I want to return to the soft boycott theme because I think there’s a bit more to it.
Stephen Pollard gives a legitimate and very powerful example of the BBC ‘soft-boycotting’ Israel. To recap. The Today Programme made a suitably big deal about a “truly transformative” medical breakthrough on treatment for prostate cancer, leaving its Israeli origins conspicuously absent from the report.
This does look deliberate. One might say the BBC is suffering from prostrate cancer. (See what I did there?) The BBC won’t risk offending the sensibilities of listeners who might be offended by an unexpected early morning encounter with praise of the Zionist entity.
I don’t want those of us who criticise the BBC’s ‘prostrate’ strategy to lay ourselves open to accusations of spin and cherry-picking, so I think we should acknowledge that it’s a boycott, Jim, but a soft one, i.e. not as hard as the boycotts we are familiar with. So I’m preempting all that with this.
The recent flurry of interest in the BBC’s ‘soft boycott’ of Israel reminded me of something certain bloggers addressed a few years ago.
This piece from BBCWatch circa 2012 highlights an uncharacteristic deviation from normal service.
Yolande Knell had suddenly, with nary a warning nor explanation produced an “Impartial” article about Israel. (Wonders have a habit of ceasing.)
It concerned one of Israel’s scientific achievements.
At the time I commented as follows:
“ I have to say that this is not such an isolated incident. If you search for, say, “weizmann institute” on the BBC News search box any amount of stories come up.
I remember a couple of years ago coming across several positive scientific reports by a young lady from the BBC who was temporarily based in Israel. I’ve forgotten her name, but I seem to recall that she had written something on facebook about moving on. There were several reports by her around 2010/ 11.
I don’t know if these examples are actually hers, but they were similar.
(‘sniff code device’ controls wheelchair’)
(“Women’s tears reduce men’s sexual desire – scientists”)
They might not have been so prominently displayed on the BBC website as Knell’s piece, I can’t remember.”
Since then I have had a bit of a dig, and I came up with a name. Victoria Gill. If I’m right, she was temporarily seconded to Israel as the BBC’s science correspondent around 2010. While she was there she produced a number of positive reports about Israel’s scientific and medical breakthroughs. A few pieces by other writers are buried there too.
The BBC does publish reports about Israel’s medical and scientific progress. (Google Weizmann Institute)
|Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel|
They rarely make the national headlines they are worthy of in the same way that certain other dramatic scientific and medical breakthroughs occasionally do, and unlike Knell’s article which appeared in “News” they seem to appear in the BBC’s Magazine format or similar.
It’s not be a case of ignoring them altogether then, but more one of categorising them as special interest subjects and tucking them away where only geeks will boldly go.
It’s still a kinda boycott, Jim but not as we know it. Maybe this is nitpicking, but sometimes nits have to be picked.