Olympics

07.19.12

BBC Foul

I opened Haaretz this morning, wondering what important things happened in Israel while I was asleep, and saw a shocking article. The BBC’s website for the Olympics had a page for each country; on its page, Israel had no capital, while Palestine’s capital was listed as “East Jerusalem.” The article even had screenshots of the pages, which you can see here.

Not having seen the screenshots at first, I went to the BBC’s country pages. My first thought: Haaretz lied! Israel’s “seat of government” is now listed as “Jerusalem, though most foreign embassies are in Tel Aviv,” and Palestine—which the BBC now explains is not, in fact, a state—has East Jerusalem listed as its “intended seat of government.” So now neither Israel nor Palestine have capitals, which I suppose is a step up from Palestine having one and Israel not having one. 

In case the website changes again, here are screenshots of what I see now:

israel-olympics-bbc
palestine-olympics-bbc

So what happened? Why did the BBC change the country pages?.  Haaretz says that Netanyahu’s foreign press and public affairs advisor is attempting to get the pages changed—but they already have. Did the British government pick up a telephone to the BBC and tell them to change the page?

Most of all, I wonder what the BBC was thinking. Did they imagine no one would notice? Why didn’t they choose Ramallah as the Palestinian actual “seat of government” since that’s where the PA is based? Do they think supporting Palestine by assigning it a capital means that it is necessary to deny that Israel has one? Do they think that Palestinian statehood must come at the price of Israeli statehood?

Because that's much more than criticism of Israel.