If I forget thee O Jerusalem, my name is the BBC (and the Guardian)

The fast of Tisha Be’Av, the saddest day in the Jewish calendar, is almost upon us (beginning tomorrow night, because the 9th itself falls on Shabbat), and the destruction of Jerusalem, even if only virtual, continues to this day.

The BBC has been particularly egregious – although by far the only culprit – in denying Jerusalem’s connection to Israel.  Honest Reporting has been documenting and following the BBC’s denial of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital:

It all started when the BBC’s Olympics page mentioned “Palestine’s” capital as “East Jerusalem” and Israel as having no capital at all. As Honest Reporting writes:

So if the BBC were to be consistent, it would presumably state (also inaccurately) that Israel’s capital is “West Jerusalem”. Wrong.

The BBC’s Olympic country profile for Israel simply fails at all to include a listed capital city. This despite the inclusion of Jerusalem on the map of Israel. While the only partially-recognized entity of “Palestine” has a listed capital that isn’t even under its sovereign control, the very real and recognized state of Israel has no capital despite being sovereign over the entire city of Jerusalem.

Mark Regev of the Prime Minster’s Bureau wrote a letter of protest to the BBC (see at above link), a facebook campaign stating that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital was started, and the game was on.

BBC Olympics

How the BBC views Israel’s capital

Following this protest, the BBC updated their Olympics page – but not with the wording that one would expect. As Honest Reporting’s update reports:

The new text replaced the word capital with “Seat of Government” in Jerusalem, while adding that most foreign embassies “are in Tel Aviv.” It made a parallel change to the listing for “Palestine”, listing “East Jerusalem” as the “Intended seat of government.”

Ron Huldai, the Mayor of Tel Aviv, however, refutes the BBC’s claim with a video clip of his own:

The BBC’s refusal to mention Jerusalem as Israel’s capital has been covered by several other sites, all of which are worth a read.

The Commentator writes that “According to the BBC, Israel has no capital city”:

Every other nation represented on the BBC website has a profile of the country which lists ‘Key Facts’. For instance, Djibouti’s top medal sport is athletics, its population is 879,100 and its capital is Djibouti. In case you were unsure, Iranians are good at wrestling, their capital is Tehran and there are just over 75 million people living there.

But if you’re interested in the state of Israel, you’ll have a hard time obtaining a certain bit of information from the BBC website. Sure, Israel shines at sailing and judo (no Mavi Marmara or IDF jokes, please) and it has a population of 7.3million. But we were interested to know where the BBC placed Israel’s capital.

It seems… nowhere.

Israellycool has excellent coverage of the whole scandal in their post entitled “What is the point of the BBC?”.

And yesterday’s Jerusalem Post really hit the nail on their head with their editorial entitled “BBC bias“. An excerpt:

Evincing no hint of regret, the BBC later waxed indignant and argued that the modifications on its website were “generated by online lobby activity.” The inference is that there was something untoward in said “online lobby activity” and that the BBC had its arm unjustly twisted.

Moreover, no opportunity appears to have been missed to render Israel’s image disagreeable. The photo chosen to represent Israel on its BBC profile shows an IDF soldier screaming at an Arab, with the caption reading: “Israelis and Palestinians have been at loggerheads for decades.”

The Syrian page, in contrast, looks idyllic. It pictures three pretty girls in white Muslim garb with older black-clad women in the background, all smiling. The caption informs us innocuously that “the overwhelming majority of Syrians are Muslim.”

Concomitantly, the campaign to commemorate the 11 Israeli athletes slain by Arab terrorists at the Munich Olympics exactly 40 years ago received zero coverage on the BBC. That’s starkly different from the choices made by other international news providers, British ones notably among them.

The BBC is not alone in its refusal to mention Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The Guardian (no surprise there) not only denied Jerusalem’s status, but, as CifWatch reported, pronounced that Tel Aviv is Israel’s capital.

Now read the following correction made by the Guardian on Sunday 22 April 2012, which is found on the web here. As I did, you may have to read it twice to realize what it says:

• The caption on a photograph featuring passengers on a tram in Jerusalem observing a two-minute silence for Yom HaShoah, a day of remembrance for the 6 million Jews who died in the Holocaust, wrongly referred to the city as the Israeli capital. The Guardian style guide states: “Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel; Tel Aviv is” (Eyewitness, 20 April, page 24).

Did you need to read it again to grasp the “wrong reference” that the Guardian is correcting? In case you missed it, here it is again: the caption, the Guardian claims, violated its style guide by noting in passing that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel.

