Lyse Doucet’s shameful BBC film is an abuse of Gaza’s suffering children

John Hilley writes that last night’s BBC documentary Children of the Gaza War is a truly disgraceful piece of distortion by journalist Lyse Doucet.

The title is a clear hint of the propaganda to come, based, as ever, on the fatuous “two sides” narrative.

There was no “war,” only another orchestrated massacre, a campaign of civil terror, in order to maintain Israel’s wicked, illegal siege. From the first minute of this shoddy film, one just wants to urge Doucet: tell the truth, give the context!

Yes, children suffer and die, but why is this happening? Why have so many Palestinians been murdered? Why have over 500 children been slaughtered? Why are an entire population, notably the children, so deeply traumatised? Tell the truth, provide the context!

Israel is the aggressor force. Gaza is the key target. It lies in ruins. Yet, this truly despicable film affects to argue that Sderot is part of the same “war zone.”

Continual reference is made to Israel targeting populated areas from where, it’s claimed, Hamas were launching rockets, just part of the loaded message that Hamas are largely responsible for the carnage.

The Israeli bombardment of Gaza
The Israeli bombardment of Gaza

A key section of the film is given over to Hamas fighters, youth camp training and wielded weaponry. But there’s not a single frame of an Israeli soldier, or the mass military operation engaged in the attempted annihilation of Gaza’s people. There’s no questioning, either, of how Israel has socialised so much of its youth to hate and fear Palestinians.

Standing at a Hamas training camp, Doucet laments: “For the outside world it’s hard to comprehend why parents would put children in situations like this.” But there’s no exploration of how Israel as a militarist, occupying state has conditioned so much of its own population to join in the historic oppression and mass murder of Palestinians. Indeed, the word “occupation” is never used.

At one point, Doucet sits with the smiling Gazan kids and asks one of them: “Why do you want to be a journalist?” The child replies in lovely innocence: “So I can tell people what’s going on in wars like this one.” If only Doucet could aspire to that same basic aim. One might ask Doucet, in turn: Why do you want to be a stenographer rather than a journalist?

We see more pictures of Gaza’s ruins. Doucet says: “The donors promise a lot. But politics on all sides gets in the way.” This is the extent of her “explanation” of the carnage Israel has caused, the devastation it’s unleashed, its refusal to help rebuild.

“Two sides” reportage

Doucet’s grating commentary, over inappropriately lilting music, continues, with affected questions on whether the hate and suspicion can ever be overcome.

A scene of more families coming to settle in Israel’s border locale raises not a word of comment on the nature of Israel’s land appropriation, historic displacement of people and enduring occupation. The indoctrination of Israeli children in defending this is never mentioned, nor is the stark privilege of Israeli kids against the appalling conditions and despair of the children in Gaza.

Doucet just smiles and says nothing of the staggering disparities.

I hope the families that Doucet interviewed in Gaza get to see how they’ve been used and exploited in this shabby, deceitful film.

gaza warAn end credit announces that both Israel and Hamas could be indicted for war crimes, and that: “In May and June there were more rounds of rockets fired from Gaza and Israeli airstrikes,” the clear inference, as throughout this deeply-loaded film, that Israel is always “responding” to provocative weaponry.

This is one of the worst examples of “two sides” reportage ever shown. Israel couldn’t have hoped for a greater piece of mitigating hasbara. Doucet’s film is one of the most shameful pieces of “war journalism” ever put out by the BBC.

She doesn’t lack human empathy for the suffering Palestinian kids, such as little Syed, still haunted by the murder of his brother and three cousins on Gaza’s beach. What she lacks, much more profoundly, is a sense of compassionate duty to say why these appalling things happened, and are still happening, to name the principal perpetrators, to be a witness for truth and justice.

Doucet’s film is an abuse of journalism, and, in its pretentious evasions, an abuse of Gaza’s suffering children.

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