Thursday 31 January 2019

Post in honour of Holocaust Memorial Day

Post in honour of Holocaust Memorial Day 

Sky News interviewed Jeremy Dronfield, the author of a book called “The Boy Who Followed His Father Into Auschwitz”. Although there was nothing untoward about the interview itself, in the closing moments Mr Dronfield gave out an ominous warning about “the threat from the far right’.
How obscure - what could he mean?

Many people believe there is a vital lesson to be learned from the Holocaust, which is that civilised countries like ours must realise that they have a moral obligation to offer hospitality to refugees and asylum seekers, regardless of the circumstances that caused their predicament.

The loaded expression “Never Again” has been reinterpreted and now embraces ‘all genocides’, a term which has itself been adapted to embrace other non-specific victims of violence, and not confined to the Nazis’ attempt to eradicate an entire race.

Kindertransport is often cited to illustrate Britain’s generosity and open-heartedness as if such moving humanitarian endeavours epitomise a uniquely British ethos.

However, to fit that narrative it is necessary to gloss over the reality. In fact, rather than welcoming European Jewry with open arms, even during the years when Hitler’s activities were becoming apparent, the British attitude to Jewish immigration was extremely limited and conditional.
Historians disagree about the motivation behind those cruel policies; suffice it to say that at the time antisemitism came primarily from the right.
Jeremy Hunt has described Britain’s 1939 white paper capping immigration to Palestine as a “black moment” in history, in what is believed to be the first such remarks by a British foreign secretary.[…]
“in a stark moment of candour he said there had been “black moments” including the white paper, which limited the number of Jewish immigrants to Palestine to 75,000 for five years during the Jewish world’s darkest hour.”
An article in the Guardian inadvertently validates this awkward historical fact. The writer cites Britain’s less than hospitable attitude to Jews in the 30s and 40s, but draws the conclusion that  “we were mistaken then, therefore we must be careful not to make the same mistake again” (therefore it is our moral duty to be open-hearted and welcoming to Syrian and other refugees, just as we should have been to Jews fleeing Nazism in the 30s and 40s.)
This non sequitur simply boils down to this: 'We regret being mean to the Jews, therefore we might regret it if we’re mean to the Muslims', and with that, the magic words “Never Again” are forced into an ill-fitting parody of a moral principle. 
Admittedly that essay was written in 2002, and things have moved on since then -  the writer may not wish to make the same moral equivalence now as she once did, but she is not alone in equating the right-wing antisemitism that existed in Britain 75 years ago with present-day fearfulness of mass Muslim immigration, casually labelled ‘phobic,’ ‘racist’ and ‘right-wing’. (How can it be racist to oppose a racist ideology?) 

Now that problems thrown up by mass Muslim immigration are starting to destabilise society, Britain’s long-established reputation as a compassionate and ever-ready destination and safe-haven for the world’s desperate and dispossessed, which was once something to be genuinely proud of, has been sullied by our weak and misguided tolerance of the intolerant. Our feebleness is spoiling everything for everyone.

In an earlier post, I mentioned the ignorance in America and Europe about the Holocaust that came to light through recent polls and surveys. Now, another survey, this time concerning the U.K., finds that:
 "five per cent of UK adults don’t believe the Holocaust – the intentional murder of six million Jews by the Nazis and their collaborators – really happened and one in 12 (8%) say the scale of the Holocaust has been exaggerated, according to research released on Holocaust Memorial Day 2019.
Many commenters below a Times article about these findings have reacted badly to this information, some by minimising its significance and some by way of ‘whataboutery’. 
To me, it’s not a mere matter of numbers. The cold-blooded and calculated methods used by the Nazis to exterminate an entire race are unique, and the protracted political build-up to it appears all the more chilling as we come to recognise the familiar signs of history repeating.

Shown on that day, The Last Survivors was a powerful and thought-provoking film and a worthy complement to the harrowing and graphic Holocaust: Night Will Fall, shown on More 4 the previous night. 
The Telegraph: 
The Last Survivors was a masterclass in documentary making with restraint and without editorialising. Cary allowed the narratives to unravel in their own time and direction, with no apparent attempt to console or rationalise. The editing was discreet and the horrifying footage of the deceased in the camp was used judiciously.” 
The Guardian was also enthusiastic:
Director Arthur Cary spent a year with a handful of survivors, making an impeccably thoughtful 90-minute documentary that gave his interviewees their due dignity as each reflected, often scarcely willingly, on what happened to them as children. For an hour and a half, I was crying, especially when Cary followed three generations of Holocaust survivors to Auschwitz, knowing all the time that tears are not enough.”
I wish I agreed more wholeheartedly, but I was sorry to hear that the “marvellously formidable” Anita Lasker-Wallfisch has fallen for the Angela Merkel ‘open borders’ policy in such a big way. 
There are plenty of wrong-headed Jews who find it convenient to turn a blind eye to the antisemitism that seems fundamental to the religion of Islam, and who reserve their fear for the reactionary so-called ‘right-wing’ politics that is a direct response to the rise of an unenlightened form of Islam and the threat it poses to us all. That is, until some distant and hard to visualise future, in which reformers such as Mohammad al-Issa, secretary-general of the Muslim World League, make significant headway towards influencing the masses.

I do wish Lord Dubs, for one, would face the facts. While strenuously campaigning for Britain to accept more child refugees from Syria, he says: 
“When I hear and see antisemitism, the tropes, the conspiracy theories and so on, I feel depressed and sad. Have people learnt nothing of the Holocaust? Don’t they understand how sensitive this is to people who’ve got relatives who died in the camps? So, it’s important we remember. And it’s important that we say resolutely: these things must never be allowed to happen again.”
I wonder how many of those Muslim refugees would genuinely sympathise with a people they so despise. 
Some of the things I say may seem - or indeed be - hypocritical, but I was once confronted by a couple of the most ardent disciples of the Guardian and accused of ‘exploiting the Holocaust’.
“Haven’t you ever heard of ‘The Holocaust  Industry?’ they say as if Norman Finkelstein’s sacred theorem is definitive and set in stone.

