Fake UK news reports about Gaza to be reported to press regulator

The nature of the news coverage in the UK Media, in response to the disturbing news of Hamas’s incursion into Israel and the deaths of innocent Israeli citizens in southern Israel, in the last week, has to many been a clear exercise of one -sided reporting. It has been argued that given the nature and magnitude of events, a certain amount of excess and sensationalism is understandable. But on Wednesday 11th October, this excess reached new heightened levels of crude misreporting as a frenzy of fake headlines and brutal statements, dominated the front pages and inside columns of most of the major UK titles.

Beheading babies stories, Fake news

News stands paraded the collection of newspapers whose headlines heralded the shocking and false stories:

 ‘Hamas ‘cut the throats of babies’ in massacre’ The Times

‘It is not a war or battle. It’s a massacre’: Horror at ‘pure evil beheading of babies’ Daily Express

‘Savages ‘beheaded babies’ in massacre’ The Sun

‘Babies beheaded. 40 Children shot dead in a single settlement. Families burnt alive’ Daily Mail

‘They chop the heads off women and children’ Daily Telegraph

’40 Babies murdered by Hamas’ Metro

The story of the beheadings, which originated from a dubious and unconfirmed source, and which told of the deliberate beheading/killing of babies and families, once checked, was revealed to be completely fabricated. There were in fact, no substantiated reports of babies being beheaded or children being killed in front of their parents. Indeed, any suggestion of such a shocking story ought to have been viewed by any responsible journalist as worthy of validation and should have been checked and even triple checked. Some credit should be given to those in the broadcast media – ITN News, Channel 4 News, Sky News, which all refused to run with the story because of the unreliability of the sources and lack of confirmation from authorised government representatives. These media outlets judged correctly that it was necessary to classify this story as ‘unverified’ and ‘unsafe’. Many will ask therefore, why such a dangerous and inflammatory set of print headlines could have materialised and why the majority of print publications were not prepared to apply the same rigor to fact checking, before going to print.

The Muslim Council of Britain’s, Centre for Media Monitoring (CfMM), has hinted that it intends to report the misreporting to the press regulator IPSO and they said:

 ‘The most shared article on the @MailOnline website is unverified and possibly fake news. Why is the most visited news website in the world acting as a proxy for #Israeli propaganda? #notjournalism’

Such reporting serves to ‘escalate tensions and endanger lives’

UN Rapporteur for Palestine, Francesca Albanese, warned on her twitter feed that:

‘Divulging unverified information risks to escalate tensions & endanger lives in a volatile context. Before adding a caveat ‘This word of caution is with no prejudice to further findings’

She was right to be concerned, as subsequent research pointed out, that tweets about the beheaded babies story, numbered in excess of 44 million impressions by the end of the morning of print.

The shocking trend of misinformation appears to be deliberate, and accompanied by an unrelenting campaign on the part of certain newspapers, to undermine and discredit anybody who expresses concern for the plight of the beleaguered Palestinians trapped in the Gaza strip who were now being bombed into oblivion by a relentless areal bombing campaign waged by the Israeli Air force. These particular newspapers seemed happy to overlook the fact that, the response by the Israeli government to the Hamas attack, the bombing campaign, in which 60% of the victims so far are children and the elderly, can not simply be dismissed as collateral damage in a fight against a military opponent.

The wanton levelling of the residential homes of hundreds of thousands of ordinary citizens, forced to flee if they are able, to the relative safety of UNWRA shelters and schools, the cutting off of power supplies to hospitals, the cutting of food and water supplies, the blocking of any medical and humanitarian help, according to human rights groups and agencies including the UN Human Rights Commissioner, Volker Turk, and the UN Secretary General, António Guterres, constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity. Should it therefore have been any surprise that the plight of the Palestinians will be of major concern to all who value humanity including Muslims in the UK? No it should not, and they have every right to wonder why supporters of the rights and wellbeing of Palestinians, should be conflated with a perceived support for Hamas and their actions last weekend.    

