The BBC’s Beirut correspondent Jim Muir had a long article entitled “Syria sides head for neither victory nor defeat” in the ‘Features & Analysis’ section of the BBC News website’s Middle East page on June 25th.
The item deals mainly with the subject of the stalemate between the various groups involved in the civil war in Syria, but Muir apparently could not manage to write about the subject without a gratuitous reference to Israel right at the end.
“In the meantime, as the turbulence rages all around, the Israelis need do no more than heed the ancient Chinese axiom : “It is better to sit on the hill and watch the tigers fight.” “
For those unfamiliar with Muir’s “axiom” – here is the story.
“In the Warring States Period the state of Han and Wei were at war and locked in a stalemate for a long time. The King of Qin was considering whether to become involved. One of his advisers told him the story of how Bian Zhuangzi killed tigers. He said, “Once, Bian Zhuangzi saw two tigers fall upon an ox. He was just about to go and try to kill them when his friend stopped him, explaining that tigers would fight over the ox; the smaller one would end up being killed, while the other would be badly wounded. If Bian Zhuangzi were to wait until them, he would take both tigers easily. Bian Zhuangzi did as he suggested. Just as expected, the smaller tiger was killed by the bigger one, which, being wounded, was killed easily by Bian Zhuangzi. So the two tigers were taken in one move. Now Han and Wei are at war. The result will be that one will be subjugated and the other weakened. If you attack then, you will gain both with one blow.” The King of Qin accepted this suggestion and gained an easy victory.
Later, the expression came to be used to mean watching in safety while others fight, then reaping the spoils when both sides suffer.” [emphasis added]
This is not the first time that Muir has used an article about the conflict in Syria to promote the notion of Israel sitting gleefully on the sidelines of that conflict. As our colleague Gilead Ini noted just over a month ago, in a previous item Muir painted Israel as a cartoon villain.
“Israel’s interest is to see the civil war continue and Hezbollah sucked in and massacred as it has been in the past few days, when they’ve lost 40 fighters. It’s a grinding machine, and Israel is laughing and happy.”
“Indeed, put like that, it is hard to imagine Israel not being happy to see what it regards as extremists and terrorists from both the Shia and Sunni sides of the sectarian divide at each other’s throats in Syria.” [emphasis added]
Mr Muir’s editors clearly need to keep an eye out for the repeated promotion of such ridiculous caricatures which not only fail to represent the serious situation on Israel’s border with Syria accurately, but deliberately mislead and misinform BBC audiences.