Monday, 29 December 2008

BBC's Gaza-speak

The slaughter in Gaza goes on. As does the disgracefully loaded way in which the BBC reports it.

Here's a classic example of the 'Israel-said' form from Jeremy Bowen, supposedly the BBC's finest correspondent in the region.

“Israel has laid out an ambitious war aim. It says it wants to create a new security environment, to protect Israelis who live within range of rocket fire from Gaza.”

“The ground for it was prepared by clever psychological warfare.”

“An Israeli intelligence briefing this morning argued that many Palestinians in Gaza were fed up with Hamas.”

“Israeli generals always assume that they have a limited time to achieve their goals.”

Bowen, no doubt, sees himself as a strategic analyst, giving this reportage the imprint of cold-rational assessment. Thus, the actual carnage and loss of life becomes incidental to the ways in which Israel sees and plans its operations. In this vein, Bowen notes the bombing of Hamas-built infrastructure, not Palestinian infrastructure, as though the 'taint of Hamas' makes it a seemingly legitimate target.

There's no explanation or detail on the actual siege of Gaza. Rather, the piece begins from, and implies effective acceptance of, the claim that Israel is engaged primarily in a defensive, rather than offensive, action. Nor do we find mention of the singular fact that since the start of the Hamas-initiated truce no Israelis were actually killed, in stark contrast to the murderous punishment now unleashed by Israel.

Bowen's reference to Israel's “clever psychological warfare” further encourages us to 'understand Israel's defensive agenda'. His slavish repetition of an “Israeli intelligence briefing” that “Palestinians in Gaza were fed up with Hamas” receives no contrary comment, no suggestion that they might be much more fed up with Israel's starvation siege - and how that demoralisation impacts on support for Hamas.

Likewise, the report implicitly asks us to recognise the 'difficult task' of the Israeli generals who “always assume that they have a limited time to achieve their goals.”

All this 'information' is couched in language which sanitises the aggression, while inviting moderated reading of the aggressor's mindset.

It also complements perfectly the kind of 'reasoned' 'calls' from Israeli-friendly leaders:

Foreign Secretary David Miliband also called for an "urgent ceasefire and immediate halt to all violence". Mr Miliband described the humanitarian situation in Gaza as "deeply disturbing" and said that the "rise in rocket attacks on Israel since December 19" and Saturday's massive loss of life "make this a dangerous moment which should be of concern to the whole of the international community."Mr Brown said that he was "deeply concerned" by continuing missile strikes from Gaza on Israel and by Israel's response yesterday. He urged Gaza militants to cease all rocket attacks on Israel immediately and Israel to do everything in its power to avoid civilian casualties.”

This is not the language of peace and restraint. It's actually the language of violence. When politicians refuse to condemn the actions of the oppressors, they give a green light to more oppressive, violent actions. It's no exaggeration to say that Brown and Miliband are deeply complicit in the massacre of Gaza. They assuredly knew the slaughter was imminent and did nothing to stop it. And when it did unfold, they said nothing that might compromise or discourage further Israeli killing.

As with Brown's and Milibands's expressions of 'concern', the BBC's output is part of the same, safe moderate-speak that turns an effective blind-eye to mass murder.


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