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BBC reporter cried for Arafat|
NOV 7: Senior editors at the BBC are understood to have remonstrated with their correspondent, Barbara Plett, over her "misjudgment" in revealing on air that she had cried when Yasser Arafat's Jordanian helicopter carried him away from Ramallah en route to hospital in France.
The BBC has received some 500 complaints about Plett's broadcast, which was broadcast on its Radio 4 program, "From Our Own Correspondent."
In her report, Plett said: "When the helicopter carrying the frail old man rose above his ruined compound, I started to cry . . . without warning."
She went on to reflect that, "in quieter moments since I have asked myself, why the sudden surge of emotion? I suppose there was a pathos about the strong contrast between this and other journeys Yasser Arafat has made."
In her report, entitled "Yasser Arafat's unrelenting journey," Plett noted that "foreign journalists seemed much more excited about Mr. Arafat's fate than anyone in Ramallah We hovered around the gate to his compound, swarming around the Palestinian officials who drove by, poking our microphones through their dark, half-open windows."
She lamented that amid all the media activity just a few hundred loyalists turned out to see him off from Ramallah, "waving and calling out one of his favorite sayings: 'The mountain cannot be shaken by the wind'."
Where were the people, she asked, "the mass demonstrations of solidarity, the frantic expressions of concern?" Then she answered her own question: "I think this history explains Palestinian emotions better than mine.
"For me, it was probably the siege. I remember well when the Israelis re-conquered the West Bank more than two years ago, how they drove their tanks and bulldozers into Mr. Arafat's headquarters, trapping him in a few rooms, and throwing a military curtain around Ramallah.
"I remember how Palestinians admired his refusal to flee under fire. They told me: 'Our leader is sharing our pain, we are all under the same siege'. And so was I. Maybe that gives me some connection to the man whose presidential compound became a prison.
"I know what it is like to stare at the same four walls and find them staring back; to watch tanks swing their turrets outside my window; to scan rooftops for snipers during brief hours of freedom between curfews. I could understand why Palestinians responded to Mr. Arafat then the way they did."
It is thought that such sentiments will fuel accusations that the BBC is incorrigibly pro-Palestinian, despite the October 2003 appointment - with support from Israel's Foreign Ministry - of an ombudsman to oversee its reporting of Middle East affairs.
The contract of the ombudsman, Malcolm Balen, was recently extended for a second year.
This is not Barbara Plett's first brush with controversy over her alleged bias in covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Three years ago, she was the subject of an Israeli embassy protest to the BBC over Palestinian celebrations following the 9/11 attacks. The then-press secretary D.J. Schneeweiss charged that Plett and her colleague, Orla Guerin, "went to great lengths to put the pictures 'in context' and insisted that the celebratory pictures did not reflect the sentiments of the majority of Palestinians."
"My question," he wrote, "is whether these blatant and apparently coordinated attempts to guide the British audience away from making its own judgments about the pictures on their screens did not derive from the BBC's correspondents bowing to Palestinian pressure.
"If this is not the case, then it would appear that we have an
equally grave situation in which the BBC's correspondents
willfully and of their own accord see themselves as champions of
the Palestinian cause, mobilizing at a time of a [Palestinian
public relations] crisis to limit the damage to the Palestinian
image abroad." (Jerusalem Post)
|Israel admits Hizb Allah drone flight|
NOV 7: Israel has admitted that an unmanned spy plane launched by the Lebanese resistance group Hizb Allah flew over its northern territory on Sunday.
The plane was in the air for more than 30 minutes before it returned to Lebanese territory.
The Israeli army initially denied reports from Lebanon that Hizb Allah had succeeded in flying a drone over Western Galilee.
Israeli media described the incident as "a bold and provocative step" by Hizb Allah.
Hizb Allah said the UAV, dubbed Mirsad-1 (Arabic for ambush) had penetrated Israel up to the town of Nahariya at 10.30am (0830 GMT) on Sunday.
In a press statement, Hizb Allah said the reconnaissance drone carried out its first flight over "occupied northern Palestine, flying over several Zionist settlements and reaching the coastal town of Nahariya before returning safely to base".
"This qualitative and new achievement by the Islamic Resistance in Lebanon comes as part of a natural response to the Zionist enemy's repeated and permanent violations of Lebanese airspace," said the statement.
Israeli Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz said he held the Lebanese government responsible for "all security incidents emanating from within its borders".