This calls for a correction, since the Guardian style guide apparently decrees:

“Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel; Tel Aviv is”

The Guardian has decided that even though Jerusalem has been Israel’s capital since the founding of the state, its Parliament, Supreme Court and ministerial offices are there, it, the Guardian, believes that Tel Aviv is the country’s real capital. It has apparently enforced this absurdity by codifying it in its style guide.

Is there any other country in the world for which the Guardian’s style guide defines the capital as being other than the city that country has selected as its capital? If any newspaper’s “style guide” decreed that London is not the capital of England, would that not be ludicrous? Is the next step for the Guardian style guide to decide that Israel is not a country but Palestine is, even though exactly the opposite is true?

The ludicrous absurdity of this political-correctness turned denial of reality is depicted brilliantly in Benji Lovitt’s sadly hilarious (note: language-warning) blog post “BBC, I’m the capital of your mom“.

Last I checked, the BBC is not a policy-making body. It exists to report the news, not make it. What if Sports Illustrated decided that Maccabi Tel Aviv won the World Cup? BBC, you can’t just make things up.


Responding to the uproar later last week, the BBC edited Israel’s profile on their site. Did it list Jerusalem as the capital of Israel? Of course not. It listed it as the “seat of government.” What the flying falafel does that even mean? Okay, BBC, as far as I’m concerned, the city of London is no longer hosting the Olympics. It’s hosting “the seat of track and field.” Have fun reprinting all your souvenir t-shirts.

Seriously, BBC, if you’re willing to list Jerusalem as the “seat of government,” is it such a stretch to simply write the word “capital?”


BBC, if you’re lying about something as fundamental as our capital, what kind of favorable coverage can we expect during the Games themselves? That the Israeli swimmer finished in ninth place out of five? That the Israeli sprinter clocked a time of 25 hours in the 100-meter dash? I look forward to learning that the Palestinian shot-put thrower was attacked by Israeli security with disproportionate force or that the Israeli team is occupying the Olympic village.

And for one more piece of madness on the issue of Jerusalem, I give you Al Arabiya, who report that a video clip about rebuilding the Bet Hamikdash (Temple), produced by the Temple Institute in Jerusalem, is in fact a plot to overthrow Egypt’s new President Morsi.

Here is the video in question. I think it’s cute.

Now have a go at trying to decipher the convolutions of Arab thinking:

An Israeli advertisement circulating online this week has ruffled the feathers of online commentators in Egypt who claim the ad “insults” President Mohammed Mursi, prompting the premier on Wednesday to launch an investigation.

Mursi ordered the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to prepare a report about an Israeli ad that has been decried as “offensive” to the Egyptian president, the state-run news agency MENA reported.

The advert named “The Children are Ready” is produced by the Israel-based Temple Institute – a non-profit educational and religious organization which promotes the rebuilding of the Temple of Solomon – and begins by showing an Israeli family on the beach.

The family is playfully running on the beach; the children build an elaborate sand castle, or temple, while a man, presumed to be their father, sits to read a newspaper.

But after they build the temple and to look at it, the father throws the newspaper. It falls at his feet, clearly showing an image of Mursi on the page.

Social media users “allege that the symbolic message [within the advert] is that the Egyptian president will not prevent Israel from building temples,” Egypt Independent reported on Tuesday.

A caption beneath the video, posted by the organization on video sharing site YouTube states: “Two children change the world while their father reads the newspaper.”

The video was re-posted by Arab users with the title (in Arabic): “An Israeli advert insults President Mursi.”

As Elder of Ziyon remarks:

While the newspaper that the father is reading has a number of stories about the Middle East, such as  “Assad forces  advance on rebel northern town,” “Syria set to win seat on UN Human Rights Council,” and about Iranian plans to build a nuclear powered submarine – all stories from July 5, by the way – the Arab media is fixated on the photo of  Mohamed Morsi that is briefly and barely visible when the father drops the newspaper


When you are looking for reasons to be insulted, you tend to find them.

The Al Arabiya article ends with:

When contacted by Al Arabiya on Tuesday, a spokesperson from the Temple Institute was unable to be reached for comment.

Meanwhile, a statement on the group’s website says: “The Temple Institute is dedicated to every aspect of the Holy Temple of Jerusalem, and the central role it fulfilled, and will once again fulfill, in the spiritual wellbeing of both Israel and all the nations of the world.”

The Temple of Solomon was built in the 6th century BC. It was expanded by King Herod before its destruction in 70 AD. According to regional media reports, rebuilding the temple would likely undermine the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex in Jerusalem, which is located near where the temple once stood.

May it come speedily in our days, Amen.

Shabbat shalom, and wishing an easy and meaningful fast to everyone.

