A recent BBC piece on the decay and squalor of the Gaza Strip nicely illustrates the bizarre bias in so much media coverage of Palestinian issues. Despite reports in Arab and Israeli media suggesting that Egyptian forces are destroying smuggling tunnels into Gaza, and despite Egypt’s continued refusal to open its border with Gaza, the BBC somehow manages yet again to assign blame solely to Israel for everything that is wrong in the Gaza Strip. In the brief report, it’s what isn’t said that matters most:
Basic infrastructure “is struggling to keep pace with a growing population”, the UN Country Team (UNCT) in the occupied Palestinian territory said.
It estimates Gaza’s population will rise from 1.6m to 2.1m by 2020.
Israel imposed a blockade on Gaza after the Islamist movement Hamas seized power in the coastal territory in 2007.
No mention here of the weight of Egypt’s contribution to the decay in Gaza. One doesn’t know whether to blame this pattern of one-sided reporting on ignorance, prejudice, or stupidity. But even a passing glance at the geography would reveal that the Strip is bordered by both countries. Either country could open its frontier. Neither chooses to do so. Yet, over and over again, Israel and Israel alone gets blamed for everything that’s wrong in Gaza.
More broadly, much Palestinian suffering today is caused by Arab rather than Israeli policies. That is true in the Gaza Strip, in Lebanon, Jordan, and of course in Syria. This one-sided emphasis on Israel as the sole cause of the problems of the Palestinians continues to be one of the most prevalent and least sensible features of international reporting on this tragic situation. It’s likely that a good deal of the popular anger in Europe and elsewhere against Israel is the result of this kind of biased and inaccurate reporting.
For political reasons, there are Palestinians who connive at this fundamental misrepresentation of the truth, but that is no reason for journalists from serious news organizations to fail in their most elementary duties.
The problems of Palestinians need to be reported in all their complexity and while Israel should not get a free pass, neither should those Arab governments and political movements who over the last sixty years have done so much to increase the suffering of Palestinians throughout the Middle East.
Be ashamed, BBC, be very ashamed. Incompetence or bias: either way, this kind of coverage falls well below minimum journalistic standards.