The BBC has been slipping up recently. No – I don’t mean to refer to unpleasant recollections of Savilegate and McAlpinegate. Let us just leave them conveniently on the Corporation’s CV. Instead I am wondering why it took the BBC so long to get into its full propaganda mode in its reporting of the war between Israel and Hamas. I don’t say there was ever anything distantly approaching even-handedness. You never get that with an ideological pressure group as committed to its own unassailable self-righteousness as the BBC. But at least for the first few days of the war there was the pretence of objectivity.
But true colours will inevitably show themselves and, sure enough, over the weekend the Corporation began to screen its horrific and heart-breaking accounts (with pictures, of course) of the Gazan children slaughtered by the nasty Israelis. What is never explained – because propaganda aims not to explain but to seduce – is the fact that Hamas stores its rockets and high explosives in schools and hospitals, and those leaders who are not so far up the pay scale that they are allotted their personal bunkers are obliged to live in their own houses with their families. And even the most meticulously targeted airstrike cannot distinguish between a terrorist and his three-year-old son when they are sitting in the same front room.
The BBC loves to announce the casualty figures which invariably show that Palestinians have suffered many more deaths and injuries than the Israelis. This is entirely a matter of chance – but a distinction needs to be made. The Israeli forces do not target non-combatants or children. In fact they go to great pains to avoid killing innocent bystanders. By contrast, Hamas deliberately targets innocent women and children in Israel. That is the sole purpose of their rocket attacks. Let me spell it out: what terrorists do is propagate terror. It is simply a matter of good fortune, aided by the Iron Dome defence system, that more Israeli civilians have not been killed. More than 750 rockets have been fired into Israel over the last six days, including long-distance projectiles made in Iran.
Now the conflict is entering a new and much more dangerous phase. The attacks from Gaza may be subdued, but other threats are rapidly emerging. To the east, Jordan is unstable, the crowds demonstrating for the sacking of the government and their own version of the Arab Spring. To the west, post-Mubarak Egypt is not the steadying influence on the region that it was for so long. But the most terrifying scenario is the prospect from the north, from the terrorist group Hezbollah in Lebanon who are even now waiting eagerly for the ragbag rebel Syrian army to take possession of Assad’s copious stores of chemical weapons. There is an extreme likelihood that these would be used against the civilian population in Israel.
I learned of this real and present danger from Sky, by the way, not from the BBC.