Romanticising violence on the BBC News website

Politically motivated framing gets BBC amplification.

On October 25th an article by Chris Bell titled “Gaza protest image likened to famous Delacroix painting” appeared on the BBC Trending blog and the ‘Middle East’ page of the BBC News website.

Readers were told that:

“It’s a picture which has spawned thousands of words online.

Captured by photojournalist Mustafa Hassona, a bare-chested Palestinian holding a large flag wields a sling over his head in Gaza on Monday.

It was snapped amid violent protests on a beach close to the border with Israel. Demonstrators burnt tyres and threw stones at Israeli forces, who responded with tear gas and live fire. Gaza’s health ministry said 32 Palestinians were wounded.” [emphasis added]

Readers did not discover until towards the end of the article that “Gaza’s health ministry” is run by the same terror group that organises and facilitates the violent rioting now in its seventh month.

Neither were they informed that in addition to burning tyres and throwing stones, the rioters on that beach on October 22nd engaged in additional activities which – had Bell bothered to mention them – would have helped audiences understand why the use of live fire was necessary.

“On October 22, 2018, the 13th mini-flotilla sailed towards Israel’s naval border. About 20 small boats set sail from the Beit Lahia shore. The mini-flotilla was accompanied by a demonstration on the beach, in which about 5,000 Gazans participated. During the demonstration rioters threw IEDs and hand grenades at IDF forces. Several rioters tried to approach the security fence but returned to the Gaza Strip. The ministry of health in the Gaza Strip reported that about twenty people had been injured in the demonstrations north of Beit Lahia.”

Later on in the article, readers saw more downplaying of the violent nature of the ‘Great Return March’ events:

“Palestinians in Gaza have been protesting weekly along the border with Israel since March. The protests, orchestrated by the territory’s militant Hamas rulers, are held in support of the declared right of Palestinian refugees to return to their ancestral homes in what is now Israel.”

BBC audiences were not informed that the intention of the demand for the so-called ‘right of return’ is the elimination of the Jewish state.

With regard to the photograph itself, readers were told that:

“The image has been shared widely, with many social media users likening it to Eugene Delacroix’s famous painting of the 1830 Paris uprising – Liberty Leading the People.”

While Delacroix’s painting portrayed French protesters rising up against their monarch, the subject of this photograph was not demonstrating against his own corrupt and inept rulers. Bell made no effort to explain to BBC audiences that the Gaza Strip has not been under Israeli control for over thirteen years and so the comparison made by “many social media users” is clearly redundant. Moreover, his narrative framing continued: 

“Where some saw biblical symbolism of a David versus Goliath struggle, others viewed the stylish image as glorification of violence.”

Nevertheless, as we see, the BBC did indeed consider it appropriate to provide amplification to the politically motivated romanticisation of an image of a person participating in violent rioting encouraged, organised and facilitated by a terror group.








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