May God Forgive Them and Other Gaffes.
Those who self-identify as fundamentally ‘good’ and ‘right-thinking’ (as opposed to wrong-thinking) invariably support the Palestinians. It’s a core position of Corbyn’s Labour Party. One of the first ‘actions’ a Corbyn gov’mnt has pledged to take is to formally recognise a Palestinian State. A noble gesture, if useless, futile and stupid.
As it’s so topical, here are some observations about antisemitism. I’m afraid it will be a long read. Too many words, my dear Mozart. Far too long for a blog post. TL;DR, I think is the expression. I don’t even care though. This is not a test.
Since this blog is supposed to be about the BBC, I might mention the BBC’s longstanding role (as some would say) in enabling the low-level antisemitism that one keeps catching a whiff of. The antisemitism that has become acceptable according to the dinner-party litmus test that Baroness Warsi complains of wrt Muslims. You can’t keep all the racism to yourself, Baroness, You gotta learn to share.
I don’t really know why ‘pro-Palestinianism’ is one of the default symptoms of (being seen to have) a ‘social conscience’. Symptoms? Well, it does look like a sort of illness.
What’s so special about the Palestinians I wonder? Oh yes, it’s because everyone knows that the Palestinians are the most ill-treated, long-suffering group of innocents on the planet. Why? Because we keep being told that the Palestinian people have been subjected to the biggest injustice known to mankind. They’ve been driven from their homes, subjected to ethnic cleansing, are incarcerated in the largest open-air prison in the world and their children are being systematically murdered by occupying Jewish Nazis. “Jews, of all the people, should have learned ‘the lesson’ “ people will reflect philosophically, with a faint smirk.
What is this lesson?
Oh, not to be so naZsty. Something like that.
Seriously. The BBC has been emoting stuff like this for several decades. As well as presenting facts and figures regurgitated direct from Hamas press releases, in true Jeremy Corbyn fashion, the BBC engages with the peace process by talking to one side only. If represented at all, the BBC shrouds the ‘enemy’ side in distancing “Israel says” caveats, and thus the requisite lip-service to impartiality is duly paid.
Tom Batman’s currently-running report on the “Gaza protests” is jam-packed with examples of this kind of framing. “The security fence, which “Israel says” is necessary to prevent .. what? The very violence that Bateman has just recounted, is what. Yet even as he describes it, he casts doubt on the necessity of the fence.
“Oh, but, but …the…the plight of the Palestinians.”
“Yes! I’ve been there and I’ve seen with mine own eyes the way the Palestinians are treated!!”
No point trying to reason with such certainty in the post-factual period we inhabit. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing, but this isn’t even knowledge. It’s - what d’you call it again? Oh yeah, lies. That’s it. Fake noos, the opposite of knowledge. It’s certainty, Jim, but not as we know it. Black is white, I insist.
(Hark! ! can actually hear people throwing all of the above back-at-me. It’s me that’s got all wrong. I’m the one spouting lies! Fact!!)
It’s no good wondering…..hmm… what if the BBC had been offering us - just a tiny teeny fraction of the pro-Israel ‘hasbara’ it’s accused of peddling?
It hasn’t, so that’s that.
The BBC - i.e., the staff who decide these things - must be of the opinion that the history of Israel is too complicated for your ordinary viewer to grasp. “So we’ll skip it”.
BBC consensus has deemed pre1967 Middle East history largely irrelevant. However, somehow, your average right(wrong)-thinking citizen seems to have got hold of the idea that some time in the distant past the meddlesome British (short pause for appropriate anti-British self-flagellation) arbitrarily transplanted interloping European Jews into the Islamic Middle East, forcibly displacing the indigenous Arabs in the process. Look! They still have their giant keys!
It’s generally agreed by those with a social conscience that the Palestinians are the most ill-treated group on the planet, so agonising over their plight deserves our utmost dedication. (Palestinians have suffered the biggest injustice ever, been driven from their homes, subjected to ethnic cleansing, are incarcerated in the largest open-air prison in the world, their children are being systematically murdered by occupying Jewish Nazis and are under siege.)
That’s obviously what you’re meant to think. But please think again. If the BBC had presented a full and accurate account of the political history of the Middle East all along, would it have made much difference? I think so, but it’s too late now. Sadly, promulgating misleading narrative (lies) has far-reaching consequences. It allows Hamas-orchestrated aggression to be gifted undeserved justification. The persistent opposition to normalisation of relations with Israel is thereby enabled, encouraged and prolonged. Yes, prolonged. Exacerbated. It cements the situation and sets the war-footing status quo in stone.
