Take a Look in The (Daily) Mirror

Having popped into a local supermarket to gather some essentials, the front cover, or a splash as it’s known in journalistic parlance, of The Daily Mirror on August 19th caught my eye on the newsstand. It features the opinions of “SAS hero” Chris Ryan, with the bold headline ‘SAS MUST WIPE OUT BRIT JIHADIS’ and the chilling sub-heading ‘Fanatics will return to UK and cause carnage’.

As a front page, it lies somewhere between a galvanizing rallying cry for the British Government to kill these Islamic extremists, and a warning shot to all upstanding citizens of the UK that we should be frightened if nothing is done. Indeed today, with the horrendous video being shared online of American journalist James Foley’s gut-wrenching beheading at the hands of a British ISIS Jihadi, it is clear that the UK has a problem. As Douglas Murray explains in The Spectator, “Britain has long been a global hub of terror export, so much so that senior US government officials have suggested the next attack on US soil is likely to come from UK citizens.” The Daily Mirror’s front page is not only correct in its tone, we should be scared of what’s around the corner, but also in strongly urging the British Government to act.

Travel south east for just over two thousand miles, and we see a parallel situation whereby a liberal democracy faces a massive Islamic extremist threat. The democracy, with its freedom-of-speech and free press, is facing an Islamist group who calls for its absolute destruction, whose end destination mirrors that of ISIS – to establish an Islamic Kalifa upon every civilization on earth. However, this democracy is called Israel and the fanatical group is called Hamas, so the rules are, for some reason, very different. We’re yet to see a front page of The Daily Mirror that screams, ‘IDF MUST WIPE OUT PALESTINIAN JIHADIS’. As International Human Rights Lawyer Arsen Ostrovsky writes today in the Huffington Post, “Hamas and ISIS are two sides of the same Islamic terror coin, yet while the West has rightfully united in condemnation and action against ISIS, it has applied a different standard towards Israel, who has been faced with the incessant terror of Hamas.”

Perhaps the rules are seemingly different as two thousand miles of sea and land renders Hamas less of a threat to the UK than ISIS, with their British recruits who will no doubt utilize their British passports to return one day soon to Birmingham, London or Manchester. Two thousand miles does not render Israel irrelevant though, with its outrageously disproportionate press coverage in the UK media, but perhaps it does render Hamas’ threat less relevant to the British, sitting in the comfort of their suburban homes, with the kettle on and the new Premier League season keeping us all entertained.

We should remember that British Jihadis have been recruited by Hamas before, when Asif Hanif and Omar Khan Sharif blew themselves up at Mike’s Place, a bar popular with locals and tourists alike, on the seafront in Tel Aviv. They killed three young Israelis and wounded fifty, all on behalf of Hamas. What’s to stop Hamas instructing their British operatives to blow themselves up at The Bullring in Birmingham or Westfield in London? Nothing at all.

The threat to British society aside, this brings us to another piece run by The Daily Mirror recently, written by Lord Prescott. Lord Prescott offensively played on the gravest sensibilities of Jewish people worldwide, drawing invisible parallels between the IDF and the Nazi regime, rubbing Dead Sea Salt into the gaping wounds of Jewish communities facing threats and vitriol on a daily basis, in the worst bout of perceptible Jew-hatred for 70 years.

The Daily Mirror gave Lord Prescott a platform to negate the IDF attempts at nullifying the threat of Hamas, he wrote “Israel’s hawkish Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu trots out the same excuses. Hamas ‘militants’ in Gaza fired their rockets first. Israel has a right to defend itself. It needs to protect its citizens.” Sometimes, Lord Prescott and The Daily Mirror, reasons are not excuses… they are reasons.

