In the Coverage of a Minor Scandal, British Media Exhibit Major Anti-Semitism

Always ready to find fault in even the most altruistic of Israel’s actions, British media last week dangerously crossed over into demonization, in the age-old tradition of Jew hatred.

Former British Minister Priti Patel. Forced to resign after a visit to Israel (Russell Watkins/Dept for Int'l Development)

A minor political scandal in Britain last week ended with the resignation of Priti Patel, the UK’s Secretary of State for International Development.

The scandal erupted when media discovered that, while on a private vacation in Israel during the summer, Patel had met with Israeli officials and reportedly, made visits to several organisations where official departmental business was discussed. All this without informing the British Foreign Office, which is proper procedure. She quit her post last week, admitting the meetings had “lacked transparency” and that she had failed to uphold the standards expected of her office.

What the British media found of particular interest was that Patel, while in Israel, had also visited the Golan Heights to witness first hand Israel’s humanitarian medical efforts on behalf of Syrian’s suffering from the civil war. As a result of what she saw, Patel recommended that the Department for International Development give international aid money to the field hospitals run by the Israeli army.

These are the simple facts of the incident.

It was Ms. Patel’s visit to the IDF relief station and the suggestion of providing financial aid to the Israeli effort that became the focus of reports on the controversy by the British media. Not Patel’s breach of protocol. The facts also didn’t seem to matter at that point. After all, far be it for British journalists to miss an opportunity to paint Israel in a negative light. What is concerning though, is how they chose this particular humanitarian effort of Israel to portray in a negative light.

For several years now it was a known secret that Israel was treating Syrians injured in the horrific civil war in the country. It started out as a local initiative of an IDF commander in the field, then became, out necessity, a full blown operation. After the Wall Street Journal reported that Israel was assisting Syrian rebels, the IDF issued a formal statement in July announcing Israel’s “Operation Good Neighbor”, which also described what Israel was actually doing regarding the Syrian civil war. Since then, the extent of Israel’s medical assistance and treatment of Syrian civilians and refugees has been widely revealed.

Positive actions by Israel seldom make the news, especially in Britain. Respected documentary film maker David Cohen produced a film about the Israeli humanitarian aid to the Syrians called “Love Your Enemies”. He spoke earlier this month about his efforts to interest British media in his film in an interview with the “Jewish Chronicle” and said that discussions over purchase of the film with both the BBC and Channel 4 had so far proved  fruitless. “The feedback seems to be that the film is being very well received – but that this subject matter is not their priority. I have heard it suggested from one channel that the film is deemed to be too easy on Israel.”

One would think that by now officials in Israel would understand that no matter how much we emphasize the positive aspects of the country or the wonderful things we do, there are those who will always find ways to discredit us.

Point in hand is last week’s scandal. The British media would not let the facts get in the way and found, in the Priti Patel affair, an opportunity to smear Israel. Worse still, their reporting would leave the British public with the impression that Israel was up to no good.

Simon Plosker of Honest Reporting did a excellent job in analyzing the failures of the British press in the scandal, in a column published in the “Algemeiner”.  In his article, Plosker gives numerous examples of the deliberate misrepresentations in the British media.

Among these examples are “The Independent” columnist Matthew Norman, who never bothers to mention what the foreign aid to Israel Patel had suggested was actually for; “The Times of London” which stated: “Priti Patel wanted to send British aid money to support an Israeli army programme treating wounded Syrian jihadists, including al-Qaeda fighters, in the occupied Golan Heights.”; and “The Telegraph” headline – “Priti Patel suggested UK should give aid to Israeli army after secret meeting with Benjamin Netanyahu”, which, as Plosker writes, is “click-bait, specifically designed to reel in a readership brought up on sensationalism when it comes to anything to do with Israel.”

This whole episode is not just another example of extremely poor journalism on the part of British journalists and media outlets regarding Israel, which we have become so accustomed to over the years. This is much worse.

The disdain for everything Israel that they are inflicted with has them ignoring facts and realities. Instead, the reports and headlines were rife with insinuation and innuendo, the tools of hatred that were too often in history the means to demonize Jews.

It is mind-staggering to see how the mainstream, liberal British media crosses the line in its reporting on Israel and engages in anti-Semitic canard. No matter how you twist it, there is no other way to describe the spreading of an unfounded rumor or a false allegation or the creating of the impression of some kind of dubious behavior on the part of Israel.

If you think this is an exaggeration, all one has to do is look at the history of the anti-Semitic canard and make the comparison. The demonization of Jews was always the most obvious of the canards. Others were accusations of usury and profiteering, and the well known accusation of causing wars, revolutions and calamities. All were popular ways of defaming the Jews for generations and have now become the means to vilify Israel.

When reading the articles and the headlines in the British media last week, every one of these age-old traditions is sadly evident. One would expect more of liberal media. In an era of heightened sensitivity to racism and hate, they repeatedly fail the test when it comes to Israel.

The vilification and demonization of the State of Israel is to such an extent that it borders on the delegitimization of the nation itself. This has always been a direct cause of incitement, and the British media are unwitting accomplices in creating an atmosphere that reinforces acts of anti-Semitism and violence against Israelis and Jews worldwide.


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4 comments on the article

  1. Do not for one minute believe that the British press are “unwitting accomplices”. They know full well what they are doing.

  2. The Brits are still bitter over the fact that Israel forced them out, after the British turned their back on the Palestinian Jews (and on their own words) and allowed the Palestinian Arab pogroms against the Jews. Need more proof? The British Family has never officially visited Israel.

  3. The British government needs to apologize, not to the Palestinian Arabs for the Balfour Declaration but to the Jews for their two White Papers: the one in 1922 which denied that the British ever meant to give the Jews all of Western Palestine and the one in 1939 which limited Jewish immigration into Palestine to 15,000 a year during all the years of the Holocaust.

    During the Mandate period, the Brits took arms away from the Palestinian Jews so that they couldn’t defend themselves and armed the Arabs, also allowing unlimited Arab immigration into Western Palestine.

    British behavior, when they were supposed to be encouraging Jewish immigration into Palestine and also encouraging close settlement on the land as per Article 6 of the 1922 Mandate for Palestine, is a shameful stain on Britain. If the Government apologizes to the Jews for all this, perhaps the British media will stop their campaign against Israel.