BBC: Agenda or just sloppy?

star-BBCGaza near Khan YounisReturn of the ‘scare quotes’

So much to object to in this latest uncredited offering from the BBC. It starts from a misleading headline, Israelis shoot dead ‘mentally ill’ woman near Gaza barrier, and goes downhill from there.

The objections

Israelis Because that is what Israelis do? Other nationalities knit sweaters or play football. Israelis shoot people. Just how offensive this is can be seen by trying to conflate the actions of a few with an entire nation in another context.

If four robbers from Glasgow rob a bank would the BBC write Scots rob bank? British rob bank? If four immigrants from Pakistan (legal or illegal, naturalised or simply resident) committed a crime the BBC notoriously fails to inform us, either ignoring this completely or inserting somewhere in the text, but never in the headline, the misleading label Asian instead. It would never, ever, ever headline such a story Pakistanis commit crime. That would be Waaycism.†

dead Why would anyone shoot a dead woman? This is just sloppy. Surely the verb shoot is sufficient? Does the BBC assume merely wounding might be understood? How often does the BBC report a wounding?

‘mentally ill’ Perhaps she wasn’t, I suppose. The BBC almost certainly didn’t check. The implication is that the Jews are gunning down the weak and unable to protect themselves. How cowardly!

One should ask how a soldier is expected to make a diagnosis of mental illness from presumably more than 50 metres away, even in the extremely unlikely case in which the soldier was competent to make a psychological diagnosis?

Just what she was doing there isn’t explained. Gaza authorities, that means Hamas and her neighbours don’t know.

The story claims (in BBC speak ‘The Israeli military said’) she was part of a group that ignored orders to leave the area so her mental state was presumably irrelevant to her being shot. But being part of a group would suggest her being there was not just the case of her wandering off but some deliberate action.

Could none of the survivors be located and interviewed? Wouldn’t that be competent journalism? Something about this suggests the BBC is recycling an press agency story without providing a credit.

near Was it near or right on the border at the fence? Khan Younis is roughly six kilometres from the barrier fence at its closest point. What is near Khan Younis is clearly a very subjective description.‡

In sadly typical BBC fashion the story ends with a tagged-on paragraph that is irrelevant to the headline. On Friday the Israeli military said one of its aircraft had struck a site in Gaza used to launch rockets into Israel. No casualties were reported. It does, however, explain why Israel refuses to allow anyone from Gaza to approach too closely.

What the IDF spokesman actually said was an IAF aircraft targeted a rocket launching site in the Gaza Strip in order to eliminate an imminent threat against Israel.

Any innocent person’s demise is a tragedy. Yet I wonder if there is anywhere else, outside perhaps the UK, where the death of a single previously unknown person in an insurrection warrants an entire BBC article? The death of ‘only’ one person is a good day in Syria but won’t make the BBC news.


† Racism has expanded as a politically correct term far beyond race.
‡ Click on map graphic for larger image.

About David Guy

B.A./B.C.A. (Communication and Media Arts) University of Wollongong, AUSTRALIA M.A. in Government (Diplomacy and Conflict Studies) Inter Disciplinary Center, Herzliya, ISRAEL Twitter @5MFI
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