Friday 30 November 2012

Birds of a feather...

.........Tweet Together

Sue: I know I’m stuck in the dark ages, lagging behind the rest of the world, out with the in crowd, uncool,  you’ve guessed it - I haven’t got a Twitter account. I won’t bother to make excuses. I just haven’t.

Anyway that doesn’t stop me spying on other people’s Tweeting activities, because at the moment on Twitter, it’s where all the best bias hangs out. It’s not only who you Tweet to, it’s also who Tweets to you, and the timbre within those 140 characters can sometimes resonate with meaning. 

The spotlight has fallen upon the tweeting habits of the BBC staff since the Jon Donnison Tweet fiasco, when he was caught out making a specific error, which was both extremely awful and at the same time a little bit understandable. It was awful because he must have wished very much indeed to publicise a picture that would inflame the public’s already widespread anger at Israel, and in his haste he forgot to check the picture’s credentials. Perhaps if he’d discovered his mistake he’d have found a genuine one to promote instead. After all, children were indeed killed in Gaza; showing the wrong picture could, to some people, in a following wind, be regarded as symbolic rather than actual. It’s that old “we know it’s happening anyway” excuse.

So Donnison’s downfall was not because of the slippery, biased ongoing Tweeting, it was more or less on a technicality. But it was quite a big technicality, assuming that the BBC’s integrity and credibility depends upon the veracity of BBC related reporting. 

The equally transparent political partisanship of Paul Danahar has also been in the headlights. 
Both Paul and Jon (not Ringo) were summoned to Israel’s Government Press Office under the possible threat of having their press accreditation revoked or withdrawn. However, nothing was withdrawn, and it seems they weren’t even made to apologise. We’ll probably never know what was said, but Paul and Jon were adamant that it didn't include ‘sorry’.

Their Tweeting habits  reveal who their friends are, and where their sympathies lie. 

An solitary observation here, a reply there, a link somewhere else, or a brief conversation is unlikely to provide conclusive proof of one particular individual’s prejudice, but look at the whole picture. Stand back. Can you tell what it is yet?

We all know that war, abuse and injustice bring about personal tragedy to someone, somewhere. Death and destruction should be reported, there’s no doubt. But what the BBC should not do is concentrate on one mawkish aspect of the horror of war in an obsessive manner - and here’s where the word disproportionate really comes into its own - while ignoring or showing a distinct lack of interest when the same, and worse, is known to be happening elsewhere. In Syria, where the number of civilian casualties is enormous, the particular image that exposed Donnison’s failure of judgment, scruples and journalistic rigour was used in error! Can’t anyone see the irony?

Even if the moral justification (‘we expect higher standards from Israel‘) for such selective journalistic focus was valid and sincere, merely showing images of dead and injured children is still a cheap, lazy and exploitative way of propagandising. It makes me, and anyone else who dares point it out sound callous just  for saying so. It’s lazy in that it is a substitute for examining the real moral justification behind the conflict, and effectively dispenses with the need to maintain appropriate impartiality.

Craig: From your link it looks as if Judge Dan at IsraellyCool has been 'blocked' by Paul Danahar for this tweet yesterday:

@pdanahar I couldn't help but notice you only share articles from @haaretz. Is that a @BBC job prerequisite? or are you just biased?

His article about it is called 'Truth Hurts, Doesn’t It, Paul? 

It certainly is the truth and that 'blocking' does indeed seem to show that it hurts. The evidence? Looking back over Paul Danahar's tweets since the start of November and noting down all the mentions/links he gives to non-BBC media outlets produces the following list:

6.11.2012 Huffington Post
8.11.2012 Mediaite
Associated Press
10.11.2012 Ha'aretz
11.11.2012 Ha'aretz
13.11.2012 The Atlantic
14.11.2012 Ha'aretz
16.11.2012 Ynet
The Daily Beast
17.11.2012 Enduring America
The Daily Beast
18.11.2012 The Foreign Press Association
The Times (London)
19.11.2012 Jerusalem Post
Jerusalem Post
20.11.2012 Jerusalem Post
The Times of Israel
The Economist
21.11.2012 Ha'aretz
22.11.2012 +972
24.11.2012 Huffington Post
The Guardian
Washington Post
25.11.2012 Egypt Independent
New York Times
New York Times
26.11.2012 Jerusalem Post
New York Times
27.11.2012 Ha'aretz
28.11.2012 London Review of Books
29.11.2012 Ha'aretz

This results in the following tally of mentions/links:

Ha'aretz - 17
Jerusalem Post - 4
New York Times - 3
Huffington Post -2 
Ynet - 2
The Daily Beast - 2
+972 - 1
London Review of Books - 1
Egypt Independent - 1
Washington Post - 1
The Guardian - 1
The Times of Israel - 1
The Economist - 1
Reuters - 1
The Times - 1
Mediaite - 1
Associated Press - 1
The Atlantic - 1
Enduring America - 1
The Foreign Press Association - 1

SueHa'aretz is the leftie paper which is not very supportive of the Israeli government, so it's like the BBC quoting the Guardian I suppose.

Craig: Which they also do a lot. Wikipedia gives people a good idea of where Ha'aretz stands, for those who aren't too familiar with it. The reference to the BBC here made me smile:

Haaretz describes itself as broadly liberal on domestic issues and international affairs.[30] Other describe it alternatively as liberal, centre-left, left-wing, or even hard left.  According to the BBC, it has a moderate stance on foreign policy and security issues. David Remnick in The New Yorker described Haaretz as "easily the most liberal newspaper in Israel", its ideology as left-wing and its temper as "insistently oppositional." The newspaper's op-ed pages are open to a variety of opinions.
J.J. Goldberg, the editor of the American The Jewish Daily Forward, describes Haaretz as "Israel's most vehemently anti-settlement daily paper". US weekly The Nation describes Haaretz as "Israel's liberal beacon," citing its editorials voicing opposition to the occupation, the security barrier, discriminatory treatment of Arab citizens, and the mindset that led to the Second Lebanon War. Aijaz Ahmad, writing in Frontline, described Haaretz as "the most prestigious Israeli newspaper".

Just to add a little something though about those four mentions of The Jerusalem Post, Sue. Three of them are digs at the paper's reporting:

RT Does anyone have pets who are freaking out because of the rocket sirens? If so, please contact me today for a story.

for balance also tweets: 'happy to interview whose pets are freaking out from Israeli fire'.

The dogs had their day! Here's 's"Air raid sirens causing pets anxiety" story. via

It reminds me a bit of the way BBC employees love to have a go at the Daily Mail on Twitter. There are no digs at Ha'aretz, as you might expect.

