Thursday, 9 July 2015

Lyse Doucet - Children of the Gaza War

I missed this programme last night, so will watch it now and (as live) blog it.

What am I expecting? Well as this is a BBC production and the BBC is 'unbiased by Charter', I am expecting a totally unbiased examination of the subject. Let's see...

We open on destroyed buildings and then a scene in 'Gaza City, July 2014' of a Palestinian ambulance being apparently attacked whilst being filmed. The screen goes black and then we see a smiling Palestinian boy who suddenly looks sad, then two girls as the doleful tones of the BBC's Chief International Correspondent Lyse Doucet are heard, what will she have to say? "More than 500 children were killed last year in a war between Israel and Gaza". I'd rather she had said Israel and Hamas but let's leave that aside.

"I was in Gaza then" - shots of a window being blown out of a building. 

Actually I can't keep this level of reporting and comment up, I do have to do some work today, so I'll back off a bit and just comment when I think I need to.

How sweet Lyse Doucet films a young Israeli girl saying "It's either us or them, so obviously it's them", I wonder if she'll show any Palestinian children expressing similar sentiments or leave this image in the viewers mind?

Cut to a Palestinian child reciting a poem... saying "Israel is massacring us" ... hold on that's what the subtitles say but let's listen again to the Arabic, now my Arabic is pretty poor but even I know that the Arabic for Israelis is something like Isr'ili whilst the Arabic for Jews is similar to Yahud. That boy definitely said Yahuda, maybe a mistake or is Lyse Doucet trying to make out that the Palestinians aren't saying Jews but Israelis? Maybe it's a one-off....

A overhead of the usual area of Gaza that is filmed by the BBC, Channel 4 etc., I suppose that luxury hotels, bustling full markets and beaches would give the British public the wrong idea. 

Some boys playing football, one tells a story about the beach. I can see where this is heading...The old canard about the Israelis deliberately killing some boys on a beach. A few minutes on Google would find the truth behind this story but this is a BBC Lyse Doucet production so I suppose there just wasn't time for any balancing narrative. 

More interviews and sad voices in Gaza. 

Lyse Doucet goes to Sderot, how will she report from here? Sderot has a lot of bomb shelters, indeed they do. "Kassam rockets are crude", indeed they are but does that mean that Israel shouldn't respond to the firing of thousands at Israeli civilians? 

Whilst the 12 year-old Israeli boy talks about the rockets that have hit near his house and the car that was destroyed the BBC show some (presumably home video) of the damaged car, the fact that the man looking into the car is smiling I am sure had no bearing on the BBC's decision to show this clip.

Lyse Doucet makes much of the fact that the Israeli children have to be no more than 14 seconds away from a bomb shelter. We leave the Israeli children playing on nice bikes, not too far away from a bomb shelter that Lyse Doucet helpfully points out has a TV in it and the the large collection of CDs. We return to Gaza, with Lyse Doucet riding through a destroyed area, I wonder if it is the same one as before.Plenty of shots of massive destruction for the viewer to compare with the minor issues in Israel.

"They even shell the schools with children inside"And Lyse Doucet reports on the shelling of a school. Lyse Doucet reports what the Israelis say but I think it's clear what she believes. This part of the report is quite a long one and is designed to engender sympathy with the Palestinians and hatred for the Israelis. The girl's mother is in an Israeli hospital, Lyse Doucet explains that by saying that it is "better equipped". 

We cut back to Israel, where a blond girl is choosing clothes to put into a suitcase. She has "too much stuff" and can "escape the war zone". Apparently they can go to the North of Israel which is safe, not if Hezbollah carry out their declared aim of killing all Jews but I suppose that's an irrelevant detail for Lyse Doucet. 

Lyse Doucet does mention "a tunnel"under an Israeli town and that destroying these tunnels becomes a priority for the Israelis. A few minutes there in a nice room, lots of pink and cheerfulness and then it's back to Gaza and a shot through a hole in a wall of a blue chair and a green bottle in an otherwise drab surrounding. 

