More BBC multiplatform mainstreaming of an anti-Israel trope

Obviously not content with the previous amplification of propaganda rhetoric used by anti-Israel campaigners on BBC World Service radio last month, the BBC recently decided to promote business reporter Roger Hearing’s mainstreaming of the same ‘open air prison’ trope on several of its other platforms too.Hearing ice cream Gaza written

The June 18th edition of BBC Radio 4’s ‘From Our Own Correspondent’ includes a piece from Hearing introduced by presenter Kate Adie (from 22:27 here) as follows:

“It’s nearly a year now since Israeli forces launched air and ground attacks on Gaza in response – they said – to a series of rocket attacks launched from inside the Palestinian territory. More than two thousand people were killed in the conflict and many homes and business properties in Gaza were damaged or destroyed. Rebuilding started soon after a ceasefire was announced last August but progress has been slow. A blockade on the territory imposed by Israel has delayed the arrival of construction materials. Roger Hearing has been to see how one business has carried on despite the difficulties.” [emphasis added]

So, in addition to casting doubt on the reasons for the outbreak of hostilities on July 8th 2014 (almost a month of incessant attacks on civilians, with hundreds of missiles fired rather than “a series”), Adie also fails to distinguish between civilian and combatant casualties, refrains from noting Egypt’s closure of its border with the Gaza Strip and misleads audiences with the inaccurate claim that the slow pace of reconstruction in the Gaza Strip is because of Israeli restrictions on the import of dual use goods whilst making no effort to inform them of the terrorism which is the cause of those restrictions.

‘From Our Own Correspondent’ also has a BBC World Service radio version presented by Pascale Harter and Hearing’s report was featured in that programme’s June 20th edition too. Harter’s introduction to the item (from 17:55 here) was notably more accurate and impartial than the one heard by listeners to Radio 4.

“But right now, a glimpse of Gaza as you might not know it. It’s nearly a year since Israeli forces launched air and ground attacks there after weeks in which hundreds of rockets were fired into Israel from inside the Palestinian territory. More than two thousand people were killed in the conflict and many homes and business properties in Gaza were destroyed. It is a very difficult business environment but Roger Hearing finds one entrepreneur winning fame if not fortune.”

A written version of that audio report from Hearing was also promoted on the BBC News website’s Middle East and Magazine pages on June 21st and in addition that version of the report was translated into Arabic and promoted on the BBC Arabic website.

All four versions of the report include overly dramatic, context-free descriptions from Hearing.

“…despite the apocalyptic destruction in parts of the city from last year’s war, you do also see a lot of giggling, playing children among the ruins.”

All four versions also fail to inform audiences that, in addition to ice cream making equipment, the Rafah area smuggling tunnels have of course been used to import weapons into the Strip and that metal piping of assorted types is regularly used by terrorists to manufacture missiles.

“He proudly showed us the shiny Italian gelato machines installed in the back rooms of his cafe building. When he was trying to import them, it was hard to convince the Israelis apparently that there wasn’t some other, more threatening purpose for the tall chrome boxes with pipes and chutes and nozzles.

It’s likely at least some of the machines were hauled through the tunnels under the border with Egypt, until that smuggling operation was closed down a few months back. Now that’s a strange image: young men in pitch darkness, sweating to drag huge boxes through rickety holes in the sand, and all so that Gazans could eat fine ice cream.”

Whilst BBC audiences remain serially unaware of Hamas’ activities in Judea & Samaria and in Turkey, they do now at least know that Hamas officials in Gaza like ice cream.

“Very nice,” said Ghazi Hamed, the deputy foreign minister for Hamas. “Everyone here knows Kazem’s.”

All four of these reports conclude with the same canard promoted by Hearing a month earlier in one of his radio reports from the Gaza Strip.

“And I have to say – and this is one of the oddest things – from the decrepit heart of a half-destroyed city in a besieged and blockaded enclave, sometimes described as the biggest open air prison in the world, comes the best ice cream I have ever tasted.” [emphasis added]

The Gaza Strip is of course not “besieged” at all and those who inaccurately describe it as “the biggest open air prison in the world” do so out of clear political motivations. Thousands of people exit and enter the Gaza Strip every year – as anyone who follows the daily reports publicized by COGAT online and on social media will be aware.

But, electing to ignore the facts behind the deliberate misnomer which he has so vigorously promoted over the past few weeks, Roger Hearing continues to mainstream the baseless rhetoric of anti-Israel delegitimisation in a style more suited to the Hamas supporting Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s PR department than a media organization supposedly committed to accurate and impartial reporting. The BBC is undoubtedly capable of identifying the motives and agenda behind the promotion of the inaccurate notion of Gaza as an ‘open air prison’. The fact that it chooses to adopt, amplify and repeatedly mainstream such propaganda on multiple platforms tells audiences all they need to know about the BBC’s supposed ‘impartiality’.

Related Articles:

Mainstreaming anti-Israel rhetoric on the BBC World Service

Resources:

‘From Our Own Correspondent’ on Twitter

Roger Hearing on Twitter

BBC World Service contact & complaints

BBC Radio 4 contact

How to Complain to the BBC

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3 comments on “More BBC multiplatform mainstreaming of an anti-Israel trope

  1. The ice-cream maker of Gaza

    Aashraf Abushaban had just been on a course in Tel Aviv! about making Italian ice cream. Hadn’t he ever heard of the blockade and Gaza being the world’s biggest open air prison? Roger Hearing will have to remind him. The course was sponsored by Italian ice cream makers, Mec3 which licensed him to produce their products. This suggests strongly that he didn’t have to import their machines through tunnels.

    Nor his other equipment. The business was started by his father in the 1950s acknowledged by Hearing. He was in fact the owner and manager of the celebrated Kazem Ice Cafe, purveyor to Gaza, for more than half a century Surely a large part or even most of his pre 2007 equipment is still functioning and didn’t need to be smuggled?

    Wonder where Kazem gets his milk? Sugar, cardboard, powdered milk, ice cream cones and cooking agents come through Israel’s port of Ashdod. Without Israel, he and the other ice cream parlours scattered throughout Gaza would have to close their doors.

    For the record, Aashraf Abushaban, owner of the Kazem ice cream parlor in Gaza, left Gaza for Canada, during the war. He wasn’t necessarily around when his windows blew out.

    The other parlours and factories scattered throughout Gaza are probably a little upset about Kazem’s free publicity on the BBC but they don’t necessarily blame Israel. Hamas has a big part to play.

    Al-Aroussa ice cream factory, C.E.O. Mushtaha said: “The taxes imposed by the Hamas government are putting a significant strain on the owners of ice cream factories. In addition to VAT [value added tax] paid to Israel — of which a portion goes to the Palestinian Authority — we also pay an annual income tax to Hamas, which also imposed its own VAT because it was not recuperating the proceeds thereof from Israel due to the break in political relations with the latter.”

    The Solidarity Tax law — which Hamas imposed on imported goods and that serves to pay salaries to the employees who were appointed by the previous government — has had an impact on ice cream factories that have had to pay this tax on their mostly imported goods.”

  2. I’ll bet North Korea [Population: 24.9 million (2013) Area 120,540 km²] is miffed by claims that Gaza [Population: 1,816,379 (2014) Area 360 km²] is the world’s largest open air prison.

  3. Pingback: I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for Ice Cream

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