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Media Analyses





BBC's Mark Urban Feeds anti-Israel Prejudice


The BBC is well-known for presenting partisan opinion as fact when reporting the Arab-Israeli conflict. All too often, the chronic disparaging of Israel actually shades into prejudice and stereotyping.

In a March 12, 2008 report, BBC correspondent Mark Urban highlighted Palestinian grievances against Israel while imposing his own interpretation of Israeli motives–namely, that Israeli authorities are withholding gas and other supplies from Gaza as a deliberate means of exercising control over the Palestinians – and for fiscal gain!

The ongoing Palestinian terror attacks that have forced the Israeli Government to implement measures to protect its citizens merit only a brief mention in his report.

Here is the clip:

Speaking with Dr. Rafik Maliha, of the Gaza Power Generating Plant and Hamas representative Ghazi Hamad, Urban doesn’t so much ask questions as steer the guest in the direction of criticizing Israel:

They [Israel] have put you where they want you, in a sense. For you to be dependent for everyday’s delivery under this kind of pressure.

To present the Israeli perspective, an Israel Defense Forces spokesperson – the sole Israeli representative interviewed – is given less than a third of the air time allotted to the two Palestinian interviewees.

Later in his report, Mr.Urban asserts:

Although many Israelis would like the people of Gaza to stand on their own two feet, the Israeli government is sort of hooked on keeping them [the Palestinians] dependent. There is an economic interest in that – making money by selling goods into Gaza, and there is a security interest because it gives the Israelis pressure points.

“Making money by selling goods into Gaza”?! Mr. Urban’s baseless – but revealing – charge says more about him than it does about Israel and Gaza. Contrary to his claim, the humanitarian aid materials transferred to Gaza are not Israeli-sold “goods.” Foreign food distributors from other countries such as Turkey, Egypt, Argentina, Japan and Belgium are the ones benefitting economically by providing food and other goods. According to UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency), the principal food aid donor to the region this year is ECHO (European Commission Humanitarian Aid Office) which has provided fifteen million Euros of supplies this year.

So it is the ECHO-funded suppliers from the above-mentioned countries who benefit from “selling goods into Gaza” – not Israel, as Mr.Urban’s gratuitous smear leads viewers to believe.

Moreover, from Mr. Urban’s overall report, a viewer would never know that humanitarian supplies and fuel were indeed entering Gaza from Israel before a temporary halt at the time of his report. The following supplies were transported into Gaza from Israel in the days immediately preceding the broadcast:

March 10th:

A total of 3,810 tons of humanitarian aid and fuel were transported:

  • Sufa Crossing - 59 trucks were unloaded
  • Kerem Shalom Crossing - 5 trucks were unloaded
  • Karni Crossing conveyer - 81 trucks were unloaded
  • 2,800 tons of wheat, legumes, corn and animal feed
  • 695,000 liters (15 tankers) of fuel
  • 320 tons of heating gas (12 tankers) transported through the Nahal Oz Crossing

March 11:

A total of 3,877 tons of humanitarian aid and fuel were transported:

  • Sufa Crossing - 72 trucks were unloaded
  • Kerem Shalom Crossing - 21 trucks were unloaded
  • Karni Crossing conveyer - 61 trucks were unloaded
  • 2,800 tons of wheat, legumes, corn and animal feed
  • 695,000 liters (15 tankers) of fuel
  • 320 tons of heating gas (12 tankers) transported through the Nahal Oz Crossing

March 12:

A total of 1,567 tons of humanitarian aid and fuel were transported:

  • Sufa Crossing - 54 trucks were unloaded
  • Kerem Shalom Crossing - 22 trucks were unloaded
  • 640,000 liters (14 tankers) of fuel
  • 248 tons of heating gas (14 tankers) transported through the Nahal Oz crossing.

One would think that Israel’s complete withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 – and uprooting of its own citizens – would be enough to illustrate the Israeli government’s wish for Gaza to be independent. But unfortunately Mr. Urban neglects this critical fact entirely, nor does he mention Hamas’ attempts to create a man-made humanitarian crisis and media crusade at the expense of its long suffering electorate, by attempting to portray the Palestinians as oppressed and lacking in fundamental humanitarian supplies and provisions at the hands of the Israeli government.

Mr.Urban pretends to know the opinion of many Israelis and attributes financial and colonial aspirations to the actions of the Israeli government; his editorializing is troublesome as it shapes the news instead of presenting the facts. Perhaps Mr. Urban should review the BBC’s Editorial Guidelines for its Journalists:

our journalists and presenters, including those in news and current affairs, may provide professional judgments but may not express personal opinions on matters of public policy or political or industrial controversy. Our audiences should not be able to tell from BBC programmes or other BBC output the personal views of our journalists and presenters on such matters.

The BBC cannot be regarded as a reputable news outlet as long as it continues to present the public with such unbalanced and misleading reports.


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