"In Gaza there is no place to hide" This is interesting Lyse Doucet says that Hamas fires rockets from within civilian areas, she doesn't mention that this is against the Geneva Conventions but I suppose she hasn't time to report everything and editorial decisions have to be made.Lyse Doucet reports an Israeli claim but then reports the effect on the children. The poor boy gets upset and understandably so. 

The film now shows small Palestinian children holding weapons but the tone is one of understanding why they should do this. In case the British public has forgotten we get more shots of the same area of Gaza. 

We're back in Israel so there's colour and a car on a clean road. we're back in Sderot and there's green grass and a pink bicycle and all is normal and western. Anyone would think that Lyse Doucet was trying to give as an impression of how different life is on either side of the border. A few holes in the wall caused by shrapnel, what are these Israelis worried about? 

More shots of colourful Israeli home, children drinking and reading in comfort. I wonder what the next shot will be, for contrast? I was wrong it's of the result of a Hamas rocket attack on Israel, a four Israeli year-old boy was killed. But Lyse Doucet puts his death into context - he's the only Israeli child to die in this war, she's already told us about the deaths of many Palestinian children, it doesn't need to be repeated that would be too unsubtle. 

Some more from the Israeli mother and how the death of this one child has affected her. 

A truce is called because the Israeli child was killed, and Lyse Doucet reminds us that over 500 Palestinian children were killed (I guess is did need to be repeated, subtlety is not Lyse Doucet's strong point), the inference we are meant to draw is clear, for the Israelis one Jewish child is more important that 500 Palestinian ones.

More shots of Lyse Doucet driving through that area of Gaza with a kindly sad face. "More than 2,000 lives had been lost". She reports the Israeli and Palestinian claims and then something interesting:
"... didn't win the concessions Gazans wanted: an end to Israel's blockade, an opening of their borders with Israel and Egypt"

If Gaza has a border with Egypt then the Israeli land blockade would be useless as Egypt could just open its border with Gaza. So does this mean that Egypt is also blockading Gaza?  Hold that thought as I'll be posting an article I read a few weeks back but neglected to post at the time. It has relevance to both this Lyse Doucet programme and a tweet made by Channel4's Jon Snow yesterday.

Now we have some Palestinians talking, again with subtitles. Again a boy talks and says Yahud but the subtitle says Israel. That's twice now... Also the claim is that "... we know Israel wants to wipe out Gaza", a claim that is left hanging. It's not true but why let the facts ruin an anti-Israel claim? If Israel wanted to wipe out Gaza it could do so in about a month of non-stop bombing, Israel doesn't want to destroy Gaza but how should it respond to Hamas firing thousands of rockets at Israel? I wonder if Lyse Doucet will ponder that question.

Another claim from a Palestinian child is left hanging "They don't want us to grow up and kill them so they kill us when we are young". Another claim left as fact? Not even "Of course the Isrealis deny this"?

More images of Gaza and then it's back to Israel where their problems are reported but shown as not as dire in situation as in Gaza. More shots of colourful Israel. 

Back to the destruction in Gaza. A boy carrying a mattress and very mood music! The Palestinian family also move home but their home is in ruins not like the Israeli family's home. This is pretty obvious stuff from Lyse Doucet.... 

Palestinian children vowing revenge and then it's off to a Hamas children's military camp, its existence having been explained/excused by the actions of the Israelis. I wonder if Hamas held such camps before 2014? Before 2007? 

More video from the Hamas training camp. We get a subtitled translation of a speech "We're going to hit the enemy and God will help us"

A happy Gazan family reunites, money is the worry; I wonder if the family would have money if Hamas spent international aid on its [people rather than weapons, presumably Lyse Doucet will ponder that... she doesn't.

A contrast  between a Palestinian and an Israeli school at peace.

