Sunday 10 May 2015

‘Let’s kill Israelis’.

I recently wrote:
I sincerely believe the BBC takes a fierce and firm anti-Israel / pro-Palestinian approach, which I suspect stems from ignorance on the part of BBC management as well as their on-the-spot reporters and foreign correspondents.”
 A commenter responded:
If only the BBC slanderous reporting against Israel did stem just from ignorance !!!.”
Of course it doesn’t ‘just’ stem from ignorance, but I do still think - aside from some genuine old-fashioned antisemitism and some Islam-based Jew-hate that emanates from certain Muslim employees - the BBC’s Israel related output would be much more balanced and its anti-Israel bias far less heartfelt if they actually knew what they were talking about. I think most of them believe they’re fighting for a good cause, just like many Germans did in the 1930s.

A pretty good illustration of what I mean can be seen in a video of a “pro-Palestinian” stall set up (after being banned by the organisers from the “fair proper” ) on the fringes of the Richmond May Fair. H/T Daphne Anson.
The actor John Altman (Jewish, by the way) sets out a series of reasons why he supports the PSC. (As if we weren’t heartily sick of minor and less minor celebrities opining on political matters about which they know next to nothing on the premise that their fame bestows spiritual wisdom upon them )

Before Altman we see Jenny Tonge telling us why she’s here today: 
“The injustice meted out by the Israelis against the Palestinians is the root cause of all the troubles in the Middle East that we’re now having to deal with”

What exactly does she mean? She gets away with this waffle, as she gets away with her oft quoted “What Israel is doing to the Palestinians.” Meaningless phrases that contain nothing but mendacious, substance-free inferences, swallowed hungrily by those with an appetite for the Tonge brand of lazy, prejudiced antisemitic bile.
So Jenny Tonge thinks the elimination  of Israel would cure - what? Terrorism? Isis? Syria? Yemen? Iraq? Yeah right. It’s so patently untrue and antisemitic that one wonders how she gets away with it. Well, we know how. It’s because of ignorance, laziness and a misguided desire to fight what is portrayed as injustice. That’s how Joseph Goebbels managed to swing it.  

The camera alights on a poster about the illegal wall, then a puffy faced John Altman appears.
“It’s John Altman once again here at the Richmond Fair supporting the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign. Um, many big news items have taken place recently in the world, oh Syria always dominates it of course, and the Yemen, but there on the Gaza Strip and in Palestine, people are being murdered, every week, by the Israeli armed forces, um, houses are being bulldozed, their land is being stolen as we speak and unfortunately Benjamin Netanyahu is once again in power and he’s gone with the far right.” 

John Altman might be half aware of the likelihood that the kind of people who are most easily influenced by him are the ones that think he is Nick Cotton. 

“So it doesn’t look good for the situation down there. I pray that this year, somebody somewhere in government, I don’t know if Cameron will, he seemed to ignore the last mass murder of Palestinian people altogether, I remember Miliband spoke up about it, but let’s hope somebody somewhere in the world really does do something about the situation down there. I hear recently, at long last, some building materials were let in to the devastated area; thousands of people were homeless, thousands of people suffering malnutrition and hypothermia last winter - none of it gets in the papers of course, but if you go deeper into the news you’ll see what the situation is like down there. 
It’s hell on earth. Especially on the Gaza Strip. So please. Open people’s eyes to the situation. let’s see a change. This year. In Gaza and Palestine. Give those people their freedom. Thank you.”

If I asked for a list of wrong information set out to illustrate my point, that was as good as any.

We might start by mentioning the absence of any historical or religious content in John Altman’s consciousness. He then seems to infer that Syria and Yemen dominating the news is somehow unfair, the wrong priority on behalf of the media, which should really be concentrating on the Gaza Strip.
Which people are being murdered “every week”, by the Israeli armed forces? Palestinians trying to cross the “illegal wall,” Palestinians throwing rocks,   Palestinians rioting, bomb throwing. It’s that age-old, life-threatening thing, war. 
Yes, there are casualties.  Of course if the media reports the defence before the attack, the public don’t get to be fully informed. It doesn’t occur to John Altman that if there were no Palestinian aggression there would be no casualties.
Bulldozing houses is a controversial policy in Israel. It’s a punishment for families of terrorists who’ve murdered Israeli civilians. On the other hand, not a lot of  people know that terrorists’ families receive generous salaries from the PA.  Which is morally superior? Punishment or reward for killing Israelis.

“Their land is being stolen as we speak” is wrong on several levels, starting from the word “Their” and ending with “speak”. It demonstrates the ignorance of legal and historical facts, which again is due to failings of the media.

