Explaining Briefly Why Some People are Prejudiced Against the BBC

(Radio 4 Today 7:13)

 A religious studies exam question, “Explain why some people are prejudiced against Jews”, has sparked controversy over whether it is a reasonable question to put to young people. Jon Benjamin, chief executive of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, discusses the question.

So says the Today website.

“You’re sitting an exam on religious studies. Question: Explain briefly why some people are prejudiced against Jews. Well, is that a reasonable question to ask  young people?”  asks Evan Davis.

The chairman of the National Association of Teachers of Religious Education thinks not. He suggests it was appropriate for a classroom discussion, to tease out why “these” prejudices arose, but when put as an exam question “you’ve lost the context” and it implies that the prejudices might be valid.  Jon Benjamin agrees. He says the question doesn’t ask for an analysis of ‘prejudice’, but virtually asks for a list of what’s wrong with Jews.

“If a student came up with such a list,” posits Evan, “they’d get an appalling mark.” (Probably.) Evan tried to illustrate the difference between the words ‘explain’ and ‘justify’ by making an analogy that involved substituting ‘Jews’ with ‘criminals’ and ‘self-harmers’.

It begged the question, could one replace ‘Jew’ with ‘Muslim’ here? Not that that would be helpful, because of course the zeitgeist that culminated in the holocaust is generally known to have been founded on ‘irrational fear ignorance and scapegoating.’ Suffice it to say that so far, dare I say, most prejudice against Muslims appears to be founded on the rational fear of misogyny, homophobia, antisemitism and  terrorism.  What’s more, no exam board would imagine for one nano second that they could get away with asking a question like that.

Evan’s snippet of an item was misleading and counterproductive. If it wasn’t for the fact that antisemitism is rearing its ugly head all over again, this whole furore would be a bit of nonsense.  I’ll explain why.

It says in the Telegraph:

“The exam board insisted that the question was part of a paper focusing on Judaism and the “relevant part of the syllabus covers prejudice and discrimination with reference to race, religion and the Jewish experience of persecution”.

“We would expect [students to refer] to the Holocaust to illustrate prejudice based on irrational fear, ignorance and scapegoating,” she said.“Part of the syllabus is that children must study the causes and origins of prejudice against Jews.”

So in that context the same isolated, clumsily-phrased question is arguably a good thing, which we might now see in a completely different light.

If Evan’s poor little snippet of an item had started off with that information, and he hadn’t sensationalised and isolated the question from its context, it might not have looked like an ill-conceived blunder by the exam board at all, but considering the BBC’s long-term barrage of one sided, out of context reports about Israel, it’s become  impossible to ask a question like that without causing offence. In fact the whole caboodle needed to be seen in context, not just the offending question. If it wasn’t for the BBC setting the scene over decades with their ever-present antisemitic innuendos and half-stories, posing such a sensitive question in an exam could have been thought-provoking and perhaps even positive. As it is, everyone concerned made mountain of a touchy, hyper sensitive issue that should have been a molehill.


Crying Shame

If anyone still doubts that the BBC reports negatively and one-sidedly about Israel, do look at the comments (296 and counting) below the line at Nick Robinson’s article here.

The dubious standard of literacy and the appalling ignorance indicates that the commenters aren’t in the habit of seeking out details or background beyond their own armchair. In other words they’ve been relying on the BBC.
All they seem to know is that Israel has ‘nukes’ and Iran hasn’t, (so unfair) and anyway Israel is at the root of all the problems in the Middle East; and oh, Israel’s wars are none of our business.

It’s enough to make one weep.

Update. Quite a few pro-Israel commenters are fighting back! (356 and counting!)

Bad Influence

For reasons best known to them (probably), the BBC World service came up with a poll to measure selected countries’ perceptions of certain other countries’ influence.

Israel comes out slightly above Hell on Earth.

Since the BBC and the BBC World Service have been pumping out selected information about the aforementioned countries, and withholding certain other selected information, it throws up an analogy thus:

I run a monopolistic campaign to promote my product for a number of years. I also run a monopolistic negative campaign to discredit my rivals’ products.  I then send out a questionnaire to random consumers and non consumers asking whether they see my product in a positive or negative light.

Since most of the participants in question have been subjected to my campaign but many of them have never tried my somewhat niche product because it isn’t relevant to them, the results cannot show how popular my product is, merely how effective my campaign has been.

The BBC World Service can rest assured. Their campaign has been a great success.

