Saturday 14 February 2015

All-Party Parliamentary inquiry into Antisemitism

(h/t BBC Watch)

The results of an All-Party Parliamentary inquiry  into Antisemitism, commissioned by Labour MP John Mann, were published last week. Parts of it pertain to the media, including the BBC.

Here are some extracts:

On the particular role of the BBC in whipping up anger against Israel:
Despite only two articles [one in The Daily Mirror and one in The Lancet]  having been highlighted as problematic, there was an overwhelming consensus amongst those that submitted evidence or gave personal testimony at the regional meetings we held, that the media, and in particular the BBC, had a role to play in whipping up anger through emotive content in the news and analysis that was broadcast. There was certainly a significant focus on the conflict. Using various analytical tools, Dr Ben Gidley found that there had been particularly intense coverage of protests and demonstrations against Israel and the conflict in general when compared to other countries and conflicts. He argued that the excessive focus on Israel in the media allows for inappropriate language to be used.
On references to the 'Jewish lobby':
References to and interest in the ‘Jewish lobby’ was not only a feature of political debate. One article in the Independent [by the paper's Whitehall correspondent Oliver Wright] referenced, in respect of its policies on Israel and Palestine, the behaviour of Jewish voters for and donors to the Labour party. This “extended the frame” said Professor Feldman [Professor David Feldman of the Pears Institute for the study of Antisemitism, Birkbeck, University of London], beyond the influence of formally constituted lobby groups. Whilst there were unattributed quotes in the article, the treatment of Jews as an undifferentiated body, united in their support for Israel and collectively determined to punish the Labour party” said Feldman is a caricature which could be labelled antisemitic for evoking a stereotype of Jewish people being politically active “but taking account of Jewish interests only”. Professor Feldman does however argue that this would be a harsh judgement given it is “one example of the widespread tendency to generalise when discussing ethnic or national voting patterns”. We were warned however of “the capacity of this sort of article to generate troubling stereotypes” given a reference to ‘the Jewish lobby’ [by Tim Willcox] was made when the article was discussed on the BBC News Channel. We note that the language used to collectively describe Jews [again by Tim Willcox] was raised again in this regard in early 2015.
Of course lobbying for Israel is performed by groups both inside and outside parliament in the same way many groups operate lobbies for any number of countries. That they seek to influence policy is a legitimate part of our democratic system. So too, the Jewish community has a wide range of opinions about the conflict as we have set out earlier. Leading figures and commentators in public life must be clear that it is inaccurate to use the term ‘Jewish lobby’ which used in this context is antisemitic and that there is nothing disreputable about the existence of an Israel lobby. Sadly, antisemitic stereotypes of Jewish influence and dual loyalty, albeit not as prolific as in other periods of modern British history, were used during Operation Protective Edge and afterwards and as Professor Feldman put it, emerged “from all points of the political spectrum”. 
On Jon Snow's personal report about Gaza:
Whilst it was certainly heartfelt and in no way antisemitic, we cannot ignore the frustration, upset and shock that was registered with us in particular about Jon Snow’s personal report about Gaza that was shared so widely online. Mr. Snow has a right to share his feelings and to blog in whatever personal capacity he wishes. It is however cynical at best for Channel 4 to have filmed an emotive piece in the studio and to distribute it online in what appears to have been an attempt to avoid regulatory oversight by Ofcom. This sets a worrying precedent with wide implications beyond the Israel-Gaza war and should further such incidents occur, we recommend that Ofcom look at the structures in place to properly regulate such content.

1 comment:

  1. The BBC is busted in two of the three extracts. And substitute Jon Donnison and Twitter for Jon Snow and his own personal report and there's no substantial difference in the offense. So that's the BBC guilty on all three counts.

    The report's definition of anti-Semitism is overly broad, and to a troubling degree IMHO. All these "hate speech" rulings are overly broad, of course, but in this case it will only lend support to the sadly all-to-common attitude that any criticism of Israel will be met with cries of anti-Semitism, in order to stifle the truth.

    This from Item 92 (Pg. 35) should be posted on the wall of every BBC office and studio

    In sentencing, the judge noted that Mr Donnachie had referred to
    Chanan Reitblat as a terrorist and that “It is equivalent to saying all Muslims are terrorists,
    and that’s wholly unacceptable.

    Which is essentially what Tim Willcox was thinking when he asked that woman in Paris about Palestinians.

    Similarly, everything about the accusations of dual loyalty and malign influence (pg. 104) needs to be written into the BBC's editorial guidelines, and should be included in diversity training for all BBC staff.

    And finally, item 16 from the Summary of Conclusions (Pg 114):

    We know that local authority action is almost never motivated by antisemitism but conclude
    that political gesturing gives out entirely the wrong messages

    One could say the same thing about BBC broadcasting.


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