CODA: For much more on the BBC and its relationship with Twitter, please read Biased BBC's David Preiser and his sterling work:

Thursday 29 November 2012

J-e-had the Journal-e-st

When the BBC says ‘we get complaints from both sides, so we must be getting things just about right’ at least they’re being honest. Many accuse the BBC of being pro Israel, and you can see the sort of things they complain about here. (and here)

Of course the BBC are keen to avoid value judgments, which they see as the same thing as being impartial. Some would point out that this is tantamount to making no distinction between ‘siding with the fire and the fire brigade’. 
By the same token the BBC feels it cannot be judgmental about Jihad. When referring to Hamas, strict impartiality is always enforced, and they are always careful to add the disclaimer: Hamas is “regarded as a terrorist organisation” by [various countries]

The fact the Britain is one of these countries and that the BBC is the called the British Broadcasting Corps is neither here nor there. 

The subject of Jon Donnison’s much vaunted broadcast entitled “He only knew how to smile”  was Jihad Masharawi, the BBC employee whose 11 month-old son Omar was killed in Gaza.  
Jon Donnison refers to him on the BBC and in various Tweets as “our BBC colleague” and he has been described as a BBC video and picture editor, a cameraman, or  according to Owen Jones, “a BBC journalist”.

It is assumed that the incident that killed the baby and injured his uncle Ahmed was an Israeli airstrike.  Under the circumstances the possibility that the actual cause was a Hamas “shortfall” was a speculation too far. The enormity of the pathos of this tragedy made such investigations irrelevant.  Either way, it would be ultimately Israel’s fault, and furthermore, for Owen Jones and Lauren Booth it was an example of Israel deliberately targeting civilians.

Jon Donnison ‏@JonDonnisonMT @WilliamsJon After losing baby, BBC's Jehad Masharawi now lost brother. Ahmad injured in #Gaza strike that killed Omar. Terrible tragedy
Lauren Booth ‏@LaurenBoothUK@JonDonnison @WilliamsJon a tragedy is an accident Jon. This was murder. the deliberate murder of civilians by the out of control IOFCollapse
Maha ‏@Alasil@JonDonnison @williamsjon that is so heartbreaking. Praying for him
matthew@matthew10180401@LaurenBoothUK @JonDonnison @WilliamsJon IDF spokespeople have so corrupted the language! For 'accident',tragedy etc.Read murder .

Unfortunately the baby’s uncle - Jihad’s brother Ahmed - has also died from his injuries.
They now regard him as a ‘shahid’, and it emerges that he was known to the IDF as a terrorist.
The YouTube video in Arabic, from Hamas Al Quds TV featuring Ahmed’s funeral throws up more questions for the BBC.

Jihad’s words from video of have been translated:

“Thanks to Allah, the Lord of the Universe, who chose him [i.e. Ahmed] to be a martyr, from all the people. What was done by the Jews is a shame for the entire Umma [Islamic nation], a shame for the West, a shame for the Arabs, who are silent. The entire war struck only the children and the innocent. They didn’t hit a single muqawim [resistance fighter], nor anyone who works for the government, or whatever.”

H/T BBC Watch. Read this.

Tuesday 27 November 2012

Work in Progress

Here's a comment that appeared a couple of days ago on the Biased BBC website, quoting a comment on Guido's Order Order site.:

..this from Guido comment
Hang The B**tards says:
November 25, 2012 at 1:53 pm
ANDREW MARR this morning on reviewing the papers said
“The foster couple in Rotherham had extreemist political views”
You may ask yourself WTF is this adulterous man talking about ?
Answer: He’s connected to the Common Purpose Gestaop so obviously springs to the defence of F***wit-Thacker !

(Did you like the way I oh-so-delicately mod*rated it?)

That's a serious charge about Andrew Marr, accusing him of abandoning BBC impartiality to accuse the shamefully ill-treated UKIP-supporting foster parents of holding extremist political views. 

Have a watch of the programme and you find that what Andrew Marr actually said was:
"Some things change, however. I mean, one of the other big stories, Sarah, has been the treatment of this UKIP-supporting family who were told they couldn't foster or adopt some children because of their extreme political views." 
...which to any reasonable-minded viewer quite obviously mean't:
"Some things change, however. I mean, one of the other big stories, Sarah, has been the treatment of this UKIP-supporting family who were told they couldn't foster or adopt some children because of their "extreme political views"." 
This is a typical example of the problem on many a comments field where people expound on the issue of BBC bias - people mishearing, misquoting and misunderstanding or, maybe even, deliberately trying to mislead others for malicious reasons.

Then, of course, comes the ad hom, the conspiracy theory and the breaking of Godwin's Law. Bingo. 

Cos we’re worth it

One reason being offered by huge numbers of people for condemning Israel and siding with the Palestinians during Operation Pillar of Defence was that “Israel started it” by breaking a “ceasefire”, or at any rate ending a lull in the ongoing hostilities, by:
i) the assassination of Jabari, who was supposed to be ‘in the middle of negotiating a plan for peace’. 
ii) assassinations of various Palestinians including one ‘mentally disabled’ Palestinian man and a 13 year old boy.

When it became clear to everyone except Owen Jones and other anti-Israel-activists that the operation was in retaliation for a largely unreported barrage of rockets from Gaza aimed at Israeli citizens, other theories took off and  ‘trended’. 
A common theory with BBC pundits was that the Israeli Prime Minister was deliberately posing as a hard and steadfast leader because of the Israeli elections.

The main justification for condemning Israel remained the same; the 'disproportionate' theory, namely that there were many more casualties in Gaza than in Israel.

Throughout the conflict, long-held myths (tropes) re-emerged as further justification for condemning Israel. Top of the list remains the number of children killed. Thereafter, in no particular order:

a) Stolen Land, 
b) Settlements, 
c) Arms supplied to Israel by America. 
d) Apartheid state.
e) Siege
f) Brutal occupation
g) Violations of International law, various.
h) Political racist motives

All these accusations have been leveled at Israel, in various BBC broadcasts, from a variety of people, in a variety of programmes. Occasionally, in Israel’s defence, we heard about:

a) Iran
b) Rockets coming into Israel
c) That the operation was retaliatory.

The most oft-quoted justification for condemning Israel was the number of Palestinian civilian and child victims. The figures, including the ratio of fighters to civilians given by Palestinians were taken, trustingly, at face value. The tactic of rocket-launching from sites amongst children and civilians was excused by quoting the easily (Google) verifiable falsehood that Gaza is the most heavily populated place on the planet, and the absence of shelters provided for Palestinian civilians was cited as an unfair disadvantage about which nothing could possibly be done; not by Hamas, not by Allah.

