There's a classic lesson in how to smuggle political bias into an apparently balanced news report, over at the BBC news website. Martin Asser is reporting on the 'anger' of residents of the Israeli town of Sderot at frequent rocket attacks from across the border in Gaza, attacks which particularly threaten their local school.
On the face of it, a sympathetic account of the sufferings of innocent Israeli civilians in the face of terrorism. But the focus of the piece is entirely on the Israeli government's failure to protect its citizens, rather than on the terrorists who target schoolchildren. Asser implictly minimizes the sufferings of the people of Sderot by making a totally gratuitous comparison with those of the Palestinians:
There have been at least six deaths in this 22,000-inhabitant town in the last six years from rocket attacks - few compared with the heavy Palestinian casualties the conflict inflicts on Gaza just a kilometre away.
Then he does the terrorists' work for them, by providing this neat 'explanation' for the attacks:
To the Islamic Jihad militants who fired them, the rockets were pay-back against Israel for the deaths of a number children in Israeli air strikes in Gaza in the past week.
No mention here that these latter deaths, though tragic, were an accidental by-product of an attempt to neutralise militants, while the rocket attacks on Sderot appear to have deliberately targeted the school.
Provocatively (and in case we haven't got the point about the relative suffering of Israelis and Palestinians) Asser describes the residents of Sderot as 'the only civilians in Israel sharing the Palestinian experience of life under siege'. This is, of course, to overlook the countless rocket and suicide bomb attacks throughout Israel in recent years.
Finally, and keeping the focus entirely on the responsibilities of the victims, Asser concludes:
It is hard to see how, given its location, the government can do much to protect Sderot, short of pursuing all-out war with Gaza, or all-out peace.
No mention, of course, of what Hamas or Islamic Jihad could do to rein in militants who aim rockets at schoolchildren.
I'm not normally sympathetic to claims of BBC bias, but it seems Mr. Asser (a British convert to Islam) has form in this area.