Friday, 16 August 2019

Open Thread

We spotted a couple of Painted Ladies in the garden recently. A 'once-in-a-decade' Painted Lady butterfly phenomenon is taking place in the UK they say.

This is not a once-in-a-decade phenomenon, just a new open thread.

Trump’s "Muslim ban"

Trump’s "Muslim ban." That's how Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib describe Israel’s last-minute decision to ban them from their proposed tour of Palestine, the non-existent state that non-exists in Israel. 
Of course, they can’t actually go to Israel while boycotting it. That would be hypocritical!

You might have noticed there’s a particular type of spin attached to the reporting of a decision that turns out to be the gift that strikes two of the media’s least favourite birds - Trump and Israel - with one stone.

There are numerous examples of this spin, but let’s stick to the BBC. (1m 24s)
Newshour and The World Tonight featured two ‘anti” interviewees. The poisonous hag (sorry) Hanan Ashrawi who giggled with forced amusement at any question she deemed preposterous while making the ultimate preposterous statement herself, namely  “Israel cannot tolerate dissent!”.  

Next to reinforce the BBC’s disapproval was Yaakov Katz of the Jerusalem Post, whose argument against the ban came through as deluded naivety. He hoped the two democratically elected congresswomen ‘might see how open Israel is”.   A likely scenario (I don’t think.)

However, a lengthier presentation of this development came with Beyond 100 Days. Katty Kay and David Eades (sitting in for Christian Fraser) with the help of Tom Bateman and Chris Buckler. 

All were in default anti-Trump mode. While Katty Kay was probably quite correct to speculate that President Trump was using this opportunity to divide the Democratic Party (a shrewd move perhaps) by ‘tarring the whole party with the “views they (Omar and Tlaib)  might have,” the actual views “they might have” were played down. Hardly mentioned (not mentioned) was the fact that the pair’s proposed itinerary left hardly any space (no space at all ) for any of the so-called ‘reaching out” that rose-coloured specs-wearing pro-Israel opponents of the ban hoped for.

Rather than detailing the anti-Israel /antisemitic histories of these two ladies, they glossed them over  with the pared-down, cavalier “having been critical of Israel.’ Someone mentioned: “coming with open eyes, open ears and open minds.” (As if!) Buckler even revived the truncated  “Go back to their own countries” theme, which I mistakenly assumed had been discredited for good.

Ilhan Omar has announced. “This is Trump’s Muslim ban being implemented.” 

If you think this move by Israel is a bit of an own goal - and in many ways, that’s what it looks like, try thinking again. 

Take, for example, the ‘bans’ our own country has implemented over the years. Take the bans that many of us consider having been unwarranted, for example when the Home Office banned Geert Wilders, Robert Spencer, Pamela Geller, Lauren Southern, bans we opposed in the name of freedom of speech. These voices should be heard, we said. 

But how many of the people we wanted to hear were seriously coming with “open eyes, open ears and open minds.” Is it likely that Geert Wilders would have gone to one of Luton’s or Birmingham’s many Mosques to ‘learn’ about the beauty of Sharia from one of the imams? Perhaps he would then go back to Holland and say “Hey guys, I was a bit harsh on Islam. Forget the whole Fitna thing and bring it on”.

On the opposite side of the coin, look at the case of ‘Jews bake bread out of babies’ blood’ Raed Salah. He managed to evade the ban although I’m not sure if he was able to take up the invitation to take tea on the terrace with Jeremy Corbyn, but I’m pretty sure that nothing he did or saw in the UK helped moderate his antisemitic views or did much towards promoting peace and goodwill.

So I would speculate that Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib had no more intention of ‘learning’ anything at all from their Ashrawi-sponsored tour of Palestine.

I have to say that certain individuals who claim they are only defending their right to exercise free speech are in fact hellbent on crying ‘Fire’ in a crowded theatre. So on this occasion, Israel’s US-inspired decision is probably the right thing to do.

Meanwhile, Rashida Tlaib has been granted the right to enter the Israeli-occupied West Bank on humanitarian grounds. She has a 90-year-old grandmother there. The proviso is that she would “not promote boycotts” during her visit. 

"Granny" 90-year-old Mufti Tlaib
 So there.


Oh noes! Under such oppressive conditions, she doesn't want to go after all!

Tuesday, 13 August 2019

The giant rusty key and other stories

I’ve been thinking about this for a while now. I haven’t written about it for two main reasons.

One, it would have made me look meaner and even more of a fanatical polemicist that I already do, and two, the subject is more nuanced, subjective and infused with a good deal more shades of grey than the traditional fifty. It’s also firmly embedded in emotional and a-historical folk-weavery than I can ever presume to tackle alone.

This is not the first time that we’ve featured this author here. The ITBB search engine reveals that he is no stranger to a particular brand of sentimental Palestinian folklore; saccharine, emotional heartstring-tugging - the Disneyfied narrative of the Palestinian Nakba and the complete absence within that narrative of accountability for their own ‘plight’.

Realistically I have to accept that something of this is entrenched in the national psyche, but what I find incomprehensible is the way that swathes of intelligent people have swallowed it whole - hook, line and giant rusty key.

‘It’s not just me saying it’ as every political advocate currently says to bolster whatever case they’re advocating. BBC Watch addresses the matter with the gusto and rigour that I cannot adequately muster. Shehadeh’s memoir popped up on Radio 4’s Sunday Morning with…(Scottish edition)

“Raja Shehadeh and Penny Johnson live in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank. They’re both writers and campaign for Palestinian civil and political rights. They talk to Sally about their writing and their life together.” 

