BBC Breakfast blames Israel for Gaza baby death

Viewers of the May 15th edition of BBC Breakfast (aired on BBC One and BBC News) saw an interview conducted by Louise Minchin with a representative from the Israeli embassy in London, Michael Freeman.

Although the interview was presented as being about “violence in Gaza where 58 people were killed by Israeli troops”, the footage that viewers were shown throughout nearly a quarter of the item was in fact not filmed in the Gaza Strip and did not reflect the events along the border.

At 01:16 in the video below, Louise Minchin stated that a baby had been killed on May 14th.

Minchin: “Fifty-eight people have been killed. We understand that some of them were children, including a baby. Is this not excessive force?”

The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry did indeed claim that eight children and a baby had been killed:

“The Gaza Strip’s Hamas-run health ministry said Tuesday morning that a baby was among those killed during violent border clashes along the territory’s border with Israel the previous day, bringing the overall death toll in the day’s bloody events to 60. […]

The baby died from inhaling tear gas fired at Palestinian protesters, the health ministry said.

Eight-month-old Leila al-Ghandour was exposed to gas fired by Israeli forces east of Gaza City, it said.”

However, AP later reported that:

“A Gaza health official cast doubt Tuesday on initial claims that an 8-month-old baby died from Israeli tear gas fired during mass protests on the Gaza border with Israel.

A Gazan doctor told the Associated Press that the baby, Layla Ghandour, had a preexisting medical condition and that he did not believe her death was caused by tear gas. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not allowed to disclose medical information to the media.

Layla’s family claimed Tuesday that the baby had ended up in the area of the protest as a result of a mixup, the AP reported added. The Gaza Health Ministry initially counted her among several dozen Palestinians killed Monday.”

The New York Times reported that:

“The child’s parents have given interviews to journalists and aid workers in Gaza recounting how their daughter died. A tweet from Steve Sosebee, who works with the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund, suggested that they confirmed their daughter had an underlying health condition.”

This would not be the first time that BBC audiences have been told that a Palestinian baby had died from tear-gas fired by Israeli soldiers without the allegation having been confirmed.

At 02:47 Minchin returned to a popular BBC theme:

Minchin: “No Israelis as far as we understand were injured yesterday. Fifty-eight Palestinians killed. Is this proportionate?”

As we have frequently had cause to note here in the past, the terms ‘proportionate’ and ‘disproportionate’ have long been abused by BBC journalists who wrongly use the every-day meaning of those terms to imply that Israel has breached legal limitations on the use of force in combat.

“In everyday usage, the word “proportional” implies numerical comparability, and that seems to be what most of Israel’s critics have in mind: the ethics of war, they suggest, requires something like a tit-for-tat response. So if the number of losses suffered by Hezbollah or Hamas greatly exceeds the number of casualties among the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), then Israel is morally and perhaps legally culpable for the “disproportionate” casualties.

But these critics seemed largely unaware that “proportionality” has a technical meaning connected to the ethics of war.”

By promoting the false notion that ‘proportionate’ means equality in death or suffering, Louise Minchin conveyed to BBC audiences that Israel must be in the wrong because “no Israelis… were injured”. 

Related Articles:

BBC World Service ‘Newshour’: using ‘alleged’ and ‘fact’ for framing

BBC’s Gaza casualty figures source shows its reliability

BBC Radio 4 dusts off the ‘expert’ hats and ‘disproportionate’ meme

BBC World Service dusts off ‘disproportionate’

BBC’s Evan Davis misleads on BDS, proportionality in warfare

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BBC Breakfast’s Jenny Hill enables PSC antisemitism washing

Has the Western media’s chosen focus and style of coverage of the hostilities in Israel and the Gaza Strip contributed to the spike in recent antisemitic incidents in Europe in general and the UK in particular? That question could probably keep several doctoral students busy for quite some time, along with the equally relevant question of whether or not events in the Middle East actually foster antisemitism or if in fact racist reactions to those events are really the product of pre-existing antisemitic attitudes.

Here is a report produced by Jenny Hill of BBC Breakfast News on August 7th – “Gaza conflict: UK police record rise in anti-Semitism” – which edges audiences towards the view that it is the events themselves which cause antisemitism. Hill opens:Jenny Hill 7 8

“So many deaths. So much misery. A conflict whose consequences are felt worldwide.”

The item then cuts to an interview with the CST’s Mark Gardner, followed by other interviews with members of the Jewish community and then footage from a London demonstration with a speaker almost screaming:

“The death toll is increasing. It’s over sixteen hundred now. Most of them are young children.”

That latter claim is obviously not true but nevertheless, whoever edited this report elected to include it anyway and Hill follows that section of footage by saying:

“Of course there is tension.”

Her closing words clarify the message further:

“For now, difficult questions: how to stop what’s been described as an endless cycle of suffering. How to calm the hatred it engenders.”

Remarkable too is the fact that the report includes an interview with Hugh Lanning of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign – one of the organisers of several demonstrations in the UK during the last few weeks. Lanning says:

“We’re very clear that…err… antisemitism or any form of racism isn’t tolerated on any of our protests and actually be a distraction from the main purpose. Our opposition is to what the Israeli government with the support of the US and the UK government is doing and that’s where we want the focus to be.”

Leaving aside the issue that the PSC’s logo itself eradicates the one and only Jewish state from the map, the fact that the BBC provides Lanning with an unchallenged platform from which to airbrush the antisemitism which has been seen (not for the first time by any stretch of the imagination) at three London demonstrations it helped organise which took place prior to this interview is obviously a problem.

The picture below was taken by Richard Millett at the July 11th demonstration organized, inter alia, by the PSC.

London demo 11 7

These photographs were taken at the demonstration organized by the PSC and others on July 19th in London by Michael Ezra – see more on his Twitter feed here.

London demo 19 7

London demo 19 7 b

London demo 19 7 c

The PSC and fellow travellers also organized another demonstration in London on July 26th and these pictures were taken by Michael Ezra at that event.

London demo 26 7 a

London demo 26 7 b

London demo 26 7 c

And yet, Jenny Hill – who of course works for an organization committed to editorial standards of accuracy – saw no reason to challenge the obvious falsehoods promoted by Lanning and even provided them with backwind and the BBC’s stamp of reliability.