The BBC and Own-Goal War Journalism

This is the text of a talk I gave on Tuesday, November 10, in a London synagogue for UK Media Watch to discuss the BBC’s record of reporting from the Middle East in anticipation of Parliament’s Renewal of the BBC’s Charter.

How the BBC Has Poisoned the Global Public Sphere with its Own-Goal War Journalism

It’s always hard to know what to say when talking about the current situation without sounding alarmist, or, as Ben White claimed, sounding like a paranoid Eurabia conspiracy theorist. European elites have been in denial for so long and at such a cost… and trying to wake them up, such a thankless task. I take this large crowd, however, as a sign of an awakening, and address those of you who have come to the conclusion that our leaders – our politicians, our journalists, our pundits, our policy makers, our community leaders, don’t really know what they’re doing, especially when it comes to dealing with the waxing population of triumphalist Muslims in Europe. And in this widespread disorientation, these leaders have put the Jewish communities of Europe – England’s among them – in real peril.

Now no one in 2000, would have anticipated that in 15 years, the Prime Ministers of both France and England would openly express their fears that they might lose their Jews. Who, in those heady days of global civil society, would have imagined such a turn? When I spoke with Rabbi Sacks in 1997 about my fears of a returning anti-Semitism at the turn of the millennium, he, like almost everyone I spoke to back then, found it absurd. But even I didn’t imagine that it would take the form of European sovereign nations allowing – or not being able to stop – triumphalist Muslims from chasing out the Jews from their midst.

My remaining remarks will be addressed to two points:

How it happened

Why it happened

I will leave it to my fellow panelists to document the sad tale of journalistic malfeasance, and suggest where to go from here. My goal is to place this tale in a larger framework and understand how self-destructive it is for journalists to so behave.

How it happened: This is a tale of how a school of lethal journalists, who reported Palestinian war propaganda as news, turned out to be own-goal war journalists, and in doing so, contributed in the spread of a poisonous hatred of Jews (and other defiant infidels), that continues to gain momentum to the point that it has brought you all out to find out more about what’s going on.

You will hear much tonight about how awful the BBC’s coverage has been about Israel. And many of you will, completely appropriately, feel sorry for yourselves and your people, given how grossly unfair and unprofessional, the news media’s coverage of the conflict between the river and the sea. Tonight, I’d like to look at the larger pattern of this behavior.

From the outbreak of the Second Intifada in October 2000, Western journalists, the BBC in the lead, followed the following modus operandi, in case after case, with virtually no in-course corrections. One can characterize it in terms of a frame for the story, and a “best” practices in gathering information: Journalists, over the last 15 years at least, have consistently adopted as the frame for its news, the Israeli-Goliath/Oppressor vs. the Palestinian David/victim. Little good and much bad about Israel, little bad and as much sad about Palestine.

And to match this frame, journalists have adopted the following “best practices”: report Palestinian accounts of Israeli atrocities as credible news, minimize Israeli counter-claims, and when wrong, barely correct, but rather, move on to the next lethal narrative. The BBC’s enduring shame over their reporting from Jenin stands today at their site for all to see: one awful piece after another, and now, 13 years later, no corrections, no revisions, no lessons learned, no learning curve.

The result has been “lethal journalism,” that is to say, the passing on of belligerent war propaganda – lethal narratives about atrocious behavior designed to arouse hatred, disgust, and a desire for vengeance – as news. This lethal journalism has had an immense impact, far beyond the protagonists themselves, whose lives have been poisoned by the hatred it incites. It has repeatedly provoked Muslims in Europe, indeed everywhere this journalism dominates the mainstream media, to public displays of increasingly violent anger.

Were one to correlate three patterns, they would overlap dramatically over the last 15 years:

1) episodes of lethal journalism against Israel, most often coinciding with an IDF operation against Palestinian combatants attacking Israeli civilians from the midst of their own;

2) violent demonstrations in the streets of Europe; and

3) spikes in incidents of open hostility to European Jews.

