As BBC audiences could hardly fail to notice, the broadcaster is all agog at the visit of Khaled Masha’al to the Gaza Strip for the occasion of events marking the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the terror organization Hamas – brought forward from the actual date of its establishment in order to coincide with the anniversary of the beginning of the first Intifada on December 9th.
So, whilst Syria slaughters and Egypt writhes, the BBC News website’s home page has for two consecutive days been running the Khaled Masha’al/Hamas rally story as its lead item, with a level of enthusiasm nearing that usually reserved for a Royal visit.
Of course, whilst it may well be roughly a quarter of a century since the world first became familiar with the acronym ‘Hamas’, the terror group’s parent organisation – the Muslim Brotherhood – was already active in the region several decades beforehand. In 1935 Abed A-Rahman al Bana – the brother of the Muslim Brotherhood’s founder – visited Haj Amin al Husseini and the Brotherhood was active during the riots of 1936. Between 1945 and 1947, tens of branches of the Muslim Brotherhood were set up in what was still Mandate Palestine and members of Egyptian, Jordanian and Syrian branches of the Muslim Brotherhood were among the belligerents in the War of Independence. In 1965 numerous Muslim Brotherhood activists in the Gaza Strip were arrested after the discovery of the plot against Nasser.
So what of the BBC’s decidedly enthusiastic coverage of the ‘birthday’ of a terror organisation? Well, on December 7th we had numerous items relating to Khaled Masha’al’s arrival in the Gaza Strip, including sanitized profiles of the man himself and of Hamas, together with an article entitled “Palestinian Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal visits Gaza” which yet again repeated the erroneous notion that the recent round of violence between terrorist organisations in the Gaza Strip and Israel commenced with the targeted killing of Ahmed Jabari.
“Jabari’s death marked the start of an eight-day Israeli offensive which Israel said was aimed at halting militant rocket attacks. Some 170 Palestinians and six Israelis were killed.”
The same article includes a side-bar with descriptions of the scene by Yolande Knell of the BBC Jerusalem Bureau.
“Posters of Khaled Meshaal can be seen all over the Gaza Strip, but until today he had never seen it himself. We stood on a street corner with a welcoming committee waving green flags as the Hamas leader drove by in a convoy. Armed men in balaclavas carrying guns and rockets kept the crowds back.” [……]
“At a mass rally on Saturday, Mr Meshaal is expected to refer to the need for reconciliation with his political rivals in the Fatah faction headed by President Mahmoud Abbas. Finally he’s expected to lay out plans concerning Israel.”
And “lay out plans” Masha’al certainly did – already in his initial speech after his arrival. But there is no mention of that either in this article or in the footage of what the BBC’s Maxine Mawhinney described as Masha’al’s “historic visit” to BBC News viewers.
December 8th saw, among other items, an “In Pictures” feature on the subject as well as an article by Yolande Knell which included footage of her reporting – apparently unperturbed – from the women’s section of the rally in Gaza City. In that article too, Knell failed to relate to Masha’al’s statement the previous day in which his organisation’s intentions were made perfectly clear.
In order to get an inkling of those intentions, one has to watch the video entitled “Hamas leader Meshaal: Gaza ‘always in my heart’ “. Right at the end of the film one hears the translator say:
“Today it’s Gaza, to be followed by Jerusalem and Haifa and Yaffa.” [Yaffo/Jaffa]
Whilst BBC-produced reports quoted the part of Masha’al’s statement at the Friday press conference regarding his various “births”, in none of those reports did BBC journalists bother to expand upon the less poetic parts of Masha’al’s speech in which he said:
“This is my third birth. I was born in 1956, and my second birth was when I survived the assassination attempt initiated by (Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu,” Mashaal told reporters. “But God was stronger than him, and I hope Allah will grant me martyrdom in Gaza.
My fourth birth will be on the day Palestine is liberated. Today it is Gaza and tomorrow it will be Ramallah, then Jerusalem, Haifa and Jaffa.”
All of those last three cities are of course in Israel. And yet the BBC apparently sees no necessity in informing its audiences of the real meaning of that statement.
The post-rally version of Yolande Knell’s article briefly referred to what she euphemistically termed a “fiery speech” from Masha’al.
“Hamas political leader Khaled Meshaal gave a fiery speech during his first ever visit to the territory.
He said he would never recognise Israel, and insisted Palestinians would never cede any part of their land.”
What Masha’al actually said was as follows:
“Palestine is ours from the river to the sea and from the south to the north. There will be no concession on an inch of the land,” he told a sea of supporters at an open-air rally, the highlight of his three-day stay in Gaza.
“We will never recognise the legitimacy of the Israeli occupation and therefore there is no legitimacy for Israel, no matter how long it will take.”
We don’t kill Jews because they are Jews. We kill the Zionists because they are conquerors and we will continue to kill anyone who takes our land and our holy places.
The conqueror is not just the enemy of the Palestinians but the enemy of the entire Arab world. The Zionist plan is a danger to us all.
We will free Jerusalem inch by inch, stone by stone…the right of return is sacred to us and we will not forfeit it.”
The only other reference to the content and tone of the rally came later in Knell’s report:
As long as Palestine is ours and Palestine is the land of Arabism and Islam, we can never recognise the legitimacy of Israel’s occupation of it,” he told supporters.
“There is no legitimacy for occupation. Hence, there is no legitimacy for Israel, however long time lasts.” “
Rather than a ‘birthday celebration’ this Hamas-organised event was, from start to finish, nothing more than a chilling rally of mass hatred. For some inexplicable reason the profuse and enthusiastic BBC reporting on the subject (do anniversaries of other terrorist organisations enjoy a similarly high profile at the BBC?) placed its focus on the pageantry and related only very superficially to the actual content and tone.
Thus, BBC audiences can remain cocooned in the studiously generated belief that the main ‘obstacle to peace’ in the Middle East is the planning of potential house-building in a place called E1, rather than a racist terror organization aspiring to wipe a sovereign nation off the face of the earth by violent means.
As long as the BBC continues to shield its viewers and listeners from the clear and honest messages put out repeatedly by Hamas and other terror organisations in the Middle East it cannot be said to be fulfilling its obligation to make “people in the UK aware of international issues”.