 Shehadeh’s allegations of ‘land grabs’ and “building more and more settlements” – along with a subsequent claim that Israel makes “attempts at making [Palestinian] people leave” – are patently false. 
Magnusson however again failed to make any effort whatsoever to challenge those blatant falsehoods and closed the item shortly afterwards with yet another misleading reference to “fifty years of occupation”. 
In short, BBC Radio Scotland audiences heard twelve minutes of entirely predictable yet totally unquestioned political propaganda which not only failed to “help people understand” the subject matter but actively hindered that BBC obligation.

It may be the Scottish version, but it’s still the BBC. So what else can we expect?

This has something to do with the way the BBC has started to use ‘inclusive’ language to make  Islamic culture as cosy and familiar as our own. The throw-away term “Friday Prayers’ is now used as fondly as “Sunday Lunch” and the term ‘Eid’ has become Eid al-Adha’ and we are confronted by BBC anchors like Jane Hill using the full-on Arabic pronunciation. Mona Siddiqui’s TFTD hammered the nail home firmly on this morning's Today Programme. (1:46:53)

But worse. Perhaps in the same spirit in which the Spectator brought in Julie Bindel to counteract Melanie McDonagh’s critique of Lauren Laverne’s approach to Desert Island Discs  - presumably “for balance” - our last remaining refuge from creeping left-wing journalism has published a glowing review of Shehadeh’s latest work of fiction.

Going Home: A Walk Through Fifty Years of Occupation
Raja Shehadeh
Claire Kohda Hazelton

On a rainy day in 1955, four-year-old Raja Shehadeh left school without putting his coat on. ‘I will soon be home, I thought, trailing the coat as it became heavy with rain.’ The walk was longer than he expected, or the rain heavier. He arrived back soaked through and fell ill with pneumonia. The journey home, without protection from the weather, could have killed him.
Should have put his coat on then?

Throughout his life in Palestine, Shehadeh has been buffeted by events that have seemed as uncontrollable as the weather. He was a very young child when his family were forced out of Jaffa by Israeli soldiers and moved to Ramallah, and 16 during the Israeli invasion of the city. 
For nearly 30 years, Shehadeh — a lawyer, activist and writer — has taken a walk every year on the anniversary of the 1967 war and occupation of Palestine by Israel. The year of this book is 2017 —the 50th anniversary — and Shehadeh is 66, plagued by a recurring dream in which he is lost and can’t find his home.

Has he forgotten who started the ’67 war “and occupation of Palestine”? which by the way, was an intended war of annihilation.

Thankfully the below the line comments restore a modicum of common sense.

avi15 • 4 days ago • edited
This article is the usual drivel. It gives the same misleading impression as the eastern European lady in my local high street, who sits on the pavement looking all pathetic and begging; and then, when she thinks no-one is looking she nips into the post office to send all her winnings back to eastern Europe and at the end of the day, she jumps into a not that old Toyota Auris parked round the corner. 
Do we really have to fall for all of this guff? There are a million reasons why houses are demolished: normally, it has to do with not bothering with things like planning permission. If the Palestinian leaders wanted to make a deal and sort out their dispute with Israel, they easily could - they just don't want to. They're clearly making far too much money begging, looking all pathetic and hoping that one day the world will let them grab all of Israel and kill or expel all of its Jewish inhabitants. 
Don't fall for this rubbish - which only serves to perpetuate the rule of fascist, anti-Semitic criminals - which is what both Palestinian regimes currently amount to. 
And by the way, no-one "stole the Palestinians' land'. That's another lie they repeat to anyone gullible enough to listen, but which is used to justify any and every crime of violence, however heinous, that they commit. 

This whole topic is one big confidence trick. A scam, really. It’s like that ad for equity release that features the most annoying elderly couple in the whole wide world saying “this nice young man has offered us twopence ha’penny for our house, so we took it straight away.”

Or, the most mind-boggling example of human gullibility on the planet in which the police took the testimony of that palpably raving psychopath and transparently delusional man Beech and used it to vilify and destroy people who found themselves defenceless and broken in the most Kafkaesque way imaginable.

Monday, 12 August 2019

The Spaghetti Western

Especially sharp-eyed (or snaked-eyed) regulars might remember me posting, from time-to-time, semi-gratuitous YouTube videos of Spaghetti Western scores by Ennio Morricone - the man behind the coyote calls, the whipcracks, the grunts, the whistles and the unforgettable tunes of Sergio Leone's Dollars trilogy (A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More and The Good, The Bad and The Ugly), plus the haunting harmonicas and gritty guitars of Leone's mighty Once Upon a Time in the West - and, oh, so much more besides.

I love those films, though I believe it's the music that mainly makes them so special for me. 

I probably ought to watch more films. But they're mostly too long and, besides, I've got Mark Mardell and Mark Easton to attend to. 

Once at work a temp guy who loved his films began asking me if I'd seen such and such a film. I said 'no'. He went on. I went on replying the same. It went on for ages. Hours even. He even tried again the next day. He couldn't believe his ears. 

My taste in films isn't overly sophisticated. I like Star Trek movies, Japanese Godzilla films of the 1950s to the 1970s, Carry On films, Hitchcock, the odd James Stewart or Cary Grant film, The African Queen, Some Like It Hot, a few Glen Ford westerns and - of course - my beloved Sergio Leone Spaghetti Westerns (plus the Don Spiegel-directed Morricone-scored Two Mules for Sister Sarah), and The Naked Gun and Airplane.

Most of my experience of cinema-going was a girlfriend-pleasing thing. She liked kiddies' films and horror films and took me to see plenty of both, bless her.

(I seriously loathe horror films, or any films with violence against women. It verges on a phobia with me). 

I particularly remember being taken to watch The Lion King in Lancaster's now-defunct central cinema.