What brings many of you here tonight is an increasing awareness that this trend represents not just an unpleasant phenomenon that, like the rain, we just have to learn to live with, but something genuinely threatening.

Why it happened?

Now some of us think this lethal journalism comes either from anti-Semitism or some kind of post-colonial ideology that identifies the Palestinians with the indigenous population and the Israelis as colonial invaders. And that may explain the more enthusiastic lethal practitioners, like Robert Fisk, whose response to the Muhammad al Durah story was to proclaim, “when I hear ‘caught in a crossfire’ I know Israelis have been targeting children again.” Perfect illustration of lethal journalism.

But that can’t explain the pack journalism, the near-unanimity of adherence to the Palestinian narrative by journalists from any outlet, even Fox News. And that general consensus may possibly be the single most important factor in Israel’s current isolation in world opinion. Indeed, most journalists deny both the ideological and the anti-semitic motivations, insisting they are being fair and balanced. And, in my experience, they really think that. As Melanie Phillips put it, they have no idea that they are violating journalistic principles and systematically misreporting.

So I propose a test, a compliance index. Compare what the news media says in their own voice, with what the Palestinians want them to say and you get a sense of the overlap between the two discourses. Then factor in the cases in which the Palestinian claims were wrong (Jenin, Al Fakhoura School, Shati Refugee camp), and yet the media still supported, even promoted, their claims. You come up with a compliance rating. No good reporter would want a compliance rating of more than 50, and in cases where Palestinians were wrong, of no higher than 10. So how can one explain scores in the 90s? I personally think there is a pervasive culture of intimidation, both from Palestinians and from journalistic colleagues who avoid unpleasantness by complying with their demands, and socialize the next generation.

Let me illustrate what I mean with an anecdote about compliance: On July 28, 2014, bombs hit both Shifa Hospital and the nearby refugee camp of Shati. The streets were filled with children celebrating a truce in honor of Eid al Fitr. Over 40 people injured, including 11 children dead. Hamas immediately blamed Israel, as did several journalists on the scene. Israel responded rapidly with radar trajectories showing the rockets came from Hamas. Subsequently, even Amnesty International had to agree that it was a Palestinian strike.

The BBC, however, repeatedly played the story as a “he-said, she-said”, without informing their followers about the IDF’s evidence. This, of course, greatly improved the plausibility of accusations against the IDF, especially among those who had no idea that Palestinian rockets were falling daily on Gaza, and who assumed Palestinians would not break a truce to protect their own religious holiday. Told Israel denied firing the rocket, the mother of a girl wounded by shrapnel responded to the BBC: “Then who fired it? I ran outside and found my daughters. If the Israelis didn’t do it, who did? Did my daughters launch the rocket?” The Beeb reporter duly avoided the obvious response to this poor woman: maybe Hamas did it? In running her interview and not mentioning the possibility of Hamas’ responsibility, he thoroughly reinforced the Palestinian narrative. And when the UN Human Rights Report came out, confirming the Palestinian source of the rockets, the BBC said nothing about it. Compliance rating in the 90s.

But, in one of the most eloquent tweets of the summer, came from Italian reporter Gabriel Barbati and concerned precisely this issue:

Out of #Gaza far from #Hamas retaliation: misfired rocket killed children yday in Shati. Witness: militants rushed and cleared debris.”

So the truth was obvious to any serious observer on the spot; in a serious journalistic environment, we would not have to wait for a report to hear the correct scenario, not in the words of Israelis – he said – but in their own voice. Note, Barbati had to leave Gaza and the danger of Hamas retaliation before he could say what he did. While there he did not dare say it. This is not a serious journalistic environment, it’s a seriously intimidated one.

Even the Foreign Press Office in Jerusalem found the situation in Gaza so outrageous that, for the first time in its long history of complaints against Israel, they condemned Palestinian intimidation. This led to the most revealing tweet of the summer, from NYT reporter Jodi Rudoren:

Every reporter I’ve met who was in Gaza during war says this Israeli/now FPA narrative of Hamas harassment is nonsense.

