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OpinionIsrael at War

‘BBC’ in English is in many ways worse about Israel than ‘BBC Arabic’

Some British and Irish journalists speak about the Jewish state with venom, even more so than some Arab journalists.

Mishal Husain, a presenter for the “BBC.” Credit: Willstar via Wikimedia Commons.
Mishal Husain, a presenter for the “BBC.” Credit: Willstar via Wikimedia Commons.
Tom Gross. Credit: Courtesy.
Tom Gross
Tom Gross is a British journalist and commentator on international affairs.

On Sunday evening, Dec. 10, I gave my third interview for BBC Arabic TV since Oct. 7, a station that has a combined audience of tens of millions in the Middle East and Europe, as well as online.

Two observations:

Firstly, the anchor: Unlike many presenters on BBC TV and radio in English, the Arabic anchor let me explain that the Israel Defense Forces say 7,000 of the fatalities in the Gaza Strip since Oct. 7 have been Palestinian terrorists and fighters. (Using Hamas’s own figures of overall deaths, which are in any case likely to be inflated, that is about two civilian deaths in Gaza for every Palestinian combatant killed. This compares to an average of nine civilians killed for every combatant in all other conflicts worldwide since the Second World War, according to the United Nations.) I added that about half of Hamas’s commanders have been taken out, hundreds have been arrested, and things are going according to plan.

The BBC Arabic anchor also let me explain that most of the Israeli population just want to live in peace with their neighbors and don’t want to occupy Gaza. They just want a government there that won’t constantly fire rockets at them and attack them.

From past experience and that of others, BBC English anchors (and those for a number of other European and U.S. networks) would not have allowed me to make these points in a calm way. They would have hectored me and interrupted me—just as they have for virtually any other guest who may express inconvenient (for them) facts or provide a point of view that challenges their de facto anti-Israel narrative.

Secondly, the footage that accompanied my interview: If you watch the video below, you can see Palestinians in Gaza calmly walking around and some kids riding bicycles. No overcrowding, no destruction, no starvation.

The BBC Arabic live images are from Dec. 10, taken near the Shuhada al-Aqsa Hospital (al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in English) on Saladin Street in central Gaza. It’s one of 15 public hospitals in the Gaza Strip managed by UNRWA (the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees), the Gaza Ministry of Health and various NGOs, none of which have been shut or seriously damaged by Israel.

Yesterday morning, Mishal Husain, the presenter for BBC radio’s flagship “Today” program, started hectoring her guest, the (anti-Jeremy Corbyn) British Labour Party leader Keir Starmer, who had been invited on to give an interview about British immigration policy and Rwanda.

Sneering at Starmer for arguing he didn’t want a ceasefire that would allow Hamas to stay in long-term control of the Gaza Strip, she told him that large parts of Gaza have been flattened, as can be seen from photos.

Obviously, she watches the BBC (English-language) TV’s own selective use of pictures, not the pictures used in the video clip above by BBC Arabic (which is run from the same offices as BBC in English). That is not to say that there isn’t a great deal of destruction in Gaza, only that many of Gaza’s neighborhoods have been untouched in the war, which is not the impression you would get from BBC in English.

As I have written before, from my own experience, many British and Irish journalists—as well as some American and Canadian ones—speak about the Jewish state with venom, even more so in private than in public and with far more sneering towards Jews than many Arab journalists.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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