The film was ear-splittingly loud (as is the way of modern cinemas) but even that was no match for the hordes of young kids leaping up and down throughout and shouting and screaming at an intensity that would surely have shamed Douglas Adams's (Roger Waters and Dave Gilmour, Pink Floyd-inspired) megagroup Disaster Area - "the loudest band in the galaxy".

So many little mouths, so many decibels.

The little ones managed to pretty much drown out Elton John entirely (something some people might think to be no bad thing at all. But how can anyone really hate the singer of Your Song?).

Ah, Douglas Adams and Disaster Area. Time for a long quote:
The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy notes that Disaster Area, a plutonium rock band from the Gagrakacka Mind Zones, are generally held to be not only the loudest rock band in the Galaxy, but in fact the loudest noise of any kind at all. Regular concert-goers judge that the best sound balance is usually to be heard from within large concrete bunkers some thirty-seven miles from the stage, whilst the musicians themselves play their instruments by remote control from within a heavily insulated spaceship which stays in orbit around the planet – or more frequently around a completely different planet. 
Their songs are on the whole very simple and mostly follow the familiar theme of boy-being meets girl-being beneath a silvery moon, which then explodes for no adequately explored reason. 
Many worlds have now banned their act altogether, sometimes for artistic reasons, but most commonly because the band’s public address system contravenes local strategic arms limitation treaties. 
This has not, however, stopped their earnings from pushing back the boundaries of pure hypermathematics, and their chief research accountant has recently been appointed Professor of Neomathematics at the University of Maximegalon, in recognition of both his General and Special Theories of Disaster Area Tax Returns, in which he proves that the whole fabric of the space-time continuum is not merely curved, it is in fact totally bent.”
Where was I and what's the point of this post? 

Well, time for a bouquet: I do like classic, classical film scores and I really like Radio 3's Sound of Cinema, hosted by famous feminist Naomi Wolf's arch-nemesis Matthew Sweet

This week's episode focused on Spaghetti Westerns. And it wasn't all Ennio Morricone and Lee Van Cleef. It also looked at the lesser lights who slung their guns and smoked their smouldering cheroots in Ennio's mountain-like shadow.

And it was all fascinating stuff, though no one got anywhere near approaching Maestro Morricone in terms of being The Maestro of 'this kind of thing'.

But what anecdotes Matthew told us along the way!

For example:
'Spaghetti Western' is the name we give to films set in the Wild West but shot in Europe. 
But this is something that British film-makers had been doing years before A Fistful of Dollars. 
The Singer Not The Song was shot in Spain by The Rank Organisation in 1960 and, instead of Clint Eastwood or Charles Bronson, it has Dirk Bogarde as a bandit called Anacleto - which was also the name of a Pizza Express dessert, now sadly discontinued. 
Its director, Roy Ward Baker, always described it as "that dreadful film that put paid to my career", but I think he underestimated it.  
What Roy did, quite in spite of himself, was to make a picture that John Waters would have been proud to put his name on - a gay Western starring Bogarde as a Mexican bandit and John Mills as the Irish priest for whom he develops a strange attraction. 
Dirk took the role because he thought he was going to be smouldering opposite Peter Finch or Richard Burton and because he'd get to wear a pair of incredibly tight leather pants. When he found that Mills had been cast he was so angry that he vowed to make life hell for everyone concerned. Which he did. But, as Samantha Fox once sang, the pants stayed on.
This wasn't, however, the first British Western shot on the European mainland. In 1958 the Hollywood veteran Raoul Walsh signed with Rank to direct The Sheriff of Fractured Jaw - an action comedy starring Kenneth More as a British gunsmith who finds himself the arbiter of law and order in a one-horse Western town. Jayne Mansfield was his co-star who, whilst she was in England, also found time to cut the ribbon on a crucial section of the Chiswick flyover. Her character sings in the picture but Mansfield doesn't. The voice emanating from her high escarpments is that of Connie Francis.
I like yarns like that.

Meanwhile, the 'classic score of the week' this week was from Ennio Morricone. And I'm going to feature its climax in context - the final duel from Once Upon a Time in the West:

Now, please, if you've never seen it and still want to see it, close your eyes. This is the glorious climatic scene of the film, that reveals everything and brings the bad guy in black (Henry Fonda) to realise, as he death-rattles his last (with a harmonica stuffed in his gob), just who exactly the good guy in white (Charles Bronson) actually is.

So if you don't want to see it, as you've not yet seen it, just listen instead.

But the music and the direction and the acting work together in ways that made cinema history. The actors were responding to Ennio's music, played live while they acted out their quasi-operatic scene of life and death and revenge, measuring their motions to the intense but leisurely measures of his music.

What beats this, all you cinema fans?

What's good for the goose...

Anthony the Zurcher

Roughly half of Anthony Zurcher's tweets these days fall in the category of "partisan hack sneers at Trump":

“It’s very amazing”

Q.I.   Quite interesting. (I thought so, anyway)

Here’s a young Saudi guy called Mohammed Saud, who visited Israel and was surprised to find he liked it a lot. He explains why this joyous experience was so unexpected:
“I saw many newspaper on the media that show a different image - that there is no coexistence;
that the people can’t live together, that there is a war. It’s not right at all. It’s very amazing.”

Interestingly (I thought so) the video-maker chose to illustrate the media “that show a different image”  with just two images:

1.) Yolande Knell BBC 

2.) Ben Brown BBC

Sunday, 11 August 2019


Life's wonderful juxtapositions: 

I'm looking out of my window and watching the large tree at the far end of next door's garden throwing its branches and leaves into all manner of histrionic gestures in the heavy wind of an unhappily-timed carnival weekend in Morecambe.