Apart from the inconvenient fact that the hatred Arabs and Muslims feel for Jews began long before Zionism was but a twinkle in Theodor Herzl's or Arthur Balfour’s eye. Anti-Jew texts and commandments appear in the Koran. Ask any Islamic “Scholar”. They’re quite open about it, but not quite so frank about the truth, which is of course that the cause and perpetuation of the conflict are not Israel’s doing but their own.
“How the Palestinians Created Their Own Plight” by Aaron Kliegman.
Perhaps the BBC will make a documentary on that basis. This year, next year, sometime, never.
Another potential inspiration for a TV documentary is the self-inflicted aspect of the Palestinians’ current plight. Here’s a taster: The Palestinians' own Goal by Gatestone’s Khaled Abu Toameh
“On April 24, two Palestinian software development companies came to Bir Zeit University, north of the West Bank city of Ramallah, to offer jobs to Palestinian students. The companies were invited to campus as part of the university's Annual Hiring Day -- an event aimed at helping students find jobs with major Palestinian firms.
The event, however, turned ugly when students protested against the presence of the representatives of the two companies on campus. The protesters expelled the company representatives from the university premises after accusing them of engaging in "normalization" with Israel. In other words, the students attacked, humiliated and expelled Palestinian companies that came to offer them jobs at a time when the Palestinian economy is facing a crisis and thousands of young Palestinians remain unemployed.”
Hatred. What is it like?
At last, a 'Taboo-Breaking" report on the antisemitism problem ….coming from Germany’s Muslims!
“Germany’s Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, the country’s domestic security agency, recently published a 40-page report titled “Anti-Semitism in Islamism.”
Who knew? Perhaps the BBC will commission a documentary about it; in a parallel universe.
“The authors state that anti-Semitic opinions in Islamism are even more far-reaching. Religious, territorial and political motives combine into an anti-Semitic worldview. All Islamist groups have as a central pillar the concept of Judaism as the enemy.”
Same thing here:
"EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The German Agency for Domestic Security recently published a report on Muslim antisemitism in the country – a development that is unprecedented not only for Germany but for all of Europe. The report makes clear that Muslim antisemitism is a major problem in Germany. At long last, Muslim antisemitism in Germany has been officially detailed for the public.
Go on. Report that, BBC!
You can always get a feel for a publication’s position on Israel-related issues when you scan the comments below the line. (When comments are enabled, that is.) A limited cluster of articles in the NYT addressing the problem of its own antisemitism appeared recently, perhaps to counteract that embarrassing antisemitic cartoon it had to retract or delete or un-publish.
- “More on the rise of anti-Semitism. Opinion | Bret Stephens
- “A Despicable Cartoon in The TimesApril 28, 2019
- “Our International Edition Will Stop Publishing Syndicated CartoonsApril 29, 2019
- ‘There Is Still So Much Evil’: Growing Anti-Semitism Stuns American JewsOct. 29, 2018
- Anti-Semitism Is Back, From the Left, Right and Islamist Extremes. Why?”
However, the NYT has been pretty antisemitic forever. From burying in the innermost pages of the paper front-page-worthy articles on the fate of Polish Jews in 1942 to a current mea culpa, caught with our pants down type of apologetic editorial titled: A Rising Tide of Anti-Semitism
“The Times published an appalling political cartoon in the opinion pages of its international print edition late last week. It portrayed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel as a dog wearing a Star of David on a collar. He was leading President Trump, drawn as a blind man wearing a skullcap.
The cartoon was chosen from a syndication service by a production editor who did not recognize its anti-Semitism. Yet however it came to be published, the appearance of such an obviously bigoted cartoon in a mainstream publication is evidence of a profound danger — not only of anti-Semitism but of numbness to its creep, to the insidious way this ancient, enduring prejudice is once again working itself into public view and common conversation.
Anti-Semitic imagery is particularly dangerous now. The number of assaults against American Jews more than doubled from 2017 to 2018, rising to 39, according to a report released Tuesday by the Anti-Defamation League. On Saturday, a gunman opened fire during Passover services at a synagogue in San Diego County, killing one person and injuring three, allegedly after he posted in an online manifesto that he wanted to murder Jews. For decades, most American Jews felt safe to practice their religion, but now they pass through metal detectors to enter synagogues and schools.
Jews face even greater hostility and danger in Europe, where the cartoon was created. In Britain, one of several members of Parliament who resigned from the Labour Party in February said that the party had become “institutionally anti-Semitic.” In France and Belgium, Jews have been the targets of terrorist attacks by Muslim extremists. Across Europe, right-wing parties with long histories of anti-Semitic rhetoric are gaining political strength.”
That’s nice. But some of the comments weren’t having any of it. Many protested that the actual cartoon wasn’t really antisemitic at all.