There is a generally accepted assumption that Israel must never harm a Palestinian child, whatever the provocation, coupled with resentment that Israelis do have the shelters that neither Allah nor the Palestinian government has provided for the poor Palestinians.

Some of the solutions I’ve heard offered: Equality should be established by curtailing Israel’s military superiority, reducing Israel’s bomb shelters and complying with the Palestinians’ demands for unrestricted access to and from Israel etc.

The theory seems to be that peace will be achieved by: Dismantling Jewish settlements, giving ‘stolen’ land and ‘stolen homes’ to several million Palestinian refugees and their descendants; in other words a  Jew-free Palestinian state alongside a Jewish minority Israel. 

They see no connection between the rise of Islamism in the Arab world, and Israel’s current difficulties with Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran as well as those on the horizon from the newly Islamised Arab and African countries.

When it comes to Israel everyone seems to abandon reason. Showing pictures of dead or injured children is enough of an argument to silence people who dare to speak up for Israel. 

Unfortunately the go-to website Harry’s Place seems to be down at the moment, but before that happened I read an impressive guest post by the HP commenter ‘Mettaculture’.

Reading the comments below the article I misread “Write a comment” as “Write a compliment” which, given the merits of the piece, seemed, even in my confusion, an unnecessary demand.
He patiently unravelled the kind of  tangled up thoughts constantly buzzing around our brains.

Broaching Israel’s experimental withdrawal from Gaza, the author quoted Max Boot’s reasons for supporting this strategy, pre-withdrawal, and his subsequent, post-withdrawal analysis of the reasons for its failure. When weighing up the pros and cons he had questioned whether, in the overall scheme of things, it was ‘worth’ jeopardising the lives of Israeli soldiers, just for the sake of protecting the well-being of 8,000 Jews trying to exist amongst a million hostile Arabs in Gaza.
As it turned out, as far as securing any improvement in Arab/Israeli relations was concerned, the withdrawal was as futile as the jeopardising. At the present time, people who admit that nothing less than Israel’s elimination will satisfy Hamas are asking the same question about Israel’s very existence.

The worrying thing about the HP article is that it was written in response to an earlier pro-Palestinian piece by Peter Tatchell.  Thoughtful, eloquent and articulate as Mettaculture’s arguments were, in the overall scheme of things, who cares what nonsense Peter Tatchell  decides to believe? The real problem is that too many others, including a large number of our MPs  believe it too.

Is Israel’s continuing presence in the Middle East worth all this trouble and strife?

Extrapolate it and despair. Would dismantling the Jewish state, even in the unlikely event that  all the practicalities could be somehow resolved, appease the Islamists once and for all?  Or, to put it another way, is it worth jeopardising everyone in the western world by resisting what they see as the thin end of a future world-wide Islamic caliphate wedge? Why not just cave in? Lie down and die.

The failed experiment in Gaza demonstrated that moral superiority won’t bring about peace. Not only that, but as long as the blindness to Islamist  ideology continues to erode our ability to think, moral superiority wouldn’t even be recognised as moral superiority, but as weakness, 
Here is Pat Condell, saying what Mettaculture said, but in a slightly different way.

Sunday 25 November 2012


The BBC’s ongoing propaganda war against Israel has reached a crescendo. Now it’s official. The war plan goes like this. At the first sign of trouble, simply whip out an image, verbal, visual or subliminal, of a Palestinian baby, and you’ve won your own little war. 

Owen Jones has obviously been hanging on Jon Donnison’s every Tweet. Just so that this arrogant little shit could show he ‘knew’ what he was talking about and not merely repeating “statistics”, he armed himself with the name and age of the poor little baby little boy whose corpse has been paraded before the cameras by his father,  BBC ‘journalist’ Jihad Mishrawi, in preparation for his appearance on Question time. He had also armed himself, in this battle with-a-forgone-conclusion, with a few extra cheap’n’cheerful crowd-pleasers; a handful of cherry-picked half true/half false morsels and a nasty and very stupid insinuation that this baby’s death gave the lie to Israel’s claims that they don’t target civilians. The crowd lapped it up.  Oh! how they cheered.

The BBC uses its well-known audience selection procedure to breathe life into the flagging Question Time formula. A left-leaning majority in both audience and panel ensures that righteousness will prevail, with a pinch of dissent thrown in to spice things up. This strategy enabled them to bung Daniel into the lions den for the edification of the masses, as they mischievously led a kippah-clad young man into the arena to ask the dreaded question and be duly humiliated by the answer. A devious deed done in the name of ratings and entertainment. Trickery like this is more than mischief-making; under the circumstances it’s rabble-rousing to a sinister degree.

It’s now a given, BBC style, that Israel is the villain in any given situation. In the topsy turvy world the BBC inhabits ’Palestine” is the underdog. It’s Israel that is preventing peace. it’s Israel that is expanding into Palestinian territory. It’s Israel that is targeting civilians. it’s Israel that has no regard for human rights. It’s Israel that is illegal, immoral and barbaric.

Owen Jones’s histrionic performance was almost superfluous, because the audience already “knew” that the lies he was excreting were ‘true’. True enough for them at any rate.

The alarming thing about it was that none of the other panellists or the chairman intervened throughout the whole diatribe nor challenged any of the falsehoods and exaggerations that were made. Even if they knew exactly what was wrong with Jones’s litany of inaccuracies and lies, which I doubt, the atmosphere was such that any credibility any one of them might have had with the general public would be up in smoke before they even ventured their first “But.”

That ear-achingly shrill-voiced Jennifer Tracey of iPM spoke to a dancer who objected to the hysterical protests that have recently disrupted performances of an Israeli dance company. The entire conversation was conducted from the BBC’s mutually-assured presumption that Israel is diabolical enough to merit protests, boycotts and general condemnation, the only question being by what methods? They brought in Scottish poet, playwright and performer Liz Lochead to confirm that yes, interrupting cultural events was the right thing to do. She had been to Palestine, so she knew all about it. “Brand Israel” is the epitome of evil. 

Then of course there’s Jon Donnison and his mawkish war-porn broadcast From Our Own Correspondent. See this,  this and this.

The scary thing is that there is such an atmosphere of hostility and ignorance over this topic that has become very intimidating. I’m saying this because it’s more obvious than ever before. The BBC has dispensed with its impartiality obligations over Israel, because now it knows it can.

Laying into the Errant Laity

As I wrote the other day, Sunday's take on the apocalyptic failure of the Church of England to vote for women bishops was bound to test the impartiality of a programme which often appears to find it hard to hide a certain lack of understanding/empathy for those who hold conservative social views. 

