Commenti sul cessate il fuoco 22 novembre 2012

Pubblicato il 22 novembre 2012 da Gazzella

How the BBC whitewashed Israel’s war crimes from the ceasefire in Gaza

22 November 2012     The Editors
Rarely would a state get such an easy run from the media after killing so many civilians, many of whom were children, in what the BBC now calls the ‘flare-up’ of violence.

By The Editors
News Unspun

22 November 2012

LAST NIGHT A CEASEFIRE came into effect after a week of attacks on Gaza which left over 150 Palestinians dead (at least 40 of them children) and rocket fire into Israel which left 5 Israelis dead.
Before the news of the ceasefire became the front-page headline on the BBC News website, the headline story for the entire day concerned the bus bombing in Tel Aviv, which injured 21 civilians.
Luckily this attack did not result in civilian deaths, however it was still deemed more newsworthy than the 13 Palestinians in Gaza who were killed by air strikes that same day.

The news coverage was another glaring example of the different value assigned to life by our media, depending on which side of the Gaza border it resides.
When this round of violence began, William Hague, UK Foreign Minister, said in a statement that ‘Hamas bears principal responsibility for the current crisis. I utterly condemn rocket attacks from Gaza into southern Israel by Hamas and other armed groups’.
This followed the killings by Israel of 20-year-old Ahmad al-Nabaheen on 5 November, a 13-year-old boy as he played football, and the Hamas head of military. Yet the BBC News reports immediately represented Hague’s narrative faithfully, to the detriment of balance and historical perspective.
Sixteen people were killed in Gaza that day alone, yet the BBC front-page story was ‘Gaza missiles fired at Tel Aviv’. The bus bombing yesterday, 21 November, which left ‘three people needing surgery’ served as a symbolic story, one which fitted the previously propagated assumptions perfectly: that there is one aggressor in this conflict, and it is not Israel.
Readers and viewers were again told the story of Israel defending itself; in other words, the official narrative as put forward by Netanyahu, Hague, Obama and Clinton was again relayed. As Mehdi Hasan told BBC World Tonight on 19 November, ‘Israel has a bit of a pass from the western media’ and despite being the ‘stronger, more powerful, oppressive side’ is ‘portrayed as the victim’.
Now that the ceasefire has come into effect, how does the BBC describe what has happened during the last week? For a start, before the news page mentions the fact that Egypt brokered the deal, a video of Netanyahu giving a speech is shown, with a quote from his speech in the caption: ‘some citizens expected a stronger military operation’.
It seems to suggest that task of bringing peace, and avoiding a ‘stronger military operation’ is the work of the Israeli Prime Minister, a notion backed up further down in the article: ‘US President Barack Obama praised the Israeli leader for accepting the deal’. The article’s sole sub-headline near the start of the article summed up the western media’s almost one-sided view of the conflict: ‘Stop rocket attacks’.
For such a significant news story regarding the conflict, many of the important details are buried at the end of the article. For example, at the start we are told that ‘at least 157 people have died since the flare-up of violence began last week’. The breakdown of deaths on each side is not given for another 22 paragraphs, and the violence ‘flare-up’ is not explained for 20 paragraphs. Given the day-long coverage of the bus attack, and the emphasis on rockets all week, the reader might get the impression of a fair fight, when casualty numbers indicate anything but.
Other points in the article raise important questions – why is the word ‘attack’ never used in relation to Israeli actions? If 40 Israeli children had been killed, and the Israeli prime minister’s home and offices were targeted by Hamas, would this just be referred to simply as ‘hostilities’?
‘In Jerusalem tonight, Israel’s Prime Minister hinted at more severe military action if the new ceasefire doesn’t hold’, we were told in the televised news on the ceasefire. It is yet another example of BBC journalists not holding a critical eye on power, like last week when Jonathan Marcus wrote of Netanyahu’s ‘choice’ to establish a ‘policy of targeted killings’. Now, Netanyahu may flippantly ‘hint’ at ‘more severe military action’ without scrutiny applied to the praise of his ‘peace-bringing’ role offered by Obama et al.
When questioning the unconditional support shown by western leaders for the government of Israel, one can find that it has little to do with offering support for Israel’s ‘right’ to ‘defend’ itself and everything to do with imperialism in the Middle East. The Israeli paper Ha’aretz wrote in September 1950 that:
Israel is to become the watchdog. There is no fear that Israel will undertake any aggressive Policy towards the Arab states when this would explicitly contradict the wishes of the US and Britain. But if for any reasons the Western powers should sometimes prefer to close their eyes, Israel could be relied upon to punish one or several neighbouring states whose discourtesy to the West went beyond the bounds of the permissible.
And to this day the logic applies. As As’ad AbuKhalil wrote on 14 November, ‘In a few weeks, Israel bombed Sudan, bombed Syria, and bombed Palestine and kidnapped a Lebanese shepherd’. Israeli threats towards Iran are also symptomatic of the role of the state referred to by Noam Chomsky as the ‘Middle East Policeman’.
During the last week, BBC’s journalists in Gaza have provided an exceptional level of reporting throughout the conflict, their twitter accounts a valuable resource in keeping up-to-date with events inside Gaza. This standard, however, does not extend to the reports on the BBC website, which instead rely heavily on the rhetoric of ‘officials’ and politicians.
It is interesting to contrast this with a simple note from BBC correspondent Jon Donnison on twitter, distinguishing between that which is said by Israeli officials and the effects of their actions:
Jon Donnison ‏@JonDonnison
On WNYC’s @Thetakeaway Israel’s Dep FM says most of people hit in Gaza deserved it.” 40 children killed since Wed
At the start of what the BBC now calls the ‘flare-up’ of violence, the news focussed heavily on Israel’s right to defend itself. Rarely would a state get such an easy run from the media after killing so many civilians, many of whom were children. Yet again, there has been a systemic failure at the BBC to critically question anything beyond the limits defined by UK foreign policy.

