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rasoulallahbinbadisassalacerhso  wefaqdev iktab
السبت, 24 شباط/فبراير 2024 09:48

Feeble BBC Hamas ‘exposé’ achieved one thing: obscuring genocide

كتبه  By Jonathan Cook
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Israel was put on trial for committing genocide in Gaza last month by the judges of the International Court of Justice. So far western governments have not only done nothing to intervene but are actively assisting in that slaughter. They have supplied arms and turned a blind eye to Israel’s denial of humanitarian aid. The people of Gaza are slowly being starved to death.

But it was at this moment, as the world watches in horror, that the BBC’s chief news investigation programme, Panorama, chose not to scrutinise that massacre of tens of thousands of Palestinians but to hand the microphone over to the very military doing the killing.

On Monday it aired a programme titled “Hamas’s Secret Financial Empire” headed by reporter John Ware. It leant heavily on Israel’s military spokesman, on documents that had almost certainly been supplied by Israeli military intelligence, on video footage from the Israeli military, and an Israeli survivor of the Hamas attack of October 7.

Ware and Panorama have worked together before, most notably on a special hour-long edition that doubtless equally delighted Israel.

Broadcast shortly before the 2019 general election, the programme served as little more than a hatchet job on Jeremy Corbyn, claiming that the then Labour leader had allowed antisemitism to run rampant in his party.

Serial failures in the programme were exposed, including by me at the time.

Quotes and interviews had been edited misleadingly, including one that implied an antisemitic incident had happened inside the Labour party when it had not.

Basic fact-checking had not been carried out, which led to the complete misrepresentation of a key incident the programme wrongly claimed as antisemitic.

The programme concealed the identities of those claiming to have suffered antisemitism in Labour, when most were in fact members of a highly partisan, pro-Israel group openly committed to the ousting of Corbyn as leader for his pro-Palestininan views. One had trained with the Israeli army.

Another unnamed, tearful interviewee, Ella Rose, had previously worked for the Israeli embassy, though the audience was not told. The programme also did not refer to the fact that she had admitted to being a confidante of an Israeli undercover agent, Shai Masot, who was later exposed trying to bring down a British government minister for his critical views of Israel – views far less critical than Corbyn's.

Preposterous premise

One might have assumed that, given this disastrous outing for Panorama by Ware and his producers, they would have been considered by the BBC as a very unwise pick indeed to follow up with an investigation into another issue so close to Israel’s heart. But such an assumption would be wrong.

Much as the Corbyn “investigation” presented a distorted picture of what was taking place in Labour, the latest Panorama “investigation” completely obscured the reality of what is taking place in Gaza. Not least, Monday’s audiences would have been barely aware that Israel is currently under investigation by the World Court after its panel of 17 judges accepted that Israel is plausibly committing genocide in Gaza.

The Panorama narrative, following the BBC’s usual script, suggested instead that this was simply another round of fighting in a long-standing “conflict” in which, the programme limply conceded, both sides are suffering.

The only non-official interviewed was an Israeli survivor of Hamas’s October 7 attack, a young woman present at the Nova festival. She felt betrayed that “people only look at the side of Hamas. We are invisible to them.”

Bizarrely, the BBC team took this patently preposterous view as the programme’s central premise. It was, said Ware, Hamas’s nefarious goal to “project itself as a resistance movement and Israel as a terrorist state”.

The BBC seemed to have forgotten that it was also the World Court, not just Hamas, seriously considering the idea that the Israeli military is flagrantly acting outside the laws of war. If, in the eyes of the BBC, a campaign of genocide does not constitute state terrorism – or worse – one has to wonder what does.

Former Foreign Office official Sir John Jenkins was given centre stage by Panorama to claim that Hamas, not the prolonged slaughter of children in Gaza, was fomenting the “delegitimisation of Israel”.

All of this served as the prelude to the programme’s efforts to delegitimise Hamas and any of its activities in creating a network of tunnels to resist Israel’s occupation and siege at a time when western capitals are more actively than ever assisting Israel in destroying Gaza.

If Israel posed no real threat to the people of Gaza, as the programme implied throughout, then Hamas apparently did not need to fortify the enclave to defend it from an Israeli attack. Its money could have been better used for the benefit of ordinary Palestinians.

Elephant in room

The elephant in the room was genocide. Ware and the BBC had to keep treating Israel’s slaughter of at least 30,000 Palestinians over the past four months as an aberration – a reaction to the unprecedented events of October 7 – rather than as an intensification of Israel’s well-documented abuse of the Palestinian people spanning over decades.

The reference to Hamas’s “secret” financial empire was meant to sound sinister. But, as the programme-makers struggled to hide, there is nothing secret about Hamas’s funding.

After all, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu personally approved the flow of money to Hamas, wishing to keep the group just strong enough to ensure it could prevent the more compliant Palestinian Authority (PA), based in the West Bank, from re-establishing itself in Gaza.

Netanyahu’s goal – one he never concealed – was to keep the two rival Palestinian groups permanently feuding, the two territories split, and thereby undermine the case for any kind of Palestinian state in Gaza and the West Bank.

Ware informed us that Hamas’s “financial empire” derived from various funding sources: directly from Iran and Qatar, but also from humanitarian aid provided by international donors. The programme concluded that these donors were effectively “subsidising Hamas’ war machine” by easing the economic burden on Hamas in providing – in so far as was possible given Israel’s siege – essentials such as food, water and power to Gaza’s civilians.