Note the contrast here with Barbati. Rudoren did not go to Gaza that summer; her tweet is written “far from Hamas retaliation.” And yet it complies fully with the code of silence demanded by the intimidators.

And, on one level, I believe Jodi’s remark: most of the folks she hangs with don’t experience harassment, not because it doesn’t exist, but because they so extensively comply with Palestinian demands, that there’s no need for violence, although that lurks uncomfortably in the background. When AP did not release tape of Palestinians celebrating 9-11 in Arab Jerusalem, it was because, in the words of the bureau chief, Dan Perry:

We are acting to assure the safety of our staff. The safety of our staff is paramount. At this point we believe there to be a serious threat to our staff if the video is released.

Intimidation suffices to assure compliance. To focus on such matters as Palestinians killing their own children, or preaching genocide against the Jews, would violate critical Palestinian demands, and accordingly not only does BBC comply by not reporting attacks like the one on the Fogel family – including the butchering of an infant – but also not reporting on genocidal incitement by Palestinian political and religious leaders.

The compliance of the news media with Palestinian demands effectively means that journalists practice a kind of own-goal war journalism, in which, unlike patriotic war journalism in which one passes on one’s own side’s war propaganda as news, they pass on their enemies’ propaganda as news. They of course don’t think they’re doing that. In their mind they’re cheering on the little guy. But of course to maintain that delusion they have to avoid all the information which, conveniently, Palestinian leadership don’t want them to talk about, like how the Palestinian street spontaneously erupted in joy at the news of 9-11.

This own-goal war journalism, which the BBC has led the journalistic profession in promoting for the last 15 years at least, has poisoned the West with misinformation, much to its own detriment. Like Hamas rocketeers who don’t seem to mind hitting their own people every once in a while, just in order to be able to hit Israel, BBC and much of the Western journalistic profession, shamefully compliant with Jihadi demands that they target Israel, have also hit their own societies in the process.

Jews complaining about BBC unfairness will not get very far, no matter how justified their complaints. If, however, the larger British and European population became aware of the damage that their “own-goal” war journalism is causing them (as well as causing their Jews), they might be more inclined to listen.

In closing let me say the following. To say that Britain and the rest of Europe are under attack by triumphalist Muslims who believe that their destiny is to rule over the world strikes many as alarmist, even conspiracy theory-minded. It’s enough to get one kicked off a parliamentary panel lest one embarrass the MP chairing it. But the inability to talk about it, actually makes it all the more likely. And with the persistence of own-goal journalism that systematically, if unintentionally, feeds the Jihadi forces, the resulting disorientation can be fatal. A friend of mine wrote me a letter from Morocco in 2003, when the French were proud to oppose the USA over Iraq. “The Moroccans think France is weak,” he said, “because they favor the enemies and attack their friends.” Own-goal journalism does precisely this: it favors the Jihadi enemy and attacks the Israeli friend.

There are those who say there is no future for Jews in Europe, and the large attendance today is testimony to the level of concern Jews feel. My advice is not to get out, nor to stay. But to make a conscious and active choice. If you stay, stay to fight, not to hide your head in the sand and hope it all passes over you. And know that if you stay, you fight not just for your own community, not just for Jews in Europe, but for the very fabric of civil society, to the very future of that wondrous experiment in equality and freedom, democratic polities. It’s not every generation that gets to defend a civilization. As distressing and demanding as that might seem, it is an enormous privilege. Embrace it. Be bold. Be Balaam’s Ass and open a mouth such that your riders’ eyes will be opened, and they will see the outstretched sword that hangs over their head, and they will cease to beat you for refusing to advance towards destruction.