That arm-waving tree raises in my mind the (possibly Blackadder-inspired) idea of a melodramatic actor from the 18th Century, or a 21st Century BBC soap, or a Newsnight Brexit reporter.

I'm doing so while blissing out on the opening minutes of John Luther Adams's Become Desert - a soft-spoken murmur of quiet string chords and bell-chimes. 

I must say that, though I'm meant to be imagining a desert, with JLA's lovely, floating music, I'm much more easily imagining myself lying awake at 5 o'clock in the morning on a Bhutanese mountain relishing a silence blessed only by the fluttering of prayer flags and temple bells. 

Two things arise from that, perhaps:  Firstly, my 'orientalist' dreamery about Bhutan and, secondly, the curious fact that not all music that has an evocative intent always spontaneously evokes in its listeners mind what it's meant to evoke. 

I really don't get 'deserts' from JLA's magical ambient piece. 

And now I'm drifting towards thinking of cowbells in the Austrian Tyrol on a late summer's evening, high above the white-green rivers and the pretty churches and the Spar shops. 

'Tyroleanist' dreamery perhaps, except that I've been there as a teenage tourist with my mum and dad - a long, long time ago, back in the mid-80s - and I heard cowbells on actual Kurt Waldheim-voting cows. 


I also remember being laughed at by a couple on the coach trip for wearing a Hawaiian shirt and having long hair. And how gorgeous the flower-and-gold-bedecked graves were. And the trans hippy guy/gal with the handbag on the lift up to a glacier (like Neil from 'The Young Ones' with lipstick) - a pioneer. 

Ah, and John Luther - thirty minutes in - is still giving me intoxicating bells and string smells. No melodies, just harmonies and long string chords and Sibelius-like brass and very quiet choral aaaaahs and bells, bells, bells. It probably ought to be boring, but isn't. 

Maybe I've not been to enough deserts to appreciate how evocative of a desert this piece is (as you may guess, I've been to none) but, with the tree still overacting in the wind just beyond my window, I'm relishing its Bhutanese/Tyrolean quietness, and the lovely contrast.

And just now, a sudden eruption of soft sunlight has flowed in like a smile. (Not seen the sun for days). 


Should I switch on the BBC News Channel now? Or the Pointless Celebrities special?

Laura Norder

If Boris Johnson or Priti Patel were listening to the news bulletin on today's The World This Weekend I suspect they might not have enjoyed it very much. 

The main angle - repeated at the end of the programme - was Labour's 'warning' about their law & order plans, and the way the BBC newsreader read out "a growing culture of insolence among thugs" made me chuckle for the sheer extravagance of the shift in his tone of voice to signal his (and the BBC's) distance from the non-u word "thugs". 

It was yer actual report that really stood out though. 

I know colouring things in make a blog look untidy, but I think it helps show the balance of a report. Here the bit in blue won't have ruined Boris and Priti's Sunday lunches but the bits in red might very well have done:

Newsreader: Labour has warned that government plans to combat crime, including the extension of stop and search powers, could lead to social unrest. Boris Johnson, who also plans to create 10,000 new prison places, says he wants to "counter the impression of a growing culture of insolence amongst thugs". Here is our political correspondent Mark Lobel:
Mark Lobel: Boris Johnson says "the time has come to take a stand against violent crime" with more police, harsher sentencing and more prison places, but the Government's now coming under pressure to answer detailed questions about the proposals. Kit Malthouse, the minister tasked with overseeing the recruitment of 20,000 new police officers, admitted on Sky this morning that he has yet to work out what the first wave - which will start to be recruited in a few weeks - will actually be doing. The policy of stop and search has in the past led to accusations of racial profiling and resentment in some communities. Some question whether it helps to cut crime at all.  Number 10 has admitted to the BBC that today's extension of the tactic is based only on initial feedback from trials around the country, described as "very positive", rather than a full report which there are still awaiting. Labour say fewer police officers are being pledged that have been cut in recent years. And it's not clear how new these policies are either, with 10,000 prison places pledged back in 2016. 

The bits in red are (I think) telling us:

  • (a) that the Government has failed to answer detailed questions about the proposals; 
  • (b) that Kit Malthouse has 'fessed up that the Government doesn't know what the new police officers will be doing; 
  • (c) that stop-and-search "has led to accusations" of racism and caused social cohesion problems; 
  • (d) that "some question" whether it does any good whatsoever;
  • (e) that the Government has 'fessed up to basing its extension of stop-and-search "only" on incomplete evidence; 
  • (f) that "Labour say" that Tory cuts make a nonsense of the plans; and 
  • (g) that "it's not clear" (to Mark?) that these plans aren't just rehashed old pledges. 

Whether extending stop-and-search is a good thing or not, this report is surely biased, don't you think, against the Johnsonian Government's plans? 

Saturday, 10 August 2019

The BBC shows its contempt for Israel

All knife crimes are shocking, but the picture of one young victim with his innocent, kind-looking expression is particularly haunting. The description of the dead boy’s character is equally poignant: “Dvir Sorek had a heart of gold.”

This teenage victim wasn’t in a drug gang; he didn’t come from a broken home or live in a deprived inner-city area or belong to a murky sub-culture. The tenor of the BBC’s report tells its own story. 

Israel hunts killer of off-duty soldier in West Bank 

That’s the headline. Even that choice of words is peculiar; when “Israel” starts hunting people, you know you’re in for a bumpy ride. Does “Britain” hunt the perpetrator of the latest London stabbing? It’s a job for the police, surely. And does an 18-year-old victim seriously deserve to be labelled so dispassionately:  “off-duty soldier”? 

