Indie’s Uranium Charges

Over the years, Israel has been accused of many diabolical acts and condemned before the full evidence is presented. The Jenin “massacre” and Gaza Beach libels are but two examples. Now, the Independent of 28 October has run a front page exclusive by Robert Fisk alleging Israeli use of a “secret uranium bomb” in Lebanon during the recent war.

The charge is based on two soil samples showing “elevated radiation signatures”. We are not experts in this field and perhaps those investigating will eventually find something to stain Israel’s image. But unlike Fisk who rushes to judgement, even the Middle East director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has stated: “If uranium was in fact used we will find this out and make an announcement. We cannot confirm anything at this stage, and we will wait for the results.”

Israeli Foreign Ministry Spokesman Mark Regev raises the issue of double standards in the way in which Israel is singled out: “The weapons we used in Lebanon have been used by NATO and Western countries for years. Sometimes it seems that when it comes to the Jewish State – it is decided to treat the matter differently. Someone has to ask why an accusatory finger is being pointed at Israel.”

The use of such weapons is a controversial issue, yet, depleted uranium (DU) weapons have been deployed by UK and US forces in the Balkans and Iraq. Despite various campaigns against them, DU weapons are not illegal under international law or conventions. (For more on the debate over DU and its effects, see here.)

While there is debate over the long-term effects of DU weapons, which are used mainly for their armour-piercing abilities, there is no argument over the destructive intentions of Hezbollah’s weaponry aimed at Israeli civilians. Even Human Rights Watch acknowledged that Hezbollah rockets had “warheads packed with thousands of metal ball bearings that spray out from the blast. Launched on civilian areas, the ball bearings are intended to inflict maximum harm.” 

In this case, the accusatory finger – the Independent – has consistently demonised Israel on its front pages, as previously noted by HonestReporting UK. Robert Fisk has a long history of anti-Israel invective, blaming Israel for all of the Palestinians’ ills and the West for Muslim disguntlement.

HonestReporting UK awaits the official findings of the UNEP investigation. Regardless of the outcome, it is incumbent upon a supposedly quality newspaper not to find a sovereign democratic state guilty before proven one way or another. We expect the Independent to publish the results even if they turn out to contradict Fisk’s potentially premature claims.

Your considered comments to the Independent -


The debate over institutional bias within the BBC continues. Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Tom Leonard adds his thoughts:

It’s fair to say the message is finally getting through: the BBC has a problem with impartiality. The row over BBC bias has been rumbling on longer than war in Sudan and always seemed just as unresolvable. The format was always the same: take a bunch of Left-leaning, liberal-minded television executives and a bunch of Right-leaning politics wonks with obsessions about BBC reporting of the Middle East, the EU and the Tory party. Then they hit each other over the head with rolled up, heavily underlined copies of programme transcripts from Newsnight or Today.

And this is a battle that the BBC has become very adept at fighting. Every time the clamour of bias on some particularly hard news issue, such as Israel, Iraq, or Brussels, gets too loud, the corporation commissions some research that finds no bias, or – next best – evidence of bias on both sides.

Sound familar? A look at the BBC’s independent inquiry into its Mideast coverage would suggest so.

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