Kevin Connolly’s lazy narrative

A guest post by Israelinurse:

“In the Middle East once you have chosen between the irreconcilable narratives on offer, everything confirms the narrative you have chosen, and nothing confounds it.”

After barely a year in the Middle East, the BBC’s correspondent Kevin Connolly appears to have reached the conclusion that facts and objective analysis of events are not what he came here to look for. Like many a Western journalist, crippled by preconceptions based on historical inaccuracies and hampered by an inability to speak any of the local languages fluently, he has succumbed to the temptations of ‘narrative’.

Connolly’s report of June 9th from Majdal Shams indicates very clearly the category of narrative he has chosen to adopt and promote. Whilst the acceptance of ‘narratives’ as legitimate versions of events has evolved from the prevailing mores of a politically correct climate in the United Kingdom which recoils from any kind of judgement- based assertions, its application in far flung corners of the world does not necessarily serve the interests of the BBC audiences. The airbrushing of facts, the subjective impressions of a reporter trapped within his own culture and the ‘dumbing-down’of news into pastiches of black and white contribute nothing to the listeners’ understanding of events.

And so Kevin Connolly begins his piece by referring to the 1967 Six Day War, during which Israel captured the Golan Heights. He provides no background to the outbreak of hostilities: no mention of the Syrian attempts at diversion of the water sources which feed Israel’s only fresh water supply – the Sea of Galilee, no reference to the years of shelling and sniper attacks on the Israeli villages situated below the Golan Heights and of course no reminder to his listeners of the attempt by Arab armies to annihilate the 19 year old Jewish state. As far as Connolly’s audience is concerned,Israel just decided one fine morning to conquer the Golan.

Next, Connolly informs his audience that the border fence stormed by Palestinians from Syria is not technically a border but a line of disengagement “since there is no peace deal to make it permanent”. Significantly though, he fails to mention that just over a week after the Six Day War ended, Israel – via America – proposed a return of the captured land in the Golan Heights and the Sinai in exchange for signed peace treaties with Syria and Egypt. This offer was of course met with the famous ‘Three Nos’ of Khartoum; the Arab states chose the option of “no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with Israel”.

That decision resulted in Israel’s holding of the Golan from 1967 until the Syrians tried to re-conquer it in the Yom Kippur war of 1973. Once again Syria lost the war it had started and the ceasefire lines eventually drawn up in May 1974 under the Separation of Forces Agreement between Israel and Syria included the return of portions of the conquered territory to Syria. That ceasefire agreement was intended to be part of UN SC resolution 338 which stated that”immediately and concurrently with the ceasefire, negotiations shall start between the parties concernedunder appropriate auspices aimed at establishing a just anddurable peace in the Middle East”.No peace agreement was of course reached, despite Israel having returned some of the territory as stipulated in UN SC resolution 242 which calls for “Withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict” in return for “Termination of all claims or states of belligerency andrespect for and acknowledgment of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State inthe area and their right to live in peace within secure andrecognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force”.

Connolly also fails to mention the two rounds of failed negotiations between Israel and Syria in the mid- 1990s and 2000, as well as subsequent efforts by the Olmert government. His listeners remain ignorant of the fact that if there is no peace agreement between Israel and Syria, it is certainly not due to lack of Israeli effort.

Having established in the minds of his audience that the border is not a border and that the land in question is held ‘in sin’, Connolly then goes on to subtly inform listeners where their sympathies should lie. The Syrian protesters are “unarmed”. They find themselves “pinned down by gunfire” with limited cover from an earth bank. Only two paragraphs later does Connolly bother to point out that the infiltrators had actually been warned – in Arabic – by means of megaphone not to approach the fence and that when they proceeded despite this, warning shots had been fired into the air. In his subsequent bizarre comparison of the situation with soldiers caught in razor wire inWorld War 1, Connolly once more indicates where his audience’s sympathies should lie by using the words “vulnerability and pathos” to describe a group of political protesters trying to illegally cross a highly volatile border between two countries at war.