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10 Responses to If I forget thee O Jerusalem, my name is the BBC (and the Guardian)

  1. DavidinPT says:

    Al Arabiya states “The Temple of Solomon was built in the 6th century BC. It was expanded by King Herod before its destruction in 70 AD. “. But I thought that Abu Maazen (Mahmoud Abass) said that there never had been a Jewish Temple. So can we expect trouble between them now? I do hope so!

  2. Aridog says:

    Jerusalem is forgotten by more than the BBC and Guardian … the US Government spokespersons also seem to have problems with Jerusalem as the Israeli capital. Yep, they seem to not recall the US Dept of State’s own website which identifies “Cities: Capital–Jerusalem” under the profile section, even though the map it shows ignores Judea and Samaria as part of Israel per se. It clearly states Jerusalem is the capital …but that may change soon due to the dust up over Mr Carney’s failure to answer a simple question. if it does get erased/revised by Dept of State, no problem, I downloaded the entire profile as of this morning and cached it as a PDF file.

    • Aridog says:

      Dang … sorry, I messed up the US Dept of State’s own website link … here it is and it should work.

      • anneinpt says:

        Thanks for those very interestign links Aridog. I’d seen mention of the dust-up re Carney elsewhere (Elder fo Ziyon maybe?) but I didn’t want to make my post too long. Besides which, I was concentrating on the BBC because of its enormous worldwide reach, and its presumed reliability as to facts. Hah!

        I also addressed the Administration’s problem with Jerusalem in two previous blog-posts. It’s an ongoing problem with every single country and it makes me sick. No other country’s capital is ignored and insulted this way. It is pure antisemitism. It’s not just pressure from the Arabs – after all the Arabs used to pressure foreign gov’ts to cut off contact with Israel altogether and they didn’t comply.

        Too many people have a problem with the Jews ruling over Jerusalem. It’s not simply realpolitik.

        • Aridog says:

          My main point is that the State Department publishes “Jerusalem” as the capital of Israel on it’s own website. Yet the Executive Branch & White House officials, as well as State Dept officials, refuse to just simply say it. It is the epitome of Orwell’s “Doublethink” and “Newspeak” and does not bode well for the future of the USA. The new “false, but accurate” or “true, but effectively false” thought process will lead us to the abattoir sooner than later.

          As for the Brits … sad to say they’ve nearly fallen prostrate already. Stubborn is a virtue at times, most humorously evident in the past when every UK car nut thought Lucas electronics (stop-o-matic, shorts r’ us, etc.) were grand and that a bottle of compressed ether was de rigueur for starting a car. Today, when they in conjunction with the International Olympic Committee succumb to Lebanese demands for a wall separating their Judo practice areas, they are pathetic little gutless weasels. Apartheid wall …I thought that’s what the Jews are accused of at home?! 🙂

          • anneinpt says:

            Agree with you 100% Aridog. I don’t think the US Administration is the only culprit here though. They are just the most notable because they are in the media so much.

            As for the Brits and the IOC, well, I’m sure you’ve read my posts on the subject. At every Olympics for the last several years the Iranian competitors have refused to compete with the Israelis, preferring to claim non-existent illness or injury rather than having to face – and possibly lose to – the Little Satan. It is sickening that the IOC doesn’t call them out on this and ban them outright.

            But nothing changes (in the IOC, the BBC and other media, and in foreign governments) and I wonder if anything ever will. And if things do change I wonder what the catalyst will be.

            By the way I used your comment above in my next post. Fame at last. 🙂

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  4. reality says:

    I like the video! But I think that we are partly to blame . If the Israeli government would insist that within one month all embassises have to move to the Israeli capitol of Jerusalem or leave then things will never change. We could also try something else. We could start moving our embassies to say Manchester -the heart of Jews on the north (or Gateshead)-that’ll make me laugh & in USA move the embassy to somewhere else -say silicon valley seeing as so many Israelis are working there. & in France move it to Lyons in orer to protect the Jews there. & then we’ll claim that we’re moving our embassies to places we decide are capitols just like the host country has decided that Tel Aviv is our capitol.

    • anneinpt says:

      It’s a nice idea but I don’t think it’ll work. The host countries won’t give a damn about what we do or think. We’re not big enough or frightening enough to bother them.

      What we need to do is regain our self-respect and tell foreign countries that they are welcome to have consulates in Tel Aviv, but if they want full embassy rights they have to be in Jerusalem. I don’t know if that is a feasible suggestion, but someone somewhere in our Foreign Minstrelsy or diplomatic corps should be able to formulate something along those lines. Whenever we show our own self-respect the nations back off. It’s about time we did so.

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