While horrific for both Israelis and the people of Gaza the war has, to an extent, arrived on Britain’s streets in the shape of violence at anti-Israel protests, swastikas daubed on Jewish homes and Jews being physically attacked.
The atmosphere in this country is febrile as I sensed when I went to cover the anti-Israel protest outside Israel’s London embassy as far back as July 11th. Placards held by protesters mocked the Holocaust and Jews. As I was leaving someone grabbed me and screamed “A Zionist!” before I managed to free myself and race for the tube station.
The work place has been no sanctuary with British Jews and Israelis questioned aggressively about Israel’s actions in Gaza and people who seemed to have no apparent interest in Middle East politics are suddenly posting anti-Israel comments and cartoons on Facebook.
Such hostility wasn’t at these heights during Israel’s past operations against Hamas in Gaza so what’s the difference? The media footage is now far more raw and the media rhetoric far more slanted and emotional against Israel.
Heartbreaking scenes of dead and injured Palestinian children are ubiquitous on Britain’s nightly news shows.
But as BBCWatch’s Hadar Sela asked on BBC Radio 5 Live recently “Would the BBC show blood on the floor of a morgue in the UK? I’m not sure they would.” She’s right. They wouldn’t.
We weren’t shown the aftermath of British operations in Iraq and Afghanistan but for this current conflict we are regularly being shown dead and bloodied Palestinian children. Why?
The only explanation can be to show up Israel as the devil incarnate. Emily Maitlis interrogated Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev on BBC Newsnight last week about the missile that hit the UN’s school at Beit Hanoun killing 15 civilians sheltering there.
Despite Regev’s protestations that an investigation should be carried out Maitlis declared “You hit it. You killed them”. Jon Snow’s Channel 4 News also reported that it was an Israeli shell. But now, some five days later, we know different. It wasn’t an Israeli shell but more likely an errant Hamas mortar that killed their own.
Channel 4 gave us the series The Promise, the final line spoken by a British mandate soldier being:
“After Bergen Belsen, I thought that the Jews deserved a state, but now I’m not so sure…. Their precious state has been born in violence and cruelty to its neighbours, and I’m not sure I want it to prosper.”
The theme of this fictional series has been carried over into Channel 4 News reporting with Israel still being portrayed as cruel to its neighbours.
Last week Channel 4 News twice showed the same unverified footage of an unarmed Palestinian man in the process of being shot by an Israeli sniper. Inexplicably they stopped the footage just before the final and fatal shot is fired. The footage seemed highly edited and when watched in full online there is no blood on the body of the dead man. Did Jon Snow’s Channel 4 News broadcast a hoax? It could well have done.
Jon Snow ended the week with an unprecedented three minute soliloquy to camera. It has had 48,000 shares on Facebook so far. He said:
“In a densely populated area if you decide to throw missiles, shells and the rest then undoubtedly you will kill children…Israel, courtesy of American finance, has invented a brilliant shield that is keeping absolutely everything out.”
Snow should tell that to the families of the four Israeli civilians killed by a Hamas mortar tonight.
Snow concluded by saying that that “If our reporting is worth anything, together we can make a difference.”
Yet, it’s the misreporting that’s the problem. It plays into the hands of Hamas and only encourages their bloodlust. For Hamas the land they seek, Israel, is more important than the people they claim to represent. That’s why they don’t build protective shelters for their people. Snow is doing Hamas’ propaganda work for them and encouraging them to reject ceasefires as they did early on when far fewer had perished on both sides.
It would be comforting to think Snow was reporting out of real concern for Palestinian children. If that was true then why didn’t he report that up to 160 Palestinian children may have died while being forced to dig Hamas’s attack tunnels?
Jon Snow is an ever present on the anti-Israel circuit when not reading the news. At LSE last April he chaired a panel of the anti-Israel polemicists Ilan Pappe, Karma Nabulsi, Rosemary Hollis and The Promise writer Peter Kosminsky. During the event Snow referred to America’s “Jewish lobby” and afterwards became very aggressive while I pressed him over his use of this phrase.
The news is too important left to those who express a strong ideological bent. It can be deadly also. Witness Mohammed Merah who murdered Jews outside a Jewish school in Toulouse after reportedly being spurred on by footage similar to Snow’s.
Maybe Snow sees this this war as his final chance to get across his message that the Israeli army are a bunch of child killers before following Jeremy Paxman into a well-earned retirement.
Let’s hope so, for all our sakes.