Eine Kleine Nichtmusik

Witty and pertinent observations on matters of great significance OR Incoherent jottings on total irrelevancies OR Something else altogether OR All of the above

Monday, January 26, 2009

The BBC keeps up a long tradition of one-sidedness

I was watching the most recent episode of Around The World In Eighty Faiths: a fascinating series on religion around the world. Peter Owen Jones, the presenter, is an Anglican priest, and his views on the religions he encounters are invariably interesting. However, when he got to Israel and the West Bank (Faith Number 33: Judaism) it was interesting how the tone changed. His own comments were much as ever: pretty even-handed and non-judgemental. But what interested me was the itinerary he followed in the West Bank, which I assume came from the series producer, and the way in which the footage was edited.

In the West Bank he first visited the Jewish settlement of Efrat. There he met a rabbi who explained to him that the whole area had been a "no-man's-land" for two thousand years, since the time of the destruction of the second temple. The rabbi explained that God gave the land to the Jews according to Genesis chapter 15. (He did point out that God said nothing about their having a right to expel innocent people who were there already: but if it was a "no-man's-land" there can't have been any, can there?) By way of a link Pete Owen Jones then said that belief that this biblical story gave all Jews the right to come and live there was "disputed", especially by the Palestinians. Disputed? Efrat is a Jewish settlement in the Occupied Territories. It is illegal under international law. It's even illegal under Israel's domestic law. There is no "dispute" about it from anyone except the settlers who are making profits out of the theft of other people's lands and livelihoods (and apparently the BBC, Zionist propagandists-in-chief, for whom no action by Israel is ever "illegal").

Owen Jones then travelled to a Palestinian refugee camp, and we saw him passing through an Israeli checkpoint. The way the footage was edited gave the definite impression that Efrat was in Israel and the camp in the Occupied West Bank. Not so: both are in the West Bank, but the separation barrier (never alluded to in the programme of course) passes around Efrat in one of its incursions into Palestinian territory. Anyway, there we met a Sunni Muslim who invited Owen Jones to his home. And bless my soul, out of a camp of 4,000 people who is this person they picked to film but someone whose daughter five years ago blew herself up in an Israeli supermarket. What a strange coincidence. Despite leading questions from Owen Jones about whether her suicide bombing was "an act of radical Islam" the father was at pains to describe her actions as un-Islamic.

Let's be clear here: in the whole segment there was not one mention of the deaths of Palestinians at Israeli hands over the past sixty years. Not a hint of a reference to violence by settlers against Palestinians. The only killing mentioned was the Palestinian daughter's suicide bombing in Israel. Territorial issues were always described in terms of the foundation of Israel in 1948, with no mention of the occupation, from 1967 to the present, of a huge parcel of land outside Israel. This deliberately gave the impression that it is the legitimacy of Israel that the Palestinians oppose rather than its invasion and occupation of their country. The Efrat settlement was made to look as though it was part of Israel, thus making the Palestinians' resentment of it seem like denial of Israel's right to exist. The Israelis in Jerusalem were described as living in fear of their neighbours, but the Palestinians' very real fear of their military overlords was never touched on. Even the fact of the occupation was fudged: the West Bank was described as "Palestinian-controlled" not "Israeli-occupied", and at the Israeli checkpoint (where the crew were turned away) we saw only a sign saying "Palestinian Authority Territory area ahead. No entry for Israelis. Entry illegal by Israeli law." No suggestion that Israelis routinely enter the area with tanks and bulldozers, with helicopters and F-15s. If Israelis can't enter Palestine then obviously Efrat must be in Israel. And if the Palestinians control their own area then their complaints must be about the existence of Israel itself, right?

The last line as the BBC left the refugee camp was the information, thrown in for reasons that can only be guessed at, that one of the suicide bomber's victims had been a teenage Israeli girl. None of the hundreds of thousands of Palestinian dead received such a personal mention.


At 26 January, 2009 21:42, Blogger JoeinVegas said...

I used to whole heartedly support Israel until I started reading your posts. Thanks for pointing out all the alternative news places.


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