BBC and Transformation of Suffering into Propaganda
13 Sep 2009
Published at www.palestinethinktank.com
‘What impartiality requires is not that everyone receive equal treatment, but rather that everyone be treated as an equal.’ – Ronald Dworkin, Taking Rights Seriously (Harvard University Press. 1977, p. 227).
BBC director general Mark Thomson can not screen footage of Palestinian suffering in Gaza without compromising his cooperation’s impartiality. At the heart of his obfuscation lays a belief that Palestinian pain is not an objective reality. It is, at best, a subjective possibility, one loaded with the potential to burst into a subversive, destabilizing force.
For activists and supporters who are frequently asked why they devote more energy to Palestine than Darfur or the Congo (the implication being of course that they are anti-Semites) Mark Thomson provides the most succinct answer. For Thomson has no problem whatsoever screening Disaster Emergency Committee films on behalf of Darfur and the Congo. The suffering endured by people in these regions is endorsed by the BBC as a universally acknowledged fact. Screening footage of the humanitarian disaster in Palestine though, sabotages Sky and the BBC’s obligation to be ‘balanced.’ If this was indeed a war, and not genocidal attack, then the BBC could counter their depictions of carnage in Gaza with images of the horrors endured in Sderot. But this is of course impossible. The visual impact of a damaged kitchen doesn’t quite cut it next to the apocalyptic hell hole that is Gaza.
Problematically, for a Zionist broadcaster who wants to appear ‘fair’, the humanitarian appeal does not come across as ‘balanced’ because the conflict is not ‘balanced’. Again, the Palestinians are collectively punished for this annoying glitch in egalitarian reporting. Rather than responsibly portray a reality that inevitably induces a condemnation of Israel, these corporations re-brand Palestinian reality as’ journalistic bias.’
Thus, the BBC’s refusal to air this film suggests that Palestinian suffering is itself a form of propaganda. Through the lens of the BBC, the screams of kids riddled with phosphorus become anti Israeli screams. The piles of burning concrete become anti-Semitic piles of burning concrete. The howls of grief are Islamist and undemocratic. The lives of children snubbed out in an instant by Israeli bombs may have grown into adults who failed to recognize Israel’s right to exist; that is if Israel had not had the foresight to violate their right to grow up.
Perhaps the most menacing aspect of this tragic debacle is Mark Thomson himself. A quick bit of research online ploughs up a surfeit of information proving the man is far from ‘impartial’. His Jewish wife, the scholar Jane Blumfeild, hails from an American family that attends Yeshivas. Evidence suggests that she recently signed a petition campaigning against the anti-Israeli content of the Washington Post. In 2005 she traveled together with her husband to Jerusalem to engage in talks with Ariel Sharon in an attempt to build bridges between the BBC and Israel. According to the Independent , this was an unprecedented gesture by any serving BBC director general. ‘He has a far greater regard for the Israeli cause than some of his predecessors’ a BBC source said. All in all, it is infuriatingly impossible to imagine the reverse; a BBC director general married to a woman from a Wahabi background who petitions news organizations to write pro-Palestinian copy and visits Khaled Meshaal in an attempt to help him out with his PR.
The implausible tone of this scenario betrays the catastrophic reality behind Sky and the BBC’s position. It is very clear that, as much as these media institutions champion their Voltaire-esque spiel about covering both sides of every story, at the end of the day their ‘objectivity’ is merely Israeli objectivity.
Gerard Kaufman MP elaborates ‘Probably the (BBC’s) attitude has been: ‘Oh this is just too much trouble and it’s too much trouble because of the pressure of the Israelis. This very active and not very pleasant Israeli diplomatic representation in Britain’.
With over a million people dependent on aid to survive, the decisions of both corporations, continues the legacy of pathological barbarism carried out by the Jewish state. The Jerusalem Post and some other editorials go slightly further and refer to the DEC film as an ‘advert’ as if just trying to save lives were a sales tactic. Thankfully ordinary human beings are finally able to see through their transparent rhetoric and are doing to their TV licenses what Israel did to Gaza, burning them into obliteration.