Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Because on the BBC some 'holy sites' are holier than others

The BBC's report on the Pope's visit to Jerusalem is fascinating for what it reveals about the BBC different attitudes to Jewish and Muslim 'holy sites'.

The BBC article has these two lines near the top of it:
At the al-Aqsa mosque compound, the Pope urged people of all religions to "work together for justice and peace".

He then prayed at the Western Wall, which lies just beneath it, bowing his head as he touched the stones.
Note how the BBC carefully crowbar the word into the Al-Aqsa line but leave any mention of peace out of the Western Wall line, subtle but effective?

Note how these two lines don't ponder why Jews worship at a wall not a standard place of worship, nor why the Al Aqsa mosque compound stands above the Western Wall.

The BBC soon bring in one of their favourite pieces of rubric:
Pope Francis began the third day of his trip by visiting the compound, considered the third holiest site in Islam.  
No mention of for how long the Al Aqsa mosque has been considered the 'third holiest site in Islam', I wonder why.

Moving on, the BBC article then has some more about the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount:

Known to Muslims as the Haram al-Sharif (Noble Sanctuary) and Jews as the Temple Mount, the status of the site is one of the most contentious issues in the Israel-Palestinian conflict .

Pope Francis took off his shoes to enter the Dome of the Rock, from where Islamic tradition says the Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven. The Pope then walked to the nearby al-Aqsa Mosque.
Speaking to the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, the Pope deviated from his prepared remarks to call on Christians, Jews and Muslims to "love one another as brothers and sisters".

"May we learn to understand the suffering of others. May no-one abuse the name of God through violence," he said.

Afterwards, he headed to the Western Wall, one of the holiest sites in Judaism. It is part of the retaining wall of the Temple Mount dating back to a time when a Jewish temple stood there.

The Pope spent a few minutes praying at the wall, as he did on Sunday at the controversial Israeli security barrier that separates the biblical town of Bethlehem in the West Bank from Jerusalem.  
The Western Wall is described as 'one of the holiest sites in Judaism' there is no mention of what would be the holiest site in Judaism - the Temple in Jerusalem - because Jews don't choose to have a wall to worship at, they only have a wall because Islam has built a bloody great Mosque on top of the Jewish Temple.  The BBC do at lease mention that a Jewish Temple did once stand there but it's left to the reader to put two and two together and reach the uncomfortable (for the BBC) truth that is the number four.

Note also how the BBC equate prayer at the Western Wall with the 'controversial Israeli security barrier'. No mention of why Israel needed to build that security barrier, oddly the BBC choose not to call it a wall here but the comparison with the Western Wall does that for them in this instance and the BBC would have loved the idea of comparing the two walls.

The BBC piece continues:

Later, the Pope travelled to Yad Vashem, Israel's national Holocaust memorial, where he kissed the hands of several survivors in a sign of honour.

At a solemn ceremony at the Hall of Remembrance, he spoke of the "boundless tragedy of the Holocaust", describing it as an "unfathomable abyss".

"Never again, Lord, never again!" he said. "Here we are, Lord, shamed by what man - created in your own image and likeness - was capable of doing."

Our correspondent says the visit to the memorial holds special significance because of questions over the Vatican's position during the Holocaust.
Now the BBC know that the holocaust was a bad thing and like to attack (quite correctly) the Catholic Church for its failure to oppose the holocaust. Oddly the BBC are less willing to link the Muslim population of the Middle East and in particular their leader, the Mufti of Jerusalem, with the holocaust. I suppose such links would, whilst truthful, go against their view of Islam...

The BBC piece continues:
The Pope then met Israel's two chief rabbis before attending a private audience with President Peres, whom he asked to guarantee pilgrims free access to Jerusalem's holy sites.
Did the Pope not bring up the matter of Islamic persecution of Christians in the Palestinian Territories? If not, why not? If he did then why do the BBC not report it, or ask why he didn't?

Finally the BBC include this bit:
Shortly before departing for Rome from Ben Gurion airport, he celebrated Mass at the site known as the Cenacle, where Jesus is reputed to have taken part in the Last Supper with his Apostles on the eve of his crucifixion.

The Cenacle is located in a historic building on Mount Zion that is also sacred to both Jews and Muslims. The reputed burial place of King David is on the ground floor of the Cenacle, while a mosque is situated on the roof.
 What a coincidence, another Jewish holy site with a mosque built on top of it. What are the odds on that happening more than once? For the BBC this is a matter of no interest at all, just one of those things.

So there you have it, another superbly unbiased piece of Middle East reporting from the BBC:
  1. for whom the holocaust was a bad thing but Islam's links to it must never be mentioned
  2. for whom Jerusalem's place as the third holiest site in Islam is sacrosanct whilst it's position in Judaism is an inconvenience to peace
  3. for whom the presence of Jewish religious sites underneath Muslim ones is of no interest or relevance
  4. for whom any reference to prayer at the Western Wall must be linked to the security wall

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You've actually missed the important word in the BBC report 'a', not 'the', when it comes to the site of the Temple, as if there were others.