Vanished – How the BBC disappears the news By William Bowles

By William Bowles
featured writer
Dandelion Salad
20 November 2008

This from GazaFriends on the kidnapping of 15 Palestinian fishermen and 3 foreign nationals in international waters by the Israeli navy:

20 November, 2008 — “Darlene Wallach is in a new prison in Ramle, a men’s prison, but she’s in a section reserved for illegal immigrants.

“She wanted to pass on this information, “We were fishing about 7 miles off the shores of Gaza. The Israeli soldiers came on board the three boats via four Zodiacs. The frogmen came up and over each boat. They used a taser on Vik while he was still on the boat, then tried to push him backwards onto a sharp piece of wood. He jumped into the sea to avoid being hurt more than he already was and was in the water for quite a while.

“Then they came for me and forced me into the Zodiac at the point of a gun. They said, “You are in Israeli territory” even though is was obvious that all three boats were in Palestinian territory. They kidnapped me and Andrew and Vik and all of the Palestinian fishermen.”

“Today two women from immigration were there to see Darlene. They were very rude. Until just a few minutes ago, Darlene was refused a change of clothes and a mobile, but, thanks to Lubna and a nice woman at the prison, she now has both.

“The authorities are saying they will refuse to send Darlene to London and want to send her back to the United States. The judge said she would make a decision today so Darlene is waiting to hear the ruling. She still does not have a passport.

“She sounded fine, relieved to finally be able to talk to someone outside Israel. If you know ANY media who would like to interview her, please let me know and I will pass on Darlene’s phone number to them. This story is vitally important to get out to the public.””

A couple of days ago I posted an earlier piece from GazaFriends on the kidnapping of 15 Palestinian fishermen and three foreign nationals in international waters by the Israeli navy.

I forwarded the GazaFriends press release (and the one above) to Channel 4 News in the (vain) hope that they’d pick up the story but so far to no avail.

You’ll look in vain to find this story in the corporate/state-run media, but then this is the norm when it comes to the actions of Israel unless it’s in response to a Palestinian ‘terrorist’.

In an earlier piece I referred to a BBC Website story on the abuse Palestinians are subjected to by the Israeli Occupation Army (IOA) and the skepticism of the BBC reporter concerning the story (see ‘Finding the words to say it’) and the fact that the reporter, Tim Franks, had commented, “…we have no clue as to when or where this video was shot and it is impossible to know just how frequently such incidents occur”, prompted me to look through another excellent source of news on Palestine, ‘VTJP Palestine/Israel NewsLinks’, an almost daily digest of stories.

Here are just a few headlines from the 19 November issue:

Israeli army stands by while settlers attack in Burin
International Solidarity Movement 11/19/2008

Israeli military continues rampage in the Taqou’ village
International Middle East Media Center News 11/19/2008

Israeli forces hold dozens of youths in raid south of Bethlehem
Ma’an News Agency 11/19/2008

Israeli military detains four residents from Nablus City
International Middle East Media Center News 11/19/2008

14 Palestinians seized by Israeli forces in West Bank raids
Ma’an News Agency 11/19/2008

Another Palestinian family expelled from their home in East Jerusalem
Press release from Luisa Morgantini, Vice-President of the European Parliament, International Solidarity Movement 11/19/2008

Five seized at East Jerusalem house demolition protest
Ma’an News Agency 11/19/2008

Israeli authorities demolish Sheikh Jarrah protest tent
Ma’an News Agency 11/19/2008

IOA demolishes sit-in tent pitched by owners of usurped home
Palestinian Information Center 11/19/2008

The above are just one day’s stories collected by a single individual that illustrate the daily abuses, shootings, arrests and harassment that Palestinian citizens go through on (what’s left of) their land. More ‘officially’ this week’s Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) reports the following events over the past seven days:

  • IOF killed 4 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.
  • 6 Palestinians, including a child, were wounded by the IOF gunfire in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
  • IOF launched mock air raids against the Gaza Strip.
  • IOF conducted 30 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank, and one into the Gaza Strip.
  • IOF arrested 44 Palestinian civilians, including 2 children, in the West Bank.
  • IOF arrested 15 Palestinian fishermen and 3 international solidarity activist while sailing opposite to the Gaza Strip.
  • IOF have continued to impose a total siege on the OPT and have isolated the Gaza Strip from the outside world.
  • The Gaza Strip is suffering from a serious humanitarian crisis.
  • IOF troops positioned at military checkpoints in the West Bank arrested 4 Palestinian civilians, including 3 children.
  • IOF have continued to construct the Annexation Wall inside the West Bank.
  • IOF confiscated 22 donums[1] of agricultural land in the south of Hebron.
  • IOF have continued to take measures aiming at the Judaization of Jerusalem.
  • IOF demolished 2 houses and confiscated a mobile home in Jerusalem.
  • IOF have continued to Judaize Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood for the sake of extremist Jewish groups.
  • IOF have continued settlement activities in the West Bank and Israeli settlers have continued to attack Palestinian civilians and property.

Thus Franks’ statement that “it is impossible to know just how frequently such incidents occur” is to put it bluntly, a lie. There is simply no excuse for a real journalist who is genuinely interested in reporting events in the Occupied Territories, for not availing him or herself of the literally thousands of such incidents that have occurred over the past year.

Family’s eviction draws global outrage
Jonathan Cook, The National, International Solidarity Movement 11/19/2008
The middle-of-the-night eviction last week of an elderly Palestinian couple from their home in East Jerusalem to make way for Jewish settlers is a demonstration of Israeli intent towards a future peace deal with the Palestinians. Mohammed and Fawziya Khurd are now on the street, living in a tent, after Israeli police enforced a court order issued in July to expel them. The couple have been living in the same property in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood since the mid-1950s, when East Jerusalem was under Jordanian control. The United Nations allotted them the land after they were expelled from their homes in territory that was seized by Israel during the 1948 war. Since East Jerusalem’s occupation by Israel in 1967, however, Jewish settler groups have been waging a relentless…

So why does the BBC continue to ignore the reality on the ground? And, when the BBC does stoop to present a story on Israeli treatment of Palestinians, it mangles them as in the following BBC report with an innocuous title:

“Israel police remove protest tent”

It goes on:

“Jewish groups have claimed ownership of the site as part of efforts to settle the Israeli-occupied east of the city,” and then manages to mangle even this, “But this move is not recognised by most of the international community, which regards East Jerusalem as occupied, along with the West Bank, since the 1967 Israeli-Arab war.”

The Devil lives in the details

Not recognized? Israel’s actions are illegal under international law including the continued occupation of Jerusalem following the 1967 war, so it’s not an issue of whether the ‘international community’ recognizes Israel’s actions or not. Note also that the BBC story does not mention that the Kurds had already been evicted from their land in 1948.

A crime is not a crime because the BBC didn’t know when it took place and it’s also not a crime because the BBC doesn’t know how often such crimes occur.

The devil lives in the details when the BBC reports on the actions of the Israeli occupiers. Illegal becomes ‘not recognized’, and the illegal occupation of land gets transformed by the BBC into “efforts to settle the Israeli-occupied east of the city”. By changing a single word, the entire meaning of the event is trivialized thus the BBC, bound by a Charter to cover events in a ‘balanced’ and ‘impartial’ way, gets away with evading, ignoring, distorting and trivializing the daily tragedies of ordinary Palestinians.


Finding the words to say it By William Bowles

Who Will Stop The Settlers? By Jonathan Cook

Mosaic News – 11/18/08: World News from the Middle East

Gaza Strip (Documentary; 2002)

Occupation 101 (video; watch while available; over 18 only)