Deputy, North London Synagogue

Roslyn Pine Deputy, North Salford Synagogue

By Roslyn Pine, Deputy, North Salford Synagogue

Reportage of the Gaza conflict by the publicly-funded BBC demonstrated its institutional bias against Israel. It regards the country with ill-concealed hatred and contempt, as we can surmise by its extraordinary efforts to suppress the findings of the 2004 Balen Report.

One would be forgiven for seeing the fighting as a war between two states with legitimate but conflicting interests, rather than between the sole democracy in a region of tyrannies defending its people and a world-wide proscribed terrorist organisation ruling its hapless populace with an iron fist. It has been a propaganda war waged by Hamas, a busted flush having lost much of its traditional support, so how have the Western ‘liberal’ mainstream media led by the BBC eagerly obliged, so giving Hamas a legitimacy it could only have dreamed of?

Hamas’ aims are presented as the ending of the blockade imposed by Israel (and Egypt), on a territory it still ‘occupies’. It is Hamas’ relentless build-up of a huge armoury and terror tunnels built to smuggle these weapons into Gaza to attack Israel that necessitated the blockade in the first place. That is never clarified.

Often, the word ‘blockade’ is casually substituted by ‘siege’. Never shown are the 100-plus truckloads of food, medicines and essentials, courtesy of the Israeli taxpayer, that Israel sends daily across into Gaza, even during hostilities. Nor are we informed of the Israeli power plant in Ashkelon supplying 50 percent of Gaza’s power, which the Israeli government urgently repaired after it was attacked by a Hamas rocket.

One picture is worth a thousand words, and it’s the gruesome TV images that impact most strongly, damning Israel as the aggressor, showing Gaza’s neighbourhoods reduced to rubble, chaos in hospitals, weeping men, women and children.

Civilians are allowed plenty of time to declare their ignorance and innocence of hostile acts against Israelis. From Israel, we are rarely shown scenes of personal suffering and the disruption of normal life because of incessant rocket attacks. The BBC plays down Hamas’ brutality in its cynical use of its own population as human shields, a war crime, and prefers to omit Israel’s unsurpassed efforts to warn civilians of impending air strikes.

Instead, we get reports by disapproving journalists such as Orla Guerin, interviewing IDF personnel or bland politicians, who are no match for the reporters in a media war. Current affairs programmes grudgingly give lip service to Israel’s right of self defence, yet every Israeli action is subjected to destructive scrutiny. The charge that Israel is guilty of ‘disproportionality’, deliberately targeting or indiscriminately firing upon ‘innocent’ civilians and collectively punishing a ‘trapped’ population with nowhere to flee is repeated ad nauseam, along with accusations of its reckless disregard for places designated as safe havens, such as schools and hospitals under UN protection.

Dan Hodges in the Telegraph Blogs writes: “Israel’s critics don’t want a proportionate response. They want no response at all. While Israel has a right to defend itself in principle it shouldn’t do so in practice – it should just turn the other cheek.” The BBC hasn’t questioned the accuracy of the numbers of Palestinian civilian fatalities, supplied by Hamas-controlled sources, which blame the IDF for all of them. Ignored are those killed by Hamas rockets falling short.

Al Jazeera shows that the majority of Gazans killed are young men of fighting age. Newsnight’s Kirsty Wark, interviewing the mild-mannered Israeli ambassador, Daniel Taub, continually interrupted him to his obvious irritation, because his answers undermined the BBC’s orthodoxy. Studio guests on subsequent programmes included the obsessive/compulsive Israel (read Jew) baiter, Jenny Tonge of “Israel will not be there forever” infamy.

Much worse was to follow when Emily Maitlis – interviewing Israel’s Mark Regev on 24 July about the UNRWA school which took a hit killing 16 – aggressively opined: “You hit it. You killed them. You knew they were there”, dismissing his protestations that it was too early to know. Video footage subsequently proved IDF fire was not responsible. The BBC inhabits a moral vacuum of sanctimony and self-righteousness and has been complicit in prolonging rather than ending the conflict.