Disaster Day

On BBC News 24 yesterday, Jon Donnison reported the demonstrations in the Gaza strip and the West Bank by Palestinians celebrating Nakba day. I use the word ‘celebrate’ deliberately because Nakba day has become a celebration of victimhood rather than a commemoration of a Nakba (catastrophe) or cataclysmic disaster. Using this name brings it into line, in the world’s eye view, with a real catastrophe when half the world’s Jews were exterminated.

Naming the anniversary of the creation of the state of Israel after the Arabic word for catastrophe puts the largely self-inflicted expulsion of approximately 700,000 Arab inhabitants of the region on a par with the murder of six million Jews.

Jon Donnison’s report was more than a mere account of the demonstrations attended by ‘Thousands of Palestinians’. It was also a history lesson – consisting solely of a dumbed-down version of the ‘Palestinian narrative’, which itself is a very particular version of the creation of Israel. “The beginning of our continued hardship” he quotes Abbas saying, sorrowfully.

The role that Arab leaders played in this fright and flight exercise in 1948 by propagandising and scaremongering is ignored, as is the fact that the exeat was intended as a temporary  inconvenience while the Jews were neatly disposed of by invading Arab armies. Forgotten altogether is the little known “other Nakba”, the expulsion of approximately 800,000 Jews from the Middle East, who were absorbed into Israel.

“How Palestinian Arabs became refugees and how they have suffered at the hands of the Jews,” is a version of history that many have chosen to adopt as *the* authentic account of the creation of Israel. The term Jews has been prudently ‘euphemised’ into ‘Israelis’ as if to dissociate it from the malevolence that dare not speak its name.

Of course many suspect there is another side to this story, but, with the help of the BBC, they have chosen to adopt this one, and this one alone. Glorifying, or ‘rooting for’ the underdog bestows a quick-fix self-righteousness and a comforting sense of belonging. For the activist, the more radical, the more rewarding; the more assiduous, the more smug; the more strident, the more dangerous.

It can’t just be a simple case of unavoidable brainwashing from an overdose of incessant, biased reporting, because it’s easy to discover both sides of a story through the internet. Even if you know you’re not going to like it, the knowledge that the information is there for the asking suggests there’s an element of choice in the Israel-bashing zeitgeist surrounding the intelligentsia and the unintelligentsia, and the fact that so many choose to ignore or reject the so-called “Jewish narrative” out of hand, yet adopt the Arab one unquestioningly indicates that antisemitism resides within the default Israel-bashing epidemic.

Surely the BBC’s own biased reporting can’t be due to brainwashing either, unless they’re hopelessly incompetent, and incestuously regurgitating each other’s biased reporting. Their unique access to funds and resources means they are capable of ferreting out the whole story, so their failure to do so must be because of somebody, somewhere’s conscious decision, and their failure to fulfill their obligation to report fully and impartially must also be a matter of choice.


Marching Orders

Israel-supporting blogs have been cross posting an account of the manner in which Richard Millett was roughly ejected from yet another of the sinister pro-Palestinian meetings that abound in London institutions.

The organisers objected to the fact that he was filming, but as there were others doing so too, it is more likely that they simply objected to his presence. He makes it his duty to attend these functions, which are, after all, advertised as public meetings, and he is well known for asking difficult questions and ‘disrupting’ the antisemitic and anti-Israel rhetoric.

The relationship between this incident and the BBC is an indirect one, apart from the fact that one of the speakers who watched this incident take place from his seat on the  platform was our old friend, the BBC’s go-to Middle East talking head, Abdel Bari Atwan.

That, and the fact that the BBC’s biased reporting has fostered a default anti-Israel attitude amongst otherwise well-meaning people who mistakenly think this is a good and righteous principle.

Ethical Woman

Rowlatt is an unusual name, so it didn’t surprise me to learn that Bee is Justin’s other half. Bee is a BBC World Service producer, so should she really be participating in the Palestinian Festival of Literature (affectionately known as PalFest) as Hadar Sela recounts here? Not that anyone could object to a lovely cultural festival of booky wooks written by the Guardian’s favourite authors, poets, and literary geniuses.

Or could they?

When does a literary fest become a hate-fest? When it’s full of Guardian writers, Pro-Palestinian activists and anti-Israel propagandists.

The PalFest website states:

‘“For the first time, PalFest will conduct activities in besieged Gaza, where Palestinians continue to resist Israel’s illegal blockade which has transformed the occupied Gaza Strip into the world’s largest prison camp. PalFest is a sign of the growing solidarity across borders in our struggle against racism and oppression. Intellectuals and writers played a key role in ending Apartheid in South Africa; likewise, Arab cultural figures are visiting Gaza this year to show solidarity with Palestinian academics and artists in support for their call to increase the global BDS campaign against apartheid Israel.”