Well, yes if you feel contempt for “Israel”. If you wish to portray a student who had yet to receive any military training, was unarmed and not in uniform when he met his death, as a legitimate target who got what he deserved, then indeed, you’d label him thus. But that’s impartiality for you. You’ve got to be fair and include a meaty justification for the murder, whenever you find one.

Of the 433 words in the report, 168 were devoted to ‘reasons’, evidently for the benefit of supporters of Hamas and perhaps also to avoid accidentally making a seemingly pro-Israel value-judgement.

66 additional words were used to describe a different, but similar abduction and murder of Jewish teenagers, which goes to show how thorough the BBC’s reporting is. Or maybe not. Missing details suggest that ‘thoroughness’ isn’t necessarily a quality best attached to a report that overlooks the customary  handing out of ‘candies’ to celebrate such courageous assassinations, nor a report that fails to mention the pecuniary expectations of the killer’s family, designed to reward and incentivise such heroic acts under Mahmoud Abbas’s generous ‘Pay for slay’ policy. 

In the name of ‘both sides of the story’ if nothing else. Oh, and the fact that “Cpl Sorek” was awarded that rank posthumously; when he was alive he was a mere ‘private’.

All of this may mean nothing to your average Israel-hating reader. They may genuinely believe that all Israelis are legitimate targets, and if they do, they will see nothing untoward in the way this report is starkly bisected by two emboldened and bullet-pointed message-laden statements - crude reminders that Israel is guilty and deserves to have its teenage sons stabbed to death.
  •  Israel backs West Bank homes for settlers 
  • Palestinians to halt agreements with Israel

One has to go to BBC Watch to track down the reality behind this lazy Israel-bashing emoting, which you can read here and here and the BBC’s helpful link to the lengthy apologia for Hamas takes you here 
Israel razes Palestinian homes 'built too near barrier'  
(note the scare quotes and the emotive words 'razes' and 'homes') where the reality is only to be found outwith the Beeb.  Once again BBCWatch supplies the missing information.
“Readers were not informed that most of those “homes” were in fact multi-storey buildings in various stages of construction – and hence for the most part uninhabited – or that a halt to that building work was ordered in 2012. 
“The BBC did not inform readers that while that no-build zone has been in force since 2011, construction of the said structures commenced after that date. Neither were they told that the court addressed the background to that no-build zone.
Individual examples of reporting where the wording is subtly redolent of Hamas propaganda and anti-Israel bias may seem trivial and insignificant, but they form a pattern. 
When the alarming rise in antisemitism becomes too serious a matter for the public to ignore the BBC cannot claim to be an innocent party. 

Friday, 9 August 2019

How to lose influence and irritate people

A recap.

ITBB was set up about seven years ago to debate or pinpoint the BBC’s bias, but Craig and I  wrote a proviso into our ‘constitution’ allowing us to deviate and go off-topic if we wanted to.
We have an invisible preemptive, written-in apology for accidentally flouting Jacob Rees-Mogg’s list of grammatical crimes up to and including the Oxford comma and the odd typo.

At that time we thought Biased-BBC (the mothership) was growing away from us; we felt edged out by the sheer volume of material posted by the one-man blitzkrieg that was ‘Alan’, who disappeared as anonymously as he arrived. (His disappearance may not be as complete as all that)
We weren’t trying to duplicate or compete with Biased BBC. We ran in tandem with it, if you like.

Craig has never had a harsh rebuke; a couple of mild ones perhaps, but I’m not afraid of being criticised or disagreed with, (as I have been) and It’s fine. The original aim was to create a lively blog with its own identity. 

It’s gratifying that Craig’s strong and stable observations, characteristically underpinned by statistics and specific examples, have been picked up by The Conservative Woman and are often cross-posted on their lively site. The one where people take notice.

The Biased-BBC blog did have some genuine influence at one time. The old magenta design is still my favourite iteration of that blog. I’m thinking that 2009 - 2012 marked the high point - the pinnacle -  of my blogging life. You can still access historic Biased-BBC content via the current Biased-BBC archive, which goes waaayy back. Sadly, nothing much has changed chez Beeb. If anything the bias is worse; more entrenched and more invisible to the unseeing perpetrators.

However, the zeitgeist has shifted. Amongst huge swathes of the public the BBC is perceived as biased, lefty and shamelessly - hopelessly -  pandering to a youth market that has moved on. It’s not ordinary missing the target - it’s M & S missing the target. Dear Beeb, you’re spitting in the faces of your core customer and chasing after some unattainable target with an ardour that will never be reciprocated. More and more people say they find radio 4 unlistenable. 

This disillusionment with the BBC is so widespread that blogs like this are redundant, or soon will be. We are being self-indulgent here, especially in the light of the fact that we have had very little or no impact on the BBC at all.

I don’t really know who the Biased-BBC site owners were in 2007 (before David Vance’s reign) but they must have been delighted with these contemporaneous articles by the BBC’s Martin Belam.
Here’s what Martin Belam wrote about the Biased-BBC blog in March 2007:
“I’m sure that I qualify genetically as a Beeboid, and so view the site through a prism of my own telly-tax funded bias, but I enjoy reading the Biased BBC blog. And I do mean enjoy. I always used to keep it in my subscribed RSS feeds when I worked at the BBC, and still dip into it from time to time in Austria. 
And there are a few reasons why I still find it an useful and enjoyable place to visit on the internet, not least of which is the fact that the issues being debated on the pages of the site are issues that link me back to home.

