This is deja vu all over again. Jeremy Bowen is back in Jerusalem trying to reignite the BBC’s war against Israel.
The media had lost interest recently, and as Jeremy himself says, his colleagues have asked him
“Why now, when it* has been going on since last October?”
(*stabbing and car-ramming intifada) Why indeed.
There are two new contributions from the BBC’s Middle East editor. The audio version was more overtly anti-Israel than the web version, but it’s interesting to compare the two.
The Today Programme. Sarah Montague’s introduction set the tone.
“Tension is rising once again between Israelis and Palestinians. Seemingly random attacks by Palestinians on Israelis continue. Israel continues to expand settlements for Jooos in the occupied territories that contravene international law. There are no peace talks, and no attempt is being made to revive them.”
As far as I could tell, there was no reference whatsoever, either in Bowen’s written or in his audio report, to Israel ‘expanding settlements for Jews in the occupied territories nor that they contravene international law”
The scriptwriters must have inserted that. Perhaps they did that at 4am, when they were still half asleep. If the necessity for inserting that were challenged, I imagine they would say, “for context”.
The way Sarah enunciated the word “Jews” was weird too. That’s why I spelled it Jooos.
There is a marked difference between the audio and web reports. It seems that the web editor wishes to appear even handed. The audio report didn’t bother to try.
It began with the tearful words of a young Palestinian claiming she had not intended to stab an Israeli “in a Jewish settlement” and had been wrongly imprisoned for 74 days. The family also protested her innocence.
The above visit was not included in the web report, but the next section, (in Israel) was prominently featured on the website and included a photo of the injured girl’s mother.
Back to the audio version of the above, where Jeremy Bowen visits the young Israeli girl in hospital. She has been badly burned in the recent bus bombing. He speaks to her mother and sister Shiran.
Bowen asks Shiran what she thinks “when she sees a Palestinian walking down the street”
"I think: why are they so evil? Why are they so bad? Why can't we live in peace… these are wars that we have been living with for years and we'll never find a resolution to them because they hate us.
We hate them; It’s mutual, but the difference between us is they’re the ones who come to attack.”
This particular quote implants the idea that Israelis and Palestinians share an equal hatred for each other, and the question was undoubtedly posed - using the phrase “when she sees a Palestinian walking down the street - to reinforce ‘mutuality’. This is an example of distortion of a fact extracted from a grain of truth.
In other words, Israelis have learned to be wary of Palestinians ‘walking down the street‘, whereas Palestinian Muslims have been brought up with hatred of Jews, which is why they will never accept Israel as a Jewish state. The mutuality, if there is any, is a recent, reactive phenomenon, but equating the two hatreds by sleight of hand is pure antisemitic propaganda.
The audio version moves to another location, a Palestinian village near Jerusalem.
“Most of the Palestinians who live here can’t travel to Jerusalem - to the holy city - because of Israel’s security regulations.”
Bowen describes the mourners of a 16 year old boy and a 23 year old girl, siblings who were shot at a checkpoint. The girl ‘allegedly’ threw a knife at the police.
“The family say they were both innocent, shot in cold blood by trigger-happy guards..... They didn’t have a chance....”
A family member says: (voiced by a translator)
“They’re used to this. It’s normal for them. They kill us. They kill innocent children in cold blood. Our martyrs are in heaven. That’s enough for us. They’re used to this. It’s in their blood. They want to get rid of us in any way. They have a law. Whenever they see an Arab their policy is to kill them. Killing is their policy. Even old people and kids.”
“Her uncle, Abdullah, joined in” says Bowen. He interprets:
“If you scratch your head they’ll kill you, if you just pick something off the ground, they’ll kill you. If you pick your phone out of your pocket, they’ll kill you”
“The Israeli government says that’s untrue” continued Jeremy. “That Palestinians attack Israelis because they’ve been - short pause indicating imaginary quote marks - “taught to hate them from childhood”
Giving a ‘platform’ to such demonstrably false accusations, even with the inclusion of “Our martyrs are in heaven” sends out a mixed message.
To me it merely says “I’m brainwashed.” But to you, goodness only knows what.
Some might believe Israelis really do have a law or a policy to kill an Arab whenever they see one. After all, a similar command crops up in their religion. (Something to do with the gharqad tree)
Bowen consults a spokesperson from “Breaking the Silence”, a group of former IDF soldiers who believe the occupation is morally indefensible. The spokesman sets out all the reasons why the group campaigns against the occupation.
He is not asked what the group thinks would happen if Israel did withdraw from the occupied territories.
"The atmosphere is more combustable than it’s been" says Bowen.
Now look at the webpage. At first glance this looks more impartial, but it does include a different scene (not included in the audio version) to portray the Palestinian viewpoint.
It’s the view of the mother of the bus bomber, in fact. Bowen attempts to dissociate this act from Islam. We’re told that although Hamas claimed Abdul’s attack, Abdul's family supports ‘a secular left-wing Palestinian faction’.
"He was angry for everything that happened in Palestine. He was watching what happened everyday. Killings, arrests, destroying homes, everything. Of course he was angry."
Then there’s a section headed “The core of the conflict”
“The Israeli prime minister's spokesman told me that "teaching Palestinian children to hate is one of the primary causes of the terror attacks against Israeli civilians today… their impressionable minds should not be poisoned with hatred by the Palestinian Authority."
Hate-filled Palestinian rhetoric against Israel is not hard to find. It cuts the other way too.Fans of one of Jerusalem's professional football clubs, which has roots in a right-wing Zionist youth movement, are notorious for chanting "Death to Arabs" during games.”
Is Bowen equating the every-day hatred for Jews that is exposed by PMW, and spewed out by Hamas T.V., which he admits is not hard to find.........with a football chant? “Death to Arabs during games?” He must be getting desperate.
Here is the most misleading part, which shows how ill-informed he is about ‘the core of the conflict'.
“Two peoples have been fighting for generations about one piece of land. That is still the core of the conflict.”
No. That is not the core of the conflict at all. The BBC has no business allowing such an ill-informed statement to pass unchallenged. It would be misleading enough if it was said by anyone at all, but from the BBC's Middle east Editor it's unforgivable.
I have never pretended to be an expert on religion - neither Judaism nor Islam. I don’t wish to go into the details of whose holy site is the holiest. But I do know that the core of the conflict stems from the hatred of Jews that is inherent in the Muslim religion. That is why the Palestinians have rejected every offer of their own state as long as Israel remains in what they see as “Muslim” land.
Jeremy Bowen is rather like Jeremy Corbyn. They are both ill-informed and biased, and they both count Hamas and Hezbollah amongst their friends. Mutuality all round.