All I can say is that if the Guardian adopts Finkelstein’s ‘Holocaust Industry’ meme, which cynically appropriates the emotive word “industry” (deliberately lifted from the original adjective that describes the (industrial) scale and method of the Nazis’ attempted eradication of an entire people) in order to promote the notion that Zionists cynically exploit the Holocaust to capitalise on their own victimhood, then how would they describe their own fanatical  obsession with the Palestinians?  Wholesale promotion of Pallywood is also a bit of an industry - and is it not the ultimate propaganda machine? 

This unresolved rant is to commemorate the BBC’s longstanding bias against Israel by omission, by emoting and by “emission”  and to mark Holocaust Memorial Day, 2019 (last Sunday, January 27th.)

Wednesday 30 January 2019

Old (Pre-White Album) Open Thread

Beast from the East open thread. Lights are green - please go ahead.

Monday 28 January 2019


This was an intro by sports correspondent Rob Bonnet on the Today Programme this morning at about 8:29 am. 

“And now for the news that Malaysia has been stripped of hosting the 2019 the world para swimming championships.
Malaysia, a Muslim country, has banned Israeli swimmers from taking part because of its objection to Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.

Is Rob Bonnet letting Malaysia’s PM Mahathir Mohamad off the hook by glossing over the virulent antisemitism he’s so proud of? 

'because of its objection to Israel’s treatment of Palestinians!' Yep. At the BBC we need to provide a little gratuitous contextual rationalisation to justify the old codger’s racist ban; and hey ho, it’s a Muslim country. 

That's almost like excusing the expurgation of Germany's Jews "because of Hitler's objection to their pursuit of world domination."

Sunday 27 January 2019

Complaints, complaints

Minoan labyrinth, apparently modelled on the BBC's complaint process

I recently received an email from a reader who has battled the BBC's labyrinthine complaints process and won. 

It took a lot of perseverance, including a long exchange of letters with the BBC and an escalation to Ofcom, but, finally, out of the blue, the BBC capitulated and conceded the point of the complaint. 

So, if you're very patient and are prepared to jump through several BBC hoops, it can be done!

Indeed, here are a couple more recent examples. The first made me smile, as - like the above complaint - it obviously had to slog its way through the entire BBC complaints process to end up at the Executive Complaints Unit. I bet it took weeks, and yet all that was needed was for the BBC to acknowledge the error (a very basic error) and correct it. The wheels of the BBC complaints system grind very slowly at times: 

And the next one, on a heavier subject, concerns a report from BBC Arabic's Nida Ibrahim:

You may also like to read some of the BBC's latest Corrections and Clarifications (the first of which should be familiar to you!):

Wednesday 23rd January 2019: Question Time, BBC One and BBC Radio 5 live, 17 January 2019

A YouGov poll published on the day of the programme suggested a lead for the Conservatives but Diane Abbott was also right to say that some other polls suggested Labour either as ahead or tied, and we should have made that clear. We should normally report the findings of opinion polls in the context of trend and must always do so when reporting voting intention polls.

Thursday 17th January 2019: World at One, BBC Radio 4, 26 December 2018

We said that “over the past few decades… four fifths of Iraq's Christians have fled or been killed; in Israel and the Palestinian territories, as those following other religions have grown sharply in number, the Christian population has shrunk.” In the region as a whole, numbers are certainly continuing to fall. But in recent times Israel’s Christian population has increased - for example, in 2017, by 2.2%.

Thursday 10th January 2019: News at Ten, BBC One and BBC News Channel, 9 January 2019

The headlines reported the Prime Minister as saying that her plan was the only realistic one and the only way to avoid "crashing out" of the EU without a deal.
We should clarify this phrase was used in the debate by several MPs but not by the Prime Minister.

Friday 21st December 2018: Today, BBC Radio 4, 13 December 2018

It was said on the programme that the EU Referendum of 2016 was "the biggest vote in our country’s history".
In 2016 33.57 million votes were cast, including rejected papers.
More votes were actually cast in the 1992 General Election - a total of 33.61 million.  

Thursday 13th December 2018: News Channel, 15 October 2018

In a report about African Penguins and why their numbers are in decline we said conservationists say their natural habitats are being hit by rising tides caused by climate change. While studies show climate change is having an impact on penguin numbers, it is because of rising sea temperatures affecting fish stocks, rather than rising sea levels. Other factors include commercial fishing practices, which are making it more difficult for African Penguins to find enough to eat and survive. We apologise for the error.

Monday 10th December 2018: BBC London News, BBC One London, 4 December 2018

In a report on plans for a new Holocaust memorial in Westminster, we referred to Adampol as a ‘Polish labour camp’.
We regret any upset this resulted in - a clearer description should have been used, to explain that it was a Nazi German camp located in Poland.   

Thursday 29th October 2018: The World at One, BBC Radio 4, 2 August 2018

In a report on the history of the European Union, we said 10 new countries joined the 12 countries already in the EU in 2004. In fact there were 15 existing members by 2004, as Sweden, Finland and Austria had all joined in 1995.

Thursday 22nd November 2018: Today, Radio 4 and NewsHour, World Service, 30 October 2018

In a report about municipal elections in Jerusalem it was reported that Ramadan Dabash was on the ballot representing a Palestinian party and that this was a first. In fact this is not the case. A Palestinian candidate representing a Palestinian party also appeared on a ballot paper for the municipal council in 1998 and did not pass the voting threshold to win a seat. 

Thursday 15th November 2018: Mediterranean With Simon Reeve, BBC Two, 21 October 2018

While visiting Sicily, it was stated that San Cataldo church in Palermo had previously been a Mosque. This was not accurate. The site of the Palermo Cathedral would have been a better example to choose to illustrate the diverse history of the city.

Missing story

I see staggering news that Countdown's Rachel Riley has been given extra security in the light of her stand against antisemitism, especially in Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party. I see that from countless news outlets online, including Sky News, The Guardian, the i, The Sun, The Times, The Daily Mail, The Daily Mirror, The Daily Express, The Daily Star, METRO, The Evening Standard, etc. For some reason though the BBC News website hasn't shown any interest in the story, so far. Why not?