'The mass murder of Palestinian people', which allegedly Cameron seemed to ignore and “Miliband spoke up about” is a gross distortion of l’actualité, deliberately emotive, factually deficient and it completely disregards context. If he means that Miliband spoke in favour of the UK government prematurely recognising a Palestinian state, that is another factually illiterate bluster that people like Altman know they can get away with because it sounds convincing to those with an appetite for it. 
The building materials ‘being let in‘ is also factually incorrect.   

Perhaps John Altman hasn’t even heard of Hamas? It certainly sounds like it. I wonder if he’s heard of radical Islam? I wonder if he ever wonders whose fault it is if anyone in Gaza suffers from malnutrition and hypothermia? It can’t be Israel, because tons of commodities are trucked in there every day. Whether it reaches its destination is another matter. Does Altman know that disputes between Hamas and the PA are responsible for shortages of power?

He’s half right when he says “None of it gets into the papers.” Half of it doesn’t, and a good deal of the half that does is regurgitated antisemitic propaganda. He implies that he knows better because he “goes into it deeply”. 
He must mean he’s been ‘educated’ by the PSC, a massive anti-Israel campaign with branches throughout the UK, spreading antisemitic myths and lies far and wide, from the media to academia, to the general public, to religious and political leaders and people who sincerely believe they occupy the moral high ground.

A particularly worrying group that is acutely infected with this toxic malady is the SNP. Nicola Sturgeon is an ardent advocate for BDS. The Scots Nats are passionate pro-Palestinian sympathisers and anti-Israel activists.

No wonder British Jews are worried.
There’s an article about that in today’s Sunday Times magazine. (£)

The tipping point had not been the Paris attacks, but events last summer in the Middle East. She blamed what she perceived as biased reporting that held Israel to account and “unleashed this torrent of hatred” against Jews. “You know what Goebbels said — if you tell a lie often enough, it becomes truth.” Rabbis might have preached that this is not Germany in the 1930s, but Ruth was not comforted. She fears the impact of radical Islam and believes that Jews in the UK are “sitting on a time bomb”.Ruth was aware of how quickly everything had changed in Germany. She pointed to photographs of Anne Frank’s father, proudly wearing his German military uniform. German Jews thought they were German first and Jews second, said Ruth, and that was their mistake. “Some saw what was coming and had the foresight to get out. I can understand why people are sitting here, thinking, ‘Oh, life is just what it was, there’s no danger.’“I hope and pray every day that I am proved wrong...” But she had no plans to wait around.

I think many people would divest themselves of their keffiyehs and think twice about supporting BDS if they were in full possession of the vital missing parts of the story.  


  1. Well the BBC, barring a few, seldom heard staff on rare occasions, seems pretty poor at offering full possession of very much, including even accurate facts.

    Which as a supposedly trusted broadcaster of information and education, is a bit of a problem.

    Or jolly well should be.

  2. There's plenty to criticise about Israeli policy but not its wish not to be wiped off the map. Few states have as good a legal claim to exist as Israel - explicitly sanctioned in international law by the UN and recognised by the USA, UK and Soviet Union on its foundation.

    The USA's occupation of Mexican land, or Russia's acquisition of a huge Empire in Eurasia have far less warrant in international law. Even the way the UK was put together through aggressive war, brutal occupation and corruption of elected representatives is questionable.

    1. What occupation of Mexican land? All won fair and square. There was even a good chunk of what is now Arizona bought and paid for in the Gadsden Purchase agreement.

  3. I happened to see an anti-Israeli march pass through Oxford once. I found it quite a frightening sight...there was something about the barely concealed hatred that was irrational and seemed to connect with the darker anti-semitic tradition in Europe. It was worrying to see this march taking place in what was supposed to be a centre of rationality.

    The problem I always have with these people who obsess about Israel is that are far bloodier land conflicts around the globe and far more brutal examples of military occupation e.g. Tibet, Kashmir, Western Sahara for instance and far worse examples of racially or religiously based persecution e.g. of Christians in the Mid East or Hindus and Christians in Pakistan.

  4. It`s those lazy anti-Jewish sideswipes of the political classes that inflame me most.
    Juts casual evil, masquerading as "relativising equivalence".
    I give you Jonathan Rugman on Channel 4 News tonight.
    He managed to say that the Kindertransport of WW2 showed that the UK went the extra mile for only 10,000 Jewish kids-so why on earth are we not being as stroppy about those hundreds of thousands of "vulnerable children" who are at risk in the Med at present?
    The first time that I`ve seen the Kindertransport as being a bargaining ship for IS, Somali druglords to be set against.
    Channel 4 hopefully will feel Whittingdales scythe...can`t come soon enough.


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