Monday 29 July 2019

Carry on Carrie

No matter how hard we try to stick to our ‘BBC bias’ remit, going off-piste is sometimes irresistible. (to me) 

I wanted to mention an Intelligence Squared debate - the motion was “Anti-Zionism is Anti- Semitism” - but I thought its relevance to the BBC might be seen as tenuous or off-topic. Then I realised that the chairperson was Carrie Gracie. So it’s legit after all.

You can read a full transcript of Melanie Phillips’s opening speech here

I watched the whole thing, and it wasn't until Mehdi Hasan stood up to speak that I properly understood why Melanie Phillips had described the audience as ‘hostile’. They whooped and hollered appreciatively before he uttered a single word. In other words, the outcome was a foregone conclusion. Some of the random shots of the audience during Mehdi Hasan’s closing speech helped hammer that notion home. 

On the bright side, the ‘for’ votes increased by 4% (from 15% -19%.) However, ‘against’ increased by 17 votes (from 59% - 76%) 

The extra (21%) came from the per cent that claimed to be undecided (26% before, and 5% after.) Surely Mehdi’s clownish manner couldn’t have been that persuasive?  One might wonder if the undecideds had been entirely honest about their ‘undecidedness’ at the outset.

It would be interesting to know what Carrie Gracie really made of it. She did seem engaged (and equally stern with all speakers.) 

Maybe she’s making a genuine effort to be even-handed. If so - cool.  


  1. I think I would have voted against the motion, given historically many Jews - not self-hating Jews, just ordinary Jews - have been opposed to Zionism.

    I didn't listen to the whole debate, but I don't see how you can discuss contemporary anti-semitism without mentioning Islam, Mohammed, the Koran, the Hadith and the exclusion of Jews from Arab states, especially Saudi Arabia which has a formal ban on Jews being allowed to live there. Pretty sure none of that was mentioned.

    And with Mehdi Hassan in the debate why did no one mention his ethusiastic denunciation of non-Muslims as unthinking "cattle"? :

    1. You didn’t listen to the whole debate? Some of it was a bit dull, granted, and although I think we should always bear in mind Mehdi’s unfortunate ‘cattle’ embarrassment, we shouldn’t let it become a meme like, say, letterboxes, bank robbers and watermelon smiles. A ball and chain for poor old Mehdi. (And while we’re at it, don’t let’s forget that grovelling job application to the OMG Daily Mail)

      I think the taboo over mentioning the Koran whenever antisemitism is being discussed has become such a huge elephant in the room that bringing it up here would have been a distraction, when the core issue is - that separating anti-Zionism from antisemitism is a mere mechanism for detoxifying racism.

      One is forced to generalise here, which may be a clumsy way of analysing your comment: “given historically many Jews - not self-hating Jews, just ordinary Jews - have been opposed to Zionism.” I do know, or know of, several such types, but I put it to you that the non-self-hating ordinary Jews you cite as ‘non’ or ‘anti’ Zionist are typically “I’m alright, Jack”, successful, comfortable, fully assimilated, and they may well be ‘proud’ Jews too.

      However, with the creeping Islamisation of the west their complacency and confidence is proving premature and presumptuous and I’d say the sound of the wake-up call is starting to ring in their ears as we speak.


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