The Irresponsible Conduct of Israel’s Media

Imagine wartime BBC holding a weekly radio interview with Joseph Goebbels, Nazi Germany’s Minister of Propaganda, or the Daily Telegraph publishing the full text of every speech Adolf Hitler made in Berlin whilst German bombs were devastating the City of London and Battle of Britain pilots were locked in battle with the Luftwaffe in the skies above…

Sounds far fetched? Then look no further than Israel. You will be able to see live televised speeches of Hassan Nasrallah, leader of the Lebanese terror organisation Hezbolla, on Israel’s main news websites and TV channels as they are broadcast by his TV station Al-Manar. You will be able to find regular detailed interviews with great men like Abu Abir, Abu Ubeida – one Abu after another – spokesmen for the various terror groups and splinter factions in the Gaza strip, all carrying Israeli journalists’ mobile phone numbers in their pockets, all vying for Israeli media attention and free publicity.

Every threat, boast, denunciation and holocaust denying speech by an Iranian figure, from the supreme leader Ayatolla Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad down to the last unheard-of officer of the Revolutionary Guard, receives a much wider coverage in the Israeli media than speeches made by Israel’s own Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu.

Want more? Imagine British media discussing in fine detail and for weeks on end the Allied plans for the 1944 Normandy invasion, bringing in the learned opinions of recently retired heads of MI5 and MI6 and an assortment of ex-army generals, in an attempt to sabotage and halt what is in their defeatist opinion a suicidal adventure?

Incredulus? Well, for several weeks now Israeli media has been immersed in a frenzy of rumour and speculation regarding every fine detail of a possible Israeli pre-emptive strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities. Retired heads of security and intelligence services and former army generals all have a say in this, and every word they utter is widely quoted and discussed.

Let’s stretch your imagination even further. Imagine a BBC wartime correspondent sitting on the roof of a tall building in central London during a German rocket attack. With every explosion, he reports: “A V2 rocket has just hit Hide Park Corner. I can see smoke rising from burning buildings at the western end of Oxford Street…” (Frantz, a German officer in France, makes a small correction to the navigation system of the next V2 to be launched) A short time later, again on live radio: “A rocket has just exploded outside Elephant and Castle underground station. There are many casualties, this is terrible…” (Frantz makes another small correction, this time in the other direction.) And finally, the hysterical man screams into his microphone: “Oh my God! A direct V2 hit at Whitehall! The War Ministry is going up in flames! German rockets are becoming increasingly accurate!”

You would be forgiven for thinking this is bordering on the absurd. This is perhaps because you were not listening to hysterical reporters of some Israeli TV and radio stations, including the army’s own, Galei Zahal., during the second Lebanon war in 2006, as they were providing real time, street by street ranging information to Hezbolla’s Katyusha rocket launchers in Southern Lebanon.

Why is this? Is it just the innate inability to simply shut one’s mouth? Is it a total lack of understanding of the damage done? Or is it to do with media ratings? Sometimes it appears that ratings are everything these days. They come well before national security, national responsibility, and certainly national unity and morale in the face of grave danger.

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