That’s nice, ain’t it though?
“It was also at least partly as a result of the Biased BBC comments thread that the notorious From Our Own Correspondent piece where Barbara Plett said she cried about Yasser Arafat has been appended with a note that the piece had been the subject of a complaint that had been upheld by the BBC Governors.
 Excellent result!
“I find though, that there is a real difference between what is written on the blog "proper", and what is posted on the regular open comments thread. Biased BBC usually operates an "Open comments thread" near, or at the top, of the homepage, which is refreshed every few days. These threads can often run into hundreds of inter-twining comments which can be quite difficult to pick through. 
What I find a shame about all this is that I think that the mainstream body of the site, the actual posts written by the editors and named contributors, sometimes raise points that the BBC should be aware of, and seek to address within both the online journalistic and broadcast operations of the corporation.
So, a dig at some of the shakier, more fanciful contributors to the open threads, but an observation that reveals a possible weakness in the current B-BBC ‘running’ open thread format, which has virtually replaced the authored above-the-line articles.

On the other hand, (au contraire!)  the current user-friendly comments field has transformed the open threads, and many interesting nuggets of news and views can be picked up from it. Including a rare sighting of a right-wing (non-lefty) comedian H/T Stewgreen. No, it’s not Jeremy Clarkson, but Will Franken - sounds like a question. (Well will he?) I bet he’s never been asked that before.

The characters featured in 2007 B-BBC have come and gone, as characters will, but the principle stays the same. One of Belam’s blog posts features B-BBC’s take on (man-made) global warming, 
and one is about Israel and Palestine, which I’ll quote from below:
“The coverage of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is probably the most challenging area the BBC faces in balancing news coverage, and I'm certainly not one of those people who believes that the BBC gets it spot on in every report on every output medium. It should also be pointed out that a few minutes on Google will turn up plenty of people arguing that the BBC offers a pro-Israeli slant on the news. However, the general consensus of opinion on the Biased BBC blog is that the BBC is blatantly and repeatedly biased against Israel in their coverage of the situation.

Complaints from both sides? For a tiny moment, I thought he was going to conclude that they must be getting something right.
“An independent study commissioned by the old BBC Board of Governors didn't find that to be the case, in fact it slightly erred on the side that the BBC didn't put across fully the disparity between the two sides, and thus was doing a disservice to the Palestinians. Previous to that, the contents of the 2004 Balen Report are not fully known, thanks to the BBC's attempts to prevent it being released into the public domain, but this is thought to be more critical of the coverage in the other direction. 
Some commentators on the Biased BBC blog are not arguing that the BBC should take a neutral stance on the issue, they believe the corporation should 'grow a backbone' and stand up for what they say is right. And frequently on the site commentators leave references to the "Pretendistinians", which serves to make their own particular bias on the issue quite clear.
That was almost the same as the familiar accusation: “You don’t want balance, you just want your kind of bias” Later in the piece he says:
Biased BBC believes that the BBC is pro-Palestinian despite any evidence to the contrary because, as you've previously identified, they are right-wing loons who believe that Thatcher was a bit soft. Whenever an Israeli spokesman comes on, they're never questioned as to why they claim to be more peaceful than Iran, despite attacking all their neighbours pretty regularly, or why, despite this, they should be allowed nuclear weapons and Iran shouldn't. Obviously, by criticising Israel, I am a dreadful nazi anti-semite, but so be it.
Clearly he does qualify as a bona fide Beeboid if he believes that making a completely context-free assertion that Israel  is guilty of “attacking all their neighbours pretty regularly” is enough to invalidate its claim to be ‘peaceful’ is an example of a reasonable, ‘non-antisemitic’, criticism of Israel, not to mention negatively equating Israel with Iran in a brazen advertisement of his own ignorance. I suppose he got his dis-info from Jeremy Bowen.

Of course, there wasn’t BREXIT in those days. Over the last almost seven years!! here at ITBB we’ve picked up a healthy tally of page-views and a distinct identity of our own. At present we are distinguishable from Biased-BBC by our labour intensive above-the-line offerings, (working day and night) in the hope that one day someone important from the BBC will come along and say “Hello Craig and Sue, you were right all along. How can we change for the better?”   

Dominic Casciani may not belie-e-e-ve it but we do this for nowt, (try not to make too many mistakes, trying to spell names correctly, finding links and images) and we charge £0 per hour, which is below the minimum wage.

Why do we do it? Yes indeed. Why.

Vanity; to stave off dementia; for mental exercise; for your entertainment; waiting for someone important from the BBC will come along and humbly ask ‘how can we change?’

Thursday, 8 August 2019

The trapped and tortured people of Gaza

I missed John Humphrys’s introduction to Mishal Husain’s interview with the filmmakers of a 90-minute film called “Gaza”. I came in when Husain was well into it.
Apparently, this documentary had been shown at The Sundance Film Festival, which was held in Utah during December 2018 - January / February 2019. 

Despite today’s confusing weather, it’s not winter; we’re currently in the second week of August. I couldn’t help wondering why this was considered newsworthy now?  Was it someone’s idea of a ‘filler’  - you know, aural ‘silly season’ padding at the time when the only news available is an expert’s prediction that all the cows in Ireland will have to be slaughtered if there’s a no-deal breakfast. I meant Brexit, but I said breakfast instead. (If only it were pigs rather than cows they could just turn them into bacon, which is a popular breakfast dish.)

Talking of Ireland (Eire) it is extremely disturbing that most Irish Catholics reflexively side with the Palestinians and loathe Jews. I suspect they still blame the Jews for ‘what they did’ to Christ, even though the Pope has forgiven us. That’s quite rude because Catholics are to do what His Holiness says they’re to do, isn’t it?

So why was this on the Today Programme on this day especially? Did it win a prize? No, I don’t think it did. I take that back; it did win some awards in Dublin, so it did.

Anyway, the filmmaker is an Irishman called Garry Keane and his colleague is called Andrew McConnell. There are several rave reviews in the Irish press, where it is described as wonderful, poignant and full of people staring wistfully out to the sea, preying silently for freedom and playing the cello.

