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The BBC’s sophisticated distortion of Palestinian protest and Israeli power


I was interviewed for the documentary 'One Day in Gaza'. It adopts Israel's narrative, portraying Palestinian victims as aggressors

A Palestinian protester runs past barbed wire near the Gaza fence

Ahmed Abu Artema writes in Middle East Eye:

The BBC recently aired a documentary titled One Day in Gaza, which concentrated on the terrible events of 14 May 2018, during the Great March of Return.

Although more than 60 unarmed demonstrators were shot dead by Israeli army snipers that day and more than 2,000 injured, the documentary clearly and demonstrably leans towards the Israeli version of events, showing blatant disregard for the experiences and testimonies of the thousands of Palestinians in Gaza who participated that day.

To my undying regret, I took part in this programme – and for this reason, I feel I have a right to make clear exactly how and where the narrative of that day was twisted in the hands of those very skilful at rewriting Palestinian history.

An act of incitement

I do not write this lightly. To justify – even in a nuanced way that appears to give voice to both sides of events – the aggressor’s version of the story is an act of incitement. This is not about whether the film reflects voices and stories on both sides. It’s about how those stories are being told. In other words, it is the framing and the angle selected to tell that story.

The last 70 years of this conflict have shown the world very clearly that if Israel feels it can get away with one massacre, it will do it again. This is how the culture of impunity has been created. It is done with words and images. In this case, the BBC has been the loudspeaker, whether consciously or not.

The narrative of that terrible day, as portrayed in this documentary, is very clear, and largely uncontested by witnesses on both sides: A non-violent, civilian protest march was hijacked by Hamas and other groups that drove people to the fence – in some cases against their will – to be used as cannon fodder against a phalanx of Israeli snipers whose mission was to protect villagers, some living just a few hundred metres away.

Israeli commanders were portrayed as thoughtful and reluctant, torn between the duty to limit civilian casualties but to hold this thin wire fence, which we were told was only one centimetre thick.

This is a cynical travesty of the truth, as every Palestinian in Gaza knows. Instead of dwelling on the fact that these were non-violent protesters aiming to restore Palestinian dignity and end Israel’s suffocating siege, the film portrays a twisted reality, in which demonstrations were led by an ideological organisation that denies the existence of Israel.

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