The British Media Has Disgraced Itself Over Israel

Kay Burley and Eylon Levy on Sky News

I have not really covered much of the war between Israel and Hamas on The Addition. But the media element of it matters so I wanted to write something, particularly as today, over 100,000 people marched in London to highlight the issue of growing antisemitism in the UK. Antisemtism has been rampant, and very scary, since the Hamas attacks on Israel on October 7th.

The Community Security Trust (CST) monitors antisemitism and protects the UK Jewish community. It said that between October 7th and November 22nd there were at least 1563 antisemitic incidents recorded across the UK. In a blog post, they noted that this is the highest-ever total that has been reported across a forty-seven-day period since they started such work in 1984. It also must be acknowledged that Islamophobic incidents have also risen.

Given this background, you might think that the media might apply a bit of caution in its reporting of Israel and the war in Gaza. No such luck. Major British media institutions have, to put it bluntly, disgraced themselves. The charge sheet is long, but let’s pick a few highlights. On the BBC, Jon Donnison immediately declared that it was “hard to see” who else but the IDF could have struck a hospital in Gaza. International intelligence later said the missile had been fired from within Gaza. More recently, we’ve seen Jeremy Bowen suggest that a cache of weapons uncovered by the IDF in a hospital might just have been used by the site’s security team, not by Hamas terrorists using the site as a civilian base. No matter that a host of terror tunnels and other evidence was also revealed.

Failure of Critical Thinking on Israel

The worst might have been Sky News‘s Kay Burley just the other day. She asked Israeli Government spokesperson Eylon Levy whether the fact that 150 Palestinian prisoners were being released in exchange for 50 Israeli hostages meant that Israel did not value Palestinian life as highly. Levy’s shocked face said it all. However, we probably have to return to the BBC for the absolute depths. Instead of reading Reuters copy correctly and saying Israel was “taking” medical supplies and Arab speakers into the Shifa hospital, an anchor declared that the IDF was “targeting” Arab speakers and medical supplies. Rather different. There was an apology and a correction, but the damage was more than done. The incorrect clip still exists and can be used.

These incidents all showed a total failure in logical, critical thinking. They also revealed a deep underlying bias, a determination to attack and undermine Israel, which is responding to the worst massacre of Jews since the Holocaust.

Away from the awful violence of war, there has been plenty of cowardly language (calling Hamas “militants” not ‘terrorists” etc) and false equivalence. The worst was by Yalda Hakim on Sky News. She spoke as if the prisoners, many of whom are being held on serious offences, and hostages, who are innocent civilians, are in any way similar. Like Levy, it left advisor Mark Regev staggered and angry.

Scrutiny and Shame

While I started The Addition in no small part to scrutinise the media, it brings me no pleasure to attack hard-working journalists. I love and value the BBC, Sky News and a host of other mainstream publications. However, all of the examples I’ve mentioned, and many others I have not, stir a dangerous narrative that provokes anti-Israel sentiment and antisemitism. It puts Jewish lives at risk around the world. The British media has had a shameful few weeks and needs to take a long, hard look at itself.

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