Some of today's edition went through the motions of balance. The opening vox pops featured two from one side and two from the other. Then when Sunday reporter Kevin Bouquet when to two parishes to find out the views of the laity, he visited a conservative church and a liberal church and spoke to the vicar and three female parishioners from each parish. There's statistical balance for you! 

Kevin's report was introduced by presenter William Crawley, who detailed the figures for bishops, clergy and laity voting for women bishops, emphasised the narrowness of the loss in the House of Laity and then said:
"And that's led many people [his emphasis] to question just how representative the Synod's House of Laity actually is of the views of ordinary members of the Church of England".
[Has anyone ever wonder just how representative the Synod's House of Bishops actually is of the views of ordinary members of the Church of England"? Certainly not Sunday!].

Here are the questions Kevin Bouquet put to the errant conservative Anglicans in Northwich, Cheshire:
"Mike, and do you think that people opposed to women you think that they anticipated the depth of disappointment and frustration that there would be when this decision did not go through?"

"Do you have any regrets, having seen the division, the upset it's caused?"

"The Bishop of Chelmsford called this decision "a national embarrassment". What's your reaction to that?"

"And yet the people are important, aren't they? And more than 72% of Synod members voted in favour of this legislation. Was it right that the view of the minority should prevail [incredulous tone of voice] in this way?" [a partial contradiction of the lady who said that the Church should be there to please God not the people].
"Do you accept that there will be women bishops one day?" 
"So all you've won now is a kind of temporary reprieve?"
Compare those accusatory questions to the unenlightened traditionalists with these commiserating questions to the enlightened but hard-done-by liberal parishioners of Manchester:
"How do you explain the profound reaction to the decision of the Synod this week? People weren't just disappointed, they were distraught. People were in tears, weren't they?" "I wonder how you feel towards the traditionalists who prevented this legislation going through."
The first thing you will notice is that Kevin asked them far fewer questions and that they were a very different type of question - not challenging, unlike those he put to the conservative Anglicans. Instead, he just let them air their complaints at length, without interruption. 

And, as I will keep saying about Sunday [and will  produce a complete list in time], the last word of the report went to the side with whom the programme's sympathies seem to lie:
"So I think we have to be much more proactive. We have to be very careful in choosing the people we send to deaneries, synod and diocesan synod and we have to canvass them constantly, ask them questions, challenge them, make sure they are representing the voice of the laity and not just their own eccentric opinions."
That was one of the liberal parishioners, not the BBC reporter. Curiously, however, her statement that the "eccentric" conservatives need questioning and challenging (and being weeded out if found wanting) for holding on to the view which the Church had held to be orthodox teaching for 2,000 years tied in neatly with the framing of this very report and the behaviour as an interviewer of Kevin Bouquet. These traditionalists may indeed be wrong and hold opinions we may not (do not) share, but it ill behoves a BBC programme to dismiss them or treat them with disdain.

'The World Tonight' - and last night, and the night before...

Continuing to review the past week's editions of BBC Radio 4's The World Tonight, I want to surf my way over the choppy waters of the last five days and see how often the shark of bias lurks beneath, ready to bite off the leg of impartiality. So to speak.

Besides the Israel-Gaza conflict, this edition looked at Burma in the light of President Obama's visit to the Asian nation. Is the West seeking to draw Burma away from its traditional ties to China? Carolyn Quinn spoke to Josh Kurlantzick from the American think-tank, the Council on Foreign Relations, about the country's foreign relations. It was an interesting interview. 

Then there was a report by James Reynolds on anti-Assad Syrian refugees in Turkey. They don't like Bashar one bit. There have been repeated accusations that the BBC has been far too embedded - literally and emotionally - with the Syrian rebels. This report won't have undermined that impression (however unfair it may be). Its themes were the plight of refugee children, the badness of the Assad regime, the eagerness of the rebels, the unease of the Turkish state. 

The impending rebel seizure of Goma in Eastern Congo (DRC) was next up for discussion. Gabriel Gatehouse talked to Carolyn. The under-reporting of the various wars in the Democratic Republic of Congo over the last couple of decades remains one of the scandals of modern reporting. Compare it to the saturation coverage of events in Gaza or the West Bank. Deaths in the DRC since 1996 appear to have topped the 5 million mark (at least) - an extraordinary tally of human suffering. It tells you something that when you do a simple search on the BBC News website, the 'News' results bring up 6,793 results for "Congo" (with includes results for the other Congo - Congo Brazzaville - too) and   14,984 for "Israel". If you assume the figure to be 5 million dead in the DRC over that period and compare it to the figure (14,500) given by Wikipedia for deaths in the Israel-Palestinian conflict since 1948 (i.e. over a far longer period) you find that the recent wars in the Congo have killed some 370 times more people - in other words, VASTLY more. The BBC, of course, has been far from alone in under-reporting the plight of the Congolese and massively over-reporting the 'plight' of the Palestinians. Still, a myriad numbers of wrongs doesn't make a right. That is all a preamble to saying 'Well done!' to The World Tonight for giving up under five minutes of Monday's edition to the story. That said, they spent 16 minutes on Israel-Gaza (over 3 times as long). 

The programme ended with a report from the BBC's Guy De Launey on the growing friendship between a U.S. stealth fighter pilot (Dale Zelko) and the Serb artillery operator (Zoltan Dani) who shot him down in 1999 - the subject of a documentary called 'The Second Meeting'.  We heard from the two men and the director. Interesting. 


As well as the women bishops and the Gaza sections (reviewed in earlier posts), Tuesday's edition discussed Afghanistan. Paddy Ashdown says Western nation-building has failed in the country (said host Ritula Shah). There have been failures galore, but there has been some good the European Union. Paul Moss reported on the EU's involvement in training the ill-reputed Afghan police force. The Afghan people are grateful. The EU trainers are pleased with their work. The EU's top man in this field is pleased too. Where the US and Britain have failed, the EU is succeeding it seems. That was one of the messages of that report, I think. It's very rare to hear a positive report about Western intervention in Afghanistan. Interesting that it reflects so well on the European Union, isn't it?

Saturday 24 November 2012

BBC: Firing bias into Israel?

