MANCHESTER, England — This past weekend, hundreds of protesters gathered at Manchester’s Piccadilly Gardens to demonstrate their anger towards what they see as BBC’s pro-Israeli coverage of the ever-intensifying Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Called the Drive for Justice, the protest claimed that BBC coverage valued the Israeli life more than that of the Palestinian.
A second rally in Manchester – organized by the Stop the War coalition – similarly expressed frustration and disappointment in BBC’s alleged failure to maintain journalistic integrity and ensure sympathetic treatment of both Israeli and Palestinian victims.
Both rallies also functioned as anti-war protests, making up two of the 20 anti-war protests that took place in England over the weekend.
In Scotland, protests occurred in Glasgow and Edinburgh. While most were primarily anti-war protests, one rally parked right outside of BBC’s Scottish headquarters in Glasgow, lamenting over the news outlet’s supposedly pro-Israeli coverage.
On July 9, the Guardian’s Owen Jones wrote an editorial critiquing BBC’s coverage of the situation.
He cites a recent BBC headline, “Israel under renewed Hamas attack,” as an example of BBC’s bias. Jones calls it “perverse” and “Orwellian.”
Appealing to statistics posted by Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem, he believes the lopsided nature of casualties — since January 2009, 65 Palestinians have been killed, while only 28 Israeli civilians have been killed — isn’t represented in media coverage.
Jones goes on to reflect on the murder of the three Israeli teenagers who were found dead in the West Bank.
News outlets including BBC, he says, widely reported the story and offered frequent analysis. But they failed to give the same limelight to the equally egregious outcome: ensuing Israeli raids of the West Bank claimed the lives of six Palestinians, one of whom was a child.
Amnesty International condemned the killings.
On Sunday, July 13, approximately 10,000 demonstrators gathered in Paris and marched the French capital’s streets, protesting Israel’s Operation Protective Edge.
But the march, which began as a nonviolent affair, ended with violence, as a few protesters began to throw rocks at police officers. French authorities responded with tear gas to disperse the crowd.
After the march at Bastille Square, some of the protesters attempted to storm two different synagogues, ultimately prevented by on-guard policemen.
The Abravanel synagogue located near Bastille was holding a memorial service for the slain Israeli teenagers at the time. The 150 who attended the service were stuck in the synagogue until French police officers were able to calm and pacify the protesters.
France is home to both the largest Arab and Jewish populations in Europe. Politicians fear an import of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to French soil and hope future protests remain nonviolent.
In Lille, close to 6,000 protesters marched peacefully.
Operation Protective Edge comes in response to the thousand rockets Hamas fired on Israel from Gaza.
So far, the Palestinian death toll nears 200. It is estimated that 70 percent of the killed are thought to be civilians.
The first Israeli civilian was killed by Hamas mortar fire at the Erez border today.
Israeli airstrikes and Hamas rocket fire continue to trade blows in a conflict intensified by Hamas’s refusal to accept Egypt’s ceasefire proposal and Israel’s reluctance to show restraint towards an enemy that has no plans of halting its attacks.
– Shehrose Mian