The top ten myths about Israel’s attack on Gaza

23 November 2012     Juan Cole     Palestine and Israel

Israel has kept Palestinians of Gaza in the world’s largest outdoor prison and kept them under an illegal blockade aimed at limiting their nutrition without altogether starving them to death.

By Juan Cole

22 November 2012

Jones on BBC Question Time, 22.11.12, nailing the
1. Israeli hawks represent themselves as engaged in a ‘peace process’ with the Palestinians in which Hamas refuses to join. In fact, Israel has refused to cease colonizing and stealing Palestinian land long enough to engage in fruitful negotiations with them. Tel Aviv routinely announces new, unilateral house-building on the Palestinian West Bank. There is no peace process. It is an Israeli and American sham. Talking about a peace process is giving cover to Israeli nationalists who are determined to grab everything the Palestinians have and reduce them to penniless refugees (again).
2. Actions such as the assault on Gaza can achieve no genuine long-term strategic purpose. They are being launched to ensure that Jewish-Israelis are the first to exploit key resources. Rattling sabers at the Palestinians creates a pretext for further land-grabs and colonies on Palestinian land. That is, the military action against the people of Gaza is a diversion tactic; the real goal is Greater Israel, an assertion of Israeli sovereignty over all the territory once held by the British Mandate of Palestine.
3. Israeli hawks represent their war of aggression as in ‘self-defense.’ But the UK chief rabbi admitted on camera that that the Gaza attack actually ‘had something to do with Iran.’
4. Israeli hawks demonize the Palestinians of Gaza as “bad neighbors” who don’t accept Israel. But 40% of the people in Gaza are refugees, mostly living in refugee camps, from families in pre-1948 Palestine that had lived there for millennia.
They were expelled from what is now Israel in the 1948 Zionist ethnic cleansing campaign. Israelis are now living in their homes and farming their land, and they were never paid any reparations for the crimes done to them. [pdf] “Israel’s failure to provide reparations to Palestinian refugees over the past six decades is in blatant violation of international law.” Israel does not accept Palestine’s right to exist, even though it is constantly demanding that everyone, including the displaced and occupied Palestinians, recognize Israel’s right to exist.
5. Israeli hawks and their American clones depict Gaza as a foreign, hostile state with which Israel is at war. In fact, the Gaza strip is a small territory of 1.7 million people militarily occupied by Israel (something in which the UN and other international bodies concur). Israelis do not allow it to have a port or airport, nor to export most of what it produces. Palestinians cannot work about a third of its land, which is reserved by Israel as a security buffer. As an occupied territory, it is covered by the Hague Regulations of 1907 and the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 on the treatment of occupied populations by their military occupier. Indiscriminate bombing of occupied territories by the occupier is clearly illegal in international law.
6. Israeli hawks see themselves as innocent victims of bewildering Palestinian rage from Gaza. But Israel not only has kept Palestinians of Gaza in the world’s largest outdoor penitentiary, they have them under an illegal blockade that for some years aimed at limiting their nutrition without altogether starving them to death. I wrote earlier:
“The food blockade had real effects. About ten percent of Palestinian children in Gaza under 5 have had their growth stunted by malnutrition. A recent report [pdf] by Save the Children and Medical Aid for Palestinians found that, in addition, anemia is widespread, affecting over two-thirds of infants, 58.6 percent of schoolchildren, and over a third of pregnant mothers. “
