Sunday 13 July 2014

A Tale of Two Reports

The BBC's coverage of the present Gaza conflict hasn't been monolithic. 

Take the following pair of reports from tonight's 6 O'Clock News on Radio 4. 

The first comes from Jeremy Bowen: 
For much of the night the wounded and the dead were brought into Shifa, Gaza's main hospital. It was the most sustained bombing so far. For Israel, with American support, it's self defence but, as more Palestinian civilians die, the pressure for a ceasefire is growing. At the mortuary blood covered the floor as staff prepared 17 members of the al-Batsh family for burial, including five children. The bodies of two children were squeezed onto one shelf. They were running out of room. Israel isn't trying to win friends in the Gaza Strip. It does want to weaken Hamas as an organisation, but every time civilians die Hamas gets a popularity boost. The Israelis say Hamas attacks their people and is, therefore, responsible for civilian deaths when Israel retaliates. But no Palestinian will listen to that. At times like this in Gaza life and death are overshadowed by one reality: Almost seventy years of conflict with Israel and no prospect it will end. Thousands of people left their homes in northern Gaza after Israel warned it might expand its operations. The displaced families, just as in the last two wars between Hamas and Israel, are in U.N. schools. Mohammed Marouf, the head of one big family - he has nine children and more than 100 grandchildren -  rejected Israeli claims that Hamas was using civilians as human shields.
Here we have the emotive language, the editorialising and the naked anti-Israel bias for which the BBC's Middle East editor is known.

You will have noticed, for example, that Jeremy Bowen (from the Robert Fisk school of journalism but semi-tied by BBC impartiality guidelines) slips in a dig at the United States - a running theme for him. On this morning Broadcasting Househe said (almost spitting out the last four words)... 
...this very effective anti-missile system called Iron Dome, which is something they developed along with the Americans, who paid for it...
...which is a smear as the U.S. only partly paid for it. Israel has also paid for it. 

It should also be noted that nowhere did Jeremy Bowen mention that the building struck, sadly resulting in those 17 deaths, belonged to the Hamas police chief, Tayseer al-Batsh. It wasn't some random attack on civilians, as Jeremy Bowen's unwillingness to provide the full facts might have led listeners to assume.

Thankfully, another BBC reporter was on hand later in the bulletin - Quentin Somerville. 

(Quentin's reports both on Broadcasting House and The World This Weekend did mention that Israel had struck the Hamas police chief's home.)

His report avoided emotive language, editorialising and bias:
"Do you speak Hebrew?", an Israeli soldier asks in this military recording. When Israel strikes Gaza, this is the warning it gives to those on the ground. "You have five minutes to leave", says the voice on the phone, and shortly afterwards a missile hits. The calls are meant to minimise civilian casualties but still scores of Palestinian women and children die when the missiles strike. Israel's Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, says the blame for that lies with Hamas:
Hamas uses the residents of Gaza as a human shield and is bringing disaster on the residents of Gaza and, therefore, the responsibility for any harm done to civilians in Gaza - which we regret - the responsibility is that of Hamas and its partners, and them alone. 
Sirens sounded across the country today from first light as rockets from Gaza continued to hit Israel, but the country's sophisticated Iron Dome missile defence system intercepted the most dangerous. Six days into this conflict there hasn't been a single Israeli death from a Hamas rocket. Despite the growing number of civilian casualties in Gaza, in Israel more than 90% of Israelis support the air campaign. Israel's tanks stand ready to invade Gaza but for a ground offensive there isn't widespread support. That for now maybe all that's stopping this conflict from escalating.
Jeremy Bowen is simply too emotionally bound up in the situation. He's too partisan. He really needs to be moved on. And soon. 

Quentin Somerville might make a good replacement.


  1. You're a complete joke. Israel is a terrorist state which has no interest in peace with the Palestinians. You know it and I know it.

  2. Mahmoud Abbas himself wrote in the PLO official magazine " Al - Thaura " in 1976 that "The Arab armies entered Palestine ...... they abandoned (the Palestinian Arabs ), forced them to emigrate.... imposed upon them a political and ideological blockade and threw them into prisons similar to the ghettos in which the Jews used to live in Europe"

  3. I find the constant cry of the BBC that no Israelis have yet been killed a continuous form of bias. It is used to suggest that this continuous rain of rockets is having no impact on the lives of the Israelis; there have been people hurt including a while back a Christian woman was killed by a Hamas rocket. The BBC likes us to think that these 'home-made rockets' are something like fireworks on bonfire night. And I think it is Pounce on Biased BBC that points out that during Ramadan nearly 3,000 people have already been killed in other ME countries ie Muslim on Muslim killings without either having been reported on the BBC or condemnation for what is happening.


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