Sunday, March 2, 2008

The BBC's Gaza reporting: history upside down, morality inside out

Or 'Business as usual'…

Consider this report on the BBC's website about the latest violence in Gaza:

The low-level war between Israel and the militant Hamas group in the Gaza Strip has flared into a new upsurge of violence, with almost daily rocket attacks on towns in southern Israel being met by Israeli strikes on Palestinian militants.

And:

The Israeli strategy is also becoming clearer. They are well aware of the increasing threat posed by rocket attacks launched from Gaza. Their goal appears to be to establish a balance of deterrence, with each new barrage of rockets meeting a significant response; one that they hope will encourage Gaza's leaders to restrain the militants.

Not much wrong with that, you're probably thinking – it's a pretty fair summary of the current situation.

I am, however, playing a little trick on you. Here's the real BBC report, by Jonathan Marcus:

The low-level war between Israel and the militant Hamas group in the Gaza Strip has flared into a new upsurge of violence, with Israeli strikes on Palestinian militants being met by a barrage of rockets fired into southern Israel.

And a few paragraphs later:

The strategy of the Palestinian militants is also becoming clearer. They are well aware of the Israeli military's capabilities. Their goal appears to be to establish a balance of deterrence, with each significant Israeli incursion or targeted killing meeting a significant response; one that they hope will encourage the Israeli government to restrain its own forces.

The story appears under the headline 'Gaza rocketeers confound Israel'. 'Rocketeers' appears to be the latest addition to the lexicon of obfuscation the BBC employs in its coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – it's an almost heroic-sounding term, which conjours up visions of comic-book adventurers or mad scientists, rather than aspiring mass-murderers.

And is Israel really confounded? With well over 100 terrorists killed in the past couple of weeks it would seem that the Israelis know exactly what they have to do to curtail the rocket attacks. Today's pull-back suggests they think they've done enough for the time being, but there's little doubt they'll return to Gaza if necessary.

Even by the BBC's barrel-scraping standards, Marcus' piece is a fairly remarkable exercise in moral and factual inversion, but it's their take on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict distilled to its purest form: wrong is right, evil is good, aggressors are victims.

The facts of the matter hardly need repeating. Since Israel pulled out of Gaza in 2005, terrorists have continued to fire rockets into Israel, and have launched numerous other attacks from the territory. Israel's policy of targeted killings and the occasional brief incursion into Gaza have failed to halt the attacks, and with the rockets increasing in range and effectiveness, the Israelis have decided that a firmer response is necessary.

But in the warped minds of Marcus and most of his BBC colleagues, and much of the rest of the international media, Israel started this, and Hamas and other terrorists are 'meeting' the aggression with a perfectly reasonable response that's aimed simply at deterring further Israeli attacks. (By 'this' I mean the latest round of violence, but I've no doubt they believe that Israel is to blame for pretty much all the bloodshed of the past sixty or so years.)

And, of course, the usual rabble of transnational non-entities has piled on Israel, trotting out their tedious and tendentious claims about 'disproportionate use of force'. Reuters reports that the EU has condemned the "recent disproportionate use of force by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) against the Palestinian population in Gaza." The report adds:

"The Presidency rejects collective punishment of the people of Gaza", it said, noting in particular the death of "innocent children."

And U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who has done so little to advance the course of world peace during his short time in office, also tosses about the 'D'-word:

"While recognizing Israel's right to defend itself, I condemn the disproportionate and excessive use of force that has killed and injured so many civilians, including children ... I call on Israel to cease such attacks."

I get the feeling these guys are copying each other's notes. And their concern for the children of Gaza is certainly touching, but of little relevance when the extremists of Gaza take as much delight in the deaths of their own children as they do in the murder of Israeli children, knowing how well those deaths play on the world stage.

What the BBC, the EU, the UN and Israel's countless other critics never tell us is what they would consider a proportionate response. Would they prefer Israel to set up a bunch of home-made rocket launchers in an olive grove, point them in the general direction of Gaza and set them off?

And they're also deliberately failing to make a distinction between the intentions of the two sides and the consequences of their actions. Israel is only trying to kill terrorists, and most of the Palestinians its military is killing are terrorists, but because those terrorists launch their rockets from among civilian populations, and make their stand among civilians when the Israelis come after them, civilians are inevitably getting killed.

Hamas and its allies, on the other hand, want to kill as many Israeli civilians as they can, but they don't have the weapons to do so effectively. However, if one or two of their rockets landed in a school classroom, or a shopping mall, instead of in empty fields, the disparity between Israeli and Palestinian death tolls would very quickly be evened out.

And it's hard to escape the feeling that if Israelis started dying in similar numbers to Palestinians, then many in the media, and the 'international community', would be a little happier.

Related: A couple of excellent pieces, from Bret Stephens and the New York Sun, both via this post by Andy McCarthy at The Corner.

Tigerhawk has a couple of good posts up, here and here.

Thanks to Don Surber for linking. Aslo Jim and Marc.

1 comment:

Captain Haddock said...

Well said. Surely someone must take them to task soon!