In recent months there has undoubtedly been a greater possibility that Israel may attack Iranian nuclear facilities. Irrelevant of whether we see a nuclear Iran as a threat to global stability or not, it is safe to say that the majority of spectators would prefer not to see a war between nations which have sophisticated long-range arsenals in the most turbulent region in the world. What is becoming more evident is the role that the media is playing in these conflicts, and this is not simply the age-old problem of propaganda, but what has emerged is the provocation of war which makes it an inevitability rather than a possibility.
The issue is not with the Daily Mail article that reads “Israel claims Iran is producing long-range missiles that could hit US as it 'plans attack on Tehran within months”. The role of a tabloid in Britain is to jump to assumptions in the hope that they become reality. However, what is surprising is the role of respected media outlets and the expectation of neutrality that we rightly assume of them. The BBC recently published an article which actually strategically marks out exactly how Israel would attack Iran, even dotting on a map the path that the fighter jets would take. My first instinct is that there was something fundamentally wrong with this. As a British-Iranian who has followed events in the Middle East with a keen interest I have an idea of how Israel could attack Iran and vice versa. The average person, who may have little knowledge of the situation, has now been shown a purported strike to be something much more real and tangible than it actually is and this is dangerous. The media must be aware of the influence it can have, public opinion fuels the actions of politicians and civil society must be acknowledged as a powerful actor in a globalized world.
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The BBC then made a counter article in which they assessed how Iran would respond to an Israeli attack in which they essentially demeaned the capacity of Iran to strike and even noted from an expert that Iran neither had nuclear weapons and that “an Iranian missile strike would be only a symbolic gesture". This would have little positive effect but to provoke and intimidate the very regime that Israel is so threatened by. Even beyond this irony, it is a reflection of how the BBC deems Israel a greater threat to Iran than Iran is to Israel, but this defeats the point that I am trying to make. There is a real possibility of a pre-eminent Israeli strike on Iranian nuclear facilities in the coming year and I am not disputing this. The tension and the constant rhetoric between Iran and Israel seems to be leading towards something - be it diplomacy or military action, however the media should report on this tension, rather than ‘inadvertently’ adding to it.
The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect those of Your Middle East.