Again he reminds listeners that his heroes “carried no firearms” and that they “risked their lives”. Whilst acknowledging that Syrian reports of the death toll cannot be taken as necessarily accurate, Connolly also purports that “the Israelis have no idea if the live ammunition they claim to have aimed at the feet and legs of the protesters, left people bleeding to death as they waited for treatment”. For some reason he completely fails to mention that the Israeli army responded positively three times to the request for a cease fire in order to permit the Red Cross to evacuate the wounded, but that on each occasion the protesters, rather than respecting the cease fire, took advantage of it to continue in their efforts to breach the fence.

Descending rapidly into ever more ridiculous analogies, Connolly then informs his audience that “the Israel of Majdal Shams hardly seems like the Jewish David ranged against the collective Goliath of the Arab world”. In other words, Connolly is making sure that readers know that Israel actually has nothing to fear from these ‘unarmed’ and heroic protesters to whom he has taken such a shine. Clearly to him, this is just another case of Israelis over-reacting; a function of “the Israeli national nightmare of Palestinians massing on their borders demanding the right of return”.Nightmares are of course illogical; rooted in unfounded fears and something to be got over. In fact, having established throughout his report that Israel is guilty of almost hysterical over-reaction, Connolly then goes on to declare that “Israel sees the protesters as extremists or followers of extremists”, obviously implying that sensible people should appraise the situation very differently. One cannot but wonder exactly what the appropriate term is in the BBC lexicon for groups of people who seek to resolve an ongoing conflict by force rather than by negotiation and compromise.

Connolly then tries to claim that the information regarding the possibility that protesters in this and the previous event were paid to storm Israel’s borders is an Israeli fabrication which shows “weakness”. In fact, as Just Journalism has pointed out, this information came from non-Israeli sources such as the Reform Party of Syria and the Guardian. He also seems to doubt the involvement of the Syrian regime in the organization – either passive or active – of these recurring demonstrations: “And above all, Israel sees Syrian government manipulation in all this”.

Had Connolly any experience or knowledge of value about the area he would know that for over four decades now, levels of activity on the border between Israel and Syria have been dictated by the mood in Damascus. When Assad – either father or son – wanted the border to be quiet for reasons known to them, it was so. When they did not – it was not. There exists a well-entrenched myth that this border has been perfectly calm since the ceasefire in 1974. Whilst it is certainly true that when compared to some of Israel’s other borders, levels of activity by infiltrators has been low, it is not true to say that there have been no attempted terrorist infiltrations over the years. The fact is that on the day following the June 5th demonstrations, the Syrian security forces prevented the protesters from again reaching the border. They could have acted similarly the day before, but chose not to.

Unfortunately for his listeners, Connolly appears to be content with parroting the jaded narratives repeated by so many Western journalists rather than learning from the local people who actually live in the area or making the effort to equip himself with the background information necessary to comprehend this complex region. His report, therefore, is indeed no more than unchallenging narrative; undemanding of both his listener and himself and confirming all his and their preconceived prejudices. News it is not.

Alert


The BBC’s bias against Israel is not merely a case of offending a few Zionists. It has serious ramifications.

Who can blame people for being inflamed with outrage if they are fed a continual stream of myths and lies?
Under our system, politicians depend upon votes to keep them in position, so they are obliged to pander to the will of their constituents. An ill-informed, misinformed public exposes a fundamental flaw in democracy. Naturally, if the masses were informed and educated, democracy would still be the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried, as Churchill said. As it is, it might not even be the best of a bad lot. If our government abandons reason, the BBC has a lot to answer for.

Honest Reporting:

“Israeli PM Netanyahu’s address to Congress has provoked a variety of reactions. While Netanyahu delivered one speech, how the media consuming public heard it was entirely dependent on the focus or interpretation and possibly even the bias of the particular media outlet or journalist writing the story. And the story itself becomes dependent on the lens through which it is delivered.

For some media outlets, the focus was on what Netanyahu was prepared to concede in pursuit of peace with the Palestinians and the painful concessions necessary. For others the interpretation was of a hardline address presented in terms of Netanyahu’s apparent “rejectionism” and unwillingness to compromise.”