If any foreign power surrounded Israel, destroyed Haifa port and Tel Aviv airport, and prevented Israeli exports from being exported, what do you think Israelis would do? Oh, that’s right, it is rude to see both Palestinians and Israelis as equal human beings.
7. Israeli hawks demonize the Palestinian residents of Gaza as followers of Hamas, a party-militia of the Muslim religious right. But half of Palestinians in Gaza are minors, who never voted for Hamas and cannot be held collectively responsible for that party.
8. Israeli hawks justify their aggression on the Palestinians on grounds of self-defense. But Israel is a country of 7.5 million people with tanks, armored vehicles, artillery, helicopter gunships and F-16s and F-18s, plus 400 nuclear warheads. Gaza is a small occupied territory of 1.7 million which has no heavy weaponry, just some old guns and some largely ineffectual rockets. (Israelis cite hundreds of rockets fired into Israel from Gaza in 2012; but until Israel’s recent attack they had killed not a single Israeli, though they did wound a few last March when fighting between Palestinians and Israelis escalated.) Gaza is a threat to Israel the way the Transkei Bantustan was a threat to Apartheid South Africa. As for genuine asymmetrical threats from Gaza to Israel, they could be dealt with by giving the Palestinians a state and ceasing the blockade imposed on them, or in the worst case scenario counter-terrorism targeted at terrorists rather than indiscriminate bombing campaigns.
9. Israeli hawks maintain that they were provoked into the attack. But actually Ahmad Jabari, the Hamas leader the Israelis assassinated earlier this week, had been engaged in talks with the Israelis about a truce. Assassinations achieved by the ruse of openness to peace talks are guarantees of no further peace talks.
10. Although most American media is a cheering section for the Likud Party, in fact the world is increasingly done out with Israel’s aggressiveness. Boycotts and sanctions will likely grow over time, leaving Israeli hawks with a deficit…


John Pilger: BBC exposed by Israel’s fresh Gaza assault

Friday, November 23, 2012
By John Pilger

A screenshot of BBC’s biased coverage of Israel’s latest assault on Gaza.
In Peter Watkins’ remarkable BBC film, The War Game, which foresaw the aftermath of an attack on London with a one-megaton nuclear bomb, the narrator says: “On almost the entire subject of thermo-clear weapons, there is now practically total silence in the press, official publications and on TV. Is there hope to be found in this silence?”

The truth of this statement was equal to its irony. On November 24, 1965, the BBC banned The War Game as “too horrifying for the medium of broadcasting”.

This was false. The real reason was spelt out by the chairman of the BBC Board of Governors, Lord Normanbrook, in a secret letter to the Secretary to the Cabinet, Sir Burke Trend.

“[The War Game] is not designed as propaganda,” he wrote, “it is intended as a purely factual statement and is based on careful research into official material … But the showing of the film on television might have a significant effect on public attitudes towards the policy of the nuclear deterrent.”

Following a screening attended by senior Whitehall officials, the film was banned because it told an intolerable truth.

Sixteen years later, the then BBC director-general, Sir Ian Trethowan, renewed the ban, saying that he feared for the film’s effect on people of “limited mental intelligence”. Watkins’ brilliant work was eventually shown in 1985 to a late-night minority audience. It was introduced by Ludovic Kennedy who repeated the official lie.

