Would the BBC entertain the idea of implying that the United Kingdom, France or Sweden are not proper democracies because Christian religious holidays are also national holidays in those countries? Would it have anything at all to say about the status of Eid al Fitr or Eid al Adha as national holidays in Egypt, Qatar or Morocco?
Obviously not, so consider this line (which, like much of the rest of the piece, appears to have been taken from an AP article by Tia Goldenberg) from an October 4th report titled “Jerusalem court rejects Israel nationality petition” which appeared on the Middle East page of the BBC News website:
“Jewish religious holidays are also national holidays in Israel.”
That, of course, is an undisputed fact and indeed one would not expect otherwise in the world’s only Jewish state, just as one would not expect Christian festivals not to be national holidays in predominantly Christian countries or Islamic festivals not to be national holidays in mainly Muslim states.
But the significance of the use of that statement comes in the context of the article as a whole, which seeks to present a recent Supreme Court decision as a sign of Israel’s undemocratic and discriminatory nature – featuring selected quotes from a predictably ‘the sky is falling’ style editorial which appeared in Ha’aretz in order to do so.
The BBC’s notably superficial and uninformative article will of course mean nothing to the vast majority of visitors to the BBC website. Nevertheless, it presents an apparently not-to-be-missed opportunity to present Israel as some unenlightened, religiously motivated, discriminatory backwater – just as long as one avoids providing audiences with the full context of the long debate surrounding this issue and the details of the reasoning behind the court’s decision. And that is precisely what the BBC has done.