Saturday 9 November 2013

Miscellany for another November weekend

Although the BBC’s commemoration of the anniversary of Kristallnacht that Craig mentioned last week in his R4 Sunday review was all fine and good, as Craig noted, its attitude to present day antisemitism is not so sensitive.

I think they tend to do something quite unhelpful when they do ‘dead and/or humiliated Jews’. It’s not just that the Holocaust can easily be trivialised --  especially when so many people get away with equating Israel’s current treatment of the Palestinians with the Nazis' treatment of the Jews; nor is it that there is a distinct likelihood of stirring up a backlash of reactive ‘holocaust industry’ type bigotry. 

It’s almost as though by accentuating anti-Jewish violence - the murderous, genocidal actions of the Nazis in other words, they’re separating that from the the low-level bigotry and bias that we encounter day in day out. When they define antisemitism in terms of physical violence, they distance themselves from that, and exonerate themselves from what they are doing. Recounting concentration camp stories reminds us how antisemitism can become horrific in ways civilised people like us would never emulate. 

Yet the BBC’s biased coverage of Israel does qualify as antisemitic under the EUMC definition of antisemitism. Judging by the way they cave in to the slightest whim of the MCB for fear of committing Islamophobia, the BBC’s interpretation of which seems to cover the tiniest thought crime, where’s moral equivalence when you need it? Crocodile tears over the holocaust are no compensation.
Here’s something I spotted on a B-BBC thread.”Greg Dyke on Broadcasting” from a 2005 article in the Indy. 
 "Governments have as much right as anyone to put pressure on the BBC; it's only a problem if the BBC caves in." 
Greg Dyke quoting  John Simpson 2005. Compare that with this. (It's the BBC's Stephen Whittle caving in to Inayat Bunglawala of the MCB of course.)
I rather enjoyed watching The Ambassadors. I was sorry that the Telegraph critic didn’t get it. I think he was expecting something akin to Peep Show rather than The thick of it meets Homeland.  Not laugh out loud, apart from Tom Hollander’s “Prince Mark” in the second episode, but well constructed and engaging.  Clive James liked that too 
"Bearing no resemblance to Prince Andrew except in almost every detail of his behaviour, Prince Mark was played by Tom Hollander and made me laugh exceedingly, especially when, faced with his assigned accommodation at the embassy, he went on insisting that he always stayed at the Four Seasons. The news that there was no Four Seasons in Tazbekistan did nothing to deter him.
I thought Robert Webb seems a rather good actor, unlike David Mitchell, who, as the critic said, is always the same old D.M., but I still quite like him as long as he stays away from QuestionTime.

I don’t think many current Art Colleges actually teach drawing and painting, which expired “in nineteen sixty-three (Which was rather sad for me) between the end of the Chatterley ban and the Beatles' first LP.” 
I understood what Grayson Perry means by the pleasure of ‘losing yourself‘ in the creative process. However I’m not qualified to opine on the YBAs or the Turner prize. Take or leave my personal observations about the Art Weld. Whatevs.
Nine out of ten cats questioned prefer “the landscape with animals in the foreground”  scoffed Grayson the Reith lecturer, while the ‘shy’ Grayson regretted that the art establishment has demoted old fashioned skill-based fine art to a lesser thing, (mere) craft.
When the glorified label ‘art’ was whipped away from the artisan and redistributed by the Art Weld to conceptualists, rebels, and jokers, the artist him/herself became Art.  
Oddly, alongside video installations and lights going on and off, traditional crafts like tapestry have partly replaced paintings and drawings, and can now be “ART”. Mind you, to qualify,  the tapestries, embroideries and pots have to have been made by Artists like Grayson or Tracey, not just members of the W.I.
 The Chagalls, Picassos, Matisses of, e.g. Lost Nazi Art, are patently two-dimensional, traditional, old fashioned paintings on canvas,  but they’re still considered Art. 
Modernist works were experimental, provocative and, at the time, shocking, but despite the obvious fact that these artists had different objectives from representational painters of previous generations, traditional skills were a right of passage for them, unlike YBAs such as Tracey and Damian who avoided the tedium and leapt straight to fame and fortune.
The unselfconsciousness of the child was envied by Picasso and the artists thereafter. Once lost, the unselfconsciousness of the child can never be regained, but the self consciousness you learn at art college will last a lifetime.

