Further to my pieces about the Christmas festival at St. James’s Church, Piccadilly (Bethlehem Unwrapped) one of the participants has posted an article on Harry’s Place.
It’s an edited version of the speech he made in an official debate that was held during the festival.
Professor Alan Johnson, editor of Fathom and senior research fellow at BICOM was the lone pro-Israel voice on a panel of four.The debate was chaired by David Loyn BBC correspondent,.
I may have unfairly criticised Professor Johnson for participating in this pantomime. I assumed his participation implied a degree of complicity on his part, especially since the Israeli Embassy ‘felt unable’ to accept the organisers’ invitation. They probably knew full well that they stood little chance of a fair hearing as the dice was so heavily loaded against such a thing.
See me? Assuming things again. tut tut.
Alan Johnson must have felt the same, and if so, his experience on Ed Stourton’s Sunday programme will have proved it beyond doubt. As I said in an earlier post, time constraints and the format of the interview forced him into a corner. It meant he could state the bare statistics of Israeli lives lost/saved before and after the wall, and little else.
It’s not up to me to judge whether his participation in the event was of benefit. Did his presence lend it legitimacy? Or did the contents of his arguments make a difference?
His speech was very impressive, and I recommend it. Here’s a flavour to whet your appetite
“Isolated, back-covering, throat-clearing, half sentences about security, disconnected from the entire thrust of the festival’s speakers, topics and the exhibit itself, is not good enough. Especially when even those half sentences hint that it’s only a ‘claim’ of the ‘Israelis’ that the barrier is there to meet security needs. A mere ‘government position’. And when you have cleared your throat in that way, and then mount over a week of activities that takes one side – tear this wall down! – you don’t then get to say to the media ‘we are not taking sides’. There really is a good deal of having your cake and eating it going on.”
What was missing was an account of the panel’s and the audience’s response. That is key. At the time of writing some of the btl commenters at H/P are beginning to ask the same question.