We have to be honest


By Jenni Frazer
February 10, 2009
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Last night's BBC Panorama programme on Gaza, presented by Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen, made for uncomfortable viewing — and Bowen made a point of making it uncomfortable. He strode around the teenage bedroom of the dead and wounded daughters of one of the few Palestinians to have publicly reached an understanding with Israel, the doctor Ezzeldeen Abu al-Ashi. Here, pointed Bowen, one of the girls had her head blown off by an Israeli shell. There on the wall were some of the girl's brains. It was painful, loathsome, and infinitely to be regretted and no-one with an ounce of humanity could watch it without feeling physically sick at the terrible consequences of the Gaza conflict.

The presentation was not helped by the fact that the Israelis chose to put up a grinning and gurning Meir Shetreet to be their spokesperson and make their case. Shetreet's "by-the-book" responses made me itch to slap him, a response, I think, probably shared by Bowen, who merely looked disgusted.

There will be those, fundamentalists and conspiracy theorists, who will undoubtedly shriek at the Panorama programme and complain that it is one more aspect of an all-too biased BBC. I wonder if just occasionally people can be honest enough to look behind the sloganising. A man lost three of his daughters. Personalise this conflict to keep it real, because comparing how many died on each side is pointless. And one more thing: it's very easy to attack the messenger, while ignoring the message.

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