If ever a headline typified the warped priorities of the BBC it is in today’s report onIsrael’s response to the weekend barrage of rockets fromGaza:
Gaza: New Israeli air strikes leave four dead
The report symbolises all that is wrong with the BBC’s reporting of the problems Israel faces, starting with the astonishing insinuation that Israel is to blame for a massive rocket barrage on the civilian population of her southern cities by having, in effect, the audacity to kill a leading member of a terrorist organisation. Ever fond of bandying the word “disproportionate” around in any discussion of Israel’s defensive actions, it never occurs to the UK’s public service broadcaster to inquire whether a massive attack on innocent civilians in a neighbouring country counts as a reasonable reaction to the elimination of a terrorist who was targeted simply to prevent such outrages in the first place.
The BBC report only grudgingly acknowledges the onslaught which Israel has suffered these past few days in a subsequent and almost passing mention:
“Israel says more that 240 rockets have been fired from the Gaza since Friday, injuring 35 people, one seriously.”
So, Israel“says” that more than 240 rockets have been fired! How, pray tell, can this possibly be a matter of subjective opinion? What, precisely, does the BBC think has been lobbed at Ashdod over the past few days? Paper darts? Busy readers scanning the headlines might be forgiven for thinking so.
The story, of course, that the BBC misses is that this is the fourth round of escalation in rocket and mortar shell fire during the past year. In April 2011, 69 rockets fell in Israeli territory, in August 2011, 155 rockets, and in October 2011, 45 rockets .It is only thanks to the IDF “Iron Dome” ballistic defence system (remember the anti-Star Wars naysayers who scoffed that you “couldn’t fire a bullet to stop a bullet”?) that so far about half of those rockets have been intercepted before reaching their (civilian) targets.
The other story that the BBC misses is the total refusal of the HAMAS “administration” in Gaza to do anything to stop these attacks, which purportedly were carried out by the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Hamas rules Gaza with an iron fist and notoriously tossed Fatah members off rooftops. Yet they cannot lift so much as a little finger to stop another terrorist group from initiating a massive and overt campaign of this sort.
But I digress. It is the fate of terrorists and those in the vicinity of those terrorists that animates some sections of the British media. For what else are we to make of the implication that the injuries to Israeli civilian casualties count for little or at least are morally equivalent to the suffering of the perpetrators? Or that the disruption of the daily lives of more than 1 million citizens or the fact that over 200,000 schoolchildren have had to skip classes today for their own safety are matters not even worthy of mention, let alone sympathy?
The BBC’s obsession with the consequences of Israel’s defensive and demonstrably well-targeted measures is as inappropriate as a Battle of Britain newsreel that concentrated on the fate of the Luftwaffe pilots shot down overKent.
Many Israelis feel that the BBC and other public service broadcasters are biased against their nation. I will be generous and ascribe this context-dropping, proclivity for moral equivalence and distortion to lazy journalism.
Simon McIlwaine is founder of Anglican Friends of Israel.