What happened to The War Game is the function of the state broadcaster as a cornerstone of Britain’s ruling elite. With its outstanding production values, often fine popular drama, natural history and sporting coverage, the BBC enjoys wide appeal and, according to its managers and beneficiaries, “trust”.

This “trust” may well apply to Springwatch and Sir David Attenborough, but there is no demonstrable basis for it in much of the news and so-called current affairs that claim to make sense of the world, especially the machinations of rampant power.

There are honourable individual exceptions, but watch how these are tamed the longer they remain in the institution: a “defenestration”, as one senior BBC journalist describes it.

This is notably true in the Middle East, where the Israeli state has successfully intimidated the BBC into presenting the theft of Palestinian land and the caging, torturing and killing of its people as an intractable “conflict” between equals. Standing in the rubble from an Israeli attack, one BBC journalist went further and referred to “Gaza’s strong culture of martyrdom”.

So great is this distortion that young viewers of BBC News have told Glasgow University researchers they are left with the impression that Palestinians are the illegal colonisers of their own country. The current BBC “coverage” of Gaza’s genocidal misery reinforces this.

The BBC’s “Reithian values” of impartiality and independence are almost scriptural in their mythology. Soon after the corporation was founded in the 1920s by Lord John Reith, Britain was consumed by a general strike.

“Reith emerged as a kind of hero,” wrote the historian Patrick Renshaw, “who had acted responsibly and yet preserved the precious independence of the BBC. But though this myth persisted it has little basis in reality … the price of that independence was in fact doing what the government wanted done.

“[Prime Minister Stanley] Baldwin … saw that if they preserved the BBC’s independence, it would be much easier for them to get their way on important questions and use it to broadcast Government propaganda.”

Unknown to the public, Reith had been the prime minister’s speech writer. Ambitious to become Viceroy of India, he ensured the BBC became an evangelist of imperial power, with “impartiality” duly suspended whenever that power was threatened.

This “principle” has applied to the BBC’s coverage of every colonial war of the modern era: from the covered-up genocide in Indonesia and suppression of eyewitness film of the American bombing of North Vietnam to support for the illegal Blair/Bush invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the now familiar echo of Israeli propaganda whenever that lawless state abuses its captive, Palestine.

This reached a nadir in 2009 when, terrified of Israeli reaction, the BBC refused to broadcast a combined charities appeal for the people of Gaza, half of whom are children, most of them malnourished and traumatised by Israeli attacks.

The United Nations Rapporteur, Richard Falk, has likened Israel’s blockade of Gaza to the Warsaw Ghetto under siege by the Nazis. Yet, to the BBC, Gaza — like the 2010 humanitarian relief flotilla murderously attacked by Israeli commandos — largely presents a public relations problem for Israel and its US sponsor.

Mark Regev, Israel’s chief propagandist, seemingly has a place reserved for him near the top of BBC news bulletins. In 2010, when I pointed this out to Fran Unsworth, now elevated to director of news, she strongly objected to the description of Regev as a propagandist, adding: “It’s not our job to go out and appoint the Palestinian spokesperson.”

With similar logic, Unsworth’s predecessor, Helen Boaden, described the BBC’s reporting of the criminal carnage in Iraq as based on the “fact that Bush has tried to export democracy and human rights to Iraq”.

To prove her point, Boaden supplied six A4 pages of verifiable lies from Bush and Tony Blair. That ventriloquism is not journalism seemed not to occur to either woman.

What has changed at the BBC is the arrival of the cult of the corporate manager. George Entwistle, the briefly-appointed director general who said he knew nothing about Newsnight’s false accusations of child abuse against a Tory grandee, is to receive £450,000 of public money for agreeing to resign before he was sacked: the corporate way.

This and the preceding Jimmy Savile scandal might have been scripted for the Daily Mail and the Murdoch press, whose self-serving hatred of the BBC has long provided the corporation with its “embattled” facade as the guardian of “public service broadcasting”.

Understanding the BBC as a preeminent state propagandist and censor by omission — more often than not in tune with its right-wing enemies — is on no public agenda and it ought to be.

[First appeared at]

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