The Stubborn Scottish Script


The IDF pulled out of Beit Hanoun in northern Gaza Wednesday, completing a five-day mission to clear out positions from which Hamas launched rockets against southern Israeli towns. The action was necessary to protect Israeli citizens, but in the process the IDF uprooted orchards in Beit Hanoun, affecting some Palestinians’ livelihoods. Given these complex circumstances, where did the media direct blame?

a) Associated Press reported that a spontaneous street demonstration erupted upon the IDF exit, but this time Palestinians focused their fury upon the original source of the violence — local terror groups. Many Palestinian Gazans, it seems, are fed up with Hamas, whose acts trigger the firm IDF responses. Said one rock-toting resident, quoted by AP:

“They (the militants) claim they are heroes… They brought us only destruction and made us homeless. They used our farms, our houses and our children… to hide.”

The Jerusalem Post reported similar protests in southern Gaza, noting that some communities have even set up vigilante patrols to prevent Hamas members from entering their neighborhoods.

According to these versions of the IDF withdrawal, the mission signaled an important victory for anti-terror deterrence and a key Palestinian redirection of blame.

b) The Scotsman (Scotland’s national newspaper), on the other hand, makes no reference to the remarkable anti-terror demonstrations, reporting merely that “local residents [were] stunned and angered by one of the most devastating punitive actions in two and a half years of fighting.” [The AP report specifically noted that the IDF action was not a “large-scale punitive military operation.”]

Scotsman correspondent Ben Lynfield employs the metaphor of crushed Beit Hanoun olive trees to propose, absurdly, that Israel buried there the renewed peace effort. And coming on the heels of a wave of suicide bombings, The Scotsman implies that Israel is to blame for Palestinian terror: “one resident…said he was so angry that he felt like strapping explosives to himself and ‘exploding against the Israelis.'”

We ask: If a movement is afoot among Palestinians to blame Hamas for the orchard-clearing event, why does The Scotsman blame Israel? When Palestinians adopt a more moderate position, why does The Scotsman take a more radical stance than the Palestinians themselves? Is the Scotsman so wedded to its perception of who’s right and wrong in this conflict that it’s unwilling to alter its script?

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HonestReporting encourages members to monitor their local media to see how they reported the Beit Hanoun orchard-clearing event and subsequent Palestinian demonstrations.


Kudos to HR member Dr. Rony Doeuk, who complained to the BBC about their biased report on Hamas funding. The BBC called Hamas “a group…accused of carrying out suicide bombings as part of its campaign for a Palestinian state.”

Dr. Doeuk objected to the description of Hamas as “accused” of carrying out attacks, for in fact Hamas proudly takes responsibility for every terror attack it perpetrates.

Further, Dr. Doeuk pointed out that Hamas’ stated goal is the destruction of the State of Israel, and not chiefly the creation of a Palestinian state. Why does BBC mislead readers to believe that Hamas hopes to establish a Palestinian state side-by-side with Israel, when in fact it is sworn to the destruction of Israel?

BBC issued this semi-correction, and unrepentant response:

“Thank you for your email. On the first point, we have amended the line in the story to read ‘the Palestinian group operating in the West Bank and Gaza Strip that carries out suicide bombings as part of its campaign for a Palestinian state.’

“We feel the article was correct to state that the Hamas’ ultimate aim is the creation of a Palestinian state, as we did not comment on the proposed borders of that state.”

Special note: Members are encouraged to monitor the BBC program “Behind the Fence,” to be broadcast on BBC Two this Sunday, 25 May at 1915 BST; the show’s preview website refers to “sinister motives” behind the Israeli “wall of apartheid.” Tellingly, the program has been recommended by the pro-Arab Council for the Advancement of Arab-British Understanding.


Paul Foot, a columnist at London’s The Guardian, recalls nostalgically: “It was a Palestinian Jew… who convinced me very early in life that the six-day Israeli war in 1967 was a war of conquest and occupation…”

We know that the region was known to Britons as “Palestine” prior to 1948, but The Guardian’s use of the term “Palestinian Jew” in 2003 seems rather suspect. Does this description imply a denial of Israel’s existence? Or perhaps an expansion of Abu Mazen’s constituency?!

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