Last night I received the email below via the ICAN (International Citizens Action Network) email list run by Stuart Palmer who also blogs at Haifa Diarist. It is only a short email, but one doesn’t need many words to express a powerful idea or to portray outrageous media bias.
The attack mentioned in the message is the one that I posted about that took place on the Egyptian border yesterday morning.
Here is the message. (emphases are mine):
Following the terror attack today on the Egyptian border, one of our members phoned the BBC complaints line 03700 100222.
Having then pressed number 1 followed by number 3. She managed to speak to a real human being, to whom the complaint was made that the BBC is not reporting the attacks across the Gaza border, nor the infiltration from Egypt into Israel and the killing of a worker.
It was pointed out that the BBC will only report these incidents, once Israel retaliates. The man who received the complaint replied, “So the the BBC is biased against reporting the news from Israel?” He got the point!
The comments and complaint are now going to go to the special notice board, where editors will see them. http://www.complaintsboard.com/new_complaint/
We should be bombarding the BBC with such comments on a daily basis. It only takes a couple of minutes of our time.
I recommend that we all make a note of the link to the complaints notice board for future use. It’s absolutely certain that we’ll be needing it again and again
Obviously it’s hard to know whether the BBC was galvanised into reporting on the attack in the wake of that pointed phone call, or whether it was Israel’s response, or simply a reporter finally paying attention to the news. However, although the report itself is fairly neutral (especially by BBC standards) it is exceedingly irritating that the BBC uses the “he says she says” type of reporting, which implies in its sub-text the “Israelis only said so”, implying that something else might have really happened, i.e. it is a clash of narratives rather than neutrally reported events. For example, the opening sentences of the BBC report:
An Israeli civilian and three militants have been killed during an attack near the southern border with Egypt, Israeli military officials have said.
They said gunmen had attacked a convoy of construction workers building a security fence along the vast border along the Sinai desert.
Two workers were injured and one later died of his wounds, Israeli media said.
“They said” is a very insidious way of planting in the mind of the reader the idea that perhaps Israel is just making it all up. After all the report would have read perfectly coherently without the “said” words.
If you look through other articles about Israel and the Palestinians on the BBC’s Middle East page, you will find many similar examples of slanted sub-text. Just read “Palestinians shot dead in West Bank” (Haaretz report for comparison) or “Palestinian footballer Sarsak ends hunger strike” which conveniently hides that the vaunted footballer is in fact an active member of the military wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (see CifWatch’s article).
Just make a note of the BBC complaints page and use it when necessary!