Lord Prescott continued, “The military action supposedly targeting Hamas is so brutally disproportionate and so grossly indiscriminate that it makes it impossible not to view Israel’s actions as war crimes.” I’d like The Daily Mirror to clarify whether this is the same Lord Prescott who served as Deputy Prime Minister of the UK when British forces invaded Iraq? Is this the same Lord Prescott who served as Deputy Prime Minister of the UK when British forces invaded Afghanistan? Both of these wars have created gargantuan numbers of civilian casualties, were either Iraq or Afghanistan firing rockets on London most days for a decade? No. Is Lord Prescott, like the rest of the world, looking towards Israel gleefully, as the more Palestinians that die, the more every other politician, government, terror group or army can tut, finger point and be glad they’re not in the news? Perhaps.

Admittedly, this is just one front page, and just one editorial piece, but it’s fair to say that the Mirror’s coverage of Operation Protective Edge has, like most that of most other media outlets, dismally failed to give due attention to the tactics of Hamas and their role in the global movement of Islamic extremism. Of course this could be connected to Hamas’ intense intimidation of Western journalists in Gaza.

So as we know, this week The Daily Mirror has, quite rightly, published the advice of a seasoned British military man, someone who knows the potential future threats of Islamic extremism to the liberal values of the UK. Why not then publish the thoughts of another seasoned British military man who knows a thing or two about urban warfare and the IDF?

On August 3rd 2014, Colonel Richard Kemp wrote his views on Operation Protective Edge; “The IDF has developed the most comprehensive and sophisticated measures to minimize civilian casualties during attacks against legitimate military targets. Mandatory, multi-sensor intelligence and surveillance systems to confirm the presence or absence of civilians precede attacks on every target from the air. Text messages, phone calls and radio messages in Arabic warn occupants to leave. Air-dropped leaflets include maps showing safe areas. When warnings go unheeded, aircraft drop non-lethal explosives to warn that an attack is imminent. Only when pilots and air controllers are sure that civilians are clear of the target will authorization be given to attack. When pilots use laser-guided munitions they must have pre-designated safe areas to which to divert the missiles in flight should civilians suddenly appear. In the last few days IDF pilots have aborted many missions because civilians remained in the target area. Discussions with IDF infantrymen fresh from the fight on the Gaza border confirm that avoiding civilian casualties is uppermost in their minds even when under fire themselves.”

We face a situation whereby British ISIS terrorists will make their way back to their most-likely innocent families in Birmingham, Manchester and London – trained in how to fire arms and how to construct explosives.

When the Daily-Mirror-supported SAS operation begins to enter their homes in the night and imprison these morally perverse and brainwashed young men, and they’re greeted by a gun-wielding Jihadist surrounded by their own family members, what should they do? When British forces break down a front door in Manchester to find someone with explosives strapped to their chest in a house full of children, what should they do? When the SAS find explosive devices destined to murder British citizens being manufactured in a religious Islamic building in a quiet UK suburb, what should they do? Surely you can’t storm a Mosque, can you? You can if you’re Britain, not if you’re Israel. These double standards weaken us, they don’t strengthen us. Nobody is denying that what we are seeing in Gaza is tragic, but most people are denying Hamas’ role in the intolerable suffering of their own people, most people are denying Israel the right of self-defence. British society must show compassion for suffering whilst also having the wherewithal to support those standing up to the threat that’s edging closer and closer to our own cities and towns.

A newspaper should at least attempt to achieve a level of consistency in its editorial content when it comes to the national and global threat of Islamic extremism. It shouldn’t say, “We should wipe out these Islamic extremists but someone else shouldn’t wipe out those Islamic extremists.” This is not a trivial matter, it’s not ‘Two Jags’ John Prescott choosing the colour of his second luxury vehicle, deciding one day he likes maroon and the next day he likes pearlescent white. This is a global threat, the front line of which is guarded by Israel, a democracy at the gateway to the brutal Middle East, on behalf of the rest of the world.

When considering its coverage of the Middle East and the Islamist threat, The Daily Mirror, somewhat ironically, needs to take a long hard look in the mirror.

About the Author
Blake Ezra is a writer on Middle Eastern Politics and the Jewish World, breaking down the complexities of difficult subjects to make them more accessible for any reader. Blake Ezra holds a BA (Hons) in Middle Eastern Politics from Manchester University and is a Graduate of the Institute for Youth Leaders from Abroad in Jerusalem.
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