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more


Have you been missing Rob Burley here on a Sunday? 

Well, here's the Editor of BBC Live Political Programmes in action again and engaging with some of the delightful denizens of Twitter following this morning's The Andrew Marr Show, where government minister Matt Hancock was asked if it's true that the Government might impose martial law after a No Deal Brexit (yes, really): 

Tim Poole: Hi Rob Burley - may I ask why the @BBCPolitics account hasn't tweeted a clip of Hancock talking about martial law? Seems fairly significant.
Rob Burley: I’m not sitting across the Twitter feed 7 days a week so don’t know. But it should be clipped I’d agree. I wouldn’t read anything into it.
Khaled Elawadi: Just the 6 days a week then Rob. ☺ Anyway, why should we read anything into the Brexit No Deal threat of food shortages, martial law and troops being deployed on our streets. It's a scare story, right?
Rob Burley: I’m saying I wouldn’t read anything into it being up or not on the feed. You can decide what you think about the thing itself.
Khaled Elawadi: I see, so it's a highly significant story and we should decide how significant it is for ourselves, but the fact it hasn't been clipped and shown to us in the first place is of little significance?
Rob Burley: Though I will add that, in the first place, it was broadcast by the BBC. How this fits the implication we are trying to suppress it in some way I don’t know.
Khaled Elawadi: Oh, so now you're suggesting the fact you didn't edit the significant comment out of the interview the first time is somehow proof that there's no cover up in not showing the significant comment later? Btw, do you do that on the BBC Rob..edit out certain comments in interviews?
Rob Burley: At this point I can’t work out if this is a parody account. Apparently we are suppressing Matt Hancock’s comments on martial law which came from a question we asked him about martial law which was broadcast live on television.
Tim Poole: My first thought was this must be a parody. It's annoying - because I can raise what I think you'd agree was a sensible and fair query about the martial law clip not being tweeted (it just seemed odd) - and then the thread becomes this sort of meme about crack pot conspiracies Corbyn supporters. It does, to be honest, make me wonder if some of these accounts making wild accusations are real or not - after all whose agenda does it actually benefit. Anyway, I notice the marital law clip is now up so all good from my point of view.
Khaled Elawadi: I never said that though did I Rob?! In fact, there's more evidence to suggest you're doing the complete opposite. You left the highly significant comment in made by the cabinet minister warning of Martial Law in the UK, then refused to clip it knowing there would be a backlash.
Rob Burley: This is what people actually think. It's bananas. For lots of reasons, not least because, as well as broadcasting it on TV, it is up on the BBC Twitter account. Honestly, if we are in the business of suppressing Matt Hancock's comments, we are doing a really bad job of it.
Khaled Elawadi: Actually, that's exactly how the BBC gets the establishment's propaganda out into the public domain. That is their job after all. Questions that they ask and the timing of those questions are specifically and deliberately designed to manipulate the consciousness of the audience.
Rob Burley: I'm confused, I thought we were doing something wrong by NOT putting Mr Hancock's comments on Twitter (which we did actually), but it turns out that we were doing something wrong by putting him on in the first place.
Malvachat (to Khaled): That’s right. But who writes the questions? That’s a better question.
Rob Burley: The producers on the programme and the presenter. Glad to clear that up for you.
Carole Hawkins: In other words the Murdoch Mafia write the questions.

And so on...

Khaled Elawadi: So you agree with me then Rob. ☺ Let's be clear the clip is now up only after we complained about there being no clip around 1pm in the afternoon. Btw, now that I've seen it, I find it totally shocking how blasé Andrew asks the question almost coaching the down played reply.
Rob Burley: A) you’ve no idea the process by which the clip went up. Even though you are clearly wiser than the rest of us, you aren’t THAT powerful. B) your suggestion Andrew wanted to make the answer less interesting is bananas 🍌  C) are you actually a performance art installation?
Khaled Elawadi: A) It takes seconds to make a clip, how else do we get live video playbacks. B) Andrew deliberately asked the question in an almost disinterested blasé way to encourage a quick yes or no down played answer. The reason for that is likely to become evident soon. C) Not recently.
Rob Burley: A) you suggested it went up because of you. B) "that is likely to become evident soon" ! So Andrew Marr, understanding this,was alarmed the minister was being too candid so quickly shut the question down. It's hard to work out why he asked it in the first place. C) You should.
Khaled Elawadi: A) Not quite, I stated it only went up after we complained. Then you tried to suggest it takes time to complete the process. B) The reason for Andrew asking the question in the way that he did to the minister in question eliciting such a reply will become clear soon enough. C)👍
Rob Burley: Just concentrating on B) do you think Andrew will tell me what’s going on if it ask him or is it just you he’s spilt the beans to?

And so on...


Here's an update to an earlier post:

Richard in the Lion's Den

What's it like being 'the conservative Christian' in the lion's den of The Big Questions? Well, this fascinating nearly-year-old YouTube video from Richard Lucas of the Scottish Family Party gives us some idea. It's well worth watching, if you haven't already seen it.

Saturday 26 January 2019

Viva Hugh Sykes!

Late night bonus post...

We here at Is the BBC Biased? are very fond of BBC veteran reporter Hugh Sykes. 

We think of him as the authentic, time-honoured voice of the BBC. 

His Twitter feed remains a joy. He pronounces himself to be something of a contrarian, but his Twitter contrarianism almost invariably chimes with BBC orthodoxy, and - even better - is expressed neat rather than diluted.

Read through the great man's latest tweets (views his own) and you'll find someone who really doesn't agree with pro-Brexit Tory MP Mark Francois over Brexit and will re-tweet anything (however rude) attacking the MP for his views, again and again and again.

And you'll also find someone who'll willingly plug ex-BBC colleague Gavin Esler's intemperate anti-Brexit tweets slamming "Jacob and Boris and Nigel", in addition to promoting numerous other anti-Brexit tweets from various sources. 

You won't find any pro-Brexit re-tweets from Our Hugh Of The BBC. 