BBC: Promoting the Palestinian Narrative

“The BBC buried a pitiful 2.5 min video of the speech along with three short paragraphs in its US& Canada news section. Instead, unlike all the other media outlets above, the BBC preferred to focus on Palestinian reaction to the speech rather than the contents of the speech itself, devoting all of its Middle East news section coverage to emphasizing the Palestinian narrative above the points that Netanyahu presented.

In addition, the BBC continues to use a map of Israel’s borders, which falsely shows Gaza as being “occupied”, a situation that has not been the case since Israel’s 2005 disengagement.”

Those revealing Tweets expose the depth of the problem, it’s endemic.

Wars With Words

It seems like only yesterday that I was sitting here having a bitter laugh at the book Bad News From Israel. Actually, it was only yesterday (or the day before.) Anyway, now the authors have brought out the sequel. “More” BNFI.
I’m mentioning this because even Rod Liddle thinks the proposition that the BBC is too pro Israel is a bit far fetched. Some people’s disapproval of Israel and Jews is so fierce that they consider the actual word Israel a personal affront. In that case, no wonder they think the BBC is pro Israel, since its fascination with disseminating the notion of Israel’s criminality means they mention it a fair bit.
Another thing that might inflame such people is sundry sightings of Col Richard Kemp on their screens as he is one of the military experts the BBC consults from time to time over matters military.
He was the military spokesman who went so decisively off message to vouch so authoritatively for the integrity of the IDF in the aftermath of the original Goldstone report into Operation Cast Lead in the full force of the anti Israel furore that ensued.
Here is his eloquent speech at a recent bicom conference in which he not only reiterates his support for the IDF, but very powerfully describes the media’s conspiracy to delegitimise Israel.
Bad News for the ludicrous theory of Greg Philo and Mike Berry, especially as we’re unlikely to see anything like this from Col Kemp on the BBC.

All The same Mistakes

The only thing that was new in Andrew Marr’s interview appeared to be Obama’s acknowledgment that ‘conditions on the ground have changed’ in the Middle East. People are attributing this to Netanyahu’s response to the ‘1967 lines’ section of Obama’s speech. On BBC news 24 with Zeinab Badawi they infuriatingly cut Netanyahu’s reply. It was essential to listen to Netanyahu’s speech in full to critique his reaction, but as the BBC would rather misunderstand it, why bother?

The West’s desire for a new dawning of an Arab age of enlightenment has triumphed over reality. Effigies draped in the Israeli flag, strange fruit hanging in Tahrir Square, are ignored while the West’s wishful thinking is projected onto the so-called Arab Spring. Echoes of the deluded optimism that led America to project all its desires onto Obama’s vacuous promises of Hope and Change and swept Him to power, startled, on a tidal wave of expectation with only a platitudinous manifesto to sustain him. Obama was bound to disappoint.

As we pull out of Iraq it is generally admitted that we failed to plan for the ‘peace.’ The overthrow of Saddam was the beginning, not the end. Yet we repeat this error having learned nothing.

Obama’s obtuse self-serving interpretation of the Arab revolutions, his deliberately naive pretence that they herald ‘democracy,’ his willful ability to ignore the rise of Islamism and refusal to acknowledge that the single unifying feature of the Arab street is hatred of Israel and Jews, were the discordant notes in Obama’s ambiguous backward-looking speech.
In the Marr interview Obama refers to ‘ rockets fired by Hizbollah’ but completely fails to mention the ideology behind them. Similarly his two ridiculously biased ill-informed guests sagely warned that unless Israel makes more concessions to its deadly enemies there will be dire consequences for the whole world.
On Barry Rubin’s Pyjamas Media summary, commenter ‘Terry’ describes Obama as:
“an adolescent, a sophomore radical imbued with all the Leftist BS slogans, he is immature & his intellectual development stopped long ago, he is intellectually shallow & not particularly well-educated or well-read. He has no understanding of history or economics beyond all the incoherent leftist slogans & the crap he heard from his leftist & Islamist friends & acquaintances, the Rev. Wright comes to mind.”
The BBC is hostile to Israel, openly disrespectful to PM Netanyahu, superficial, lazy, pandering to Islam; in fact the BBC itself fits the above description of Obama perfectly. How else could they get away with promoting Obama’s outrageous plan to wind the clock back 44 years and recreate the conditions that gave Israel’s enemies the confidence to attempt an intended war of annihilation? They make no secret of the fact that this is still their aim. They don’t have to. Even if they shouted it from the rooftops, the world would project their own cuckoo-land interpretation onto the religion of peace, and the BBC is up there aiding and abetting.