More from the Palestinian boy who lost his cousin/brother on the beach. Lots of him talking about what happened and sad images of his face. The Israeli claims were reported once, earlier, Lyse Doucet doesn't have to again and if she doesn't have to...

We see an undamaged market in Gaza but the fear is "another war". How or why one would start is not explored. Presumably because it will only start, in the BBC's mind, when Israel reacts to more Palestinian aggression. 

Palestinian children return to their home "hoping to fond some of their belongings". Please not a Damian teddy bear moment, not even Lyse Doucet would be that obvious.... \A sandal is mentioned but not seen, Some more shots of distraught Palestinian children in a destroyed building.

Now this is interesting, a grandfather remembers when there was an open border with Israel, contact and even friendship. Will Lyse Doucet say why this situation changed? No need, the grandfather does it for her "But our enemy is a criminal. They won't keep quiet and leave us be". Presumably Lyse Doucet will remind her audience that Israel's attack on Hamas in Gaza came only after thousands of rockets were fired at Israel, Jewish soldiers were killed and a Hamas tunnel into Israel was used for a terrorist attack.... No of course not.

The last words from that grandfather are odd: "The children's memories will not allow them to live in peace with Israel" are what the subtitles say, but I don't hear Isr'ili but neither do I hear Yahud, can anyone translate this line properly for me?

More mournful music and a child's voice again with subtitles "I hope God kills the Israelis" Except the girl clearly says Yahud... That's three times and so I invoke the Goldfinger convention: 'Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, the third time is enemy action'. What is Lyse Doucet and the BBC trying to do here, a Palestinian on three separate occasions (maybe four) says the Arabic for Jew but the subtitle says Israeli(s). Lyse Doucet and the BBC are trying to convince the British public that this isn't about hatred of Jews but just about Israel, maybe we should look at the Hamas Charter since they are the people who run Gaza and educate the children:

From the Introduction:
For our struggle against the Jews is extremely wide-ranging and grave, so much so that it will need all the loyal efforts we can wield, to be followed by further steps and reinforced by successive battalions from the multifarious Arab and Islamic world, until the enemies are defeated and Allah’s victory prevails
From Part One, Article Seven:

...the Hamas has been looking forward to implement Allah’s promise whatever time it might take. The prophet, prayer and peace be upon him, said: The time will not come until Muslims will fight the Jews (and kill them); until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry: O Muslim! there is a Jew hiding behind me, come on and kill him! This will not apply to the Gharqad, which is a Jewish tree (cited by Bukhari and Muslim).
 From  Part Three, Article 15:
When our enemies usurp some Islamic lands, Jihad becomes a duty binding on all Muslims. In order to face the usurpation of Palestine by the Jews, we have no escape from raising the banner of Jihad.
 From Part Three, Article 20:
The Nazism of the Jews does not skip women and children, it scares everyone. They make war against people’s livelihood, plunder their moneys and threaten their honor. In their horrible actions they mistreat people like the most horrendous war criminals. Exiling people from their country is another way of killing them. As we face this misconduct, we have no escape from establishing social solidarity among the people, from confronting the enemy as one solid body, so that if one organ is hurt the rest of the body will respond with alertness and fervor.
 From Part Four, Article 28:
We cannot fail to remind every Muslim that when the Jews occupied Holy Jerusalem in 1967 and stood at the doorstep of the Blessed Aqsa Mosque, they shouted with joy: “Muhammad is dead, he left daughters behind.” Israel, by virtue of its being Jewish and of having a Jewish population, defies Islam and the Muslims. “Let the eyes of the cowards not fall asleep.”
 From Part Four, Artcle 32:
Within the circle of the conflict with world Zionism, the Hamas regards itself the spearhead and the avant-garde. It joins its efforts to all those who are active on the Palestinian scene, but more steps need to be taken by the Arab and Islamic peoples and Islamic associations throughout the Arab and Islamic world in order to make possible the next round with the Jews, the merchants of war. “We have cast among them enmity and hatred till the day of Resurrection. As often as they light a fire for war, Allah extinguishes it. Their effort is for corruption in the land, and Allah loves not corrupters.” Sura V (Al-Ma’idah—the Table spread), verse 64.

