Foreign Affairs

The English-language news station France 24 with its youthful, well-informed presenters makes BBC News 24 seem parochial.
France 24’s extensive coverage of Gilad Shalit’s homecoming was, from what I’ve heard, broadly similar to the BBC’s. It was the main topic for the best part of two days. The French are conscious that the Shalit family are French-Israeli, but nevertheless their coverage of the released Palestinian prisoners and their families, and the jubilant celebrations by massed Palestinians and their leadership appeared more than even handed. Did I detect that the implication of moral equivalence was more muted chez France 24? I’m not sure.

We saw snippets from Gilad’s notorious interview with Egyptian TV, the off camera Hamas minder was as invisible in France as he was here, and the translation as selective. Shalit was quoted as expressing hopes for peace, whereas the Palestinians were said to be calling for “more Gilads”.
Gilad’s haunted, gaunt appearance spoke volumes, whereas one particular Palestinian returnee hero, his countenance brimming with glee and good health was filmed uttering: “They [the Israelis] treated us like dogs!” (He must’ve meant like the British treat dogs. With his shiny coat and waggy tail he certainly looked full of Pedigree Chum)

The biggest difference between the BBC and French television’s news coverage, apart from endless analyses of the ‘Euro crisis’ was the amount of time devoted to foreign affairs, and in particular Tunisia. Well, they would be interested, wouldn’t they.
There were televised debates, discussions and speculation by ‘experts’ before, during and after the election, and although there was a palpable undercurrent of disquiet about the so-called moderate Islamist party that eventually won the expected majority, they seemed, as we do, disturbingly ready willing and able to sweep their concerns under the carpet..
One memorable debate was chaired by a youthful attractive well-informed France 24 presenter with smiley dimples.
The all-Tunisian panel consisted of a headscarved member of the Ennahda party, an Islamic scholar, a young female blogger and a secular journalist/political commentator. The gist was that the moderate Islamist party has promised to listen, be inclusive etc., that there would be continuing democracy, and not a once in a lifetime Hamas style election. There appeared to be a willingness to accept this at face value, with reservations, in an ‘only time will tell’ kind of way.
I heard the exact same thing on the Sunday programme this morning, where Jane Little chatted to speed-dial experts Prof. Paul ‘Peace Studies’ Rogers of Bradford University and our old friend Professor Fawaz Gerges from the LSE. They were happy about Tunisia, if a little uneasy about Libya and Egypt, but that’s another story.
Rachid Ghannouchi’s record of making extreme fundamentalist public utterances are being ignored, forgotten and subsumed by a tsunami of wishful thinking.
His pledge not to jeopardise Tunisia’s economic future (tourism) by ‘permitting’ the immodest sunbathing and wine-drinking that we debauched tourists require for our hols seems, for the time being, to have appeased all the pessimistic doubting Thomases out there.
He has provided enough reassurance to allay the misgivings of we sceptics who weren’t wholly seduced by the Disneyland happy ever after of the glorious Arab Spring. We are all free to believe what we want to believe, but if his pragmatic promises turn out to be worth little or nothing don’t say I didn’t warn ye.
Oh for a well-informed, attractive, rounded, unbiased BBC with a healthy interest in foreign affairs and some respect for the audience’s intelligence.

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8 Responses to Foreign Affairs

  1. Joe Geary says:

    I’m not sure France 24 is much better than the BBC on Israel. I remember a few very biased reports.
    They know they have a lot more Muslim viewers than Jewish ones.


  2. cjhartnett says:

    Well said Sue!
    I too noticed the haunted skeletal look of Gilad on his return to Israel…and compared it to a few hundred sleek and well-fed terrorists being let loose back in Gaza.I drew my own conclusions…and not ones that the BBC would ever dare utter in front of their new chums.
    Jane Little did the Godawful “Sunday” show on Radio4 this morning…the clocks went back so got to hear it when I`d rather not!
    Basically it was “Catholics and Child Abuse…the gift that keeps a-giving”…then the good souls of Syria and the reaching out of Isalm to we ingrates…then(of course)…those fiends at St Pauls missing an opportunity of a lifetime in not letting the squatters wash their socks out in the font…and how might we best get a statue put up to the (far from Unknown)..St Giles of Fraserburgh!
    Poor lamb was cut down just as the City was about to submit to his searing intellect and multiculti passions…oh the humanity!
    Wretched fare…and the BBCs useless and prejudiced accounts of Foreign Affairs is a scandal!
    France, Russia, AlJaz…at least they see Foreign Affairs in terms of the coming trends….not an excuse to stick whoopie cushions under the Queens seat and call it comedy!
    Funny that airmiles don`t seem to matter when the BBC wastes them…Gaia seems to welcome their expense claims as “stickin` it realstyle to the Man”…that`ll be us then!


  3. deegee says:

    This isn’t B-France 24 but I’ve noticed recently that they have been referring to programme times as Palestine (Not Israel, Jerusalem, Jordan, etc.)


  4. deegee says:

    BBC and France 24 seem to have something else in common. They both ignored Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osbourne’s visit to Occupied Palestine. Nevertheless Salam Fayyad is referred to as Palestinian Prime Minister.

    Following the meeting Mr Osborne said:
    “I am delighted to have had the honour to meet Dr Fayyad and congratulate him on the extraordinary progress President Mahmoud Abbas and he have achieved in building the institutions of State. I was very interested to hear his views on the challenges ahead for the Palestinian economy and his plans to tackle them, as well as to discuss the issue of wider financial reform. I am proud that the UK is continuing to support Dr Fayyad and the Palestinian Authority in its work and very pleased that Britain has pledged £262 million in support of Palestinian development over the next three years. 

    Is this a hint Cameron is going to vote YES in the UNSC?
    Is the elephant in the room Hamas’s declaration they will not accept Fayyad as PM? Even the BBC caught that one.
    Is everybody pleased about £262 million in suppor over the next three years? 


  5. deegee says:

    Even more in common for France 24 and BBC

    UN culture agency votes on Palestinian membership
    Palestinians ask Unesco for seat at Paris meeting

    Essentially identical take on the same story. Palestine wants, Israel and US say no. It’s all about money.

    No reference to Palestinian damage to Jewish sites where no Muslim connection, such as the Shalom al Israel Synagogue in Jericho; using  graves on the Mount of Olives as building material; disrespect to Christian sites such as the Church of the Nativity or destruction of irreplaceable archeological sites on the Temple Mount. That should be enough to make an argument against UNESCO membership.

    No reference to Palestinian claims there is no Jewish connection to the Holyland and the danger to historical sites likely as they destroy all evidence as sole custodians.