I was staggered to hear the Today programme dealing with the Islam-related stories this morning. No connection was made between any of them by the BBC, yet the main headlines concerned two major back-to-back Islam-related stories.
Thursday 3rd July 2014.
1.) “Good morning here are the headlines: Extra security measures are being put in place in British Airports after the US authorities warned of a potential new threat from Islamist extremists.
2.)Israeli military planes have targeted the Gaza Strip with tensions running high over the murder of Palestinian and Israeli teenagers. We’ll hear from the Palestinian boy’s relatives.”
Following reports that an Islamist group based in the Yemen has concocted an ingenious new undetectable method of getting bombs onto aircraft, we returned to the latest news about the situation in the Middle East.
“Palestinian medical officials say that ten people including a woman and a sixteen year old boy have been injured by a series of airstrikes by Israeli military on the Gaza Strip. The aircraft were said to have targeted the Northern town of Beit Lahya after twenty rockets were fired at Southern Israel. An Israeli air-force spokesman said it had attacked Hamas and Islamic Jihad training facilities as well as sites manufacturing weapons.There have been heightened tensions after a Palestinian teenager was found dead in a suspected revenge killing for the murder of three Israeli teenagers.”
We then heard a third Islam-related tale. MPs have criticised the failure to tackle FGM as a national scandal. The mutilation of thousands of girls, which could have been prevented.
“The government in Israel has appealed for calm....Kevin Connolly is in Jerusalem ... There was trouble there last night, er Kevin....”
“Well there was, John. Feelings are running extraordinarily high in East Jerusalem because of course preparations are taking place there today for the funeral this Palestinian teenager Mohammed Abu Khdair.
The Israeli police are still being a little bit cautious, saying look, there are other lines of enquiry beyond the fact that it may be a sectarian tit for tat killing, But in Shufat, that district of Arab East Jerusalem where he lived and where he was abducted there is no doubt that there were angry clashes between stone throwing Palestinian youths and Israeli riot police yesterday.
I think it’s very likely that there may be further disturbances at some point in the coming days because the Palestinian people of that part of East Jerusalem sense that they are treated in effect as second class citizens by the Israeli authorities. They want to see, and see very quickly, evidence that this is being taken as seriously as the murder of the three Israeli teenagers and is being investigated with the same degree of thoroughness, so they will be watching very carefully to see how the Israeli authorities handle all of this.”
John Humphrys asks whether Kevin thinks there will be anything beyond demonstrations and counter attacks. “I see that Israel has been carrying out airstrikes in the Gaza Strip.....?
“Well, I think that’s part of a longer ongoing situation.....
Kevin Connolly does keep pointing out that the airstrikes were in answer to rocket attacks from Gaza, not retaliation for the murder of the three Israelis.
“That cycle of violence goes on .....Hamas says the rockets were a response to the military’s search for the kidnappers, of course they were aimed at civilians not the military.”
However Kevin is careful to establish the requisite BBC moral equivalence:
“a Facebook page in which Israelis have been posting very militant messages against Arabs, Strong feelings on the Palestinian side. Tinderbox situation.”
Jeremy Bowen has been in Baghdad.
“The region is boiling”
“In the last few years the front between the Israelis and Palestinians has been relatively quiet. All the old issues have been there.”
“The JPost says that swathes of Palestinian society continue to be ‘irreconcilably committed’ to Israel’s destruction. Is it true that it’s not just Hamas etc that are bent on Israel’s destruction?”
Here Bowen’s absence from the I/P scene starts to show. He hasn’t been there for ages, obviously, because despite the poll carried out as reported in the Jpost which says exactly the opposite, Bowen answers:
“No, not the case, vast majority are reconciled to the existence of Israel, but not to the occupation of land taken in 1967, of the settlements. It was telling to see the mother of the Pal. teenager saying Pals. have no rights, and they feel that there’s one law for Israelis and another for the Pals. They’re never going to be in a better place till they get independence, get their own state.
He continues in this vein....”That is the prevalent view among Pals., and there are some who would like to eliminate the Israeli state, I’ve spoken to them, but the vast majority are prepared to live alongside it as long as they can live as an equal.”
Humphrys asks if there are other forces that would spread terrorism?
