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Media Analyses





Sourcing an Anti-Israel Libel Promoted on BBC Radio 4


When anti-Israel campaigner Ken Loach appeared on BBC Radio 4's ‘The World Tonight’ on February 25th, one of the more delusional allegations heard by listeners (and the competition was tough) was that during the 2014 conflict between Israel and Hamas, Israeli troops “executed” Hebrew speakers in the Gaza Strip.

The World Tonight 25 2

Will they go to Gaza and see the rubble? Will they see the schools that were bombed by Israel in 2014? Will they see the hospitals that were targeted by Israel? Will they see the places where families were herded together and then executed? Will they hear about the people who were asked if they spoke Hebrew and if they spoke Hebrew they were executed?

Not only was that allegation – and the many others – not questioned or challenged by the BBC's Ritula Shah but Loach was not even asked to provide a source for such a serious charge. Hence, we decided to look for its source ourselves and the search did not take very long.

The inventor of that defamation is a man who has made a career out of lying about Israel, Max Blumenthal. In 2014 he touted it at the so-called ‘Russell Tribunal on Palestine’, with further amplification by Rania Khalek at ‘electronic Intifada’

Blumenthal described in vivid detail the grisly executions he documented of civilians, paramedics and fighters carried out by invading Israeli soldiers. He also highlighted several instances of Israeli soldiers summarily executing older men in Gaza after learning they spoke Hebrew, leading to speculation that soldiers were ordered to eliminate anyone capable of understanding their commands.

Another fan of Blumenthal's unsubstantiated allegations is Asa Winstanley who told readers of the Hamas-linked MEMO website

According to several different eyewitnesses he spoke to, offering corroborating accounts of different incidents, it seems that Israeli soldiers were executing a new practice during this latest Gaza war. As Max puts it: 'wanton targeting of Palestinian civilians who spoke Hebrew'.

The fact that Radio 4 apparently did not see anything problematic about broadcasting that and additional spurious allegations without question or challenge of course prompts the question of what it is that supposedly differentiates the BBC from Hamas-supporting websites which promote and amplify the same defamation – but without demanding a licence fee.

For more on the BBC's promotion of anti-Israel slanders see BBC Watch.


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