RECONCILIATION BETWEEN HOLOCAUST DENIERS AND GENOCIDAL JIHADISTS

Anyone catch William Hague on the politics show? It was interesting to see him dodge BBC questions on whether the Fatah/Hamas “reconciliation” was a step forward. It’s sad to see Hague spew forth the banalities of the Israel-hating F.O. but not unexpected. Whilst the blogosphere was alive with Netanyahu’s very public dressing down of Obama’s “1967” nonsense, the BBC remains married to it.

Israel In The Crosshairs Of The BBC

There’s plenty of other stuff on this blog about the BBC’s unbalanced bias against Israel after the President’s speech yesterday, but here’s one glaring example of their entrenched anti-Israel attitude.

This article about Netanyahu’s visit to the US and audience with the President includes an analysis inset from Wyre Davies, in which he sneers at the Israeli PM and at what he perceives to be trained seals in Congress, as well as at the nasty old Jewish Lobby. Surely there is a less snarky – less editorializing and impartial – way to describe the situation? In the middle of the article itself, though, the News Online sub-editor slips in this other bit of Davies’ wisdom:

Israel’s claim to being the only democratic state in the region has also been undermined by the dramatic developments of the “Arab Spring” anti-government uprisings, our correspondent adds.

Let’s consider the twisted logic here. Davies – approved by the BBC – is saying that protests against Arab dictators have (Davies uses the past tense, and so will I) already undermined Israel’s claim to being the only democracy in the village. In other words, according to the BBC protesting against dictators diminishes the democratic position of the only non-dictatorship.

And this isn’t the first time I’ve heard this Narrative from a Beeboid. Kevin Connolly, having departed his former post as US correspondent where he insulted thousands of people on air with a sexual innuendo to become a newly-minted Middle East correspondent, said the exact same thing two weeks ago.

Now if, in a few months’ time or so, an Arab/Muslim country actually achieved a state of democracy as a result of all these Arab Spring protests (which would be great and fine with me, regardless of the resulting government’s attitude towards Israel or the US), then there would be some validity to the BBC’s position. At this time, though, there is no such thing. In fact, the protests highlight the very fact the BBC says is undermined by them. But since BBC groupthink is that Israel is the worst of the bunch and the root cause of all strife in the Middle East (even as the President tells them to cut the crap), they see it exactly backwards.

The anti-Israel sentiment entrenched at the BBC twists their vision into seeing black as white. Protests against dictators undermine the idea that Israel is the only non-dictatorship in the region? Only in the minds of Beeboids. Sadly, it’s a set Narrative, clearly prepared in advance, with the latest opportunity seized with gusto. They want Israel to be undermined, to be diminished, to be delegitimized, and see it happening even where it’s the exact opposite.

A Matter of Time

I want to mention Jeremy Bowen again, and the interviews with John Humphrys and Palestinian official Husam Zomlot and Mark Regev. While I’m at it I may as well bring in Mark Mardell’s BBC Obama fanzine blog too, for another example of the BBC’s approach. The comments illustrate my point. Go instead to Caroline Glick if you’re interested in Obama’s policy on Israel.
The following is not verbatim, but a rough transcript of Webb and Bowen.
Webb. “Were these concerted demonstrations part of the Arab Spring? […]Is that how Palestinians see them?”

