Sunday 26 October 2014

A wolf in Armani

If I wake up early enough on a Sunday I enjoy listening to the radio 4‘s Profile. This morning, the clocks worked in the programme’s favour, and I listened with interest to the episode on Sir Andrew Green.

However I missed the previous episode about Hassan Rouhani so I thought I ought to listen to it on the iPlayer, to see if it would help me understand the BBC’s approach to  Sir Andrew Green, and to see if Mary Ann Sieghart would agree with Jack Straw, that Rouhani is a twinkle-eyed softie, or Benjamin Netanyahu, that he is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. (Rouhani wears Armani suits -  Islamic style.)

I think they’re portraying him as a canny tightrope walker -  trying to keep a balance between pleasing reformers and hard-liners. A skill that might propel him to the top job, said someone. 

I thought Mary Ann Sieghart hedged her bets, but on the whole it was a slightly more affectionate portrait than I would have liked of a man who heads an Islamic republic that is hell-bent on acquiring nuclear weapons with which to annihilate Israel and surrounding region, and hangs people at the drop of a hat, if you’ll pardon the expression. But that’s the ‘no value-judgement’ BBC for you. 

Sir Andrew Green has already ruffled the feathers of the left with his concerns about mass immigration. The Profile, however was at pains to emphasize that as an Arabist, Sir Andrew was no racist. In fact his motive for advocating the monitoring and limiting of mass immigration was to prevent ghettoisation.

It seems that his former colleagues assume that the founder of Migration Watch and opponent of mass immigration must be a racist.  But no, not at all, say others. He didn’t like Robin Cook or Tony Blair and regarded the Iraq war as culturally insensitive. He wasn’t to be characterised as a sort of Ukip type. He was a good guy, said nearly everyone, and to prove it, added the presenter Jo Fidgen, he is “Pro Palestinian” .

Okay, so the BBC thinks being pro Palestinian is a symbol of righteousness. But does his pro Palestinianism amount to the ugly anti-Israelism that besmirches much of the pro-Palestinianism we know and love? “Jews to the gas” and so on. 

I see Sir Andrew chairs something called Medical Aid for Palestine. Well, who would oppose the principle of ailing Palestinians receiving medical aid? It’s just when medical aid morphs into terrorism aid that some of us balk. 

Imagine that the other way round. Therein lies the difference. Just as most Israelis support the two state solution so that they can get on with their lives in peace, many Palestinians want their state so that they can get on with their lives without any Jews. They want their state to be a stepping stone to an Israel-free region.

So is Sir Andrew Green is actually one of those pro-Palestinians whose pro-Palestinianism stems from anti-Israelism? The BBC is taking the trouble to do his profile, so while they’re at it shouldn’t we be told?  


  1. I heard that too, being just as much of an early riser as you.

    It was an interesting 'Profile' and certainly rounded out Sir Andrew Green's character and background but, like you, I was left wondering - and then 'googling' around - to find out a bit more about his pro-Palestinian activities. That a former British ambassador would be an Arabist isn't exactly a shock though.

    Jo Fidgin's tone struck me as very BBC. She seemed to be saying and her entire profile arguing, "How can a man who holds such decent opinions on things like the Iraq War and the Palestinians, who obviously cares for vulnerable peoples in distant lands, be anti-immigration?" or, to put it another way, "How can such a right-thinking man on some things associate himself with racist opposition to immigration, which (as we all know) is a good thing?"

    1. I’m glad we agree about the BBC’s default position on such things.
      I was 'wondering' and Googling around too. Did you come up with anything significant? I didn’t.

      I have to admit that listening to the radio early in the morning isn’t quite the same thing as ‘rising’.

    2. No, I didn't find anything major either.

      I was up with the larks. Or more accurately the nightjars on 'The Living World'. Plus a musically pleasing 'Something Understood'. And 'Sunday'.

  2. Sir Andrew Green went noticeably silent about mass immigration once the Tories got back into seems he now has his reward: elevation to the Lords.

    Sad, because he spoke a lot of sense on mass immigration and should have been calling out this government (as the previous one) about immigration running at 500,000 plus per annum and also the nonsense of focussing on "net immigration" .

    Dan Read

  3. Incidentally the Foreign Office has always been notoriously Arabist in its inclinations. So it appears he has simply absorbed that conventional Arabism, which thinks about security in terms only of oil and sea lanes.


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