Saturday 15 September 2018

ITBB is a futile endeavour

Melanie Phillips has written a penetrating essay in the Jerusalem Post. Do read it through.
The gist of it is that bloggers like me are on the wrong track. Being on the defensive is an utter waste of time. Typically, we wait for some slanderous attack on Israel to appear before pleading “unfair!”.
She’s completely right about this. To struggle against institutional anti-Israelism and antisemitism is a hopeless endeavour. The BBC is impervious to reason.

On and on they go.  Here are just a couple of prime illustrations. 
1) Stephen Sackur’s sclerotic approach here, in an episode of Hardtalk with Danny Danon
His questioning is straight from the “……. dozens of Palestinians including children were gunned down – unarmed innocent civilians – by the Israeli military,” “Mark Serwotka” school of thought. 
Way beyond Devil’s advocate, Mr Sackur.

2) Jeremy Bowen’s obnoxious and partisan Tweet featured by Craig here
Why does Jeremy Bowen think it’s alright to Tweet out a random slice of a complex situation? 
Why does he assume no-one will notice that the story has been abridged to portray it as “another” example of Israeli brutality? 

The obvious omission of context is one thing, but the wider and more significant consideration, as I see it, is that it’s being done in the context of the current atmosphere of antisemitism and anti-Israel hysteria. 

Antisemitic shit-stirring is the only plausible motive I can think of.


  1. Another explanation is that they are pro-Palestinian because they see the Palestinians as an oppressed people and they take the side of the underdog. It’s then a small step to be anti-Israel and anti-Israeli government because in their minds they are the oppresser with superior resources and well armed security forces.

    Once that premise is set, it becomes visceral and partisan hence the Bowen and Sackur comments and countless others.

    Facts, history and right or wrong no longer matters once you have taken sides.

    it’s very hard to change that mindset.

  2. Pack mentality, and the need to be part of the pack play a huge part in all this. Whether it’s debates about Israel or free speech it is becoming almost impossible to find people capable of independent thought. Melanie Philips may well be correct about the manipulation of language, but unfortunately she is a very small voice against a brick wall of white noise from so-called progressives. You could argue that the only answer is education, but unfortunately the educational institutions, with very few exceptions are part of the same pack. Corbyn and what is happening in the Labour Party are only symptoms of something much more sinister. Perhaps it is naive to hope that speaking out against anti-Semitism and Anti-Zionism will eventually succeed, but there is not very much else that we can do.

    1. Terry,

      Melanie addresses this issue here:

    2. Thank you Sue. That was a fascinating interview - not exactly uplifting, but very perceptive. There are one or two issues where I wouldn’t find myself entirely in agreement with Melanie Philips. Against the general consensus on this blog I do believe in man-made global warming. However, I agree with her that the debate should not be stifled. The second point is both more personal and also much more complicated. That is the issue of secularism. Unfortunately, I can’t choose not to be an atheist, which Melanie would probably disapprove of. But I do recognise, even celebrate, the crucial importance of Judeo-Christian ethics at the heart of our culture. The general direction of her argument I would agree with entirely. I would have to say though, that in order for what she identifies as a fight to the death to succeed would require more than just political leadership. There would have to be some serious defections from the other side. Some cathartic moment to cause a complete re-think for a lot of people in positions of influence. What Melanie Philips has done is to very succinctly identify the disastrous trajectory of 21st century Western society. Like her I have no idea what the outcome will be.

  3. I have to say that Melanie Phillips has changed tack over time. For many years she promoted the narrative that there was an apolitical personal Islam that did not wish to confront Israel or the West and therefore all that it was necessary to do was ensure extreme elements didn't politicise the good followers of the religion. In other words she never seriously anlaysed what Sharia was or how it has been central over the centuries to mainstream (not extreme)Islamic history.

    Younger viewers might not be aware that MP started off as a liberal-left New Society and then Guardian journalist fully signed up to the benefits of mass immigration.


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