22 Responses to The BBC and Own-Goal War Journalism

  1. Charlie in NY says:

    We have seen this type of captive journalism before. I recall CNN formally apologizing for years of – shall we say – inaccurate reporting from Iraq, borne of intimidation from Saddam Hussein and his security apparatus and the concern of being thrown out of Iraq and, presumably, losing out on some imagined journalistic competition. In so doing, CNN, just as the BBC and most others today, miss out on the real story which is to report the difficulty of trying to report from an autocratic dictatorship. Going further back, of course, is the infamous Walter Duranty, the NY Times foreign correspondent who covered up Stalin’s genocide against the kulaks and Ukrainians, false coverage that was honored with a Pulitzer Prize. The closest thing to journalistic courage I have seen was from, of all people, Anderson Cooper who mentioned that his handlers were selecting what he could see and report. It isn’t much but stands as a lone flame of journalistic integrity in an otherwise dark universe of professional failure.

  2. Martin J. Malliet says:

    Jakob Augstein’s surprising column on own-goal war journalism after the Paris attacks: “The Enemy is Us.” (2015-11-16)

    http://www.spiegel.de/politik/deutschland/krieg-gegen-terror-wir-sind-der-gegner-kolumne-a-1062979.html

    In his habitually confused manner, Jakob Augstein’s main thought I would translate as: “The words betray the thinking. To embrace fighting, to divide the world into friend or enemy, to see the end of conflict only in destruction, of oneself or of the enemy – those who talk like that are singing the praise of war and stand on the same side as the islamists in the clash of civilisations.”

    And I could actually follow his main thought, if only he were prepared to spell out the obvious conclusion, and to show his undivided support for Israel, which for more than 65 years now has had to defend itself against the same malicious enemy. And has done so not by pursuing the illusion of winning the war by destroying the adversary (and its own civil society), but by restricting itself to a sufficiently successful defense (of its own civil society). Without ever receiving the unreserved ‘solidarity’ on the part of the European states on which France can count today.

    So I conclude: Jakob Augstein is right, there is a lot Europe can learn from Israel. If only he could bring himself to say it more clearly.

  3. Cynic says:

    Unfortunately the following Haaretz article
    This Day in Jewish History 1943: BBC Chief Orders Workers to Soft-pedal Nazi Persecution of Jews
    http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/this-day-in-jewish-history/.premium-1.686563
    Is behind a pay-wall.

    In November 1943, Robert Foot, the director-general of the British Broadcasting Company, instructed his reporters not to give too much attention to reports of the Nazi slaughter of Jews


    [Foot] warned employees not to broadcast anything that might be designed “to correct the undoubted anti-Semitic feeling which is held very largely throughout the country.”

    He was concerned . . . that any undue focus on the suffering of Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe might actually “increase rather than decrease the anti-Jewish feeling in this country.” Foot’s instructions . . . reflected a range of institutional attitudes in the United Kingdom toward Jews that ranged from the ambivalent to the downright anti-Semitic, as well as an unusually patronizing opinion of the general public. . . .

  4. w.w. wygart says:

    “when I hear ‘caught in a crossfire’ I know Israelis have been targeting children again.” Has anyone but me noticed how tautological this explanation is in terms of Richard’s “own goal” thesis? – particularly in regards to BBC headline writing practices?

    MSM personnel seem to caught in a rather vicious positive feedback loop, the article written by the fellow [or lass] in the cubicle next to them is feeding back into what they themselves write – and so on, and so on…

    W^3

  5. […] ordinary Palestinians to advance its cause, and at the same time, empower the global jihadis by running their Palestinian propaganda as news, and reinforcing a collective sense of victimization. Instead of recoiling from the horror, the […]

  6. Barry Meislin says:

    The author refers to the phenomenon of massive prevarication by Western media as “own goal” journalism.

    Closer to the truth—the pitiful truth—however, is that such “journalism” is the journalism of “righteous self-destruction”.

    Societies that believe that they must constantly lie are almost always extremely destructive to their own citizens and to other countries, near and far.

