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Media Analyses





BBC-WATCH: BBC Injects Anti-Israel Focus in Baghdad-U.N. Story


The BBC continues to distort news about Israel, and appears to seek out ways of presenting Israel in an unfavorable light. For example, in an August 20, 2003 online article (“UN: Human Cost of Intervention”) about deaths of U.N. staff  in various world conflicts, the article’s Middle East incidents include only those involving Israel and that information is skewed.

Ignoring numerous more recent killings of U.N. staff by Muslim or Arab terrorists, BBC instead cited the 1948 assassination of Count Bernadotte by “Israeli extremists,” calling it “one of the most infamous killings in the organization's history.” The article fails to note that the group responsible for Bernadotte's death was disbanded and members of the group were prosecuted and sentenced to jail for the crime, to be released later under an amnesty program.

The article’s only other Middle East reference is the 1996 incident at the U.N. compound in Qana, Lebanon, which the article calls “the worst attack ever on a UN site,” failing to inform readers that Israel was targeting a Hizballah missile launching site — not the U.N. compound. And if this is an article about the loss of life among U.N. personnel, why is the Qana incident even mentioned? No U.N. personnel died in that attack, although many civilians tragically died. The only photo in the article is curiously not of any U.N. personnel killed, but one showing the aftermath of the Israeli strike at Qana.

Although the article notes Israel's insistence that it was an accident, the BBC's rendition of events in Qana offers no context. It omits that minutes before the Israeli strike in Qana, Israel had been attacked with missiles by Hizballah from a site next to the U.N. compound, a fact noted in the U.N.'s own report. (U.N. Report on Israel's Bombing of the United Nations Compound at Qana, Lebanon, May 7, 1996.)

When Israel struck back at Hizballah’s missile launch site, it inadvertently bombed the U.N. compound nearby, unintentionally harming numerous civilians who had, unbeknownst to Israel, taken refuge there.

The U.N. report further indicates that two or three of the Hizballah terrorists themselves entered the U.N. camp, which the BBC also chose to ignore. In fact, before the tragedy, the U.N. knew about Hizballah’s missile launch site being so close to their compound and attempted to put a stop to it but failed. Time Magazine reported:

Two days before, a Fijian Blue Helmet tried to persuade Hizballah fighters not to strike from a site close to another U.N. post up the road. They shot him in the chest. “We are breaking our backs to stop Hizballah from using the U.N. as a shield,” [said] U.N. spokeswoman Sylvana Foa. “Now it's gone to hell in a handbasket.” (Time Magazine, April 29, 1996, “Dark with Blood; Israel Tried to Bomb Hizballah into Submission. But a ‘Grave Error’ Slaughtered More than 100 Lebanese Civilians. Can Diplomacy Do Anything?”)

It is telling that the BBC also chose to ignore other recent and notable events in the Middle East involving the murders of U.N. personnel. For example, the kidnapping (February 17, 1988) and brutal execution (July 31, 1989) of Lieutenant Colonel William Higgins, Chief of the U.N. peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon, goes unmentioned in the article.

More recently in March, 2002, the two members of the U.N. Temporary International Presence in Hebron were killed, and another member was wounded. The wounded officer, Captain Ozarslan of Turkey, reported:

“We saw a Palestinian standing in the middle of the road. The (car’s) lights were on and we saw him. He was in a Palestinian police force uniform. He was carrying a Kalachnikov. We shouted towards him, ‘We are TIPH, don't shoot.’” When they stopped their car, Ozarslan said, “there was only 5 to 6 meters between the men and our car and he didn't stop (shooting). We told him we are from TIPH and he didn't care. He kept shooting toward us.” (“Two Observers Killed in Hebron,” UPI, by Joshua Brilliant, March 26, 2002.)

Even this recent concrete example escapes the BBC's notice.

The BBC also omits the ironic fact that U.N. Resolutions have supported terror attacks of the sort just witnessed in Baghdad. Numerous resolutions have endorsed “struggles for liberation from colonial and foreign domination and alien subjugation by all available means, including armed struggle.” (See, for example, U.N. General Assembly Resolutions 3070 and 3328.)

To view the BBC article, click here.

For more on BBC, click here.


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