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View Full Version : Beware of the BBC

sister herb
01-25-2010, 06:59 PM
By Stuart Littlewood

Its mission statement says: “Trust is the foundation of the BBC: we are independent, impartial and honest.”

However, people are complaining bitterly to the BBC about its pro-Israel stance when reporting on the situation in the Holy Land.

Once renowned as the benchmark for fairness and accuracy, the BBC nowadays is careless with the truth when handling news from the Palestinian territories illegally occupied by Israel - the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza.

We were treated to a prize example earlier this week. The flagship 'Today' programme, which goes out weekdays from 6am to 9am on Radio4, marked the anniversary of Israel's blitzkrieg with a feature on the Gaza economy, in which I heard presenters claim at least three times that the purpose of Operation Cast Lead was to stop the rocket attacks across the border.

Under the ceasefire Israel had undertaken to lift the economic blockade, but didn't do so. Nevertheless Hamas kept its side of the bargain and fired no rockets.

So 1,400 Gazans, including some 350 women and children, didn't have to die under Israeli bombardment. All Israel needed to do was extend the truce by keeping the peace and lifting the evil blockade as promised.

But it’s not about rockets, is it? No rockets are launched from the West Bank, yet Israel keeps the West Bank tightly sealed and all movement cruelly restricted under a punitive military and administrative matrix of control.

The death and devastation inflicted on Gaza is really about Israel’s unquenchable lust for land and its criminal desire to subjugate, expel or annihilate the native population.

The BBC also failed to provide accurate context regarding the Israeli township of Sderot, the main target for Hamas rockets. Ed Sturton reporting from Sderot didn't explain how the land on which Sderot stands was once a Palestinian village called Najd, whose residents were ethnically cleansed and put to flight by Jewish terrorists in May 1948. Many of them ended up in refugee camps in Gaza. Sderot is therefore a source of real grievance to the Palestinians.

Under UN Resolution 194 and also the Universal Declaration of Human Rights the villagers of Najd, along with hundreds of thousands of others who were dispossessed at gunpoint, are entitled to return to their homes but have been denied their rights by Israel.

So, has our “trustworthy” BBC fallen under Zionist influence? They certainly give a disproportionate amount of air-time to pro-Israel figures such as the Israeli ambassador, the regime’s spokesman Mark Regev, the Chief Rabbi and assorted politicians who wave the flag for Israel, all of whom speak good, clear English. On the rare occasions when the BBC interviews a Palestinian they choose someone who is unintelligible. I can’t remember when I last heard the Palestinian ambassador Manuel Hassassian, who speaks excellent English and can put the Palestinian case eloquently.

The BBC also adopts Israel's language and definitions. Palestinians not Israelis are the militants. Hamas not the murdering occupiers are the terrorists. A single captured Israeli soldier is deemed more newsworthy than the 10,000 abducted Palestinians (some of them women and children) rotting in Israeli jails. It is imperative that Israelis not Palestinians feel secure within their borders. Israelis not Palestinians have a right of self-defence.

A few years ago a study of TV news coverage by Glasgow University’s Media Group showed how the BBC and others distorted the Arab-Israeli conflict and misinformed the British public by presenting the Israeli government perspective and featuring mostly pro-Israel politicians. Today the gap between the BBC and its mission pledge to be “independent, impartial and honest” seems just as wide.

Of course, none of this is news to the Palestinians. I make these points only for the benefit of western readers especially Brits and Americans who are victims of media bias, and for Israelis who live on a diet of fiction, and for Zionists everywhere who wouldn't recognise the truth if it fell on them.

-- Stuart Littlewood is author of the book Radio Free Palestine, which tells the plight of the Palestinians under occupation.


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01-25-2010, 11:19 PM

Thank you for this. The BBC's pro-Israel stance is quite well known in the UK.

Back in 2008/9 the BBC's director general, Mark Thompson, returned from Jerusalem, where he held a face-to-face meeting with the hardline Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

Although the diplomatic visit was not publicised on these shores, it was seized upon in Israel as evidence that Thompson, who took office in 2004, intends to build bridges with the country’s political class.

Sources at the Beeb also suspect that it heralds a “softening” to the corporation’s unofficial editorial line on the Middle East.

This was the first visit of its kind by any serving director general, so it was clearly a significant development. Not many people know this, but Mark Thompson's wife is Jewish, and he has a far greater regard for the Israeli cause than some of his predecessors.”

Understandably, an official BBC spokesman was anxious to downplay talk of an exclusively pro-Israeli charm offensive.

Mark Thompson sacked Orla Guerin (one of the better journalists) after his meeting with Ariel Sharon.

The Israeli government wrote to the BBC accusing its Middle East correspondent, Orla Guerin, of anti-semitism and “total identification with the goals and methods of the Palestinian terror groups”.

Orla Guerin’s offence was to run stories not just about the grief of Israeli families who had lost family members to suicide bombers but also stories about the grief and suffering of ordinary Palestinian families. As one blogger put it at the time:

Guerin’s real sin, of course, is to show some sympathy for the victims of the Israeli bombing (that’s enough to brand her a “terrorist”).

Within days of Thompson meeting Sharon, Guerin was sacked as BBC TV Middle East correspondent and transferred to Africa.

He also caused uproar by refusing to broadcast the Disasters Emergency Comittee appeal for Gaza, which the BBC traditionally televises for disasters whenever there is a catastrophe.

It is sad and a shame that the BBC is regarded as the best when it comes to journalism. It clearly is not.

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