Bowen: ”I think it is the way to see them as a madder of fact, and [….]it was organised by Facebook and other social media. Israel says it was inspired by Iran…I think it’s a….*….who knows …but Palestinians have many grievances of their own. I think that they have seen what other people in the Arab world have been doing and they’ve thought well hang on, why can’t we do something as well as… like that.. to get on the streets or on the roads.”
Webb: “Pretty worrying for Israel..”
Bowen: “That’s why the Israelis opened fire on them and killed quide a lot of people. It was the biggest loss of life in one incident in South Lebanon since the 2006 war and the Israelis have warned that this is just the beginning, that Barak the defence minister has said that in the future they might have to deal with similar and maybe more complex incidents.”
On to Syria.
Webb. “They got into Golan and occupied the Golan Heights as well.”
Bowen then proceeded to analyse the situation in Syria. The ‘trouble’ in Syria. The Assad regime wanted quiet borders. The Israelis want Assad to stay.
Jeremy Bowen is perfectly well aware that the similarity between Facebook-orchestrated plans for a third intefada and the Arab spring is that the planning was social-media inspired, which enabled large numbers of people to co-ordinate their activism. The comparison ends there.

Mark Mardell should know this too, but his infatuation with Obama clouds his thinking.
In BBC world, the Arabs are revolting, end of. They see it as a simple matter of ‘the oppressed’ trying to break free. The fact that one lot is targeting their own oppressive leaders and the other is targeting another sovereign state is of little consequence, because the BBC has spent the last 60 years presenting Israel as the great oppressor of the Palestinian people, interlopers and thieves of ‘Muslim lands.’
This was illustrated in the interview with John Humphrys I mentioned earlier. I won’t transcribe, but I will say this. John Humphrys began with a fairly robust line. “how did you expect the Israelis to react?” However, the Palestinian gentleman was arguing on an entirely different level. Kindergarten. “Keys.” “Deeds.”

You started a war Mr. Palestinian spokesman. You lost. Your Arab brothers have had 63 years to absorb the refugees from their own failed war of annihilation, something the Israelis did straight away with the refugees from their own “Nakba”, you know, the one nobody mentions, where 800,000 Jews were chucked out of the countries they lived in, with nothing.
That’s just a fraction of the sort of thing Mark Regev means when he talks about the Palestinians rewriting history; but, sorry, time is running out.
What was fairly obvious is that behind all this is the ever more visible feeling from the BBC that Israel’s legitimacy is in doubt.
‘we are just at the start of this matter and it could be that we’ll face far more complex challenges.’
Time is running out.

DEATHS TO THE JEWS AND HAVE A NICE DAY…

Anyone catch Sheikh Jeremy al Bowen on Today this morning? With Palestinians exercising their right to return to violence at any available opportunity. Bowen was quick to declare this is all part of the “Arab Spring” and that the US would have to “do something” about Israel. The BBC’s treatment of Israel is beyond deplorable and we have to wonder WHY it is that the State Broadcaster does everything possible to ensure that whatever the circumstance, Israel is always the aggressor and in the wrong. Is it because those nice little Middle Class Guardinistas that determine editorial policy have never shaken off their student years acquired hatred of Israel and now advance it instinctively? Is it because there is a dark shadow of anti-Semitism running through the State Broadcaster? I can tell you from personal experience that as one of the few local political commentators who is unapologetically pro-Israel (Yes, I do not hide my bias) I have found the BBC very hostile to me when invited on to discuss Israeli matters. I am surprised that the BBC presenters do not wear their keffiyehs as a badge of their rancid bias.  

Nakba Day


11:53 am.

Driver in Tel Aviv Truck Rampage shouted “Death to Jews”
Israeli forces ‘fire on Palestinians’ near Gaza border *

One of these stories is not reported by your BBC.

A large red banner proclaiming ‘Breaking News’ adorns the BBC Middle East page. This advertises the latter story, whereas at the time of writing there is nothing at all about the former.

So. The BBC was interested in Israel’s reaction to a well-publicised, premeditated, deliberately orchestrated, provocative demonstration by anti-Israel activists when it first erupted near the Gaza border, whereas a terrorist mowing people down in his truck in Tel Aviv whilst shouting Allahu Akbar was not deemed newsworthy, even at the time when the original violence was limited to the border with Gaza, and before it had spread to all Israel’s borders with surrounding enemy states.

Since I began writing about this at 11:53 am, the website has been updated several times, the violence has multiplied, the BBC has become even more excited, and the presentation has become even more one-sided. For more details please see five invaluable comments by the esteemed Pounce, on the Open Thread.

