BBC has been shameful on Israel for 30 years but Jenin report hit new low

IDF soldiers in in Jenin.
IDF soldiers in in Jenin.

I am rarely – to use a cliché – incoherent with rage. As someone who earned (and still, to some extent earns) her living as a journalist, I couldn’t afford to be “incoherent,” with rage or any other emotion.

But  I  felt incoherent with rage over the BBC’s coverage of Israel’s action in Jenin. I was incoherent because, despite having grown accustomed over the past three decades to the blatant anti-Israel bias of BBC News, their reports on Jenin outdid even their most egregious former failures, leaving me speechless.

Well, almost speechless.

I have written before, and at length, about the BBC’s outrageous anti-Israel bias; about the libels, calumnies and distortions in its coverage of Israel generally; how it routinely compiles reports which promote a Palestinian narrative by carefully omitting pertinent facts, background and context while at the same time giving significant air-time to propagandised versions of events, to unverified allegations and, basically, to detailed accounts of anything that shows Israel in a negative light.

But its coverage of the Jenin action seemed to take this bias to a new level. Their failure to offer context or the slightest explanation of why this action was necessary – or context, if included, so carefully en passant and slight, it would be missed by most viewers/listeners – while piling on the “agony” of the so-called “victims” reveals the extent to which at least some of those presenting or running BBC News are in thrall to a Palestinian narrative of lies, omissions and half-truths

I know I was not alone in being incoherent with rage. Many others in the UK Jewish community felt the same way. What angers me most, however, is not the anguish caused to those of the UK Jewish community who feel as I do, but the harm to truth and perception. Those who see only BBC reports stuffed full of Palestinian propaganda, with wholesale omissions and lack of vital context, who do not understand that the Palestinian narrative comprises lies, omissions and half-truths, will have a wholly distorted perception of Israel. Their perception will be wrong and wholly undeserved.

And this hammering of Israel by the BBC doesn’t only lead to “anti-Zionism” and a poor opinion of Israel. As  we know, it has an impact on antisemitism – ask the UK’s CST if you need confirmation. And, in due course, it  will have an impact on international relations, arts, culture and everything, as gullible politicians, gullible actors and gullible creatives are sucked in to the fake narrative and act (or enact policy) accordingly. Even gullible Jews will “speak out” as a result of this mis-direction.

Perhaps the only way to illustrate the cavernous gap between reality and the perception produced  – possibly deliberately – by the BBC’s biased coverage of Jenin is to offer an imaginary scenario.

In this scenario, we have a BBC News team reporting from, say, Nazi Germany in 1943. It is applying – obviously – the same outrageously biased style of reporting employed in its coverage of Israel’s anti-terrorism raid. In this parallel scenario, however, the news team’s position is an antipathy to Britain rather than Israel.

I think we  know what we might expect in such a report. It would completely ignore all vital context, such as the Hitler-Stalin Pact and Nazi territorial ambitions which had by 1943 led to invasions across most of Europe and great swathes of North Africa. The report would ignore the rounding up and industrialised slaughter of Jews, Roma, Black people and homosexuals while instead, in characteristically biased fashion, would report on the Allies’ “aggression” and offer sound-bites from angry (ideally blood-spattered) German citizens.

There would be statements from German politicians railing against “imperialist” Britain and of course, furious ambulance crews or medics spewing hate against Britain because they would be unable to reach the wounded (who may well include the SS or Gestapo). There might also be anguished pieces to camera over children who had tragically died.

If such such frankly biased reports had been broadcast in 1943, would the course of world history have changed? Could biased reports have made listeners in 1943 (there were no viewers then) believe that Britain was an aggressive, imperialist power inflicting gratuitous harm on these “poor” Nazis rather than a nation defending itself from a voracious, predatory enemy who wished to conquer and destroy it?

BBC News has been shameful on Israel for nearly 30 years. It has distorted reality by consistently presenting Palestinian propaganda as fact and presenting unverified Palestinian allegations as “news.” It has regularly and frequently omitted vital context and background which has skewed perceptions and made Israel appear a blood-thirsty aggressor rather than a nation forced to defend itself from its bitterest enemies – at least some of whom wish to annihilate it and its people, utterly.

But it  was especially shameful on Jenin. In addition to the usual corrupt, biased reports, there was an on-air libel from a studio “anchor,” who alleged that Israel was “happy to let children die.” This allegation – for which it has now apologised – came at a point when the BBC had decided to withhold the crucial information that Israel had given a warning of the imminent raid (as it always does, despite the resultant risk to its own soldiers), specifically in order to allow children to be evacuated.

The particular irony here is that those willing – if not actually happy to let children die – are propagandists on behalf of Palestinian who can use these sad deaths knowing that their media cheer-leaders will never ask who is truly responsible for their deaths.

About the Author
Jan Shure held senior editorial roles at the Jewish Chronicle for three decades. and previously served as deputy editor of the Jewish Observer. She is an author and freelance writer and wrote regularly for the Huffington Post until 2018. In 2012 she took a break from journalism to be a web entrepreneur.