    But while they cause destruction within and without, they ultimately destroy themselves. Examples are Nazi Germany, the USSR, Imperial Japan, and other societies—and cultures—that have no OODA loop because they simply cannot tell the truth and thus have no means of intitiating a self-corrective process.

    The prevarication of the Western MSM has reached such feverish intensity that it can only lead to the self destruction of the West.

    (And it must be said that such feverish prevarication on the part of the media merely echoes the prevarication of the political classes as well as the academy. Alas.)

    All too often, such intentional, finely “crafted” prevarication begins with “the Jews” (and as long as it exists, the State of Israel) as the target. However, the affects of such “fine tuning” ultimately cannot be limited only to the initial target: the poison must ultimately spread to infect the entire political system. Lies and fabrications, misrepresentations and slanders, when nurtured and systematically disseminated, cannot be controlled in the long term but must, perforce, boomerang to affect and weaken the general society, even if that larger society is initially believed to be immune; the lies, having become ubiquitous must diverge in all directions and tar everything in their diverse paths with toxic results.

    Think “Sorcerer’s Apprentice”. It cannot be stopped.

    Or rather, it can only be stopped when massive destruction forces people, or at least some people, to open their eyes.

    The media, following the lead of—and then egging on (it’s a truly vicious cycle)—the political classes and the academy, with the population close behind, has, with its global reach, been planting dragon’s teeth on a global level and on a daily basis.

    The message of Israel’s inhumanity, criminality and murderousness is pounded home around the clock such that anyone who considers himself or herself a moral person must believe that the Jewish State has no right to exist; must be destroyed; is a blot upon the face of the earth.

    The cause of Palestine (the goal of which is to destroy the Jewish State) has become THE global cause. The creation of the Palestinian state has become virtue personified.

    Critical mass has almost certainly already been reached; and it will be extremely difficult if not impossible to alter this momentum.

    The “correction,” which is coming, will be horrific.

    • Richard Landes says:

      i agree with you about the culture of lies (or to be more gentle, pervasive misinformation). i like the idea of OODA loop (looked it up), esp the “orient”. what we have now among journalists is a IDAD loop: ignore, decide, act, disorient loop.

      i still think the correction need not be horrific (altho the European’s throwing open their gates makes that more likely). i think there’s still plenty of strength left in the western public sphere, even if it is, right now, inert or worse.

      • Barry Meislin says:

        I appreciate your optimism and hope that you are right.

        Time will tell; but the West appears on the cusp of an Orwellian nightmare. (Actually, it’s already begun.)

        Are the ubiquitous lies of the Obama administration (aka “The Obama Doctrine”?), backed up and repeated ad infinitum by the Pravda-ized Media reversible?

        Is the tribalization of American (and Western) society be reversible (a tribalization promoted and encouraged by the Obama administration)?

        Is the sovietization of American (and Western) habits of speech (and therefore thought) be reversed—I’m talking here about the PC epidemic.

        The GOP is considered by the current administration and its MSM running dogs as “the enemy”. It is a term (of endearment?) also used by the leading contender for the 2016 Democratic presidential candidate. Can this be reversed?

        Can the war on the American military be reversed? On the American police?

        An optimist might say that they can be reversed. One may well wonder.

        However, the most disturbing trend is the breakdown of the University system in the USA. Having first given in to anti-Israel thuggery and bullying by students group insisting on the right to “freedom of expression”, the university (and the society it represents) now finds itself under attack across all fronts. While such an expansion of thuggish behavior should have been expected (see Orwell on crocodiles), the hope was, I assume, that it could be contained. If it continues, as seems likely, it means the end of higher education (i.e., of so-called “free enquiry,” “freedom of thought” and “freedom of expression”) in the US (and the West); except maybe for small pockets of traditional education in the smaller or more parochial colleges.

        One (only one) example at Brandeis (Brandeis!!) U.:
        http://www.timesofisrael.com/how-would-orwell-feel-about-todays-college-campuses/

        The destruction of the university is not only a symptom but an indicator of what more is in store, as the US (and the greater Western world) become “Fundamentally Transformed”….

