Media's misdirected blame game

By Adam Levick, July 17, 2014
Pro-Palestinians outside the BBC

Pro-Palestinians outside the BBC

On Monday night, Israel formally accepted the Egyptian proposed ceasefire calling for an end to "all hostilities" between Hamas and Israel from the following morning.

Though the IDF halted its military operations, Hamas rejected calls to stop attacks and fired dozens of rockets at Israeli cities during the declared truce. After six hours of continued attacks, Israel announced it would resume its military operation and began attacking Hamas targets.

Despite this straightforward series of events, some media outlets found a way to obscure Hamas's culpability, with the Guardian leading the pack. Even when the paper acknowledged that Hamas was still firing rockets, they somehow concluded that the "ceasefire was holding" and later managed to blame Israel's eventual retaliation for causing it to collapse.

After the paper was criticised on Twitter, Guardian deputy editor Phoebe Greenwood defended the coverage, arguing in one Tweet that since Hamas never agreed to the ceasefire, their rocket attacks did not represent a violation of its terms.

The BBC's coverage of the war, according to Hadar Sela, editor of monitoring group BBC Watch, has included heavy focus on the alleged shortage of medical supplies and fuel in Gaza, inaccurately attributed to restrictions imposed by the Israelis.

The corporation also claimed that Israel deliberately targeted civilians, and relayed accusations of war crimes. But its journalists consistently failed to report the use of Gaza's civilian population as human shields by Hamas.

In the parallel universe inhabited by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), however, the corporation has been guilty of pro-Israel bias, with the PSC staging several protests, including one outside BBC's central London headquarters at New Broadcasting House .

According to blogger Richard Millett, the PSC demo outside London's Israeli embassy last Saturday was marred by antisemitism. Some protesters mocked the Holocaust, others compared Israel to the Nazis, and a few called for the destruction of the Jewish state.

PSC director Sarah Colborne acknowledged that social media sites and demonstrations had been used by anti-Israel activists to "peddle hatred and intolerance" towards Jews.

Ms Colborne said: "We disagree fundamentally with any attempts to compare actions of the Israeli government to the Holocaust. The PSC has responded as fast as we can to remove, ban and report comments which violate our Facebook policy."

She also claimed PSC Facebook feeds had been hijacked by people wanting to cause "incitement to violence and hatred against Palestinians".

It is disturbing that the PSC's "humanitarian" appeals on behalf of the Palestinians are often compromised by anti-Jewish racism - an aspect of the pro-Palestinian movement which the UK media routinely ignores.

Adam Levick is the managing editor of CiF Watch, an affiliate of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America

Last updated: 6:48pm, July 17 2014