The way the recent upheavals in the Middle East have been reported by the BBC show clearly that it’s beyond their collective imagination to wonder whether the Arab/Islamic population is really and truly full of ordinary people just like us.
Even though Jon Donnison and Jeremy Bowen have spent considerable time in the Arab world, they still can’t grasp the concept that there is a “them and us” and that *their* worldview is antithetical to *ours* . Would Jeremy Bowen send his young relatives off to prosecute holy jihad wearing a suicide belt? Would Jon Donnison support the stoning of an adulteress or the limb amputation of a thief? Would he expect to enter Paradise if he copped it in the fog of struggle? Probably not. But they must know that these beliefs exist and can’t be shrugged off with a casual “I’m sure they don’t really mean it.”
The BBC’s reporting on the escalation of attacks from Gaza is an example of this moral equivalence. Towards the end, the BBC’s report demonstrates how the writer identifies with Hamas, “Last month saw some of the worst violence since Israel launched Operation Cast Lead in Gaza in December 2008, says the BBC’s Jon Donnison in Gaza.” reminding us as usual, of Cast Lead.
“In one week in March, at least 10 Palestinians – including several civilians and children – were killed by Israeli attacks” Donnison begins, adding:
“In the same period, militants in Gaza fired more than 80 rockets and mortar shells into southern Israel.”
This implies that Israel killed “several” (how many?) innocents, then Hamas responded, pitifully, killing no-one.
“Hamas had pledged to try to restore a ceasefire that ended on 16 March when an Israeli air strike killed two of its militants in the Palestinian territory.”
This makes no sense. Would or could Hamas ‘try to restore’ a ceasefire that was allegedly broken by Israel?
“However, Israel said it had suffered “bouts of terror and rocket attacks.”
Israel said? Hamas has pledged? Which is more reliable, a *say* or a *pledge*?
“Despite recent calls for calm, neither side seems to be able to stop firing, our correspondent says. Both say the other started it. Israel says it holds Hamas responsible for all attacks coming out of Palestinian territory, even if it is other militant groups carrying them out”
Read Melanie Phillips and Honest Reporting on that kind of remark.
While I’m at it – “Attack on Bus” Why does Hamas attack just *a bus?* Is ‘damaging a bus’ their intention? When rockets land without killing any Israelis, is that intentional?
Also, when is a teenaged boy a child? When he’s a Palestinian, of course. Israeli children are ‘people’ or teenagers, young Palestinian resistance fighters are counted as children till they get the key of the door.
The invariable chronological inversion of attack and retaliation and the habitual emphasis on the retaliation and downplaying of the provocation is automatic for the BBC. Not many people used to know that, but thankfully more and more people are starting to notice.
Even Sky has:
“The violence began when Gazan militants launched an anti tank-missile at a school bus in an apparently deliberate escalation.”
The BBC prefers to begin their article by concentrating on Israel’s military might, emoting a disproportionate response to a damaged bus.
“Israeli tanks, helicopters and planes have struck Gaza after an anti-tank missile fired from the Palestinian territory hit a bus in southern Israel.”
If the BBC understood what is happening it could have speculated that the escalation in hostilities might be related to the “Arab Spring.” It might have occurred to someone that Hamas has been emboldened by the the Islamist and Muslim Brotherhood’s prospective rise to prominence throughout the Arab world.
Here’s a quote from a thought-provoking article everyone should read.
And, as in much other coverage of the Middle East, the journalists – take a bow, BBC – did not bother to exercise the elementary functions of their craft: to be inquisitive, to question assumptions, to look beyond the overheated excitement. Having written the script, they were determined to stick to it in breathless, eye-moistening interviews – “live and direct from Tahrir Square” – with self-selecting, highly educated, English-speaking protesters.
And just as the media made their bizarre extrapolations and re-wrote the script, they also changed their language. In less than a month, Mubarak had made the seamless transition from “moderate, pro-Western Egyptian president” to “corrupt, tyrannical dictator”.
I blogged something like this myself not so long ago.