Covering Israel-Palestine – The BBC’s Double Standards

[Another excellent piece here from the people at Medialens, covering what
was an abysmally unbalanced piece of reporting from the BBC, where they
really missed the story, in their anxiety not to offend the Israeli embassy
and apologists for Israel in general who mount an effective 'media flak'
operation — including even targetting this blog!]

_An Exchange With The BBC's Middle East Editor Jeremy Bowen_
The media reported last week that at least 22 people, including five
Palestinian children, had been killed during Israeli 'incursions' into Gaza.
The Israeli military 'operations' were 'sparked' by a Hamas ambush that had
left three Israeli soldiers dead. Reporting followed the usual script that
Israel's state-of-the-art weaponry is deployed as 'retaliation' for
'militant' Palestinian attacks.
The latest deaths followed the killing in early March of over 120
Palestinians under a massive Israeli assault on Gaza. (See our Media Alerts:
'Israel's Illegal Assault on the Gaza "Prison"', March 3, 2008,; and
'Israeli Deaths Matter More', March 11, 2008,
One of last week's dead was a Reuters cameraman, a 23-year-old Palestinian,
killed by a shell fired from an Israeli tank he was filming. Few details
emerged of the other numerous victims of Israeli violence.
Media Lens emailed Jeremy Bowen, the BBC's Middle East editor:
"In the BBC's recent reports about the violence in Gaza, the only victim of
Israeli firepower that I can recall the BBC naming is Fadel Shana, the
Reuters cameraman.
"As you know, 22 people were killed, 5 of whom were children. Why are their
names not provided by the BBC? Where are the further details that tell us
something about them as individuals? Where are the interviews with their
grieving families?
"If logistical problems make it difficult to do this, shouldn't you explain
this clearly and prominently to your audience?
"Surely if 5 Israeli children had been killed, the BBC's news coverage
would have been significantly different." (Email, April 17, 2008)
Bowen responded on the same day:
To read the rest of this media alert, please go to:

7 thoughts on “Covering Israel-Palestine – The BBC’s Double Standards”

  1. “apologists for Israel in general who mount an effective ‘media flak’ operation — including even targetting this blog!”

    You mean people who disagree with you? How dare they!

  2. “apologists for Israel in general who mount an effective ‘media flak’ operation — including even targetting this blog!”

    Weggis takes an ironic view of this; and he may be right.

    There is another interpretation and it is the following. I think that this Medialens story, like the previous one in fact, is based on basic logic flaws. I could contribute to your blog, write an argument, enter into a discussion, etc

    But now, I am slightly worried. This is your blog. I don’t want you to feel under the attack of an “effective ‘media flak’ operation”. And, even more importantly, I, a Green Party member who happens to disagree with you, does not want to be misrepresented as some sort of dishonest apologist for Israel because I dare disagreeing with the “the people at Medialens”.

    That is why, for now, I do not contribute further.

  3. Can you then substantiate this accusation with precise quotes, and also explain exactly what you mean by “an apologist for Israel”, if not dishonesty?

    It tends to be the case that those who use this accusation actually mean dishonesty, e.g. “you criticize the Medialens report, but your arguments are made in bad faith; they are made out of a will to excuse Israel etc”

    If this is not what you meant, can you explain?

  4. Raphael,

    Apologist is not a word used by the average punter. To me it would probably mean to apologise for, or excuse, a mistake or something that is admitted to be wrong. It could also be taken as a term of derision or an insult or imply weakness in one’s argument.

    However, Rupert is an academic in Philosophy. He may be using the phrase in a strict philosophical sense, in which case you are in good company – Plato, Socrates etc. He may just be using the word as someone who argues in favour of. It is unlikely that a Doctor of Philosophy would use the word in its colloquial sense.

    So, is he accusing you of arguing for the existence of Israel, or [some of] the actions of Israel? It is clearly not the latter, as you have made clear that you condemn the violence on both sides, as does he. This seems to indicate that Rupert’s position is that Israel should not exist.

    So, Rupert, can you clarify this please?

  5. Raphael has previously used rhetorically-questionable tactics — has used misleading or distracting arguments — in an attempt to rubbish criticisms by Medialens and others of media bias toward Israel and its actions. It is most immediately for that reason that I characterise him as apparently an apologist for Israel — because he is, it seems to me, unwilling to permit a fair assessment of the Israel-Palestine situation. A fair assessment of that situation requires taking into account media-bias in the usual presentations of that situation — not, as Raphael typically seems to do, denying that such a bias exists.
    [N.b. I do not propose to comment further on this post. If y’all wish, you can carry on this debate here, but without me. I find the debate here relatively negative and unproductive. I apologise if I probabilified that by the way that I introduced the Medialens post here, on my blog. I would like more time — at least, more of my time — to be devoted to positive action to solve problems; most notably, at present to fighting an election campaign!]

  6. My interpretation of Raphael’s comments is that he has not “denied” that bias exists and has made clear that he does condemn violence on both sides. That hardly makes him an “apologist for Israel”.

    However, he has pointed out that in exposing bias it is perfectly possible to be biased oneself, i.e. not be objective but go too far. This happens far too often for it to be discounted and we should all be wary.

    Media-lens is part of the media. It is run by human beings subject to the same weaknesses as anybody else. They are not beyond question or criticism. Nobody is.

    That you decline to defend your position speaks for itself, although I accept you have a rather pressing engagement on May 1st.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *