Saturday 31 August 2019

I have a little list

Following on from the previous post, here's a list of the people interviewed on the BBC News Channel (up till 6pm that evening) after the news began breaking the other day (August 28th) that the Government intends to prorogue Parliament.

Those highlighted in red are the pro-Brexit supporters of Boris's prorogation and, yes, they were heavily outnumbered. But the BBC did invite on three members of the Brexit Party. 

The most curious thing, however, is the extraordinary length of time given to Anna Soubry. Her first interview went on for some 11 minutes. And - like the SNP's Joanna - she got a second (4 minute) bite of the Cherry later:

9.45 Celia Haddon, Institute for Government (3 mins) 
9.53 Dominic Grieve, Conservatives (3 mins)
9.56 Sebastian Payne, The FT (3 mins)
10.05 Joanna Cherry, SNP (5 mins)
10.20 Boris Johnson, PM (2 mins) 
10.24 Anna Soubry, Independent Group for Change (11 mins)
10.45 Tom Harwood, Guido Fawkes (3 mins)
10.48 Dame Margaret Beckett, Labour  (3 mins)
11.09 Pauline Latham, Conservatives (4 mins)
11.25 Prof. Scott Lucas. Birmingham University (5 mins)
11.30 Tom Brake, Lib Dems (4 mins)
11.36 Jonathan Bartlett, Greens (4 mins)
11.40 Dr. Joelle Grogan, Middlesex University (5 mins)
11.52 Chris Leslie, Independent Group for Change (3 mins)
12.08 Nicola Sturgeon, SNP (5 mins)
12.20 Anna Soubry, Independent Group for Change (4 mins) 
12.28 Joanna Cherry, SNP (5 mins)
12.37 Alexandra Phillips, The Brexit Party (3 mins)
12.43 Hannah White, Institute for Government (6 mins)
1.39 Jeremy Corbyn, Labour (2 mins)
1.46 Mo Hussein, former special advisor to Amber Rudd (5 mins)
2.09 John Redwood, Conservatives (6 mins)
2.20 Adam Price, Plaid Cymru (5 mins)
2.41 Celia Haddon, Institute for Government (with the BBC's Chris Morris) (4 mins)
2.51 Joey Jones, former Theresa May spokesman & Asa Bennett, Daily Telegraph (5 mins) 
2.56 Caroline Lucas, Greens (3 mins)
3.11 Prof. Colin Talbot, Cambridge University (4 mins)
3.15 Alistair Carmichael, Lib Dems (4 mins)
3.20 Michael Peel, the FT (4 mins)
3.52 Martin Daubney, The Brexit Party (4 mins) 
4.20 Sir Anthony Seldon, University of Buckingham (8 mins)
4.42 Stephen Gethins, SNP (4 mins)
4.50 Jasper Lawler, London Capital Group (3 mins)
5.18 Hilary Benn, Labour (3 mins)
5.26 Meg Russell, UCL (3 mins) 
5.30 Philip Hammond, Conservatives (2 mins)
5.39 Lord Heseltine, Conservatives (3 mins)
5.44 James Wells, The Brexit Party (3 mins)


This may be of interest...

Friday 30 August 2019

What persecution?

At around the same time as my previous, (I’d switched to the Parliament channel to get away from the Brexit related  hysteria on the BBC/Sky) I also saw the HoC debate on the persecution of Christians overseas - apparently Christians are the most persecuted religion of all  - that debate took place quite a while ago (11th July in response to the Bishop of Truro’s report) but, apart from broadcasting the debate itself on the Parliament channel, have we heard a great deal about it on the Beeb? 

I don’t think we have. There was something on the Asian Channel, but it’s ‘not currently available’

You have to rely on the internet for such information. 

The BBC is useless in that regard.

Audacious prescription

To counteract some of the hysteria surrounding Boris's prorogation I thought I’d post this. I watched it yesterday on the Parliament channel and was about to post it on the blog when I realised it took place about six months ago. But now I’ve spotted this, (via Guido Fawkes) so we’re back on. 
Mr Bogdanor’s calmness and clarity might be just the emollient the doctor ordered. 

Oh yes and I remember not so long ago when the BBC was bandying around the term “audacious” in an awestruck kind of way, mainly when describing acts of terror. Will the Beeb use the term to describe Boris’s ‘undemocratic’ tactic in a similarly awestruck manner?

Thursday 29 August 2019

So bad it's (almost) good

“The UK government is completely controlled by Israel” 
asserts Palestinian poster girl Ahed Tamimi. 
“The UK is completely controlled and occupied by Israel and is supporting Israel to kill innocent people who are demonstrating for their rights.” 
she continues.
“They [Zionists] want nothing but to kill all Palestinians so they can take all their land. They believe that all Palestinians should also be killed which shows that they're racist.”
What is it about those people who unintentionally reveal their own thoughts and wishes through this uniquely infantile type of projection? This example is such a blatant ‘reversal of the actualité’ that it’s quite comical. It’s so bad it’s (almost) good. I wonder if the oleaginous Afshin Rattansi from R T agrees with Ahed. I don’t suppose we’ll ever know.

The BBC is undeterred by the negativity surrounding this foolish little liar. (Foolish to tell such obvious lies, but smart enough to manipulate others.)  No wonder Ahed Tamimi is dazed and confused. She has been indoctrinated from birth by professional agitators, the Tamimi clan, but she’s wise enough to tailor her message to suit the audience.

The BBC is promoting Ahed and two other ‘minors’ in a nasty little propaganda film. The producer, Megha Mohan, the BBC's "gender and identity correspondent", has an openly anti-Israel agenda, and with this, the BBC is openly encouraging inflammatory propaganda and violating its remit. It’s quite appalling that it was ever approved.

Tamimi didn’t seem to have had much to complain about in prison, but Krishnan Guru-Murthy manages to prise something detrimental to Israel out of her in this interview. She’s wearing her silver pendant in the shape of ‘One State’ 

Guru-Murthy believes Israel has treated her too harshly for the crime of ‘just a slap’. Who knows whether or not he’s aware of her and her family’s record. Not that she’s responsible for her terrorist Auntie  Ahlam who’s being protected by Jordan,  but she certainly sees her as a role model.

“While the BBC shows footage of Tamimi attacking an IDF soldier, for which she spent eight months in an Israeli prison, it fails to give any real background on the Palestinian poster girl for terror. For the real tragedy is not Tamimi’s experience with the Israeli military court system (what the BBC terms a “childhood”). 
Ahed Tamimi’s entire childhood has been spent in an environment permeated with Palestinian terrorism: terror  in which her family has long played an active and prominent role.  For example,  Ahed’s aunt helped plan the horrific Sbarros Pizza restaurant bombing, and her mother posted anatomically precise tutorials on how to most effectively stab Israelis. 
Ironically, this very terrorism is the reason Israel has security measures in the first place.
Since childhood Ahed has learned from her family that all of Israel is occupied Palestinian land, including Tel Aviv, and that she must fight to gain all of it. Hardly a path to peace. And Ahed’s family have placed her personally in danger over and over, for the benefit of cameras. 
Her appearance for the BBC is just the latest in a global propaganda tour, milking her iconic status.

“The rights of children are undoubtedly extremely important. If the BBC were so concerned for the rights of Palestinian children, it would be focusing on the incitement that drives Palestinian minors to confront Israeli soldiers, carry out terror attacks or promote violent extremism. 

Instead the BBC in typical fashion attempts to portray Israel as a militaristic child abuser backed up by the claims of an iconic professional propagandist, a terrorist-affiliated NGO and its own efforts to muddy the legal waters of international law. 
Former IDF military prosecutor Maurice Hirsch, who featured in the BBC film has responded directly on Twitter to the BBC’s Megha Mohan, the journalist responsible. The thread of multiple tweets is a devastating take down from an expert whose insights were clearly edited out of the film in order to favor the Palestinian narrative.

Yes, if you can bear to look at the Twitter timeline of the producer of this programme you can see the agenda. There is no attempt whatsoever to conceal it. No pretence of impartiality or genuine fact-finding. She willfully misunderstands why Palestinian ‘children’ go through military rather than civilian courts.
“Israel says that this is due to an article in the Geneva Convention saying that they are an occupying force” she tweets. I understand that putting Palestinian citizens through Israel's civil courts would necessitate annexation of the West Bank. So that's why. (She probably knows that.)

Another of the children featured claims that she was made to sign a confession in Hebrew. But this is untrue. Maurice Hirsch responds:

What is a 'gender and identity correspondent' for? How does this role relate to pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel activism? Does the BBC intend to redress the balance at any point?

BBCWatch has more on this.  Do read. The fact that this film is proving so popular is very disturbing.

Wednesday 28 August 2019

Mid-week mixed bag

The Times online hits my inbox at various times of the morning - I’m not complaining - but it’s interesting (to me) that this morning, at about 6:45 am the number of comments below Hugo Rifkind’s piece (£) about Boris Johnson and Donald Trump had already reached three-figures, yet there were none at all below Melanie Phillips’s excellent article (£) about a sensitive topic - the siting of the proposed Holocaust memorial and learning centre near the Houses of Parliament.

I’m about to make a superficial kind of statement, but here goes: I live hundreds of miles away from the capital and won’t experience the feeling of being visually assaulted by a grim-looking structure in the way that perhaps regular passers-by might - according to their architectural preferences. Nor will I be dismayed at the thought of a dramatic and unwanted change to my personal environment in the way I was when I first saw the hideous and incongruous plans for a carbuncle of a supermarket in my patch, yet I have to admit that now it’s real and it’s there, in yer face, I’m used to it and I have been known to pop in for a few bits of shopping without giving it a second thought. (I do have some second thoughts, but they are fleeting and getting fleetinger by the week)

What’s the point I was about to make? Oh yes, it was that the Times must have held back before publishing the comments - weeding out the virulently antisemitic ones presumably - but now they’re here. And largely supportive I’m pleased to see.

I think Melanie has nailed it again. Like her splendid analysis of President Trump’s remarks about US Jews who vote Democrat (loyalty and antisemitism) her sensitive response to the Holocaust Museum debacle is spot on. 

At the risk of feeding people who like to complain that any negative thoughts about Jews, Israel or anything remotely connected has become unsayable (because ‘antisemitism’) and that the whole antisemitism business has had a chilling effect on free speech, or that ‘you can’t say anything these days” - all of that - I can see that there is an element of truth in there. 

I can also see that it’s a lot easier to dismiss all negativity as prejudice at a time when it takes a huge effort to clarify any subtle and nuanced position, especially in consideration of the battle against intransigence and ideological resistance that comes with the territory.

However, handing ammunition to the enemy works both ways. The chilling effect is totally reversible like a coat you can wear inside out if you want. Now you can’t say anything is antisemitic just as you can’t say anything isn’t, without causing offence. It’s a shame that some commenters felt the need to call Melanie Phillips ‘brave’ for saying it what she said. 

There was one little segment that touches on an unpalatable truth, which loyalty to this country makes it hard to acknowledge. 
“Even fewer are prepared to acknowledge that, despite having stood alone against Hitler in 1940 and accepting 10,000 Jewish child refugees in the 1938 Kindertransport, Britain during the Holocaust barred Jews from pre-Israel Palestine. This flagrant denial of its legal undertaking to settle the Jews in the land caused untold numbers trapped in Europe to perish. 
The very mention of this tends to provoke frenzied outbursts about Jewish anti-British terrorism at that time, as if that negates the shocking British record.
The King David Hotel affair is something that sets off an internal conflict in many supporters or defenders of Israel who aren’t fully aware of the historical and political context in which it took place. To somehow reconcile the contradictions within their consciences they settle for supporting Israel’s right to exist ‘despite the King David Hotel affair’. 
This is about clarification, not about justifying violence or terrorism - and already we’re deep into the kind of mire you can see thrashed out everywhere and anywhere that Israel-related controversies crop up. 

I thought I’d recommend a comment I just read on Harry’s Place. I’m so jealous. I wish Anton Deque would notice ITBB. But never mind. 

My reaction to John Wall’s article was exactly the same, but it’s AD’s remarks about the BBC that gives his comment a good bit of relevance to this blog. If reproducing this transgresses blogging etiquette I apologise most sincerely.
“Another curious piece about Brexit on Harry's Place. Having read it I cannot decide what Mr Wall's point is apart from explaining the obvious long after it entered the realm of last weeks chip's wrapper. 
"I suggest anyone goes and looks at the quartet that the B.B.C., never neutral, put up on its web page this morning to show the 'party leaders' coming together to discuss how to avoid a 'no deal'. Look at these mediocrities and ask not why but how. How do such figures become the political leadership anywhere? I have thrown away brighter light bulbs. 
"Brexit was not about a deal. There was no mention of a deal at the time of the vote and no party has a mandate for any such deal. There was no mention of 'hard' or 'soft'. The tensile strength became an issue only when the side that lost insisted on a deal. Each and every variant of this deal, regardless, has been to devise a way in which the U.K. does not shake itself self free – not from Europe, but this apparatchik United States of Europe. 
"The likelihood is that Johnson will fudge and cobble something together to save his party – pro tem. We shall then see a swarming to Farage and his far right (©B.B.C. passim) Brexit Party. It is even possible the U.K. will then have a very strange Parliament indeed, Rump Tories, Brexit, Liberal-Labour and Nationalists. 
"I watched Johnson give us his "Hugh Grant in mop wig' from the G7 press conference. Having beautifully yorked* the truly appalling Robert Peston over an invented remark Peston attributed to Trump, Johnson was asked in passing to make a comment about England's latest 'Great Escape' from the jaws of an Aussie shark; Johnson made a joke about Ben Stokes' performance being worthy of a dukedom. The B.B.C. gave this obvious joke 'Breaking News' status on its strapline. There's a certain uniformity about that dying corporations reporting of all things Brexit.


I know this has already been promoted on GF’s blog, but this piece by Douglas Murray resonates. It’s all about Channel 4, which is a good deal more biased than the BBC and getting worse with every passing moment. In this piece, he asks why Boris should trust Channel 4 in response to Dorothy Byrne’s  MacTaggart lecture in which she criticises the PM and the leader of the opposition for avoiding being interviewed by the likes of Jon Snow and Cathy Newman. They’re frit, she thinks, of being held to account.

If you listen to Dorothy Byrne - her speech is all over the interweb  - you might wonder how she got to where she is today, as Reginald Perrin used to say. The comments below the YouTube version of it are a mixed bag - it seems you either love her or loathe her, but the lack of self-awareness in her guff about honesty, integrity and ‘good faith’ is staggering. 

As Douglas Murray says: (and this equally applies, across the board, to the Beeb)
“Boris Johnson may or may not be correct in choosing to avoid being interviewed by Cathy Newman or Jon Snow on a regular basis. But he is certainly right if he presumes that such an interview would not be conducted in good faith. It would be conducted by an interviewer who is known to have particular political biases.

“It is almost certainly fair to say that ‘holding Boris Johnson to account’ would consist of haranguing him constantly, rarely allowing him to get more than a sentence out uninterrupted, accusing him of terrible things to his face, trying to embarrass him and – dream of dreams – getting him to say something embarrassing or wrong which could subsequently be reported across the world’s press as ‘Boris Johnson exposed as liar in Channel 4 News interview’. That is the story they want, and there is ever-less effort at Channel 4 and other channels to disguise that fact.

In spite of all tempations

He speaks

On days such as this, who does our nation most yearn to hear from?

HM the Queen? Hugh Grant? Me?


The nation inevitably turns, as one, to the voice of the BBC himself - John Simpson. 

And here's what The Impartial One is saying so far:

Monday 26 August 2019

"engaging in partisan advocacy"

Ever wonder what tearful ex-BBC employee Chris Gunness is up to now that he's left the corrupt, discredited and completely superfluous UNRWA?

Well, despite his single-minded anti-Israel activism, it seems he's still in the BBC's good books.


BBC Watch.
One month on, the BBC – which last year put a considerable amount of effort into amplifying UNRWA talking points concerning its funding – has still not provided its funding public with any coverage of this story.
I might as well add this to the list - and btw, I didn’t mention the fact that the BBC has studiously ignored the entire UNRWA scandal. I don’t know why I didn’t mention this particular grievous omission of the Beeb’s, but I think it was because I assumed everyone who reads my posts would already be aware of it. Stupid. A grievous omission of my own. (to preempt the obv)

Any ideas?

BBCWatch has deconstructed this BBC report on incidents in Syria and Lebanon, but I spotted this picture after trawling through the IDF Twitter timeline,

Israel Launched Failed Overnight Drone Attack On Hezbollah In South Beirut

and I did wonder why the BBC illustrated the same scene (a "Hezbollah media office") with the inclusion of a child.

One Israeli drone crashed into a Beirut building that houses a Hezbollah media office
Any ideas?


"You may ungobsmack yourself"

'Dirty old river' no longer

Yesterday's The World This Weekend was "a special climate edition". 

It featured a report from a BBC journalist embedded with Greenpeace (containing an interview with a Greenpeace campaigner) before moving onto interviewers with an Extinction Rebellion leader and former UN climate change head Christiana Figueres. 

If that was rather too many climate activists for you to stomach before Sunday lunch, then the programme ended with a good news story, about the cleaning up of the Thames, which I enjoyed.

It led, however, to a complaint from ex-Lib Dem MEP Sarah Ludford (now in the Lords as Baroness Ludford):
Gobsmacked that Jonny Dymond report on the BBC's World at One about clean-up of the Thames fails to mention that it results wholly from EU enforcement action (including the #SuperSewer - aka ‘Sarah’s tunnel' - following my 2005 petition, when a London MEP, about raw sewage discharges).
Jonny Dymond replied:  
The Thames clean up started in the 60s. That had nothing to do with the EU. The EU was important later on. But recovery began before EU enforcement. You may ungobsmack yourself.
Her Ladyship wasn't buying it:
So why did you not even mention EU law since the 1990s? The #Supersewer - which you cited - would not be being built if the EU had not taken action. I will stay gobsmacked, thanks very much.
This polite spat led me to look into the matter and introduced me the great British man mainly responsible for the clean-up and the return of salmon to the Thames: the splendidly-named Sir Hugh Fish

His obituaries make for fascinating reading. The one in The New York Times was headlined:

Hugh Fish, 76, Who Made Thames So Clean the Salmon Came Back

His role points to the point that Lib Dem Baroness Sarah couldn't have been more wrong in claiming the rebirth of the Thames as being "wholly" the result of EU enforcement action.

(Let's be charitable and blame it on her rampant over-enthusiasm for the EU rather than ignorance or dishonesty or anti-British bias.)

In the 1950s the National History Museum declared the river "biologically dead". But the British government took action and pressed industry and local authorities to stop polluting and by the mid-60's the river was fit again for eels.

In the late 60s and the 70s, Hugh Fish used the UK regulatory bodies set up to make further progress to bring about the return of other fish species, with 80 returning under his stewardship.

But it was the iconic salmon he made the benchmark for success and relentlessly strove to bring about. Early promises of success led within a decade to anglers landed their first Thames salmon for decades.

It's a fascinating story about what one man - and one country - can achieve. The BBC should commission a documentary about him (but, for quite a few reasons, probably won't).

Of Language and Lod

Rina Shnerb

BBC Watch takes apart a report about the murder of a 17 year old Israeli girl by Palestinian terrorists on Saturday's Midnight News on Radio 4, criticising several aspects of it: 

(1) The use of 'politically partisan language' - "militant", "settlement", "occupied West Bank" and "protests". 

(I'm assuming BBC Watch would prefer "terrorist", "village", "Judea and Samaria" and "violent riots"). 

(2) The 'downplaying' of the gravity of the attack which killed the girl while she was out hiking with her family.  The BBC's Yolande Knell said, "Unusually, a homemade bomb is said to have been used" whereas The Times of Israel says, "Channel 12 quoted unnamed officials as saying that the size and complexity of the device indicated that one of the major terror groups was behind the attack" and Channel 13’s military correspondent says that the IED weighed between three and four kilos and contained a large amount of shrapnel, adding that the incident was “planned and organised – and not a spontaneous or improvised terror attack”. 

(If the Israeli voices are correct there, then the BBC appears to have seriously mischaracterised the nature of the device used). 

(3) Yolande Knell's 'choice' to use the Arabic pronunciation of the name of the Israeli city of Lod. She pronounced it 'Lud'. 

(What a strange thing to do on Yolande's part! She unquestionably did pronounce it in the Arabic version 'Lud' rather than the Hebrew version 'Lod'. Is that another BBC guideline or her own choice?) 

BBC Watch is right to claim that the language used was deliberately chosen and also right that the chosen words cannot but shape how the listener reacts to the story. 

The geographical words used in point (1) are those recommended by the BBC's own editorial guidelines and commit the BBC to a particular line on the politics of that geography (which you may agree or disagree with), and the BBC's refusal to use words like "terrorist" and "riot" are a longstanding BBC policy to try not to be 'judgmental' in their language. Here such language is more favourable to the Palestinians than the Israelis, softening the harshness of the Palestinians and hardening the image of the 'occupying' Israelis. 

Quite why Yolande Knell gave a central Israeli city an Arabic pronunciation though remains beyond me. Was she being deliberately provocative?

As an aside, here's a fascinating YouTube video about the beautiful 19th Century rebuild of the Church of St. George in Lod - a church the city's Muslim overlords (even Saladin) kept on knocking down:

A BBC report with a smile on its face

Porth Harlequins Ladies (Kelly, bottom left)

The BBC News website features a report headlined:
Transgender rugby player playing with 'a smile on my face'
Though the BBC journalist behind it (Ceri Coleman-Phillips) strikes a celebratory tone throughout and is clearly wholly on trans rugby player Kelly Morgan's side (it begins "Kelly Morgan is a trailblazer"), that enthusiasm is far from universally shared. 

Many are, in fact, horrified. 

Here's The Conservative Woman's Laura Perrins for example: 
This piece notes this male rugby player, who is being permitted to play rugby against female players, once “folded an opponent like a deckchair”. This is celebrated. In fact, it’s immoral and shameful.
Here are some extracts from the piece:

  • At nearly 6ft she stands out among her team-mates, and club captain Jessica Minty-Madley recounts a time she folded an opponent "like a deckchair".
  • ...Kelly, 33, accepts transgender women may have an advantage in terms of size and strength.
  • "I do feel guilty, but what can you do?" she says. "I don't go out to hurt anybody. I just want to play rugby."
  • And she is proud of her journey, humorously documenting her highs and lows on social media. 
  • "She's one of us. She comes in, trains hard, plays hard and parties hard with us afterwards."
  • "She folded a girl like a deckchair during a game, which was quite funny, but they're still friends."

And here are some of the public's responses to it:

  • How did we get the this point, where this is happening and people are pretending it’s not absolutely mad??
  • Truly disgusting that this is allowed in any women's sport. They are not women!!!!!!
  • How long will it be before an opponent will end up seriously injured - or worse...Then wait for the fall-out...
  • BBC celebrating a woman being assaulted.
  • Due to mental illness I'll start identifying as a 10 yr old, hopefully then I can "impress" when I play rugby for the local kids team, folding kids like deckchairs! I can now excel in a sport where previously I was nothing special! Bollocks to the other kids.. it's all about me!
  • "I do feel guilty, but what can I do? I just want to play Rugby". Easy, don't take the hormones and try out for the men's team.

"Twitter shows how the media sausage is made and it’s ugly"

A tweeting greenfinch

For anyone familiar with the Twitter activities of many a BBC journalist (from Jon Sopel to Nick Bryant, John Simpson to Hugh Sykes, Katty Kay to Anthony Zurcher, etc), this Twitter chit-chat puts the issue in a fine nutshell:

Omri CerenI am, continuously, absolutely blown away by the tone and tenor of what journalists will permit themselves on Twitter. 
neontaster: A central element to the decline of journalism is that its practitioners use their social media accounts both to spread their professional work and to build their own personal brands. Inevitably the colours bleed into each other. 
coketown: That’s a huge part of it. Another is that their feeds show them thinking out loud. Who they retweet, who they ridicule, the questions they ask or don’t ask, the snide comments and commentary—it all informs their coverage. Twitter shows how the media sausage is made and it’s ugly. 
Sam Hooper: This is also a fair indictment of modern political journalism. A decade ago, we saw only the end product. But now we see the confirmation bias, groupthink, herd mentality and ideological agendas manifest in journalist behaviour, and its corrosive impact on their work product.

Sunday 25 August 2019

Only a factual Tweet

I know, I know. Some topics (and people) are a real turn-off. For example, I saw Barry Gardiner on the Sophy Ridge programme for a nano-second and had to turn the TV off. 
Actually, I was grateful for the impetus, as I usually waste too much time on a Sunday morning watching politics when I should be out in the open air (as my mother used to say) enjoying nature and stuff. 

My reaction to Barry Gardener is a lot nearer to an actual phobia than most of the other so-called phobias bandied about these days. So, doctor, I’m pretty sure I have Barry Gardinerophobia, and please don’t suggest the therapy that acclimatises you to your irrational fear because I. Ain’t. Doing it.

The thing about turn-offs, though, is that there is a difference between heartfelt, near physical revulsion and the plain and simple “Oh, no, not another one’, Brenda-from-Bristol type aversion, a mixture of boredom, tedium and ennui. So I hope it’s the latter that is about to affect you now as I’m about to revert to type and re-mount my one-trick pony. Look away now if you’re experiencing Brenda-like feelings of exasperation.

Yep, we all know the BBC is institutionally pro EU and it’s having a hard time trying to look impartial in accord with its charter and its editorial standards.  I think that battle has been lost. 

However, the other institutional ‘pro’ that the BBC is having better luck in hiding or concealing is the pro-Palestinian prism through which all its Middle East reporting is filtered, with the possible exception of some of its more obscure science-related items. But they’re rare. The BBC has been able to get away with it by relying on the audience’s lack of historical literacy; in fact, it helpfully supplies us with some historical inaccuracies itself, because it can.

Why though? What is it about the BBC that compels it, as an institution, to embrace the profoundly unChristian basics within Islam while rejecting Christian principles themselves? Love thy neighbour? Do as you would be done by? 

BBC Watch and Jewish News both address the reporting of the recent death of the 17-year-old Israeli girl Rina Shnerb who was killed by a bomb. Her brother Dvir and father Eitan were seriously injured as well. 

The BBC reported it in such a way that the reader would be reminded that there was some ‘justification’ for this bomb. Simple as that.

"Israeli teenage girl killed in bomb attack near Jewish settlement in the occupied West bank” Yet when Jewish News reported: 
“The Board of Deputies has demanded an apology over a BBC World tweet about the death of an Israeli teenager killed in a bomb blast.”
  A spokesperson for the BBC said
 “this is a factual tweet which includes the location of the girl’s killing”.
A few “innocent face” comments below the line illustrate the difficulty of divining bias without a rod.
“Where is the tweet factually incorrect? asks someone.
'The occupied West Bank' explains where it is.” says another.

Hmm, but there are other ways of describing the location of this incident. For example: 
“Dolev, which is about 15km (9 miles) north of Jerusalem and near the Palestinian village of Deir Ibzi” 
(From within the body of the BBC’s own report.)

Describing the location as “near Jewish settlement in the occupied West bank” might well serve to quickly identify it in the mind of an average reader unfamiliar with the geography, but it also sends a signal which all but diffuses the outrage with which most people would react to the willful killing of any 17-year-old girl. It emotes: The ‘militant’ Palestinians who placed this bomb were ‘driven to it’.

The BBC’s report included
”the leader of the militant Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas praised the attack but did not say that it was behind it. 
without specifically mentioning that:
Haniyeh called the murder of a seventeen-year-old girl “a heroic attack”.
or that Hamas in a statement said the bomb attack was “proof of the vitality and bravery of the Palestinian people, and of the fact that it will not surrender to the crimes and terrorism of the occupation.

I can see that identifying a location in a politicised manner might be defended with the claim that  this bomb, too, could be interpreted as a ‘political act’, but once you go down that path you’re halfway to confusing terrorism (the unlawful use of violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims) with political militancy (the use of confrontational or violent methods in support of a political or social cause)  Oh wait, you’re already there. 

With rare exceptions, the BBC will only use the term ‘terrorism’ in reported speech if and when it occurs, but something they will include each and every time they have to report another act of ‘militancy’ is their ever-present ‘mantra’ on ‘settlements’ and ‘International law'. See BBC Watch for more on that

However, when the BBC begrudgingly states, as it’s obliged to do, that “Israel disputes this” it rarely (never) sets out the legal argument behind Israel’s ‘dispute’. Hiding the complex legalities behind a trite, subjective mantra deliberately shelters ‘the case for Israel’  from objective scrutiny, which reveals the BBC’s not so hidden agenda.

If you have been, thanks for listening.


You might assume that the BBC sources its news from the Palestinian Authority. See PMW (Palestinian Media Watch )

 Official PA TV News, Aug. 23, 2019
"The occupation forces closed the main roads to the villages west of Ramallah and increased their military presence at the entrances to the Ramallah and El-Bireh district. This took place on the pretext of the killing of a female Israeli soldier and the wounding of others near the settlement named Dolev, which is located on the [Arab] residents' lands of west of Ramallah.”

Palestinian Media Watch:
"Needless to say, 17-year-old Rina was not a soldier and no Israeli authority ever claimed she was a soldier.

WAFA, English edition, Official PA news agency, Aug. 24, 2019
"The explosion near Ramallah that killed an Israeli settler and injured two others as well as revenge acts by the settlers against the civilian Palestinian population in the occupied territory were highlighted on the front page of the three Palestinian Arabic dailies today.”

Palestinian Media Watch Aug 25th 2019
"If the terrorist/s who murdered Rina are caught alive, the PA will pay them a salary in prison and even after their release. If they are killed during an attempt to arrest them, the PA will pay their families a monthly allowance for the rest of their lives. The PA will pay these salaries/allowances simply because the terrorist/s carried out a terrorist attack, and regardless of whether the terrorists belong to Fatah, Hamas, or acted alone. 

Friday 23 August 2019

Open Thread

We spotted a couple of Painted Ladies in the garden recently. A 'once-in-a-decade' Painted Lady butterfly phenomenon is taking place in the UK they say.

This is not a once-in-a-decade phenomenon, just a new open thread.

Exploiting Granny

Exploit your Granny. That sounds like something Billy Connolly might say, but it's no joke.
(Warning. This post has turned out longer than I intended. I’m no Mark Twain but I didn’t have time to write a shorter piece. 

The abundant press coverage of Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib’s thwarted propaganda-finding trip to “Palestine” spans the whole gamut of opinion. On one side of the fence sit the indignant anti-Israel activists who insist that this pair of congresswomen is being singled out “only by those who decline to distinguish critiques of the Jewish state from attacks on Jews”. Squatting close beside them are the Trump-hating obsessives. Travel through various shades of opinion to find - at the opposite end - realists (like us) who see the entire fiasco as a grossly unpleasant publicity stunt.  One which, as time goes on, appears more and more to be back-firing. (hope so) 

Noah Rothman in Commentary Magazine, concludes: 
“The only thing that saves Reps. Omar Tlaib and Rashida Tlaib from the universal reproach they are due is the plausibility of the claim that their displays of anti-Semitism are unconscious. But the preponderance of evidence suggests that they know exactly what they are saying and why. Those who continue to defend them probably do, too.  
Bassam Tawil (Gatestone) recognises that Rashida Tlaib’s subsequent activities have exposed the whole exercise for the pantomime it was. 
"I would like to request admittance to Israel," she had written, "in order to visit my relatives, and specifically my grandmother, who is in her 90s and lives in Beit Ur al-Fouqa. This could be my last opportunity to see her. I will respect any restrictions and will not promote boycotts against Israel during my visit. Thank you, Rashida Tlaib.”
Wrong-footed by “permission to visit” unexpectedly being granted - immediately and exactly as requested - Tlaib wriggled her way out of it, announcing:
"Visiting my grandmother under these oppressive conditions meant to humiliate me would break my grandmother's heart.”

The BBC appears to favour the congresswomen, whitewashing their racism and taking their mission statements at face value, i.e. by accepting that this was a genuine fact-finding exercise, that Miftah, the organisation that was to host the pair is a peace-seeking organisation, and even describing Hanan Ashrawi as a peace activist. 

The fact is that Hanan Ashrawi is in favour of violence and supports Hamas. It has been said that "she is to Truth what Smoking is to Health”  The BBC overlooks evidence that shows her organisation Miftah to be deeply antisemitic in the truly traditional manner - blood libel and all,  yet she is regarded as a credible Palestinian spokesperson and is treated by the BBC with misplaced respect.

Tlaib’s grandmother-related misery has set off a spate of sentimental Palestinian-grandmother eulogising. The Guardian features a typically mawkish and nonsensical example by Arwa Mahdawi
"There are not many good news stories about Palestine so I was thrilled when, over the weekend, #MyPalestineSitty trended on Twitter. A tribute by congresswoman Rashida Tlaib to the “sitty” (Arabic for grandmother) she was not able to visit inspired thousands of people to post emotive memories of their own Palestinian grandmothers.
Of course, Tlaib's disingenuousness was exposed because she was able to visit. 
“I hesitated about writing this column. Talking about Palestine is always fraught; you can be accused of hating Israel simply for mentioning the P-word. Sometimes, it’s easier to say nothing because the trolls that inevitably hound you are just not worth it. But nobody should be afraid to remember their grandmother. Mine lived through decades of conflict; I hope she is finally resting in peace.
Which is blatant projection and reversal of the actualité. “Hesitated about writing this column”? Why? It ticks all the boxes. Trolls? On balance, the truth is that the trolls belong to you. I know we’re all entitled to our opinions, but that piece was utter Guardanista garbage.

The atmosphere is getting heavier all the time. Who’d have thought the antisemitism in Corbyn’s Labour Party would be a precursor, a forecast, of the direction in which the Democratic Party is heading, all the way across the pond? It's usually 'we' who follow 'them'. 

The ‘good Jew / bad Jew’ scenario, where the ‘good’ but rogue anti-Zionist Jew shields from exposure all the antisemites who cry “but some of my best friends are Jews”. 

Kathy Gyngell praises Dennis Prager over on The Conservative Woman. Prager on why anti-Zionism equals anti-Semitism, and I ought to be delighted to see such a post on that site, especially at a time when Brexit occupies most of our focus. But the predictable responses came along to ruin it. The ignorance displayed by certain commenters is matched only by their refusal to budge. They know what they think and they’re sticking to it. They have their own 'truth'.

One commenter even said: “Who cares? I'm bored to death of hearing about Israel and Jews every 5 minutes.” Apart from the absurdity of taking the trouble to compose a completely unnecessary message, equal only in pointlessness to the notice in the middle of nowhere that simply says “do not throw stones at this notice,” here is a person whose comment is nothing more than an advert for his own arrogance and insouciance.

On a brighter note, many of the comments are positive. The link to Stephen Harper’s video goes some way towards redressing the balance, but as I write the comments field is filling up with old-style, right-wing bile. The relative obscurity of this site lets us off that particular hook.

Critics of President Trump have leapt on his remark about Jews who ‘still vote Democrat’ to accuse him of antisemitism. They conclude that any criticism of ‘Jews’ amounts to antisemitism no matter how much the Jews in question act like the proverbial turkeys and Christmas. It’s bonkers, but par for the course. 

Melanie Phillips absolutely nails it here. If you can’t be arsed to plough through my verbiage, read Melanie. The thread over on Harry’s Place on the same subject throws up some interesting links, (and that site has its fair share of Trumpophobes, lefties and Netanyahuophobes within its overall pro-Israel position) but having read it I'm even more impressed by Melanie Phillips’s eloquence.

By the way,  I understand my grandparents (both sets) fled from eastern European pogroms in the late 1800s and I didn’t know them, so your luck is in. I won’t be boring anyone with mawkish, saccharine eulogies about my granny.