Strikingly, he's someone who will even re-tweet attacks on his BBC colleagues if, regarding the case of John Humphrys, he follows the Twitter mob in smoking out a BBC presenter who might just harbour forbidden pro-Brexit views. 

Interestingly, Hugh also repeatedly re-tweets attacks on Jeremy Corbyn, Len McCluskey and Seamus Milne from the same pro-EU perspective.

So far so (mainly) obvious, and present-day BBC.

But, interestingly, Hugh then re-tweeted a Sinn Fein MP defending the Maduro government's legitimacy in Venezuela, plus criticisms of US foreign policy over Afghanistan (from the 'it's all about oil' angle), and support for left-liberal hero George Clooney's criticisms of the US government's position on Sudan.

That seems like good, old-school BBC leftism.

Stuff mocking Trump and talking of climate change follows, going back chronologically.  

And this is just a dip-in from the last couple of days. 

Long may Good Old Hugh keep on refusing to hang up his coat of non-impartial views on Twitter. It helps me figure out the BBC's view on subject after subject. 

"Views are mine"

Goodnight all. 

Meanwhile, before we - each and every one of us - hit our warm, embracing beds tonight, here's something earlier from DB:

The 'Chloe' BBC reporter John McManus was disagreeing with there is young, pro-Brexit Chloe Westley of the Tax Payers' Alliance - a hate figure for many on the Twitter Left. 

Chloe was saying, "You know where poverty IS on the rise? Venezuela. Look forward to the Oxfam report on why socialism is an evil ideology".

On reading that the BBC's John felt the need to object and BBCmansplain to the young, white, right-wing, non-BBC female that BBC-style soggy-left Scandinavian social democracy is best. 

Of course.

Two swallows

From long experience, I'm wary of reading anything of significance into BBC Question Time audiences, so I'm treating Ross Clark's claims in the Spectator that "the new [strongly pro-Brexit] mood of Question Time audiences reflects the changing Brexit debate", showing that the British public just wants to get on with Brexit, with some caution. 

But it is interesting that this week's Question Time audience, like the anti-Diane Abbott one last week, appeared to be strongly pro-Brexit - especially as, this time round, the programme came from a pro-Remain-voting constituency, Winchester. 

Of course, the pro-EU fringe of BBC critics are busily accusing the BBC of "stuffing the audience with Brexit supporters", after just two editions where the audience felt different to the usual Question Time audiences we've been used to for so many years.

A space worth watching maybe.

"You need to say Isis aren't *devout* Muslims"

One of the most BBCish of BBC comedians (while he was there), Russell Howard, wrote an achingly right-on joke for his BBC programme Good News about the IS-supporting fanatical Muslim terrorists who murderously attacked Paris in 2015 which made the very familiar BBC point that they weren't real Muslims. 

This highly dubious platitude apparently went down well with the BBC studio audience but, alas, the BBC objected and demanded the joke be re-recorded. 

Russell quotes the BBC as telling him, "You need to say Isis aren't *devout* Muslims". (An equally dubious platitude).

And he obliged - though he's still evidently sore about it.

I think we're well beyond merely being In Wonderland or even Through the Looking Glass here.

And who's Tweedledum and who's Tweedledee in this strange BBC tale?

Get Humphrys

Oh, and the fiercely pro-EU #FBPEs (and Labour's ex-BBC reporter MP Ben Bradshaw), aren't happy with John Humphrys. They really want rid of him (and Andrew Neil). 

The question that's landed him in such trouble, put to Ireland’s Europe minister, Helen McEntee, this morning, ran as follows:
There has to be an argument, doesn’t there, that says instead of Dublin telling this country that we have to stay in the single market etc within the customs union, why doesn’t Dublin, why doesn’t the Republic of Ireland, leave the EU and throw in their lot with this country?
A typical, flippant John Humphrys 'devil's advocate' question? Ah, no, apparently. He's actually a colonialist, an imperialist, a Brexiteer, and a dinosaur with no knowledge of history, and much worse besides, and needs to go.

It's a good thing Feedback's on a break or Roger Bolton would be after him with a pitchfork. 

O Fiona, dinna toss your head

Fiona, mid-'apology'

Well, the Corbynista war against Fiona Bruce over Diane Abbott's Question Time ordeal raged on all week, and the online debate (between two tribes who didn't interact much at all, other than to throw abuse at each other) eventually boiled down to this question: Did the BBC bully Ms. Abbott, or was Ms. Bruce in fact bullied by the Corbynistas? 

Anyhow, this week's Newswatch said there have been "thousands of complaints" and that "more are still coming into the BBC" (doubtless most from committed Corbynistas, and some of it coordinated). 

On the lesser question of the opinion polls row, thwarted wannabe Question Time host Samira Ahmed said:
Despite Fiona Bruce's agreement [with Isabel Oakeshott] that Labour is "definitely" behind in the polls, that is not a fully accurate version of events, as the BBC's statement later acknowledged, and as the presenter herself mentioned on this week's programme.
Wow, an on-air BBC apology? You don't get many of those! So what did Fiona Bruce say on Question Time this week, just over half way through:
I'm going to move on in a moment, but before I do I just want to pick up on something from last week's programme. There was some discussion about opinion polls, you may be aware of this. I was talking about a poll that came out on the day of the programme which suggested the Conservatives were ahead, and the Shadow Home Secretary mentioned some other earlier polls, which showed Labour in the lead, and we should have made that context clear, and I'm really happy to do that now. Now, I want to tell you about Question Time next week...
Well, it's not much of an apology, is it? 

Of course, the bigger storm was over the alleged remarks made by Fiona Bruce before the programme before the recording began, and lots of left-wingers are demanding that the BBC release a recording of what went on during that warm-up. Did Fiona Bruce joke about Diane Abbott's sexual relationship with Jeremy Corbyn? Was Diane Abbott singled out for mockery? 

Now, I have to say that I'd love to see such a video (or listen to such a recording) myself, if only to hear what goes on pro-show, but I suspect - like so many Freedom of Information requests to the BBC - that such a recording (if it exists) would never be released "for purposes of journalism, art or literature".