        So one might say that there are “grounds for concern”…

  7. […] Tamar Sternthall at CAMERA once again revealed how critical sources outside the mainstream can and do make invaluable contributions to a serious and reasoned public discussion. Paying attention to these voices (narrated by their critics as “right-wing”) offers at least a serious possibility of OODA rather than IDAD. […]

  8. […] ordinary Palestinians to advance its cause, and at the same time, empower the global jihadis by running their Palestinian propaganda as news, and reinforcing a collective sense of […]

  9. Jon Dyson says:

    Lethal journalism undoubtedly threatens to disarm society in the face of lethal threats. But I fear that the explanation of lethal journalism provided in your text (and your speech at the recent meeting in London on the BBC) regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is misleading.

    For sure the dangerous anti-Israel bias and outrageous misreporting of the BBC and much of the international media presents the Palestinian-Israeli conflict as a Palestinian-David-victim vs Israeli-Goliath-oppressor battle. And as a result, the ‘news’ they broadcast systematically promotes material that is bad about Israel and little that is good – and the reverse about the Palestinians – along with Palestinian propaganda presented as news, scandalous omissions, etc.

    Several reasons have been suggested to account for this, such as antisemitism or feelings of post-colonial guilt. But your article/speech suggests that these are inadequate to explain the pack mentality shown by the preponderance of pro-Palestinian views in the mass media. Instead, the main weight of the suggested explanation is placed elsewhere: on ‘the pervasive culture of intimidation’. Firstly, there is intimidation by the Palestinians, such as against the press-corps by Hamas in the war in Gaza last year. Secondly, there is peer pressure among reporters (and, presumably, corporate pressure from news organizations?) to ensure conformity to a pro-Palestinian narrative.

    Such intimidation undoubtedly exists. But the issue is whether or not its presence is sufficient to explain the pro-Palestinian stance of so much of the international media. Unfortunately, the example used in the article/speech, BBC reports of a supposed IDF attack on Shiffa hospital, did not demonstrate coercion at all. Instead, it was another demonstration of BBC misreporting that needs to be explained.

    In any case, placing the main weight of explanation on intimidation is hardly sufficient to explain why there is so little resistance from reporters – especially when subsequently removed from the vicinity of Hamas harassment. Nor does it account for the almost total absence of contrariness, inquisitiveness and bravery that many reporters possess in other contexts.

    Likewise, it does not account for the near universal absence of corporate backbone, exhibited by the BBC and other news organizations individually or collectively, to expose the intimidation of Hamas as a news item in itself. After all, as mentioned in your talk/speech, the FPA was perfectly capable of issuing a statement (August 2014) condemning intimidation by Hamas.

    Instructively, also mentioned in the London speech were other FPA statements that condemned Israeli attempts to intimidate the press. Given the apparent susceptibility of the press to intimidation, why these were so unsuccessful is unexplained. Additionally, as we know, coercion is pervasive and hardly confined to the Middle East. Therefore, what needs to be explained is why this rather than that intimidation is supposedly so successful.

    These difficulties in blaming intimidation for BBC compliance with Palestinian media requirements can also be seen from the talk given by another speaker at the same London event. As one of her illustrations of BBC bias, Lesley Klaff discussed an edition of ‘Panorama’ devoted to the Jerusalem Light Railway in which Israel was presented as a racist expansionary state.

    Yet this standard and jaundiced TV presentation (by a useful Jewish idiot) can hardly be described as being the product of intimidation. It was an entirely voluntary and typical expression of BBC hostility to Israel of the type which it regularly and eagerly produces. No coercion whatever was required.

    In fact, your discussion of the Shiffa hospital misreporting all-but acknowledges this by saying that BBC reporters in Gaza probably never experienced Hamas harassment – because they were already in extensive compliance with Hamas requirements! Therefore, an explanation based on intimidation is inadequate and another must be sought. Here it is.

