Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Our weekly column from the humor site PreOccupied Territory

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BBCSafed, September 7 - The British Broadcasting Corporation is holding off on production of a segment on injured Syrian civilians receiving medical treatment in Israeli hospitals until a sufficiently dark portrayal of the policy can be worked into the broadcast.

Thousands of Syrians have been spirited across the Syrian frontier with the Golan Heights to institutions such as Rambam Hospital in Haifa and Sieff Hospital here in Safed, in clandestine coordination between the Israeli military and various Syrian groups fighting the Assad regime. Pro-Assad media and institutions refer in blanket terms to the patients in Israel as terrorists, but BBC editors are looking for an angle that preserves the wounded Syrians' innocent humanity while highlighting Israel's cynical exploitation of the situation.

"It has to be just credible enough - we do have some journalistic standards," explained Ann T. Semitt of the Jerusalem bureau. "It doesn't fly anymore with much of our audience to explicitly parrot the propaganda of a genocidal dictator such as Assad, so we have to find a different approach to smearing Israel in an article about something good Israel is otherwise doing. "

Semitt said the bureau and BBC headquarters in London had held extensive discussions of options for framing the Israeli medical treatment in negative terms, but had yet to hit on a compelling formula. "We couldn't find a convincing way to shoehorn mention of Palestinian suffering into the clip without it seeming contrived, and the best we've come up with so far is overstating the plight of Druze residents of the Golan Heights, and emphasizing that Israel's annexation of the area has never been internationally recognized. But that doesn't spark the emotion the way, for example, charges of organ-harvesting might. We're still basically at the drawing-board stage."

Other possible angles included a focus on mishaps that may have taken place during the course of the treatment, or the not-so-veiled implication that the Syrian patients were brought to Israel against their will. However, specifics on the Syrian cases were difficult to obtain, and it soon became clear that every Syrian patient was brought at his or her own request, or that of family. Semitt, however, expressed confidence that the BBC would soon arrive at the right anti-Israel formulation, at which point the video segment could be produced.

"We always get there in the end," she promised. "As some historical figure once said, 'If you will it, it is no dream.'"

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