John Simpson's Big Stories

Not the same person

Ah, the actual John Simpson Memorial Lecture was broadcast yesterday by John Simpson himself. 

The feature was presented as an "alternative news bulletin without Brexit" and is the BBC World Affairs Editor's idea of the biggest world news stories at the moment. 

Can you guess which country got the longest individual focus? (Clue: Apparently it's returned Gaza to the Stone Age and is to blame for a “superbug epidemic” there). 

Let's start with the new friendship, increasingly worrying to NATO, between Russia, Turkey and Iran. Vladimir Putin has announced he'll soon be hosting a summit of the three countries in Moscow to discuss the situation in Syria. The aim will be to find a way of dealing with the trouble in Idlib Province in Syria, but it's got implications far wider than that. A Russia-Turkey-Iran alliance is starting to be matched by an American-Israeli-Saudi one, while countries like Britain - if that is we've got any attention to spare from Brexit - or France or Germany hang around on the sidelines desperate not to get caught up in it all. 
China has continued its clampdown on people of Chinese origin who criticise its policies. A former Chinese diplomat, Yang Hengjun, who has dual Chinese-Australian citizenship, has been arrested in Guangzhou and is being held in secret. Mr. Yang has been pretty critical of China in his internet blog and, perhaps just as irritating to President Xi Jinping, he's written an apparently rather good spy thriller in which the Chinese aren't the heroes. 
A brand new Israeli politician Benny Gantz, a former military chief of staff who is emerging as a major threat to the prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has produced a number of campaign videos praising Israel's war against Palestinian militants. One shows aerial footage from 2014 of Gaza in ruins, saying that 6,000 targets were destroyed. "Parts of Gaza have been returned to the Stone Age", says the commentary approvingly. That may be right in one particular aspect. An investigative report just out says that after more than 25,000 people in Gaza were injured by Israeli forces last year doctors have been battling a superbug epidemic in Gaza which is disturbingly resistant to antibiotics. 
Another study, this time from the journal Global Environmental Change, suggests that the crisis which brings boatloads of asylum seekers from North Africa to southern Europe has been created by a combination of global warming and the conflicts of the Arab Spring between 2010 and 2012. Severe drought, some political instability in North Africa and elsewhere, have impelled more and more people to try to escape to Europe. 
And that brings us to the unlikely row, which has worsened this week, between France and the new populist government in Italy. France has criticised Italy for its refusal to let rescue boats trying to save refugees dock in its ports. The Italian deputy prime minister has hit back, accusing France of creating poverty in Africa and so forcing mass migration to Europe. France called in Italy's ambassador to tick him off - something that very rarely happens in the usually equitable European Union. 
Which reminds me of a complaint I heard made by a leading climate scientist in Oxford this week. "We are getting right up close to the precipice with climate change", he said, "yet all I read about in the papers is Brexit and backstops".

Curious incidental point. I've always struggled to tell the difference between John Simpson and former BBC Trust chairman Chris Patten, as they both look exactly alike. They could be identical twins, and no one would ever to be able to tell them apart at an identity parade. [A BBC Fact]. I only discovered today that they were both born in Cleveleys, not too far from Blackpool. And they're both 74. Well, I'll go to the foot of our stairs!

Update: Here's more about this John Simpson piece - More inaccurate and context-free Gaza framing on BBC Radio 4

Something about wood pigeons

Kelly? Woody? Emily?

I've been a keen and diligent bird feeder since my late teens. 

In my younger years our old black-painted garage would have families of sparrows sunbathing on top of it on a hot day, probably forty or fifty in total, happily flocking down to grab anything I'd put out for them.

Meanwhile, wood pigeons were something I only read about in books and had never seen. 

So, like many an observer, I've noticed and regretted the sharp decline in sparrows over the years - though this year, to my delight and astonishment, our garden has featured a troupe of some twenty of them. 

Wood pigeons, meanwhile, have gone from nowhere-to-be-seen to being everywhere (like Clare Balding), pretty much in the course of the last decade.

Morecambe is full of them. Roofs, gardens, kerbs, industrial estates, parks, etc, are brimming with them.

The shy wood-dwellers have rapidly become suburban mainstays, like Terry and June back in the 1980s. And in very large numbers. 

My own garden wood pigeons are almost tame. I call them Woody and Kelly, though I can't tell one from the other. (Quiz question: Why 'Woody and Kelly'?). 

The look of a wood pigeon is very Dickensian, plump and snooty-looking, a sort of avian Emily Thornberry. 

I tell you this because of a BBC article I read today, based on the latest Big Garden Birdwatch, which found a 57% decline in sparrows since 1979. But - and this is a really dramatic statistic - there's been a 950% (950%!!) increase in wood pigeons. That's a very explosive explosion of wood pigeons.

So here's to Woody and Kelly - and also to the return of our sparrows (post-Brexit)! 

Are we all to blame?

Meanwhile, Jon Sopel broke his silence on the 'Covington boys v the Native American' story this morning on Today. Here's a transcript of his John Simpson Memorial Lecture on this morning's Today programme:

Jon Sopel: This time last Saturday it was all so straightforward. A video appears on Twitter. A group of teenage white boys are surrounding and jeering at a Native American who quietly, defiantly, is banging a tribal drum by the side of the Lincoln Memorial. One in particular, with a goofy grin and lips red from the cold, is standing right in his face and wearing a red Make America Great Again hat. The kids, from an all-boys Catholic school in Kentucky and nearly all wearing MAGA caps, had been in the nation's capital for the annual Right to Life March - the big gathering of the anti-abortion lobby. They seem braying and boorish. Social media lit up. Moral essayists dipped their quills into their self-righteous inkwell and started opining about the state of American society. Where were the parents? Why has American youth been so coarsened? What had happened to respect for our elders? And, in particular, what did this say about the nastiness of Trump's America? The council in Kentucky called for an inquiry. The school promised suspensions. The 65 year old Native American, Nathan Phillips, who was besieged, went on TV to lament their behaviour. Trump supporters were unusually sullen. 
But then something odd happened. 24 hours later new smartphone video emerged painting a very different picture of the confrontation. A tiny group of African-American men are captured this time hurling vile abuse at the teenagers. They were from the fringiest of fringe organisations, the black Hebrew Israelites. They were abusing the Native Americans as well as the white boys. And whoosh! Social media lit up once again. The kids were singing out school chants this time as a way of drowning out the insults. Their restraint is now praised. Our teenage sinners from Covington High School are now saints. They'd been wronged. Donald Trump weighs in, blaming the media, exonerating the children. Now liberal America went a bit quiet. And the teenager, Nick Sandman, who'd been in the face of a tribal elder, took on a PR firm to act for him. He gave an exclusive interview to NBC's breakfast show:
Nick: My position is that I was not disrespectful to Mr Phillips. In hindsight I wish we could have walked away and avoided the whole thing, but I can't say that I'm sorry for listening to him and standing there. 
The elderly Native American had his life turned over. The Covington boys, who went from an ugly MAGA hat-wearing mob to pious Catholic students in a heartbeat, got a mauling too - perhaps justifiably. But maybe all of us who dabble in Twitter emerge with our reputations sullied.  Since when was truth ever simple? Why can't we wait for more facts to emerge before passing judgment? Why do we seem so pre-programmed today to believe what we want to believe, and baulk when forced to listen to an opposing viewpoint? Whether it be Brexit, Question Time, Scottish independence, Trump, the wall, you name it, maybe we all have something to learn from what should have been a rather unremarkable confrontation at the Lincoln memorial last Friday. 

That's all well and good, and is probably better than nothing, but...

It ignores the point that much of the mainstream media, including the BBC, disgraced themselves just as much as the citizens of social media over this. 

(And, of course, many of Jon's BBC colleagues certainly didn't wait for more facts to emerge before they passed judgment on Twitter either.)

And by shifting the blame towards social media users and spreading the blame to "all" people, he rather too neatly side-steps fact that it was actually social media users, not the mainstream media, who stopped the truth being 'simple' here, and who showed that it wasn't 'the truth' after all. 

Even his own version of events here suggests he hasn't checked out the third video - the one showing Mr Phillips approaching the boys, not being "besieged" by them, so the BBC is still getting it wrong.

Plus note how Jon's own sympathies emerge, especially in that "perhaps justifiably" in the final paragraph, and in his descriptions of Mr Phillips ("The elderly Native American had his life turned over.")

Not Jon Sopel's finest hour.

Update: Or to put it another way....

Beyond Parody

Inspiration for Harriet

Fans of Radio 4's podcast Beyond Today will doubtless have been delighted for BBC producer Harriet Noble. She finally got her way, with an edition based around Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez - something, Matthew Price told us, she'd been wanting for ages. 

And a gushing Harriet, who follows the Democrat congressperson on Instagram, also told us: "Because I saw that AOC uses press-on manicures I decided to give myself one too". 

Isn't that sweet?

Later in that edition came an interview with Jon Ossoff, another millennial Democrat. 

Mr Ossoff, being fairer than the BBC, said that there were also interesting Republican millennial politicians out there as well as Democrat ones. 

I doubt Harriet & Co. would even have given a second's thought to interviewing one of those though.

Friday 25 January 2019

My supernatural powers

The supernatural means by which I cause harm or destruction (I think I mentioned them in my previous) are manifesting indirectly, via the pen of Rod Liddle.

Once again Rod has written a piece after my own heart. Following his preamble about Diane Abbott, which I must have accidentally transmitted to him brain-to-brain during the fallout from last week’s Question Time, he dived (dove(?)) straight in with a litany of stuff about Malaysia’s Prime Minister, Mahathir Mohamad.

It’s obvious that I transmitted this to Rod Liddle in the form of demonic telepathic messages, or why else would his piece deal with matters I’ve thought about, nay, mentioned myself?

One of which is Tom Watson’s attempted intervention in the Malaysian government’s ban on Israeli swimmers coming into the county to compete in a Paralympics event they’re hosting, as well as the antisemitic nature of Malaysia in general. (I must say Tom Watson is looking a little perkier in the illustration above Rod’s piece than in the pre-weight-loss image HuffPo chose to use.) 
[Malaysia’s Prime Minister, Mahathir Mohamad] “has described Jews as ‘hook-nosed’ and commented that they understand money instinctively, meanwhile denying that six million Jewish people were killed in the Holocaust and insisting that Israel should have no right to exist. Nor does he have much time for the concept of anti-Semitism, per se. He told a BBC journalist: ‘Anti-Semitic is a term that is invented to prevent people from criticising the Jews for doing wrong things.’ He said Jews, you will note — not Israel. 
(I was curious as to how the BBC journalist in question responded to that idea.)
But then the country, with its Muslim majority population, is steeped in anti-Semitism.”
Readers! That’s the content of my telepathic message, ‘word-for-word’!! It’s so comforting to know that one’s demonic, supernatural powers are still in good order. 

The below the line responses to Rod’s piece are nearly all sympathetic. What a turnaround from  - well, not so very long ago - when the space below any article about Jews or antisemitism would be chock-a-block with ignorant comments from bigots and racists. And I do mean in the Spectator (and the Times and Telegraph) as well as their ancestral home, the Guardian, where that sort of antisemite permanently squats.

It’s due to attractive people speaking out that people are beginning to wake up and smell the coffee.

Rachel Riley has also been writing in the Spectator. Her beauty and intelligence give her a huge advantage. People will sit up and take notice of what she has to say, so lucky, lucky, lucky her. But not lucky enough to be immune from the tsunamis of antisemitic bile for which social media is renowned.
In the name of Labour, I’ve been called a hypocrite, lying propagandist, teeth, tits and ass, clothes-horse dolly-bird, weaponiser of anti-Semitism, fascist, right–wing extremist, Nazi sympathiser, Twitter-cancer, thick, Tory, brainwashed, an anti-Semite, white-supremacist, Zio-political trollster, not a real Jew, a child bully, bonkers mad conspiracy theorist, a paedo-protector minion puppet whom my dead grandfather would be disgusted by.
I read the transcript of the HoC debate “That this House has considered Holocaust Memorial Day 2019”,  a motion brought by Ian Austin MP.

