Nice Story But Where’s the Context?

While we frequently highlight some of the most egregious media bias and inaccuracies, it is also worth noting those instances where a seemingly benign or even positive article can disguise a greater problem. The BBC’s website published a May 7 story focusing on Iraqi-born Israelis who remember, with fondness, their former homes and the friendly relations they enjoyed with their Arab neighbors.

According to the BBC:

“For the Jews of Middle Eastern origins, like their European co-religionists, coming to Israel was the culmination of a religious journey – it was the fulfilment of the centuries-old dream to live in the so-called Promised Land.

But many who came over to Israel as part of the mass migration that followed the creation of the Jewish state in 1948, look back with nostalgia and fondness for the life that they had left behind.”

So what’s the issue with a piece where there appears nothing to get upset about? The problem lies not in what has been written but in what has been left out. While terming the Iraqi Jews’ move to Israel as part of a “mass migration”, the BBC conveniently forgets that this was not a move made out of choice. In fact, the Iraqi Jews (along with thousands of Jews living in Arab states) were forced to flee for their lives as refugees in anything but positive circumstances.

This isn’t the first time we have addressed the media for Disregarding Iraqi Jewish History. And while the BBC omits the context from an otherwise nice piece about bygone times, Mitchell Bard elaborates on the historical background:

“Yet this flourishing environment abruptly ended in 1947, with the partition of Palestine and the fight for Israel’s independence. Outbreaks of anti-Jewish rioting regularly occurred between 1947-49. After the establishment of Israel in 1948, Zionism became a capital crime.

In 1950, Iraqi Jews were permitted to leave the country within a year provided they forfeited their citizenship. A year later, however, the property of Jews who emigrated was frozen and economic restrictions were placed on Jews who chose to remain in the country. From 1949 to 1951, 104,000 Jews were evacuated from Iraq in Operations Ezra & Nechemia; another 20,000 were smuggled out through Iran.

In 1952, Iraq’s government barred Jews from emigrating and publicly hanged two Jews after falsely charging them with hurling a bomb at the Baghdad office of the U.S. Information Agency.”

Read more about Jewish refugees at Justice For Jews From Arab Countries and the Point of No Return blog.

Comments to BBC Complaints –


Unsubstantiated Palestinian “eyewitness” reports on various incidents over the years have often raised question marks over their accuracy. Now, as BBC correspondent Alan Johnston’s kidnap ordeal enters an eighth week, even more questions need to be asked regarding foreign media coverage of Gaza. Foreign journalists, unable to operate safely within Gaza, are now, more than ever, dependent on Palestinian “stringers” and photojournalists with their own agendas.

This represents a serious failing, not only for professional and accurate media coverage, but also a tragedy for the ordinary Palestinians of Gaza, who no longer have any independent sources to catalogue the violence, chaos and lawlessness that has been imposed upon them by armed terrorist and criminal gangs and a dysfunctional Hamas-led government that is unwilling or unable to deal with the situation.

As Qassam missiles continue to fall on Sderot and the surrounding area, we ask you to take into consideration the current circumstances when reading about Israeli military responses, which include Palestinian “eyewitness” accounts.