Judging by the amount of correspondence in our inbox on the morning of July 22nd, a great number of people were very dismayed by the peculiar decision made by producers of BBC Radio 4’s ‘Today’ programme to invite Mira Bar Hillel to speak as a supposedly representative voice of “British-Israeli Jews” as she was introduced by presenter Sarah Montague.
Bar Hillel’s outlandish remarks are of course about as worthy of comment as those of the average chap on the street-corner with a sandwich board and – given her previous record – entirely unsurprising. Those who wish to hear them, however, can do see here or here because the BBC evidently considers them worthy of stand-alone promotion.
One has to wonder if – twenty-four hours on and post Bar Hillel’s David Ward groupie performance on Twitter – the ‘Today’ programme team still thinks that was a good idea.
But what is more interesting about this edition of the ‘Today’ programme that the ramblings of Bar Hillel is the introduction to the item given by presenter Sarah Montague to apparently seven million listeners. That can be heard for a limited period of time from around 01:51:00 here.
“It would be impossible not to be affected by the news from Gaza.”
Six million Israelis in air-raid shelters, missile attacks aimed at a nuclear facility and an international airport and terrorists tunneling underground to carry out atrocities in a kibbutz are apparently not news.
“More than 580 Palestinians have now been killed by Israel, many of them women and children. Most of them civilians according to Palestinians. And for everyone killed, hundreds more are injured.”
Yet again we see that no clarification is given regarding the partisan nature of the sources of casualty figures cited – but not independently verified by the BBC. And yet again we observe the now well entrenched BBC policy of failing to distinguish between civilian and combatant casualties with no effort made to inform audiences how many of the dead were terrorists.
“The UN says a hundred thousand have now fled their homes, and this in a space where there is no running water and – because of Israel’s embargo – little food or medical supplies.”
There again is that now oft-promoted BBC falsehood about the shortage of medical supplies in the Gaza Strip being connected to Israeli policies along with another one which misleads listeners by claiming that Israel restricts or bans (who knows where Sarah Montague’s imagination leads her?) the entry of food into the Gaza Strip. The fact is that since the start of Operation Protective Edge on July 8th and until July 21st (the day before this programme was aired), seven hundred and seventy-eight lorry-loads of humanitarian aid (food, medical supplies and other essentials) had entered the Gaza Strip via the Kerem Shalom crossing.
“Israel say [sic] they are only defending themselves; that it is Hamas’ fault for firing rockets into their territory and that it is Hamas who are deliberately putting Palestinian civilians in harm’s way.”
Seeing as BBC teams on the ground have resolutely avoided adequately reporting on Hamas’ use of human shields it is perhaps hardly surprising that Sarah Montague can do nothing better than that to inform listeners of the realities of this conflict and, given her citing of unverified civilian casualty figures, the omission of any real information regarding the fact that Hamas stores and fires missiles in residential areas – and the number of deaths caused by those deliberate practices – is of course particularly significant.
Montague then goes on to cite Israeli casualty figures, failing of course to note that the reason for the lower Israeli death toll is the lengths to which Israel goes to protect its civilians and the stark contrast between its policies and those of Hamas.
“The Israeli death toll is far lower. Twenty have been killed in the past fortnight.”
She closes with a whitewashed portrayal of antisemitic rioting and agitprop.
“Thousands have protested around the world at what they see as Israel’s heavy-handed response.”
The issue of the BBC’s repeated deliberate misrepresentation of the nature and purpose of restrictions on the entry of dual-use goods into the Gaza Strip is becoming a very serious one. The ‘Today’ programme must issue a prompt and public correction to the falsehoods promoted by Sarah Montague concerning food and medicines.
Contact details for ‘Today’: e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter: @BBCR4Today