There were some moving speeches, but to me, the occasion was somewhat marred by the obligatory ‘inclusiveness’ that political correctness has forced into this commemoration. Yes, there have been other genocides, but the Holocaust was unique. It was preceded by an unstoppable tide of antisemitism, which polluted and overwhelmed civilised society. A prolonged process of demonisation and delegitimisation, all based on lies and conspiracy theories, which culminated in an industrialised programme of extermination. 

No. Don’t dilute the memory with “and other atrocities”. The Jewish Holocaust was unique and deserves its own dedicated commemoration.  And antisemitism is not the same as Islamophobia.

The BBC hasn’t been helpful. Over the years it has added to the palpable hostility one can detect in the atmosphere. (Supernatural powers not necessary.)

Things can only get worse (allegedly)

Catching up (and panting heavily), I see that the BBC received a walloping for another of their 'No Deal' tales:

Former Tory MP Stewart Jackson tweeted:
More BBC bias. This time deliberately untrue scaremongering.
Labour MP Kate Hoey tweeted:
I am beginning to wonder why I pay my licence fee when @BBCNews constantly gets it so wrong - surely not biased against us Leaving the EU!!!
As the fairest blog about BBC bias in the known universe and beyond (h/t Professor Brian Cox), I read, took on board and then gave the Stateroom to a reply to Kate saying that the BBC News website had reported the story fairly.

And I think that half-forgotten Twitter babbler had it pretty much right. Even a check on News Sniffer, confirms that the BBC News website reported it with some conscientious attention to fairness.

So what were Brittany Ferries, Stewart Jackson and Kate Hoey objecting to?

Well, unlike the BBC defender there, I've gone beyond the BBC website, and I'm pretty sure I know what they were specifically objecting to.

I think they all listened to Tuesday's The World at One.

It began (cue Bernard Herrmann soundtrack?):
Sarah Montague: Hello, and welcome to The World at One with me Sarah Montague. Preparations for a No Deal Brexit are beginning to bite as passengers ferries are re-scheduled to make way for medicine. We'll hear from a woman whose return journey from France was cancelled: 
Vox Pop: I can't think of any other situation, as I say, with an advanced economy in the 21st Century where we would face this other than if we were on a war footing.
And the programme continued in that mongering-of-scares vein for several minutes later, without relenting.

A mixed picture maybe then, but Tuesday's The World at One was very Project Fear, and very BBC. And I'm sure it's this that Brittany Ferries recoiled from. 

O how unfit?

Tonight may be Burns Night, when we, with our honest, sonsie faces, toast the haggis with YouTube videos of bagpipes and a more-than-wee dram of Aldi red. But others, some named after lesser poets, are busy toasting Nancy Pelosi (of all people):

You'll probably have guessed that Milton is a BBC journalist - to be precise a "BBC News Analyst/Correspondent (Views are mine not of the BBC)". And, yes, he's a proper BBC journalist, featured across BBC outlets.

"BBC News Analyst/Corespondent." They're blatant & they don't care any more because they know there's no chance of punishment. Anyone who claims the BBC is impartial is a liar.
Rabbie Burns, on reading Milton's tweet, might have said, "Ha! whaur ye gaun, ye crowlin ferlie? Your impudence protects you sairly." 

But, as DB says, it sairly the BBC that protects Milton's crowlin impudence here.

Telling tales

Lord Digby Jones, who served as a minister under Gordon Brown, has a tale to tell tonight:
A mate skiing in St Anton was contacted this week by the local Tourist Board whom the BBC had asked to find some UK tourists who will talk about Brexit. Our mate said he’d do it; they asked how he voted; he said he was pro-Brexit; they said he wouldn’t be needed since the BBC had asked for Remainers only! Sound familiar?!

Thursday 24 January 2019

Holocaust Memorial Day stories.

D’you ever look at the sidebar on this blog? I do - but then I would, wouldn’t I? 

As Holocaust Memorial Day 2019 (27th January) approaches, you might spot amongst the featured blogs, press and media outlets several ominous signs of storm clouds gathering; the possibility is being raised that history could actually repeat.

For some reason, we haven’t put the Gatestone Institute in the sidebar, but many of you are aware of it. Here, Douglas Murray gives an account of a recent development within the “Interfaith community”. He relates how a proposed exhibition at the Shia Muslim-owned former Golders Green Hippodrome, which was to feature the role that some Muslim Albanians played in helping to protect some of their Jewish neighbours during the Holocaust, has been cancelled at the behest of opponents of the exhibition including Roshan Salih, editor of British Muslim news site 5 Pillars, who urged a boycott.
 Does anyone have faith in the “interfaith’ concept?

The BBC is to air a programme called The Last Survivors on BBC 2, Sunday 27th January at 9pm.
Bryan Appleyard's piece in The Times (£) is more than a preview of the programme; it’s especially worth reading as it alludes to wider political issues as well.
“The new horror is that this Everest of evidence may not be working as a warning. Holocaust denial persists — the appalling David Irving profits from this staggering lie. “World’s oldest hatred,” he snarls. “Ever asked why?” Anti-semitism is on the rise in Donald Trump’s America, where, during the violence in Charlottesville last year, white nationalists chanted: “Jews will not replace us.” Nationalism in eastern Europe is stirring up old prejudices. Watch out for the name of the billionaire George Soros — he is always used as evidence for the old fantasy of an international Jewish conspiracy, the fantasy that provided the Holocaust with a justification.”
Bryan Appleyard also recounts the Golder’s Green incident.
“As part of their efforts to reassure local Jews of their good nature, the Golders Green mosque had planned to show an exhibition which would highlight the role that some Muslim Albanians played in helping to protect some of their Jewish neighbours during the Holocaust. Britain and Albania are, of course, are a continent apart. It is also probably safe to say that Albanian affairs, even extremely recent ones, are rarely a priority for residents of the UK. Obviously, the twin purpose of such an exhibition would simply be to show Muslims that there were heroic Muslims in the past -- as today -- who are willing to make a stand against the worst inhumanity, and also to remind Jews that, as well as there being people from the Muslim community who have always had a deadly intent towards their people, there have also been others who have been allies and friends. It is hard to see who could object to such a message. 
Except, of course, that there are. Among the Islamist-oriented groups in Britain is one revolving around a website called '5 Pillars'. Its editor, Roshan Salih, also works for the Iranian state broadcaster Press TV, which had its broadcasting license in the UK removed after it showed forced confessions of prisoners inside Iranian jails in the wake of the uprising crushed by the Iranian government in 2009. Since news of the exhibition emerged, Salih has led a campaign to boycott it. 
 The reason he and '5 Pillars' claim as their excuse is that the Holocaust exhibit is coming from Yad Vashem, and Yad Vashem is Israeli. Those -- including Muslims -- who have criticised the exhibition's critics have been dismissed by Salih as simply 'Zionists'.
Now the exhibition has been scrapped.

