Deliberately So

I wish somebody else had written this because it’s about the usual, and believe me, I don’t want to be repetitive. But needs must.

Anyone who heard R4’s Saturday Live this morning will know what I mean. The studio guest was ‘comedian’ Mark Thomas who has walked the length of the separation barrier in Israel /Palestine. Saturday Live’s genial host, exceedingly left wing Reverend Richard Coles, was all ears.

Not wishing to appear one-sided, Mr. Thomas took a moment to explain that the Second Intifada was very bloody, before lapsing into a melodramatic chronicle of the Palestinian suffering caused by checkpoints and the wall. Meanwhile, Stockholm Syndrome sufferer John McCarthy chimed in with a trail for Excess Baggage, the following programme, which he hosts. McCarthy regularly devotes much of ‘Excess Baggage’ to recommending idyllic holiday destinations such as Damascus, and eulogising over Arab hospitality. Which they duly demonstrated by holding him hostage for several years.
While Mr. Thomas was underlining the unnecessary suffering caused by checkpoints and the barrier, McCarthy interjected with his twopence-worth – “Deliberately so.

Much as Mark Thomas’s ‘comedian’s cockerney’ portended a preconceived political agenda, I still hoped this might have been tempered by his eye-opening adventure. But his eyes had remained blinkered. Barriers are bad, and must come down, he surmised. Bombs still go off, proving the wall doesn’t protect Israelis as they claim. Here I’m assuming that I’m preaching to the converted, much as the BBC consistently does from the opposite perspective. Please, if you’re not sure what I mean, you need go no further with this.

Mark Thomas is anxious to tell us that his escapade was solely motivated by a devilish, naughty-boy, ‘ooh I am awful’ spirit, and a genuine, healthy curiosity.
But, same as anyone else – you knew it all along – he was merely exploiting ‘our’ hatred of Israel to make a few bucks out of his book, Extreme Rambling. Upcoming gigs seem to be doing rather well.

Funnily enough, he’s written an article for the paper that laps up, with gusto, any morsel of anti Israel rhetoric that comes along. It features an account of a rather moralistic encounter with the late Juliano Mer-Kamis, whose Jenin based inspirational theatre project purportedly channelled would-be suicide bombers’ hatred into the performing arts. Mr. Thomas didn’t disclose that their success rate was dubious. Nor that poor Mr. Mer-Karmis was thenceforth summarily dispatched by some raving Salafist murderers.

On his journey Mark Thomas spoke to Israelis as well as Palestinians, but predictably the list he provides on his website comprises only Israeli pro Palestinian organisations such as ‘Jews for Justice for Palestinians’. There is a deep well of such bodies in Israel. Sadly, not so on the other side.

Also on the programme was an interview with ex Guantanamo Bay guard Brandon Neely who is enduring severe pangs of guilt and regret about the inhumane treatment he unthinkingly meted out to former inmates. The Rev’s introduction alluded to the WikiLeaks revelations about innocent detainees, with nary a whisper about the accompanying revelations that explained why we were involved in the war on terror in the first place.

I have a great deal of sympathy with innocent people caught up in wars. Unfortunates who are in the wrong place at the wrong time do suffer unfairly and unjustly. If inhumane treatment is a tacitly approved practice, that should stop. Should our sympathy for those who are inconvenienced, ill treated, or who suffer loss and pain obscure our sympathy for the intentional victims of Jihad who are never coming back to tell the tale? No it should not.

Ultimately such people are victims of the same terrible thing; the collateral damage that stems from a wicked ideological fanaticism that sets out to overpower and subjugate, or dispose of, unbelievers and those who don’t belong. Deliberately so.

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14 Responses to Deliberately So

  1. Will says:

    that was preceeded by a piece on “Today” about Syria, with ME “expert”, BBC favourite  & old MI5/6 hand Alistair Crook

    Protesters have said that more than 60 people have been <!– S ILIN –>killed in Syria in anti-government protests <!– E ILIN –>on Friday. Journalists are not allowed into the country, but correspondent Matthew Price reports from the border with Jordan. And Alastair Crooke, founder of the Conflicts Forum, discusses the political fault-lines in the country

    Subtle old Alistair left it to his final words to let us all know that Syrians live in dread of unrest bringing about Western intervention engineered in order to force a peace treaty with Israel. 

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  2. Craig says:

    That programme, Sue, was the BBC worldview incarnate.

    Mark Thomas’s early attempts to avoid being seen as wholly one-sided were an interesting gambit on his part, though not a very convincing one (with his talk of “cleansing Palestinians” and his comparison of reformed Israeli “sectarians” to the likes of David Irvine). As the programme went on, he pretty much gave up the attempt and just spouted anti-Israeli talking points instead.

    Rev Coles played the colonialism card, comparing Israel’s security wall to the arbitary borders drawn by Western imperialists in Africa (necessarily a bad thing).

    Both of them seemed keen to link the “Israeli activists” against the wall (often former soldiers, they said) with the US anti-Guantanamo guard/anti-Iraq War activist, tying everything together into a nice, neat left-wing worldview.

    Not very impartial of Richard Coles to describe Guantanemo Bay as “infamous around the world”. He didn’t describe the 9/11 bombings in that way, though they are surely much more deserving of the tag “infamous”.

