It is often possible to find one small event, even one word, that with no exaggeration can encapsulate a much larger worldview and mindset. A disgraceful piece of editing by the BBC is one such example.
The BBC recently aired a documentary about the Gaza war of last year, which aimed to tell the story of the war from the perspective of the children on both sides. However, when one Palestinian child said “the Jews are massacring us,” the BBC instead translated it as “the Israelis are massacring us.” The explanation given by producer Lyse Doucet is that, “When [the children] say ‘Jews’, they mean ‘Israelis’.“
Before we get to the significance of this change, it is worth dwelling for a minute on the absurdity of Ms. Doucet`s explanation. Of course the child is referring to Israelis – no-one thinks that the Jews of America or France are guilty for what it is happening to the Palestinians (except for the BBC’s Tom Wilcox, who does indeed blame French Jews for the plight of the Palestinians) But how you say something really matters. If someone would criticize Assad by saying “the Muslim is butchering people”, then surely we would recognize that it is a racist, rather than a political statement.
But beyond it being a poor journalistic decision, why does this matter? Because it cuts to the heart of a much broader issue – that Western supporters of the Palestinians cast the Palestinians in their own image, and ignore all the reprehensible elements of Palestinian society. The West has criticisms for “Israelis” as a political group, and their policies of occupation, settlement etc., but they cannot face up to the fact that many Palestinians are motivated by a hatred of Jews, not Israelis. The child who is upset that “Jews” butcher Palestinians is probably not focused on the “Israeli” soldier and “Israeli” colonialism of the Western imagination, but is more likely to be thinking of the dominating “Jew” of the Protocols of the Elder of Zion, or the “Jew” as the eternal enemy or Islam, or the “Jew”, who along with America, insults Islam by his very control over any part of the Middle East. The West has a wonderful political narrative of the story of the Palestinians based on occupation, power and human rights – it just never stopped to check whether this is the story that the Palestinians actually tell their own children.
Western media generally ignores the views of Palestinian society, and thus supporters of the Palestinians remain blissfully ignorant of the many reprehensible elements that exist in Palestinian public opinion. People who are generally supporters of democracy are oblivious to the anti-democratic nature of the Palestinian Authority. Lovers of peace ignore the incitement and hatred found on official Palestinian television and social media. It is understandably very uncomfortable for liberals to support a Palestinian society that is so overwhelmingly homophobic as it is – so this inconvenient truth is simply ignored.
This piece of editing of the BBC is not an isolated incident – supporters of the Palestinians are ignoring the demons that exist, and thus supporting some of the things they most hate. Supporters of the Palestinians need to see the situation for how it is rather than usefully doctoring the facts to fit their ideology.