Some parts of the domestic BBC clearly remain open to charges of bias. Radio 4's The World Tonight on this week has struck me offering a view instances of that. I'll spread out the evidence for this claim over a few posts, lest this first one reach infinity and beyond.
Presenter Carolyn Quinn began the Israel/Gaza bit on Monday night's edition by focusing on the 'plight' of those in Gaza, rather than on focusing on the 'plight' of people in both Gaza and Israel: 
"People in Gaza are bracing themselves for what could be another night of bombardment as Israeli forces continue the air strikes they say [her emphasis] are intended to stop Hamas firing rocket attacks [sic] in Israel. The death toll in Gaza has exceeded 100. 3 Israelis have been killed since Wednesday."
The introduction to her first guest then began:
"Since 2007 the Gaza Strip has been subject to an intensified Israeli blockade. It was captured during the 1967 war and Israel still maintains control of Gazan airspace and its waters in the Mediterranean. It's one of the most densely-populated and poorest areas in the world with a population of approximately one and a half million Palestinians. Just over half of its inhabitants are under the age of 18. Unemployment is high and 80% of the population is dependent on aid to survive. So where is its population drawn from and why do they stay there? Dr Izzeldin Abuelaish is a Palestinian doctor and infertility specialist. In 2009 three of his daughters were killed in the family home in Gaza by Israeli shells. He now campaigns for peace in the Middle East and teaches at the University of Toronto. I asked him when his family had first arrived in Gaza."

[Sue"It's one of the most densely-populated and poorest areas in the world with a population of approximately one and a half million Palestinians."
This particular phrase is one of these “We’ve heard it all befores”, of course it’s inaccurate, as for that matter, is the term Palestinians, but that’s another story.]

The interview then ran as follows: 
Dr Abuelaish:  "My family came to Gaza after 1948, after they were exiled from their homeland and became refugees in the Jabalia refugee camp."
Carolyn Quinn: "And how long did they remain in that camp?"
Dr Abuelaish: "It's the whole of their lives. I was born in that camp. I was raised and lived in that camp till now. My extended family is living there. My house is still there."
Carolyn Quinn: "So you still have family living in Gaza?"
Dr Abuelaish: "My five brothers and three sisters, my nephews, my nieces, my cousins, all of my people are living there."
Carolyn Quinn: "And as a place to live it has obviously been extremely traumatic for people living there under bombardment. Can you describe what it was like to be a Gazan?"
Dr Abuelaish: "You know the life to be Gazan there, where everything in your life you want for yourself in London and you are enjoying it..but for Gazans, the people there, and they're teenagers who are working as the graduate of the universities and they are at the process of building their life and to say to them their life to turn its back to them. Unemployed. There is no life in Gaza Strip. There is no electricity. There is no future  in Gaza Strip. But all of this...who made it? It's man-made."
Carolyn Quinn: "What about those people who would wish to leave?"
Dr Abuelaish: "We need to ask why do they want to leave. They want to survive. They are forced to leave. It's not by their choice. But life was hard for them to push them to leave. They are pushed to leave."
Carolyn Quinn: "Now, you have spent much of your life trying to seek peace in the conflict between Israel and Palestine. You yourself have sustained a terrible tragedy with three of your daughters being killed in your family home in Gaza. What hope do you hold that there could, some time, be an end to this?"
Dr Abuelaish: "You know, when you speak about peace, peace is not a word. Peace is an action. Peace is a way of life. Peace, where we engage in it, we touch it, we live it. And even now, the peace issue, it became a peace industry, peace business, and we don't see peace. 
Carolyn Quinn: "That's Dr Izzeldin Abuelaish there, who campaigns for peace in the Middle East."

[Sue: That programme you've written about is typical. Poor Carolyn Quinn is wrong, and the Palestinian doctor has become quite a celebrity since his family was killed. It’s very sad in so many ways. But that life-in-Gaza  approach is cheap. And how often do you really get to see what life is like for Israelis under these random rocket attacks.  I’ve experienced one by the way, so I’m not just romancing. And how many times do we get to see the wealthy areas in Gaza on the MSM. Of course it is terrible that people in Gaza have no shelters etc etc, but they could have if Hamas hadn’t diverted resources to their precious Jihad. The lack of electricity is, I believe self-inflicted.]

Friday 23 November 2012

Scoring points

Isn’t it frustrating when a bully forces his victim into a corner, making him look like a an evasive gibbering idiot by battering him repetitiously with the same question, when the question is designed to trick him into making an incriminating admission? Only it’s not really incriminating at all, it just appears to be, because the jury has already made up its mind that it will be. 
It’s the Jeremy Paxman technique, where Paxman spots a weakness and composes a question with only a yes-or-no answer, which cannot be given without appearing to be an admission of guilt.
The BBC is content to rest its case on a cheap trick, which is that once the question has been put, no further explanation however reasonable, will look convincing; if it’s offered  instead of the requisite answer it looks like obfuscation, and if afterwards, whether the answer was a yes or a no, it will look like what it has now become - the defensive splutterings of a wrong-footed person.   If you’re ever in such a position you might as well confess at once, because you’re damned either way. Answer yes and you’re guilty, no, and you’re a bloody liar. Paxo is triumphant and the court passes a unanimous verdict; guilty as charged.

The famous Michael Howard interview was lauded by conservative-haters and Michael Howard-haters who found the tactic innovative and refreshing. Paxo devotees could bask in a silly little victory, even though they must surely have realised how underhanded and sneaky the method used to obtain it actually was. 

Jeremy Paxman isn’t always able to bring off this kind of bullying; he was trounced by Stephen Lennon because the BBC researchers or the man himself were so complacent that they hadn’t bothered to get the facts together. I’d say when he attempted it with Gorgeous George it was only a partial success.

Cornering people into into a position where they’re made to look guilty might be an okay tactic for counsel for the prosecution but not necessarily for the BBC. That is not to say that investigative journalism has no place on the BBC, but exposing an injustice is not a matter of superficial trickery.

If the BBC rests its whole case against Israel on the fact that more Palestinians than Israelis have died in a particular period, it’s because they’re lazy, complacent and biased. They get away with it because as far as they are concerned the case has already been made and won, not least by the BBC itself, and Israel is indisputably the baddie.

Shoving Gill Hoffman into a corner in which he was damned if he did and damned if he didn’t was very stupid. With the BBC in its present, unaccustomed position of distrust, it seems quite a bad time to making a embarrassing show of blatant bias. But Mishal Husain was on a roll.
This time it’s the death toll. The fact that there were many fewer Israeli deaths during both the recent, and the past hostilities evidently bothers not only Mishal, but the BBC as a whole. If that weren’t true, then why would they tack the death count from Operation Cast Lead onto every Israel-related article on the BBC website? 
It’s the killer blow, or it would be without the context, and without the context is how it is reported, and without the context is precisely how Mishal Husain wished it to be presented in her interview.  
Mishal spotted a weakness. She knew that Mr Hoffman would feel uncomfortable about the Palestinian victims, at least the civilians and especially the children. But she wanted to make him seem callous and ‘Israeli’, so she went in for the kill. 