    It suited Coles’s purpose only to mention the bits from the recent WikiLeaks that talk about “the innocent” at Guantanemo. Having read beyond the Guardian and the BBC we know that they also contained lots of material showing that many of those imprisoned at Guantanemo were (and are) very, very dangerous people.

    John McCarthy’s “deliberately so” and his “Everyone is traumatised by these horrible walls and barriers that are put up between us” should surely earn him a gentle reminder from his bosses at Radio 4 about BBC guidelines on impartiality. (As if!)

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    • Grant says:

      So we have a vicar, a “comedian” and a journalist discussing politics.
      Why ?
      Why wasn’t I invited on the programme ?

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    • Craig says:

      For “9/11 bombings” please read “9/11 attacks”. 

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  3. NRG says:

    Saturday live also shrilling about Gitmo, and how wikileaks reveealed everyone there are innocent little lambs. Disgruntled ex-US military police guy (the type too dumb to get into the proper army) telling us all detainees are saints. Lots of emails and twats shrilling support. My two emaisl to the programme this morning were not read out. Funny that. Must have been a technical hitch!

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    • Grant says:

      Yes, incredible that the Americans are so stupid that they detained ALL the wrong people !l

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    • TooTrue says:

      I was also wondering about the e-mails that were read out. It seems that anything that jarred would never make it onto the air. It would disturb the slick production.

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  4. TooTrue says:

    My goodness, sue, what a cosy little left wing gathering that was, awash in PeeCee.

    I agree with you and Craig that Thomas threw a crumb or two to the Israeli side by mentioning the Second Intifada and the fact that the genuine motive in putting the wall up was to stop suicide bombing. Then he immediately went on to call it a land grab and never looked back after that. I guess he doesn’t know that Israel’s High Court has ruled in favour of Palestiians in some cases and forced the rerouting of the wall.

    Mentioning Christians in Bethlehem, he brought up the Kairos-Palestine document, saying that it attacks the theological underpinnings of the occupation. Probably he doesn’t know about the brutalising of Palestinian Christians by Muslims and the covering up of that grim fact by Christians as they sink into their dhimmitude. Or if he does know, he isn’t letting on.

    And then John McCarthy:

    ….their lives fractured by the occupation and deliberately so.

    That also got me angry.

    In general it was a very entertaining hour, with choice bits and pieces thrown into the mix, like KD Laing, a clever poem, Indian cuisine and John Coltrane. It was smooth, slick and well-produced – and all the more insidious for it.

    However, it did seem to me that Coles tried on occasion to represent the middle ground, at one point saying, in response to some propaganda from Thomas, That doesn’t reduce the human complexity.

    From Thomas’ Guardian article:

    There are a few travel guides – such as Green Olive Tours – who can organise walks with ex-Israeli soldiers and ex-Palestinian guerillas who offer real insight into the conflict and the barrier, and you get to walk through breathtaking scenery.

    That’s a crystal-clear indication of where he stands: another leftie fool who doesn’t know what he is dealing with and thinks Palestinian terrorists are guerillas.

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    • sue says:

      Fi Glover, the other Saturday Live presenter does the same sort of thing, but worse. I’ve heard her dealing with valid points in emails from listeners by making  snappy retorts in a self-righteous, almost petulant manner, dispatching them  with no further ado.
      Yes the programme is usually entertaining and well-produced, making the agenda all the more insidious.
      Did you see this article by Howard Jacobson about Peter Kosminsky’s drama ‘The Promise’?
      That was another slick production, which lent legitimacy to an ill-conceived dangerous idea. No-one who came to the subject afresh would have suspected that it was an agenda-driven travesty.
      It wasn’t shown on the BBC, but on channel 4, so at least we weren’t paying for it literally (though we probably were metaphorically)

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      • TooTrue says:

        Fine article by Jacobson. Interersting that he’s rubbing shoulders there with heavy-duty anti-Israel propagandists like Robert Fisk and Johann Hari.

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      • Grant says:

        Sue,
        Thanks for that link. Brilliant article by Howard Jacobson, just
        superb.

        TooTrue,
        Good point and credit to the Independent for publishing it.  Maybe, one of the twisted lightweights, Fisk or Hari will have the guts to reply.

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  5. cjhartnett says:

    Wow ,thanks for this Sue.
    What a toxic brew of hand wringers,useful stooges and self righteous poseurs mentioned there.
    Suppose that there is no chance of them holding their salon bon mots at their own expense-surely Richard could hold a Sat morning coffee morning for such bien pensants. Don`t see why WE have to pay for this facile tosh!
    Wold make me pine for Fi Glover to come back-but it would have to be  really bad for that!
    Mark Thomas-private schools, put-on mockney geezer accent-oh so correct but hideously unfunny just like his fellow traveller to all things Beeb, Mark Steele.
    How come we get wet lettuce McCarthy and not Brian Keenan instead-he surely might have learned something other than that the imperialist British might have made the radiator in Beirut he  was chained to…surely to God he MUST have learned something in all that time other than the Israelis cause his captors to be “somewhat harsh”.
    Keep on pointing this systemic anti-Israel bias from the BBC wall to wall coverage! Thanks Sue!

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  6. Phil says:

    Daytime Radio 4 is about the same quality as daytime BBC TV.

    Radio 4 evenings are like BBC TV too – overwhelmingly bland, formulaic or downright trashy with a very few quality offerings.

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