Israel's Illegal Assault On The Gaza 'Prison'
Attacking The Prisoners
On February 29, Ron Prosor,
"We've been restraining ourselves for a very, very long time. But we have a responsibility to defend our citizens. This is the context." (BBC Radio 4 Today interview with Edward Stourton, Friday, February 29, 2008, 7.30 am;
The same day, a senior Israeli source threatened a "holocaust" in
"The more [rocket] fire intensifies and the rockets reach a longer range, they (the Palestinians) will bring upon themselves a bigger holocaust because we will use all our might to defend ourselves." (BBC news online, '
The disconnect with the view of the Israeli public was stark: 64% support negotiations with Hamas, the ruling party in
Palestinian Terrorism: The "Inevitable Consequence" Of Israeli Occupation.
Just before this latest escalation in violence, the newswire service Associated Press briefly flagged up a report on the
The report, authored by UN Special Rapporteur John Dugard, concludes that Palestinian terrorism is the "inevitable consequence" of Israeli occupation. While Palestinian terrorist acts are deplorable, "they must be understood as being a painful but inevitable consequence of colonialism, apartheid or occupation." Dugard, a South African professor of law, accuses the Israeli state of acts and policies consistent with all three. ('Human Rights Situation in Palestine and Other Occupied Arab Territories', Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, John Dugard, United Nations Human Rights Council, A/HRC/7/17; http://www.unhcr.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/refworld/rwmain?docid=47baaa262)
The report notes that
But he also notes that "serious questions arise over the proportionality of
"Above all, the Government of Israel has violated the prohibition on collective punishment of an occupied people contained in article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention."
In the days that followed, as killings and injuries rapidly rose under a massive Israeli assault, we could find not a single mention in any
Exchange With BBC Radio 4 Presenter
On February 29, we wrote to Edward Stourton in response to his interview that morning with Ron Prosor,
Indeed, the thrust of the BBC presenter's own words, with multiple repetition of the loaded word "disengagement", was that
We pointed out, by contrast, the assessment of John Dugard: "it is clear that Israel remains the occupying Power as technological developments have made it possible for Israel to assert control over the people of Gaza without a permanent military presence."
We asked Stourton whether he was aware of this assessment. Moreover, as we saw above, Dugard had observed that Palestinian terrorism was the "inevitable consequence" of Israeli occupation. We asked why the Today programme had not addressed Dugard's important new report. On the same day, Stourton responded, but only to the first point:
"This is such a difficult area to get right and I always welcome constructive comments - so thank you for your thoughts. I suppose the only point I would make is that if you challenge every statement in an interview like that it can get a bit arid."
A similar email to Jeremy Bowen, the BBC's
Stourton's response was standard for the BBC - friendly, well-meaning but ultimately vacuous. By contrast, in 2004, Tim Llewellyn, the BBC's Middle East Correspondent in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, blew a loud whistle on the deep bias in BBC reporting:
"Watching a peculiarly crass, inaccurate and condescending programme about the endangered historical sites of 'Israel' - that is to say, the Israeli-occupied Palestinian Territories - on BBC2 in early June 2003, I determined to try to work out, as a former BBC Middle East correspondent, why the Corporation has in the past two and a half years been failing to report fairly the most central and lasting reason for the troubles of the region: the Palestinians' struggle for freedom."
He described some of his conclusions:
"In the news reporting of the domestic BBC TV bulletins, 'balance', the BBC's crudely applied device for avoiding trouble, means that Israel's lethal modern army is one force, the Palestinians, with their rifles and home-made bombs, the other 'force': two sides equally strong and culpable in a difficult dispute, it is implied, that could easily be sorted out if extremists on both sides would see reason and the leaders do as instructed by Washington...
"When suicide bombers attack inside
This is the reality of a systematic BBC bias that works to suppress public awareness of the true gravity of
The goal of Media Lens is to promote rationality, compassion and respect for others. If you do write to journalists, we strongly urge you to maintain a polite, non-aggressive and non-abusive tone. Write to the following editors and ask them why they have not covered the latest assessment by the UN Special Rapporteur on the
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