This week, Israel signed a deal for the immediate transfer to South Korea of 700,000 doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine, which are due to expire at the end of this month. In exchange, South Korea will return the same amount of vaccines to Israel from a future order later this year.
This is a win-win deal. Israel has found a good use for vaccines surplus to its current requirements and which would otherwise shortly expire; South Korea is being helped to accelerate its vaccination program.
But there’s another significant feature of this arrangement. These 700,000 vaccines are part of the approximately 1 million unused doses that Israel was offering the Palestinian Authority last month. The P.A. abruptly cancelled that deal, claiming that the vaccines were too close to their expiration date at the end of June and July.
That was clearly untrue. There was plenty of time to use these doses to vaccinate thousands of Palestinians; the Israelis were using vaccines from the same batch on their own teenagers; and subsequent shipments would have had later expiry dates.
Yet the Western mainstream media, which had previously accused Israel falsely of having a duty to vaccinate Palestinians which it was refusing to fulfill, didn’t acknowledge the spurious nature of the Palestinian objection to the Israeli offer. And this week, that same media unaccountably failed to note that the South Korean enthusiasm for those same vaccine doses exposed the P.A.’s claim about the expiry date as nonsense. Instead, the media either ignored or doubled down on their own distortions.
As noted by the media watchdog CAMERA UK, the BBC News website report about the Israel-South Korea deal once again promoted the false P.A. claim that the doses had been too close to expiration.
As CAMERA UK previously pointed out, the BBC had repeatedly distorted its reporting of this issue. Despite the fact that the 1995 Oslo agreement gave the Palestinians responsibility for their own health care, the BBC had wrongly described this responsibility as merely an Israeli claim. After a complaint, it “clarified” the Oslo point on its website—yet one day later, it muddied the same point yet again.
Worse still has been the media’s failure to own up to the collapse of another big lie they perpetrated during the recent hostilities in the Gaza Strip. This was the falsehood that the Israel Defense Forces were killing a huge number of Gaza’s civilians, including a high proportion of children.
Given that Israel made around 1,500 bombing sorties into Gaza, the density of the Gazan population and the fact that Hamas sited its missiles in and around civilian buildings, such a huge bombardment by any other country’s military would have killed thousands of civilians.
In fact, according to the Hamas-controlled Gaza health ministry, a total of 256 Gazans were killed.
The updated casualty figures from Israel’s Meir Amit Terrorism and Information Centre, which puts the Gaza death toll at 236, reveal that nearly half of those killed were Hamas or Palestinian Islamic Jihad combatants whom it has identified by name.
Moreover, 680 of the Palestinian rockets fired at Israel fell inside Gaza, killing at least 21 people—10 men, two women and nine children.
Yet the mainstream Western media have ignored these figures. They have thus ignored the big story that the proportion of civilians killed by Israel was, in fact, astoundingly small—far lower than any other country’s military would ever achieve.
Nor has the media acknowledged that in demonizing Israel falsely as wanton child-killers, they were simply recycling Hamas propaganda.
This media malevolence against Israel is expressed not only through sins of journalistic commission but also the omission of reports about Palestinian oppression. Last month, P.A. security forces arrested and allegedly beat to death the outspoken Palestinian critic Nizar Banat, which sparked widespread Palestinian protests.
But there had been a crackdown on dissidents before Banat’s death, with dozens of Palestinians rounded up by Palestinian security forces following Mahmoud Abbas’s decision to call off the P.A. election because he feared he would lose to Hamas.
On the Gatestone site, the Israeli-Arab journalist Khaled abu Toameh writes that until Banat’s death the Western mainstream media almost entirely ignored this Palestinian crackdown—because, he says, the media couldn’t blame Israel for the harassment, intimidation and torture of Palestinians.
Had the Western media and NGOs paid attention to these Palestinian abuses, says abu Toameh, Banat might still be alive, and activists protesting his death might not have been beaten.
The effect of the invidious role played by the mainstream media in helping foment murderous rage against Israel and the Jewish people, while sanitizing the behavior of the Palestinians, is incalculable.
Not only has this turned many people in Britain, America and elsewhere against Israel (including a growing proportion of the Jewish Diaspora), but it also fuels murderous Arab and Muslim hysteria against Israel and the West.
One of the most appalling examples was the news item in the year 2000 transmitted on the French TV station France 2, which purported to show the death of a Palestinian child, Mohammed al Durah, under a hail of Israeli bullets in Gaza.
The iconic image of the child clinging to his father until his apparently lifeless body slumped down fueled Muslim and Arab rage which led to countless murders of Jews and Israelis. Osama bin Laden mentioned the child’s death in a “warning” to President George Bush after 9/11, while on the horrific video of Al-Qaeda’s beheading in 2002 of the American Jewish journalist Daniel Pearl the image could be seen in the background.
In fact, the al Durah event was staged in order to dupe the Western media. As an observer at a libel hearing related to that news item, I was present in a Paris courtroom at which hitherto suppressed France 2 footage of the incident was finally screened.
After the commentary pronounced he was dead, we saw the boy lift his head and peep through his fingers. He wasn’t dead at all.
Indeed, the whole thing was a set-up, with Palestinians who were supposedly injured under relentless Israeli fire being loaded on to stretchers and into ambulances—but with not one of them showing any wound or injury at all.
The person who did most to bring the al Durah “Pallywood” lie to public attention, Professor Richard Landes, has written about the Western media’s “lethal war journalism,” which he defines as reporting as news a foreign belligerent’s war propaganda.
As he says, this seemingly unbreakable pattern of media behavior has given birth to one of the most grotesque and inhumane strategies in the history of asymmetrical war: to provoke the enemy to attack in order to maximize your own civilian casualties, thus exploiting the compassion of outsiders to get them to hate your enemy as badly as you do.
Given the staggering scale and lethal outcome of this Western journalistic corruption, it is astonishing that the Jewish world, both in Israel and the Diaspora, doesn’t subject it to any systematic challenge.
The BBC is the most influential news source in the world. In 2004, a senior BBC journalist, Malcolm Balen, completed a 20,000 word report after examining thousands of hours of BBC coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict following complaints of anti-Israel bias. The report has never been published, with the BBC spending almost £333,000 (more than $450,000) in legal costs to conceal it.
Since then, the inflammatory incitement against Israel by the BBC, The New York Times and much of the rest of the mainstream media has got far worse. Yet with some heroic exceptions, this relentless onslaught has been received with near silence by Jewish community leaders.
This media malpractice is not a marginal issue. It is a weapon of war. And it’s time for a proper counterattack.
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.