On September 21st the Guardian published an interview with the BBC’s chief international correspondent Lyse Doucet in which we learn that she is apparently in the process of making a documentary about children in Gaza, whom the Guardian – not unexpectedly of course – wrongly describes as being ‘targeted’ by Israel.
“However, even with this wealth of experience, the BBC’s chief international correspondent admits the targeting of civilians, and in particular children, she has witnessed over the past two years in Syria and Gaza has prompted “an editorial shift in my journalism”, evident in last month’s BBC2 documentary The Children of Syria. Doucet is already working on a follow-up based on her experience of reporting from Gaza during the Israeli onslaught this summer.
“The way the wars of our time are fought, as punishing, sustained attacks on neighbourhoods, towns, cities, means assaults on families and childhood,” Doucet says. “Most places I cover young children are everywhere, in Gaza they are pouring out of every crevice.” [emphasis added]
Clearly Doucet (in addition to holding extremely ahistorical notions about warfare before “our time”) is disinterested in the very significant difference between an attack on a military target intentionally located in an urban area and a deliberate attack on a residential neighbourhood.
“In these crises, they are no longer the kids caught in the crossfire, they are the centre. We saw that in Gaza too. I began to realise there was a story to be told from the ground up. Just do the children.” […]
“Doucet intends to take a similar approach with her documentary on Gaza. “I keep thinking of the children, the families we spent time with there. I don’t get nightmares, but we are going back and following some of the stories.”
She is cagey about saying too much but explains: “We are trying to tell a very old Middle East story in a new way.”
“This will include the impact on both sides, a method established in Children of Syria, which included two heavily politicised boys, one an Alawite in Damascus, another in a refugee camp on the Turkish border.”
So will Doucet finally get round to telling the story (so far ignored by the BBC) of the Israeli children who have lived – and died – under the threat of constant missile attacks by terrorists in the Gaza Strip for the past thirteen years? That remains to be seen.
“Doucet says she believes in being “compassionate, not emotional”, suggesting she would not go so far as Channel 4 News presenter Jon Snow’s anguished online video about the children of Gaza. “Empathy is a good thing. [But viewers] don’t want to see me, or anyone falling apart. It is not about us.” “
The vast volume of BBC coverage of events in the Gaza Strip during July and August – including from Lyse Doucet – actually provided audiences with very little which did not fall into the category of ‘anguished’ and ’emotional’ reporting. One example of that was Doucet’s written report titled “No place to hide for children of war in Gaza and Syria” which appeared on the BBC News website on July 27th.
If this new documentary is not to be merely more of the heart-string-tugging, context-free same and is actually to provide BBC audiences with some insight into why Lyse Doucet sees “childhood […] being destroyed” in the Gaza Strip, then obviously it is going to have to address the root cause of the repeated violence: Islamist terrorism.
Her interest in children means that Doucet could do a lot worse that to begin her research with these names: Wasim Rida Salhia (aged 15), Anas Yusuf Qandil (aged 17) and Obeida Fadhel Muhammad Abu Hweishel (aged 9). Two of those youths appear on the Hamas Ministry of Health’s list of children killed during Operation Protective Edge: a list extensively promoted and quoted by the BBC as readers well know. The youngest boy was also listed on Hamas’ casualty lists, but with a false age. All three of them were acting as auxiliaries for terrorist organisations (including in one case Fatah’s Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade) at the time of their deaths.
Doucet could also tackle in her documentary a topic which the BBC has so far studiously avoided: the summer camps run by internationally designated terrorist organisations for the children of the Gaza Strip. And of course the issue of the contribution made by Hamas children’s TV programmes to the phenomenon of “childhood […] being destroyed” is worthy of a documentary in itself.
Somehow, though, one doubts that any of those subjects are on Lyse Doucet’s “compassionate” agenda.