Sky News’s Kay Burley pushes anti Israel messaging

Article published by,  23 November 2023. © Richard Kemp

I’ve never before heard such an outrageous question asked on British mainstream media in any context. On Thursday Sky News presenter Kay Burley put it to Israeli government spokesman Eylon Levy that the planned release of 150 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for just 50 hostages shows that ‘Israel does not think that Palestinian lives are valued as highly as Israeli lives’. She claimed that an unnamed ‘hostage negotiator’ had suggested that to her.

Hearing this rubbish reminded me immediately of an account by Israeli writer and former soldier Hen Mazzig, who in 2013 was monstrously told by a female university professor in America: ‘You IDF soldiers don’t rape Palestinians because Israelis are so racist and disgusted by them that you won’t touch them.’

Even if Burley’s hostage negotiator actually exists, why on earth would she repeat such a demented proposition live on national TV? There can only be one explanation and that is a desire to humiliate Levy and sow the seeds of Israeli racism into the minds of her viewers. That would be true to form for this channel, whose reports about the Gaza war have been constantly skewed against Israel.

Examples are too numerous to recount here, but just from memory (and I watch as little of Sky News as I can), earlier this month Burley blatantly misquoted Article 51 of the Geneva Conventions in an attempt to persuade viewers that Israel was guilty of war crimes. And another interviewer categorically denied that some anti-Israel protest organizers in the UK had connections with Hamas despite the fact that such links have been definitively proven.

Sky is of course not alone; Israel derangement syndrome is a common sickness among much of the British media. After an explosion occurred in the parking lot of the Al Ahli hospital in Gaza last month, without evidence the BBC immediately accused Israel of bombing it. Their correspondent in Israel, John Donnison, said he couldn’t think of any other possible cause than ‘an Israeli airstrike or several airstrikes’.

Even if he lacked the imagination to consider an alternative, a quick Google search could have told him that in the last two rounds of fighting in Gaza, 30% of Islamic Jihad’s rockets aimed at Israel fell short and landed inside the Strip. In fact terrorist rockets fired from Gaza in both rounds killed more Palestinians than the Israeli civilians that were their target. And so it turned out in this case, with both Israeli and US intelligence confirming that the hospital had been hit by an Islamic Jihad missile.

Then of course there was BBC International Editor Jeremy Bowen’s bizarre assertion a few days ago that a cache of weapons discovered at Gaza’s Al Shifa Hospital could well have belonged to the security department rather than Hamas terrorists, echoing the words two days earlier of a senior Hamas commander. Bowen never got around to explaining why hospital security officers would need to be equipped with anti tank missile launchers.

For a national broadcaster, Burley’s nonsense, however, hits a new and twisted low in anti-Israel spite as well as total absence of reason or logic. Does she think Israel actually wants to release three convicted terrorist criminals for each innocent Israeli hostage freed? Would they not prefer, perhaps, to do a one-for-one exchange, or even three Israelis for each Palestinian prisoner? Or is Israeli racism so deeply ingrained that this deal amounts to some kind of Jewish supremacist statement, designed to show the world how much more valuable Israeli citizens are than Palestinians? If so, wouldn’t it be even more of a statement if they pushed for 1,027 prisoners to be released for each Israeli hostage, as was the case with the release in 2011 of Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier kidnapped by Hamas five years earlier?

Burley may be quite unaware that the disproportionate exchange ratio was demanded by Hamas and only reluctantly agreed to by Israel, no doubt after some hard bargaining to drive the numbers down. If that is the case, however, is there no editorial control over the lines she pushes on air, or are the channel’s producers and editors also complicit in her propaganda? I think I know the answer to that troubling question. After an analysis I gave to Sky News regarding IDF operations in a previous Gaza conflict, a senior journalist told me privately that he agreed with the comments I had made. I asked him why, then, his reporting always reflected the opposite. He replied that anything that wasn’t slanted against Israel would see him fired.

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