Dear Paul Wood
(and Steve Herrmann)
I note with interest the concluding line in this latest BBC report on Palestine-Israel:
"The last thing the US wants is for this to turn into some sort of problem that would encourage Israel's enemies there, our correspondent adds."
It's a neat summation of the safe worldview expected of senior BBC correspondents, like yourself.
The problem, as heavily implied, lies with "Israel's enemies", and the apparent necessity of controlling their 'dark threats', never one of Israeli aggression itself or/and sustained American support for it.
This "our correspondent says" line is the key deferral and protective mechanism through which the BBC is able to filter its institutional bias while claiming to uphold the values of 'objective', 'analytical' reporting.
The message it conveys to the viewer is one of US neutrality and Israeli defensiveness, a distorted and sanitised version of the truth which only further impedes any serious understanding and just resolution of the issues.
Your 'analysis' refers to the apparent tensions between Obama and Netanyahu over the house expansion issue. Might you also find room in such reports for exploring the long-standing US-Israel alliance that's helped to prolong this illegal occupation and the dangerous insecurity their joint military agenda, notably towards Iran, brings to the region?
As you say, the US-Israeli special relationship is important. But the tensions aren't 'apparent', they're real. The US vice president was severely embarrassed while he was here by the Ramat Shlomo announcement. And both he and General Petraeus have said that American lives are on the line (in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere) because the Israeli-Palestinian conflict festers on.
So we do have a lot of discussion on the BBC's airwaves of Israel's relationship with the US. But to adopt the tone and the terms you suggest would not be consistent with our obligation to be impartial in our reporting.
BBC Middle East correspondent
Thanks for replying. It's much appreciated.
You say "the tensions aren't 'apparent', they're real. The US vice president was severely embarrassed while he was here by the Ramat Shlomo announcement."
But isn't this just amplifying elite presentation of the issues rather than dealing with the core problems underlying them? BBC reports, like other media, are awash with 'examinations' of the 'timing' of Biden's visit. Yes, Netanyahu's reponse was a timely reminder of Israel's determination to continue on its expansionist track. So, why not introduce, at this point, some analysis of Washington's own responsibility for that situation, notably its massive annual aid package to Israel, much of it tied up in reciprocal military contracts helping to maintain West Bank control and the siege of Gaza?
"But to adopt the tone and the terms you suggest would not be consistent with our obligation to be impartial in our reporting."
I'm not asking that you adopt my "tone" and "terms". All that's being asked for here is some balanced presentation, that which includes informed reference to America's massive financial and political backing of Israel and the ways in which refusal to pull that aid is serving to maintain the occupation, negating pressure for Israel to negotiate and, to follow the Petraeus line of argument, creating more instability in the region.
As for the claim to being "impartial", have a look at this latest piece of damning research on BBC coverage of the issues:
Please note that, as with all my past correspondence with the BBC, this and any further exchanges will be posted at Media Lens.
Here's a most illuminating interview with Norman Finkelstein, explaining in clear, concise words the real problem with US-Israeli relations, citing, in particular, the disastrous, destabilising impact of Washington's continuing financial aid/military support and the gross violations of international law being carried out by both America and Israel. If only Paul Wood and his fellow BBC correspondents were willing to convey a fraction of this vital information in such reports.
Norman Finkelstein Responds to Clinton, Netanyahu AIPAC Comments