Alex Hearn

Pity our poor BBC journalists, victims of an illness that leads to fantasies

It’s diagnosed as institutional antisemitism

November 23, 2023 15:27

BBC newsroom staff are the victims of an illness. It is so severe that some of them are unable to do their jobs properly.

The main symptom is having repeated fantasies about Israel deliberately murdering innocent people. So when the IDF wrote that they were sending medics and Arabic speakers to help at al-Shifa hospital, some people in the BBC newsroom lost the ability to read or check basic facts. Instead they reported that Israel said it would target medics and Arabic speakers.

Then they reported that Keir Starmer’s opposition to a “ceasefire” was unpopular because the majority of the British public wanted a ceasefire, when a YouGov poll showed that only 33% do.

BBC reporter Jon Donnison appeared to be exhibiting symptoms, too, telling viewers that that it hard to see what else, other than Israel, was behind an explosion at al-Ahli hospital. The evidence showed this was the result of a rocket fired by terrorists from within Gaza, which fell short and landed in the car park. But Donnison and the BBC rushed to believe Hamas’s claims about an Israeli attack.

Similarly, when Israel found tunnels and weapons stored at al-Shifa hospital, BBC Middle East Editor Jeremy Bowen told viewers that “wherever you go in the Middle East you see an awful lot of Kalashnikovs and it’s not inconceivable that…I dunno…perhaps the security department of the hospital might have them.” This despite the footage and reports going back years (such as in the Washington Post) that Hamas’s HQ was in al-Shifa hospital.

A recent article by BBC Verify titled How the dead are counted in Gaza portrayed data provided by Hamas as a reliable source. BBC Verify — an ironic title in the circumstances — failed to inform readers that the “ministry” and “officials” referred to were Hamas until the end of the piece, when it was framed as being an untrustworthy Israeli opinion. There were also many key omissions, such as deaths caused by Hamas rockets and how many of the dead might be terrorists. This is misinformation, pure and simple — and exactly the type of thing BBC Verify are supposed to be countering.

Contaminated newsrooms have been spreading Hamas propaganda into people’s phones and living rooms. Claims by doctors at al-Shifa that there was no Hamas presence in the hospital were widely quoted by the press — despite the doctors having celebrated the October 7 massacre on social media.

Now footage has emerged of al-Shifa doctors helping to hide hostages, who had to be driven past half a dozen other hospitals to get there.

One incident provides clues about this disease. In 2021, footage circulated of Jewish children being attacked on a coach in Oxford Street at Chanukah. The BBC report accused the children of provoking the racist attack by saying “dirty Muslims”, when the audio proved they had actually said “call for help” in Hebrew.

In his report on the incident, linguist Professor Ghilad Zuckermann described an “Apollonian tendency” where the ear interprets incomprehensible words into something recognisable. Instead of a call for help from a child, the BBC team instinctively heard a 2000-year-old lie about Jews being guilty and immoral.

Over time this disease — which has now been identified as institutional antisemitism by the BBC’s own former director of television, Danny Cohen — morphed from religious to racial to political. Artist Ai Weiwei’s exhibition was cancelled after his rant about how, “Financially, culturally, and in terms of media influence, the Jewish community has had a significant presence in the United States”. The BBC headline described this an “Israel social media post”, whitewashing it as political commentary rather than antisemitism. And when David Miller was removed by Bristol University in 2021 for comments about Jewish students, the BBC headline said he was “sacked over Israel comments”. They repeated this when reporting on his appeal last month.

Carriers of this disease need an intervention for their own sake, for the sake of truth and for the sake of the Jewish community. Because we know that it may start with “Israelis” but it never ends there.

November 23, 2023 15:27

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