“Yes, in the 70s people were concerned about Palestinian terrorism, but now they’re engaged with peace” opines Bowen, misleadingly.
Hamas have talked about a long term truce, he advises, adding that they have not been swept up in the Jihadist current like other Arabs. “Perhaps that will change, who knows?
You’ve gotta look at the calls for vengeance coming from the other side. Senior Israelis, have called for Rabbis, have called to tone it down, because it is heating people up after the huge anger following the ‘death’ of those three teenagers. There are hotheads on both sides, and there are people who aren’t reconciled to the other side ....on both sides.
He finishes with more words of wisdom: If you talk to Palestinians, many of them speak about a third intifada, a third uprising, and I have spoken to Palestinians who believe only in non violent resistance....it’s only a matter of time before something happens; something will spark it off”.
(These italicised words are not a verbatim transcript. Just a gist.)
All the time Bowen, and to a lesser extent Kevin Connolly try to balance any criticism of Hamas by referring to militant rhetoric by “Jewish extremists”.
Later in the programme Kevin Connolly was granted another prime-time slot, repeating his earlier report with one or two amendments and clarifications. I did notice he was trying to reinforce the notion that the airstrikes on Gaza were not reprisals for the murders of the Israeli boys, but this made little or no impact on the BBC, who can’t seem to accept it.
If it turns out that this undeniably effeminate looking youth was dispatched by his own people in an anti-gay honour killing conveniently timed to masquerade as a revenge attack, all these accusations are going to look extremely sour.
The Israelis aren’t making a big deal of this possibility, nor are they speaking up very loudly about the oddly incompatible reports about a previous failed attempt at abducting the murdered boy’s younger brother, which took place allegedly at 3 am, when he happened to be wandering about outside with his mother, as you do, or as you probably don’t.
Nor does the media make anything of the fact that the family has been described as troublesome by the police. We have families like that here I understand.
The two female ‘cousins’ were given several unadulterated minutes of airtime by way of an ‘interview’ with Yolande Knell. They chose to use them by spewing bilious torrents of nauseating spite and hysteria about their suffering and how no-one apart from the BBC listens to them and that they, as Palestinians, were “nothing” - nothing apart from sounding as if they’d been educated in the US. They added the failed kidnapping to their ‘victimidation’ that’s intimidation and victimhood rolled into one and served up as a giant passive-aggressive sundae with a cherry on top.
Immediately following this bout of self-pitying earache, which hardly mentioned the dead boy, we were treated to Dr. ‘so bad they named him twice’ “Abdullah Abdullah,” a member of the Fatah party, and chairman of the political committee of the Palestinian legislative council, whatever that might mean. He duly demonstrated incompetence, hatred, bile, unsuitability for any kind of public office and apoplexy all in the space of about a minute and a half. Even John Humphrys seemed exasperated.
Here are some of his words, not a verbatim transcript:
“Number one. No Israeli can determine what happened to these three. Who did it, how and what time.”
They have the names !!
“No no, they suspect who did it. I dare you if you can say for sure that these are the guys. They would not show their pictures they would not take anybody to the autopsy”
You can’t prove who killed that Palestinian....
“Even you are reporting ‘revenge’. They never allow his father even to see his picture. They came to protect the settlements and not the families”
Where do we go from here?
“Israel is exposing itself once more.”
Can we just cut the rhetoric?
“They are dealing in a racist way - it has to be exposed.”
Bit less rhetoric and more thought....
“Lack of resolution from the international community. Created by your country 66 years ago. Because you that created Israel never thought of putting an end to the Israeli greed.”
Israel exists. If you are saying that nothing can move forward until Israel is destroyed at least we know what your position is. But that is not your position is it?
“That’s what you say. Israel has to be held responsible for its wrongdoing..
There should be an international conference Geneva convention international participation that enforces international law and gives the Palestinians self determination which both parties have to abide by.”
Eventually Mark Regev restored a modicum of sanity, but it was too little too late.
There can be little doubt that the BBC is biased against Israel, whether through ignorance, prejudice or habit, but in spite of this I suspect people are slowly starting, on their own initiative, to join the dots - or wake up and smell the hypocrisy.