    For the BBC, as well as large sections of the intellectual elite and wide sections of the international public, the PRIMARY ISSUE is that Israel is believed to occupy land that belongs to another people. This is considered unjustified, immoral, illegal and brutal. As a result, the creation of a state to fulfill Palestinian national rights of self-determination is viewed as the obvious way to correct this tragic injustice and end the conflict. By preventing this, Israel is seen as the obstacle to peace.

    From these core assumptions, everything else flows: support for hostile Arab/Muslim resolutions at the UN, accusations of Israeli war crimes, tolerance of Palestinian violence, BDS, and now the EU proposal for labelling goods.

    This core belief explains why the obvious savagery, lack of humanity and democracy of Palestinians can be largely overlooked and the news slanted favorably towards the Palestinians and against Israel. It explains why, after umpteen examples of Palestinian deceit (such as the so-called Jenin massacre), the media repeats the next deceit just as fervently as the earlier. It explains why, there is no ‘learning curve, no revision and no correction’ as you put it.

    Although atrocities by the Palestinians may occasionally be admitted, the belief that Israel is the basic cause of the continued conflict over-rides everything. News is presented to support this view because it is believed to be the right thing to do. Any other way would be considered an unjustified assistance to Israeli oppression; too many nuances would risk of obscuring the core view. In other words, this is primarily a matter of ideology not coercion.

    This also explains the peculiar behavior of the Independent Review Panel in 2006 into BBC coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. By an unknown procedure, which the BBC refuses to make known, a review of international law in relation to the conflict was commissioned by the panel headed by Sir Quentin Thomas. Still available on the BBC website, this extraordinarily slanted review was written by Noam Lubell who was not only a university researcher in the UK but also a leading activist for B’tselem.

    That is, he could not conceivably be considered impartial and unbiased. Nor could he be considered a prominent and independent expert on international law. Therefore, the question arises: why and how was he chosen to author the review? Naturally enough, the suspicion is that he was chosen precisely because of his bias. Also naturally enough, given the likely validity of this suspicion, the BBC refuses to answer questions on the issue.

    Yet by dealing with the main themes of BBC bias, occupation, borders, settlements, Noam Lubell’s survey, which constitutes Appendix V of the report of the review panel, provides an explicit legal basis for BBC bias. Or, more accurately, his survey provides legal cover or confirmation for its already-existing bias and the incessantly repeated formulations such as: ‘Jewish settlements, which are considered illegal under international law, although Israel disputes this’.

    Likewise, it provides a legal background for BBC Internal Guidelines and the education of its reporters in the Mideast segment at its college of journalism. Additionally, on certain key issues, Lubell’s survey serves as the benchmark for testing complaints made by the public to the BBC. Broadly, if the complaint contradicts Lubell, it is considered unjustified.

    Therefore, Lubell’s legal review is a key target to be attacked, blamed, destroyed and replaced if there is to be any substantial reform of BBC bias. A valuable adjunct to such a campaign would be vigorous and effective public diplomacy measures from Israel. Sadly, Israel’s public diplomacy is scarcely in the fight.

    In sum, to place emphasis on Palestinian intimidation to account for the adherence of the BBC and others to the Palestinian narrative is misplaced. This is not to say that such intimidation does not exist. But it is to stress that the Palestinian narrative has not been adopted by huge tranches of the international media because of coercion but because they agree with it. To misparaphrase Daniel Goldhagen, they are the Palestinians’ Willing Propagandists.

    This means that there is much more mileage than you give credit for in the post-colonial guilt argument in which the oppression of other people and nations is seen as a great injustice. To dismiss this moral concern so lightly and focus elsewhere is effectively to leave it unchallenged and intact. This is precisely what is happening; the Israeli narrative has vacated the battlefield almost to the point of being invisible.

