Too much Gaza coverage?
On the World Tonight this week we have devoted considerable airtime to the fighting in Gaza between Hamas and Fatah and it has been our lead story most of the week. Is that overstating the importance of the story?
If you accept the argument of the American commentator, Edward Luttwak, writing in last month's Prospect magazine, the answer to this question is undoubtedly, yes.
In a thought-provoking article - which I suspect involved an element of playing the devil's advocate - Mr Luttwak argued that analysts and journalists pay far too much attention to the Palestinian/Israeli conflict and give it too much prominence. He says it isn't that important because “the conflict is contained within rather narrow boundaries, and second because the Levant is just not that important any more.” He says that since the end of the Cold War the conflict is contained and the geo-strategic importance of the region is declining because the world is less reliant on Middle Eastern oil than it used to be.
So are we right to be giving the events in Gaza such prominence?
Trying to restore peace and stability - however you define that - has been a major theme in international affairs for the past sixty years, if not longer if you include the aftermath of the collapse of the Ottoman Empire at the end of the First World War. And if the putative Palestinian state which is seen as one of the best hopes for peace and stability implodes - which it appears to be dong this week - that is obviously an important event with serious implications which merits coverage.
Also, if the Palestinian/Israeli conflict drags on, it will continue to add fuel to the resentment many in the Muslim world feel toward the West and the United States. Whether or not you accept the argument that the situation in the Middle East lies at the heart of the conflict between the West and Islamist groups like al-Qaeda, the issue is a cause of resentment among Muslims who believe the West is biased in favour of Israel.
The BBC is committed to covering the Middle East in depth - which is why we had a correspondent in Gaza and why our colleague Alan Johnston was prepared to risk his personal safety by being there.
I accept that it is one thing to have correspondents on the ground to report events, and another for editors back in London to give the prominence we give to the story, and of course decisions on which stories we lead with are made in relation to the merits of other stories on the day (and this week there have not been very many other big stories), but what do you think? Are we getting this one right?