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August 15, 2006

BBC Radio's Lessons of the Day

The cause of British disdain for Israel might be a mystery to some Americans. It would be less so, though, if Americans understood the severely anti-Israel media coverage to which many Britons are routinely exposed.

Based on yesterday's BBC Radio podcast—a daily compilation of "program highlights from across BBC Radio News"—this is what people listening to BBC radio on Tuesday would have likely concluded:


1. "More than a thousand Lebanese civilians" have died. About 40 Israeli civilians and 100 Israeli soldiers have been killed. Apparently no Lebanese combatants have been killed during the four weeks of fighting, as BBC made no mention of Hezbollah in its summary of casualty figures.

Here is what listeners didn't learn: The Lebanese Higher Relief Council, a Lebanese governmental organization and the apparent source of BBC's casualty estimate, did not specify that the "over a thousand" Lebanese dead are civilians. Other more neutral sources gave lesser figures. The Associated Press cited the casualty figures as "at least 791 including 689 civilians confirmed dead by Lebanese police, security officials, civil defense and hospital authorities ...." Furthermore, the Israeli army estimates that "over 530" of the dead are Hezbollah fighters, and has listed the names of 180 of those fighters.

2. "Tens of thousands [have] fled their homes in southern Lebanon." Apparently no Israelis have fled their homes, as the BBC radio highlights made no mention of Israeli displaced.

Here is what listeners didn't learn: In Israel, "1 million people fled their homes for shelter in the south," according to a CNN report. The Associated Press estimated the number of Israeli displaced as 500,000.

3. Israel supposedly still occupies Lebanese territory. Hezbollah will not disarm because "the Shebaa farms remain occupied," a Lebanese author said on BBC radio.

Here is what listeners didn't learn: The United Nations has repeatedly made clear that Israel had withdrawn from all Lebanese territory. For example, the U.N. Security Council affirmed on June 18, 2000 that "Israel had withdrawn its forces from Lebanon in accordance with Security Council resolution 425."

Another U.N. document, a May 22, 2000 report by United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, shows the overwhelming evidence that had helped the United Nations reach its conclusion that the area is not Lebanese:

On 15 May 2000, the United Nations received a map, dated 1966, from the Government of Lebanon which reflected the Government's position that these farmlands were located in Lebanon. However, the United Nations is in possession of 10 other maps issued after 1966 by various Lebanese government institutions, including the Ministry of Defence and the army, all of which place the farmlands inside the Syrian Arab Republic. The United Nations has also examined six maps issued by the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic, including three maps since 1966, which place the farmlands inside the Syrian Arab Republic.

Considering the illusory world described by BBC—a world where all Lebanese casualties are civilians, all the internally displaced are Lebanese, and Hezbollah is fighting to liberate occupied Lebanese land—it is little wonder that much of public opinion in the United Kingdom is skewed against Israel.

(For more on BBC's one-sided coverage, click here and here.)

Posted by GI at August 15, 2006 10:14 AM

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