Archive for November, 2008
Tarnishing its image by
The BBC (short for British Broadcasting Corporation), which was founded in 1922, is the world’s largest broadcasting corporation, employing 28,500 people in Britain alone, with an annual budget of more than eight billion dollars. According to its charter, the BBC is supposed to “be free from political and commercial interests.” The BBC reaches more than 200 countries and is available to more than 274 million households. It also broadcasts news – by radio or over the Internet – in 33 languages. It has an impressive motto: “Nation Shall Speak Peace Unto Nation”.
Yet, the BBC invariably discards all the noble ideals that it stands for, when the topic is Israel and Arabs. Then it employs a different yardstick in its reporting. Any focus on Israel allows an apparent relaxation of the careful, thorough and objective research that is a main requirement for decent journalism. Instead, puerile one-sidedness is pursued. Half-truth and selective omission – self-righteously expressed – is the style, and vilification of the Jewish state the constant theme.
Of course, it’s not only the BBC that follows this pattern in reporting events concerning Israel and the Arabs of Judea, Samaria and elsewhere. But more than most, the BBC acts like an Arab mouthpiece against besieged Israel. And besieged it is, contrary to all media reports. Consider that a large part of humanity is bent upon its demise. Consider the ongoing boycott – economically, culturally and academically – by business conglomerates, university faculties and churches – not to mention much of the billion and a half Moslems of the world.
There are reasons why Israel faces such unfair presentation in news coverage all over the world. In the democratic countries there is a general aversion towards anything connected with military power and oppression of other peoples, and Israel is perceived as a military power that oppresses another nation whose land it has taken. It is much easier for the media to present this image of Israel, than to go into the whole background of the Middle East conflict, which clearly explains how the Arabs brought all their misfortunes and calamities upon themselves by striving to destroy Israel. Also, pictures of oppressed people are much more photogenic than images of military retaliation. Other factors in the unfair media coverage regarding Israel are a traditional dislike for Jews among many people, sloppy journalism and the fact that bashing Israel is fashionable in many circles.
But back to the BBC. It’s hard to combat a self-righteous media giant. Many people send them letters of complaint, pointing out inaccuracies in their reporting, selective omission, plain nastiness or unfair presentation of the conflict. But it’s like water of a duck’s back. Consequently, some people have gotten together and formed their own media outlets through the internet and some are doing splendid work.
A CAMERA THAT FOCUSES ON FALSEHOOD
One of them is the Committee For Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America, which alliterates beautifully as CAMERA. Here is what this source says about the BBC:
“If one were to depend solely on the BBC for information about the Arab-Israeli conflict, one might understandably come away with the impression that Israel is at the root of all evil in the Middle East.”
In a recent focus on the “Features and Analysis” section of the BBC Web site, CAMERA comments on an article called “Gazans despair over blockade,” saying that it typified the BBC’s pattern of highlighting Palestinian grievances while blaming Israel. Its formula, they say, is to present an individual account of Palestinian suffering, while generalizing it to the Palestinian population as a whole, and concomitantly blaming Israel.
In the article, a Gaza aid worker complains of having no electricity and little food. The reporter then states that “since June 2007, Israel has allowed little more than basic humanitarian aid to enter the Gaza Strip” and criticizes Israel, claiming that despite the Hamas truce (which is not really a truce), “Israel’s strict restrictions on the movement of goods and people into and out of Gaza largely remained.”
The BBC article scoffs at Israeli concerns – “Israel’s government says its Gaza closure strategy aims to deter Palestinian militants from firing rockets across the border at Israeli towns but few people accept Israel’s explanation, that it is only protecting its citizens from the horror of rocket attacks …”
CAMERA asserts that BBC articles consistently blame Israel for the “humanitarian crisis” in Gaza, ignoring the thousands of rockets that have fallen on Israeli towns and villages, launched from Gaza, and also ignoring Israel’s complete withdrawal from the entire Gaza Strip in 2005, making these rocket attacks completely unjustifiable.
CAMERA mentions another article, “Palestinian life: Splits and barriers,” which they say glosses over international law and historical facts in order to lambast Israel’s presence in the region. The BBC article reports that: “A small community of Israelis lives in the centre of Hebron, in defiance of international laws that forbid an occupying power to settle its own people on the territory it has captured.”
But the fact is that Hebron (one of Judaism’s four holy cities) and other parts of Judea and Samaria (guilefully called the West Bank) had been inhabited by Jews for thousands of years. This central point is seldom if ever mentioned in the BBC’s extensive coverage of the present-day Jewish presence in the region. Also never mentioned is that this continuous Jewish habitation had been interrupted by two pogroms in 1929 and 1936, perpetrated by Arab rioters who butchered hundreds of their Jewish neighbors. It is this that put an end to the thousands of years old Jewish community in Hebron. Subsequently, Jordan annexed the whole of Judea and Samaria (never recognized by the international community) and when it attacked Israel in 1967 it was repulsed and therefore forfeited the land from which they launched their would-be genocidal attack on Israel – land that in any case was not theirs legally in the first place. This is what enabled the ancient Jewish communities of Hebron and elsewhere in Judea and Samaria to be renewed.
CAMERA, which was founded in 1982, calls itself a non-partisan organization, and claims to be neutral regarding American or Israeli political issues or with regard to ultimate solutions to the Arab-Israeli conflict. It is strictly a media-monitoring and research organization devoted to promoting accurate and balanced coverage of Israel and the Middle East. CAMERA calls for honest reporting, while educating the public about Middle East issues and the role of the media.
CAMERA asserts that Inaccurate and distorted accounts of events in Israel and the Middle East are to be found everywhere, from college radio stations to network television, from community newspapers to national magazines, and profusely on the Internet. In recent years misinformation about the Middle East has also surfaced in fashion magazines, architectural publications, encyclopedias, professional reference works, geography textbooks, travel guides, and even dictionaries. Frequently inaccurate and skewed characterizations of Israel and of events in the Middle East may fuel anti-Israel and anti-Jewish prejudice.
CAMERA systematically monitors, documents, reviews and archives Middle East coverage. Staffers directly contact reporters, editors, producers and publishers concerning distorted or inaccurate coverage, offering factual information to refute errors. CAMERA members are encouraged to write letters for publication in the print media and to communicate with correspondents, anchors and network officials in the electronic media. CAMERA’s combination of rigorous monitoring, research, fact-checking, careful analysis, and grassroots efforts have had a documented impact.
If you’re concerned or interested in the subject of Israel’s image or honesty in the media, I recommend clicking on: http://www.camera.org/ . You can also subscribe or become part of their team. Personal involvement is probably vital for the survival of Israel and in fact the fate of humanity in general. Apathy is not really an option.
For more on Israel’s image: www.israelandtruth.org