They fuck you up, the art school crew, 
They may not mean to, but they do
You look within for something new
Until you find that Art is U.

Hmm. Larkin eat yer art out.

Everyone is excited about the alleged poisoning of Yassir Arafat. 
It’s odd that Yolande Knell, who is as excited as anyone, if not more, was only the other day admonishing a Jew on a plane for using the Israeli pronunciation of Jerusalem. 
His smile instantly turned to a scowl. "It's not Jerusalem," he said. "It's Yerushalayim".
"That's in Hebrew, but in English we say Jerusalem," I protested” 
She said “Jerusalem” cos she was English, and she was talking in English. Well, you know how George Galloway sometimes uses a bizarre Arabic accent? Has anyone else noticed the way Yolande Knell now pronounces “Ramallah”?  It’s now “Ruh’muh’lluh” - full-on, throaty and guttural, just like a native. 
“I was about to add - somewhat mischievously - that my Palestinian friends refer to it as "al-Quds" - the Arabic name for the city.” 
 she said then.  Watch out for what she calls it next time she reports from Yerushalayim. 

What about Mishal Husain this morning?.
“The news from Geneva is being followed with disquiet and anger in Israel where Prime Minister Netanyahu says an agreement would be the deal of the century for Iran. On the line now is the Israeli finance minister Yair Lapid and Patrick Cockburn of the Independent.”
Patrick Cockburn was in the studio; Yair lapid was in a tunnel 2000 leagues below the sea. 
“Good morning!” 
Patrick Cockburn thinks it’s all positive, but Yair Lapid thinks: 
“Whoosh  it is an enormous breakthrough; but only for the Iranians. We need to talk about the centrifuges, I mean why do they need them if they don’t want to create w.m.ds?”
Although I’ll admit Mr. Lapid was somewhat verbose, Mishal frequently talked over him, pleading the case for Iran rather more intrusively than necessary. 

“Limiting the percentage of enrichment is something you put on the table and you can take it back, because you can go from three percent to ninety nine percent within weeks” Mr. Lapid started to say, but while he was talking Mishal interrupted:
“If you monitor it like that any change should be immediately apparent.”
 The adversarial tenor of this item was unhelpful and uninformative. They should have let Mr. Lapid have his say. It was important, and included aspects we rarely get to hear.  
“I talk to finance ministers all over the world and there are international companies all waiting in line to go back into Iran,....” was one such. 
You really think this whole deal is all about....?”  twisted Mishal as soon as he mentioned it.

I know new Today presenters take a while to get the hang of ending a time-constrained interview, but Mishal Husain was positively rude. She may be new to Today, but she’s no novice. Maybe she was instructed on the headphones by the powers that be to shut him up. But the interview ended sharply and abruptly while he was saying something important, and all for a trivial, chummy newspaper review.


  1. Yair Lapid certainly did sound as if the BBC's Radiophonic Workshop had been transforming him into a Sea Devil.

    Yes, Mishal was definitely rude towards him - much ruder than towards Patrick Cockburn, which is par for the course (of course).

    It really is unhelpful to the listener to keep interrupting someone who is making an interesting point. I wanted Mr Lapid to finish his point about what the world's finance ministers had been saying to him; indeed, it could have been a bit of a scoop for 'Today' if he'd been allowed to expand on that point. (High-level gossip is such fun.) Unfortunately, Mishy had an Israeli minister on the line and wanted to do her thing - to interrupt him, again and again and again.

    There was a mixed reaction to Grayson Perry's Reith Lectures, according to 'Feedback'. Some found it a 'breath of fresh air'; others said it lacked the intellectual depth you'd expect from a Reith Lecture and that it would have been better to have called in 'The Grayson Perry Show'. That's probably true, but it was a fun listen - and some of the more po-faced Reith Lectures have barely raised a quiver on the standthetestoftimeometer.

  2. I kind of take Knell's point - I mean, we say Paris and Copenhagen, not Paree and København, though you probably would if you were _in_ France or Denmark, if only as a courtesy.

    On the other hand the BBC seems to take a special pride in being the first adopters of any new city or place name - eg Mumbai - especially where this has some anti-colonial overtones. Apparently, it's only the Israelis who _aren't_ extended this courtesy.

    And re Kristallnacht, it can't be said too often - the BBC just loves dead Jews; it's those pesky living ones they simply can't abide.


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.