Hardline radical website attempts to denigrate new film
Coverage of the Middle East, with its various ongoing and new conflict situations, throws up hostility for reporters. This antagonism to accurate reporting can come from a variety of pressure groups, some influenced by the regimes or militants they support or oppose.
Paul Martin, who has covered conflicts in the Middle East since he was a correspondent of the BBC in Cairo from 1978 onwards, has at times been attacked (usually verbally or in print, but sometimes even physically) as a result of his reportage.
In 2012 a radical website stating it is dedicated to the elimination of the current State of Israel, tried to denigrate Martins’s recent films about Gaza, and a new film also intended to be shown worldwide.
In a telling recorded exchange, the international Correspondent and film-maker confronted a freelance writing from London for an activist website. Martin strongly rebutted any allegation of bias. The attacks by the freelance were launched after Martin had showed the rough-cut of a new film, to be broadcast later in 2012, about a Palestinian dissident in Gaza.
The freelance, who attended a cinema showing, expressed no criticism of the film as such. Instead, he sought to attack a small segment of the past work done by Martin in the region since 2001. The propaganda website acknowledged that the BBC ‘stands by Paul Martin’. Martin believes the aim of the propaganda website is to prevent future showings and television exposure of his newest film.
Here is an earlier example, from the exact opposite side:
Early in 2009 hard-line activists claiming to support Israel. A popular blog based in the United States but with worldwide adherents “Little Green Footballs” took issue with filmed reports that Martin’s company, World News & Features, provided to Channel 4 News (UK), CNN and NBC News. It was during the Israeli invasion of the Gaza Strip and had followed years of intermittent rocket fire into Israel across the Gaza border.
A dramatic and moving report filmed by a senior Palestinian producer in Gaza, with whom World News & Features had had a long and reliable working relationship, sparked the venomous responses on the ‘Little Green Footballs’ blog. It had claimed that video of a boy killed by an Israeli missile while playing on a rooftop had been faked.
In the typical style of these attacks, bloggers insisted that the scene of doctors trying to revive the 12-year-old child was staged. They also found information that they wrongly interpreted to show that the Palestinian producer (whose brother was the dead boy) had some links with Hamas, the Islamist group leading the conflict against Israel in Gaza. Martin pointed out that the only connection between that producer and Hamas was that the producer’s company had initiated the .ps domain suffix – and any organisation was entitled to purchase a domain with that suffix.
Bloggers went on to accuse Martin himself of being an apologist for Hamas and of lying to allow Hamas propaganda to create hostility to Hamas’ enemy Israel.
The whole issue was settled conclusively when CNN interviewed two top American medical experts. They both showed that the film represented a genuine though failed effort to save the boy’s life.
The latest attack on Martin came from the exact opposite camp – from people and a website pre-programmed to vehemently attack almost all Western reportage of the Palestinian -Israel issue… all accused of bias against the propagandists’ point of view.