The BBC speculates that the recent uprisings in Arab countries have emboldened the Palestinians, thus equating the Palestinians with the BBC’s pet freedom fighting seekers of democracy in the Arab World, and Israel with the totalitarian oppressive regimes who clamp down ruthlessly upon them.

The exact opposite of the truth.

Springtime For Arabs/Happy Independence Day Israel

What is the Arab Spring? People think the uprisings in the Arab world denote a kind of dawning of the age of Aquarius.

“Harmony and understanding,
Sympathy and trust abounding”

they chirrup delusionally.

But the Arab Spring is….. a spring. Coiled, tense, and poised to uncoil in an explosion of hatred for Israel, and perhaps the West as well.
The BBC have lost interest in Egypt, but the Muslim Brotherhood is in the ascendant, and Jupiter Aligns with Mars, Diplomatic relations have been re-established with Iran.

Then peace will guide the planets
And love will steer the stars.

Right.

The BBC’s Kevin Connolly acknowledges that if democracy emerges from the Arab Spring it will be the kind of democracy that grants the people, by popular vote, the one thing that unites them. The freedom to give full vent to their anti Israel sentiment.

Popular sentiment in Egypt appears to run strongly against Israel and sooner or later if the largest country in the Arab world is to become a democracy, then it seems reasonable to assume that will be reflected in the attitudes of future parliaments and governments.

Connolly appears to find nothing wrong with that, and I gather he’s saying that the Arab uprisings will empower the ill informed, uneducated masses to scapegoat Israel for all their very own failings, corruptions and incompetences, and it’s up to Mr. Netanyahu, the instinctive prevaricator, to deal with it as best he can.

Tunisia. Egypt. Libya. Bahrain. Yemen. Syria. Iraq.

Dissonance not understanding
Death and violence abounding
Only falsehoods and delusions
Darkly dying dreams of visions
Cryptic twisted revolution
Stifling true liberation.
Aquarius! Aquarius.

I wonder if Kevin Connolly has the faintest idea of the value of Israel as a staunch, vital and enormously useful ally of its fellow Western countries – of the U.S. as well as the UK, not to the mention the entire NATO alliance.
The BBC marks Israel’s 63rd birthday with a report about the protest against the government by Gilad Schalit’s relations because it ‘mars Independence day event.’
The Palestinians attack Israel. Israel imposes sanctions. Hamas syphons off aid leaving poverty and deprivation in Gaza. The Palestinians blame Israel. The Palestinians attack Israel. Israel retaliates. The Palestinians still blame Israel. Gilad Schalit is kidnapped by Hamas. Hamas demands the release of hundreds of Palestinian criminals in exchange for his release and denies him access to the Red Cross. Everyone blames Israel.

I can’t wait to see how the BBC will report the forthcoming Nakba Day.

Meaningful Engagement

Melanie Phillips has written another open letter, this time to David Cameron. The one she wrote earlier, to Jeremy Hunt about the BBC, must have got lost in the post, so it’s doubtful that she had high hopes of a response to this one by return of post, or indeed ever. It’s a great letter, even if it only reaches readers of the Spectator and the Commentator, and not Prime Minister Cameron himself.
When the Israeli PM visited London the other day, it seems David Cameron told him in no uncertain terms that in order to qualify for our unshakeable support Israel must engage meaningfully with the new Hama-tah /Fat-as coalition. Their refusal to come to the table unless Israel reinstates the settlement freeze is equally unshakeable, so presumably David Cameron thinks this is what Israel must do. This, Melanie points out, amounts to a kind of extortion not unlike a Mafia style protection racket. What a pity we can’t confront David Cameron with a similar ultimatum – unless he engages meaningfully with Melanie Phillips, we’ll withdraw our unshakeable support. But he knows that’s pretty shaky already.

