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.