Monday, October 16, 2006

The BBC and Israel

I must admit that until recently I have floated along with the assumption that the BBC was serious about its commitment to at least strive for impartiality and would dismiss any failings as individual cases. My first disillusionment came in the run-up to the Iraq War where the attempt to understand what was going on was inadequate and the resultant coverage thin and narrow-minded. The recent war in Lebanon disillusioned me completely. Though mostly a matter of tone and exclusion, the effect was more or less that of the traditional Left for whom the parts are fixed in stone: the Lebanese/Palestinians are the poor victims; the Israelis the bully on the park.

It seems that there has existed a report since 2004 on the BBC's coverage of the Middle East: the Balen Report. It is believed to be highly critical of the corporation's anti-Israel bias, but it is impossible to say with any certainty. A lawyer, Steven Sugar, has tried to get access to it under the Freedom of Information Act, but the BBC has fought the case through two courts, and because it lost the second case, is about to fight it through a third.

I really really hope it loses.

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