In the global effort to promote themselves as innocent
victims of heartless Israeli aggression, the Palestinians have no more stalwart
champion and cheerleader than the BBC.
The BBC's World Service, beamed around the globe on radio to 151 million
listeners each week, delivers the commentary of reporters who regularly ignore,
distort, and invert the facts about the six-month mini-war launched by the
Palestinian Authority in September, 2000. They assail and bait Israelis who
attempt to describe the war. They devote lengthy programs to
up-close-and-personal interviews with Palestinian fishermen, children, mothers,
and medical specialists who paint a one-sided picture of grievance and outrage
against Israel, obscuring the singular role of the PA in initiating and
sustaining the violence with Palestinian militias, guns, and explosives. So
extreme is the agenda casting Israel as the cruel, responsible party that when
a Palestinian human rights campaigner - not an Israeli - blamed the
Palestinians for shooting at Israelis, BBC reporter Claire Bolderson became
irate. In a December 12 interview, Bassem Eid urged a cessation of shooting and
a return to the peace process. Bolderson scolded Eid:
people are the people who are rising up against what they see as the Israeli
occupation, the brutality of the Israelis. Are you saying they just shouldn't
do that at all - that they should be just completely peaceful and quiet?
Eid, a man well aware of the suffering of his people and often harshly
critical of Israel, replied that Palestinian violence was counterproductive. He
said the signed agreements with Israel were to "end the conflict" via
a process of talks, not shooting.
Impatient, Bolderson waved this away, saying:
But aren't we
just seeing a spontaneous uprising of the people who are frustrated with the
process, with the fact that the peace process hasn't moved forward? Are you
saying that they should keep their frustrations bottled up, that they shouldn't
take to the streets?
This was on December 12 when, of course, it had long been obvious that the
violence was not "spontaneous" but ordained and orchestrated by the
BBC's Judy Swallow was far less annoyed with Palestinian official Saeb
Erakat in a March 9th segment. Erakat stuck to the familiar script, hurling the
standard charges at Israel and its officials and counseling nothing so
unsettling as a Palestinian cessation of violence. While Swallow treated Erakat
courteously and - in keeping with the BBC lexicon - spoke respectfully of
Palestinians who stone, shoot, and bomb non-combatant Israeli men, women, and
children, her manner changed abruptly when she then interviewed Israeli Knesset
member Yuval Steinitz.
Swallow interrupted almost immediately after Steinitz deplored the
"hypocrisy" of Erakat's faulting Israel for the suffering of his
people while the PA continued to initiate violent attacks requiring Israeli
response. When Steinitz said Israeli cities were suffering a wave of car bombs,
Swallow broke in, demanding:
Dr. Steinitz. How is it that you make as a precondition of any talks - and
we've had this question several times before - you say the Palestinians must
end the violence. You know yourself that you were never capable of ending the
violence. You couldn't contain Hamas, Islamic Jihad. If an army the size of
Israel's cannot stop that violence how do you expect the small Palestinian
Authority to do so?
Steinitz began to reply that most of the recent violence was, in fact, not
initiated by Hamas and Islamic Jihad, but Swallow interrupted yet again:
"They usually claim responsibility!" He persevered, noting that 70
percent of terrorist activity in Israel in the past six months was traceable to
groups associated with Yasser Arafat and only 20-30 percent was linked to
Hamas. Swallow was disdainful, lecturing him again on his governments policy:
But you will
accept surely, Dr. Steinitz, that if you hold out and say there must be
complete peace in the territories, there must be no more attacks by
Palestinians on Israelis. If those are your conditions - preconditions for
peace talks - those talks will never get started, will they?
Nothing incensed the BBC reporter quite as much as Steinitz's reply here. He
reminded her that desisting from violence was the condition set by
"Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat seven years ago." She interrupted
again, in a raised voice: "Rabin accepted a certain level of
violence!" "No," the Israeli responded. "Both leaders
agreed on the White House lawn... that the most fundamental commitment of both
sides is to put an end to the armed conflict and to settle any differences...
What had so riled Swallow? The mild-mannered Steinitz had challenged a
Palestinian official and affirmed Israel's refusal to negotiate under the
deliberate, murderous fire of Arafat's gunmen; he had rejected Swallow's
fatuous excuses for Palestinian violence and her nonchalant suggestion that
Israelis should accept "a certain level of violence."
Nor was the interview with Erakat and Steinitz unusual in reflecting
Swallow's unabashed advocacy of the Palestinian cause. Hosting "The
Connection," National Public Radio's syndicated talk-show on March 15, she
cozily interviewed the far-Left "human rights" lawyer, Allegra
Pacheco. Unfazed by Pacheco's campaign to dismantle Israel as a Jewish state
and to enable the "return" of millions of Palestinians to live in
Israel, Swallow compared Israel to a "battered child" who "goes
on to abuse."
Abandoning any pretense of neutrality, she asked Pacheco whether the
"historical injustice" to the Palestinians began "in 1967 when
Israel overran the territories" or "in 1948," or whether it goes
"right back to the Balfour Declaration." BBC's familiar supercilious
tone is no more than a stylistic issue, but its substantive distortions,
misrepresentations, and blatant anti-Israel bias seriously violate the norms of
journalism and the high standards which the network purports to espouse.
Appeared in the
Jerusalem Post on this date.