BBC WS radio, a ‘Jerusalem suicide bombing’ and an omission

A rare interview with an Israeli victim of terrorism avoids context.

It is not often that BBC audiences get to hear the first-hand experiences of an Israeli victim of Palestinian terrorism but the synopsis to an interview aired in the October 26th edition of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘The Cultural Frontline’ appeared to herald an exception to that rule.

“It’s a powerful story about love, family and living with the past. The Israeli novelist Zeruya Shalev talks to Tina about her latest book Pain, a novel shaped by her experience of being seriously injured in a Jerusalem suicide bombing.”

Presenter Tina Daheley introduced her interviewee (from 01:30 here), telling listeners that:

“Her writing’s informed by both her experience and pain. Zeruya was seriously injured in 2004 in a suicide bombing in Jerusalem. […] I spoke to Zeruya about her novel and how her own history, as well as the history of her country, informs her work.”

In response to a question Shalev told listeners (from 3:15):

“I was injured in a terror attack in Jerusalem one morning fourteen years ago […] a bus full of people exploded just next to me…”

Readers may have noticed that despite those repeated references to a “suicide bombing” central to the item’s content, no information was provided concerning the identity of the perpetrator of that attack – a Palestinian policeman – in which 11 civilians were murdered and over 50 injured.

In fact the sole mention of the word Palestinians came in Shalev’s description of the fictional characters in her book.

“…this Israeli family that I was writing about is not busy with politics. They don’t blame the suicide bomber, they don’t blame the Palestinians, they don’t blame the Israeli prime minister for the situation. They only blame themselves.”

In other words, the BBC managed to conduct a rare interview with an Israeli victim of Palestinian terrorism about a novel which includes an Israeli character injured in a terror attack while avoiding the relevant context of the identity of the perpetrators of such attacks.

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