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The BBC Does it Again
Last uploaded : Monday 14th Mar 2005 at 03:00
Contributed by : The Editor


The BBC has done it again.

Tonight on the 10 o?clock news broadcast, images were offered of a large crowd of Palestinian men in a fierce street fight. The level of violence was palpable and the furiously angry men were pitching large objects at one another.

The commentator, James Reynolds, did not explain the nature of the pitched battle but instead said that these young students in Hebron were indeed fighting in the streets, their anger and frustration exacerbated by looking up and still seeing an Israeli presence on their streets. The next shot showed an Israeli flag flying on a wall outside what seemed to be a military outpost.

I was dumbfounded. I had just read on the Internet several reports of violent clashes in the Palestinian territories between Hamas and Fatah. The background to this is the power-struggle that is ensuing amongst various factions for ultimate supremacy in what will be a Palestinian state. I rang the BBC and attempted to point out that James Reynolds had not provided a responsible report but had put his own spin on the riot: blame Israel for the street fighting. No sooner had I begun to explain to the telephonist the true nature of the pitched battle than he interrupted me with what seemed considerable irritation, if not anger.

My temper began to fray and I asked him if he had ever been to Israel. ?No,? he said? to which I responded that I had been many times, and he interjected ?That doesn?t make you an authority!? I went on to observe that the rioting ?students,? whom James Reynolds had implied were suffering deprivation under Israeli rule, were all extraordinarily well-dressed and outfitted, (my point was to have been that oppressed peoples do not have such energy and freedom of expression) but he interrupted me again and snapped ?What does that have to do with anything?? and as I tried to make the point about Israeli rule obviously not causing them poverty and ragged clothes he began to rant himself about Israel.

Please keep in mind, dear reader, that the man on the other end of the telephone at the BBC Comments Line is supposed to take down viewer comments and complaints and pass them on to the programme makers and management, not embark on an attack on the caller. I offered the man a potted history of the Jews and of the State of Israel and he began to calm down. In addition I reminded him that billions in aid destined for the Palestinian people were unaccounted for and that Hosni Mubarak had demanded of Arafat some years ago an accounting of the aid provided from the Arab League. Israel?s fault?

After the call I was angrier at the BBC Viewer Services man than at the news reporter.

Then along came Fox News. Their on-the hour-report at 11PM gave an accurate account of the events in Hebron. They reported, without fanfare, that Hamas and Fatah factions were fighting it out on the streets of Hebron and that -- of all things -- men from Islamic Jihad had weighed in to break up the riot. Their footage was identical to that shown on the BBC but no mention was made of Israeli oppression having caused the men?s anger.

According to the wire services, ..'A brawl broke out on Sunday between Hamas and Fatah students on the eve of a ballot for the student council at Hebron University. At least nine students were injured...' The Jerusalem Post reported: 'The Fatah students accused Hamas of violating regulations banning parties from campaigning 24 hours before the election. The two sides used stones and clubs during the melee, which was broken up by Islamic Jihad supporters who acted as a buffer to end the fight..'

It is astonishing that the media outside the United States try to find every imaginable way to blame Israel for the events in the Middle East.

One is reminded of the joke about the Spanish football team being driven by a Dutchman through Belgium when their coach is hit by a German trucker. The United Nations convenes --- to pass a motion to blame Israel.


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