Alan Dershowitz writes about this for the Gatestone Institute:
“What is it, then, about Jews that allowed such a degrading cartoon about one of their leaders? One would think that in light of the history of the Holocaust, which is being commemorated this week, the last group that a mainstream newspaper would demonize by employing a caricature right out of the Nazi playbook, would be the Jews. But no. Only three-quarters of a century after Der Stürmer incentivized the mass murder of Jews by dehumanizing them, we see a revival of such bigoted caricatures.
The New York Times should be especially sensitive to this issue, because they were on the wrong side of history when it came to reporting the Holocaust. They deliberately buried the story because their Jewish owners wanted to distance themselves from Jewish concerns. They were also on the wrong side of history when it came to the establishment of the nation-state of the Jewish people, following the Holocaust. When it comes to Jews and Israel, the New York Times is still on the wrong side of history.”
And Phyllis Chesler, who always writes movingly.
“On my watch, almost every single day, year after year, for almost nineteen years now, a single issue of the Gray Lady might feature anywhere from two to eight articles damning Israel. False maps, interviews with biased “experts” in so-called new stories, Op-Ed’s, Editorials by the staff, all appeared in the same issue.
Every so often, a one-off piece might appear by Israel’s Ambassador, or Matti Friedman or Yossi Klein Halevi or Ruth Wisse. But such pieces did not appear every day or every week year after year as the poisoned propaganda did.
Look: If the Times is truly repentant, they will have to start by naming and firing the editors responsible for this “appalling cartoon”—and those who are in charge both of them and the process; start hiring new journalists who are ready to brave Hamas’s wrath by telling the truth about Gaza—just for starters; and commit to publishing as many pro-Israel op-ed pieces every week as they have published op-ed pieces against Israel. And after they’ve done so for nineteen years or more, I will begin to trust their coverage of the Middle East.”
Finally - I’ve run out of steam, as I assume you have - the recent gaffe by Labour MP Grahame Morris who did an embarrassing “Jon Donnison” i.e., retweeted an image depicting the IDF’s intolerable cruelty (which actually took place in Guatemala so who cares?)
"Marvellous, absolutely marvellous the Israeli Army, the best financed, best trained, best equipped army in the world caught on camera beating up Palestinian children for the fun of it. May God forgive them,"
was the accompanying text.
The most chilling aspect of the whole affair was the appalling antisemitic tweets that were attracted by it. The familiar theme was: “Never mind that it wasn’t actually the IDF because we know that sort of thing goes on in Israel all the time.” We know!! Antisemites are cloth-earedly undeterred by reality in the progressive post-factual era.
Add all this together with numerous examples of Jeremy Corbyn’s historic anti-Jewish and anti-Israel proselytising and the Labour Party’s apathetic response to dealing appropriately with their racist members and followers, not to mention the ever-increasing antisemitism that’s currently happening in the US and the EU, and what have you got? deja vu all over again, again.
Holocaust Remembrance Day in Israel.
The entire country stops to remember the six million Jews murdered in the Holocaust#NeverAgain pic.twitter.com/5M9bsMd4ry— StandWithUs (@StandWithUs) May 2, 2019
The BBC doesn’t think that’s newsworthy (unless it’s buried somewhere in the mire and I've missed it. Easily done,) but BBC World Service does have Yolande Knell’s report about a progressive, modern, Instagram, on-trend version on the theme of Holocaust remembrance. You never know, it might be rather good.
And last but not least, I read a Guardian article about the Bishop of Truro’s (Rt Rev Philip Mounstephen) report into the persecution of Christians. No publication, other than the Guardian implies, as far as I can tell, that the dwindling Christian population has anything to do with the Israeli-Palestine conflict.
“The Arab-Israeli conflict has caused the majority of Palestinian Christians to leave their homeland. The population of Palestinian Christians has dropped from 15% to 2%.”
says the Guardian’s Patrick Wintour in Addis Ababa. I can't imagine what he's getting at.
The Metro says political correctness has been blamed for governments turning a blind eye while generations of people are killed, and even the BBC has nothing about Israel in their account of the report. Christian persecution 'at near genocide levels'
No political correctness has forced the BBC to turn a blind eye to the trials and tribulations of the Muslims, though. A prominent story on the BBC News channel today concerns security being ramped up around Mosques during Ramadan. No specific threats are being mentioned; just “Muslims are afraid.”
Also just now, I watched Razia Iqbal presenting a heartwarming story about a female Palestinian runner who can’t compete internationally because of “the siege". “Don’t give up your dream” was her good advice.
Well, that all depends on what your dream is, I’d say