How many Israelis have died? she asked, again and again. Her victim would have been wiser to have straightaway answered “none,” which would have given him the chance to put his case with more confidence, having obfuscated for too long. If he’d answered ‘none’ straight away he could have fitted in a subsidiary question too. Something like “Would Ms Husain be happier if the Israeli government took away all the bomb shelters in Israel to even up the score? Yes or no? Yes or no? Yes or no-you-haven’t-answered-my-question.”
I can’t predict how she would have dealt with that, but I hope it would have dealt a blow to her satisfied smirk.
However, if we were to accept, for arguments sake, that the moral high ground rests solely with proportionality, how about the number of Arab states that surround Israel, you know, the ones that the Arab Spring has liberated, nay, unshackled, who share the common goal of annihilating Israel and who call for ‘death to Jews?‘  

Perhaps the disproportionate argument only applies when actual deaths have occurred. Maybe numbers only count when people have actually died, and intent to kill is not enough to  justify taking sides, only the ‘accomplishment’ ?

If so, how many British citizens have died from foiled terrorist plots? None? Then why take precautions? Let’s wait until the numbers justify the action; we should set plotters like the two Abus, Hamza and Quatada, Richard Reid and Abdulmuttalab free until mission accomplished. Only when there’s a sufficient death toll should we spring into action, and mete out some punishment. 
How many westerners have died from Iran’s threats? Let’s wait and see whether their nuclear ambitions are peaceful, and if not, we’ll concede the point, death toll provided.

On the other hand, if the disproportionate numbers theory holds good as a moral calculator, what about tacking the statistics of the unequal Arab and Israeli populations in the Middle East on the end of all BBC reports concerning the region, as reminders of that disproportionality, the way they do with death tolls. 

The number of German civilians and soldiers who died in WWll far exceeded the number of British and American forces killed. Does that mean we were in the wrong? 

As for tactics. The BBC has used the cheapest tactics it can find in their vilification of Israel. The most obvious is the number of sympathetic journalists it has embedded in Gaza. Their tweets (which the BBC insists they declare are their own personal views, and not those of their employer) reveal the very things we must overlook, because the disclaimer says so.
But of course it’s not only their tweets, their tactics leave us in no doubt. Every time they report, from Gaza, about ‘life in Gaza’ they do so with barely concealed affection. Individuals are named, Abu here, Ali there, Mohammad somewhere else, they’re all fawned over as though their particular suffering has a unique nobility. It’s unimaginable that such an approach could ever occur over on Israel’s side of the border. 
This morning Jeremy Bowen surpassed himself. He gathered together a saccharine gallery of innocent victims and the icing on the cake was Dr. Mads Gilbert. Dr Mads gained notoriety during Operation Cast Lead. As many people pointed out then, he truly lives up to his name. Don’t you think Jeremy could have mentioned that Dr Mads is a very active anti-Israel activist indeed? 
The device of showing as many dead or injured children as they can rustle up, a task made easy by such unfortunate tragedies being brandished before the cameras, and ushers beckoning cameramen and reporters into hospitals with the enthusiasm of a hustler to a brothel. Come in, come in, get your propaganda here.

Then there’s the figures. The veracity of the figures is always disputed for some time after the event, but the BBC takes Palestinian figures at face value, while appending every Israeli statement with the ever-present “Israel says.” Not only does the BBC attach the death toll to each M.E.-related item of news, but it conceals the numbers of Hamas combatants within the total by quoting “Israelis and Palestinians”.

Toll of articles by me. 
Pro Israel - several.    Pro Palestinian - none. There, I’ve answered. Guilty as charged.

Thursday 22 November 2012

Immoral Maze

The Moral Maze trying to tackle the Middle East without Melanie Phillips on the panel? What? How very dare they! The programme was bereft and the participants were floundering amongst the missing fundamentals. 

At any rate, with one possible exception, neither the witnesses nor the panel were willing or able to address the antisemitism that permeates much of the Arab world, the very thing that lies behind the intractable rejectionist position of the Palestinians. 

As this obstacle is the real obstacle to peace, not the settlements, the blockade or other defensive measures that rejectionist-related activities force Israel to take, the omission of these fundamentals from the discussion was itself fundamental; a fatal, fundamental flaw.

What Palestinians mean by their ‘struggle‘ is their struggle against Israel’s existence, and what is meant by their ‘resistance’ is their resistance to Israel’s existence, and  if you can’t discuss that, what can you discuss?  The refusal to recognise these basics, along with various other noes that the BBC brings to the table, rendered the whole thing completely pointless. Predicable though. 

The (mutually agreed) best witness was Professor Daniel Statman from Haifa. They examined some moral principles, but would you adam‘n’eve it, they ran out of time before getting round to the specifics. 
One of the professorial witnesses  believed the holocaust and the bombing of Hiroshima were equally moral / immoral. He must have got lost in the moral maze and he’s probably still in there, venturing deeper and deeper, never to be seen again.

Ignoring the ideology that fuels this particular conflict and treating it as a territorial battle between the oppressed and the oppressor rendered it an irrelevant and fruitless exercise to the extent that deconstructing it further would be equally irrelevant and fruitless. So I won’t waste our time. 

This is par for the course on the BBC.  As critics, we try and extract the nub of the bias from the fog, but we always have the problem of ‘the basics.’ If we’re dealing with absence of ‘basics’ we’re heading for mutual incomprehension. Once in a while, though, a nub comes along and throws itself at your feet. 
This time it’s Jon Donnison’s Tweet. Who’d have thunk a little Tweet could be a weapon in the struggle for understanding. 
It wasn’t the Tweet itself that became the gift that kept on giving. It was the principle. 
Can they really get away with saying sorry, we got it wrong this time, but an image is just a representation of the universal wounded child, and does it actually matter whether it took place in Syria rather than Gaza, and if he’d known, he’d have found it just as heartbreaking? 
 A well-intentioned innocently-made mistake, or as people have said about the Al Durah affair - not at all an innocent mistake -  “who cares if the film was real or fake? We know this sort of thing is happening anyway.” But of course, that’s a dangerous route for an organisation like the BBC to go down. 
What, the most highly respected, the trusted, best, most accurate news organ in the whole widey world? 
No, it’s not good enough. Oh, no Jon, no Jon, no Jon, no.The road to hell is paved with well-intentioned propaganda.