Jewish Chronicle editor, accuses Muslims of being ‘brainwashed’ and ‘in the grip of a death cult’

The editor of the Jewish Chronicle, Jake Wallis Simons, wrote in a tweet this week that:

‘We need to face reality: much of the Muslim culture is in the grip of a death cult that sacrifices bloodshed. Not all, but many Muslims are brainwashed by it. That is a big part of the problem’

Muslim MPs hounded and pilloried for supporting Palestine

On Tuesday a report emerged of Muslim Labour Part MP, Apsana Begum being forced to ‘flee the Labour Party Conference’ effectively in fear for her safety, following the publishing of information by the Chair of the Conservative Party, Greg Hands, that Begum had tweeted her support for the ‘Palestinian Solidarity Campaign’. Greg charged that this was an anti-Semitic act and demanded that Begum be sanctioned and have the whip withdrawn without delay. Similarly, the Labour Party Shadow Minister for Exports, Muslim MP, Afzal Khan, was the subject of a vicious attempt to smear his reputation in an article published in the Daily Telegraph on Monday, which ran the headline:

‘Shadow minister apologises for photo in front of Palestine stand at Labour Party Conference’

In the article, Khan is quoted as saying that:

‘I want to apologise for any offence caused by stopping by the PSC stall at this time. I unequivocally condemn the terrorist actions of Hamas and support Israel’s right to defend itself’.

Khan was forced to reaffirm his lifelong commitment to the plight of the Palestinian people and later issued a statement published online on his twitter account, which included the following:

‘I am deeply alarmed by the unfolding events that continue to transpire in Israel and Palestine following news of a violent attack by Hamas in Israel this past weekend. I wholeheartedly condemn the actions of Hamas against innocent Israeli civilians. There is never an excuse for attacking innocent civilians, and the continuing cycles of violence only makes a long lasting peace harder to achieve.

This distressing news comes after months of increasing tensions with skirmishes on the Israel-Gaza border and a series of military raids carried out by Israeli forces in the region over the summer…. The recent decision taken by Israel to cut off all food, fuel and electricity to Gaza is also deeply troubling and risks igniting a humanitarian crisis. Civilians, including vulnerable children and families are facing mounting challenges in accessing essential food supplies as well as access to electricity and urgent access to healthcare.

As an ardent supporter of Palestinian rights and an advocate for a viable two-state solution, I condemn all acts of violence and will continue to advocate for achieving a peaceful resolution in which a secure Israel exists alongside a strong Palestinian state. It is imperative we take decisive action to prevent further devastation and I will continue to advocate for immediate measures to support those in need.’

Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, urges police to treat pro-Palestine chants and waving Palestine flags as hate crimes

On Wednesday, it was reported that the Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, had written to UK police chiefs urging them to consider treating pro-Palestine chants as hate crimes, expecting them to adopt what she described as a ‘zero-tolerance’ approach to anti-Semitism following the Hamas attack on southern Israel.  In her letter she said that she expected them to ‘use the full force of the law’ against any actions which appear to show signs of support for Hamas or intimidation against the Jewish community, which included the waving of Palestinian flags.

Ismail Patel, Chair of Friends of Al-Aqsa said:

‘It is draconian for the British government to deny our right to express the plight of the Palestinians. Legitimate political expression should not be a privilege, nor the reserve of those allied with the government; it is a fundamental right for all citizens in a democratic society

 I was at the forefront of organising and demonstrating against the British government’s war against Afghanistan and Iraq. We were never obstructed from voicing our opinions like this. So why is this government giving cover to Israeli policies by denying British citizens their right to political expression? The right to champion the plight of the occupied, discriminated against and marginalised is integral to democracy. The British government’s steps will prevent British citizens from helping to end human rights violations, which will disenfranchise people from political activism.’

Protest and Palestinian solidarity march scheduled Saturday

The directive to the police comes as several pro-Palestinian rallies have been staged outside the Israeli embassy in Kensington in the past week and a major pro-Palestinian protest march is planned for Saturday 14th October, which will leave from the BBC studios at Portland Place, W1 at midday and head to the Israeli Embassy in Kensington. Ismail Patel added that the Home Secretary’s ‘veiled threat and denial of political expression  is unacceptable, as he urged ‘all just people to join the protest in London on Saturday with Palestinian flags held high as we call for an end to Israeli occupation and a free Palestine.’    


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