The trouble stems, she feels, from Messrs Cameron and Hague’s lack of interest in the subject, and their consequential reliance upon Foreign Office briefings (think Rowan Laxton) for advice on foreign policy. As they seem to be largely making it up as they go along, they can’t be following it to the letter, although inserting “Britain is a good friend of Israel” into the text must either be a baffler or a double-bluff.
Melanie’s letter puts the case for Israel with eloquence, clarity and passion. She summarises Britain’s appalling historical record of the heartless betrayal of Jews, just in case Mr Cameron is not familiar with it. She makes a powerful comparison between the world’s unanimous condemnation of Islamic terrorism and the Arab world’s determination to annihilate Israel, and asks why the world condemns the former yet encourages the latter, when the motivation behind both is identical.
She implores the PM to understand that caving in so one-sidedly to Arab demands is tantamount to rewarding the aggressor and penalising the victim, and warns him, if nothing else, to think of his own legacy.
I think we all know that to hope the PM would acknowledge the letter, read it even, is fanciful. He will get away with ignoring it because our National Broadcaster has taken it upon itself to muffle the truth about Islam and to demonise Israel. Many people are therefore prepared to overlook what quite a few others are nevertheless beginning to feel uncomfortable about. Meanwhile the BBC is merrily and expensively setting the scene for a re-enactment of the 1930s, when the cavalier downplaying of the significance of what that silly German fellow with the moustache was up to led to the unimaginable events that took place under their very noses. “Peace in our time”, the prime minister is saying, but this time round, there’s no Churchill.

Targeted Serenading

We’ve had many surprises this week. One was seeing Mark Regev in the studio, speaking without constant interruptions and contradictions. We had the usual anti Israel tripe from various talking heads too, endlessly bringing up the illusory obstacle to peace, Netanyahu’s refusal to extend the settlement freeze.
Eventually, Hamas’s mourning of Bin Laden’s assassination, or heroic martyrdom, was mentioned. Even the fact that the Arab Spring might not necessarily presage enlightenment and democracy as we know it was voiced, openly, on the BBC.

However, back to normal this morning with Thought for the Day (1:48:06) The Rev Angela Tilby’s words of wisdom addressed the intractable problem of Israel Palestine. Now that those two naughty boys Hamas and Fatah have made friends, she brayed, peace can happen at last. Doves and Hawks, she purred, are both vital to the process. Hawks, though annoying, must be brought in from the cold. We must not treat this as a playground dispute, she warned, unaware that that was exactly what she was doing.
Her two unconvincing reminders that Israel’s fears were rational stuck out oddly, as though they’d been squeezed into the script as an afterthought, having remembered the need for impartiality just in time. The final bit, about Daniel Barenboim’s Gaza gig and the wonderful peace giving properties of Mozart avoided mentioning the tricky subject of Hamas’s aversion to music.
But this isn’t about Today. Most people take its irrelevance as a given, something like being made to swallow a tonic that is thought to be good for you, but isn’t really.
It’s about the item that followed. Are targeted assassinations acceptable? Does Obama’s recent escapade set a precedent? Geoffrey Robertson QC had been listening to Thought for the Day, because he mentioned it to help his argument that targeted assassinations are never justified. What, he speculated, if Sarah Palin as POTUS decided to assassinate Fidel Castro, or Julian Assange? Or what if some Ayatollahs decided to assassinate Salman Rushdie? (What indeed.)

Danny Yatom, former Head of Mossad was on the line. “ Danny Yatom”, says Sarah Montague, authoritatively, “You think it’s better to kill them that remove them alive. “ “No” he replies from some echoing Zionist den, “It’s better to capture alive and obtain intelligence, but we are at war, and in that case, if you don’t shoot, you are shot.”
So our human rights lawyer can’t see the difference between random hypothetical murders of people that a head of state might disapprove of and Israel’s intelligence-led targeted assassinations of terrorists in pre-emptive self-defence in. a. state. of. war.
The USA should have got Daniel Barenboim to play Al Qaeda some lovely Mozart instead.

Double Standards

When something bad happens to Jews or Israelis the BBC reacts with indifference or worse. The reporting of two recent incidents (or non-reporting of one of them) contrast sharply with the BBC’s treatment of similar incidents, which, when they concern Palestinians or Muslims, cause cataclysmic BBC eruptions.