So while we can empathise with sending out an e-message in haste and regretting it at leisure -  it could happen to anyone - it was the fact that Jon Donnison and the BBC have an agenda, and so consensual an agenda that in their haste to show the brutality of Israel by means of lazy, image-based propaganda they got careless, and this is no time to get careless. 

This is the time for the BBC to be extra careful, because it’s under scrutiny, and has more critics now than ever before. The BBC’s arch enemy, the Murdoch press has picked it up. The Mail and the Sun, no less. So a little apology is hardly enough.

Capitalising on what some people regard as a trivial error seems harsh, opportunistic and perhaps a little unfair. But, hey, in comparison to the bias that has influenced swathes of the nation and beyond to hate the state of Israel and regard Jews with suspicion, it’s nothing. So stick that in your Moral Maze and philosophize it.

Wednesday 21 November 2012

Women Bishops

Imagine you were writing a spoof of a BBC interview on the debate over women bishops in the Church of England. Your John Humphrys/Jeremy Paxman-type interviewer might begin by saying something like this, in a tone of voice drenched in sarcasm: 
"It seems extraordinary that in 2012 one of the best-known organisations in England still has a rule saying that women aren't allowed to be bosses. They can become middle managers but that's it, and the idea that a woman could ever actually run the organisation, well, forget it!" 
Especially with its talk of "bosses", you'd probably reckon on that being an over-exaggerated parody of John Humphrys. And so it is. Except that it's not a parody. That's exactly what he said when he began his interview with lay Anglican Susie Leafe and Reverend Rose Hudson-Wilkin, chaplain to the House of Commons speaker, on yesterday's Today over the vexed issue of women bishops. 

Once the interview began it immediately became clear that this tone of incredulity wasn't merely a rhetorical opening gambit. Some BBC interviewers find it very hard to disguise their disbelief that people in this day and age are still holding 'unenlightened' opinions on subjects like women bishops and gay marriage. John Humphrys is clearly one such interviewer, if this interview is anything to go by. 

Susie, who holds such traditionalist views on the subject of women bishops (being against them), was subject to this incredulous and somewhat mocking tone throughout, being constantly interrupted and contradicted. Rev. Rose, on the other hand, was treated with great respect throughout, allowed to speak without incessant interruption and far from being contradicted she was actively helped along  the way by her interviewer. She is, of course, strongly in favour of women bishops. As the listen-again link for this should be permanent, I won't waste an hour of my life transcribing it. Please listen to it here and I'm sure you will see exactly what I mean. 

This does keep happening. Earlier in the programme, reporter Michael Buchanan attended a prayer vigil at Westminster Abbey for both supporters and opponents on women bishops. He interviewed four lay members of  the Church, two for, two against. He challenged only one of them - and challenged him, once again, with a tone of incredulity. That person was against women bishops on theological grounds. (Go 1hr 25m in here, for the next few days only, to hear this piece.). The report was further biased by having an additional supporter of the intended move, Tim Hind (Vice-Chair of the House of Laity) and opened with another one, Canon Jane Hedges. Exact equivalence of numbers for and against isn't a strict requirement of impartiality, but it doesn't help to have an imbalance in the same direction as the other imbalance in the same report. It then does begin to suggest bias.

Today returned to the issue this morning. As is often the way with the Today website, the programme only mentions and provides a listen-again option for the interview with the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu. Another interview immediately preceded it, however. John Humphrys interviewed Alison Ruoff, a conservative lay member of the General Synod who voted against the move towards women bishops. She was also consistently interrupted, though she was not subjected to the tone of incredulity that Susie Leafe had to put up with. Then again, Archbishop Sentamu was also consistently interrupted. So this segment was not noticeably biased.

At least there has been a balance of guests on Today. Not so on The World At One where, as mentioned on the last thread, neither yesterday (because it didn't discuss the issue) nor today featured a single guest who sympathised with those opposed to women bishops. Politicians Ben Bradshaw, Grant Shapps and Chuka Umunna all had their say, all saying much the same  thing on the issue. It was a little 'social liberal' bubble. 

What though of the next Radio 4 programme in the daily cycle, PM? Well, if you thought The World at One was unbalanced...

Yesterday Eddie Mair interviewed Jane Hedges, Canon of Westminster, a supporter of women bishops. Eddie gave her a good hearing and then asked her this intriguing question:
"What's the clinching argument, do you think...or the most convincing argument on the other side of this debate that you most respect?"  
This was the prelude to two further questions:
"Are there people on the other side of this debate..having articulated how you do respect so many of the opposing points of view...are there people on the other side of this debate who are, for want of a better expression, sexist dinosaurs?" 
"Why would you want to be part of a club that treated you like this?"
Today's PM gave us the views of Jane Hedges, Canon of Westminster, a supporter of women bishops. Again. She was deeply disappointed and described how people who share her views also share her feelings of disappointment. She isn't against parliament intervening to support her side of the argument. She was followed by one of those MPs, Frank Field, who is bringing in a bill to reverse the Church's exemption to the Sex Discrimination Act in the wake of its "childish" decision not to back women bishops. Alongside Mr. Field was the Conservative MP Claire Perry. Balance? Hardly. She shared his "sadness and disappointment", being (like Mr. Field and Canon Hedges) a supporter of women bishops and also believing the failure to permit women bishops to be "sex discrimination". So far people from the same right-thinking bubble as The World at One then. At the end of today's programme PM gave a 'Thought For The Day'-style talk to someone from outside the parliamentary bubble but firmly inside the same right-thinking bubble - the atheist philosopher Julian Baggini. He finds the Church's failure to appoint women bishops "bizarrely out of touch and misogynistic" and voiced many more criticisms while calling for the Church's disestablishment. The views of those who oppose women bishops were sidelined again. Would that the production team behind PM had been as assiduous as Archbishop Sentamu in balancing the debate over women bishops between both sides.

The final programme of the daily haul of Radio 4 current affairs programmes, The World Tonight, returned to offering a debate between the two sides of the argument, represented by Canon Rosie Harper (for) and lay member Lorna Ashworth (against), hosted by Ritula Shah. There's nothing much wrong with this segment of last night's programme. Tonight's programme has not discussed the issue.

I await Sunday's take with interest.

