BBC pictorial feature on ‘suffering’

Here is another BBC News Online photo feature, promoted on the BBC Middle East homepage on November 20th 2012 as “In pictures: Attacks cause suffering”. 

Out of a total of nine pictures, four depict the Gaza Strip, one shows Hebron in the PA controlled territories and four were taken in Israel.

Of the four images from Gaza, two show damaged houses – both with accompanying children. One shows a man supposedly carrying his salvaged belongings from an unseen damaged house whilst children look on and the fourth is an image of the sky, with what are described as smoke trails from an Israeli UAV. All three of the photos depicting the effects of damage to houses are clearly captioned as being the result of Israeli air strikes and one of the houses is attributed to specific family, thus personalising the message. No Hamas personnel or members of other armed terrorist groups appear in any of the photos. 

The photo from Hebron shows a disturbance, with no context whatsoever being given regarding the man the caption describes as having been shot by the IDF. 

The four pictures taken in Israel all feature soldiers. Only two of them actually have anything to do with ‘suffering’ – the others are totally unconnected to the stated subject matter. Of the two pictures showing rocket attacks, no information is given regarding the origins of the rocket in the second photograph of damage to a house in Be’er Sheva and in the image of the soldier carrying a child, the perpetrators are of course referred to as ‘militants’. 

Suffering – the declared theme of this slide-show – is of course a subjective concept and one that cannot and should not be quantified.

However, the viewer of these pictures is inevitably left with an impression of Israel as a predominantly military society and Gaza as a place inhabited solely by civilians. Numerically, the portrayals of suffering on one side exceed those of the other. Interestingly too, a theme of linkage between religion and military operations is also introduced on one side only, as it also was in the previous slide show discussed, only one day previously. 

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