Incident 1, the burning of the Torah in Corfu, was mentioned on the Open Thread with a link to Ray Cook’s blog, but ignored by the BBC. Burning Korans make quite a splash, don’t they? (H/T Demon 1001)

The second incident is described sensitively by blogger Oy Va Goy. It concerns the shooting of some religious Jews, killing one and seriously injuring others, and was at least reported by the BBC, though they dwelled on certain things which almost seemed as though they intended to justify the actions of the Palestinian police perpetrators.
When I switched on the radio this morning I caught the end of a news bulletin. They seemed to be saying that the dead and injured Jews were in a Palestinian controlled area without permission. That’s all. Did anyone else hear that news bulletin?

The Protection of Information Act

Everybody who frequents this site will know that the BBC has spent lashings of our telly tax on legal fees to safeguard the secrecy of a report they themselves commissioned. The subject was their coverage of the Middle East, and the question was: is the BBC biased against Israel?
The legal battle took many twists and turns, and Steven Sugar, who steadfastly fought for the release of the Balen report, very sadly and inopportunely died at the age of 60, shortly before another stage of the unfolding court case was due to be heard.
No-one knows whether Malcolm Balen’s findings confirmed the BBC’s anti Israel bias, but one thing’s for sure, the battle to keep them secret certainly gives the impression that they did. So, in some ways, the BBC’s intransigent refusal to let us take a peek works against them almost as much as the revelation of its contents might have done.

One slightly ironic bonus of this ongoing legal tussle is that the public gets to discover a bit of extra information for free, namely that the BBC is virtually exempt from the obligations of the FOI act, because of a cunning exclusion clause concerning ‘journalism art or literature,’ for the purpose of, yer honour m’lud.
Anything in that category is ‘out with’ the FOI act. In other words the entire BBC output can, if it likes, shelter under the same get-out umbrella.
So are we up in arms at the arrogance of the BBC for wallowing in a unique all-embracing exemption from scrutiny, which flies in the face of the ultra desirable, most-wanted virtue du jour – *transparency* – the essential quality that all organisations long for, and the one thing that makes everything come good? (WikiLeaks, anyone?)
Bear with me.
As well as (and to a large extent because of) the media – the dinner-party set, socialists, trade unions, celebrities and the Muslim community – all currently bask in a toxic climate of pro Palestinian advocacy and anti Israel activism. It’s a kind of global man-made antisemitic climate-change, and it is alive and well, flourishing even, in our universities. You can virtually get a doctorate in hating Jews.

The Arab sourced funding that some of our universities currently rely on has led to the alarming ascendancy of Islamic studies departments set up by Saudi Princes at places like Exeter, where anti Israel polemicists Ilan Pappé and Ghada Karmi prevail, and the LSE, Oxbridge and various other renowned academic institutions. I vividly recall reading with dismay this 2008 article about Aberystwyth University. It implies that if a student won’t toe the line they will probably fail their degree.
So here’s my point.
I found a FOI request that I am glad the BBC refused to deliver. It’s in the public domain, and there’s no super injunction preventing me from knowing about it. I found it on Google, by accident, as I was looking for something else.

I have no idea what this Palestinian gentleman from Strathclyde University intended to do with the information he requested. Ideas that ran through my head ranged from: *write a learned dissertation on Hasbara, *organise a troll blitzkrieg on B-BBC, and sadly, but inevitably, *kill infidels.

Why would I be grateful that the BBC refused to give details of the complainants and complaints about anti-Israel reports to a post graduate student who might be doing some important academic research? Because the student is a Palestinian activist with links to some very hostile people. Because we live in a culture of intimidation. Because B-BBC is number 12 on the list. Because because because.

I hesitated before posting this. I sought advice. They said “publish!” which I hereby do, sincerely hoping that B-BBC and I won’t be damned. What a sorry state I’m in to have such worries. It’s regrettable that some of us, because of our particular circumstances, are conscious of the need to take limited steps to preserve our anonymity, just because we dare to defend Israel.

False dawn

I switch on the radio. “They’re firing from mosques and hospitals” a voice is saying indignantly, “Fighting in a most underhand way. They’re taking off their uniforms and wearing civilian clothing and using women and children as shields”
“At Last!” I’m thinking. “The BBC has finally recognised exactly how Hamas operates, and understands what Israel faces whenever it tries to defend itself. “
But of course I was mistaken. It was not Hamas he was getting so worked up about. It was Gaddafi’s troops in Libya. But you knew that.