Thursday 9 July 2015

What the papers say

Now I’ve done my review, I need to do a review of the reviews of it that have appeared in the press. Andrew Billen (Times/paywall)  is one of those (rare) reviewers who sometimes sees things from an independent angle. He isn’t completely taken in, as the other somewhat gullible reviewers often are in the mainstream press. 

For example, his review (July 6th) of “A song for Jenny”, (one family’s experience of their daughter’s murder in the 7/7 terrorist attack on London)  bucked the trend. 
The Guardian’s  verdict of that drama was so gushing that I hastily skipped to the comments below it. The Guardian’s commentariat seem to have woken up recently. Many of them spotted the flaws in this production. It’s a brave person who dares to criticise such a project, but once the first arrow is slung it’s less risky. 

Here’s one example:
“What happened that day was horrific and I totally sympathise with all concerned and am relieved that no-one from my family was caught up in it.
That said, this drama was unbareably (sic) awful; stilted acting, twee set pieces, clichéd, melodramatic, and utterly thrilled with itself.
The BBC has lost its way, maybe because society has lost its way.”
That commenter took a small hammering for that, but still.

The Telegraph’s Michael Hogan was even more gushing than the Guardian. Since the Telegraph has recently started morphing into the Guardian, I hesitated briefly before skipping. 
One commenter said:
I'm sorry and, to be fair, I only watched the last 20 minutes of it but I found it to be trite, manipulative and self serving. I would give them a trowel if they were going to lay it on any thicker.
Someone said he had no business commenting on something he’d only watched 20 minutes of, and the majority of Telegraph commenters  seemed to have been ‘deeply moved’ by the programme.

Andrew Billen was the only MSM critic that had anything critical to say. After the obligatory expression of sympathy for the real characters in the tragedy, he admitted that he thought the drama was ‘unsatisfactory.’ His article was headed: Big issues drowned in sentimental song.” (£) There you have it. Now for his take on Children of the Gaza War.

Andrew Billen's review of Lyse Doucet’s film was short and comparatively sweet.  It started with praise, and continued with descriptive text. Then he said:
 ”What was annoying was that Doucet’s film was scrupulously balanced by her visiting Israeli children traumatised by Hamas’s rocket attacks on their homes - yet still unerringly pointed to the propaganda victory that Israel has awarded to the Palestinian cause.
Israel would never have attacked if its citizens had not been attacked first. Hamas doubtless deliberately sheltered its rocket launchers in civilian areas and next to schools. The fact remained that only one of the 500 dead children was an Israeli child and holes in the walls of a kibbutz are no match for what we saw of the tragic remains of Gaza City.”

So he found some of the omissions annoying! He inferred that none of this would have happened if Hamas had not willingly instigated it. This needs to be said loud and clear. What is everyone afraid of?

Now to the Telegraph.  Harry Mount was won over by Lyse. Despite initially confessing that he was on ‘red alert for some Israel-bashing’ Harry’s antenna were not very effective last night. In fact they must have been switched off altogether.
“But Lyse Doucet, the BBC’s Chief International Correspondent, is more on the ball than that. She was even-handed in her interviews with Palestinian and Israeli children caught up in last summer’s 51-day war – when rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel, and Israel responded with massive force. More than 500 children were killed in those 51 days, and thousands more traumatised. One 12-year-old boy saw his brother and three cousins killed on a Gaza beach by a rocket from an Israeli gunboat. His 1,000-yard stare, and husky voice – old beyond its years – were haunting.
The simple words of children were all the more affecting. “We didn’t know the beach was dangerous,” he said. Those poor souls murdered on a Tunisia beach last month must have thought much the same.”

This received a well deserved bashing of its own in the below the line comments.
"The simple words of children were all the more affecting. “We didn’t know the beach was dangerous,” he said. Those poor souls murdered on a Tunisia beach last month must have thought much the same."
Equating Israelis and Isis terrorists is wrong on many counts. Not even mentioning that on the previous day there were accounts of rockets being fired from the same spot on the beach and that the figures were not identified as children but assumed to be running cometant (sic) is something that should be mentioned in this article. The impression given is that the Israelis murdered the kids intentionally as the Isis terrorist did in Tunisia. Fact: There is no war and there was no war in Tunisia more than there was a war on 7/7 in London or 11/9 in NY. Fact: there was a war during the beach attack in the Gaza strip and in Israel.”
said one person.
'When we grow up, we're going to kill them' The arab/muslim dreams of death and killing.The Jew/Israeli about life and how to make it better for his/her children. Hamas in Gaza build terror tunnels and couldnt give a g'dam for their people. Israel builds bomb shelters to keep its people safe.”
said another.

The Independent. Sally Newall’s review was brief and descriptive rather than overtly judgmental. The reviewer’s choices of which quotes to reproduce in her article was quite sufficient to show clearly which side she identifies with.
The only btl comment at the time of writing is telling:
“When the BBC momentarily departed from its Zionist bias, in one of its token gestures like this programme, and actually mentioned the plight of the Palestinian refugees in Yarmouk refugee camp, Doucet said they were descended from those who'd fled the fighting between Arab armies and Israel in 1948. An absolute distortion of the truth. They were driven out by Israeli terror, and they have lived in pain ever since. There is no balance between a bully and his victim. The BBC's reporting on Palestine is an exclusively Zionist narrative, in contrast with the excellent Al Jazeera. Doucet would do well to get some training from AlJ.”
Blimey. The commenter was using a thoroughly British name, too.


  1. Some very pertinent comments, although I disagree that "There is no war and there was no war in Tunisia more than there was a war on 7/7 in London or 11/9 in NY". Al Queda declared war on the USA and by extension its allies in 1998. No doubt IS consider themselves to be engaged in a war against non-believers.

    Pretending that no one has declared war on you, when they have, is not a sensible way of viewing the world.

    There cannot be "balance" between Hamas-ruled Gaza and Israel. You can criticise Israeli policies (I do) but they standing in the democratic, rule by rational law tradition and are no threat to us. If the Muslim Brotherhood ever get to finish off Israel, they won't stop there. They could never stop there. They will come after us.

    There is no doubt in my mind Hamas engaged in a deliberate and murderous provocation - more propaganda than military - part of which involved deliberately endangering their own civilian population. To suggest there is
    "balance" between the two entities is to weigh in on Hamas's side in the propaganda war as that is exactly one of their short to medium term objectives.

  2. Re Hamas & the conflict last year I get the distinct impression that also lurking in the background was a power struggle between Gaza Hamas and West Bank Hamas who are at present cooperating with Hezbollah & the Palestinian Authority as they tried to demonstrate that they were better than their West Bank counterparts.

    The collateral damage that their countrymen would suffer in Gaza was not surprisingly, not in the forefront of the thinking of the Hamas Gaza leadership.

  3. Doucet and her bosses know very, very well that she can be as scrupulously even-handed and impartial as possible when interviewing the children because the sexy rubble and ghoulish Body Count will speak for themselves. As loudly and as often as possible.


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