“On behalf of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel(PACBI), we deeply appreciate the Arab writers’ principled and consistent support for the Palestinian civil struggle for justice and peace in Palestine.”

“British authors Rachel Holmes and Bee Rowlatt will lead extended creative writing workshops in Birzeit with the Palestine Writing Workshop.”

So, BBC World service producer Mrs Ethical Man is promoting the  ill-conceived, mendacious smear that multicultural Israel resembles South Africa under apartheid, and campaigning for BDS. Nice.

Mistaken Identity

Honest reporting alerted me to this Yolande Knell report. Anyone familiar with the UN Special Rapporteur Richard Falk and Yolande Knell would not be not surprised to see that the shoogly peg upon which Ms. Knell hung her article was yet another of Falk’s condemnations of Israel. Falk has featured on this website more than once.

Before the article was stealth edited  the BBC got his name wrong, such was its haste to spread Falk’s word. Knell’s piece provided Robin Shepherd with ‘another of those do-I-laugh-or-do-I-cry moments’. He calls it ‘flagrant anti-Israel propaganda.’

The BBC frequently cites Falk on the Middle East, but it persistently fails to define him as the anti Israel fanatic he obviously is. Calling him Robert was a silly mistake, but why bother with the details when you’ve got some anti-Israel material to publicise?

The best ‘Rob to Rich’  joke wins.

What A Difference A Day Makes

This was withheld for one day in case something tragic happened during the Grand Prix. Better safe than sorry, if one *May* say so.


a) “A drawing depicting a humorous situation, often accompanied by a caption.”

b) “A drawing representing current public figures or issues symbolically and often satirically: a political cartoon.”

At best, a cartoonist will capture a facial expression or encapsulate a situation with humour, brevity and élan, while at worst he will produce a laboured,  racist, malicious, libelous, unfunny, overworked, overrated visual polemic.

On Saturday’s early morning paper review a cartoon was mentioned, depicting a car belonging to Bernie Ecclestone being filled up with blood. Which category that fits into depends on the outlook of the beholder.

F1 racing is cartoon-like, right from the starting grid. Cars, drivers, costumes, commentators in Groucho face-masks and  the octogenarian pixie Bernie Ecclestone who was obviously startled at being asked for a political opinion, politics having never occurred to him until that moment.

The hooha over Bahrain has a cartoon-like quality. The name of the capital sounds like ‘banana.’ Direct-Action Boycott/Divestment/Sanction is an ill-conceived concept that usually amounts to pointless, illogical, vigilante posturing.

I don’t know much about the Bahraini Royal family, but they sound at least as charming as the Saudi Royals who we suck up to, or the Chinese whose human rights abuses we set aside for the sake of sport, or the Pakistanis who I believe we play cricket with.

A likeable Bahraini Prince was interviewed on the BBC. He spoke with a cultured English accent,  like a respectable British businessman; the tea towel on his head was set at a jaunty, possibly ironic, angle.  The protesters, who are they? His Royal Highness compared them to our own rioting protesters, a theory that gains credence with every molotov cocktail.

The QT panel were all for the boycott. George Galloway was off colour that day but even he managed to outdo his own hypocrisy. As if he doesn’t habitually suck up to murdering dictators.

John Humphrys interviewed another pleasant Bahraini spokesman yesterday morning who sounded extremely plausible. Humph was taken aback when this gentleman refused to cave in at the very mention of Amnesty International and human rights abuses. He was far too polite to say bad things about such an inherently virtuous body, but he stood his ground.

The Any Questions panel were all for the boycott. All except Alan Duncan. Far be it for me or anyone else to agree with Alan Duncan, but by the same token if Andy Slaughter and the odious Jeremy Corbyn are campaigning  against F1 in Bahrain, I’m all for it.

Go Lewis!!


Propaganda Works

Although the BBC’s current attitude towards Israel is predominantly hostile, certain Jews are always treated sympathetically. Those persecuted and murdered by Hitler.

“Holocaust Memorial Day in Israel is one of the most sombre points in the calendar. This year has seen the opening of an exhibition dedicated to the young men who ran a football league in the ghetto of Theresienstadt in the Czech republic, who left a remarkable musical legacy. ” So says the Today webpage, introducing Kevin Connolly’s item (yesterday) about the type of Jews he and the BBC have no problem with.