A Matter of Choice

When you‘re on the receiving end of an injustice, each little thing hurts.  The cumulative effect makes you seem bitter and twisted, when you’re really not. You’re human, aren’t you?
Make no mistake there is an injustice going on. It’s the media. It’s as if they have sided with one of the parties in an acrimonious divorce, and they consciously and subconsciously present their protagonist in a favourable light and continually conceal or underplay his flaws. 
The MSM/press show us what they want us to see, hence their obsession with images of dead, starving and hurt children. They know it’s their very own killer weapon. 
At every opportunity they put before us the very things that will elicit sympathy for what happens to be their case. Anyone would choose the most effective and the least demanding method of influencing others if they could get away with it, surely? But that’s not what the BBC is supposed to do. 
That’s not to say that they necessarily lie, but if it suits, they can bank on the certainty that we’ll believe what we want to believe, and by hook or by crook they’ve made sure that what we want to believe are the things they’ve persuaded us to want to believe.
No reporter can be expected to reiterate the entire history of the world each time something happens. We beg for context, but we understand that it’s unreasonable to demand an even-handed all encompassing résumé of events from the year dot that would satisfy everyone. But the selection that is shown is a matter of choice, an editorial decision. If the chooser in my earlier anomaly is acting on behalf of the wife, he’s hardly going to boast about the fact that she’s an alcoholic shrew, when he can simply show that the old man’s a vicious lout.

Each time a tiny thing is omitted, another embellished and yet another is focused upon unfairly, it’s a wound to some, and a boost to others. People, me included, can seem over-sensitive and compulsive in our determination to put our case. 

If the press suddenly chose to do what we expect of them, they would paint personalized, flattering portraits of Israelis in the same flattering manner in which they frequently portray individual Palestinians. 

They could, if they chose, plaster our screens with film clips of the unimaginable abuses of Palestinian children that are shown on Palestinian TV stations, which poison young minds with Jew-hate via cartoon characters whose sole purpose is to glorify martyrdom, and hideous ‘talent shows’ featuring cute, wide-eyed three-year olds proudly demonstrating precocious fluency in antisemitic bile and jihadi rhetoric. If they wanted, they could do that in exactly the same way they plaster our screens with clips of injured children, (with such alacrity that they haven’t time to verify them) and not explaining that they have been put in harms way by their own parents and leaders. 

If the press wanted to, they could show us, with the same emphasis afforded to the inequality of the death toll, the joyous celebrations that erupt whenever a Palestinian has succeeded in killing Israelis, or give due prominence to the unfortunate ‘collaborators with Israel’ who were murdered and dragged through the streets.  Instead, they give credibility to the self-pitying, unverified, ramblings of Israel-hating fanatics without acknowledging who and what they are, while Mark Regev is often derided and treated with disrespect.

Why are the BBC’s speculative and inaccurate analyses of Israel’s’ motives given authenticity by sheer repetition, when their deeply flawed interpretation of the Arab Spring turned out to be so off target? 

Why was the anchorperson on BBC News 24 allowed to say to Col. Richard Kemp during an interview “I know you’re Jewish”, which, as far as I’m aware is not only wrong, but worse, it embraces the insinuation that he was defending Israel merely because he was a Jew, when a similar question is never asked of any of the overtly Muslim, fanatical, antisemitic fantasists they treat with such deferential obsequiousness?

If that appears over the top, over excited, exaggerating unreasonable and biased, so. be. it. It’s because the BBC forces me to be. I’m not impartial and neither is the BBC.

Tuesday 20 November 2012

Incisive questions

The BBC’s default attitude towards Israel and the Israeli people is one of barely concealed contempt. BBC spokespersons may well protest their innocence, their impartiality and their indefatigability, but contempt can be detected in the tone of voice, the line of questioning and the general premise from which much of the coverage is approached. When impartiality is discernible, it has the whiff of a duty reluctantly complied with. The poor things are forced to fulfill the annoying obligations in the BBC charter. 
However, recent events in the Middle East must have given the BBC the confidence to assume that they have a popular mandate to bend the rules.

Perhaps the BBC World service was not as bruised by the Newsnight affair as the domestic BBC allegedly was. Maybe they feel more free to abandon the pretense.
The horrible violence allows them the leeway to let the veil slip, because they’re confident, in view of the disproportionate death toll, that the listeners will allow emotion to overrule strict adherence to the rules, if not permanently, then at least until such time as the level of hostilities subsides and rocket attacks from Gaza resume their normal unreported status.

On Newsday, BBC World Service, Ugandan interviewer/presenter Alan Kasujja questioned Israel's Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon with a palpable sneer of tone and curl of lip. Alan Kasujja’s line of questioning was designed to show that he believes Israelis are gloating, nay, positively basking in satisfaction over the deaths of Palestinian civilians. His Twitter feed reveals he has admirers for his incisive interviewing style.
Alan Kasujja@kasujja@tribe46thkenyan: Journalists should learn how to ask incisive questions from one Kasujja of #BBCNewsday!”
TJ Petty@TJ_Not_So_PettyJust discovered BBC Newsday and this guy @kasujja , who is asking all the right questions to people on both sides of this Gaza conflict. Retweeted by Alan Kasujja

After asking Mr. Ayalon if the Israeli government is considering an Egyptian peace plan, Kasujja dives in: “Let’s talk about the whole aggument you’ve been advancing.” (excuse the phonetic spelling, but the word was delivered with such an emphatic sneer that is how I needed to reproduce it.)

Mr. Kasujja continues to the effect that most Israelis like to say that Hamas started it, but: “figures suggest that one hundred and eight Palestinians have been killed, twenty four of them children and more than half of that number is actually civilians. Are you Pleased with the Facts, so to speak, of your campaign?”

Well, we are never pleased when civilians, and certainly not when children get in harm’s way and are hurt, is the gist of the reply. There is a brief exchange about the veracity of the figures, (“What figures do you have?”) then:

“Are you denying the [unintelligible word] that the children are dying as well, sir?” asks Alan, indignantly.
Mr. Ayalon answers, then:
“But not as many Israelis, from this campaign, sir, not as many Israelis have died as Palestinians, surely you are bringing guns to a stone fight?”

“Alan, I will never apologize for not having many Israelis killed.......” says Mr Ayalon.

“Is it ever too much for Palestinians who are killed, sir?” Asks Alan, whatever that means. Mr. Ayalon replies, then:
“Are you in support of a ground offensive?”  
“No, I am not......” says Mr Ayalon, then:

“I’m sure you are a family man with obligations to your own family, do you sleep well without any issues whatsoever? With all this going on around you?”

This line of questioning is overtly hostile. In stark contrast, they turn to Rana Baker, student and a blogger, (and writer for Electronic Intifada)merely to find out what life is like in Gaza. A squeaky high-pitched torrent of grievances bearing no relation to the few questions that were put, ensued; whereupon the much admired incisiveness in Alan Kasujja’s interviewing style mysteriously abated.

If this is typical of the reporting the BBC considers acceptable, is it surprising that people like myself have to waste large chunks of their lives bloody blogging?