Saturday 5 July 2014

Not helping

Four or five years ago, a BBC spokesperson with the ironic moniker ‘John Reith’ often contributed to the Biased-BBC blog, mainly to defend the BBC against accusations of bias against Israel and the BBC’s increasingly obvious, deliberate whitewashing of Islamic-related violence and the attempts, running through the BBC’s entire output, to ‘normalise’ Islam.

One day a commenter reminded ‘John Reith’ of the existence of ‘holy Jihad’, which in those days the BBC appeared not to have heard of. Palpably sighing with exasperation, he wrote:  “you’re not helping”. 

The idea appeared to be that the BBC takes responsibility for furthering social cohesion, which according to ‘John Reith’ necessitates treating Muslims with kid gloves.

It was put to him that the BBC’s role wasn’t political manipulation, and with a moniker like his he should be especially aware that BBC has an obligation to inform, educate and entertain, and that this is embedded in the BBC’s charter along with the renowned impartiality. 

The BBC’s handling of both the recent I/P related kidnappings and murders has so far been heavily weighted against the Israelis to the point of being inflammatory. Glaring omissions in their reports include the jubilation in the Palestinian ‘street’, first at the kidnapping and later at the news of murders of the Israeli boys, Hamas’s routine advocacy of kidnapping Israelis as a strategy and the absence of informed analysis and comment which could have contrasted the way the the Israeli and Palestinian leadership and the respective members of the public reacted to the situation.

There has also been an avalanche of unadulterated, maudlin emoting from Palestinians in stark contrast to the rarely aired sober, dignified and civilised responses from Israelis available on our screens and radios.

I mentioned the rant from two of Mohammed Abu Khdeir’s cousins that was gratuitously stuck on the end of Yolande Knell’s report on the Today programme. Little did I imagine that the BBC would see fit to disseminate this bile far and wide, flaunting it as though they are proud of it.

BBC Watch has a thread devoted to it, with screen-grabs of three web pages that feature audio links to this unworthy piece of  propaganda; one is on what looks like a news-related  page, one pops up on “BBC Sport” for some inexplicable reason, and a third appears on a page headed “Features and Analysis”.   

When it was aired on the Today programme with Yolande Knell’s report, it struck me that the way it was added on at the end was completely gratuitous. It was in effect ‘the last word”, unchallenged, and therefore with the potential to remain ringing in the unwary ear for evermore. 

Furthermore it was unusually long for a sound-bite, and particularly fanciful in content. Bereft of eloquence, clarity or veracity, they might as well have broadcast a a three-minute howl.
At the end, John Humphrys said: “Well those were a couple of cousins of that teenager who was kidnapped and murdered yesterday talking to Yolande Knell…”

I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and suggest that he was staggered into speechlessness. The actual content of the rant has been transcribed on BBC Watch, but the transcription doesn’t do justice to the  level of emoting that made this so unsuitable for one context-free airing, let alone promoting it on a platform that enjoys the unique privilege of a world-wide span, i.e. multiple pages of the BBC website.

If the BBC was in fact setting out to ‘help’ in any way shape or form, I’d like to know how they imagine plugging this nonsense would do anything other than incite hatred.

I’d also like to know of anything comparable that might redress the balance, anywhere in the BBC’s output, ever. Something equally emotive, as pro-Israel as this was pro-Palestinian. Something that would substantiate the BBC’s claim of achieving balance ‘over time’ or at all. Answers on a postcard. 

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