It was a moving and memorable piece, but sadly, such undoubtedly well-intentioned features also provide material for the anachronistic but oft-cited complainants who, according to the BBC, contend that the BBC is overly pro-Israel. This conveniently masks the genuine bias and generates our old friend “we-must-have-got-it-about-right”.  It will have been filed away away in the recesses of their consciousness, together with  Rabbi Jonathan Sacks’s Shoah-themed Thought For The Day, to justify another tedious complaint about catching sight of Mark Regev on television, or to inspire a hateful post on the internet beneath the YouTube clip of the Nazi propaganda film contrived to bamboozle the public into believing that Hitler was kind to the Jews.

Kevin Connolly spoke to Israeli born Oded Breda who has worked at Beit-Terezin since 2009: “That cynical propaganda film still troubles him to this day. Holocaust deniers who find it on the internet want to use it to suggest that the Jews of Europe were not mistreated. Were not slaughtered” said Connolly, and Mr. Breda added:

“The propaganda film is still working. If you look at YouTube, if you look at remarks that people are putting, people are saying ‘look at the Jews in the war. There was nothing. Look how they play. The propaganda film was working very well.” 

The BBC should be made aware that propaganda is a powerful weapon, and reminded that many people are still unhappy with the BBC’s misleading coverage of the “Jenin massacre”, the lingering fallacy surrounding the Al Durah incident, the uncritical publicity gifted to Ken O’Keefe and Sarah Colbourne after the Mavi Marmara debacle and the ongoing misinformation over the unnecessary death and sanctification of Rachel Corrie; not to mention the BBC’s biased reporting of Operation Cast Lead, and for that matter all wars and skirmishes involving Israel, invariably provoked by the neighbouring states, but habitually blamed on Israel. Not forgetting the misrepresentation of Gaza, the air time given to Islamists and unmarked, unnoted supporters of Islamists and terrorists. In fact the incessant vilification of Israel fits in nicely with the conventional present-day perception of righteousness, no doubt just as it did regarding Jews in pre-war Germany. If the Guardian reflects the thinking behind the BBC’s worldview, and the BBC was not hobbled by its charter, Kevin Connolly’s piece might have replicated the Guardian’s insensitive conduct. In reply to the suggestion that it was inappropriate to publish a piece written by Raed Salah on Israel’s Holocaust Memorial Day day, Guardian Comment Editor Becky Gardiner said: “No offence intended”.


Slap in the Face

Blogger Restoring Britain commented yesterday on Monday’s Open thread about the BBC’s treatment of yet another story which seizes on the Israeli retaliation while ignoring the build-up that led to it.

Here is our old friend Yolande Knell, who might have picked up some of her material from this AP report, which also contains the usual emotive anti-Israel language. For example :

“Israel has branded the activists “provocateurs” who posed a security threat to the country. Calling itself the Middle East’s only democracy, it says the protesters have their priorities wrong and should instead focus on rampant human rights violations in neighboring Arab countries.”

With the Mavi Marmara incident in mind, these activists are undoubtedly provocateurs, it’s not really necessary to use the sneering: “Israel has branded” they ARE provocateurs. End of, as they say in Eastenders. Same goes for “Calling itself”. It IS the Middle East’s only democracy. Get over it, as they say elsewhere.

“In the video, Lt. Col. Shalom Eisner is seen smashing a Danish activist in the face with his M-16 rifle.”

To me that looks distinctly over the top. “Smashing” indicates something is broken. I think the poor fellow had stitches in his lip. Painful, but not exactly smashing.

However the AP article does go into more detail, so sneering aside, we are told:

 “The officer, through his confidantes, claimed the activist had previously struck him with a stick, breaking two of his fingers, Israeli media reported. One newspaper ran a photo of him with a bandage on his hand.”

Yolande Knell has:

“After an exchange, the video shows Lt Col Eisner suddenly slamming his M-16 rifle into a demonstrator’s face in an apparently unprovoked attack.”


In her defence, the video does appear to show an unprovoked attack. Probably because that’s the bit they filmed.

This isn’t the first time the press has seized upon such a thing and presented it as though pro Palestinian activists are angels of mercy, and the IDF are brutes. It isn’t the first time Israeli governments have condemned an errant Israeli before the facts have been fully examined. Remember Mohammad Al Dura.

In conclusion, this isn’t the first time the BBC has shown little or no interest in the background to a provocative pantomime by Israel-bashers and useful idiots, but expressed indignation the moment Israel responds.

This blogger has written a series of detailed articles exploiting this incident. He seems particularly upset that several Israelis have been praising Col Eisner, but check out the tenor of the comments to see what sort of attitude they reveal.


If Col Eisner’s bad-tempered face-butt was really representative of IDF behaviour and the shy Dane who was afraid to give his name – (“don’t tell ‘em, Andreas Ias”) – was really an innocent bicycle rider and songsmith, I’ll take it all back and apologise.