The Guardian previews “The Last Survivors” too - but the sanctimonious left-wing media habitually take a mawkish interest in the Holocaust, probably as click-bait. The media regales us with pitiful tales of dead Jews as self-indulgently as they wallow in the demonisation of the living, breathing, maleficent*, hook-nosed article. 
*Maleficent: 'causing harm or destruction, especially by supernatural means'. (Oh for the power and know-how to make use of my inbred supernatural means)

The media are the ones who are genuinely guilty of exploiting the Holocaust, not the Jews, and I'd say that kind of exploitation is where the antisemitic tag ‘The Holocaust Industry’ takes on its true meaning.

The information-packed site Elder of Ziyon primarily focuses on US-related topics, but I’m more interested in the UK-centric content as it's more familiar to me. However, one could hardly miss the avalanche of antisemitic and anti-Zionist activities currently gathering pace across the pond.
 Horrifyingly Judeophobic incidents involving US campuses and academic institutions abound, and politics-based antisemitism is rapidly gaining momentum in an increasingly divided America. Young politically active, BDS supporting feminists, some of Asian heritage with fiercely anti-Israel agendas are proudly spouting overtly antisemitic rhetoric and disseminating fictitious, antisemitic tropes and libellous allegations, such as Ilhan Omar's Tweet, below. 
“Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel. #Gaza #Palestine #Israel” 
(She has since apologised.. rather like Naz Shah, “she didn’t know it was antisemitic”) Libellous and slanderous remarks like that can be distorted, ill-informed and inflammatory, yet no-one seems to care. Similar such speeches and media performances are captured on video and shared with receptive audiences worldwide. The leaders of the famous Women’s March preach an overt kind of antisemitism to which people who should care are willing to turn a blind eye.

Did you know that.....
Two-thirds of American millennials cannot identify what Auschwitz is, according to a study released on Holocaust Memorial Day which found knowledge of the genocide that killed six million Jews during the Second World War is rapidly fading among US adults, especially those aged 18 to 34.
Twenty-two per cent of millennials said they haven’t heard of the Holocaust or are not sure whether they’ve heard of it – twice the percentage of US adults as a whole who said the same.
“A fifth of French young adults have never heard of the Holocaust, according to the startling conclusions of a survey on an antisemitism conducted across Europe.
The investigation found antisemitic attitudes were pervasive across the continent, with many believing Jews had “too much” influence in business, finance, politics and the media.
Anti-Semitic stereotypes are alive and well in Europe, while the memory of the Holocaust is starting to fade, a sweeping new survey by CNN reveals. More than a quarter of Europeans polled believe Jews have too much influence in business and finance. Nearly one in four said Jews have too much influence in conflict and wars across the world.
One in five said they have too much influence in the media and the same number believe they have too much influence in politics. 
Meanwhile, a third of Europeans in the poll said they knew just a little or nothing at all about the Holocaust, the mass murder of some six million Jews in lands controlled by Adolf Hitler’s Nazi regime in the 1930s and 1940s.”

These surveys only represent the appalling ignorance they found in civilised western countries. It’s not even worth delving into the Jew-hating Islamic countries that the UN is stuffed with. Currently, the Malaysian government is refusing to let Israeli swimmers enter the country to compete in a Paralympic type swimming event they’re hosting and they’re not in the slightest bit ashamed of themselves for doing so. (note how the HuffPo uses an unflattering pre-diet image of Tom Watson. Does HuffPo sympathise with Prime Minister Mahathir Bin Mohamad? )

Nazism obsessed over racially inferior Jews destroying the German people. The accused Pittsburgh murderer fantasized that pro-immigration Jews threatened “his people.” The man charged with mailing letter bombs to prominent Americans reportedly wanted “to go back to Hitler times.” The U.S. “alt-right”– also described as the “alt-reich” — imagines the Israeli tail wags the American dog. 
Not entirely dissimilar, leaders of the Women’s March movement demand that Jewish activists check their white privilege and apologize for the Jews’ racist suppression of black and brown people.

“Recall that Hitler was not elected by anti-Semites or because of his anti-Semitism. He was elected as the result of his economic and other policies by people who gave him a pass for his anti-Semitism because they approved of his other policies.” 

That reminder might well fit the present leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition and his cabal of antisemitic cronies. What if Labour wins the next General Election?

Watching PMQs yesterday, I heard Theresa May contrasting Jeremy Corbyn’s willingness to engage with Hamas and Hezbollah “without preconditions,” with his refusal to come and talk to her about Brexit unless she first agrees to "rule out the 'no deal' option". 

I felt that her words came across more as a matter of opportunistic political point-scoring than from genuinely passionate outrage. After all, it’s only recently - remarkably late in the day, I think -  that she has begun to push home the crucial public reminders of Corbyn’s past affiliations;  but at least it was aired in the public arena, which is a lot better than not at all.

Also from our sidebar, I read the UK Media Watch post about a Guardian op-ed, which is not only full of falsehoods but seriously inflammatory. It qualifies as hate-speech, without a doubt. However, the upside is that I discovered a valuable new source from a comment below the line; a Twitter account that documents the activities that other sources fail to reach. Mishal Husain and her cloth-eared, blinkered colleagues should put some of that in their pipe and smoke it.