Michael Boyden

The BBC – Back To Its Old Tricks

The BBC has always been notorious for the manner in which it reported the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

It takes Palestinian propaganda as truth, but whenever Israel provides them with material, they say that it has not been confirmed by independent, verifiable sources. When Israeli material is referred to, the BBC frequently uses words like “allegedly” or “appears to show”, something it refrains from doing in respect of Palestinian reports.

If one needed any evidence of how they work, the clearest proof came from how they reported the bombing alongside the Al-Ahli hospital in Gaza City at the outset of the war.

Their correspondent, Jon Donnison, reported that it was likely that the blast was the result of an Israeli rocket. He then went on to say: “But it is hard to see what else this could be, really, given the size of the explosion, other than an Israeli airstrike or several airstrikes, because when we’ve seen rockets being fired out of Gaza, we’ve never seen explosions of that scale.”

Israel condemned this as a modern blood libel, because evidence showed that the explosion and the subsequent deaths that had been caused was the result of a failed rocket attack by Islamic Jihad.

The Palestinian propaganda machine had reported that “the attack at Al-Ahli Hospital killed at least 471 Palestinians and was caused by an Israeli airstrike, according to the Ministry of Health in Gaza.” The BBC chose to swallow that hook, line and sinker and continues to report their figures on the number of Palestinian casualties as though they could be trusted.

At the time, BBC’s Director General,Tim Davie, with his tail between his legs, had to apologise to MPs following the corporation’s speculation that the IDF had been responsible for the attack on the hospital. However, given the fact that the BBC continues to this day to refer to Hamas jihadi murderers as “militants”, their bias is hardly surprising.

BBC’s latest piece of Hamas propaganda comes in the form of a report from Gaza entitled: “I walked my kids past explosions and rotting corpses” in which BBC’s cameraman (who, for obvious reasons, they refer to as “Arab” rather than “Palestinian” to make his testimony sound objective) shares a shocking and lengthy account of what he, his wife and children reportedly experienced as they headed south in the Gaza Strip.

The cameraman’s name, incidentally, is Jehad El-Mashhrawi. Many will know that “Jehad” is the Arabic word for “a struggle or fight against the enemies of Islam”. In fairness, the word can also mean “a personal struggle in devotion”, but when a Palestinian father gives his child that name, that clearly isn’t the meaning.

If one needed evidence of his bias, one only has to take a look at Linkedin, which describes him as being employed by the Palestinian Authority!

Jehad explained that “My baby son, Omar, died … in November 2012, killed when shrapnel hit our house in another war with Israel.” However, what makes Jihad’s testimony suspect is that in 2013 he blamed Israel for the death of 11-month-old Omar, but findings released by UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said that Omar and two of his relatives were probably killed by a Palestinian rocket that fell short of Israel! Does the BBC really believe that Jehad is an objective reporter?

I await the BBC allocating a similar number of column-inches in a prime location to what Israelis have to say about the way they were raped, burnt and dragged from their homes on the 7th October. It might also choose to devote space to those poor families whose spouses, parents, children and grandchildren were taken hostage by Hamas and whose whereabouts are still unknown. And what about those 120,000 Israelis who have fled their homes?

Their latest story tells of two girls in Gaza who “were treated for head injuries and were left scared and traumatised”.

How about reporting on the Israeli children who can’t sleep at night or are wetting their beds in fear of further Hamas rocket attacks, or the farmers who risk mortar attacks and sniper fire when they go out to feed their chickens and milk their cows?

It is time that the BBC stopped being Hamas’s mouthpiece. If it is unable to provide people with balanced and objective reporting, it is time that Parliament withdrew its charter.

About the Author
Made aliyah from the UK in 1985, am a former president of the Israel Council of Reform Rabbis and am currently rabbi of Kehilat Yonatan in Hod Hasharon, Israel.