A Short Lesson in Newspeak from the BBC on the Day Israel Broke the Ceasefire in Lebanon

“Israel mounts fresh Lebanon raid” (BBC News website http://www.bbc.co.uk, 19th August 2006);[/I] to translate correctly: Israel breaks ceasefire.

From the same report: “Israel’s fresh operation inside Lebanon came five days after the UN-brokered ceasefire came into effect.”: Israel’s bombing of Lebanon broke the UN-brokered ceasefire.

The justification, reported without critical analysis: “The Israeli army said the raid was to prevent arms being delivered to Hezbollah by Iran and Syria.” Never mind that a ceasefire, on the understood definition, means a cessation of fire which would preclude pre-emptive action. Certainly if the roles were reversed, we can be certain that the media report would not be quite so sympathetic.

Instead the violence, initiated by Israel, is reported as an “incident” which is a “major clash between the two sides”. There is a clinical reference to “missile strikes”. There is no express reference to the fact that it is Israel who has breached the ceasefire. The BBC Radio Five news comes close, reporting at 12 noon that the Israeli army has carried out a raid “in spite of the ceasefire”, i.e. not in violation of it. In time this detail will be forgotten, and the offial UK position – of unequivocal support for and arming of Israel – will of course remain unchanged. The British public, too, will for the most part forget.

This, in short, is how journalists kill people.

According to office figures some 1,130 people have been slaughtered (30% of them children), 3,600 injured (40% of them children) and about a million displaced. Israeli strikes on Lebanon have destroyed much of the country’s infrastructure including Beirut airport, ports, bridges and roads, residential buildings, factories, mobile telephone and television stations, fuel containers and service stations and even medical and relief trucks.

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