    But this sense of injustice offers a superb opportunity to mount a counter-attack based on primary factors of the conflict that are almost unknown to the international public and are almost entirely absent from international diplomacy.

    As an example, all Palestinian factions and the Arab League refuse to accept Israel as the Jewish nation-state. Instead, all of them, including the PA, deny Jewish rights of national self-determination and the formula 2-states for 2-peoples. This denial of the same right of self-determination for Jews that they claim for themselves is ripe for counter-attack on a double basis. The first is its inconsistency, lack of reciprocity and politically impossible double-standards. The second is because it kills stone-dead the favorite solution of the international media – the 2-state solution.

    Therefore, learning from Palestinian propaganda, which rarely misses an opportunity to blame the ‘occupation’, if blame is to be shifted from Israel to the Palestinians this issue needs incessant repetition until it becomes common knowledge. This is as difficult as it is necessary. But it will not be made easier if attention is diverted from it by a misdiagnosis.

    There is a further reason for this counter attack. This is to provide ideological and political muscle to stem the real danger of collapse before the pressure from an aggressive and ruthless Islamism that is likely to be boosted by the large influx of refugees/immigrants from Islamic states into Europe. As far as the media furthers this collapse, this is exactly as you claim – lethal journalism.

    Jon Dyson
    http://www.argument4israel.blogspot.co.il
    [email protected]

    • Barry Meislin says:

      Mr. Dyson,

      You have explained cogently and comprehensively just why the Palestinians will never agree to an agreement with Israel; that is, why they will never agree to cease to be “occupied” by Israel.

      Simply, the “occupation” is far too valuable a propaganda commodity, far too great a “moral” advantage, far too useful a political tool, for them ever to give up.

      Moreover, they believe that it provides them with the leverage to not only jettison Israel from the West Bank but to erase the State of Israel from the map, entirely.

      Keeping in mind their (Hamas and the PA) claim that all of “Palestine”—“between the River and the Sea”—is “occupied territory.”

      In fact, the Palestinians have, all along, been giving Israel a choice: either agree to commit suicide or prepare to be destroyed. This is, in fact, the essence of Oslo.

      And it is a choice that the EU, the Obama/Kerry rogue administration, and the media elites eagerly embrace and promote.

      (On the other hand, some of the more optimistic among us might claim that at least Israel is being given a choice….)

      • Richard Landes says:

        the israelis say, “We want a divorce.”
        the Palestinians say, “You can’t divorce us, you’re still beating us.”

  10. […] Dyson who blogs at Arguement4Israel recently posted a long response to my BBC and Own-Goal Lethal Journalism piece. It is very important, and disagrees with me in […]

  11. […] so thoroughly hostile to Israel, and such complete dupes of the propaganda of Israel’s (and their own) enemy, that they systematically (exclusively) support “human rights groups” that work […]

  12. […] takes a special kind of own-goal fool to persist in blaming […]

  13. […] images of Palestinian children suffering at the hands of cruel Israelis. In so doing, they have fed the Jihadi beast, greatly contributing to global Jihadi […]

  14. […] did without the active complicity of the Western media – see Matti Friedman and especially here for more details. It has become a key component in the cognitive-psychological (cog-psy) war […]

  15. […] Own-goal War Journalism*: reporting your own side’s enemy’s war propaganda as news. Sinon, Laocoön and the Trojan Horse; Abu Rahmah, Enderlin and al Durah. […]

  16. […] tribal supremacists. How much healthier might England be today if it had not engaged in an orgy of own-goal Moral Schadenfreude about Israel over the decade and a half, and instead realized Israel was on the front line in a war […]

  17. […] alas, is a pretty accurate statement, to which one might add the role that an own-goal, lethal Western journalism, obsessed with images of Muslim victims of Israeli violence, contributed to that sense of global […]

  18. […] always easier to criticize those who won’t retaliate than those who will. As a result, own-goal war journalism – running enemy propaganda as news – has dominated news coverage and poisoned the […]

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