Thursday 15 October 2015

A mixed bag

Saying what I'm seeing (and I may not be alone in this)...

The picture of the BBC's reporting of the terrorist attacks in Israel has been unusually mixed.

Yes, Kate Adie and Yolande Knell on From Our Own Correspondent demonstrated old-school BBC anti-Israel bias, but were they typical?

I've had close encounters of the blogging kind with three programmes on three BBC platforms - Newsnight, The World Tonight and World Have Your Say.

The commenter at the Biased BBC blog I linked to above wrote:
I have noticed over the past week ,that when the BBC are reporting about the violence in Israel, they have mentioned Israeli Jews have been killed / murdered by Palestinians rather than their usual habit of mentioning that Palestinians have been killed by Jews. I don’t know if that is a move to the right but it is more honest reporting.


That was certainly the case on Newsnight, courtesy of Evan Davis's introduction. 

This improvement, however, was swiftly sullied by another of the BBC's old-school performers, Jeremy Bowen.

The change of tone/perspective when Jeremy Bowen turned up was striking. He steered the focus away from the terrorist atrocities against Israelis and decided to blame the 'occupation' for recent events instead.

The BBC's mask of impartiality was slipping (again), thanks to their Middle East editor.

(On Twitter he was also stating, oh-so-impartially {and in less than 140 characters} that the Israelis were perpetrating "collective punishment" [his words] on the Palestinians). 

An interview with a pro-Palestinian guest and a pro-Israeli guest followed. I couldn't find much to object to in either though.


The World Tonight's coverage started badly though with the sound of Israel cracking down and with some this-happened, that-happened equivalence, rounded off by some 'amplification' of the absurd Palestinian claims that Israel has bad intentions towards the mosque atop Temple Mount. Presenter Ritula Shah said "Israel's repeated denied those rumours".

Ritula then interviewed people from both sides - a Palestinian youth worker and am Israeli mum with carried a gun wherever she travels (Aviva Yisraeli, "Glocker Mom"). 

Personally, I'd have expected Ritula Shah to have gone on the attack against Glocker Mom and to have given the Palestinian youth worker an easier ride at this point. Aviva, however, struck a powerful, reasonable, sympathetic note while Palestinian Youth Worker Guy equivocated like a feral weasel on the issue of slaughtering Israeli civilians...

...and Ritula Shah of the BBC sounded genuinely discomforted and unhappy at Palestinian Youth Worker Guy's outrageous remarks.

Her reaction is to her credit. He should be ashamed of himself.


The World Service's Jerusalem Attacks edition (no thinking of 'Mars Attacks' please!) was something different again - and something strange. 

The presenter Krupa Padhy (above) made a very clear attempt to act like ACAS, the conciliation service.

She interviewed two Israeli (pro-Israeli) guests and three Palestinian (anti-Israeli) guests, mostly allowing them to speak at length uninterrupted, despite what they were saying (whether sensible or senseless).

I'm still perplexed as to why a third Palestinian guest, thus outnumbering the pro-Israeli guests 3:2, was considered necessary, but 'hey!'...

She then attempted to get them to talk to each other. (This was the strange bit.)

The two Israeli guest were multi-faceted, despite both being colleagues from The Times of Israel. Though robust in their defence of Israel, they both outlined their own pro-Arab/pro-Palestinian empathies (in different ways). In contrast, all three of the Palestinian guests sounded far less flexible, less tolerant, more monochrome. A none-too-successful dialogue of the half-deaf (averaged between the largely open-eared Israelis and the largely closed-eared anti-Israelis) followed. 

Krupa largely stood back - though not entirely: Her toughest questions went to one of the pro-Israeli guests, student Emanuel Miller, and - talking to a Palestinian guest - she used a word BBC reporters aren't supposed to use, 'Palestine', as if such an entity existed (so her mask slipped too somewhat).

Still, the best thing here was senior BBC reporter Paul Adams.

His introductory survey of events, in discussion with Krupa, proved unexpectedly admirable, putting the Israeli victims of terrorism first and making it clear that the "febrile" Palestinian conspiracy theories about Israel's intentions toward the mosque atop the Temple Mount...

(where - as Paul didn't add - Muhammed, the Muslim prophet, is believed to have ascended to the land of 72-year-old virgins and raisins after flying from Mecca on a flying horse (a horse that, unlike most other horses I know, actually had wings)

...are just that - objects of Palestinians' febrile imaginations.

Paul did the BBC proud there - and the programme's other Israeli guest, Sarah Tuttle-Singer, gave him his due on Twitter:


A mixed bag then.

1 comment:

  1. Bowen is to BBC editorial credibility as Yentob is to senior management.


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