Predictably, Ware’s argument echoed one of the main claims made by Israel in its current campaign to intensify the genocide in Gaza by destroying the United Nations’ refugee body, UNRWA. The relief agency is the last lifeline to a population of 2.3 million people brought to the point of starvation by Israel’s blockade of humanitarian aid.

Israeli officials have consistently implied that the Palestinian population of Gaza may justifiably be starved to death as the price to be paid to avoid any risk that some of that aid ends up in the hands of Hamas fighters. Such a denial of assistance is not only patently immoral but constitutes a war crime.

If journalists are ever brought to the Hague accused of complicity in the current genocide, there should surely be a place reserved in the dock for Ware and his BBC team for breathing credibility into this monstrous argument.

Context stripped out

Panorama’s central narrative was that Hamas had used parts of its revenues to build a network of resistance fortifications such as tunnels – money that, as Ware and his interviewees kept stressing, could have been spent on building schools and homes to aid the people of Gaza.

Ware omitted to mention, of course, that, more often than not, schools and homes actually needed rebuilding, not building, because Israel blew them up every few years with its bombs.

Again, all too predictably, the programme stripped out obvious context.

Hamas chose to build these fortifications, such as its extensive network of tunnels, because Israel is an offensive, occupying power that enjoys absolute control over Gaza’s borders, as well as its airspace and sea. Israel can bomb and invade Gaza any time it chooses. It can drag people off to “arrest” them – or take them hostage, as we would call it were the roles reversed.

Not only can it do those things, it did and does them regularly. And with complete impunity.

Pretending that Hamas had no reason to build a tunnel network, as Panorama does, is to rewrite history – to excise Israel’s decades of crimes against the Palestinians and their legitimate desire to struggle against that oppression.

It is to unthinkingly regurgitate Israel’s claim that these are simply “terror tunnels” rather than a way for Hamas to survive as a resistance organisation, as it is fully entitled to do under international law.

Hamas made it a priority to build a tunnel network to resist a violent, occupying army. Given limited resources and room to manoeuvre – after all, Gaza is a tiny territory and one of the most overcrowded places on the planet – Hamas had little choice but to move underground to avoid Israel’s sophisticated surveillance technology where it could build an arsenal of largely improvised, homegrown weapons.

Its historic popularity among ordinary Palestinians – at least compared to the supine, endlessly complicit PA in the West Bank – derives precisely from its refusal to submit to Israeli control. Panorama forgot to mention this too.

By contrast, and confounding Panorama’s thesis, the PA’s exclusive reliance on international diplomacy has won no tangible concessions from Israel – unless winning a reprieve from genocide, at least until this point, is considered such a concession.

Also inconveniently for Panorama, the PA’s standing with the Palestinian public continues to be dismal.

Proof of ‘wickedness’

Bizarrely, Ware was equally troubled by the fact that Hamas raised import taxes on the limited goods that Israel did allow into Gaza.

That is all the stranger given that the programme’s implicit – and entirely bogus – assumption is that Gaza is not under a belligerent Israeli occupation. Hamas, it therefore suggested, should have behaved more like a normal country.

But raising taxes on the import of goods is precisely what normal countries do. Why would Ware expect Hamas to behave differently?

And why would it be strange or sinister for it to use some of those revenues to build Gaza’s defences, as best it could, against an aggressive occupier?

Does Britain not also spend the money it raises from taxes to buy weapons and “subsidise its war machine”? And it does so, even though the UK is not under belligerent occupation and is unlikely to be invaded any time soon.

In dramatic fashion, Ware declared ominously: “We have obtained documents that Israeli intelligence say are from inside Hamas and shine a light on how it makes some of its millions.”

It is hard not to conclude that those words mean Panorama was fed those documents by the Israeli intelligence services. Nonetheless, with utter credulity, the programme treated the papers as though they were infallible proof of Hamas’ wickedness.

What they actually showed, assuming they are real, is that Hamas had gained a modest income stream from investments in Middle Eastern companies and ventures. Should Hamas not make investments to raise income, as countries and funds do around the world? And if not, why?  

Moving money out of Gaza and investing it overseas seems eminently sensible given that Israel has so regularly laid waste to the enclave – and is doing so once again and on an unprecedented scale.

In similar credulous fashion, Ware accepted unquestioningly the claim that Hamas’s leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, was known to “hate Jews”. On what basis? Because a former Israeli security officer who proudly admitted that years ago he interrogated Sinwar for “between 150 and 180 hours” said so. Interrogation of Palestinians by Israel typically includes lengthy periods of torture.

Misused public funds

All of this was depressingly familiar. The BBC and Panorama rarely dig into issues that might reflect badly on Israel and risk a backlash of criticism, including from the British government. That toothlessness when a genocide is unfolding in Gaza is especially egregious.

But the BBC is not just overlooking that horrifying crime but using its resources – funds provided by British taxpayers – to actively obscure Israel’s campaign of genocide and implicitly rationalise it as warranted.

A programme whose thesis is that Hamas misused public funds for nefarious purposes is, paradoxically, doing the very thing it condemns. It has misused British taxes to make a entirely bogus case that provides cover for the slaughter and maiming of many tens of thousands of innocent Palestinians.

Link : https://substack.com/home/post/p-141857723

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قراءة 194 مرات آخر تعديل على الأربعاء, 28 شباط/فبراير 2024 09:06

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