Thursday 19 July 2018

Unhealthy diet

BBC Watch has published a detailed two-part examination of the connected items on the Today Programme broadcast 16th July 2018. Here and here This was also the subject of our earlier post “imagine”.
Hadar Sela offers a fact-packed synopsis of Chris Gunness’s lies and omissions, so I thought it was worth revisiting the topic in the cold light of three days’ hindsight. (Three days ago is the past, in terms of news broadcasting and the past is another country.)

Heavily biased broadcasting by the BBC (and media outlets of the same mindset) has produced the entrenched anti-Israel feeling that’s everywhere nowadays. Biased broadcasting has had such a pernicious influence that hating Israel is the default position in Corbyn’s Labour Party. This resonates with the current fiasco, with the NEC quibbling over the definition of antisemitism. Rather than accepting the internationally recognised definition, the NEC wants to exclude segments they believe would preclude or limit ‘legitimate’ criticism of Israel. They want to be free to criticise Israel, no holds barred, from its right to protect itself to its right to exist, while reserving the right to boast that they haven’t a racist bone in their body. For some reason, they don’t want to be seen as antisemitic and they don’t want to think of themselves as antisemites.

No wonder so many of them respond to what they’ve absorbed from the ‘news’ this way, with loathing, indignation, and ire. They think railing against Israel is synonymous with virtue and humanity. Being fed on a diet of lies and half-truths gives you acute outrage. The pro-Palestinian pandemic has spread to the anti-Trump protests. Wrong-headed social justice warriors get big thrills from the illusory satisfaction of self-righteousness. 

Considerable damage is done through interviews with the likes of fanatical Israel-hater Gunness when venomous fantasies remain unchallenged. Gunness knows he can get away with it because ‘man-of-all-trade’ anchors such as John Humphrys and Justin Webb are inadequately briefed and couldn’t provide factual rebuttals - had they the appetite to do so.

The BBC evidently considered the item newsworthy because two Palestinians were killed in the incident, and they were children. Teenagers.
 “As was the case in BBC World Service news bulletins, while listeners had heard plenty about two teenagers – or “children” – killed in Gaza, they were not told that the wounded in Sderot also included people in that age group.”
Gunness got away with describing the location of the incident as “a popular gathering place in Gaza City, a park where many families go” when in fact the location was an “urban warfare training facility that includes access to Hamas’ tunnel network”.

Humphrys let Gunness waste our time with his histrionic invitation to British listeners to ‘imagine’ themselves in a string of invented, dishonest and irrelevant scenarios, which were clearly dreamt up to elicit empathy for the helpless and innocent Palestinians.
But facts and statistics are available,
“in April, May and June Palestinians engaged in Hamas facilitated violence at that border carried out, inter alia, 294 attacks with petrol bombs, 20 shooting attacks, 35 IED attacks and 5 grenade attacks.” 
should a BBC researcher supply them. But they don’t, and multiple misrepresentations and factually inaccurate allegations pass by, uncontested. I’m sure even John Humphrys knows that Gaza isn’t occupied, but he let it go when Gunness said it because he very likely feels that ‘everyone knows’ it ‘kind of’ is. 
I’d go further. I think Humphrys is in awe of Gunness. Perhaps he’s wary of triggering an emotional meltdown to the embarrassment of us all.

Just as the Labour Party bows to their supporters in the Muslim community, the media kowtows to the anti-racists who require smelling salts at the merest whiff of Islamophobia. They don’t admit that the Islam-friendly anti-racists who condemn Israel so vehemently are actually racists. Perhaps it was on their behalf that Justin Webb gave the Israeli spokesman Lt-Col Peter Lerner a hammering during his attempts to make a very reasonable rebuttal.  You can almost picture Webb looking around for approval after each ham-fisted interruption.

When Tom Bateman was asked to give an account of what the Israelis were saying -  the word on the street, so to speak - he chose to give the Israeli perspective through the prism of BBC groupthink, and the ‘Israel says’ qualifier was uttered with a discernible air of cynicism.

What made me almost lol was hearing Jeremy Corbyn accuse Theresa May’s government of being ‘divided’.
Heal thyself! was the tacit chorus from the watching nation. The Hodge affair has brought a few of the formerly silent Labour MPs out of the woodwork. I heard Kier Starmer tentatively venture the proposal that the Labour Party could staunch the wound by adopting the full-frontal internationally recognised definition of antisemitism and pretend they meant that all along. Where were all these people when Shami first came up with her whitewash? 

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