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.