Wouldn’t you just know that the one and only review that takes a more circumspect view of the film is in The Hollywood Reporter, and penned by someone whose name ends in ‘berg’ which alone evokes a certain partiality.  
“Directors Garry Keane and Andrew McConnell show what ordinary life looks like in Gaza in a beautifully shot, increasingly manipulative documentary.”
Manipulative? Wow! 
“For much of its running time, Garry Keane and Andrew McConnell's Sundance documentary Gaza achieves its ambitious professed goal, namely opening eyes to the side of Gaza that isn't usually seen in the news, the ordinary lives of people living in an extraordinary place that one subject calls "a big, open prison." 
That it begins by asking "What do the people do when they're not under siege?" and ends by surrendering to what is basically propaganda, not just the footage and view of Gaza we see in the news, but a manipulative and disingenuous version of that view, isn't a surprise. Within the context of the doc, it seems almost inevitable, but I still watched for at least 50 captivated minutes hoping for restraint I probably should have known would eventually be surrendered.”
Other reviews are all but elegiac - the reviewers are incensed by the suffering of the trapped and tortured people of Gaza and, with the collective breathlessness that you always rarely see where Gaza is concerned, they implore everyone to go and see it. 

Paying lip service to ‘balance’ Mishal asked if Hamas had been ‘airbrushed’ out at all, misquoting the words of the Hollywood reviewer, whose actual words were:
“The press notes for Gaza say Hamas is one of the villains of the story, but that's a ludicrous statement. Hamas may be one of the villains of the actual historical record, but it's a non-factor in the documentary. Occasionally we pass by a military-affiliated figure with a rocket launcher or a machine gun, but to watch Gaza you'd think such weaponry was only used to be fired in the air when the Israelis free unjustly imprisoned Palestinians.”
Anyway, now I’ve looked online, I see that BBCWatch has covered the story so I don’t have to go any further with this. It transpires that the BBC’s excuse for featuring the film ‘now’ is that it’s being released here, so everyone can go and see it and be inspired to join the Hamas Solidarity Campaign to help the Palestinians by demanding the right of return for five million Palestinian refugees, open borders for the people of Gaza and the elimination of the Jewish State for the betterment of mankind.

Wasn’t Mishal Husain in Gaza at around the time these fellows were footling around there? I wonder if she bumped into any of them and had time to have a nice chat. 

Wednesday, 7 August 2019

Open Thread

Thank you for your comments...

Evan ponders

Question time.

Citing a tweet and a piece (with the secondary title 'Neutrality gets us Nowhere') from one Jonathan Lis, a blogger on a pro-EU site called British Influence ["British Influence champions a strong UK closely and constructively engaging with EU and wider world. Hard Brexit threatens our health, wealth and reputation"] - a site co-founded by conspiracy theorist Peter Jukes - the BBC's Evan Davis is wondering aloud tonight (on Twitter) whether it's not time now to start calling President Trump "far right".

It's a question that clearly matters to him:

Well, here's another interesting, key question - this time for Evan: 

Why doesn't the BBC label Jeremy Corbyn "far left" and "antisemitic"?

Tuesday, 6 August 2019

BBC apologises for "Isil salute"

I hardly ever watch TV these days (she says, automatically disqualifying herself from doing what it says on the tin) but, alerted to a bit of a hooha in the press about a scene that had to be judiciously excised from Stacey Dooley’s Panorama about ISIS women, my ears pricked up. 

The papers are full of the shocking news that Stacey Dooley had been filmed mistakenly describing the ‘one-finger’ Islamic (Only one God) sign as “the ISIS salute”)  and that the BBC had edited out the offending words in a last-minute attempt to save their Panorama and make it acceptable to one and all.

My immediate thought (and possibly yours too) was that the BBC had caved in under pressure from the vociferous Muslim community, naturally outraged at the very idea that Islamic State (so-called) is Anything To Do With Islam.

So I dutifully turned to iPlayer and watched Panorama. 

Guess what? I thought it was jolly good. For what it was. How could such a short film encompass the whole sad and sorry situation, nuances, irregularities, special cases and all?
Stacey Dooley's Panorama did a far better job than I’d expected. Where she was able, Stacey Dooley asked many of the questions viewers would want her to ask. 

As an irreligious cynic, I noticed that some of the ISIS women themselves got a bit hot under the niqab when Stacey Dooley tried to differentiate between IS and Islam proper. “It’s all Islam”, one irate woman said.

To me, the trappings of all religions seem ridiculous. The more extreme, the more obnoxious yet comical they look. Most religious dogma actually strikes me as kind of babyish, like some play-rules dreamed up by a couple of 5-year-old girls on a wet afternoon. If I had any influence (which you’re relieved to know I haven’t) I would do my utmost to separate these IS widows into smaller groups and not have them cooped up together where they can re-radicalise and re-indoctrinate each other in perpetuity.

As it is, the mothers and children in these godawful camps are kept in line and intimidated by a dim-witted and tyrannical sisterhood. The minute one has an independent thought she’s punished and perhaps her tent is torched.

If we have to spend huge amounts of taxpayers’ money on foreign aid, instead of boosting the grotesque Palestinian  ‘Pay for Slay’ policy or funding UNRWA textbooks full of pro-Hamas propaganda, why not devise a way that some smaller mother and child units could be set up in Syria or perhaps even in their own countries. I guess such ventures would still be looked upon as imperialist rehabilitation units and vilified by western liberals who insist that Jihad and all the unmentionable cultural and religious quirks of Islam must be seen as a credit to the tolerance within liberal western societies, and must not be interfered with by outsiders.

