Sunday 1 March 2020

Tom Bateman not keen on "right-wing nationalism"

Presumably attracted by this story, “Vandalism in Jish”  Tom Bateman channels the message that “Israel is a racist endeavour” on the Today Programme.

"Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a rare denunciation of the attack, saying he “strongly condemns the graffiti and property damage in the village of Jish. We will find the lawbreakers and bring them to justice. We will not accept any attacks on our citizens.”

I'm going to wait for BBCWatch to clarify some of the ambiguous material in this report, ( I’m sure they will) so I ought to leave this (mainly) as a transcription. (Some of the names are phonetic approximations)  

Mishal Husain.
“18 mins past seven. Israel will have its third election in a year on Monday. Testament to the deadlock in the political system with Benjamin Netanyahu unable so far to get the majority he needs for his tight wing bock. But going into this election, the Arab-Israeli parties are claiming to be making significant ground. Our Middle East correspondent Tom Bateman reports.
(Arabic chanting)

Tom Bateman:
“In the winding streets of the village of Jish … this your friend?”
“Everyone is your friend!…..  “The mayor gets stopped; men lean from windows above. ‘Hey, Mister President’ shouts one passer-by. These hills of Northern Israel are suns-drenched even in the winter but the Arab-Israeli residents here recently came under attack.

“Abu Ali shouts down from a window ‘three of the group came down from the street, I called the police. (Background noise) “In Jish Jewish extremists slashed hundreds of tyres and warned Arabs against assimilation. The police are investigating but have made no arrests. The Mayor, Elias Elias gives me a sigh. He has lived here all his life”
“Fifty Eight” 
“Fifty Eight. So you were born ten years after the state of Israel was created?
‘You’ve seen the history. You grew up with the history - what’s it like being an Arab-Israeli?’
(He answers in Arabic) Bateman translates: 
“We live here for better or worse, he says. We don’t have the same rights as the others. But we try to preserve our community, our heritage, our existence. And we will stay here.”
(Guitar strums)
I meet Eyob Farrah(?) on the beach in Haifa, a mixed city of Arab and Jewish Israelis. He sings satire about fellow Palestinian citizens of Israel as he prefers to be called, who will vote. He says they will only end propping up a rival government to Mr Netanyahu, that won’t help them either.
“They pass so many racist laws like
 all the things already done before
They pass the laws ….(unintelligible
The drinking ……(unintelligible
“Deep anger among many Arab Israelis. There were new laws asserting Jewish sovereignty by Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing nationalist government, and recently the Trump plan, offering to swap hundreds of thousands of people in Arab-Israeli towns into a Palestinian state in return for Israel getting the Jewish settlements in the West Bank.”
(Music) Bateman:
“In one of Haifa’s cafe gardens, as she and her friends sip lemon and mint, Yara (?) chatted to me. Like her, most Arab-Israelis look set to vote on Monday, maybe even a boost to the 60% that turned out in September’s election. 
“I represent the Arabs that want a future in this country. I want to see that we belong. I don’t think that the Arabic Party is going to be able to achieve a lot of rights for us, more than we have already, but I do believe that we all have got to go and vote to try and stop the deterioration of our situation here.”
New voice.
"My name is May Beyti(?) and I live in Nazareth and I work with her and I’m Palestinian, from the West Bank,..
“You’re not able to vote?”
"No. I don’t have the vote. As a Palestinian who’s married to an Israeli citizen with two daughters who are Israeli I don’t have the right to drive, I don’t have the right to work easily, I don’t have the right to have a bank account, to travel with my daughters and my husband through the same borders. We travel differently, so all I care about is to have a normal life here”

I don’t know the laws and rights concerning Palestinians married to Israeli citizens who reside in Nazareth, but it sounds as if the lady who ‘hasn’t got a vote’ in Israeli elections isn’t an Israeli citizen.
(Maybe she is entitled to vote for Mahmoud Abbas, should the Palestinian Authority decide to hold elections.)  Nor do I know why she can’t drive, travel freely or have a bank account - could this be something to do with the PA?  Maybe Tom Bateman could fill us in. (He wouldn’t want to give the impression that the Israeli government practises ‘apartheid’, surely?)

“The ice-cream sellers outnumber the political canvassers overlooking the Mediterranean coast here. After all, this is the third election in a year. Its ingredients have been similar to the last two. Mr Netanyahu warns that his main rival Benny Gantz will have to rely on the support of the Arab parties to win. A security risk to the Jewish state he suggests, while the joint list of Arab parties is aiming for an increase up to sixteen MPs in the 120 seat parliament but the sentiment for many of their supporters is likely to remain. It doesn’t matter who you vote for, the government always wins.

Somehow I get the impression that Tom Bateman isn’t too keen on right-wing nationalism. Or on Israel, really. What d’you think?


  1. I don't think he's interested in reporting anything positive about Israel.

    Whether or not he sees it himself, he's behaving like an activist: Particularly disgruntled Palestinians on the West Bank; Particularly disgrunted Arab-Israelis; No good news from Israel.

    I did a scan of his output for the BBC in February on TV Eyes after hearing this. Besides that infamous report on 'the caged Palestinian' we wrote about, he's done a series of reports on a UN hit list against companies investing in Israeli West Bank settlements for the World Service.

    It's up to him to prove us wrong now. Traffic all one way doesn't suggest impartiality.

  2. As biased as individual reporters are, and we have seen not just bias but in some cases downright lies, it is the BBC as an organisation who are ultimately to blame. They do it because they know they can get away with it

    Politicians, journalists and commentators from every political perspective have come onto programmes the BBC describes as flagship like Politics Live, Question Time, The Today Programme etc. and raised the question of anti-Semitism. The BBC metaphorically nods sympathetically. Yet no one, as far as I know, has ever taken the them to task about the part they have played in this by deliberately misreporting events in Israel/Palestine. That includes people like Melanie Philips. Cowardice is hard word, but it is the one that springs to mind.

  3. There is not just bias in the coverage of Israel-Palesitine by the BBC but there is also selection bias. There are any number of land disputes around the world, and many instances where the minority community is treated far, far worse than are Arab-Israelis. But the BBC makes the editorial choice to focus on Israel-Palestine at great length and in extraordinary detail. Why?

    Probably the BBC will justify it as a "flashpoint".
    The dispute's been rumbling on for 100 years or more and it has never developed into anything other than a regional war. The South China sea boundary disputes, Syrian-Turkish dispute, Iran v Saudi Arabia, Kashmir dispute and Russia-Baltic States tension are all potentially far more serious in my view but get, proportinally, far less attention.


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.