Once again, Israelis have been forced to shelter against bombardment by hundreds of rockets fired from Gaza. Once again, Israel has been forced to take military action to defend itself against increasingly deadly attacks. Once again, much of the western media has presented this as if Israel wakes up in the morning and decides to bomb Gaza through some insatiable lust for violence.
At time of writing, with the fragile truce holding between Israel and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) terrorist group, the number of civilian casualties in Gaza has been small. The opportunity for a malevolent media to manufacture blood libels against Israel has therefore been reduced.
As it was, the BBC last week instantly swung into its default mode of selective reporting, omission and distortion to represent Israeli defence as aggression and Palestinian Arab aggression as defence.
At the start of the Israeli raids, notes the media monitor CAMERA UK, BBC News’ website’s initial report failed to mention that PIJ was backed by Iran and that it had been designated a terrorist organisation by the EU, US, UK and other countries.
The following day, the BBC failed to note that one of the three PIJ leaders killed in Israeli pinpoint airstrikes had orchestrated a shooting attack in 2004 in which a pregnant Israeli woman and her four daughters were shot dead at point-blank range. Nor did it note that another member of the trio had begun producing rockets and launchers to fire at central Israel from the disputed territories.
The day after that, noted the Spectator, BBC World Service’s Newsday reported Palestinian officials saying that “two young men” had been killed by the Israelis in Jenin hours after they carried out air strikes on Gaza.
It failed to say that the Jenin operation followed the start of the Gaza rocket barrage and that the “two young men” had been shooting at Israeli soldiers.
Worse was to follow. If Israel’s aim was to target PIJ and yet ten civilians were now dead, asked the Newsday presenter, did this reveal “where the thought process of Mr Netanyahu and the coalition government and the leadership is at the moment?”
What was actually revealed was the presenter’s ugly assumption that Israel’s prime minister and his coalition partners were motivated by a lust for killing innocent Palestinian Arab civilians.
By contrast to the precision of the Israeli air strikes, no fewer than one fifth of the PIJ rockets fell inside Gaza, killing two Palestinian Arab children. The fact that every rocket attack was a double war crime, targeting Israeli civilians and using Gazan civilians in effect as hostages and human shields, was also not considered worthy of mention.
Worse, the baleful development in which the rising violence in the disputed territories in Israel’s heartland — along with Gaza and Lebanon — are being turned into a terrorist enclave controlled by Iran was also airbrushed out of the picture.
The public has been told nothing about the smuggling of weapons into areas ostensibly under Palestinian Authority control. Instead, the BBC quotes “human rights” groups as authoritative observers despite their persistent and egregious bias against Israel. On occasion, it even omits the mention the documented terrorist links of such groups.
Yet another CAMERA UK report details a BBC website story during the recent hostilities claiming that cancer patients were unable to leave the Gaza Strip for treatment because “Israel keeps all crossings shut”.
Buried low down in the story was the acknowledgment that Israel said they’d had been shut because they were under constant threat of rocket fire, with dozens of mortars being fired at them. Israel shut the crossings not to harm these vulnerable patients, as the BBC implied, but to save them.
Month after month, terrorist attacks on Israelis are barely reported. For the BBC, the real story only kicks off when Israel takes military action. This is because of its fixed view that Israeli aggression drives the action in the Middle East conflict.
Parroting the Foreign Office line about “occupied Palestinian territories”, it never acknowledges that under the Palestine Mandate the League of Nations designated these lands for Jewish settlement alone, a commitment in international law that has never been abrogated.
Such prejudice and ignorance are commonplace in the mainstream media. The BBC, however, is a global brand of truth and objectivity and its reporting is uniquely trusted.
That’s why it is so frightening that its reporting of Israel is, in general, an engine of demonisation, delegitimisation and incitement against the Jewish state.
BBC reporters and executives take extremely seriously their duty under the BBC Charter to be objective and free from bias. What’s so chilling is that they believe their Israel coverage meets that obligation.
They believe that their ignorant and false assumptions about Israel represent the centre ground, and that all who object are therefore by definition extremists. The BBC is thus guided by a hermetically sealed thought system.
It’s an irony that the BBC has a Disinformation Reporter. She need look no further than the BBC’s treatment of Israel to provide her with a real story.
Melanie Phillips is a columnist for The Times