Sunday, 4 August 2019

The case against the BBC

A head of steam is building up and critics of the BBC are on the warpath. The Conservative Woman’s David Keighley, an ex-BBC man, has raised enough money to fund a legal challenge. The idea is to sue the BBC for breach of the crucial impartiality obligations within its charter. Lawyers have been hired to build the case. 

Robin Aitken, another ex BBC man, has been pursuing a similar agenda for decades. 
Aitken believes the left-wing consensus is so ingrained in the confirmation-bias-prone media bubble that the inhabitants of such an insular environment just don’t see it.
 O wad some Power the giftie gie us /To see oursels as ithers see us!

This video was made in January 2019.  In conversation with Peter Whittle, Robin Aitken articulates the collective mindset within the Beeb. He alludes to a deliberate strategy of social engineering which entails sanitising and normalising ‘Muslimness’, (a condition with a bespoke word of its own).
 “Our view of the world is this. Muslims are always victims, they are victimised and Islamophobia is rife in the country and that’s the story we want to tell. Do we want to tell a story about Muslims behaving badly? Attacking Jews, or attacking women? No, we don’t want to really. We don’t want to tell those stories. That’s why, for instance, it took so long, and it took some brave journalism by The Times newspaper to bring that whole thing about the Pakistani rape-gangs into the open.”
If the aim is to aid social cohesion, it’s a big fail. You can’t hide things from the public forever, and once people realise they’re being manipulated they’ll resist. Only the BBC itself supports its own ham-fisted attempts at social engineering.

If you listened to today’s Sunday Programme you will have heard that the findings of a ‘com res poll’  show that nearly half of the UK believe that Islam is incompatible with British values
(if the specific time-link doesn’t work for you, scroll to 10:20)

The MCB’s Miqdaad Versi thinks that (presumably because Jews argue that they should be allowed to define antisemitism) Muslims should equally be allowed to define Islamophobia. The existing definition, which has been accepted by several organisations but not the Conservative Party, includes the invented terminology ‘expressions of Muslimness’ which, in practice amounts to the introduction of blasphemy law by stealth. So no wonder the Conservative Party is reluctant to accept it. 

Sadly, portentous attempts to equate everything ‘Muslim’ with everything ‘Jewish’ have succeeded in toxifying specific Jewish religious practices that had been rubbing along quite peacefully in British society for years, and with one fell swoop has driven an expedient Israel-bound mini-exodus of British Jews.(£)
 “With the rapid rise in size and political importance of the Muslim community in the UK, there is also a feeling that Israel is being singled out for opprobrium and that the balance has swung decisively against the Zionist cause. For those whose biggest fear is Corbyn, many are waiting to see if Labour wins a general election before deciding whether or not to make aliyah.”

“I think the air has already changed, regardless of Corbyn. Some 730 years since King Edward I expelled the small mercantile Jewish community from England, the Jews are leaving again. This time not through the decree of an absolute tyrant, but as the consequence of a subtler, stealthier tyranny. There seems to be nobody left, over here or in continental Europe, who will fight the Jews’ corner, so electorally insignificant have their numbers become. That it is primarily the left that is driving them out is something they surely could not have foreseen or imagined. But here it is.”

David Keighley’s current criticisms of the BBC principally concern the BBC’s demonstrable anti-Brexit bias, the long-term effect of which, he believes, will prove disastrous for the country. 

However, I think the long-term consequences of the BBC’s pernicious, interminable hostility to Israel and Jews will have equally serious and perhaps even longer-lasting ramifications.

A decades-long history of ‘half-a-story' reporting, a Middle East editor with a built-in grudge, and contrary to the allegations of Miqdaad Versi and others, the BBC’s institutionally pro-Muslim outlook including the ever-presence of anti-Zionist and pro-Palestinian talking heads on panels and political broadcasts has produced an ill-informed consensus. Public opinion appears to be perfectly content to exchange 250,000  loyal British Jewish citizens for over 4million incompatible or not necessarily loyal British / Pakistani / Middle Eastern/ African Muslims.

The antisemitism in the Labour Party is just the beginning. The leadership’s inability to deal with it is a great shame, but the BBC’s biased reporting makes rectifying the situation impossible.

BBC Watch constantly researches, writes and posts several articles per day in an effort to keep abreast of endless unreported examples of Muslims behaving badly. Shamefully, the BBC still refuses to report almost all of it; at least, not until Israel retaliates. Day after day aggression against Israel is ignored. “The BBC is only interested when Israel fights back” is a saying that is becoming more tired and worn every time it’s uttered. Repetition might make that saying ineffectual, but that doesn’t make it wrong. 

Nor has the antisemitism from the right gone away. For once Yasmin Alibhai Brown had a point when she mentioned that on Sky recently.

That too is tacitly reinforced by the BBC’s failure to fill in crucial gaps in what ought to be general historical knowledge. Right-wing antisemites often cite the infamous bombing of the King David Hotel to reinforce their theory that Israel was founded on terrorism, a stance that conveniently ignores the fact that at the time the King David Hotel was more of an army HQ than a tourist destination and more importantly, it disregards the fact that Britain’s post-war government’s hostile, antisemitic, pro-Arab political policies denied sanctuary to many desperate Holocaust survivors, an important factor in understanding why certain (arguably renegade) Jews fought against the British at that time. You have to seek that information out, and who nowadays can be bothered.

So I think the BBC’s bias against Israel and Zionism will inevitably lead to a major Jewish exodus and a predominantly Muslim Britain.  A great loss to this country. 

If it’s indeed true that this important aspect of the BBC’s bias has taken a back seat in this particular crowd-funded and well-intentioned litigation project, then I’m sorry and disappointed.