Defenders of Israel have a huge inbuilt handicap. (Which is that they are defenders of Israel, i.e. automatically in the wrong.)
Jeremy Bowen, who calls Israel’s PM Benjamin Netanyahu a rather disrespectful “Netanyahu”, reported on the Today programme at 7:29 am that three (perhaps four) Israelis have been killed this morning, but felt compelled to announce that a greater number of Palestinians (11) had been killed, thus evening up the score lest the listeners should feel momentary sympathy for the Israelis. The fact that Israel was targeting ‘militants’ and Hamas was deliberately aiming at civilians was neither here nor there.
But as Melanie Phillips blogs:
If you look at the video footage of the strike, you can see the care the Israelis took to avoid other casualties, waiting until the terror commanders’ car had passed other traffic before striking it.
Jon Donnison, usually in Ramallah, but sometimes in Gaza, reports, like Alan Johnston, on behalf of the Palestinians. No-one from the BBC reports regularly from Israel in the same sympathetic fashion, although the BBC’s Jerusalem Bureau seems to be a base for BBC journalists. Somehow 800 rockets can be sent from Gaza into Israel without the BBC taking much notice, but when Israel’s restraint is finally tested to breaking point its response is seen by the BBC as the ‘beginning of the current escalation of violence”. Melanie Phillips clarifies this:
So let’s get this clear: in the mindset of the BBC and Foreign Office, 120-plus rockets in four days is not an escalation of violence or attempted mass murder; but a targeted strike to kill two individuals who have been organising such attacks, in order to prevent them from organising any more, is an escalation.
Jonathan Sacerdoti’s eloquence in the interview on BBCNews 24 seemed like an oasis, but there have been one or two other tiny glimmers recently. Yolande Knell, who I have both criticised and praised in the past, reported live from Israel, Kyriat Malachi (11 miles from Ashkelon) at 8:31 am on Today Radio 4 during an air raid. It gave some sense of what Israelis are facing. The “keep safe” messages on her Twitter feed indicate that she appeared to be in danger.
Daniel Taub was given a reasonably uninterrupted slot on the programme, but the general atmosphere was the same old same old. Despite “800 rockets into Israel” having been mentioned over and over, reports, including one by Jon Donnison, insisted that “It all started after the “assassination”.
“How does Israel expect to achieve peace by assassinating people and building more settlements?” Humphrys asked.
A Palestinian spokesperson said “We must defend ourselves from Israeli aggression” “We must protect our citizens!”
Any fule must kno that sending rockets into Israel can never be seen, by even the most hardened anti-Zionist, as protecting citizens. Protecting its citizens by firing rockets from within their midst is the very last thing it is doing.
This is an outrageous misappropriation of Israel’s position, a malevolent inside-out, head-over-heels theft of Israel’s actual, genuine, real-life circumstances; the Palestinians do this because it is the only plausible case that exists.
Fortunately for the British audience, the foreign office isn’t falling for it, if William Hague’s statement is truly representative of their position. Even the BBC seems to be less amenable to the Bowen/Donnison approach.
Imagine if the BBC’s Middle East correspondents were left out on a limb, through not being fully aware of the ever-increasing weakening of the BBC’s confidence that broadcasting from a strictly anti-Israel premise is the right thing to do, and is ‘what the audience wants.’