BBC R4 programme makes hundreds of missiles fired from Gaza vanish

There are BBC reports which relate directly to Israel and there are others in which Israel is not the subject matter, but gets a mention along the way. This concerns one of the latter.

BBC Radio 4 is currently running a series by BBC Special Correspondent Allan Little entitled “Turkey: the New Ottomans“. The second episode of the three-part series was broadcast on August 6th and is titled “North Africa and the Middle East“. 

Turkey the New Ottomans

Obviously, even if a report is not about Israel per se, its material should still meet BBC Editorial Guidelines on accuracy and impartiality.

At 05:48 in the recording above we hear Little say:

“Take Israel. For decades Turkey sought to prove itself as a dependable ally of the West. It was, for example, one of the first countries to recognize the Israeli state.”

Well, that may be true if your definition of “one of the first” squares up with coming chronologically after Austria, Bolivia, Cuba, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Liberia, New Zealand, Paraguay, Romania, Serbia, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, the United States and China.

Little goes on:

“Turkey’s old military-backed governments made Israel a security partner, alienating Turkey’s Muslim neighbours, but under Erdogan that too has changed. He has been ready to defy Israel – even at the cost of damaging his image in the West.”

The broadcast then cuts to a section of a recording of Erdogan’s performance at Davos in 2009 during which he said to Shimon Peres:

“President Peres, you are old, and your voice is loud out of a guilty conscience. […] When it comes to killing, you know very well how to kill. I know well how you hit and kill children on beaches.”

Whilst Little curiously chooses to categorise that outburst as ‘defiance’, many other commentators at the time (including Turkish ones) saw it as a crude and populist diplomatic disaster.

Little continues: [emphasis added]

“After the Israeli bombardment of Gaza in 2008, Erdogan stormed out of a meeting with the Israeli President Shimon Peres at Davos.”

So – according to Little – Israel ‘bombarded’ Gaza in 2008 but the context of that event is apparently considered irrelevant, with Hamas and assorted other terrorist organisations having done nothing at all worth mentioning. Neither the hundreds of missiles fired at Israeli civilians in the weeks (and years) before Operation Cast Lead nor the hundreds more fired during the 2008/9 conflict are deemed worthy of description as “bombardment”? Would not the phrasing “After the Israeli military operation in the Gaza Strip in 2008…” have been more in tune with the standards to which the BBC professes to adhere? 

What a fine example of the way in which the casual use of unnecessarily emotive wording and context-free sloppy journalism etches inaccurate impressions into the public’s memory of events.

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