BBC pictorial portrayals of conflict in Israel and Gaza

On November 23rd 2012 an “In Pictures” photo essay entitled “Ceasefire” appeared on the homepage of the Middle East section of the BBC News website. 

The photo essay features thirteen photographs, of which nine depict Gaza and four are taken in Israel.

Four of the pictures from Gaza depict scenes of destruction of buildings, with interesting repeated – if transparent – use of bursts of colour against a largely grey background . One shows mourning women. Four other pictures depict Hamas leaders and operatives (finally available for photo-ops after eight days of being in hiding), with three of those pictures notably captioned as having been taken at funerals or mourning  events, thus adding a ‘human touch’. 

Of the pictures taken in Israel, none depict any kind of destruction or mourning.

One shows Israelis demonstrating against the ceasefire in Kiryat Malachi, where three people were killed as the result of a direct hit by a missile on an apartment block.

The remaining three pictures all have a military theme, with any civilians pictured looking relaxed and happy. Two of the three once again suggest a linkage between the Israeli army and religion. 

In the three photo essays we have covered here recently (see here and here), a total of 35 pictures supposedly documenting the conflict have been presented. Twenty of those pictures were taken in Gaza (and one in Hebron), with only two of those images showing Hamas terrorists, both at funerals. Fourteen of the 35 pictures were taken in Israel. 

Of the total 35 pictures, damage to homes, buildings or property was depicted in 12 of the pictures from the Gaza Strip and in four of the pictures from Israel. Images related to injury or death of civilians were depicted in seven of the photographs taken in Gaza, but in none of the photographs from Israel.

From the fourteen pictures taken in Israel, eleven show images of soldiers or other security forces. Four of those eleven pictures try to make a clear linkage between the Israeli army and the Jewish religion.  

If the BBC’s Picture Editor Phil Coomes would like to expand on the editorial decisions behind these photo essays, we would be very happy to publish his explanations here.  


9 comments on “BBC pictorial portrayals of conflict in Israel and Gaza

  1. No pictures then , of the traumatised children in Sderot after YEARS of missile bombardment from Gaza . Oh no , that would be too much like the truth coming out . I have only one thing to say and that is grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

  2. They even managed to squeeze in a ‘terrorist kissing baby/children picture’ – are there no bounds to their shameless hamas promotion??

  3. John Donnison seems to be taking the weekend off:

    Note that this Twitter feed doesn’t carry the disclaimer about “views not being those of the BBC”, instead it’s BBC Middle East

    A public list by BBC News (World)

    Jon Donnison ‏@JonDonnison

    On my#Gaza hotel playlist. Not a fan of Zuccero’s work? RT @gebluemte_tapet gaza needs a no-play-zone, enforced by nato.

    Jon Donnison ‏@JonDonnison

    #Gaza hotel playlist on a loop for past 3 days: Celine Dion, Brian Adams, Lionel Richie, Nanci Griffith, and top of the shop Zuccero. #Class

    I wonder which hotel he’s lodging in?

  4. Apart from the BBC bias revealed in these photo essays, some other key points illustrated by the picture at #7 above are Hamas’ institutional abuse of children under its supposed guardianship, and also a significant reason why this conflict has persisted for so many years, and peace negotiations have achieved little in Gaza.

    With the recent revelations and current police investigation around the BBC’s (alleged) complicity in the Jimmy Savile et al scandal, the BBC’s apparant inability to recognise this picture as an illustration of another kind of child abuse, and to speak up against it, becomes in itself quite worrying, particularly when considered alongside the fact that that the British public are forced by law to fund the BBC.

  5. One particular erroneous impression created by this photo essay is that the Breslov Hassidim and the IDF soldiers in the photographs were dancing in celebration of the misfortunes of the Gazan people.

    For the benefit of anyone seeing these photographs who currently knows no better, I would like to explain here that they were not: The Breslov Hassidim are a particularly joyful Orthodox Jewish sect, who believe in worshipping G*d through clapping, singing and dancing – usually quite wildly, and to trance-style music!

    They can be seen throughout Israel on most days of the year, whatever the ongoing political circumstances, holding impromptu outdoor religious ‘services’, in parks and streets, and open urban spaces, in which they encourage other Israeli Jewish men, religious or secular, to clap, sing and dance alongside them.

  6. Pingback: Disproportional representation: every (BBC chosen) picture tells a story | BBC Watch

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