How is the BBC handling the antisemitism crisis in the Labour Party?
There seems to be a split between the camp who want to treat it as honestly and impartially as they can without upsetting too many Muslims, and the camp that has gone rogue.
I almost see a hideous parallel with Ken Livingstone’s assertion that Hitler supported Zionism before he went mad and killed some Jews.
We know the BBC is institutionally pro-Palestinian and anti-Zionist. I mean, from top to bottom.
We know this because they magnify every detail of what they see as Israel’s human rights violations and crimes against humanity, without noticing any of the numerous and blatantly obvious examples of human rights violations and crimes against humanity perpetrated by Israel’s enemies - against their own populace as well as Israel’s.
However, we are where we are, and the BBC’s failure to notice the antisemitism in the Arab world is something we have to deal with, until some kind of miracle occurs.
Also, the BBC is obliged to be seen to be impartial, and many of them do the best they can to confine their prejudices to Twitter and leave them there the minute they put on their BBC hats.
However, the camp that has ‘gone mad’ (or gone rogue) is alive and well.
There was a prime example of that on this morning’s The Big Questions. Someone decided that it would be good for the ratings to invite onto the panel Zionists and anti-Zionists to discuss the question: “Is anti-Zionism anti-semitic?” By doing so, equal credence is given to the opinions of both sides.
Did they think someone like Tony Greenstein or prof Moshé Machover, a dissident Israeli and an anti-Zionist, (who ruthlessly exploit their AsaJew status to protect them from accusations of antisemitism) would ever admit for one second that anti-Zionism was antisemitic?
If you were hoping for a rational debate, would you invite, say, Adolf Eichmann and David Irving into the studio to discuss antisemitism? Perhaps you could ask them if they thought Haj Amin al-Husseini was antisemitic. I’m sure that would generate a productive debate.
No-one will admit to being antisemitic. I daresay not even Raza Nadim of MPACUK.
Pitting the likes of Louise Ellman, Angela Epstein and Joy Wolfe against these volatile and belligerent racists was mischievous and sensationalist, and the people who decided to do that clearly regard the whole thing as nothing more than populist entertainment.
In sharp contrast, Andrew Marr’s programme was the model of sanity. I must admit I found the idea of appointing Mark Regev as Israel’s new Ambassador to Britain as quite a risky move. He has already earned himself a reputation as apologist for an unpopular government, which seems to be an opinion shared by all and sundry in the UK. Every time he has appeared on our screens he has faced hostile and aggressive questioning, and is regarded as a figure of hate and bile by the pro-Palestinian community.
What chance has he of charming the British? However, Andrew Marr was respectful, and let him speak, and he was eloquent and measured. Diane Abbott, on the other hand, was evasive and uncomfortable. It was she who was given the role of defending the indefensible. Andrew Marr was okay.
Back to Newsnight. The one with Emily Maitlis, doing her best to play the hand she was dealt by the rogue faction, for it must have been they who invited a notorious activist for the Palestinian cause, and, let’s face it, a rabid Jew-hater, into the studio to demonise Israel.
“Listen. I am an expert on people being uprooted, and transported. I am a Palestinian. And I and hundreds and thousands of Palestinians were really and properly transported from our homeland, many into refugee camps so it wasn’t an idea, it wasn’t a little thing on Facebook, it was a reality. I know all about that.”
It’s understandable that Ghada Karmi wants us to see it this way. To give her the benefit of the doubt, she probably genuinely sees it that way herself.
But you have to concede, whichever side you’re on, that Ghada has adopted the emotive term ‘transported’ for a very good reason. It emotes Jews riding in cattle trucks to the death camps. You might call this a kind of cultural appropriation.
History tells us that the Palestinian Nakba was not ‘transportation’. On other occasions Ghada herself has used the more accurate term: ‘fled’.
The fact is that Karmi is a well-known activist who devotes herself to advocating the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their ‘homeland’, Israel. Several million of them, wielding the symbolic key.
