I first started blogging almost a decade ago, when the BBC’s anti-Israel bias seemed to be getting more and more entrenched. I thought my arguments would have less chance of being dismissed outright as pro-Israel propaganda, 'hasbara' if you like, if they cropped up in a general BBC bias blog rather than a dedicated pro-Zionist platform.
Who wants to be sidelined before they’ve even started?
Biased BBC has been described as the blog with the best domain name ever, and I was flattered at the invitation to contribute. (I subsequently found out that the offer had already been turned down by a couple of others, but hey ho).
For me (not a proper writer) it was tough. The aim was to be witty, concise, persuasive and topical. So, quite hard. Someone told me that brevity is the thing. When I look back at the stuff I wrote, I think some of it holds up pretty well.
Then something went wrong. Biased BBC morphed, somehow, from broadsheet to tabloid, which made it easy for its critics to dismiss it altogether as a hate site. Below the line, people were linking to all sorts of unpleasant websites and the level of unwarranted vitriol against the BBC crossed a line. (to coin a phrase) I do realise that our current readers might disagree, by the way, and I imagine quite a few people think of us as a hate site too.
The main reason that the media has shown such indifference to the antisemitism in the Labour Party, in the Left, or, if you like, in society in general, is that the trusted BBC has kept us staggeringly ignorant of the full facts about Israel. So much so that the default position of the man in the Clapham omnibus (statistically bound to be be BAME) is anti-Israeli and pro-Palestinian. And that goes for your average middle-class leftie, your media types, your “anywheres” as well as your “somewheres”; also, legions of respectable middle-class, middle-England ladies and gents in Barbour jackets and pseudo intellectual, kaffiyeh-wearing middle-aged adolescents. The whole lot. They don’t care about antisemitism because they fundamentally agree with it. And why do they agree with it? Because they’ve been told, that … well, I hardly need tell you what they’ve been told.
They’re the Caryl (creator of that hideous diatribe “Seven Jewish Children”) Churchill, they’re the author of that fanciful and ill-conceived play called “My Name Is Rachel Corrie” who happens to be the oh so nice Guardian chief Katherine Viner, they’re people who indignantly cite human rights violations, baby-murdering, illegal settlements, the siege of Gaza, “the biggest open-air prison in the world”. That’s who we’re dealing with.
They're also the sort of people who run the BBC. You’d think they’d at least have the intelligence and curiosity to step back and take a look at the situation, and take a look at themselves too. But no. They lack the appetite.
The latest episode comes from BBC Arabic. Describing itself as an extraordinary film, it’s by a person called Murad Batal Shishani, and titled “Working for the Enemy”. It’s been, and is being shown on the News Channel at various intervals over the last few days.
You should really watch this film; watch and wonder. Its anecdotal content and complete absence of context renders the whole thing no more than a political broadcast on behalf of the anti-Israel party.
Lip service was paid to balance with footage of an Israeli official stating that that 900 Israelis have been killed by suicide bombings, then speculating that 9,000 more lives have probably been saved through Israel’s practice of recruiting vulnerable Palestinians as spies.
It is a valid subject, of that I have no doubt. But only so if one was not starting from the position of extreme anti-Israel propaganda.
“It’s been called the world’s largest open prison. The Gaza Strip. Penned in by walls, barbed wire and gun turrets…. (ominous music) “the one point eight million people living here can only get into Israel with special permission” intones Murad Batal Shisani “And even if their lives depend on it, they have to enter through here, the Eretz Crossing, the main gateway into Israel”. That’s just the opening ten seconds.
I’ve asked Craig to look at it just to see if I’m being OTT. If I am, he’ll tell me nicely.
Why would people who voted for Hamas, a terrorist organisation dedicated to Israel’s destruction, an organisation constantly inciting its citizens to enact extreme violence against Israeli civilians feel entitled to come and go, in and out of Israel whenever they so wish? I mean, that question evidently hasn’t even occurred to Murad Batal Shishani.
The people he interviews are full of tales of woe. Their testimony is unverified and unadulterated. No background. No mention of the way Hamas treats collaborators. In fact it’s a wonder so many of them are still around to appear in the film.
That’s about it. Why would the BBC even air such a film? Why? We know why. Because it can.