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tisdag 10 januari 2006

The BBC has forgotten that journalism is about reporting the truth, not "creating" it

The history of biased BBC reporting on the Arab-Israeli conflict has seldom been paralleled by anything as offensively prejudiced as John Simpson’s piece.

The epitome of his strong anti-Israel bias can be seen not least in his use of the age-old tactic of reversing events and timelines. He writes that “by the spring an Israeli government led by Mr Netanyahu will probably face a Palestinian administration in which Hamas will be the strongest element.” He makes it sound as though Hamas will be elected in order to balance Likud’s return to power, when of course it is the Palestinian elections that come first, and Mr Netanyahu’s possible election would instead be a reaction to the prominence of terror group Hamas.

Not, of course, that Mr Simpson refers to Hamas as a terror group, the definition applied by the US and the EU, among others. In his vocabulary they are merely a “militant group”.

Exclusively pro-Arab perspective
John Simpson’s article is written solely from the Palestinian Arab perspective. He could have done the unthinkable by stating that “Mr Sharon ventured onto the precincts of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem (known to Arabs as the al-Aqsa mosque)”. But he did not, of course. It is always only the Arab narrative that is given prominence. He neglected also to mention that the violence that followed Mr Sharon’s visit to the Temple Mount had already been planned by Palestinian leaders who were simply casting about for a suitable trigger to set it in motion, as Palestinian election candidate and convicted multiple murderer Mr Marwan Barghouti himself cheerfully asserts.

It is scarcely surprising that John Simpson would do all he can to prevent his readers from understanding the truth of the complex political and religious tensions in the region. After all, he had no difficulty in making the remarkable statement that “Jerusalem has been mercifully free of suicide bombs for two years now”. That must come as something of a surprise to the families of the 19 Israeli victims of Palestinian homicide bombings on 30 January 2004 and 23 February 2004.

John Simpson states categorically that “Mr Sharon was not on the verge of establishing a lasting peace between equals when illness struck him down.”

Asymmetrical reporting is part of the asymmetrical war
Here, of course, John Simpson is absolutely correct. The situation is quite rightly not about establishing peace between equals – this is the most unequal conflict in modern history. It is an asymmetrical conflict where one side – Israel – is fettered by deference to common moral decency and the rule of law, while the other side – the Palestinians – continually finds new ways to plumb the depths of moral depravity with attacks that would have brought a blush to the cheeks of Genghis Khan, long-dead leader of a Mongol “militant group”.

It is an asymmetrical conflict where the sole Jewish nation on Earth has been fighting a 67 year battle for its survival against a plethora of Arab and Muslim nations whose leaders and populations often hate each other with a vengeance but who are held together by the glue of anti-Semitism and a determination to rid the world of Israel through their Palestinian proxies. It is an asymmetrical conflict where Israel is aiming to create a situation where it can live in reasonable security and increasing accommodation alongside yet another hostile Arab nation to add to the 21 already in existence, after the two Arab nations that previously administered the West Bank and Gaza washed their own hands off the territories after losing yet another war to destroy Israel.

Mr Simpson seems outraged that under the Oslo peace process, “the Palestinians … would never achieve anything except their least important demands - and they would have to work really hard even to get those.” It is uncertain just how unimportant 96 percent of their territorial demands and the use of eastern Jerusalem as their capital city could be, John Simpson certainly seems to feel that these would be among their “least important demands”. Which must mean that the more important Palestinian demands must encompass all of Israel – entirely in keeping with what is taught in Palestinian schools and entirely in keeping with the official map of “Palestine” that encompasses the entire region between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River.

The BBC does not feel the Arabs should have to work hard at peace
And of course there is Mr Simpson’s indignation that the Palestinians “would have to work really hard even to get those (demands)”. Of course Mr Simpson is indignant – the Palestinians have never ever had to work – hard or otherwise – for anything. The UN and the EU have always covered every bill ever incurred by the Palestinians – and there have been quite a few over the years. To the tune of several billions. The sheer temerity of the Israelis – expecting the Palestinians to work hard for something they never ever had in history, which Israel was making them as a gift after 60-odd years of mutual distrust, violence and hatred. A Palestinian expected to work hard in exchange for a gift – the very thought! Bearing in mind John Simpson’s unquestioningly pro-Palestinian stance, it is scarcely surprising that he would find this concept offensive.

In the real world, however, this concept would be called “working for a living”. All the Palestinians would have to do is to stop indiscriminate killings of Jews – they’d have to work hard at stopping the killing. It’s a concept John Simpson seems to find abhorrent.
Peace will come through strength, Mr Simpson. There have been many strong Israeli leaders who over the decades have almost made it through to a final agreement. They just haven’t been fortunate enough to find an equally strong Palestinian leader who is willing to forego terrorism for statesmanship.

We’re still waiting for that Palestinian leader to emerge. Over the ages, there have been no less than three Jewish states in the land of Israel. Since the dawn of history, however, there has never been an Arab state here. However unwillingly and with a wary eye on its many avowed enemies – all in the Arab and/or Muslim sphere – Israel under Ariel Sharon was attempting to create history with the establishment of something no Arab had ever achieved before. Remarkably, John Simpson does not want to call this a “peace process”.

He apparently adheres firmly to the pan-Arab “piece process”, whereby Israel is to be dismantled piece by piece.

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upplagd av Ilya Meyer