Melanie Phillips

16 May 2011

Does the BBC view Israel's existence as a legitimate 'grievance'?

Published in: Spectator

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Yesterday, there was an organised attempt by Arab mobs to storm three of Israel’s borders with Syria, Lebanon and Gaza, along with violent rioting and other incidents in east Jerusalem. The trigger for this attempted invasion, which appears to have been organised by Syria and Iran, was ‘Nakba day’, the annual statement of the Arab belief that their failure to wipe out the nascent State of Israel in 1948 was a ‘catastrophe’ which must be reversed. This year, ‘Nakba day’ was the pretext for a well-trailed assault upon Israel’s sovereignty.

You would have learned little of this from a report on yesterday’s events by the BBC’s Middle East editor, Jeremy Bowen, broadcast on BBC Radio Four’s Today programme this morning.There was no mention of ‘Nakba day’. No mention therefore of the actual goal behind this violence, the destruction of Israel. Instead the events were presented absurdly as the latest development in the ‘Arab Spring’.

But the ‘Arab Spring’ is a revolt by Arabs against their oppressive Arab rulers. Thus Bowen implanted in listeners’ minds the clear implication that the Arabs attacking Israeli sovereignty in furtherance of their aim of wiping Israel off the map altogether were instead protesting at the tyranny under which they were suffering. Indeed, casting doubt upon the suggestion that Iran had a hand in these events, Bowen stated

the Palestinians have many grievances of their own.

It follows therefore that the BBC believes that Israel’s very existence is a ‘Palestinian grievance’, and that Israel’s genocidal attackers are instead the victims of Israel.

Bowen referred to the Israelis killing

quite a lot of people: the biggest loss of life in south Lebanon since the 2006 war.

Well, the latest count is twelve fatalities – and Bowen made no mention at all of the IDF claim that some of these people had been shot by Lebanese soldiers.

With the exception of Syria, he also made no mention that these ‘concerted demonstrations’, as the Today presenter put it, were in fact a concerted attempt to storm Israel’s borders; they were presented instead as ‘protests’ on the borders.  A casual and uninformed listener might well have got the impression therefore that Israel had fired upon crowds merely demonstrating for democracy within Lebanon and Gaza, with a bit of funny business on the Golan caused by President Assad playing ‘Arab Spring’-style politics.

Once again -- can anyone explain why the British licence-fee payer is having to subsidise this atrocious misreporting?

Meanwhile, here’s a bit of a mystery in a different part of the forest. My reference below to the Tel Aviv truck driver shouting ‘Death to Jews’ was taken from a report that I read in the Jerusalem Post by Yaakov Lappin. This was also picked up on this blog which reported thus:

'Driver in Tel Aviv truck rampage shouted death to Jews'
05/15/2011 12:05

A witness who claims he stopped the driver who hit several cars on Tel Aviv's Bar Lev Street Sunday in what police called a suspected terror attack, said he initially thought the driver had just lost control of his breaks. Arik Levy told Israel radio that when he went to go help the driver, he saw him continue to hit cars and street lights, and heard him saying ‘Allahu Akbar’ and ‘death to Jews.’
Read the rest

But the updated Jerusalem Post story to which this links now bears no trace of this reference (a similar eye-witness statement that the driver shouted ‘Allahu Akhbar’ was reported on Ynet) and has instead substituted the reaction to the incident by the Tel Aviv crowd shouting ‘Death to Arabs’.

What does this mean?

About Melanie

Melanie Phillips is a British journalist and author. She is best known for her controversial column about political and social issues which currently appears in the Daily Mail. Awarded the Orwell Prize for journalism in 1996, she is the author of All Must Have Prizes, an acclaimed study of Britain's educational and moral crisis, which provoked the fury of educationists and the delight and relief of parents.

Read full biography


  • The World Turned Upside Down
  • Londonistan
  • The Ascent of Woman
  • America's Social Revolution

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Melanie Phillips
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