BBC’s Muir continues to caricature Israel

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.  

5 comments on “BBC’s Muir continues to caricature Israel

  1. I’m sitting in Israel, following all the news, moving about and don’t sense the slightest glee, only apprehension as to how we may be allowed to stay out of the hostilities while all about us seem to be losing their heads in sectarian madness. This is NOT a football match.

  2. Just imagine what Muir and others would have to say if Israel intervened in any way – even just bombing some arms shipments was enough to bring down the wrath of “right-thinking people”.

    Israel cannot win with these people – if, like the rest of the world, its sits quietly and minds its own business, it is gleefully watching. If it does not sit quietly, then it is attempting to conquer the rest of Syria.

  3. Muir’s comments and observations regarding the Israeli reaction he purports to describe are typical of the mindset of the BBC – straight out of the arabist FCO handbook. Until and unless there is wholesale change of personnel (correspondents as well as editors) in the BBC mid-East bureau we will continue to read the same old cliched tropes to which we have become accustomed.
    Please continue your excellent exposure Ms Sela but we are not holding our breath waiting for any change in editorial policy.

  4. This is a fine article as always from BBC Watch, but I can’t agree with this bit:

    “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.”

    BBC ‘editors’ are part of the problem. The likes of Muir know what they can get away with when it comes to trashing Israel.

    At the time of the Hamas-Fatah butchery, Jon Leyne, another ignorant, bigoted BBC hack, wrote that, Many ordinary Israelis are rubbing their hands with glee at the chaos in Gaza:

    Interestingly, there’s a photo in the article of Abbas with his hands together. Could be that’s where Leyne got his profound inspiration from.

    On reflection, Muir might have stepped over a boundary here: though the BBC is pickled in its anti-Israel bias, this may be a bit too blatant. After all, the BBC tries to project itself as balanced and fair-minded.

    It might even be worth negotiating the infuriating maze of the BBC ‘Complaints’ website to make a formal complaint about Muir, perhaps combined with an e-mail or three to his superiors.

    There should be a limit to what the despicable BBC is allowed to get away with.

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