficiently, this response aims to answer the key concerns raised regarding the interview, but we apologise in advance if it doesn’t address your specific points in the manner you would prefer…
The question about whether Israel faces a threat from Iran was a legitimate one for the interview with Danny Danon. However, after our editors spoke with Razia about the interview, it was agreed that her question could have been framed more clearly. The context of live radio, a developing story and a presenter responding to an interviewee’s points, should also be taken into account.
Mr Danon was allowed to give his views at length and in detail. He stated that Israel had the capability and right to defend itself - what Razia was trying to elicit in response from Mr Danon was what Israel considered to be the current threat from the state of Iran. In so doing, she was seeking to compare the very public and aggressive statements about Israel made by the previous president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, with the language used by the current president, Hassan Rouhani. Mr Danon was allowed to give a lengthy, uninterrupted response. Questioning that response does not constitute bias, it is about seeking accountability for a viewpoint. The issue of whether Iran poses an existential threat is not without controversy within Israel. The current head of Mossad has said that a nuclear Iran would not necessarily pose such a threat; two of his predecessors have been critical Mr Netanyahu’s stance on the issue.
In that context, it was absolutely correct and legitimate for Razia to ask the question.
We hope the above allays the concerns you have raised and thank you once again for listening to our programmes and taking the time to write.
BBC World Service
Dear Mr Calovski,Second Response (received 3 August 2015):
Your response did not address the core point, which was that Razia Iqbal stated the blatant lie that Iran's leaders had not threatened Israel since the time of Ahemdinejad. This is not a matter of interpretation. The recent statements by Khomaini and Rouhani are a matter of record, for which you have the links.
Also, what I find both disingenuous and quite disgraceful about your response is the fact that you are using alleged statements by some of Netanyahu's political opponents as a defence for the BBCs lie. This is analogous to telling David Cameron that ISIS has never committed any atrocities and then supporting this assertion by claiming that George Galloway and Ken Livingstone disagree with Cameron on his stance about ISIS. Whatever politicised individuals associated with Mossad may or may not have said about their perceived views of Iran's military capabilities, none of them would ever deny that Iran's leaders continue to make existential threats against Israel and that those leaders would attempt to destroy Israel if they could. So why is the BBC attempting to cover up this fact?
Dear Mr Davidson
Thank you for your further correspondence regarding the interview with Danny Danon in Newshour on 14/07.
I’m sorry you are not satisfied with our previous response. It was certainly not meant to be disingenuous but rather explanatory...
Regarding the gist of the complaint, I can only reiterate that, in our first reply, we did acknowledge that the ‘question in question’ (that Razia Iqbal put to Mr Danon) could have been phrased better.
We feel that Razia did not make a statement of fact but rather simply put forward a question (admittedly without an obvious question mark at the end of it, but it served exactly the same purpose). It was an interjection by the presenter inviting a response from the interviewee. It was, in our view, a perfectly normal part of any interview in which the presenter sets various points of view (not his/her own but alternative points of view to those of the interviewee) before the interviewee to elicit further explanation – in this case, as to what the Israeli minister considered was the existential threat to Israel. It clearly worked as Mr Danon gave a very detailed answer.
I hope the above allays your concerns. If not, you can contact the BBC Editorial Complaints Unit within 20 days of this email at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can write to:
BBC Editorial Complaints Unit
Media Centre, BBC Media Village
201 Wood Lane
Denis MacEoin (who is a genuine authority) had made the following complaint:
On Newshour on July 14, I listened to a brief interview with Danny Danon, Israel's Minister of Science, Technology and Space. Speaking of the new deal to allow Iran to develop nuclear power (which will lead to the building of nuclear weapons), the interviewer made one of the most fatuous and inaccurate statements I have ever heard. Perhaps I should note first that I am an academic in Persian/Iranian Studies with a long personal knowledge of the country, its religion, its language and its politics. I currently research and write about Iranian affairs. When Danon said Israel would have to stand on its own against the Iranian threat, here is what she said: 'But you’re not under threat by Iran. Nobody in Iran has threatened you for a very long time. You’re harking back to a time when President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad threatened Israel directly.' I have collaborated on a book detailing Iranian threats to Israel. I have lost track of the number of times, even during the current year when Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamene'i, members of the religious ruling elite, members of parliament, former presidents Ahdmadinezhad and Rafsanjani, have threatened Israel directly, saying Iran will obliterate the Jewish state by force. Threats made by senior officials have been made only a few days ago, around the time this interview was broadcast. Israel is the most threatened country in the world. A nuclear Iran increases the threat. I demand a correction and an apology from the interviewer.Denis got exactly the same response and has noted:
But the interview lasted about one minute, so these comments ‘Mr Danon was allowed to give his views at length and in detail’ and ‘Mr Danon was allowed to give a lengthy, uninterrupted response’ are just rubbish. And the ‘answer’ doesn’t actually look at the content of my complaint at all. Anyone else who has had this response should also get back to them.