Hamas's war is not Israel but with Jews; it's in their Charter, it's in their words in Arabic and it's in their educational system. The children saying Yahud don't mean Israel, they mean Jews. That might offend Lyse Doucet who might prefer to believe that it's a mistake, if she even checked the translation provided to her but that's a fact.

The girl continues "When we grow up we're going to kill them. May God kill all of them, every last one." Sad music plays... Remember the words of Hezbollah's Hassan Nazrallah "If they (Jews) all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide." This is about Jew hatred not Israel.

Now we see two Israeli children looking at the destruction in Gaza, they are accompanied by Lyse Doucet. Will they promise to kill all Palestinians? What will Lyse Doucet get them to say to finish the programme with something as shocking as Palestinian children saying that they "hope God kills the Jews"?

Lyse Doucet talks to the Jewish children about "girls and boys on the other side who were also scared". I note that she didn't have a similar conversation with the Palestinian children, tricky when they "hope God kills the Jews"? 

The little Israeli girl says that "They are the homes of people that want to kill us", well that's true, including children who "hope God kills the Jews". And we finish with her saying "It's either us or them., So obviously it's them". The camera lingers on a shy smile from the girl, will that image and words satisfy Lyse Doucet? 

Lyse Doucet talks to camera and talks about the increase in Israeli border security and a "wall of hostility, of suspicion and fear". Nice use of the word wall to make people think of the Israeli security wall on the west side of the Jordan river. No examination as to why the Israelis had to increase security, maybe because Hamas not only spoke about killing all Jews, they tried to. Lyse Doucet fears for the future...

There's more, and we're back with on of the Palestinian boys. A boy that has changed his mind and no longer wants to be a fighter. He wants to "drive them out" by other means, maybe by making a documentary with the BBC's Lyse Doucet,m for an hour of anti-Israel images is worth more than one boy and an AK47. No he wants to surprise them with his education and inventions.Lyse Doucet asks him if he wants the war to come back, he doesn't. 

We now see a Hamas flag and the makeshift graveyard. We contrast to the bright colours of Israel and the words from Lyse Doucet that "no rockets have landed in the kibbutz since the ceasefire", have they landed at any other ones Ms Doucet? 

Some images of the Israeli side of the border with Lyse Doucet looking sad at the acceptance by the little girl of war as a reality. She is much happier at the new mother's hopes of peace. We have a barmitvah in Israel, he's now a man which contrasts with the BBC's reporting of the deaths of Palestinians in Gaza where 20+ year-olds are reported as children. 

Now we contrast the barmitzvah's glitz and modernity with the Palestinian children playing in a dusty street. Lyse Doucet thinks that the children grow up too soon but leaves us with a crying Palestinian mother and her children. 

Apparently another war is coming, and there have been three in six years already but nest not tell the British public who started these wars Lyse Doucet? 

Another reference or more to "the beach", Lyse Doucet isn't going to let the viewer forget that part of her narrative. 

The piece ends and we get some BBC contextual information. First that both sides were found responsible for war crimes by a UN Inquiry. The second one I will quote in full:
"In May and June there were more rounds of rockets fired from Gaza and Israeli airstrikes". 
 I would say that would be better worded:

"In May and June there were more rounds of rockets fired from Gaza leading to retaliatory Israeli airstrikes". 

That's the end of the programme and my feelings are pretty much that Lyse Doucet presented just what I expected she would. A pretence of impartiality and even-handedness but in reality the programme was designed to raise sympathy and support for the Palestinians of Gaza and to increase anti-Israel feelings. But above all, what struck me was the way that at least three times the subtitles said Israel or Israelis  when the words said Jews has really shocked me. The Palestinian children said that they "hope God kills the Jews". It looks like I will have to raise yet another complaint with the BBC...

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