column

As Gaza’s rockets are fired at Israel, so are media missiles

Behind Western hostility to Israel and indifference towards Iran lies a baleful explanation.

A closeup of the “BBC” news website. Credit: Anton Garin/Shutterstock.
A closeup of the “BBC” news website. Credit: Anton Garin/Shutterstock.
Melanie Phillips
Melanie Phillips
Melanie Phillips, a British journalist, broadcaster and author, writes a weekly column for JNS. Currently a columnist for The Times of London, her personal and political memoir, Guardian Angel, has been published by Bombardier, which also published her first novel, The Legacy, in 2018. To access her work, go to: melaniephillips.substack.com.

We know it’s coming. We can write the script in advance. Yet it never fails to sicken and to shock.

This week, Israel was once again forced to take military action to defend itself against increasingly deadly attacks. As ever, Western media presented this as if Israel wakes up in the morning and decides to bomb Gaza through some insatiable lust for violence.

Once again, such media outlets omitted or downplayed the crucial context for this military action. Once again, questions asked by some interviewers were framed through a maliciously distorted prism.

The most notable element of Israel’s Gaza strikes this week has been their pinpoint accuracy and limited collateral civilian deaths.

Targeted Israeli air raids killed three senior members of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) in simultaneous strikes on their apartments.

Hundreds of rockets were subsequently fired from Gaza at southern Israel.

Israeli bombers then targeted PIJ rocket and mortar launch sites. Another strike killed the head of the PIJ rocket launching force in his apartment, along with two other PIJ operatives. Later in the day, a further strike killed his deputy.

As The Spectator noted, the BBC World Service “Newsday” show omitted crucial context. On Wednesday morning, it reported Palestinian officials saying, “Two young men have been killed during an overnight Israeli army raid near Jenin … hours after Israel carried out air strikes on Gaza, targeting militant commanders. Fifteen people were killed, including 10 civilians. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Palestinian militants that any retaliation would be met with a crushing response.”

As Israeli journalist Lahav Harkov pointed out to the “Newsday” presenter, the report failed to say that the operation in Jenin followed the start of the rocket barrage from Gaza and that the “two young men” had been shooting at Israeli soldiers.

Worse, however, was to follow. If the operation was to target PIJ and 10 civilians were now dead, said the presenter, did this reveal “where the thought process of Mr. Netanyahu and the coalition government and the leadership is at the moment?”

From that question, we could see this presenter’s assumption that Israel’s prime minister and his coalition partners were motivated by a lust for killing innocent Palestinian Arab civilians. This was not only a malevolent and twisted prejudice—from a supposedly objective BBC journalist—but directly contradicted by the remarkable precision of the Israeli air strikes.

While the apartments of the targeted terrorists were destroyed, the buildings remained largely intact, with damage limited to adjoining apartments.

At time of writing, some 25 Gazans have been killed, of whom at least 10 were civilians, some of them family members of the targeted terrorists and others who lived next door or downstairs.

The killing of any civilian is to be regretted. However, while PIJ and Hamas deliberately place their civilians in harm’s way, Israel makes every effort to avoid killing them. No other country in the world goes to such lengths to do so.

On Twitter, the IDF published video footage showing an IAF pilot aborting a strike on a PIJ target when two children were spotted nearby.

Yet rather than note the technological marvel and moral example of such unique military precision, journalists implied that Israel was engaged in reckless slaughter.

The Gaza rocket attacks are a double war crime. They target Israeli civilians while using Gaza’s population as hostages and human shields. More than 100 rockets have reportedly fallen short and landed inside Gaza, with Israel claiming that they killed four people, including three children.

Yet one CNN interviewer suggested that Israel has “an obligation to work around” the Gazan civilians used as human shields and claimed that Israel targeted civilians.

In their coverage of Israel, many Western journalists behave like sheep following the dominant Western narrative.

This narrative holds that Israel is a rogue state that rides roughshod over international law, is drunk on military power and behaves with reckless lack of concern for Palestinian life.

The media therefore starts from a prior position of lies, distortion and malevolence.

As a result, it fails to ask the really important question of whether such limited, pinpoint operations are adequate for the situation in which Israel finds itself.

Israel’s strategy is to “mow the lawn”—to deal with terrorist upticks when they occur and then repeat the exercise over and over again. This may no longer be appropriate.

Nothing happens in Gaza without Hamas’s permission. This week, however, Hamas stayed out of the fray while tacitly permitting PIJ to launch its rocket barrages.

Hamas reportedly has a new strategy. This is to avoid Israel mowing the lawn in Gaza while the terror group exports its apparatus of war to the disputed territories of Judea and Samaria.

This would shift the target area from the communities of southern Israel to its geographical heart. With the same aim, one of the PIJ commanders killed by Israel had been creating a cell building rocket launchers in the disputed territories.

Behind all this is Iran, which seeks to trap Israel through a pincer movement that would target it simultaneously from Lebanon, Gaza and the disputed territories. A nerve center has been established in Beirut bringing together Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Hezbollah, PIJ and Hamas—which last month fired 34 rockets into Israel from southern Lebanon.

Fueling Iran’s ability to advance its infernal aims is America’s incomprehensibly incoherent Middle East strategy. Last month, the U.S. deployed a guided missile submarine to the Middle East as a warning to Iran. Yet the U.S. has persistently refused to take appropriate measures in response to Iranian aggression.

Worse, the U.S. is even now hoping to cut a deal with Tehran over its nuclear weapons program, which would facilitate an Iranian nuclear weapon after at best a limited delay and channel billions in sanctions relief into the regime’s coffers.

Meanwhile, the rest of the West seems indifferent to the Iranian threat. Although the regime has been at war with the West since it came to power in 1979, there seems to be a pervasive belief that the only target in Iran’s sights is Israel.

This largely meets with Western indifference. So, as many have long wondered, why is the West so hostile to Israel’s very existence?

One answer is the new antisemitism, with irrational hatred of Jews replicated exactly in irrational hatred of the collective Jew in Israel.

Another reason is that Israel is regarded as fundamentally illegitimate by those who are profoundly ignorant of both Jewish and Middle Eastern history.

However, if this hostility towards Israel is put alongside the refusal to acknowledge the dire threat that Iran poses to the West, a yet more baleful explanation suggests itself.

Consciously or unconsciously, the West expects Israel to do its dirty work for it. It assumes that Israel will deal with Iran by itself because that’s the kind of thing Israel does.

Israel’s feats of military derring-do are indeed legendary. But there’s good reason to think it can’t take out the Iranian threat by itself.

Most importantly, any strike against Iran carries the very real risk of simultaneous and devastating attacks on Israel from the 150,000 rocket batteries in Lebanon targeting the whole country, missiles from Gaza and the infrastructure of mass murder in the disputed territories.

And here’s the most terrible thought of all. The prospect of widespread carnage in Israel doesn’t concern the West because, to its way of thinking, the historic role of Jews is to die in large numbers.

Then the West will eulogize them, weep crocodile tears over them and sentimentalize their memory. While the West refuses to tolerate the idea of Jewish power—and so will always demonize Israel for using it to defend Israeli lives—what it loves is dead Jews.

Harsh? Certainly. But harsher and more terrifying by far for Israel.

Melanie Phillips, a British journalist, broadcaster and author, writes a weekly column for JNS. Currently a columnist for “The Times of London,” her personal and political memoir “Guardian Angel” has been published by Bombardier, which also published her first novel, “The Legacy.” Go to melaniephillips.substack.com to access her work.

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