"Patriotism is the willingness to kill and be killed for trivial reasons." Bertrand Russell

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Killing with kindness

[Email to the BBC news editor, Helen Boaden]

A BBC TV news segment earlier today reported that Israeli forces had arrested the Palestinian Deputy Prime Minister, Nasser al-Shaer. The BBC website now states that he is presently being detained by Israeli forces.

Under what authority do Israeli forces act within Palestinian territories? The term 'arrest' implies that this action is in some way legal. Nasser as-Shaer is not simply being 'detained' he is being illegally detained.

I noticed a similar pacification of language with regard to the capture of the Israeli soldiers by Palestinian and Lebanese militants on RTE. I wrote to the RTE News Editor with respect to this issue:

"Israeli detention assures prisoners no more rights than Palestinian captivity. Why does Israel 'detain' and Palestine 'kidnap '?"

He responded:

"Fair point. We have put a message in our general mail to this effect."

The BBC has continually referred to the capture of Israeli soldiers by Palestinian and Lebanese militants as 'kidnappings', yet Israel's captures are referred to as 'seizures' and 'arrests'. Could you please explain this disparity?

Yours etc...

The BBC has given a classic lesson in subtle propaganda in its reporting of this latest 'arrest'. The use of the terms arrest, seize and detain impart a level of legality on to Israel's actions and to top it off the beeb use a little bit of 'human perspective' to clarify Israel's intentions:

"According to the detained man's wife, "several" military vehicles circled the house before dawn after which troops came to the door.

An officer told her after checking their identity documents: "Sorry madame, but your husband has to come with us".

"He let him first say goodbye to our four children," she told Reuters news agency."

The picture painted is of a friendly neighbourhood cop. Yet other stories don't paint the same caring picture:

"We were asked to stay at a home of a Palestinian family in Balata overnight as they expected the soldiers to come for their son. Their son as usual, has done nothing wrong but it is one of the tactics that the soldiers use to take people from the Camp. They arrested the father 3 times and told him that if his son did not give himself up they would either shoot the father or arrest and jail him.

As Internationals we slept in the house overnight with them. At first when we went to bed the five of us, 2 Palestinian girls as well described it as a 'PYJAMA PARTY'. Lots of laughter, again being force fed and watered, lots of story telling.

Approx 3 hours later we were woken up to hear the soldiers outside the house. We all sat in the living room watching t.v., drinking tea. Listening to the jeeps outside just wondering when they were going to come in the house.

I looked at this young man and realised for the first time, I AM HORRIFIED TO ADMIT THIS that this is real reality here. Sitting here across from this young man who was just waiting on them coming to get him. He had washed and dressed and knew for the protection of his family he had to let them take him away.

Could anyone imagine in Britain what this must be like. Knowing you will be taken to jail for years and years, beaten up, leaving your family behind. All the time only doing this FOR THE PROTECTION OF YOUR FAMILY. I know from experience here if the Israeli Army do not get the person they want, yes they do shoot or arrest another member of their family."

Margaret Pacetta (GPHRC)

via Derek at MLMB

Compare to RTE reporting here.