Thursday 15 November 2012

Children in Need

The BBC's failure to protect kids from Jimmy Savile is revolting, but it's hardly the beginning or the end of their disinterest in violence against children.  Certain children, anyway.  The keepers of Pudsey are strangely uninterested in the child victims of powerful and influential people... be they depraved DJs or depraved states that happen to be Western allies.

For instance, as I write this, the state of Israel - a brutal, aggressive, nuclear armed, apartheid state which is mysteriously supposed to be less of a threat to world peace than Iran - is murdering Gazan children.  (It does no good, by the way, to trot out that old chestnut about them not deliberately aiming at the kids... if you get a machine gun and spray bullets blindly into a school, it's no good later claiming you were only trying to hit the cigar-smoking TV personality lurking in the corner.)

This is nothing new, nor is the BBC response, which is as routine as it is pusilanimous.  Indeed, cowardice in the face of the powerful Israeli lobby (not to mention the backing Israel gets from the USA and our government) is the most charitable interpretation.  A less charitable - and probably more accurate - interpretation would be that those BBC content providers covering the 'conflict' in Gaza are unaware of the way they are loading and slanting their words.

Some examples?  Try these from the BBC website today.  Click on them to make them bigger.

Note that the 'Key Points' are all to do with the so-called 'targeted assassination' of a Hamas leader.  Note the phrase "militant groups", presumably including Hamas, a democratically elected party.  Note the prominence given to Israeli officials, who are allowed to frame the Israeli operation as being aimed at "terror targets" in response to "days of on going rocket attacks on Israeli civilians", the aim being to "protect Israeli civilians" (the only civilians who matter, or even exist, apparently).

No mention of the Gazan civilians, including young children, slaughtered.  Can you imagine how differently the page might read if the Palestinian rockets had caused any comparable damage to Israel, or if Iran had bombed somebody and caused as much suffering?

This one from today too:

Here's the headline.  Note the relative sizes (and thus importance) given to Israeli and Palestinian deaths... bearing in mind the ratios and the fact that Israel is immensely better armed.  Notice the decontextualised way the attack becomes "cross-border violence" in line with the BBC's usual way of depicting Israel/Palestine as a two-tribes-squabble issue, rather than the brutal domination of a subjugated captive minority by a powerful state.

Yesterday, the blog Electronic Intifada published a "statement from international academics who recently particpated in a conference on linguistics at the Islamic University of Gaza which decries major media outlets’ failure to report on recent killings of Palestinian civilians by Israeli forces in Gaza."  The statement spells out the issue far better than I could, and takes in the BBC's role as peddling the unbalanced and dishonest message.  You can read the whole thing here.  Here's a quote:

Articles that do report on the killings overwhelmingly focus on the killing of Palestinian security personnel. For example, an Associated Press article published in the CBC world news on November 13, entitled Israel mulls resuming targeted killings of Gaza militantsmentions absolutely nothing of civilian deaths and injuries. It portrays the killings as ‘targeted assassinations’. The fact that casualties have overwhelmingly been civilians indicates that Israel is not so much engaged in “targeted” killings, as in “collective” killings, thus once again committing the crime of collective punishment. Another AP item on CBC news from November 12 reads Gaza rocket fire raises pressure on Israel government. It features a photo of an Israeli woman gazing on a hole in her living room ceiling. Again, no images, nor mention of the numerous bleeding casualties or corpses in Gaza. Along the same lines, a BBC headline on November 12 reads Israel hit by fresh volley of rockets from Gaza. Similar trend can be illustrated for European mainstream papers.

News items overwhelmingly focus on the rockets that have been fired from Gaza, none of which have caused human casualties. What is not in focus are the shellings and bombardments on Gaza, which have resulted in numerous severe and fatal casualties. It doesn’t take an expert in media science to understand that what we are facing is at best shoddy and skewed reporting, and at worst willfully dishonest manipulation of the readership.

Here's a shot of the BBC article the statement links to:

This is an earlier report, from 12/11/12.  Note that no Israelis are reported as killed by rockets before the Israeli attack on Gaza.  The shocked Israelis are higher up the article than the dead Palestinians, who don't make it into the headline.  Would dead Israelis be mentioned as an afterthought in paragraph 3?  I'm guessing not.  Still, two of the dead Palestinians were "militants", so that's all right then. 

Just as the media is now engaged in a concerted effort to derail the child abuse scandal into a relentless concentration upon the Newsnight scandal (thus drawing all our eyes away from the possibility that the several sectors of the British establishment - including the government and Conservative Party - were engaged in paedophile rings) so too the real issue in Palestine must be obscured.  Just as the BBC is happily flagellating itself to appease the unappeasable reactionary press, so it is voluntarily refusing to see the ongoing horror of Israel's behaviour in Palestine... but it seems unfair to pick on them particularly.  As the linguists' statement says, the BBC are just going with the general flow.

I bang on about the BBC because I pay for it directly.  Just as my taxes and the taxes of Americans go to support Israeli aggression (through aid and government sponsorship of UK arms sales, for instance), so my licence fee goes toward helping them get away with it.









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