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Letter to BBC'S Richard Sambrook re: Palestine

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David C
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Joined: 12 Jan 2004
Posts: 234
Location: Southampton

Post Post subject: Letter to BBC'S Richard Sambrook re: Palestine Reply with quote

Sent: Sunday, January 18, 2004 10:44 PM
Subject: Palestine

Dear Mr Sambrook,

I would be grateful if you could spend a few minutes reading this email. It concerns the editing of a news programme this morning (Sunday 18th January) on Radio 4.

There was a very moving interview with a Palestinian man whose pregnant wife had been held up at an Israeli checkpoint on her way to hospital. As a result, she subsequently lost both her baby daughters. On the face of it this was a hard hitting report on the appalling consequences of the Israeli occupation and could be described as sympathetic to Palestinians. I lived in both the West Bank and Gaza for 4 years in the 80s and witnessed the daily disruption to Palestinian life of the occupation- disruption to travel, education and business plans- I remember once seeing a truck load of tomatoes that had gone rotten being tipped away by the Palestinian driver because he had been delayed for 3 days. I therefore applauded the broadcast of the Palestinian father interview as a powerful exposure of an unjust repressive measure. However, this excellent piece was preceded by two other related clips which gave it a very different impact. The first concerned a car bomb in Iraq outside the American administrative headquarters killing and injuring largely, Iraqi civilians. We must all have been struck by the senselessness of such a random and destructive event. The second piece was about the recent incident at the Erez border between Israel and Gaza where a female suicide bomber faked illness and then blew herself up killing 4 Israeli soldiers.

The preceding context of the third piece concerning the mother who lost both her babies then takes on a very different emphasis. A listener may well have concluded- well, I think it is reprehensible that the Israelis held up a pregnant woman leading to 2 infant deaths, but they are facing an enemy that uses tactics as despicable as women feigning illness in order to kill so they have little choice but to impose road blocks that will lead, albeit regrettably, to inconvenience and even fatalaties. The juxtaposition of the pregnant woman piece with the woman who blew herself up suggests that prior to suicide bombings such roadblocks were less prevalent. This is not the case. Roadblocks have been systematically used since 1967 to maintain the illegal occupation.

The BBC is endlessly concerned to provide a balanced view and rightly so. But the Palestinian/Israeli conflict is not a conflict between equals in the same way that the fight to overthrow apartheid was not a fight between cultures and ideologies of equal value. Palestinian right to self determination deserves a more favourable coverage than the Israeli occupation. Whatever we think of the style of resistance that the Palestinians choose to deploy, the Israeli occuaption of the West Bank and Gaza Strip and its systematic colonization of huge tracts of these territories is illegal under international law. The wall that the Israelis are constructing effectively annexing further West Bank lands, the salinated water that the children of Gaza now drink while watching Israeli settlers splashing about in their swimming pools, the systematic destruction by the Israelis of the attempts by the Palestinians to further their cause peacefully through political means all contribute to a desperate despair.

The woman who lost her twin babies was trying to drive from her West Bank village to her nearest West Bank town. She was not seeking to cross in to Israel. As such, she was not posing a potential threat to the state of Israel. There can be no justification for her delay. The majority of the roadblocks in the West Bank are set up to protect the illegal settlers entering and leaving their illegal settlements making it extremely difficult for Palestinians to go about their daily business, in this case with tragic consequence.

Yes, a pro Palestinian news piece, but its power was neutered by a pro- Israeli piece of editing. I believe you need a BBC news team based in the West Bank and Gaza rather than one based in West Jerusalem who could access a bank of articulate Palestinian commentators and who could in turn advise bolder editors in London.

Yours sincerely
[Name removed]
David Cromwell
Media Lens
Sat Jan 31, 2004 7:12 pm
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