This blog by Noru Tsalic puts the other side of the story:
“ the vast majority of ‘Palestine refugees’ have not fled from anywhere or anything – in fact they tend to live in the countries where they were born, many of them for 3-4 generations.”
To qualify as a Palestinian refugee, you just have to be the descendant (paternal line only) of someone who resided in the British Mandate of Palestine for a minimum of two years before 1948. Your qualifying ancestor could have been a worker from Jordan “who, in 1946, found work harvesting oranges in a Jewish orchard.”
The original refugees are currently outnumbered by UNRWA employees who are funded by taxpayers to feed, clothe and supply these people and their 4 million plus descendants with healthcare and education, etc.
This preferential (and incomprehensible) interpretation of refugee entitlement is uniquely applicable to Palestinian refugees. No others on this Earth.
As for being uprooted or ‘transported’, Arab leaders were responsible for creating the 1948 exodus, using scare tactics so that the intended Arab war of the destruction of the State of Israel could go ahead unimpeded. They promised the Jews would be defeated in a few days. Some Arabs chose to flee, escape, shelter, while others stayed where they were.
“In April 1948 great-great-granddaddy fled to Jordan, having heard that the Jews are coming to kill all men, rape all women and eat all babies.”
I don’t know Ghada Karmi’s particular story, but she likes to say that her family were transported. Perhaps they were driven out, perhaps they were amongst the ones who made a wrong decision, and fled; unlike the Arab families who chose to stay where they were, and made the right decision. You start a war, you risk losing it.
The irony of Ghada Kharni’s position is that the whole catastrophe could have been averted, but for the Arabs’ hatred of Jews. Pretending that anti-Zionism is ‘nothing to do with’ antisemitism is ludicrous. The hatred still stands, as virulent as ever, and even more pernicious when disguising itself as something else.
Emily Maitlis started questioning Karmi, using the tactic that flummoxed Malia Bouattia on Channel 4. Why do you only criticise the State of Israel and no other country? Both Ghada Karmi and Malia Bouattia could only reply: “But we’re only talking about Israel”
"Everyone howls at batty Ken - but they wouldn't dare tackle racist Muslims"
“On visits to the Muslim world, from Egypt to Iran, Iraq and Jordan, via the Israeli-occupied West Bank, I have repeatedly met foul and bigoted opinions about Jews which people in this country would be ashamed to speak out loud.
I have no doubt that there are plenty of Muslims who do not harbour such views. But there are those who do, and British political parties which seek the support of Muslims have often been coy about challenging this. As for all these people who have suddenly got so exercised about Judophobia, and wildly worked up about Ken Livingstone’s batty views on Zionism (standard issue on the far Left for decades), I have some questions for them:
Are you prepared to put the same energy into challenging and denouncing Judophobia among the Palestinians you support abroad, and the British Muslims whose votes you seek here?
On The Big Questions Tony Greenstein couldn’t stop screaming, and he behaved in one of the rudest and dare I say most unhinged manner I’ve ever seen on TBQs, and that’s saying something; but he did manage to ask a question that sounded plausible:
Why is it that a Palestinian Arab refugee who was born in Jerusalem can’t go back to his place of birth, when I, a Jew, who was born in Britain, have the right to go and live there?
Rational as that question may sound, no-one reminded him that Israel’s Right of Return is devised as a safe haven for Jews, should the genocidal antisemitism that motivated Hitler ever resurge. Never again, remember? Angela Epstein did remind him that AsaJew, he would not be immune from such a fate, however passionately he had sided with the Islamists.
The final BBC programme I have to mention is Any Questions and Any Answers. Anita Anand was obviously out of her depth and too ill-informed to chair the discussion properly. Do BDS-advocating ‘AsaJews’ and ‘Jews for Jeremy’ really represent the majority of callers?
Anita Anand sounded irritable when addressing Jonathan Hoffman. One gets the feeling she’s not a fan.
When sensitive topics like this one come up, the BBC should employ someone capable of responding in an informed fashion. Ignorance is no defence.
While the Labour party is examining its morals, the BBC needs to have a good look at its own. Preferably not under the chairpersonship of Shami Chakrabarti.