The BBC’s tail-between-legs response to the public relations campaign (and that, after all, is what it is) by anti-Israel activists which includes criticism of the corporation’s coverage of the conflict in Israel and the Gaza Strip as being too ‘pro-Israel’ is a topic worthy of in-depth documentation and analysis.
In the meantime, here is an item which was obviously conceived as an attempt to placate some of that criticism – as shown by the presenter’s response when his interviewee relates to the topic of anger directed at the BBC.
“I mean the BBC would no doubt defend the balance of its coverage and obviously we’re speaking to you now live on the BBC to get your view.”
The BBC News website version of this television news report appeared under the title “‘Israel started this war’ – Tariq Ali at Gaza rally in London” on August 9th. Why an interview so replete with disinformation and downright lies was considered appropriate for further promotion on the BBC News website is a question in itself.
Of course ‘live’ television is often not live at all, with a broadcast delay routinely employed as a safety net. It is therefore all the more unclear why the BBC broadcast an entire interview with the backdrop shown below.
As for the factually challenged Mr Ali himself; well the BBC gave him free rein to lie, to defame and to mislead BBC audiences for almost two and a half minutes. For some reason perhaps best known to himself, the presenter Mark Sanders apparently thought it a good idea to ask a writer about the subject of military proportionality in warfare.
Sanders: “In terms of the actual issue now, do you regard Israel’s response as proportionate given that Hamas are firing rockets and the Israelis saying this is simply a response to those rockets and also to the tunnels that are being dug – that militants of Hamas have used?”
Tariq Ali: “But you know, let’s be clear about this. Israel started this war when those…you know…people were kidnapped not by Hamas – their leadership denied it – but by some rogue group. So they carried out a war against…eh….Gaza to destroy Hamas as they’ve attempted before.”
As we noted here last week, the myth that a ‘rogue cell’ kidnapped and murdered Naftali Frankel, Gilad Sha’ar and Eyal Yifrach unraveled when Hussam Kawasme admitted to having secured funding for the terror attack from Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Operation Protective Edge of course actually commenced due to the serious escalation of missile attacks between June 12th and July 8th. The BBC’s presenter however did not bother to step in to prevent Tariq Ali’s misleading of viewers with regard to the cause of the operation and allowed him to continue.
“This is not the first time we’ve seen it and the excuses are always the same. Effectively, unless we have either a Palestinian state, independent and sovereign – which Netanyahu and virtually the entire Israeli leadership has ruled out – or a single state solution, this is going to benefit no-one.”
There’s uninterrupted lie number two. In 2009 Netanyahu said:
“But, friends, we must state the whole truth here. The truth is that in the area of our homeland, in the heart of our Jewish Homeland, now lives a large population of Palestinians. We do not want to rule over them. We do not want to run their lives. We do not want to force our flag and our culture on them. In my vision of peace, there are two free peoples living side by side in this small land, with good neighborly relations and mutual respect, each with its flag, anthem and government, with neither one threatening its neighbor’s security and existence.”
“It is tearing apart Israeli society. When you see images of Israeli citizens standing on the mountains and applauding the bombing, you realize how degenerate Israeli society has become.”
The presenter Mark Sanders continued:
“You call them degenerate. No doubt they would say – the Israeli side – that they are trying to defend their country against the aggression.”
Ali: “But I don’t accept that there is an equivalence. When you have Israel with nuclear weapons, with chemical weapons, with the sixth largest army in the world and Hamas – a weak liberation organization with very little – you cannot accept that there is an equivalence. There is no equivalence and when countries are occupied they fight back, regardless of who the occupier is and that’s what we’ve been seeing in Palestine.”
Mark Sanders did not bother to inform viewers of “weak” Hamas’ financial backing from Qatar or its supply of military grade weapons from Iran and elsewhere.
So what did BBC audiences learn from this interview? They were told that the Gaza Strip is “occupied”, that Israelis are “degenerate” (a statement which also appears in the synopsis to the website version), that the Israeli leadership rejects the two-state solution, that Hamas had nothing to do with the kidnappings and murders of three Israeli teenagers on June 12th and that the incident was used by Israel as a pretext to attack Gaza (that claim too appears in the synopsis of the website version). They were also informed – by means of the placard which the BBC allowed to serve as backdrop to this entire interview – that Israelis are “baby killers”: a classic antisemitic theme.
Goodness knows what this item would have looked like if the BBC didn’t supposedly have editorial guidelines on accuracy, impartiality, harm and offence in place.