What The papers Say

Today: R4. Monday 23rd January 2012.
Yesterday, at about 7:45. Evan Davis read out the newspaper review. An item from the Guardian was singled out, which he articulated with passion and a distinct air of disapproval. What was it? A new scandal about Hackgate? Big Ben toppled over? Breaking news about another atrocity in Syria? No, it was Harriet Sherwood’s article about the ill-treatment of Palestinian children in Israeli prisons. The way Evan spat the words out, you’d have thought he’d been imprisoned there himself.
There’s something in internet parlance, or maybe in general parlance, called ‘whataboutery’. I take it to refer to a rebuttal that solely consists of examples of something worse than the original criticism.
You write about the bloody awful conditions endured by stone-throwing children held in Israeli prisons, and I counter with ‘what about conditions for children who have been tortured to death in Syria?” That’s what-about-ery.

That has nothing to do with Evan Davis, it concerns a CiFWatch article about another of Harriet Sherwood’s stories about Israel’s wrongdoings, real or imagined. These she obsessively researches to assuage the insatiable appetite for such things over at the Guardian.

The CiFWatch piece, cross-posted at Honest Reporting, begins with a graphic and gruesome description of the body of a 13 year old boy who had evidently been tortured to death by the Assad regime. It’s there purely to contrast its stark brutality with the allegations in the Guardian’s special report that Evan spat out with such venom yesterday.

Someone suggested this was ‘whataboutery’. But it wasn’t really, because Honest Reporting didn’t stop there. They went on to include the Israeli response, which, needless to say, was not published in the Guardian.
The Guardian’s video stars two Palestinian youths, one of whom looks like a chubby young Mr. Bean. Shall we call them ‘mature children’.
We are expected to take their testimony at face value. Their interrogations sounded tough, though not horrifyingly brutal, and if there is any truth in their allegations it’s nothing for Israel to be proud of.

It would be naive to believe that there have never been any Israeli violations of those laws specifically meant to protect the rights of minors in detention. If these cases exist, there are authorities tasked with investigating and dealing with such deviations. This is not, however, the norm.”

Not touched upon at all is the matter of why they were in this situation, leaving the impression that they were completely innocent victims of some random act of vengeance by Israel.

Honest Reporting says that Israel maintains that these allegations are completely baseless.
The mechanisms of accountability and rule of law actually exist in Israel” So before anyone says ‘they would say that, wouldn’t they’ it does seem pathetic that the lefty Guardianistas and their BBC bretheren are willing to leave aside their critical faculties, and take the words of all accusers, however implausible, as gospel. Film of stone-throwing Palestinian youths is abundant. We know they do it, and we know that slingshot catapults are lethal weapons. We know that exaggeration and faux news is par for the course. Yet people lap up unverified allegations by agenda-driven reporters. They can’t get enough of it.

The Israel Security Agency and its employees work solely within the law and are subject to oversight and internal and external examination, including by the State Controller, the State Prosecutor, the Attorney General’s Office, the Israeli Knesset and Israel’s courts at all levels, including the Supreme Court.”

That response is dismissed out of hand, deemed not worth listening to.
Mark Regev was allowed just enough time on the video to say that representatives of minors who feel they have been ill-treated should ‘come forward’ as Israel knows it is important to treat young people with extra consideration, but this was nullified by what came immediately after. A reiteration of the original allegations, which was allowed the final word.

This unverified report was singled out by some BBC producer as though it was of particular interest to Today listeners, and maybe they’re right.

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7 Responses to What The papers Say

  1. Phil says:

    Bigots and racists are licence payers too, and add to the diversity of opinion in our society.

    The BBC has a responsibility to serve all sections of the UK public.


  2. George R says:

    And a corollary:  the political ‘left’ lobbies for Islam.

    INBBC supports all that in spirit. 

    UK: Islamic supremacists, Leftists demand “inquiry into anti-Islam press”


    • cjhartnett says:

      What a list eh?
      Jemima Khan, Biance Jagger…but no Yoko Ono I notice!
      Michael Rosen?…think I`ll send Anjem Choudhury a tape of his celebration of rude and sweary words as to be found in Skins, EastEnders and Grange Hill from his show  earlier…be interested in how the abuse comes across in Arabic for the Madrassa Channel!
      Let`s see if the Regents Park Mullah still requires his patronage after that!


      • Span Ows says:

        Indeed, it’s hilarious; you would have thought that those that wanted the item to be taken seriously would have edited/hidden/whatever that list!  
        Letter: “ve need to do zometing about ze Jews”  
        signed: Adolf H, Hienrich H, Klaus B, Reinhard H…   
        (apologies for OTT and Godwin’s law!)


  3. Span Ows says:

    We’re all guilty of whataboutery, it is almost a natural defensive response…however, it is never an excuse BUT to ignore the details in most whataboutery is gross hypocrisy (note some contributions of Dez and co on here)


  4. Biodegradable says:

    Having admitted last week, to my surprise, that Hamas is classed as a terrorist organisation not only by Israel but also by the US and the EU, today Al Beeb is back to its old tricks, telling half the story:

    Israel detains Hamas MP Aziz Dweik for six months

    Both the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, which Israel has designated a terrorist group, condemned the arrest.

    Only Israel, you see, designates Hamas a terrorist group.


  5. cjhartnett says:

    If Cameron is about to moan about the Human Rights Act as appiled in Strasbourg-were any of us able to guess which legal eagle they`d ask for an opinion.
    Lord Carlile?…Falconer?..Geoffrey Roberston? Michael Mansfield? Clive Stafford-Smith..Shami…Gareth Pierce?…no shortage of Nu Labor Legal millionaires to consult…absolutely no vested interest in the outcome hmm?
    Who`d have thought Dame Helena Kennedy would have a view?
    Labour appointed peer-Brown czar on “democratic deficits”..Scottish…any number of Goldsmiths College type gigs as Rector?
    In short-just the person the BBC will ask to tell us why Cameron`s a prat who will send Qutada to his doom.
    So Helena it is then-I didn`t listen-yuou KNOW what she`ll say!
    Which is precisely why Labour turns to her in its guise as the BBC “voice of concern” regarding anyhting that might upset m`learned Croatians in Strasbourg!